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Steens from a back road (oh, wait, that's all there is out there)

Gravel grinding.  It’s something lots of roadies cringe at.  I, myself, admit that smooth black top is like riding through sweet cream and gravel can be like riding through vegetable scraps (no offense to the vegans).  BUT I like gravel for several reasons…

Joe descending into the canyon
Gravel leads you to places where fewer people dare to venture.  It can wind you through places where silence makes the solitude lonely….where folks start fires in the northbound traffic lane…where the nature lets you know she is queen, with her harsh hand and splendor. That’s why I wanted to include an off-road adventure in my guide. Plus, you can only access some of the magnificent, secluded corners of Oregon by gravel.

On the way back from Mickey Hot Springs

After completing the Dirty Kanza a couple of years ago, I can certainly testify that some people like to mash on gravel (not me; I guess the tortouise is my spirit animal). 

But, in general, gravel slows you down. For normal folks on a bike tour, gravel lends a scabrous hand to assist you in smelling the roses….or the sage brush, as was the case near the Steens Mountain Range.

 

Do to life not being fair, Joe and I had to de-epic one of the most epic rides in my book.  We regretably embraced a modified tour, but the trip could’ve entailed carrying 3 gallons of water each, plus gear and supplies for backcountry camping. Though there was some pavement riding, a wuss bike won’t do the trick. 

Joe and I have a tour date with you next spring, Southeastern Oregon!

long road, Steens foothills

In Southeastern Oregon you are truly at the mercy of a formidable, sometimes caustic, environment where only the most stubborn of species survive. It’s also a place whose beauty will never be called pretty as much as sublime.  The landscape-with its deserts, lashing sun, praires unfurling forever and towering mountains-will hang your soul in it moisture-sucking winds and beat the urban trappings and city grit off of you like a dirty mat.  It is truly stunning.

Speaking of caustic, check out this warning at the unsigned Mickey Hot Springs which we sleuthed out.
Make sure not to boil yourself to death. Yikes

Despite the warnings of dropping through the surface to a roiling demise, the springs were just too purty to pass up checking out.

Mickey Hotsprings

 A tragedy happend on our trip.  I accidentally erased a number of my photos. We saw bonafide, tried-and-true, lasso-that-doggie cow people.  Now, I would have said cowboys, but we also saw a cowgirl. She was awesome.  They were herding cattle and very sweet and wearing wranglers.  I lost the photos, dadgummit.  There was one cowboy with ironic glasses and a feather in his hat. He was pure preciousness.

End of the day

My summer and fall have been full of amazing people and fabulous research. I love Oregon…. now it’s time to start spending more QT in my writer hole.  Thanks for coming along for the ride. 

On another very important but different note, this is a petition to Dateline NBS to air a piece about Mark Bosworth, the volunteer who went missing at Cycle Oregon this summer.  Hopefully, this exposure will help lead to some answers.  For more info, go to www.findmark.org.

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