August 2, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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August 2, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Oregon

Council, ID to Copperfield Park Campground, Oxbow, OR. (62 mi.) Mile 3758

Bound for Oregon

If you feel so strong that you could ride forever, it usually means one thing: you have a tailwind. We had been angling south into the headwinds since Missoula, but this morning our route took a zig to the north, giving us a rare tailwind and helping us climb through the hot sagebrush country to Brownlee Summit. There we dropped 2,000 ft in 6 miles to Hell's Canyon and the Snake River. The narrow highway curves between towering canyon walls of dry grass and basalt outcroppings. It was another of our trip's most awesome and scenic rapid descents, the full effect only possible from the 360 degree, open-air perspective of a bicycle. We were glad we were not traveling in the other direction because of the heat.

Into Hells Canyon: over 100 degrees and no shade.

The Snake River behind Brownlee Dam

A boat speeds up Brownlee Reservoir in Hells Canyon, forming the border between Idaho and Oregon

Near the bottom, we had lunch at the Hell's Canyon Cafe, an oasis of shade and air conditioning, before crossing the man-make reservoir at Brownlee Dam and entered Oregon, our final state.  

Temperatures continued to climb as we rode along Brownlee Reservoir until it was 100 degrees in the shade by the time we reached Oxbow Dam. We changed our minds about continuing to climb up from the reservoir after a few miles, and rode back down to Oxbow, where there was an attractive RV park administered by Idaho Power. We didn't see a Campground Nazi, but there were signs that one existed. Campground rules were posted everywhere; stuck on buildings, planted on signposts, and stenciled on the asphalt and picnic tables.

All of the tent spaces were taken and we couldn't find a friendly looking bicycle tourist or motorcyclist who looked willing to let us share a space. That meant we had to pay for an RV site, where the rule was that tents had to be pitched on the asphalt. Our campground host explained, "No exceptions". Even though tents could be pitched on the grass in the tent area, they could not be pitched on the grass in the RV area. However, it was OK if we wanted to sleep on top of our flat tent on the grass, we just could not erect the tent. Our daughter and son-in-law had their own experience with this type of logic. They had been car camping across the West, alternately sleeping in their tent and in the back of their pickup. At one campground, they pulled into a campground tent site, but decided to spend that night in their truck. The campground host said that if they slept in the truck, they had to move to the RV sites, but if they slept out of the truck, they could stay in the tent sites.

Our ThermaRest mattresses are adequate but we know from experience, that we do not sleep well on pavement without extra padding. I also discovered that my beloved camp pillow had been hiding behind the door back at the motel room in Council when we packed up this morning. We won't see it again until we pick it up General Delivery a few days down the road. After an evening of observing the way many RVers camp (in general, a study of excesses), we stacked our sleeping bags over our ThermaRests in our tent, and hoped for a good night's sleep on the asphalt.

We think we've met this driver on the road.

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