Miles today: 60
Unity to Mount Vernon, OR
We were awoken at 4 am by the sprinklers coming on in the city park and spraying at our tent. This continued until a little after 7, when we were planning how to make our escape from the tent without getting ourselves and our stuff completely soaked. Luckily, they turned off and we got out nice and dry. Unfortunately, Ben's panniers were in the direct line of water and aren't completely waterproof so all of his clothes were wet. There was no laundromat in Unity so he had to wear damp clothes. We went to breakfast at the Watering Hole and had another great, filling meal. We are always amazed when we wake up so hungry after a big meal the night before. We met another cycling couple headed east at the cafe. Dave and Ryan started in Portland and are headed to Savannah, Georgia! We did the usual cyclist meeting stuff: compare routes, share stories about the wind, ect. They told us about a bicyclist only place to stay in Mount Vernon, which seemed pretty awesome so we thought we would try to stay there, about 60 miles away.
We hit the road and pretty much immediately started climbing. An hour and a half later, we reached the top of the Blue Mountain Pass at 5100 ft.
The green sign in the background is the summit sign.
Hydrating at the top!
We were so happy to be back among trees! We were in a national forest for a good part of the day and it was really awesome. After being in the desert since Colorado, we loved seeing the trees again. And it makes the climbs so much more interesting! We flew down the mountain- about 8 miles at 25-30 mph- what an incredible feeling! And it feels even better knowing we put the hard work in to get up to the top and earned that downhill.
We got down the mountain and right away started climbing another. At this point we joined back up with the ACA Transamerica route, so we can use our maps again! This was exciting because they list places to stay and services in each town, we even didn't realize that we've missed using these maps, but we did! We will use the transamerica route all the way to Florence now.
Another 1.5 hours later, we reached the top of Dixie Pass. These climbs really are not difficult. We are never really working that hard, in fact we are usually having a conversation the entire time up. It makes the time go by much faster, and we never get out of breath at this pace. The climb was about 6 miles and we were going 4 mph. It's just slow and steady, which I really like. At the top we ate some apples and granola bars and enjoyed the amazing view. I kept wanting to stop at every turn on the downhill because I just could not believe how beautiful it was. Our descent faced the Strawberry Mountain range and the valley in between. Just gorgeous!
We had a 10 mile descent into Prairie City, where we stopped for water, and then continued 13 more downhill miles into John Day. We were starving and each devoured a footlong subway sandwich. Then we went to the laundromat and did our laundry. It was 7 by the time we left John Day and headed the 8 more downhill miles into Mount Vernon. We know we will have to climb up to 5300 ft again tomorrow, but this extensive descent was so worth it!
We got into Mount Vernon and found the Bike Inn. It's a guest house next to the owner's house. Nobody was home but a sign on the guest house welcomed us in. There is a kitchen, futon and bathroom. The cabinets and fridge are stocked for our use. Places like these are so amazing, we cannot thank Christy, the owner, enough! The hot water heater is being replaced so we went down the road to a motel to take showers for $2.50 per person. We were still full from our sandwhiches, but we marveled at the kitchen and looked forward to the morning when we would cook the eggs, cheese and English muffins In the fridge! The eggs are from the chickens in the yard. There are also goats, cats and the a dog, Barbie. Barbie and I played catch for a long time- she's the sweetest dog!
It is hard to put into words how awesome it is to stay inside after camping for so long. It is such an incredible luxury to sleep on a fold out futon! Christy is the best for donating her house, food, time, and money into creating this place for cyclists! We love it!