Eastern Oregon Bike Tour: Day 3

View Eastern OR: Day 3 in a larger map

Start: Smith Rock State Park
End: Ochoco National Forest
Miles Biked: 51
Money?: $9 for an amazing vegetarian sandwich in Prineville

After a yesterday of biking with a purpose, I decided to go super mellow-style today. The lovely Smith Rock sunrise inspired me to walk around, spy on the birds, take it easy in the early-morning calm. I charged my cell phone and camera by the bathrooms while I ate a leisurely oatmeal breakfast (my camping specialty:) in the cooking area. I chatted with a few climbers, but it seemed like I woke up way earlier than most.

Since it was sunny and I wasn’t in a hurry, I got a chance to actually dry out my tent before I packed it up. Wet tent packing is one of my least favorite things–after a few days of putting a tent away not quite dry, I start to feel like everything I own is soggy, that I get into a soggy home at night and pack it up soggy in the morning, that my sleeping bag and anything my tent touches in my trailer become soggy… so it was lovely to drape my footprint and rain fly over the trees and let them dry out. If any of you guys ever go bike camping, I strongly recommend (if you can) that for your personal sanity you give your shelter time to dry.

On my way out from Smith Rock, I followed scenic bikeway signs that I didn’t know were going to be there. It turns out there’s a “Sisters to Smith” bikeway that I did not remember existed–though I wish I had because it looks like a much nicer way west to Sisters than taking highway 126 (which is what I did on my way back toward Portland). Oh well.

(guiding me back out)

Actually, this day was kind of a funny route-finding day anyway. After the last two days of biking on semi-major highways, I was kind of done with traffic. So instead of Highway 126 east, I opted for the lesser-known O’Neil Highway, basically a little road that takes you through some farmland and still ends up in Prineville.  It turns out that I even could have gotten onto it without taking (if you look at my map) that funny little detour west and back onto highway 97, but I didn’t know that until I passed some signs for it later. Again, oh well.

(the lovely O’Neil Highway stretches toward Prineville.)

In the spirit of chilling out today, I took a loooooong lunch break in Prineville and absolutely devoured the hugest and most amazing vegetarian sandwich ever at the pragmatically named Sandwich Factory. Veganism stops being as viable of an option once you cross the Cascades, it seems, so I decided that sandwiches are the most likely option for something vegetarian at least. Until now, I’d still been eating the food that I brought with me, so this was my first real food expense.

After Prineville, Highway 26 becomes less obnoxious than it is between Portland and Madras, and I even enjoyed the only tailwind I had on this entire trip. I sort of made a decision about roads today, though, and that was that they’re really good for killing things. I saw two live deer today and three dead ones; a live cat and several smooshed ones; a dead skunk: not the best living-to-dead ratio. Granted, roadkill is generally right in front of you and is easier to spot than live animals since it doesn’t move, but I definitely got the sense today that a road is a good place to die.

This also made me happy to be off the busier highways.

I decided to camp in the Ochoco National Forest rather than press on to Mitchell, OR not only because national forest camping is free but because camping, especially in nature (as opposed to an RV park outside a city;), is really what I love about bike travel. Give me a chance to go to sleep and wake up hearing birds and no motors, and I am a happy stasia.

(happy as a clam in my little campsite:)

So the theme for today? Super mellow, with lots of playtime; slow biking to look at everything around me. A lovely day.

(and, of course, more adventure pictures here)

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