Today the Governor announced that Oregon would be lifting it’s COVID-19 restrictions “no later than June 30th”. News reports as of this morning have us at 1.1% short of her original 70% goal. So as the saying goes…..Good enough for government work……
Obviously COVID-19 doesn’t just disappear because some government restrictions are lifted. The idea of a return to some normalcy is nice to think about. My work is still being super cautious and we don’t plan on reopening to the public until September based on what I’ve heard lately. But the latest data also shows that most of the new COVID deaths are coming from unvaccinated people. It’s sad that people are still hesitant to get the vaccine and that so much misinformation has been spread.
My primary event for 2021 was this past weekend. The Skull 120 out in Burns, OR. It was also a bit of an opportunity for Mia and I to take a road trip and see a whole bunch of Oregon we hadn’t experienced before. Toss in a smidge of California and just a speck of Nevada too.
We headed out of town on Friday for the long drive over to Burns. Once we hit Prineville and dropped down to highway 20 East it was all new territory for us. Pretty in its own right but all fairly desolate/barren at times. Our campsite at Burns RV Park was okay but certainly not the camping we are used to. The whole park/resort is more geared towards RVs and 5th Wheelers. There was showers and bathrooms. Our site had electric hookup, water and wastewater disposal, and if we wanted……cable TV hookup. (that isn’t camping).
The Class A, Trailer, 5th Wheeler crowd is definitely different. They are basically traveling in a decently sized apartment with all the modern conveniences of home. For Mia and I Clifford the Big Red Van is a huge step up from a tent and sleeping bags.
There is no need for a blow by blow of my “race”. It was a long, hot, arduous day of riding. Some of the course seemed needlessly difficult and other parts were stunningly beautiful. Delintment Lake area was particularly nice.
I missed my goal time by almost two hours. My climbing was kind of garbage on the day and I don’t know if that was the altitude (we started around 4K feet and topped out at 7K), spending most of the day hovering around 5,000′ in elevation, or what. I did my best to stay hydrated and to eat as often as possible. I also had a maximum temperature reading of 105 degrees, which was probably in Skull Canyon. My overall placing is nothing to write home about. I finished which is better than many of the starters who DNF’d from mechanicals, crashes or just the heat.
It was definitely an interesting event and I’m open to the idea of going back. I’d probably bring my mountain bike next time though, that is how rough a majority of this route is.
Mia did a fabulous job taking care of my worn out butt on Saturday night and drove a solid 2/3rds of the way to Reno on Sunday.
We followed highway 395 down to Lakeview, OR. It was quite barren at times with occasional herds of cows and lots of sage brush. Not much else!
The cool part was going by Alkali Lake and Lake Abert which appeared to us to be more salt flats than actual lakes. To our east were Hart Mountain and Steens Mountain which deserve a trip in and of themselves someday. Lakeview, OR was a quaint little town/city that looks like it could be on the verge of either shutting down for good or booming from a resurgence in tourism. The Oregon Timber Trail starts just 20 miles south of Lakeview.
Now there is literally no normal reason for Mia and I to ever want to visit Reno. It’s basically just a smaller, dirtier Las Vegas. However, since we were in Burns, Reno is only 5ish hours away. So we took the opportunity to visit Wayfarer Vans and Havelock Wool. Wayfarer built out our van at their Colorado Springs location and Havelock happens to supply the wool insulation to Wayfarer.
It only took about two overnights in the van for me to wish we had bought one of the wheelie boxes at the onset of #vanlife. The cost to ship one to home was a bit prohibitive in my mind. So just visiting the Reno location to pick one up was the easiest move.
Rusty and the crew at Wayfarer were fun. They had us setup and out the door in about 30-35 minutes. The addition of the wheelie box has greatly increased our organization in Clifford.
Then it was a quick drive over to Havelock for some wool. Wayfarer uses the wool to insulate the wall panels, roof, etc. However they didn’t do as great a job as I would have liked on all the nooks and crannies. I had contacted Josh at Havelock about getting maybe 30-40 sq ft of wool. He offered me some scraps from the production line for the cost of a case of cheap beer. I was like SOLD!
Josh took me back to their production room which was HUGE. The picture above shows about 20% of the total room. Way in the back is their RV production area and the majority of the floor space is dedicated to creating wool insulation for houses. I was quite impressed to say the least.
With both the wheelie box and bag of wool procured it was time to hit the road and get the heck out of Reno! We followed 395 all the way back to Lakeview and from there headed west on highway 140. We passed through tiny little towns like Bly, Beatty and Dairy on our way to Klamath Falls. One of our neighbors grew up in Klamath Falls and her family still lives down there. I am familiar with the name and location because of the Oregon Outback bikepacking route that starts right from town. One day I will ride that thing!
One more night of camping
We wanted to break up the drive home from Reno on Monday. While it was doable to drive all the way through we wanted to enjoy things and not spend all day driving.
Our destination was the absolutely peaceful Lake of the Woods, Sunset Campground. far enough away from the resort part of the lake to enjoy some peace and quiet. The sites are all fairly well spaced and decently large too.
After the heat of Burns and Reno the high 70’s at the lake was a welcome relief. The breeze was coming from the west and bringing a refreshingly cooling effect off the lake. The huge bonus was very few mosquitos! Knowing what it is like at Waldo Lake (not far in a straight line from here) we could have potentially been dealing with lots of the blood sucking little bastards. But NOPE. Scored!
The check out time isn’t until 1PM so we took a lazy morning and were in no rush to get driving again. I had Codi out for his morning walk on the trail along the lake around 6:30AM. Coffee and eggs about an hour later and then just sitting in our chairs and chilling out. We’ve discussed coming back for a longer stay. Finding an available site is proving challenging. Every reservable site is booked solid on the weekends until late September. There are first-come-first-served sites but it’s a long way to drive to find out we’ve been skunked. So far it looks like we may have to do a Sunday night to Wednesday for the best choices.
Coming home was uneventful. As we dropped out of the Oakridge area and started north on I-5 the feelings of too many people and hustle and bustle started coming back. It was joyous to spend so much time on low trafficked roads and passing through small towns (Reno the obvious exception). I look forward to winning Megabucks or retirement when we can move out to someplace significantly less populated than the PDX metro area!
I didn’t touch my bike until Friday. It took quite a beating during those 127 miles. Everything was covered in a fine white dust. The front brake felt like garbage and needed a bleed. I still want to pull the bottom bracket and grease the threads. Probably check the bearings down there too.
All in all it was a fantastic five days away. Mia and I got to see a ton of new areas of Oregon and start making a list of places we wish to return to.
Thanks for reading,
4 Comments Add yours
” Lakeview, OR was a quaint little town/city that looks like it could be on the verge of either shutting down for good or booming from a resurgence in tourism.”
Man, that describes a good portion of Eastern Oregon and Washington! Seems like what moves the needle in the right direction is whether the town has one or a few people that have figured things out. I like the towns where the “tuned in” folks are trying the alt-travel/bikes vibe, like places catering to the Oregon Timber Trail. So many of them would rather pin their hopes on one big “pie in the sky” promise that may/may not positively change things. I felt like Cascade Locks was going into the “bad” territory with their courting of Nestle and a casino, but now have embraced the tourism angle. Prineville has gone the “data center” route, which may improve the city’s bottom line. But last time I was there it didn’t seem like a vibrant, thriving place (yet) and all that data center construction meant that I couldn’t find a hotel room on a Wednesday night.
Also with you on Reno. I’ve visited twice, and that’s enough. Still, I’ve met some people where “Las Vegas Jr.” suits them. There were a couple dudes working in the cafe the last time I visited (2003, wow that long ago) and they were espousing the benefits: work a crap job that pays the bills, cheap rent, and go mountain biking in summer, snowboarding in winter. Not my ideal lifestyle, but more power to them!
The end of COVID-19 is nowhere to be seen. 2021 will go on like this. Thank you!