AAH-MAAA-ZIIING day! Just so beautiful, almost too beautiful for words! Let's go back to the start! Mike's day did not start off an a good note, we did not solve the mystery of the missing air from his air mattress! But being the trooper that he is, he downed a few Tylenol to offset the aches of waking up on the ground and we set off! Cooler this morning again but not freezing, good riding weather! The start was pretty peaceful, just breathtaking scenery if you are into rolling green, mossy covered trees! We didn't have to ride for very long before coming to The McKenzie River. We were fortunate enough to follow the river for a number of miles. A terrific surprise to find the road very gently climbing and not too much traffic so it was way more peaceful than stressful. At least in between the sound of a car approaching, it was incredible how peaceful it got right away! We were not sure how far we would get today because we knew we were starting the climb to the top of our first pass, McKenzie Pass about 5,000 ft (close enough!) but the road was very gradual and for the most part we had a nice shoulder!
We started out with a quick breakfast at our camp spot, a sweet roll, some cheese, yougurt and a banana, all good stuff! By time we got to the little settlement of Vida, the Vida Cafe called out to us suggesting it might be a good time for a couple of fried eggs and coffee for me! We knew the road ahead promised to be sparsely populated, we weren't sure where we would find our next hot meal. We do carry emergency food, but a nice hot meal is always welcome! The Vida Cafe was nothing from the outside, the windows were mirrored but as soon as we walked inside was such a cute surprise! So welcoming and when i saw the waitress and the plates piled with delicious looking food, i knew at once we had made another good choice! The smiling waitress said "We have been expecting you your friends told us you were coming!" Cool! We have friends out here?? Fred and Larry had been there and said we were behind them! I love that! So we sat down and by time we were finished ordering the place filled up so were were spot on with our timing! Quite the Vida hot spot of social activity! Good coffee and warm food, we were ready to set out and find that elevation gain we have been dreading!
But the beautiful road and easy climbing continued! We did lose the shoulder, it diminished to almost a white line only and a steep pitch off the lip of the asphalt that fell away to absolutely nothing and nothing to stop you from rolling down into the void below! Creepy! This is where we had our first close brush with a nasty possibility! We were climbing slowly and my chain stuck as I tried to shift into an easier gear! My foot was clipped in, Mike was bumping my wheel and there were 2 semi trucks right along side of us! Yes, things flashed before my eyes! I was able to get my foot out and stop my bike without causing Mike to fall off as well! We had to walk to the top of the little rise and stop while we got our wits together again. It was very scary!!!!
Thank goodness, the traffic was inconsistent enough to give us some breathing time in between passing cars, the shoulder once again grew into a geneous lane for us and we got back to enjoying the beauty of the ride and the river! The McKenzie River is full and flowing and the sound of rushing water carried us along all day. It changed from deep and still near the dam to rushing rapids, waterfalls and bends.
As we rode I thought, Yes! this is why we ride! It made me want to suggest that no matter how you travel, it may not be by bicycles but whatever your method, open the windows or put the convertible top down, slow down to a comfortable speed and stop often, inhale deeply and take in the frangrance of the forest, the mist of the river and the beauty of this beautiful country of ours!! Today was just one of those inspiring days!
Because Mike could not find a replacement air mattress and he now has had 2 nights in a row of discomfort, we knew we would find a comfortable accommodation tonight. If you have to pay for a room, why not make sure it has a natural hot springs!!!!!! We had to ride a little further than we thought, but we did a whopping 63 miles today to end up at the Belknap Hot Springs Lodge! The hot pool is 104 degrees and writhin minutes all was forgotten! It only took minutes to soothe away any aches and pains we may have even thought we had! So wonderful! More than wonderful . . .heavenly! The McKenzie river is rushing past us just out the door of the room! there are pictures on the wall of people who came here in 1899! And ever since then people have found a way to trek up the mountain to get to the natural hot springs!
Here is as great of a story as you will ever hear while soaking in the hot mineral pool! Anoth couple was also soaking! They were celebrating their 64th wedding anniversary! They came here on their honeymoon 64 years ago! Arrived about 10pm and upon arrival asked if there was any food available! Oh no! Everything is closed to which the young bride informed them they had just been married! So the woman at the desk said well, just wait a minute and came back to say they did have some spaghetti. Our sweet bride held her two arms out about 2 feet apart as she described the serving size of spaghetti brought to them! Maybe a slight exaggeration of size but the twinkle in her eye reflected the amount of love and affection as she obviously relived the moment with every telling of the story! Now every year for 64 years they return to the Belknap Hot Springs and have spaghetti!!! By the looks of the 2 of them, they will be celebrating for many more years!! What a story!!
Their son was also in the pool, he was the manager of maintenance for the beautiful park system we had been enjoying! With his agricultural background he confirmed our guesses for what we guessed was growing in the fields! Got the clover right, we also guessed at tall fescue but thought there must be more use than just for seed because there were miles and miles and miles of cultivated tall fescue. No, it is all for seed as this is the #1 seed producing area! The perfectly manicured and impeccably maintained gnarly, obviously older trees are Filbert, other wise known as Hazlenut orchards!! So interesting!
We didn't have spaghetti, once again there is not food here. A minor detail I neglected to clarify when I made the reservations! Oops! As we checked in the lovely front dest person said Oh my husband can drive you back down the hill so you can eat at the restaurant!!!! He won't mind!! How sweet is that??? We thought about it quite seriously but I convinced Mike (and it was no easy task) that we should stay here and cook our own food so that we could sit next this beautiful river in this incredible setting and enjoy it as much as we could! I think I finally convinced him when I promised him Ice Cream for dessert! At least they have that here! So we did and it was so nice and I was so happy! You know what they say when Mama is happy . . . .
After dinner there is a secret garden on the other side of the river, just follow the bridge and the path and it takes you back to what must have been a more grandeur time. People have been coming up the mountain by mule, wagons and eventually cars since 1899! Quite a history. The garden walk took you to an area that must have been so beautiful in its time, now its covered in moss but reminds you of the beauty in the past. Sort of like growing old, like the rest of us, almost an eerie feeling in the solitude and the moss covered memories.
So there you have it! I took just a ton of photos today but the WiFi must be too slow, there is barely a phone signal, no TV(!!!!) so I just cant get them posted! But I will try as soon as I can, you will love them!
We have a big climb tomorrow, oh and I have good news and bad news!! The bad news is McKenzie Pass is closed due to snow and won't be open until mid June!!! The good news is the McKenzie Pass is closed due to snow and it won't be open until Mid-June! Hahahaha .. . That means we have to take the alternate route! Just as high but because it is a main thoroughfare for trucks, it will be a more gradual climb! Long, but gradual! We can do this! We are fueled up with a good meal, they have breakfast here in the morning! We are set! Just need some sleep! Time to sign off!!!!
Thanks for checking in and don't forget to stop and smell the roses! Appreciate what is around you!!