As you may know from the Day 53 post, Michael and Nate are cycling out of cell-service range. We are both ok, but posts and updates might be delayed one or more days.
Michael woke up to the beauty of Unity Lake, sunrise, and a visit from Quinn, the state park maintenance manager. Quinn said that the highway patrol had called looking for two cyclists. “Haven’t seen ’em,” Michael said, and went back to packing.
Quinn returned with some fresh spring water to fill Michael’s bottles so he didn’t have to drink the iron-infused park water. Quinn says “it’ll turn your insides yellow.” (By “your” he means Nate’s.)
Anyway, Michael packed-up and backtracked five miles into Unity, thinking he might check-in with the sheriff in case he needed help forming a search party for the missing cyclists.
Instead, he stopped at the gas station/cafe (where he had stopped for a snack yesterday) to get breakfast.
“Dave” (Witness Protection Program name) came out the front door with an urgent message that someone had called looking for Michael. (Dave had seen Michael the day before but apparently didn’t remember, what with the tens of people who pass through the cafe annually.) Michael used the store phone to call the familiar 308 area code number and assure his sister that he and Nate were 100% ok–just off the grid.
Dave mentioned that he had checked with “Ian” (Touring Cycling codename), aka “The guy in the hat,” who was at the bar in Vale, and who Michael met on the road yesterday. Ian stayed at the motel next to the gas station, which Dave manages when not cooking at the cafe. Ian confirmed that he had seen Michael, and knew that he and “another cyclist [Ian] hadn’t met” were heading to the state park.
Michael ate breakfast–French toast, eggs, bacon, coffee, chocolate milk–then got on the road.
Outside of Unity, Michael was relieved to see that Oregon does have trees, per license plates and lore.
He later stopped at the Austin House Country Store and Cafe, where Nate previously stopped; Michael got ice cream, and heard from the store proprietor, Kristy, that Nate and Ian had already been through. Each in turn had recounted what they knew about the missing cyclists.
Before leaving Austin House, Michael briefly met Joe, who is also heading west to Astoria. Joe is on the TransAmerica route, riding solo. He is wearing a sweet John Deere kit. (Joe didn’t seem keen to chat.)
Updates to follow as America modernizes coast to coast, or Oregon enters 2017, whichever comes first.
Fun fact: Whitney is a town east of Austin, Oregon.
Update (Day’s end): Nate and Michael agree that today was one of the better rides of the tour, in terms of all-around good cycling. We enjoyed the nice roads (Highway 26), relatively easy, scenic climbs (two passes above 5,000 ft), downhills, cooler but sunny weather, and the people we met along the way.
It was also a welcome break from the monotony (however beautiful) of the high-desert desolation this past week.
The Strawberry Mountains and John Day River Valley are stunning. We are camped at another state recreation area, in the valley outside John Day village.
Michael walked a mile or so into the next village west to eat at the Silver Spur Cafe–where he’ll probably also enjoy breakfast tomorrow. They welcome cyclists!
Check out the Relive video of today’s ride.