The most remarkable aspect of this trip is how alive we feel, all the time. All of our senses seem to be fully engaged. You feel the cool morning breeze; you can smell the ripe blackberries; a new and strange landscape is around every bend. Physically you feel every uphill incline, and every downhill too. Various parts of the body ache, be it hands, legs or seat. I was thinking, if I only had 90 days to live, this would be a good way to spend them, because I would be fully alive for all of them.
There are many ingredients to a perfect cycling day. Great scenery, interesting terrain (downhill is good), little traffic, polite drivers, great weather, interesting places to stop, and favorable winds. Today we had all of them with one exception: excessive heat.
Of course, these readings are in the shade, and we cycle in the sun. We sort of executed in the early start strategy, hitting the road at 7:15 am Mountain time. Out of Cambridge, it was a 15 mile gentle climb, followed by a thrilling 7 mile descent, where I hit 39.8 mph only coasting.
Here's the uphill. No traffic to speak of; all day drivers were exceedingly polite. We are on scenic, vacation-oriented roads.
The pass was only 4,131 feet high but followed by an excellent descent. I love to break the speed limit on a bicycle. It just seems so right. Any idiot can do it in a car; it takes a special kind of idiot to do it on a bicycle.
Notice we are back into the arid landscapes. We are now entering the Hells Canyon area, which means we will be following the Snake River. Now we are getting cooling breezes off the river.
There are several dams on the Snake, so there is a lot of water. It's used to produce power, but also is a boating and fishing resource.
We crossed the river into Oregon, and back to Pacific time.
As you can see, it's beautiful. It's also mostly downhill because we're going downstream.
The water is so still that the occasional boat wake is frozen in time. Movement but stillness at the same time.
Marie found this public boat ramp/facility with a fully shaded picnic table. A family that lives in Baker City was gathering ripe blackberries while their 2 young children played in the water. They kept us company while we ate our lunch (scones from the bake sale yesterday that we bought from Emily and Naomi). It was so much fun to see those children having so much fun in the cool water- bear in mind it was pretty hot by now.
Ok, we now have 15 miles to go up the canyon, and it's 105 degrees or so. We first drink a big bottle of Gatorade, we hang out in an air-conditioned store until we cool off, then we mainline the cold energy source:
The last 15 miles we took it easy, stopping frequently. We climbed a net 1,000 feet up an absolutely torrid heat. We were so glad to see the charming and scenic town of Halfway, OR.
We're staying at the Pine Valley Lodge, an old Western-style lodge. It's fantastic.
The innkeeper has arranged a continental breakfast especially for us, so that we can hit the road early. One more day of heat, according to all the forecasts, and then we will have cool weather all the way to the coast.