July 11, Day 9 of TheHopeLine Tour of 2014
Did you know that Oregon is the ninth largest state? It has over 98,380 square miles of water and land. We are officially in Central Oregon after starting on the coast July 3.
I can’t help but think of the many fourth graders across the country who, year after year, gathers information about the state they are assigned to report on. I actually overheard a lunch conversation in Prineville, Oregon, today (at Dairy Queen) between a grandmother and her grandson. She asked him if he learned about the Oregon Trail while studying his state in fourth grade. I took note, since Tim and I are traveling on it.
He nodded in the affirmative but did not regurgitate any of the facts he supposedly learned. He was probably overwhelmed with all the information about his home state! We’ve found Oregon to be very geographically diverse. I guess it would be a little easier to study Massachusetts than it would be Oregon if we were just basing our reporting on size! Check out the state size rankings if you are so inclined.
Today, we had a climb, but nothing like going up and over McKenzie Pass. Today’s downhill was to die for! I guess I shouldn’t say it that way on a bike tour, but it was AWESOME! We had crossed paths with two young men biking from Tallahassee, Florida, to Astoria, Oregon. They were grumbling about all the climbing they had to do today. We had the joy of their adversity…it was all downhill to Mitchell. It wasn’t simply the pitch of the descent that enthralled us. All of a sudden, our world had changed. Gone were the miles of Ponderosa pine forest, now replaced with a grand overlook of distinctly different terrain. As we transitioned into our new surroundings, barren hills with a sprinkling of vegetation captivated us. Steep declines magnified the setting and the view, as well as the ride.
In Mitchell, we enjoyed a stay at the historic Oregon Hotel. The population of Mitchell is 130, so we were shocked they even had a hotel, let alone two in town. Those facilities exist because of the distance between neighboring towns. We rolled into the business loop of Mitchell, which felt like a Hollywood set for an old Western, just before the café closed at 8:00 pm (later than usually since it was Friday night.) All those Black Angus cows we’ve seen along the ride sure make for some tasty burgers!
Mitchell has quite a history. Floods, fires, and the loss of the lumber and mining industries have caused the town much suffering and, of course, a decline in population. The grocer told me they used to have around 500 folks in town and pointed to a dilapidated building across the street that used to be a bank. Now they have to drive over 40 miles to get to most modern conveniences that many of us take for granted.