(Incomplete data due to dead watch battery)
Stoke Factor: 3
Miserableness Factor: 4
Snot Rockets Blown: 36
Miles: 40.43 + 32
Average Speed: 7.7mph
It was raining.
My plan was to leave the Juntura Oasis and camp out by the spring as the weather passed. After visiting it the night before, I couldnt think of a worse way to isolate myself from resources. The path to the spring is a short hike and a wade through the water. It’s not a place you can just get in and out of, never mind leave a tent up. I suppose I could have asked Tammy for another night, but I figured the rain was passing and I could skip a rest day because of two nights in a row in a bed.
I was slow to rise. Debating in my head how I wanted to approach the day, I went to the restaurant to ask for more information. There was a different waitress and Tammy was nowhere to be seen. This meant I had to pay for my breakfast and couldn’t turn in the free meal voucher I was given the night before. I wasn’t hungry after the border burger.
At the restaurant I had a ham and cheese omelette and a black coffee. I asked if there was spinach for the omelette and she said no! Crazy how difficult it is to eat well around the land of nowhere. The omelette was nothing short of fantastic as expected. I left Tammy a business card and wrote a thank you letter on the back. I wish I got to hug her goodbye.
The rain was drying quickly. I pushed ahead, past the spring, and saw a sign: “56 miles to Vale.” Vale was my goal. Morgan told me the night before there was a motel and food in the tiny town. 56 miles doesn’t seem like a lot in the grand scheme of what my accomplishments speak for, but out here in the northwest everything is different.
The beginning of the ride was amazing. I had the stupidest smile on my face as I rode through a canyon soaking up the sun and carving through the downhills. The Malheur river danced beside me for every mile, and occasionally there would be some spring runoff coming from the rocks and I made sure to get a drink. My ear had been ringing since the Juntura hot spring- it felt like trapped water in my ear but also felt like air pressure, like I was perpetually taking off on a 747. It didn’t go away.
I couldn’t get over the canyon. I skated my heart out as the pavement pushed me along and my smile made everything feel okay. It was my rest day and I was taking the 56 miles easy! Three people asked me if I wanted a ride. I almost said yes and used “rest day” as my excuse, but I had to reassure myself that I AM skateboarding across the country. I handed out business cards and went forward.
At one point a Mitsubishi Sprinter decked out in offroad gear sped behind me and laid on the horn, swerving like a mad man into the other lane. It didn’t make much sense to me- how is it that I am blamed for a driver’s faults? How can the 1 ton van with 300 foot stopping power say that I am the one that forced their direction? Just….hit the brakes, bro. It amazes me how few people can just respect that everyone deserves to safe. I don’t care the context, nobody should feel like what they do is impeding on another. I’m blown away at the impatience. It could be a 30 second slow down and a maneuver to the left, and everybody’s day gets to continue. It was the first time I felt like I was in real danger.
Coming out of the canyon after an amazing 4 hour ride, I strolled past Harper, another small Oregonian town. From there, the pavement turned on me and so did the wind. I had it too easy, and mother nature wanted to make sure I knew it. A shoulder opened up, but despite it being wide the gravel on the side of the road ruined it. I kept plotting some sort of long winded prayer to the Governor of Oregon for better shoulders. I can’t be the only person to face the wrath of chip seal during the duration of route 20.
Beating myself up, I only needed to climb another 350 feet, but I had to push down the downhills and walk up the uphills- in a land of hills, I had to constantly switch between the two. There was a 12 mile stretch of -3% downhill that I could have glided over if not for the gravel and wind. It took me over 3 hours to complete it. The sky became overcast, the cows were called home, and I made it to Vale.
Vale was small and run down. 3 of the 4 motels were either capsized or closed with broken windows. 1 motel with a no vacancy sign that was off the hinges existed. Across the street was a brand new restaurant, and all 30 of the townsfolk were inside. I went in to ask for information on where to stay and the lady said, “if you would just fucking wait a second I’ll meet you over there.”
When I went outside the sign said only 15 miles to Ontario- I was told that Ontario was a real town with cell phone service, a college and schools. I figured at the very least I could find a good spot to hide away or a cheap enough motel. The road there was just as awful as the rest- I was beyond tired, starving, and not wanting to skate.
As I rolled into town a guy in a 454 asked if I needed help. I was just going to ask for directions to a cheap motel, but he threw my bag in the back and took me to his daughter’s house. She was…sad. Just hiding in blankets and especially morose. She offered no help, but luckily my 4G picked up and I was in business. I took a ride down the street after smoking a few bowls of weed, and separated from him.
Ontario was weird. Lots of money put into the schools but everywhere else was strangely outdated and the people looked different. Drugs were an obvious threat to society here. Good spirited people had the life taken from their eyes as they sucked down cigarettes under awnings. I tried to strike up conversation with someone but they just asked for money.
When I went into thr motel office, the counter lady kept screaming, “I’m coming!” like I was in a rush. I was fine. She came out and she was weirdly distant- I’d hate to suspect drugs -if there’s anything I’ve learned about Oregon it’s that everyone either is an addict of some kind or knows someone who is. She upcharged me $10 for the room even though the price was literally above her head. Then she charged “taxes.” They don’t tax in Oregon. Regardless, my day was done.
I skated 72 miles – my highest mileage yet. The room had no amenities, not even shampoo or soap. Not even a coffee maker. 1 towel. I checked for bed bugs under the corners of the mattress and was surprised at the cleanliness. The shower, however, needed work. It was just a tad overdue for a deep clean. I showered anyways as I waited for my food to arrive- still no salads. I was unwilling to walk or skate anywhere after the day I had.
I finally made it to the border of Oregon and Idaho. I can not form words to describe what it means to me to never, ever have to skate route 20 ever again. Next stop, Boise, as long as the rain goes away.