Thursday, September 10, 2009

Trans-America Ride 2009 Video

Monday, August 31, 2009

The Ombrophilous, Obeliscolychny and Oneiric Oregon Coast

I've spent that past two days exploring the Oregon coast on my bicycle, which has been ripe with gorgeous sea vistas, foggy mornings, delicious seafood, and a considerable amount of overweight white tourists. I've only seen brief glimpses of this rugged coastal region in classic Hollywood films like "The Goonies," "Kindergarten Cop," "Point Break," and "Free Willy." Having spent only two days on the coast, I wish I could have another week to take in the sights, smells, and sounds of this beautiful area. Nevertheless, I am also very grateful to return home very soon. My flight lands in Boston on Tuesday evening, but I'll be away from Quincy for most of Wednesday. I hope to find time to catch up with you all and hear about your very own adventures soon! Until then, I hope you enjoy these photos:

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Day 60: Eugene, OR to Florence, OR (83 Miles)

I woke up this morning feeling rather melancholy. I knew today would be the grand finale, culminating with a simple dip of a front tire into the Pacific Ocean. I was excited to finish this journey I've been on these past two months; however, I'll certainly miss the sensation of traveling into the virtual unknown, meeting new people and finding temporary places to call "home" for the evening. To get through this day in a good mood, I had to remind myself that every journey's end is also the beginning of another. With that in mind, I rode on through the nearly abandoned streets of Eugene. The morning was cold and quiet, with a thick morning mist shrouding and muting my surroundings. This busy college town now took on the ethereal quality of a ghost town... in spite of this being the most populated city on the Trans-America.

I took a pleasant bicycle trail out of town and snacked on a few apples I took from the motel breakfast. This first section was very flat, but I still had the pleasure of climbing the Coast Range. With a much lighter bike, I rode on at a quick pace and stopped at a small gas station in Low Pass. There I met a very talkative and friendly lady who told me stories of several Trans-America cyclists stopping in at her store. I chatted with her for a while and they warned me of the next hill up the road. Feeling I had something to prove to myself, I sprinted up this final ascent over the Coast Range and kept up this sprint all the way to my lunch stop in a train-themed diner in Mapleton.

The majority of the morning was spent riding along the Sluslaw River, and the growing presence of brackish water smells motivated me on riding faster and harder. In terms of speed and time, this was definitely the quickest ride of my trip. I must had ridden about 70 miles in just under four hours. Now, of course, this was with a lighter load... but it almost motivates me in trying out for a cycling race of some sort back in Massachusetts (and I'm not even a competitive person!).

I was hoping the morning fog would lift and the overcast sky would give way to warm, delightful sunshine. I ordered a fish sandwich ("just for the halibut") and kept my eyes on the sky outside. Too excited to wait around for better weather, I headed out to finish off my last 15 miles to Florence. Then, not unlike my ascent over Hoover Pass in Colorado, the sun soon began to break through and enlighten my surroundings. I finally rolled into Florence at approximately 1:45PM and stopped to ask where I could find the nearest beach access. The shopkeeper said I would have to ride five miles North of town to find actual beachfront that was open to the public. Another 5 miles felt like nothing, so I headed into the Northern wind and came around a bend to be blasted with the wind and smells of the Pacific Ocean.

I almost immediately began to tear up. I wasn't necessarily crying, but my eyes were filled with enough to tears to make riding difficult. Dabbing my eyes, I pressed on to find a small private road that led me to the beachfront. I won't attempt to explain what was going on in my head and I probably won't comprehend this sensation for many days to come. I only remember being composed enough to ask a local scuba diver to take a few photos of the ceremonial dip and then made a few phone calls. I then just sat and watched the ocean mist flowing over the water, thinking of absolutely nothing.

Realizing I needed to get to a bike shop before it closed, I headed back to town and asked one of the bike mechanics about boxing up my bike and shipping it back. She first told me that the box was about 10 dollars... OK, I can do that. Then she told me that they would charge me extortionist prices to box it up and ship it for me. Thinking that up to $250.00 was not worth it, I started to brainstorm other options. I decided that I would wait for Monday, seeing that I want to use my bike to explore the coast for the next few days, and try to find a cheaper alternative with UPS or USPS. I then found the cheapest motel in town, which wasn't very cheap, and checked in for two days.

So as I sit in my motel room, I can only think of those who have helped me get here...

First, I must thank the kids of Montaña de Luz for giving me the inspiration to step outside of my comfort zone and live my life with a new sense of purpose and joy.

Thanks to those who donated their hard-earned money to the MdL fund raiser and not only made it just a success, but exceeding expectations of how much you will give for a great cause. I am forever grateful for your generosity.

Many thanks to my parents for supporting me on this endeavor. I know they weren't very happy to first hear that their son was going to ride alone across the country, but they were still quick to assist me in anything I needed.

Thanks to the fellow cyclists that befriended me and helped to create a small community on the road. The Loughborough Boys (Chris, Callum and Dowds): You guys gave me so many things to laugh at and definitely motivated me in becoming a stronger cyclist. I hope you guys find the West Coast to be very kind to you and I hope you'll find your way to Boston one of these days in the future. To Lady Chris and Lad Chris: you guys made Kentucky and Wyoming bareable and your generosity was very refreshing. Saz and Aaron: You guys were not only good for a laugh, but you were also ripe with great conversation and fun stories. Thanks for that.

Special thanks to Jonathan, who took off a week in his busy life to ride with me through Kentucky. It was great watching small dogs chase you and sharing in that entire experience with you. I know you only joined me for a week, but it was the perfect time. I don't know how I would have handled Kentucky without you, man. Also, many thanks to Greg for driving Jonathan down from Ohio and hanging out with us in Breaks. It was great to see you.

Thank you to my friends who helped me feel connected to home via phone conversations and emails. Matt, Jesse, Ashley May, Alex, Katie, Jessica, Anne, Kelly, and the many others who kept in touch with me: You guys were always there with me.

Thanks goes out to the Ralphe family, who took me into their home, fed me, and entertained me. That one day in Colorado Springs may have been my last rest day of the trip, but it certainly was enough to sustain me for the next month of riding. Give Buttercup and Geronimo a kiss for me!

Thanks to Dave Mann for his expertise in bicycle maintenance and sharing it with me. Without Dave, I'd be broken down on the side of the road somewhere outside Jeffrey City right now. Now I just have to pass on this karmic debt that Dave so generously handed down to me.

Thank you to those who wrote on my blog and left so many encouraging comments. From family to friends, you guys kept me motivated in sharing this experience with you all. It feels great to know that you all experienced this journey with me somehow, and that I'll be able to recall so many memories from looking back at this blog.

Thanks to those many, many faces that smiled at me on the road, to those who welcomed me into their homes and businesses, to those who waved or gave me an enthusiastic thumbs up.

Lastly, thanks to God for keeping me safe and allowing me the oppurtunity to experience life in this way. I look forward to the next time I can be so thankful as I am right now.

Clemmie, I'm coming home!
Friday, August 28, 2009

Day 59: McKenzie River, OR to Eugene, OR (58 Miles)

I woke up several minutes before my alarm clock this morning. Judging by my lively movements without the accompaniment of caffeine, I could tell that I'm very excited about these next few days. I threw everything together and made it out of the door by 7:00AM and pedalled ferociously to Vida, for a quick breakfast stop. Knowing I only had about 40 miles left until Eugene, I ate a very small portion and got back on the road in no time. As I got back onto my bike, I began to notice that my rear rim was rather untrue. I stopped for about 15 minutes and trued the wheel as best as I could, only to find that it was rather fruitless. Upon closer inspection I had found that my rim was done for. I had fractures in several sections on the rim and I just hoped I could make it to Eugene without the wheel falling apart on me.

I pushed forward with great rapidity, all the while looking very awkward with my wobbly rim. I made it into the outskirts of Eugene by 11:00AM and quickly found a UPS Store to ship my excess baggage back to Massachusetts. I said "goodbye" to my pannier bags, filled with many cumbersome items, and said "hello" to a faster, more agile bike. This newly unencumbered bike also made the presence of my wobbly wheel feel much more apparent, therefore I set my eyes to the nearest bike shop. Riding to the shop, I was treated to nice bicycle lanes and I started to notice cute girls with library glasses and others with dreadlocks. They all were riding bikes that were equally attractive as them. I then thought to myself: "This is my kind of town..."

I found a gem of a bicycle shop called "Paul's Bicycle: Way of Life." I was helped in figuring out the cheapest opportunity of replacing the rear rim and I'll be pleased with anything that gets me to the shore by tomorrow evening. As I left the shop, I realized it was too early to look for motel rooms, so I headed next door to "The Beanery." There I had a delicious Panini and some iced coffee. There I also witnessed a very adorable event. An older lady had tied her pet Beagle's leash to a patio chair outside the shop. While she was waiting in line, the Beagle proceeded to drag the chair into the store and knocked over several items. This precocious pup eventually found it's way to his surprised owner. Everyone in attendance had a good laugh.

It's starting to rain, and the forecast calls for better weather tomorrow. I'll be glad to have good weather on my final day. But that's not to say I'm complaining about the rain. I mean, what would a trip to Oregon be like without any rain? I plan on spending the rest of the day catching up with people on the phone and planning my next few days. I think I'm going to be in Florence until Monday, exploring the coast as much as possible. Anybody familiar with the Oregon coast in the area surrounding Florence? Let me know of anything worthy of a bike trip. Thanks!
Thursday, August 27, 2009

Day 58: Redmond, OR to McKenzie River, OR (67 Miles)

When you find an incredibly cheap motel, you usually have an "ah-hah!" moment that explains why you paid so little for lodging. I had thought I found a gem of a motel last night, with new sheets, a clean bathroom, and functioning appliances. I went to bed last night, fully pleased with not having such a moment. However, I woke up at 2:30AM to (surprise, surprise) have such a moment, indeed. A road work crew outside the motel was hard at work, drilling furiously into the ground. They were kicking the crap out that cement! If the heavy drilling sound was constant, it could have lulled me into a deep, fulfilling sleep. But no, it was sporadic and changed enough to bring enough attention to it's unnecessary loudness. Don't city laws restrict such loud activities near residential areas? But is a motel to be considered a residential building or commercial? In any case, the moral of the story is: I didn't get enough sleep last night.

I reset my alarm to 8:00AM and reluctantly began packing my stuff up and left the room within the hour. It was already warm and I was upset to miss out on the cooler early morning temperatures. Sweating more than I'd prefer to, I pushed uphill to Sisters and stopped for an early lunch at Subway. Sisters seemed like a cute little town, but I had a mountain pass to conquer! I was feeling very motivated to get this last mountain range behind me and cross over into "Western" Oregon. The dissimilar climates separated by the Cascades are worlds apart and I'm not too fond of the dry, arid climate I've been riding through for the last few weeks.

As I rode up towards McKenzie pass, I was motivated by other cyclists riding up with their carbon fiber bikes. I kept pace with these riders and found myself at the summit before I knew it. I stopped and spoke with a few cyclists and they told me interesting information about the area. The summit featured several volcanic magma flows and a beautiful 360 degree view of the "Three Sisters" and Mount Washington. I also met a few riders who were riding from Astoria, Oregon to Missoula, Montana. They informed me that I had a thrilling 20 mile descent, equipped with sharp switchbacks and freshly paved segments. Excited to experience this ride down from the pass, I rode on around the many bends on the pass and finally began my descent. Without hyperbole... I must say that this was the most enjoyable cycling experience I've ever had. Without a doubt, I will let any of my cyclist friends know that the descent of McKenzie pass is thoroughly enjoyable and equally thrilling. And that they need to ride this before they can't pedal anymore in their old age. It's just a damn shame that this road is closed 9 months out of the year!

The ride down from the pass also introduced me to the wet, fruitful climate of the Pacific Northwest. The astonishing tree canopy consisting of Western red cedar and Pacific silver fir provided for shade from the blistering sun. The sights and smells of the forest almost felt like a baptism from the dry and brutal climate of the Columbia Plateau. The drop in elevation was also very drastic. Within twenty miles, I dropped from over 5,000 feet down to 1,500 feet above sea level. All in all, I'm very glad I didn't have to take the alternative, less scenic route through the Santiam Pass.

I had the ambitious idea that I would reach Eugene by the end of the day, but my late start made me second guess this plan. The presence of powerful headwinds at the base of McKenzie sealed the deal in calling it a shorter day. I continued down Route 126 and found a gas station to stop in. I asked about places to stay for the night and the teller recommended the motel 3 miles down the road. I rode by a camp site and debated stopping there, but the temptation of a hot shower and a cool bed was too tempting. In terms of finances, I've done pretty well. I've spent more than I should have on this trip, but I still have a good portion of the money I saved... hence my weakness for motels. However, I must say that I will definitely be more frugal on my next journey and will hopefully not depend on currency as much as I have on this trip.

My plan for tomorrow consists of getting up early and riding 60-something miles to Eugene in time for lunch and attempt to ship back a good portion of my gear. I'd like to mail most of my heavy stuff back to Quincy and have a very light load for the ride to the coast. A fully loaded bike compared to just carrying field repair gear, water bottles and a few snacks makes a world of a difference! With that plausible scenario in mind, I'll have no trouble with the last 70-something miles to Florence. We'll see how that goes! I also found out that my parents purchased a flight for September 3rd, but I could attempt to change for an earlier flight so that I can attend the service for George on the 2nd. I also spoke with Kelsey, my boss, and she told me that I can get back to work on the 7th, which will be wonderful for getting back into my "regular" life and have time for catching up with friends. I'm positive that I'm going to miss this cyclical renewal of new adventures, faces, smells, sights, and sounds... but I'm strongly looking forward to getting back home!
Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Day 57: Mitchell, OR to Redmond, OR (73 Miles)

They are not Henry. That's Rich and Rob, two really nice photographers who gave me a wealth of knowledge regarding Portland. I'm really excited to spend some time in the city; however, I need to get to the coast first!

That's Henry. He's overweight and bored. Please save him. Anyone interested in the "Free Henry" cause, please travel to Mitchell, Oregon with a pair of wire clippers and a good pair of running shoes...

I wasn't necessarily looking forward to riding this morning. This feeling usually accompanies the fact that I have to face a mountain ascent. This morning featured such a climb up to Ochoco Pass. This would be a 2,000 foot climb in just under 10 miles. On the other hand, the morning is the best time to conquer such climbs, due to cooler temperatures and stronger muscles. I stopped a few times to eat some "complimentary" muffins I took from the hotel and chug down some water. The climb went by a lot faster than I was dreading and I was already heading down from the Blue Mountains and towards the Cascades.

The descent wasn't as enjoyable as it should have been, due to a strong enough headwind that made the ride feel like a slight uphill. A strong wind during descents is quite the insult, but I didn't let it get to me. I thoroughly enjoyed the smell of pine and the breeze kept me from sweating too much. I noticed small forest fires on the horizon, which the photographers had warned me of. Apparently, these fires are so common, that you could be stopped by local firefighters and given a shovel to help out in deterring the fires. I'm sure these winds are quite the nuisance to firefighters as well. I passed Ochoco Lake and found myself in Prineville for lunch. I stopped at a Quizno's and studied the maps. I planned to try to make it to Sisters, with a quick stop at a bike shop in Redmond to look at my slowly deflating front tire. As I turned up a bend on Route 370, I soon faced a terrible, terrible wind.

The ride to Redmond was far more challenging than I had envisioned. The slight uphill, matched with very strong winds, made for a slow, dreadful crawl. The sun also began to bare down on me and by the following picture, well... you can see how I was feeling...

I made it into Redmond a little after 3:30PM and I decided to call it a day. I found a place called "Trinity Bikes" and found a shop run by some young kids. They definitely knew their bike stuff and we took a look at my front tire. Due to the longer Presta stem, I had caused a small puncture near the stem and we replaced the inner-tube, one with a smaller stem. Problem solved. I hope.

Tomorrow features the last major climb of my trip, McKenzie Pass. This pass is located near Mount Washington (7,794 ft) and Black Crater (7,251 ft). This pass is typically shut down up until July, due to snow. This is the doorway leading into West Oregon and a very wet climate. As you can tell, I've grown tired of arid climates and I'm really excited to delve into this final stretch of Oregon. I'm almost there... almost there.

In response to Ashley May's request, I'm going to do one better than my last post and attempt to explain why I'm riding...

I think I'm riding for the sole reason to better myself. It would be disingenuous of me to say I'm solely riding for the kids of Montaña de Luz. The fundraiser is just an amazing side-effect of this selfish act I've set forth and I'm forever grateful to those who made this an outstanding success. I'm riding to remove myself from the things I take for granted... my apartment, my friends, my job, my dog, etc. I'm riding to remove myself from any form of complacency and giving myself over to the hospitality and kindness of other people. I'm riding to cleanse myself of unhealthy habits and for a renewal in energy... a high colonic of the soul, if you will. I'm riding for the adventure. I'm riding to make new life-long friends and to spur on others to share in this universal experience. There's an unknown "something" about riding that I've seen in the eyes of fellow travelers, a twinkle of pure joy that goes unspoken. I'm riding because I can and I'm already longing for another experience just like this.

Here's the reason... I'm riding, because it's life amplified to it's fullest extent.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Day 56: Prairie City, OR to Mitchell, OR (84.5 Miles)

The temperature decided to dip down into the upper 30's last night and made my tent seem all the more worthless. They should include a caveat when selling this tent: "Eureka Single Season Tent: Not Applicable to the NorthWest." Falling out of my tent, I walked over to the bathroom and came upon a small family of deer. There's a lot of wildlife out here. I heard an interesting trifecta of canine noises last night... an eclectic mix of long wolf howls, short coyote calls, and rapid domestic barks. I wonder if they all understand each other or they're just trying to out-shout the other like O'Reilly and Olbermann?

I broke camp and got on the road by 7:30 and began a pleasant ride to John Day, only thirteen miles away. I made it to my breakfast stop within 45 minutes and found a nice little restaurant to serve me a very delicious french toast breakfast. They not only had great food... they also supplied free WiFi, so I hung around for a bit updating the travel blog and checking emails. I had a short day planned, so I was in no hurry to get back on the road. However, I soon became bored with the internet world and quickly got back on the road. I noticed that my front tire had a very minuscule puncture and I decided to see how long it could last with each inflation. I stopped again in the town of Mount Vernon to send off my last batch of post cards and was assaulted with questions by a group of curious children. "Where are you from?" "Where are you riding to?" "Why are you riding?" The last question actually stumped me... maybe there are too many reasons or just one simple, yet allusive, reason?

I arrived into Dayville a little before noon and I instantly realized I couldn't just stop here for the day... in spite of a free stay at the local Presbyterian Church. I stopped in at a gas station, purchased some junk food and looked over the maps. The next stopping point was about 40 miles away and included a 2,000 foot climb up to Keyes Creek Pass. My legs were feeling just fine and the afternoon heat was somewhat tolerable due to some prevailing winds, therefore I quickly decided to keep riding. Little did I know that I was in for a very scenic, albeit challenging, afternoon of cycling.

The climb up from Dayville was very gradual and surprisingly enjoyable. Within minutes, I was riding towards the John Day fossil bed area. The gorge was very scenic and very windy. As I've written before, these narrow valleys and gorges funnel down winds and concentrate them into steady deterrents for cyclists. The next trip I do, I'll be sure to check out trends in wind patterns and will hopefully not have as many headwinds as I've had on this trip!

This section of the ride featured a multitude of snakes. The sight of slithering creatures makes on think they're seeing mirages. It's only when you ride up on to a nasty rattle snake, do you quickly recognize that threat and try to bike around them. Now, I have the knack for being susceptible to stereotypical phobias, poisonous snakes being one of them. It's not the bites or the creature that scares me, it's what they violently send into your bloodstream. The conscious awareness of a deadly substance traveling through your body is not very desirable. With that in mind, I was very aware of my surroundings when I stopped to take pictures or to eat a snack. Blake no like snakes!

As I was riding upward, my phone began to rang. Apparently, I had turned it on during my stop in Dayville and forgot to turn it off. The voice on the other hand was Chris Holmes (one of the lads) and he told me that he, Callum, and Dowds had met up to ride with the Chrisses, the Bernsteins, and Matt from Manchester. I would have loved to be riding with these guys, but I was happy to be this far along (I'm about 3 days ahead of these guys). I told Chris to send everyone my love and got back to the road. The ride up from the gorge was thrilling and beautiful, but I was not rewarded with my climb up into the high plains. I hit more winds and slowly inched forward as best as I could. I stopped to change out water in my bottles and then noticed a tree full of shoes. If I had an extra pair, I would have loved to build upon this beautiful work of art...

At about 4 o'clock in the afternoon, I finally climbed over the pass and headed down towards the town of Mitchell. This descent was still slow, due to the omni-present headwinds. When I finally did pull into town (if you could call it one), I had to look hard for a person to ask about lodging/camping. I found a big bear of a man (who, ironically, takes care of a bear) and he told me that the local hotel offers a bunk and shower for 15 bucks. This sounded like a deal and I headed across the street to check in. After dealing with a very rude/impatient lady, I carried my junk up to the room and found two men already claiming their bunks. Robert and Rich were out from Portland on a photo expedition. I chatted with them a bit, took a shower, and headed next door for a bite to eat. I had the greasiest food and was attacked by flies and promptly paid the bill. It was probably the quickest dinner I've ever had. The waitress was nice, but she showed me a crazy picture of her feeding the local bear, "Henry." In one hand she was holding the large carrot into Henry's mouth and in the other hand, her baby. Good parenting 101. Oh, and I also met another Brit who was riding from Portland to Chicago. I told him what to expect and he headed off into the blazing late afternoon heat... I did not envy him. I'm going to head back to the room to hang out with the guys and hopefully talk more about photography. G'night!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Day 55: Baker City, OR to Prairie City, OR (69 Miles)

I got a late start this morning. I had to wait around for the local "Flagstaff Sports" shop to open so that I could use their truing stand and purchase some more inner tubes. The guy was a little late to open the shop, but he arrived on a bike followed closely by his faithful dog. The mere presence of a dog can make me forget about trivial issues such as "time." I never caught his name, but the employee seemed like a really nice guy and we chatted it up a bit when looking over my tire. I spent about an hour in the shop and finally got on the road. By the sweat already accumulating on my skin at such an early hour, I could tell it was going to be a hot one...

The day's ride was going to be a challenging one. I had the option of either riding over three mountain passes and conquering the Elkhorn range in one day, or stealth-camping somewhere after the second pass and saving the last climb for tomorrow morning, and cooler temperatures. Suffice it to say, I chose the former option over the latter, in spite of a scary dehydration-situation... but I'll get to that soon enough...

As I rode towards Sumpter Pass, the first climb of the day, I witnessed something straight out of a BBC Planet Earth special. I saw a hawk swoop down to pick up a critter, I'm assuming it was either a fat chipmunk or some sort of prairie dog. As it had it's prey in it's talons, a smaller black bird flew down and began assaulting the hawk. The hawk subsequently dropped it's potential breakfast and it bounced once and ran off to the nearest hiding place. It was the most fascinating display of nature I've seen on the trip thus far, and I imagined the sultry voice of David Attenborough narrating the scenario in my head (which makes things all the more interesting).

Anyways, I rode over Sumpter Pass with relative ease, but I noticed that I was getting low on water. Checking the maps, there was a whole lot of nothing until Austin Junction, which was beyond Tipton Pass. I decided to reserve my energy on the next climb and try to drink more conservatively from then on. In spite of these efforts, I already took down my last drop when about half way up Tipton. The challenging climbs mixed with the 95 degree weather made me sweat enough to make my mouth go dry and coarse in moments. I took my empty water bottle and would shake it out upside down at RV's and cars that passed by, but no one stopped. I actually fulfilled the desert movie cliché and whispered "water" from time to time. I've passed out from dehydration/heat stroke before. Once when I was mountain biking with a friend and another when I rode from Rome to Naples. Thinking the third time might be the charm and finally get me, I kept my mind awake and took breaks to stave off the act of passing out.

Salvation came in the form of a small pipe, spewing forth the sweet nectar of life. Luckily, there were a few farmers at the spring and they told me it was definitely safe to drink. I quickly filled my spare liter bottle and drank it down within seconds, then proceeded to repeat this action. Dehydration was my biggest fear when preparing for this trip and I was relieved to overcome this dire situation I found myself in. I'll have to stop in the next town and purchase another spare liter water bottle, for the purpose of not repeating the same mistakes.

I rode a few more miles to find a gas station/cafe/grocery store at Austin Junction, and not much more. It was only 3:30PM by the time I reached this potential stopping point, so I grabbed my map and thought it over with a milkshake. Feeling that I had enough energy to make it over Dixie Pass, the third and final pass of the day, I pumped myself up and climbed over my last ascent in the Elkhorn Mountains. Before I knew it, I was quickly riding down a thrilling descent into a beautiful valley. Within minutes, I was pulling into Prairie City and quickly found a place to pitch my tent. I'm camping near a defunct railroad depot and will be eating crappy Ramen noodles tonight (for the sake of saving money). Looking over the map, I'll probably have a shorter day and stop in Dayville, where there's a Presbyterian Church that offers "hostel-like" accomodations. I'm getting close now... I can nearly smell the ocean!

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