Day five; Cascade through Hell's Canyon to LaGrande, Oregon
Today's schizophrenic weather bounced from raining to clear and wet to sunny, then hot, and a thunderstorm, and finished up with sun. If you don't like the weather, wait five minutes.
And the first leg of the trip passed from asphalt to crushed rock to dirt- which is mud, as it rained. One turn got slick, and the bike slid a bit.Compensating, I turned out of the skid, which steered us toward the opposite ditch. Got it slowed and turned. Whew! 3/4 of a ton on mud.
Back on the road, we passed through Donnelly, then to McCall. This city wins our "I think I could live here" award. A very nice place with old and new, green vibrant forests and a nice sized lake. Just pull over and find a house and make an offer! Life just isn't that simple.
Next we climb hills through lush green pine forests, then descend into valleys of 'amber waves of grain' and green hayfields. Then up once again through forests. A day of contrasts, indeed.
Payette Lake entertained us during lunch with boaters and water skiers, swimmers and reflective beauty. Moving onward,we rode into Hell's canyon. Who's the marketing genius that came up with this name? Why not 'Basket Full of Puppies Canyon'? Wouldn't that be more attractive?
Hell's Canyon carves through huge slopes that harden to rock and tilt to cliffs the deeper one goes into the canyon. The roadway winds, a writhing serpent. (Of course, it's following the snake river.) Even thought the landscape isn't lush like Highway 55, I think this roadway wins for Best Road on a Bike so far. Turns force speeds to 25 and second gear, only to wind up three more gears, downshift, lean, curve and do it over again. The route is a dead end at the dam, and the thunderstorm struck as we began our return. Rain gear on, no problem. Ah, but the road going out was overcome with mudslides. The first one we encountered was just being completed, as a backhoe slid on the muck, pushing it to the shoulder. I approached, and realized if we were to make it across, I had to approach it with enough speed to 'coast' across it with a mild throttle application. Counterinutitively,I gassed it and rolled off the throttle as we hit the slime. The bars shook violently, and the rear slewed to the left. I corrected gently and it slewed to the right. Across and on the pavement again, we still slid as mud stuck to the tires. Finally across, and 'whew' once again. I didn't think riding on the street would be such an adventure.
Bonus time again as we continued east, and came upon the Oregon Trail Interpretive
Center. Wow, what a treat! We arrived twenty five minutes to closing, so were forced to run through it. What an awesome, excellent multi-media presentation about the travails of the pioneers crossing America to the west. The only downside was our late arrival. I highly recommend this to anyone who even remotely is interested in history and the tenacity of the people of the old west.
We finally arrived in La Grande, and it's been a long day, even though the miles are few (250 or so). But what a great day!