Thursday, September 08, 2011

Jenn's Big Summer Adventure: Part 11 - Eastern Oregon

Thursday (9/8) morning, stomach still bothering me, I packed up and headed out. On my way to the motorcycle, I spied a preying mantis on the ground - looking like he was having a pretty hard morning:


For breakfast, I headed back to Shangri La and took up the loveseat, enjoyed a nice tofu scramble and ordered a falafel sandwich to go for lunch later. I also found myself powerless to resist the charms of a certain necklace in the jewelry case (made by the owner's husband!). Next stop was at Co-Op in Boise for antacids, drinks & snacks. This was probably one of the best grocery stores I have been to on this trip - it was full of high quality products and piles of local produce (including golden chanterelles from Eastern Oregon!). At a red light, another motorcyclist waves at me and comes up to introduce himself as a fellow ADV Rider who had seen my request for recommendations for motorcycles with tires in stock.

As I head out of Boise, I am sad to note that one of the freeway overcrossings has a big sign for "Black Cat Road" - but there aren't any nearby offramps and I don't want to do a 15 mile detour to get a picture of the sign. The terrain becomes more agricultural and I can smell spinach and onions at the same time, like a big Greek salad!

My plan for the next several days is to stop before I think I need to - and hydrate more. My stomach is still a bit off - so I stop at a store that promises alcohol, tobacco, firearms, pawn and cold drinks for a rest stop.

After that, I go from nice rolling farm land onto Hwy 26 where the farmland is flat and hot. Lots of big big ag completely lacking places to stop to eat my sandwich. Finally, I stop at Willow Creek Cafe in Vale, OR where I get permission to eat my sandwich, order tea and find myself regaled with macabre tales of true crime and dumbassery in a charming cafe where the walls are covered with these amazing Log Cabin quilts that have rounded edges and curves (with Log Cabin?) made by Bev, the owner.



Once the tales of true crime (some dentist killed his wife by strangling her with a piano wire or something) are exhausted, talk turns to travel and "what are you doing on that motorcycle?" The farmer and his daughter (who appears to be about my age) talk about her brief time in Portland - which he thought was quite dangerous, and then he proceeds to tell me about his trip to Oakland with a load of onions, casually dropping in the word "Negroes" (which he pronounces as "NIG-rows"). We discuss my route and the three of them agree that there is absolutely nothing redeeming to see on my route - it's just not nice - and I'd be better off taking the shorter route.

After warning me how dangerous it is in eastern Oregon and that there are bad people who might cause me harm, the other two guests leave. Now that I have her to myself, I get Bev to lead me on a grand tour of her quilts, she graciously answers my questions and gives me her two instruction books so I can learn to make such awesome quilts myself!


At a stop for gas a few miles away, an old farmer in a cowboy hat exits the store as I am removing my helmet, and looks quite astonished, remarking "Why a lady motor-sickle rider!"

I've rather run out of responses - since he's right on both counts and his lack of exposure to women on motorcycles is pretty funny since I don't think he'd react like that to a woman on some big ag combine or something.

Hwy 26 features more buttes, rolling hills, antelope and antelope. It's actually quite pretty and nice, with lots of variation along the long straightaways. There's no traffic and I'm still not seeing any law enforcement - wishing I had a street bike to go ZOOM!








My next stop is at the El Dorado Restaurant in Unity where I drink iced tea and chat with owner, Kathy. After hearing my story about the quilts at Willow Creek, she suggests that I visit a quilt shop in Prarie City owned by her friends. I pop into the local post office to mail home my new quilt books - afraid they'll get wet by the dark clouds ahead and not willing to unpack the entire duffel - and notice a bunch of cute kitties across the street! Then, I get introductions by a woman named Memory to all her cute kitties.

Simba - king of the orange kittens!


Kitties put on a show for me!


Baby Blue Eyes (all the cuter being crossed!)

Momma's got TWO extra toes!

Babies at play

Leaving Unity:

I have to confess that I thought the folks at Willow Creek Cafe were just having one over on me - I continued to see gorgeous scenery going into Prairie City and was glad that I pointed my wheels toward a place on the map with the words "forest" and "Malheur" - bringing to my mind the image of some forested mountains, desolate and beautiful - and so far, not disappointing. Even before I got to Unity, the skies were pink from the sun going through the haze of smoke blowing over from Central Oregon forest fires is making the sky pink - and there were also giant piles of clouds that look to threaten rain never produce anything on my route.



Just above Prairie City, I stopped to admire the views and a giant Conestoga Wagon.



My new jacket sure stands out in this weather!

Prairie City was as quaint as can be and I found my way to the quilt shop just in time to meet Viola who lead me to the John Day fairgrounds to get a sneak preview of the quilt show and buy a quilt kit so I can make gorgeous stars like those in this quilt:


I won't overwhelm with too many quilt photos - you can see them all here:

I think this was my favorite one:

After many warnings about deer, I left the kind folks at the John Day County Fair Grounds, bought gas at Clark & Canyon City Blvd and got on my way.

Going through the Malheur Forest was gorgeous -- just all amazing - forests, prairie, mountains buttes -- I was just bummed that it was already getting dark. I did not see a single deer.

When I arrived in Burns, I soon discovered that the first few hotels were sold out! Apparently, this is because of the county fair and rodeo. I end up at Rory & Ryan's based on a a review by Super Suz and got a discount on the efficiency apartment unit with a kitchen. As soon as the pretty concierge informed me that both her brothers were going to be at the Friday night rodeo - I decided to stick around. I'd never been to a rodeo before!

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