June 20 - 29: Oregon

6/26 - McKenzie Bridge (61 miles 3843.5 total)
the string of beautiful days goes on & on. the morning in the parking lot out behind the new redmond hotel was cloudless & cool. most everyone, including sari & i, were on the road by about 6.
it was only 19 miles to the town of sisters. on the way i passed the 4,000-mile mark on my bike's odometer, which was new when i started this trip in yorktown. on the road to sisters, traffic was pretty heavy, including trucks. but as we rode, the mountains became more & more clear. we made 2 short stops...one at a reindeer farm (some of the antlers were huge), & another at a large llama farm. in both cases the animals were so far from the road that i couldn't get a picture, but they were fun to see even from a distance.
yesterday sari had come to sisters to visit family friends, people who used to be neighbors in san diego. sari wanted to stop today at the shop of gudrun kibak, one of those friends. gudrun is a master at a variety of danish crafts & used to be a potter. her daughter, susanne, has taken clay in a different direction; she creates beautiful tiles.
here's a picture of sari & gudrun in front of a few of susanne's tiles that gudrun sells in her shop. there are so many of them in the shop; they're so beautiful & so interesting. i couldn't stop ooohing & aahhhing over them. susanne has many well-known clients.
i happened to notice notes beside a couple of tiles...one a sample of the tile she used in shirley temple black's swimming pool & another used in a mural for jason priestley. she's also created custom tiles for disney world & disney land. there were so many fascinating things in gudrun's shop; i had a hard time tearing myself away....even tho' i'm not a shopper.
gudrun had heard about sari's & my fascination with pie. before we left she gave us each a little bag with a piece of cherry pie in it....for the road. sari & i had already stopped at a little bakery gudrun had recommended to sari yesterday & picked up a couple of marionberry scones. we were well-prepared for the day's ride. later when we ate those scones we pronounced them among the best scones we've ever eaten.
shortly after leaving sisters we veered to the left on the highway that would take us up & over mckenzie pass. the main highway was crammed full of truck traffic; it would all go over santiam pass, our other option. only 2 riders chose that route, because they didn't want to forego sag support. the rest of us were very happy to forego the traffic.
the ensuing 30 miles up & over mckenzie pass were heavenly. i, along with several others, feel that it was the nicest ride of the trip. here we were, on a sunny june day, riding over perhaps the most beautiful pass of the entire transcontinental trail with no traffic to mar the experience. the road was very narrow, had no shoulders, & was often very winding. having to vie with trucks on that road would've been a biker's nightmare.
here's gerrie riding where she likes to ride....this time with no one yelling at her to move over. notice the lush vegetation & beautiful trees lining the road. this is how i pictured oregon. the arid, almost-desert landscape in the eastern part of the state surprised me.
the climb was quite gradual; we were prepared for steeper. all at once we rounded a bend in the road & before us stretched out to the horizon were miles & miles of rough, black, barren rock. a nearby marker described that this is all the result of eruptions of nearby volcanoes thousands of years ago; this is a huge lava field. it went on for miles & miles & pretty well covered the top of the mountain. often our road was cut through hills of it.
there were patches of snow alongside the road but never any covering the roadway. we couldn't resist playing in it, of course. in this photo i am the only one who doesn't want to sit down & end up with a wet seat; to my left are gerrie, sarah, & jackie. at another patch of snow down the way some of us created a cute little snowman.
at the top of the pass there was a walkway winding up to a turret-like outlook tower, dee wright observatory, all of it made out of the black lava rocks. there was a beautiful brass sundial in the center of it.
patty fainer took this photo of the group that happened to be at the top of the tower at the same time: from left are anne, jackie, gerrie, sarah, debby, me, & sari. you can see the lava landscape in the distance &, on the horizon, the 3 sisters peaks.
a couple of other bikers were at the top of the pass when we were. here are david schlewitz & his son john. different members of our group have been running into them over the last few days. david is a chaplain for the texas department of criminal justice. he & john began riding the transamerica trail from yorktown last summer & got as far as rawlins, wyoming, where david had an accident & broke his leg & ankle.
last summer's trip was cut short. this summer they resumed their ride at rawlins & are finishing up at florence this week. behind david & john is the mound of lava rock that supports the walkway up to the observatory.
finally it was time to leave the top & start the 3000-foot drop down to mckenzie bridge, our overnight stop. the road down was very winding. for a while it stayed in the lava fields, then suddenly the landscape became almost rainforest-like. trees & bushes were lush & abundant. often the roadway was shaded by a canopy of trees. i saw a lingering pink rhododendron blooming along the roadside. the descent from mckenzie pass was gorgeous beyond words.
sarah had a flat tire on the way down, but fortunately it was after the gate that kept vehicular traffic from the summit, so the subaru was able to come help her finish fixing it. rose later had a blowout near our overnight stop. our equipment is "beginning" to show signs of wear.
mckenzie bridge is a wide place in the road with some tourist cabins. we stayed at the log cabin inn. there are several cute cabins & a very nice lodge & restaurant. down the hill beside the river are 6 teepees. (i'll show you a picture with tomorrow's report.) many of us stayed in the teepees, which were still sundrenched when we arrived so too hot to enter. they cooled off in the evening. the other riders chose to pay for cabin accommodations. the grounds of the complex were well tended; beautiful flowers grew everywhere, including some stately purple foxglove.
patty fixed salmon burritos for supper tonight. she wraps chunks of fresh, grilled salmon in flavored tortilla wraps & makes a scrumptious black-bean relish to go with it. we also had refried beans & a huge spinach salad with sprouts, tomatoes, & maybe bleu cheese in it. for dessert there were a couple of marionberry pies from fred meyers. how we'll miss patty's meals when this trip ends!!
tomorrow's ride to eugene will be around 60 mi. our maps give us the impression it'll be mostly downhill. that sounds promising.
Higher quality versions of the pictures from my trip are available here. If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, or if you would like text-only versions of these daily reports e-mailed to you, feel free to e-mail my son Mark with your request. Stay tuned....

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