Sixty-Four: Moo Echo (Council to Richland, OREGON)
Today my tour across America turned into a tour across Oregon. I crossed the Snake River 50 miles in and nabbed my tenth — and final — state. I’m also in the Pacific Time Zone for good.
Packing up this morning, a cow across the road mooed, then waited for the echo off the barn to return. This call and response went on for quite a while. It must have entertained her. It definitely entertained me.
More construction on 95 this morning. I was waved through the pilot-car zone and left to fend for myself, pulling over as opposing convoys passed. The road’s ground down again, but at least now they’re paving. I met three folks taking the TransAm to Missoula, where they’ll cut up and ride the Northern Tier. One guy’s wife is coming along and hauling their stuff for the first few days. I hope they enjoy the time unloaded.
In Cambridge I stopped at an espresso stand for coffee. These shacks showed up somewhere in Montana and promise drive-thru caffeine. Here I got on Highway 71, which was smooth and nearly traffic free, and took me to the top of a 4,131′ pass. The climbs aren’t as tall anymore — another sign I’m getting close to the coast. I hurtled down the other side, and into Hells Canyon, where I met two young European tourists pushing Long-Haul Truckers uphill. I can’t say I blame them: it’s much steeper on their end. They stayed on the reservoir and recommended taking a swim to cool off.
The road through Brownlee Reservoir was windy and fun (and would be even better in a fast car). The river’s dammed here by Idaho Power to create electricity. It’s pretty, and the canyon’s North America’s deepest. As its name implies, it’s also toasty, with temperatures over 100 degrees. There are lots of fruit trees and berry bushes along water’s edge. It smells like riding through a box of a Fruit Roll-Ups. I climbed out and into Oxbow for lunch before hauling myself up another 1,500′ and into Richland for the night.
I’m camped out at Eagle Valley Grange Community Park. There’s a big pavilion, with screened-in joists to keep birds from roosting as well as electricity, running water and a handful of outhouses. No shower, and while I’d heard of coin-operated facilities at the RV park, no one was in the office when I rolled in, so I investigated and found regular showers near the coin laundry. Not sure I was supposed to be there, but I rinsed off real quick.