Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Aug 11 (Day 223) - Very long, hot, hard ride to reach La Grande

I am WIPED OUT. I hope my brain is functioning well enough to make this entry even remotely coherent. This morning I biked from Ontario, OR to Baker City, OR. I was able to cover this 73 miles in about 5.5 hours. The ride included at least 3000' of climbing so I was happy with my morning effort. The region of Oregon is by far the most desolate place I have visited this year. There isn't even a gas station between Ontario and Baker city. Rolling, sage-covered hills are all there is to be seen along this stretch of I-84. This level of nothingness is what I expected in Western Texas, not Eastern Oregon! 

118 tough miles today

Morning landscape outside Ontario

New time zone, more of the same landscape

I did have a very nice run in with two former Marines (I think former, though they could still be active), Jay and Denny. These two gents are biking across the country in honor of their friend and fellow Marine, Johnny Strong. Johnny was an video game enthusiast and had hoped to join the gaming industry when his time the in service was over. Tragically, Johnny was killed fighting in Iraq in 2007. His two friends have devised a very clever and creative way to carry on Johnny's dream. They are biking across the country visiting children's hospitals as they go. They have partnered with an organization, Child's play, that provides toys and video games to hospitalized children. They are fundraising on behalf of this organization. I think I have most of this correct, though I am sure they explain the project much better in their own words. Please take a second to check out their project website, it's really interesting and inspiring. 

 Denny and Jay. They started in Boston are are headed to Seattle.
Thanks for your service, we all owe you. Johnny would be proud.

Since I arrived in Baker City on the early side, I decided to carry on to La Grande in the afternoon. This added an additional 45 miles to bring the day's total to 118. These last 45 were done in temperatures that ranged from 92-96F. A headwind was was also thrown into the mix for the last 10 miles. It was a really challenging day, and I am very proud of myself for completing it. There is no rest in sight though as tomorrow I will ride to Walla Walla, WA, a distance of about 80 miles. There will be one huge climb that will be really tough, so I am going to hit the hay ASAP to get my body ready for it.

Farming/Ranching area north of Baker City this afternoon

The last time I crossed this line I was on an unsuccessful
Ross's gull chase to Chambly, Quebec in Dec 2013. There is
an identical sign in Vermont just before the crossing into Quebec  
as drivers head north to Montreal.

118 miles + 4000' climbing + 96F + wind + 
last place Red Sox and + last place Phillies = THIS

My hosts for the evening are Emilie and Charlie. They prepared a great meal and invited several local bird enthusiasts over for dinner/drinks/desert. Despite being exhausted, I mustered the energy to hold court for a few hours. It was nice to meet some additional friends and family tonight!

Din-dins with the gang!

OK, short and sweet. The beat rolls on tomorrow. Bed. Now. Goodnight.


  1. It was fun meeting you last night, and you seemed no worse for wear, in spite of the 118 miles you did. I hope you have some great birds in your future, and lots of tailwinds for the rest of the year.


  2. No such thing as a former Marine. You may no longer be on active duty, but you are forever a Marine! Really enjoy viewing vacariously, your journey. Bird On!

  3. I saw these two guys riding the side of the highway not long after I ran into you at the gas station. Gave them a friendly beep and waved through the sunroof. Small world!

  4. Whoooo! Montreal !

    (like in a rock concert, I'm whooing when my home town is mentioned ! )