Find Your Way
July 29, 2002
Halfway to Baker City

Today's Miles = 59.2
Average Speed = 7.9 mph
Maximum Speed = 41.5 mph
Total Miles = 4081.5

Although my map tells me I'm in Oregon, it doesn't really feel true. In my mind Oregon is a state of forests and beaches, but the land I'm riding through continues to be mile after mile of high desert. As I head west I'll be coming soon to the part that matches my mind's eye, but first I've got a few more mountains to cross. The dividing line in Oregon between the wet and the dry is the Cascade Mountain Range. On the western slope of the Cascades as much as 100 inches of precipitation falls annually, while on the eastern slope as little as 5 inches falls per year.

Not only are the Cascades a geographical boundary within Oregon, they have become a political boundary as well. Oregon's large population centers all lay in the humid land to the west of the mountains, so political decisions that effect the entire state are made mostly by people who haven't lived in the dryer regions. There is some resentment here out east about this arrangement of political affairs, and as I heard said in Halfway "around here Portland, Salem, and Eugene are dirty words".

The ride out of Halfway began immediately with a moderate climb of 1,000 feet over a small pass, and then an all-day climb as we continued to the west. If terrain was the only consideration this probably would have been a higher mileage day, but the winds that came from the west added an additional constant burden to the ride. David and I had hoped to get beyond Baker City today, but as the day wore on I decided I'd be happy to come to anyplace I could stop.

Through the early riding in the morning I was the stronger cyclist, leaving David out of sight behind me. But David caught up when I stopped at a small roadside market along the way, and when we left he pulled further and further away from me. When two cyclists separately ride into a town of 150, it is usually pretty easy to find each other. But Baker City has a population of nearly 10,000 and finding David would be like looking for a proverbial needle in a haystack.

I stopped at the first campground on the edge of town and learned that David had stopped in, but had continued into town. We hadn't made any plans for meeting in town or riding the next day, and I opted to camp here for the night.

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