Thursday, October 01, 2009

Day 17! It's Raining, It's Pouring...

It showered all night, drastically increasing in volume and frequency around 6:00am. I tried to sleep more, but, with the sound of the rain and wondering what we should do for the day, it was difficult. By 8:00, my bladder didn't care if it was pouring, it was time to go visit the facilities.

I dressed, but in camp clothes under my rain gear, not sure what we were going to do still, and went to the outhouse. Anthony also had needs and emerged from the tent. As if we were the catalyst, by the time we were done, the rain took a break. It was long enough to make and eat breakfast. Davan got served her third meal in a row "in bed."

I campaigned to go on. I had no desire to stay at that campground and worry about food. Speaking again with our neighbors, they 1) offered us more water, which, again was great and 2) told us they'd crossed the road we were planning on traveling on on a hike the day before and it was a packed gravel/dirt road.

That report pretty much made up our minds. The road would not be mud and we'd done very short sections of packed gravel/dirt and, while not speedy, it was passable. We let Davan know what was what and she replied with, "I figured we would be going on!" like we had been crazy to think of staying. She hadn't realized we were even thinking about it.

The plan was to try to make it to Oakridge, but, if not, to get as far as we could. We wanted to make it all the way and get a hotel. Our tent was going to be packed up wet and it would be more of a challenge to be relatively dry another night with that being the case. If the rain just proved to be too much, though, we'd set up camp and have less distance to cover before getting to town the next day.

Anthony got back in the tent to pack up, change into riding gear and help Davan tape plastic bags over her socks under her shoes to combat cold, wet feet. By this point, it was raining again. I stayed out to start packing up the bikes and just changed under the shelter of the trees.

When I was changing, I realized a sad, sad fact. As if I didn't have enough to deal with, I'd started my period. It was time to break out the Diva Cup. Right there under the trees (no way was I risking loosing it in the outhouse), I took care of business.

We finally were ready to go when Anthony realized the front tire on the tandem was soft. He pumped it up and off we went.

A half a mile from camp, the gravel road started. We expected to cover about 14 miles of gravel before hitting blacktop. Right away, it was steep, which was very challenging with the gravel. Particularly with the tandem, they couldn't peddle too hard or the back wheel would just spin. I found that if I stopped on too steep an incline, it was very, very difficult to get going again.

What was good news was that we weren't getting rained on. In fact, we mostly only got occasionally sprinkled on with just two heavy showers the whole riding day.

The road didn't remain quite as steep as it started and, thus, the going was easier if not easy. At one point, the road turned a bright red for a good stretch, which was quite interesting and inspired Davan to compose "Follow the Red Dirt Road," which I'm afraid I don't remember well enough to relate here. It's another thing I'm sorry I didn't get a picture of. Eventually, we leveled out and even did some descending while still on the gravel, which, while easier than the ascending, was still a challenge with needing to keep the speed under control for safety reasons.

Our path turned out to be quite scenic with some really cool rock formations, the mist in the trees and, eventually, the valley below us with the clouds hovering. However, it also turned out to be a little difficult to find. The path, that is. We had several turns on gravel roads to make and there were a surprising number of roads. We missed one.

We realized this when the mileage got to be 14 and then 15 miles. We stopped to look at the map. We figured we'd missed our turn, but the road we were on would meet up. Another couple of miles of the slow gravely progress and we checked the map again. Finally we checked our location using the GPS unit that Anthony had borrowed from work. It's the type of unit that only gives coordinates, no maps. But, it was enough to tell us that, indeed, we were on the road we thought we were on.

Finally, after many hours and 18 miles of gravel, we hit blacktop. What a relief! And it was downhill. Whew! If it weren't, we'd have been in trouble. We were all tired after the 18 miles of gravel and still had 28 or so miles to go to Oakridge.

We were expecting it to be all downhill, which it was for quite a while, and we were jubilant while it lasted. It was practically a party with the cruising along downhill and the relief of being off the gravel, but then there were some rollers. In our tired state, those were difficult.

The last 10 miles were along a very lovely reservoir, but I, for one, was too tired to really appreciate it. In fact, with 5 or so miles to go, I hit a wall yet again. For the second day in a row I was as weak as a kitten and had trouble even holding myself in a tuck position while going downhill. The sight of a very small hill ahead had me in tears. It was bad.

Finally, we hit town and stopped at the first motel we came to. I just sat down and told Anthony he was going to have to deal with stuff. I didn't even feel hungry, but once we got in the room, Anthony talked me into eating a handful of dark chocolate covered almonds (which tells you how sad it was - having to be talking into it!) and I almost immediately started to feel better.

It continued to shower intermittently outside and we were so, so happy to be in the hotel, even a slightly run down one. They were nice enough to let us wheel our bikes right into the room, which was great. We showered each in turn. Heaven! And then got back on the unloaded bikes to go out to eat.

We found a Chinese place that was fine enough and then hit a Ray's to stock up on food and get dessert. It was another big eating night with some baked potato chips and some So Delicious going down nicely.

Anthony did a load of laundry in the hotel washer and I got the tent out to dry some in the shower. We, again, had lots hanging up drying.

Davan enjoyed having a place to do a little tumbling, stretching and general rolling about.

With going out to dinner and all, our mileage for the day was 57.49, but the gravel felt like about double what it was, so we felt the mileage that day didn't accurately show the effort, but there it was.

We turned the TV on long enough to find out that dry weather was predicted for the rest of the week. We'd almost forgotten we could get that information from the TV. We were asking each other about what we remembered from our last forecast - up at Crater Lake - and then were wondering how to get an update. Anthony suggested calling the front desk to ask. Davan flourished the channel guide and said, "What about the weather channel?" Well, that was thinking.

We crawled into our warm, dry, real beds, absolutely knowing we'd made the right decision about getting a hotel this time, and with the comfort of a good forecast for the next day in our minds. We also decided that we'd sleep late if we wanted to and only go as far as we felt like the next day. It was a good night.

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