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:



Daizy said...

Great pictures. Actually, there are a lot of wild mustangs left. They round them up sell them at auction every year around the time of the county fair. Do a search for BLM wild horse and burro program, you'll find a lot of info. I've always wanted to adopt one.

Fr. Ken said...

Wow, I did not realize you had become dehydrated and ended up in the ER! Glad you survived that!

Had a busy few weeks, but am rounding up a lot of old business in the next week or two which will simplify my own life.

I enjoy reading up on your journey and travels, thanks for sharing.

Anonymous said...

That river you jumped into to "cool off"?! It is melted snow! You are one brave dude. I camp up on the South Santiam. Welcome to Oregon, and I hope you enjoy it, us natives are really proud of it!

Liisu said...

Hey! Fine and magnificent with all those photos and voices! (And clouds! I like them!)

anita said...

where are you at now and when will you be in Bend?

anita said...

My hubby and I just opened a business there yesterday, along with our nephew, who is running it. Fox's Billiards...check it out if you get a chance.

Zany Zen said...

What type of sunscreen have you been using during the entire trip? I swear that my skin would fry to death being exposed to the sun for so long!

Anonymous said...

Horses! Wow!!!!

Lucky, lucky you.

Dreamer said...

I've always wanted to go to Oregon, especially Eugene. I have read that Eugene is a pretty good place to be for bohemian type. I'll get there one day - let me know what you think of it.

dtb said...

Stunning. Simply stunning. The trees out west are so magnificent. My jealously is officially piqued.

microwave said...

"Inspiration: ... ABBA (yes, that ABBA)."

I'm sorry, but I have to make sure everyone read that.

Those horses probably sensed the ABBA, hence the ominousness (is that a word?).

Hey, someone has to give you the business! :)

The Executioner said...

More info about the wild horses...

Anonymous said...

"moments of pure joy and exhilaration that are totally genuine and spontaneous" My guess is those are the moments that you are no longer just existing but living. Congrats on finding that simplicity.

Unknown said...

I am glad you are liking the strangeness of the western United States. Now that you are aware of the
actual existence of wild mustangs (in at least 7 states) and have gone hours with out spotting a person your education is almost complete! Have a nice day.

Debbi said...

Possible death aside, I've experienced some beautiful desert scenery these past couple of weeks. . . .

Well, yes, other than that how did you like the play, Mrs. Lincoln? :) (Sorry. Couldn't resist.)

Along with the wild mustangs out West, don't forget about the wild horses of Assateague and Chincoteague.

Glad you've managed to make it to the greener part of Oregon. Mt. Hood is so awesome. It's one of the things I like best about Portland, OR--being able to see Mt. Hood so clearly from the city.

One thing's for sure--it's been quite a trip. :)

Jack said...


That is soo weird. So I might have actually seen wild mustangs, huh?

@Fr. Ken,

Well, thank you for commenting. I know how busy you can get. Hopefully you will be able to simplify going forward.


Most likely. It's the river that hugs the highway heading downhill. BTW, you live in a beautiful state.

Jack said...


Thanks. Glad you enjoyed them.


Sorry, but totally left bend like a week ago. It was a good place to stop and get out of the heat. Good luck with the new place (might have actually seen it on the bike, now that I think about it.


Don't have it in front of me at the moment, but it is a special dermnatologist one, SPF 60. It has probably stopped me from getting really badly burned, but this farmer tan is really something.

Jack said...


Yeah, they were beautiful.


Been to Eugene before and this time was the same: super cool and very pretty. I will say that the number of homeless people on the street was really sad. And a bit scary.


Well, I will take your jealousy as a compliment

Jack said...


Go on, get it out of your system...:)

@The Executioner,

Wow, I really didn't know about this stuff. Makes it so much more a of special thing when you go in blind and meet wild horses in the middle of a desert. Awesome story.


That's a pretty good guess. Thanks for commenting.

Jack said...


Yeah, tell me about it. How many more lessons do I really need at this point, I wonder...?


:) And yes, the beauty out here is overwhelming. And this trip has just been amazing.

Unknown said...

Wish I was there too! And that you were here.

Family on Bikes said...

Isn't that great little restaurant in Hampton open any more? That place saved my life when we crossed that road a couple years ago - I ran out of water 10 miles before then and made a beeline in while JOhn and the boys tookt heir time. That being said, I can TOTALLY relate to your thoughts about the desert - it's a special place, eh?