August 14, 2006
(Hitchhiking forward to where I left off yesterday)
Today I woke in my stealth-city-park-campsite after 6am, and was packed up and out of there in less than ten minutes. Beautiful.
I walked over to McDonald’s to kill some time, and finished the Asimov book. It was a good, easy read – an intergalactic cliff-hanger with suspense, and a government espionage that can be applied to contemporary politics – like the latest addition of the Star Wars movies.
I also bumped into Eric again, there at the McDonalds. He said that there’s one-bedroom houses available for rent around here at $300 per month! They’re old, but decent places, not in the ghetto or anything. There is no ghetto.
After I got bored of my surroundings, I went down the street to a cafe for some real breakfast. They had a porch where you sit on the main street – and surprisingly cheap food, considering the coffee-house-type atmosphere. There was a guy working with a jackhammer right there on the street in front of me, but I still preferred it to being inside. A little busy city noise is an usual environment for me these days.
The bike shop opened at 10am, and it was a little later than that by the time I made it over there. Upon inspection, it turned out that neither I or the mechanic were at fault for my repetitive flat tires. The rim tape had slid, revealing the holes for the spokes (Which could cause a flat in itself), but there were also all of these little shavings of sharp metal from when the holes had originally been punched in the factory. We got that cleaned out and taken care of, so my bike is ready for the road again.
Afterward, I dropped in the library and got the journal up to date. It always feels good to be caught up on it.
Then it was time to hitchhike out of town, 50 miles back ahead to Austin Junction. This proved to be more difficult than yesterday’s lucky ride into town. I immediately noticed that there was less traffic outside of town today on a Monday, as opposed to the weekend.
There at the outskirts a man and his son stopped for me – they were only going seven miles up the road, but I took them up on it. He actually had a seat rigged on the bed of his truck facing the rear-view, with a seat belt and everything. It was a sweet ride.
I started thumbing again from where they left me, and I was there for at least an hour in the hot open sun. With no book to read and my journal up to date (It was too hot to write anyway), I passed the time by collecting the smooth, water eroded pieces of gravel from all the rest of the gravel where I was sitting, and stacking them in a tidy pile. Yep, there’s the mind of a touring cyclist for ya.
At last a blue pickup truck stopped, with a man and woman inside. They were very cautious of me – not once stepping out of their vehicle (Can’t blame ’em), but were more than happy to give me a ride as far as they were going, near Sumpter. I got to ride in the back again! Yee-haw!
So after they left me I was back to work on a patch of gravel. It was still with 25 miles to go to where I’d left off at Austin Junction, including those two 1,000 foot climbs. I waited 60-90 minutes, and nobody stopped. By now it was after 5pm, and traffic was thinning out from an already trickling volume, so I thought I’d better start riding.
It felt great to be back on the bike again. My butt-contoured Brooks saddle actually felt refreshingly cozy, compared to the benches and curbs I’d been frequenting for the last 48 hours.
I had only gone a few miles when Eric passed me, and pulled over. He said hello, went ahead into Sumpter and came back with cold Gatorade! “I get to play trail angel for a little,” he said.
He found a house this afternoon in Baker City – one bedroom, kitchen, fully furnished, washer/dryer… $300 a month! He also said he’d welcome a roommate, especially if nothing works out for me in Eugene/Portland.
So we fit my bike in Eric’s car, and he gave me a ride the rest of the way to Austin Junction. Tonight I’m sleeping out on the front porch of the Austin store/cafe. Life is good.