Sunday, September 11, 2011

Day 65

Saturday, September 10

Miles: 92
Sisters to Eugene, OR

We woke up to the smell of donuts and followed it to the bakery in town. We had breakfast and got an early start on the road (early for us now means 9am). We started climbing right away but it was the usual mountain gradual, slow and steady. We got to a lookout a few miles from the top and we were right on a huge lava rock field. A volcanic mountain across from McKenzie Mtn had erupted 1500 years ago and deposited volcanic rock all over the area. It looked like something from a different planet!

As we were climbing, the lava began to encroach on both sides of the road. After 15 miles, we reached the summit of McKenzie Pass- over 5300 ft.

There was an observatory constructed from the lava rocks at the summit, which was pretty fun. We could see the smoke from forest fires off in the distance.

Over the next 15 miles we dropped more than 3300 feet. There were steep switchbacks and sharp turns. The speed limit signs actually applied to us for once- 15-20 mph for most of the way down. The side we climbed was much easier because we started at about 3000 ft in Sisters. We have to get down to 800 ft in Eugene!

The west side of the Cascade Mountains are like a different world from the east. The east is dry and barren, with less than 10 inches of rain annually. The west side is lush, green, forested, and just beautiful- as much as 100 inches of rain per year. it was such a treat to ride down into the beautiful green forest that actually looked like the landscape at home, with the addition of massive mountains.

We had a downhill ride for about 40 miles. It was awesome! After that, it was up and down but once we got under 1,000 ft, we never went above it again. After all, we are getting to sea-level so we have to go all the way down to 0 in elevation. The ride was so pretty and easy that we made it all the way to Eugene before dark! Ben said today was his favorite day of riding- he didn't even want to stop until we got to the ocean (I wasn't that motivated). Today's ride was definitely one of my favorites as well. I'm glad we saved the best for (next to) last!

As seems to be our luck lately, the first home football game of Oregon State University, located in Eugene, was today. They won 69-17 against Nevada. But that meant that all the hotels were extremely expensive or completely booked! This is a real city so there are no campgrounds. Eventually, we found a motel that we could afford. We took our first showers in 3 days which felt amazing, to say the least!

Now we have 61.4 miles left to Florence. Both of us don't really know what to think about reaching the coast tomorrow. It's been a long, eventful, amazing, challenging, tough journey and we are finally about to reach our goal. I'm so excited to get there, but at the same time sad to end. It also seems so surreal that tomorrow is the last day. Maybe it will sink in when we see the ocean for the first time since we left Virginia!

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