August 5, 2001 - Mike and Marilyn's 2001 TranAmerican Bike Tour

Mike and Marilyn's
2001 TransAm Bike Trip
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August 5, 2001

TRANSAM 2001 > Oregon

Austin Junction to Dayville, Oregon. (62 mi.) Mile 3947

Downhill cruise to Dayville

Dawn broke with sunny skies again; the mountains fresh and clean from yesterday's rain. More than once the Weather Channel has seemed a day off in its predictions. Mike thinks that it helps improve accuracy by predicting what has already happened.

Dawn brought sunshine to our Austin Junction camp

Yesterday we only got through 2 of the 3 minor Blue Mountain passes, but this morning it was much easier to finish off the last climb and sail down into the John Day River valley, stopping briefly to swap stories with a couple of bicycle tourists grinding up the climb in the other direction. Except for the short climb this morning, today has been a relatively easy downhill cruise.

We had a great breakfast in Prairie City, our first small town. For about a month, we've both been ordering the same thing for breakfast when we eat out: 2 eggs + 2 pancakes. It's inexpensive, predictable, and fast, and it seems to give good mileage. Sometimes we would rather order fresh fruit or a vegetarian omelette, but doing this can throw the small town short order cook into a tailspin, give unpredictable results, and take forever.

Coming out of the Blue Mountains, looking toward the John Day Valley

Eastern Oregon farmland

Oregon is a bicycle friendly state and reminds other tourists on its brochures that cyclists have a legal right to claim their lane and to be on the roads like any other vehicle. In Oregon we have enjoyed good shoulders and noticed signage warning motorists to "Yield to Bicycles" when appropriate.

The John Day River east of Dayville

We were glad to arrive in Dayville just as it was starting to get hot and windy. Dayville is an especially friendly place for bicycle tourists. A banner outside the Dayville Merc says "Welcome TransAmerica Bicyclists". The owner of the Merc, Steve Cookinham, noticed the building for sale while riding through the area on a bicycle tour a few years ago, decided to buy the store, quit his cubicle job in Seattle, and move to Dayville. Steve has extensive touring experience and participated in the around-the-world Odyssey 2000 bicycle tour last year before suffering a serious injury when he crashed on a downhill in Africa. He offered suggestions for extending our tour through the John Day Fossil country, which we may incorporate into another bicycle trip later. It is not far for us to return to this area from our home in eastern Washington.

Mike chats with Steve Cookinham outside the Dayville Merc

One of the best parts of Dayville is the Presbyterian Church's bicyclist hostel. The church generously opens its doors to cyclists, and offers kitchen and shower facilities, including clean towels. Donations are appreciated, but otherwise, this is the church's gift to cyclists, Christianity at its best. A stained glass image hanging in the window was donated to the church by another Oregon group as a token of appreciation. The inscription reads,

"To the Dayville Presbyterian Church,
Thank you for your kindness and hospitality to bicyclists."

Countless other cyclists have expressed gratitude for this hospitality in the Church guest book.

We have the church all to ourselves this evening. We noticed that Walter Francke had stayed here last night. He signed the guest book and wrote, "Five more days and I'll see the Pacific!!" How long ago it seems that we shared the Elk Garden Methodist Church Hostel with Walter, and again, the hostel at Pippa Passes (June 2-3 and June 5-6). We remember talking to Walter about his motives for wanting to ride across the country. He could have spoken for us when he said that he hoped to be able to look back on his life with a collection of rich and varied memories.

We know that this trip has generated more memories and experiences for us than we can begin to touch on in this journal. These have already altered our concepts of this country and the people who live here. These memories will be with us forever. We too are looking ahead to the end of this long journey, to seeing the Pacific, and our family once again.

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