Day 7 to 11 of Mitch's Trans America
Lazy Days Campsite, Blue River, OR
Suttle Lake Campsite, Sisters, OR
National Park, Ochoco Pass, OR
Spoke'n Hostel, Mitchell, OR
Before moving on to the much talked about McKenzie Pass, I stayed at Lazy Days campsite on Day 7. It is FREE for bikers. I tried to leave a love gift but he would not take it. I had a hot shower here and left in the morning.
On the morning of Day 8, I went a few miles to McKenzie Bridge Store and stocked up on snacks and had coffee. I was not able to have breakfast at Lazy Days because my "waterproof" matches were not working so I could not start my stove. I guess they are not good at anything below 10m of water! haha
McKenzie Road and the famous McKenzie Pass for bikers was still closed for the season. When this happens, all traffic takes the 20 mile longer Santiam Pass @ 4,817 feet. Note: If you are an "early season" Trans Am'er like myself, you will miss McKenzie Pass @ 5,325 feet elevation. The McKenzie Pass does not open until the 3rd Week of June - traditionally. If it is open, take it!
I have no complaints about having to take the Santiam Pass highway. It was long and steady. I judge a mountain by whether or not I have to get off and walk my bike or not. I just took it slow and steady in my lowest gear (34 on the rear) and I did fine. My only difficulty is that it was cold.
It was the last six miles to the Summit that were the most intense.
It was in the 52 degree range but when I got to the top it was already nearing 7:00PM and had dropped to 43 degrees. I had to put on my rain jacket to break the wind chill going down the other side - a 4 to 6 mile stretch.
Today, was the first day I saw snow since being on this trip. It was also my first day of getting a mosquito bite on this trip. haha
Because it was getting late, I stopped after 4 miles of zipping downhill freezing. 43 degrees minus 30 mph = 13 degrees! I stopped at Suttle Lake Campsite.
Suttle Lake Campsite has a little hill to go up to get your campsite which is hard at the end of the day - another hill - but the next morning you get to zip down to get you back to the highway.
I gave a Bible to the Campsite Host the next morning with my $18 fee. As an early season Trans Am'er, again, I was the only person in the "cold" campsite. The Host also lives in a tent, with his truck, and dog, as he manages the property. His name was Mike. His dad just died in January and he got fired from his former job. He decided to change jobs and landed this camp host position.
On Day 9, I missed a left turn on Map 13 of the official Adventure Cycling Association's (ACA) Trans Am maps. After Sisters, you are supposed to take a left on Holmes Road. I missed that and kept going straight on Hwy 126 towards Redmond. It is a highway with a nice shoulder. By the time I realized my mistake, I was too far already and decided not to go back. I actually liked the mistake. Although I missed the scenic route intended on the map, Hwy 126 gave me a direct and straight route all the way to Redmond. I stayed over night in cheap motel and continued on 126 again in the morning.
Taking Highway 126 from Redmond, through Powell Butte, all the way to Prineville, is an okay option if you want to skip all the ups and downs of following the river. I liked it. I do not mind traffic on my left side. Some bikers have an attitude about not liking so much traffic. I have lived in Metro-Manila for nearly 30 years, with over 16 million people. Traffic is not a problem for me - yet.
Side note: I do admit that the traffic in the USA passes at a much higher speed than in the Philippines, but USA cars are so much more respectful at intersections, sidewalks, and corners here than there.
Side note #2: The highways normally cut out all the turns and up and downs and give a more direct, straight route from point A to point B. I do not want to make a habit out of it, but sometimes there are ways to short-cut the official, traditional maps/trails set forth by the Trans American Bicycle Tours people at ACA.
Oh, let me say something about the City of Sisters, found on Map 13. It has many Outdoor Stores. Gear, camping, etc. I am so thankful for passing through Sisters, because I have been struggling with my small cooking pot. I bought it here:
103 A E HOOD SISTERS, OR 97759 (541) 904-0778
At first, this new cooking pot kinda scared me, because is has an aluminum bottom, but rubber upper. Rubber near fire???? I found it hard to believe this could work long term but I bought it anyhow and have been discovering it is great! I love it! Note: You must follow the cooking directions though! Use only the traditional camping stoves that keep the flame on the bottom and not around the edges.
The small miracle of Day 10, was arriving at the Ochoco Summit Pass @ 4,720 feet and having a campground right beside the summit sign! The campground is closed for nearly 6-7 months a year because of snow but they open on May 15th. I arrived on May 15th! I was the second customer to arrive. It was the campsite host's first day on the job after being away since October. Imagine the perfect timing of this!
It is interesting being the first camper of the season. The ground, the bathrooms, the roads, everything, has not been touched since last October upon closing. Nearly six months under snow. There was even toilet paper still in the outdoor toilets that have been "hibernating" since last fall - six months. Amazing.
The camp host, aged 73 (forgot her name) had her husband die two months ago. She was still in grieving state. She loved to talk. Her personality seemed similar to my mom's. The next morning on Day 11, I stopped by her camper to say goodbye and give her a Bible.
I said, "I want to give you a New Testament as a going-away gift."
"Is that a Bible?" She got out of her chair rushing to receive it.
I said, "Yes. Here..."
"Oh thank you thank you thank you. This is so nice. Since my husband died I get depressed sometimes and I don't want to do any of those depression drugs. This is what I want and need. I have a Daily Bread but don't have it here. This is what will really get me through." she excitedly rattled off. She was so excited, she hugged me and said thank you again while clasping the New Testament with both hands. A scene tattooed on my memory forever.
She looked at me with eyes thinking that maybe I was an angel and not a person. I'm serious. This was a real divine appointment for her. More realized for her than for me.
I have been giving away two or three Bibles a day. Some I have been placing in park outhouses on the side of the highway. Some, I have been leaving in store entrances or on tourist brochure racks. When I was in Redmond, I placed two in the drawers in the cheap motel I stayed in. When I told the manager later that I did so, he asked, "Wasn't there any in there anymore?" I said, "No, they must have been taken by someone." He was thankful I replenished his room.
So far, I give Day 11, my Best Housing Day Award! I found it by complete surprise in Mitchell, Oregon. Yes, the same as my name!
When I arrived into Mitchell, the first thing I noticed was the white church. After that, I I noticed the iconic "Water Jug" with FREE water for bikers beside the road.
At first, I wasn't going to go inside. I only had biked 13 kilometers today, and it was mostly all downhill. I was only going to fill my bottles, get groceries and keep traveling to Dayville, OR.
I decided to go inside, and the moment I went inside I was amazed. Massive bicycle "this and that's." The entire church is geared towards hospitality for bikers. It is so nice, and conducive, homey, for rest for the bicyclist, I decided to stay for two nights and one day, just to catch up on my blogs (this typing right now) and some video edits tomorrow.
Okay. The church/hostel is named Spoke'n Hostel. If you are bicycling the Trans America Bicycle Trail, do not miss this place! Here is all the info:
That's it friends. Tomorrow, Day 12, will be a day off for video editing. Watch, Follow, and Subscribe to my YouTube channel as I log all my travels. Watch my latest videos entitled:
Getting High in Oregon.
and Day 1 of my Trans America Bicycle Tour:
and Day 2 of my Trans America Bicycle Tour entitle: The LOGGING ROAD.
On Day 13, May 18th, I will continue on uphill crossing Keyes Creek Pass @ 4,382 feet. See photo below...Note: Nevermind the writing that says, "Today" under Keyes Creek Pass. That is a mistake. I thought I was going to do that yesterday - I got confused at the actually size of both of these passes.
Thank you for reading. Watch for my next update with a few more days added starting at Day 12 - which is my day off here in Mitchell.
From Mitchell in Mitchell,
Have a good day!