I left Troutdale late Tuesday morning. Since I wasn’t sure how easy it was going to be to find gas stations once I got on the road to Bend, I wanted to fill up the tank before leaving town. Driving down Hwy 26, I saw a Chevron but it was on the wrong side of the road and seemed a huge hassle to get to. Too expensive, anyway. I soon saw a Shell on the right. Also, too expensive, so I continued on. Just a mile or two down the road, I came upon a 76. I took a quick scan of the layout to make sure I could get in and out without any major issues. The pump station was small but I could just drive through and exit to the left. So, I pulled in, turned off the engine and got out to pump the gas. Not a second later, a guy appeared at my pump. For a split second I wondered what he was doing there. Oh, right! I’m in Oregon. It had been awhile since I’d been to Oregon and had forgotten they have attendants who fill up your gas for you.
Now with a full tank, I was ready to hit the road. I drove up to the exit and when the traffic was clear, I slowly went down the short but steep ramp that opened to the road. CRUUUUNCH!!!! The back of the RV bottomed out on the driveway! Oh god. Worried I ripped off the sewer pipe or exhaust pipe or whatever else may be back there, I pulled over again a few miles down the road and inspected the underbelly. Nothing appeared to be broken off or dangling that wasn’t supposed to be. At least, now I knew to stick to the larger gas stations as they seem to cater more toward larger vehicles.
Finally, I was back on the highway. The first stretch through part of the Mt Hood National Forest was beautiful with its endless mountains of evergreens. I passed Ski Bowl where I had once done a downhill mountain bike race with my friends Eric and Darcie. About 35 miles later, the landscape began to change. The evergreens had all but disappeared and were replaced with what looked like shrubs. The land opened up and was now a dusty brown. It all looked hauntingly familiar, although, I knew I hadn’t made any planned trips down here. And then it dawned on me – it was the weekend of the downhill race at Ski Bowl. We were heading home to Seattle. Darcie drove while I rode shotgun. Eric was passed out in the back with a broken collarbone he sustained during his race run. Darcie and I were immersed in conversation as we drove up Hwy 26. It was probably a good 40 minutes before we looked out our windows and noticed the scenery had changed, much like what I described on my current road trip. I’m sure we both sat there for a bit trying to figure out what part of the highway this was that we came in on. Part of the problem was the night we arrived at Ski Bowl, Eric was driving, and Darcie and I were passed out for most of the drive along Hwy 26. By the time I woke up, it was already dark.
I think Darcie and I simultaneously realized that we were driving in the wrong direction. Right about that time, Eric began to stir. We asked him to peek out the window and after doing a quick check on his phone, we discovered we were indeed going south instead of north. Somehow, we both missed the sign back at Ski Bowl and made a wrong turn. We decided to continue down to Madras and head north on 97 from there. It ended up being a detour of just a few hours.
The rest of my drive down the two-lane highway was just slightly stressful. Between the strong winds trying to blow me over into the oncoming traffic and avoiding the oncoming cars that were passing other RVs, it was quite draining and I had to take a few rest stops. I drove through some very dramatic landscapes I wish I could have taken pictures of, but there was nowhere to pull over. Finally, I arrived at the RV Park in Bend sometime in the late afternoon.
On Wednesday, I decided to do a group ride with a local bike shop here. So, around 4:45pm, I made the three-mile or so trek on my bike over to Pine Mountain Sports where there were about 10 other people joining the group ride. The coordinator guy began splitting us up into the “slow” group and the “fast” group. And for some reason, I automatically got put in the fast group because I know how to ride. Now, for anyone who knows me and has ridden with me, they will tell you there is nothing fast about my riding pace, particularly, when it comes to anything with an incline. So, I immediately piped up and said, “So, how fast is the fast group?” Anna, the ride leader of the fast group assured me, “Don’t worry, we won’t be going super-fast or anything.” I should have known. That’s always what super-fast people say when they describe their riding pace. But, I tried to be optimistic that I’d be able to keep up with these guys. So, at 5:30 we were off to Phil’s trail system. It was a mile or two to the trailhead and about halfway there, they were already smoking me. I could already see how this was going to go.
We got to the trailhead and began the climb up Ken’s, a slow gradual incline on a smooth dusty trail. About 10-15 minutes in, since I was already keeping a pace faster than I normally would, my legs started to feel the burn. Shortly after, my lungs were starting to feel it too. Seriously? I mean, I know I hadn’t really done any biking in the last three weeks and ate a lot of crap food and drank a lot of beer on our sailing trip but come on! Sometime between my labored breaths I asked Jim, the sweep guide riding behind me, “What’s the elevation here?”
“Oh, I think Bend is at about 3,500ft so we’re probably at about 4,000ft right now. That might be doin’ it to ya!” he said.
Tiger Mountain, one of the higher of elevations of places we normally ride is at about 3,000ft – this is a good 500-1,000ft more than I’m used to. Yeah, I’m going to go with that. It’s the elevation, for sure! Anyway, I somehow managed to make it to the top where they were all waiting, patiently. For the ride down we took Phil’s Trail, a mostly smooth, flowy, gravity assisted trail with a few technical rocky sections to keep things fun. We got back to the bottom in probably less than 10 minutes and although coming down Phil’s was a blast, I was ready to head home and pass out on the floor. Unfortunately, I still had another four to five miles to pedal back to my RV, which was brutal. When I finally reached home, I immediately curled into a ball on my couch and expelled some sort of creepy moaning noise with each breath. You know when you work out so hard you feel like you’re about to purge all your insides? Well, that’s where I was. And that’s where I stayed for the next few hours.
Earlier that day, I had contacted Todd, a friend of my friend, Gabe, who she connected me with to show me some of the trails out here. He mentioned he was taking Thursday off so he’d be available for an afternoon ride. Now, after the disaster of a ride on Wednesday, I had serious doubts I was going to survive Thursday’s ride. But I knew I’d get through it somehow, just like countless of other rides I’d managed to muster through. So, Thursday afternoon, Todd and I set out to ride Funner which was in another trail system along the highway that goes up to Mt. Bachelor. I was anxious to see what kind of pace he was going to set and I was relieved when I found I could mostly keep up with him. The climb up Funner was gradual and mostly smooth with the exception of a handful of rocky sections which is very different from our rooty trails we have in Western Washington. When we got to the top, there was a huge pump track we did a round on and then headed back down the trail, which conveniently was way more “funner” going down. All in all, it turned out to be a much more pleasant ride than I expected after working myself to death the previous day.
So, after two days of riding, Friday was going to be my relaxing day. I wanted to get an early start Saturday morning because I knew I’d have a long drive ahead of me, so I wanted to get as much done as possible Friday afternoon which included emptying the RV holding tanks.
A few days ago, after the rain passed and the sun came out and dried everything out, I walked along the back of the RV and noticed a wet spot on the pavement near where the fresh water and sewer hose connections are located. Huh, I thought. Maybe I didn’t actually connect the water hose tight enough and it’s leaking a little. Oh, well. And I continued about my business.
Back to Friday afternoon, I opened the black water valve and everything started flushing out as normal. And then, there was seepage, leaking down the plastic pipe that the sewer hose connects to. Shit. Fortunately, it wasn’t exactly shit, per say. I’m not sure what it was; it was kinda green. Was it the chemicals in the toilet? I have no idea. I let it keep going because the leak wasn’t too bad and I needed this thing emptied. Once I had the black and gray water tanks emptied I came to the conclusion that I was going to have to fix this problem before I head out of town. Lucky for me there was an RV parts store just a few blocks up the road, so I hopped on my bike and headed over there. I was pretty nervous about the whole idea of having to fix this thing, but once I got to the store and showed the guy pictures of what I had, he basically walked me through the whole process. I felt much more confident about being able to do this myself. So, I headed back to the RV with my new sewer hose and within about half an hour, I had my brand new non-leaky hose hooked up!