Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mountain Home, ID to Eugene OR: Desert Happiness and Other Stories

Miles Per Day: Day 70=REST; Day 71=45.92; Day 72=76.33; Day 73=57.27; Day 74=59.75; Day 75=REST; Day 76=REST; Day 77=70.25; Day 78=63.94; Day 79=79.48 Day 80=52.32

Total So Far: 3,611.76

Inspiration: Eminem; True Blood; Beethoven's 5th (Karajan); Paul Simon; ABBA (yes, that ABBA); Weeds; Rolling Stones; The Wire; Howard Stern; Fiona Apple; Led Zeppelin

Spirits: scared; humbled; focused; inspired; contemplative

Things Seen On the Road: several porcupines; scorpions; dust storm; the open desert; a gang of seemingly wild horses ready to charge; the Sisters off in the distance; the misty mountains of Oregon.

Favorite Quotes: (1) older woman who opened her door for me in the desert after running out of water: “My gosh, you look terrible!” (2) talking to myself, out loud, in a dark motel room after spending four hours in the ER because of dehydration/heat stroke: “Ok, that was stupid”

No question about it. It's been a crazy couple of weeks. And here I thought I would just cross the Oregon border and immediately hit some of those picture-perfect Oregon forests on my way to a picture-perfect splashdown in the Pacific. But I guess that just wasn't in the cards...:

*Dehydration: As explained in an earlier post, I had a bit of a scare in the Oregon desert last week. All I can say is that I walked away from the experience with a new appreciation and respect for mother nature. Plus a healthy suspicion of my own physical limits.

*Desert Happiness: Possible death aside, I've experienced some beautiful desert scenery these past couple of weeks. Leaving Burns, Oregon, I made my way over to Hampton, my first stop in a two day jaunt towards Bend. This was a 130 mile stretch with absolutely no services, which meant that I had to carry two day's worth of water and food. The road was pretty desolate but replete with a stunning backdrop of sagebrush, wild flowers and reddish rock formations long-weathered by thousands of years of erosion. Entering the town I made camp behind an abandoned general store and had myself a PB&J sandwich, all the while listening to Beethoven's 5th. I can't explain it but for some reason a smile came over my face. I've had these moments on this trip before...moments of pure joy and exhilaration that are totally genuine and spontaneous. These are moments that I will never forget.

Did I mention that I did not see a single person during the 16 hours I spent in Hampton ?

*Wild Horses: coming to a desert plateau after a particularly long climb I was greeted by a strange sight. On my right, behind a barbwire fence running the length of what I suspected was public land were half a dozen horses. They stopped grazing as soon as they spotted me and then things got a little ominous. They quickly closed ranks, snorted loudly, stomped their hooves and slowly advanced to where I was standing. I know there are probably no wild horses left in the lower 48...still, these beauties scared the crap out of me.

*Spotting the Sisters: After more than a week in the desert there is no more joyous sight than the Three Sisters off in the distance. I laughed out loud when I first spotted them and they have been constant companions ever since. Love those mountains.


A little taste of the desert for your viewing pleasure:

I jumped into this river to cool off after going over the Santiam Pass in Oregon:

Take a look at how green Oregon can get after passing through the desert:


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