Bear and Indian Creeks - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

April 19, 2020

Bear and Indian Creeks

I had a difficult time naming this post.   Structurally, the ride is a mishmash with no real focus.  We were just trying to come up with a 42 mile course we could take right from home, because we wanted a day off from driving and because Rachael insisted on this distance for reasons only she could explain.  And also specified that it not be too strenuous.  And above all insisted that there be no damn dogs!

So here’s what we came up with.  East on US 26 for about 10 miles, and then turn off on the back road to Long Creek.  Follow it up along Bear Creek and beyond for about five miles, but turn back before the climbing becomes too strenuous for the day’s specifications.  

Back on US 26 again, continue another two miles east to the turnoff to short, gravelly Art Morgan Road because of an apparent slip of someone’s finger when creating the route.  We had no intention of going to this nothing little road, but now that it’s built into the route we have to go; otherwise, we won’t get to that magic 42 miles.

Return to US 26, head back west for a few miles until we reach Indian Creek Road.  Follow it to the end of the pavement, and then return to the highway and west to home.  Finally, once we’re back in town, spin in circles for a few blocks to pad the distance enough so we can round up to 42 miles.

I don’t know. What would you call this curiosity?
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Jen GrumbyThe shape of the route? I like Praying Mantis, but may be a stretch.

Downward Antlered Dog might could work, but it has the word "dog" in it.

How about Antenna Push-up?

Or Haphazard Water Skipper?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Patrick O'HaraDendritic! Brilliant. You must have a background in botany.
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1 month ago

So, like I said, no obvious name suggested itself.  I could have called this the John Day Highway/Bear Creek/Art Morgan Road/Indian Creek Road Ride; or an East Valley Ramble.  Looking over the photos now though maybe I should have called it Rachael Sees the Mountain, because she and a mountain ended up in nearly every photo today.

Anyway.  We leave home a bit before noon, heading west on US 26 - as of course you already know now that I’ve taken all the suspense out of the story.  The wind is with us, and it’s a fast ride.  About halfway to the Bear Creek turnoff we’re surprised to see a solo cyclist in the distance, going our way.  We follow this person for about four miles, slowly gaining ground.  By the time we turn off, the rider is perhaps a hundred yards ahead still.

East of John Day, direction Prairie City.
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We’re on an out and back on this road, so as soon as I stop for a photo (which I do almost immediately), Rachael’s gone.  Just as I start biking again, I’m startled by someone shouting to me - it’s that biker, who’s apparently doubled back to check me out.  Leslie, I think her name is.  She’s a member of the very small John Day cycling club, wants to see if there are new riders in town, and invites us to join their after work club rides.  We chat a bit, and then I break off to chase after Rachael.

I don’t get far before regretting that Rachael is out of sight and earshot already.  If she were here with me I would suggest that we scrap the ride plan and just keep going farther up this road, because it’s fabulous.  Quiet, beautiful, and we’ve even got a tailwind pushing us uphill.  But it’s too late though - she’s gone, and will turn back at around the agreed spot.  Four miles later, after climbing an increasingly steep road that I’m getting a bit tired of after all, I see her fly around the bend coming back at me.   I turn to join her and we coast together for a short ways until we find a spot to pull off for lunch.

The welcome mat is out at the entrance to Bear Creek Road.
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She’s gone.
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One more fantastic cycling road. There seems to be no end of these around here.
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Looking across Bear Creek.
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We find one seven league boot, but not the other.
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Coasting back toward the valley floor, a thousand feet below.
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Lunch stop, with Dixie Butte rising above. We’re not far away from the Butte here, but it’s seldom visible because we’re surrounded by ridges.
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A glorious descent back to the highway, with the Strawberry Range visible most of the way.
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My lady and the mountain.
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Jen GrumbyNow that's a nice name for today's route!

Especially with this most excellent cover photo.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyGood point. I think I’ll promote it and see how it looks.
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1 month ago

Video sound track: Witchi-tai-to, by Oregon

Back on the John Day Highway again, we turn east again and bike the short distance to Art Morgan Road.  Neither of us knows why we’re going here - we built this route together, we each had a hand in it, and each thinks the other is at fault.  When we get there, there’s hardly any there there - it’s at most a half mile long.  Surprisingly, it’s a county road, Route 57.    I wonder why this road even exists, and who Art Morgan was?

It seems silly to bike a short way down this dead end gravel road and then turn back, but I decide I’d like to at least see what the river crossing looks like.  It was worth the detour, in my opinion - but not really worth a journey.  I wouldn’t plan a trip around it.

The bridge over the John Day, on Art Morgan Road/Grant County Road 57.
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Bridge detail.
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Some alligator paint.
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So that was very nice.  Back on US 26 again, we bike west for three miles and then turn off on Indian Creek Road, the last side trip of the day.  Indian Road, as it turns out, is a dream.  It’s on the south side of the highway, angling across the valley floor straight at the base of Strawberry Mountain, at 9,000’ the crowning peak of the range.  The road climbs slowly, first passing by a few ranches and fenced pastures.  Then the fences end and the last miles are gorgeous, unfenced open prairie with this staggering mountain filling the sky ahead.  Ethereal.

At pavement’s end we turn back.  We could continue beyond the pavement, but with that half mile of gravel on Art Morgan Road already under our belts, we don’t need to prove anything else today.  We coast back to the highway, head west again, and soon enough are back in town.  I head to the cottage and an Axe Grinder, but Rachael continues on for a few blocks before doubling back.  She’s just a bit shy of 42 miles, and just can’t stop shy of her goal.  She’ll arrive home in a few minutes, a bit irked with herself for overshooting by a few tenths.  Sloppy.

On Indian Creek Road, passing by the local florist shop.
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Strawberry Mountain fills the sky. Rachael turns back when she gets to those houses ahead, so I can accompany her past them in case there are any dogs loose.
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Looking west along the John Day faultline.
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Patrick O'HaraBeauty Shot, Scott!
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1 month ago
The Aldrich Mountains.
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We triggered a small stampede along Indian Creek. These fifteen fit youngsters ran in our direction, keeping a good steady pace for about a mile.
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A mile later, they come to the end of the road. Half are looking at me, the others ahead at Rachael. They’ll still be jammed here by this fence when we return twenty minutes later.
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Jen GrumbyYou're probably the most interesting set of humans these bovines have ever seen!
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1 month ago
Just the two of us and the wide world. Shangri-La.
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This road could go on like this all day, if I had a say in it.
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Homeward bound.
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Ride stats today: 42 miles, 2,300’

Rate this entry's writing Heart 6
Comment on this entry Comment 9
Gregory GarceauSo, did you join the John Day Cycling Cub? Or maybe the Lonely Hearts Club Band.

I have a theory about Rocky's quest for 42 miles. Most people would should shoot for 40 miles, but Rocky's competitiveness pushes her on to that extra two miles. Am I wrong?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauNo, we don’t think we’ll be going out with the JD cycling club. We’ll be leaving here before too long anyway, but mostly their schedule doesn’t work for us. Why wait around until 5PM for an end of day ride when we have the whole day available? Might as well be out with the best weather conditions.

And, I’m sorry to say that you’re wrong, AGAIN. Rachael is extra-competitive of course, but that’s not what’s going on here. She’s just a tad OCD, to offer my 10 cent home diagnosis, and it’s about calories. Somewhere she read once that 14 miles of bicycling burns off 400 calories, and she’s striving for a 1,200 calorie burn rate. Which just punts the question of course, because what’s so special about precisely 1,200 calories either?
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1 month ago
Bob DistelbergTo Scott AndersonAnd here I always just assumed she was a Douglas Adams fan...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5ZLtcTZP2js
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1 month ago
Rachael AndersonTo Bob DistelbergGreat video clip! And when I was younger I read all the Hitchhiker books as soon as they came out.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob DistelbergWell, I’m impressed. Have you just been carrying around this arcane fact in your head all these years?
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1 month ago
Bob DistelbergTo Scott AndersonOh just one of many arcane, useless facts cluttering up my brain.
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1 month ago
Bob DistelbergTo Rachael AndersonAs did I.
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1 month ago
Bob DistelbergTo Scott AndersonScott, I decided I should probably bore you with a more detailed explanation. A long, long time ago, I was working on a software development project with two guys who were both on a temporary one year assignment from the UK. They were both huge Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy fans, and of course convinced me to read the series.
It was a long, difficult development project, with many late nights, and we would frequently get pretty punchy. So, whenever anyone asked a question requiring a numerical answer, the initial response was always '42', generally followed by lots of chuckling among the three of us, as well as confusion by anyone else who happened to be in the room.
So, to this day I cannot see or hear the number 42 without flashing back to those days. And now you know the rest of the story.
Bob
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob DistelbergWhat a wonderful story, Bob. Thanks so much for sharing it with us. We’ve both been through our share of horrible software projects too, and this brought back some memories. I remember one long month when I was helping the state’s welfare agency implement a new federally mandated work requirement. Long hours, long nights, in an age when you of course just had to be physically in the office to work. I remember abruptly waking up one night when my forehead hit the keyboard.
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1 month ago