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Friday, September 16, 2016

Days 93 - 98 /// Final Pass & Man Down!

Last post was from Mitchell and again, if you get a chance be sure to check out the Spoke'n Hostel and Tiger Town Brewery there.  A special stop on the TransAm route for sure.  From there it was Prineville, then Sisters for a couple nights.  Note, waking up to 26F, inside a bag rated for 40F isn't ideal.  I ended up sleeping in three layers for three nights.  From Sisters we set out on what would be the final big climb, and one of the best days of the entire trip for me.  

I woke up in good spirits, despite not being able to feel my toes.  Got everything packed up and we were off around 10am after it warmed up slightly.  The climb out of Sisters up to McKenzie Pass was amazing.  Started off at a slight grade w/ beautiful large pine forest on both sides of the road.  Once we started really climbing it cleared out presenting beautiful views of Three Sisters to the left, and Mt Hood to the right.  At the top seemingly everyone was surprised to find a sea of dried lava.  Apparently 1,500 years ago McKenzie summit wasn't a hospitable place.  After yet another roadside PB&H (switched the J for honey as it keeps longer) we set off on the most amazing descent down into McKenzie Bridge.  We're talking 20+ miles of smooth pavement, blue skies, stunning mountains and forest all around, and switchbacks for days.  

I was well ahead of my dad after the climb and descent, so ended up stopping in at the ranger station.  There were two cute female park rangers inside who were quick to offer up recommendations for the area.  They told me to set camp at McKenzie Bridge campground, and I was glad for the tip as the campground is gorgeous.  Directly on the river and surrounded by fairytale-esqe, ancient, moss-covered trees.  Also, 1mi back is the McKenzie Bridge General Store, which has been acquired and renovated by two younger guys.  They've added an outdoor patio, food truck w/ amazing salmon tacos, craft beer everywhere, and a movie screen.  Spaceballs was on, so I settled in with a few Buoy IPAs and enjoyed the cult classic.  

Yesterday morning we woke up and slowly packed.  The river and setting was just as beautiful with the sun on the other side.  We rode Hwy 126 for the majority of the day, and it was bad.  My dad and I were discussing just how dangerous some of the roads are on the TransAm.  Little did we know it was foreshadowing for what you'll read below.  

We ended up making it to Eugene with no issue and are staying in a great host home.  If you remember, I met three killer chicas in Ash Grove, MO.  One of them was named Erika and she and I have stayed in touch via email ever since.  She recommended that I reach out to her cousin Alissa who is our current awesome host, along with her equally awesome roommate.  Small world, big hospitality!  We are currently enjoying a rest day here.  Although it's been filled with errands and getting caught up, so not as restful as one could hope for.  :/  

Now back to the danger of the roads referenced above.  Upon arrival in Eugene I was checking messages last night and noticed one from Matt, the young guy from NY we were riding with for some time.  He informed me that Wally, the guy we have been riding on/off with since Kentucky, was sideswiped by an RV and had an ambulance ride to the ER.  I talked briefly with Wally this morning and he'll be OK.  That's most important of course.  

Get this, it was his very last day on the TransAm.  After months on the road and 4.5k+ miles, a bastard in an RV chose to knock him off the road mere miles from the finish in Astoria.  Unreal, couldn't have scripted it that way.  Apparently the driver pulled off 1/8mi up the road, but never came back to check on him.  Others stopped to help thankfully.  I wasn't involved, but can't tell you how livid this makes me.  I don't even know what to say.  There really isn't anything to say, some people should simply be taken out back and shot.  I guess it's best I wasn't there.  My temper wouldn't have helped the situation.  Again, I'm just happy he will be OK.  He told me this morning that he plans to hop back on his bike and ride 14mi to the finish line within the next few days.  That's Wally for ya!  Didn't think I'd meet anyone as stubborn as me.  :)  

Wally isn't on social media, but he is raising money for a cause here.  I'm sure it would mean a lot to him if you could throw a few bucks his way.  You can also learn more about him there.  He is a very interesting guy, and talented writer.  I look forward to the day he organizes all his journals, processes this whole trip, and incorporates it into a book.  I'll be first in line to purchase a copy.  

I guess that's it for now.  We're apparently ~85mi from the finish of our trip in Eugene, Oregon.  We plan to wrap up on September 18th.  I'm sure there will be plenty of writing then.  For now I'll leave you with a few shots.  
Ciao for now, 

Note, photos below are semi-graphic...  In the grand scheme, Wally got lucky.  

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