In Dayville - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

March 28, 2020

In Dayville

People think I'm crazy, 'cause I worry all the time/If you paid attention, you'd be worried too/You better pay attention or this world we love so much might just kill you/I could be wrong now, but I don't think so/‘Cause there's a jungle out there/It’s a jungle out there.       Randy Newman

So now let’s turn our attention to that last mile of Saturday’s ride, that beautiful outing that took us west from Dayville through Picture Gorge, along Rock Creek to halfway up Dawes Creek Summit, and back to the outskirts of Dayville again.  An excellent adventure.  A+.

Lets look more closely at that remaining mystery mile.  Return to the scene of the crime, as it were.

Our ride through Dayville, Oregon, population 145. 0.9 miles, 33 feet elevation gain. An easy ride, even into a headwind.
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The first 44 miles of the day’s ride ends at the green arrow in the upper left of the map, right at the western town limits.  The final mile begins there, and ends at the red circle where the Jetta is patiently awaiting our return.  Between these two unequal segments is a roughly ten minute gap.

Take note of the house just below and to the left of the green arrow.  It is the first house you come to when entering Dayville from the west.  I didn’t have the presence of mind to photograph it, but picture an older white house with (of course) a very large American flag on the side facing the road.  It is surrounded by a chain link fence, with the gate open to the road.  In the yard on the other side of the fence two large and agitated dogs circle, barking and keeping their eyes on us.  One, a grey long-haired animal, reminds me of the male dog in Lady and the Tramp.  The other, a short-haired brown and white hound, brings more sinister images to mind.  

Across the road, I’ve succeeded in calming Rachael down by such comforting words as ‘Get the first aid kit.   Hurry.  It’s bad.  Hurry!  It’s really bad”.

It was really bad.  The hound, as it turns out, is a dog of the worst kind, a silent assassin.  I’m not even aware of his presence until he’s right at my side, growling.  I shout him away twice, but he stays with me so I quickly try to get off the bike on the opposite side.  Too late - he sinks his fangs into my calf, opening up by far the worst surface injury of my life.  It’s bad.  

I can’t really recreate what happened next, nor can Rachael.  I think I quickly walked across the street to a vacant lot, my leg openly bleeding, while the dog turned to Rachael and sank his fangs into her leg as well.  Screams, shouts, panic ensue.  Somehow, we both ended up off the bikes in the vacant lot, the dog returned to its yard, and we turned to first aid.

Fortunately, Rachael has the first aid kit along, and it’s well enough stocked for emergency measures.  I have a large flap of skin hanging down my leg, exposing more of me than I care to look at.  I fold it up, she covers it with a large nonstick pad and wraps it to my leg with adhesive tape.  I won’t bleed out at least, which is good.  Her own injuries thankfully look pretty minor - the skin is broken but she’s not really bleeding.  Very frightening, but it looks like she somehow escaped without too much damage.

We’re obviously on our way to the emergency room, back in John Day about 30 miles to the east.  First though we have to get back on the bikes, evade the dog, and return to our car on the other side of town.  Thankfully the dogs stay in the yard as we gingerly walk down the opposite shoulder until we’re past their house.  Then we remount, quickly bike back to the car, throw the bikes in, and drive east.  From time to time we glance down to make sure my leg isn’t openly bleeding again, but the pad and tape seem to have done the trick.

A half hour later we pull into Blue Mountain Hospital.  We receive outstanding care and attention there, in our opinion.  Everyone is great, comforting, competent, reassuring.  We’re not going to die from this, it seems.  Doctor Song, the weekend emergency physician (flown in from Seattle) examines and measures my wound (8 centimeters long), looks at Rachael’s, and immediately leaves to order Amoxycillin prescriptions for both of us.  He then sends Rachael off to the pharmacy to pick them up, telling her to hurry since they close in half an hour.  He then turns to me.

Two hours later, we’re out the door.  In the meantime, my wound has been irrigated (rather painful); both of our wounds are soaked for a half hour in saline solution; Rachael has several puncture wounds that are plugged with skin glue; we both receive DPT shots; the whole nursing staff on duty is brought in to look at my wound and ooh and aah in sympathy; and I receive thirteen sutures, the nearly completely torn off flap sewn back to my leg in a heart-shaped pattern that should leave an attractive scar when I’m done healing.

We’re sent off with instructions to watch for infection, dress my wound daily, and above all keep it dry.  I’m to return in 10 days to have the sutures removed.

Easing back in the Blue Mountain Spa.
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You can thank me for presenting the sanitized view of my injured leg. Doctor Song emailed me before and after photos of the wound, but you wouldn’t care to see either of them. I’ll show you the scar when all this is behind us and it doesn’t look disgusting.
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How ironic.  We vowed a week ago to be as careful as possible and avoid burdening the health care system, and Rachael gets knocked over by a giant UPS truck on the same day.  A week later, after moving to one of the quietest and most remote corners of the state, we have the only truly serious dog attack we’ve ever experienced.  

Just bad luck, or a sign?  Should we not venture out the door at all now, even over here?  I’ve got some time to think about it while I’m sitting around waiting to heal.  I will say though that the hospital staff took pains to make us feel that we weren’t burdening them, and nurse James went out of his way to say that we shouldn’t feel guilty at all about what we’d been doing.  He said as long as we’re keeping our distance it’s important to keep active.  Doctor Song says we’re both very fit and healthy and should both live to 100.  So there’s that.

There’s more to say about the follow-up, but I’ll stop here.  First though, let’s count our blessings since it could have been worse:

  • Rachael had a sufficient first aid kit with her.  By chance, it was better stocked than usual because she replenished it after her truck attack.
  • The attack occurred at the end of our ride, only about a mile from the car.  If we were up in the hills twenty miles to the west, we’d probably have needed an ambulance.
  • We made really good time biking back to Dayville, so we got back to town before the pharmacy closed for the weekend.
  • Somehow, we both managed to escape the dog without either of us crashing and compounding our injuries.  We’re pretty proud of that.
  • We don’t have a headache, a fever, or difficulty breathing.
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Comment on this entry Comment 36
Gregory GarceauOh my! Your ordeal reminded me of my only bike touring emergency room visit. (Arizona . . . gash in shoulder from a bolt sticking out of light pole . . . riding bike to hospital . . . numerous nurses and others -- including a policeman -- checking me out and asking questions . . . irrigation of wound . . . stitches . . . tetanus shot . . . physician's assistant waving as I pedaled off in the dark to a motel.) Only your ordeal seems worse. At the very least I didn't have to worry about rabies.

On a happier note, thanks for the song because it's the theme song from one of my four or five favorite TV shows of all-time, MONK.
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4 months ago
Mark HoffmannWow! So glad you are OK now, and that the where, when and who answers included close to car, in time for treatment and meds, and a great medical team. Wishing you good healing.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauThanks, Greg. that sounds horrible getting gashed in the shoulder like that. Ugly to think about.

This is my first ER visit for myself relating to the bike, which for all the years and miles I’ve biked is pretty remarkable. I’ve been very lucky. It’s the aptly-named Rocky’s third though: that time she T-boned a German Shepard years ago, her horrifying concussion injury, and now this. Pushing her luck, that one. She should take up a safer hobby.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Mark HoffmannThanks, Mark. Healing hasn’t gone fully smoothly so far (a bit more to come), but we’re both doing fine and mending well. Lucky, considering.
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4 months ago
frank jellisonTo Scott AndersonI hope that you both heal quickly
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4 months ago
Rachael AndersonTo Gregory GarceauThat sounds awful and you didn’t have someone to bandage you up! How far did you have to bike to the hospital?
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4 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltAnd what of the dog owners? Shouldn't they be held culpable? In many places if a dog bites, it is immediately put down. And for good reason. Especially if unprovoked and off the property of the owner. It only takes a minimum of training to prevent attacks. No other cyclists or pedestrians should have to risk the same as you have experienced!

I used to run with a friend who had been bitten a few times and he was paranoid of dogs. As a result, I carried a piece of cable about 15 inches long with a cord loop on one end hanging around my wrist. One day as we were enjoying a nice pace along a road, we heard clickity, clickity, clickity behind us and I turned to see a big dog with teeth bared, not 10 feet behind. I whirled around to face it with the cable raised to whack it and it put on the brakes. About a second later the owner yelled and it ran back home. I have no doubt that one or both of us would have ended up bleeding had I not had my defense in-hand.

Your story made me cringe. I sure hope you recover quickly, and encourage you to think about holding the owner accountable.
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4 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Rachael AndersonLuckily it happened in a town that actually had a hospital. Since blood wasn't gushing from the wound I rode around trying to find a motel first. It was at least an hour and several miles before I found an available room in touristy Wickenburg, AZ. It was only after seeing the gash in a mirror that I decided to go to the ER. Here's the story and the picture:
https://www.cycleblaze.com/journals/fullhouse/wickenberg-arizona-where-a-long-day-has-mercifully-ended/
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4 months ago
Suzanne GibsonHi, Rachael and Scott! I just felt sick reading about your dog encounter. A nightmare. I'm so glad you could get to the hospital as soon as you did and have medical care. I realized from your previous post that something had gone wrong and you mentioned a dog in a comment somewhere so I feared what was coming. I hope you have no complications with healing. Glad you have that nice little house. And all the blessings you listed are really little miracles.
Dogs are one of the reasons I never wanted to cycle in the USA. But when you are back on your bikes and the borders are open, I can assure you German dogs are very well behaved. I never ever was chased or even barked at by a dog here.
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4 months ago
Andrea BrownThis story is very sobering for all of us who ride where there be dogs. Here's to restful healing in a community that has shown you great kindness. Doctor Song is right, you're gonna live to be 100.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo frank jellisonWorkin’ on it as you speak.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI’ve considered carrying dog deterrents on a bike (we actually did carry a high frequency sound emitter on our first tour of Taiwan), but I think I’m more likely to make things worse. Years ago I pulled out my frame pump to ward off a German Shepard, but stunned us both when I ran it through the spokes of my front wheel and crashed in front of him. He was so startled that he just ran off to tell his friends.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Suzanne GibsonThat’s funny. The opposite of green grass. The dogs are always scarier in another land. We’ve worried the most about dogs in Taiwan, the Balkans, and the huge sheep dogs in Spain. None of them ever turned out to be a problem for us though.

That said though, it’s definitely something to watch for here - especially in the rural, open western lands that we enjoy cycling in the most.
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4 months ago
Bill ShaneyfeltTo Scott AndersonThat's hilarious!

Back in the early to mid 1970s in Richmond, KY, I commuted 10 miles of rolling hills to what was then the Lexington Bluegrass Army Depot. About a mile, maybe less, from the gate, there was a dog that would run out and snap at my right leg as I hammered going up the hill, swerving to keep it at bay. One day, I realized that I had my bike chain and lock hanging around my neck and shoulder as I was building speed to try and outrun the beast on the way up the hill, so I pulled it off and held it in my right hand by the lock awaiting the attack. I swung and whacked it across the snout. He ran off without a sound. Next day, I was ready again as he came charging out, snarling and barking, but he never got closer than about 25 feet away! Never gave me problems after that.

KY dogs are for real.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltWell congratulations for that. I could never pull off such a stunt. I’d probably brain myself.
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4 months ago
Jacquie GaudetOuch! Nasty-tempered loose dogs terrify me and the worst ones I've encountered (though I've never had such a *close* encounter) have been in BC. I was going to say "rural BC" but one was in Whistler, which is certainly not rural in my opinion.

I hope the dog's owner is somehow held accountable.
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4 months ago
Kathleen ClassenI absolutely love dogs, but at the same time I am terrified of them. Especially on the bike. I worry about friendly ones darting in front of me, chasing me and I have nightmares about nasty ones biting me. Your story has really shaken me up. Keith and I are so grateful you came out of it as well as you did. We are thinking of you, holed up and recovering. A hot tip from Dr. Keith, when a nasty piece of concrete jumped out and bit me (I am sure that is how it happened) it was raining lightly. Nothing in our first aid kit would stick, but green electricians tape worked a charm. There was some amusement about that in the Italian hospital. Hopefully a hot tip you will never need.

Keith and I have been avoiding riding for a bit. He has been concerned that I will pitch off my bike and this isn’t the time to wind up in the hospital. Today however we just decided that the health benefits outweigh the risks and we are going to cycle quiet byways near the house, avoid bike paths (too much close proximity to others) and relax. We had a beautiful ride along the waterfront, through a cemetery and exploring neighbourhoods. It was fantastic. It was a good break from the great garden project. We have dug out a chunk of lawn, put in raised beds and are going to grow vegetables (we hope...we are real beginners). We are pretty sure we won’t be flying to Europe in the fall as we don’t think this mess will be completely over by then. We hope we are wrong about that, but in the meantime I am thinking of buying denim overalls and a straw hat and hoping for an amazing fall harvest. It is a very engrossing project.

Take care you two. We wish you both a speedy recovery.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Kathleen ClassenThank you, Kathleen. As far as the dog goes, I feel pretty philosophical about it. There’s just no way to completely escape risk, is there? I must have a few hundred thousand miles on a bike by now, and if this is the worst thing that happens to me, it’s a pretty good run. I’m sure we’ll both be a bit jumpy for awhile but it won’t keep us inside. I don’t think the virus will keep us totally housebound either unless we’re called on to stop even exercising outdoors. I expect to be back on the bike before long, once I heal up a bit.

A garden and raised beds! That sounds so therapeutic right now. I had one once myself many years ago. Take care, hi to Keith, thanks for checking in.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetI wonder what set this dog off, and what his history is. The sheriff’s office paid a house call and sent me a photo so we could get a positive ID. He looks very nice, really.
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4 months ago
Victa CalvoEee Gads!! That must have been a terrifying experience. Recover quickly you two and keep riding.
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4 months ago
Bob DistelbergYikes, that's terrible. When you had left off that last post as a bit of a cliffhanger, I had hoped for something exciting, but not this! I have to admit that dogs are my worst fear when riding some of the backwoods gravel here in Vermont. Get well!
Bob
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4 months ago
Rachael AndersonTo Gregory GarceauThanks for sending the link. What an awful experience But you sure had a great attitude about it. I’m glad to see that thinks worked out okay! I sure understand the “Greg World”.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauOh right, Mr. Tough Guy. Outdo me with an injury that required FOURTEEN stitches instead of the measly thirteen mine took. What am I whining about! Rocky reassured me though by observing that mine LOOKS much worse than your little hole in the shoulder - just a big inoculation, practically. If I showed you the picture of my untreated wound I’m sure you’d agree mine was MUCH worse, and that I’m a much tougher guy.

Thanks though for pointing me to that journal, which I now finally have plenty of time to read. I think it came out when we were on tour and I didn’t pick up on it at the time.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Victa CalvoThanks, Victa. It all happened too quickly for there to be much time for real terror to sink in. There wasn’t even all that much pain, surprisingly enough. The frightening thing for me was just looking at the injury and knowing we needed to react fast.

Recovery is going well, as far as we know at this point anyway. Pretty lucky.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Bob DistelbergI think of dogs as being a concern to watch out for here, but I imagine it’s worse back east, just because there are more folks and dogs around. We have a lot of country where the settlements are few and far between, and you can let your guard down a bit. We need to remember to be on the alert when we pass through these little towns.
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4 months ago
Bob DistelbergTo Scott AndersonWell there's areas of Vermont that are pretty sparsely populated. It's not so much the small towns, which usually have dog ordinances. It's the back roads, where you run across a house only every couple miles. Some are shacks and some are pretty spectacular hideaways that people have built. In either case, there's as good chance they're home for loose dogs anxious to defend their territory. And by the way, I love dogs. Just not ones attached to my leg. :-)
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4 months ago
Scott FenwickScott and Rachael,
Shocking story. Just a couple of days early for a not so funny Aprils fool’s joke. Pat and I have no horror animal stories to add and would like to keep it that way. We too are very much missing our European spring ride but thankful we have a large yard including a couple of raised vegetable beds to keep us busy along with local rides from time to time. Strange times. We wish you and Rachael speedy recoveries. Unfortunately, after reading your story, dogs may never be looked at the same way again.
Scott and Pat
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4 months ago
Jen GrumbyIt's painful to think of you two going through this.

So glad that the stars were aligned with proper first aid supplies, a manageable ride back to the car, and the excellent team at Blue Mountain Hospital.

And now you have your good health and superb physical condition to get you through the recovery and back on the road to your 100th birthday. I want to be at that party!!

As for the dog .. there may not be many riders through this year, but this happened on the TransAm route. I would like for the owners to see photos of your injuries and some guarantee that the dog will not harm anyone else. Will you receive confirmation from the sheriff that the vet has current rabies vaccination records?

On a more uplifting note .. great Randy Newman video!! We saw him at Aladdin around 2013 .. great show!

Hope you and Rachael have some good movies to watch while you're healing.

💛☮️💛☮️💛
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4 months ago
Ron SuchanekAs I facetiously said offline, a crowbar to the owner'a head might be fun to fantasize about. But seriously, I think the owner should feel the pain here- a stiff fine, responsible for your expenses related to the incident, removal of the dog. As Bill said, training a dog or preventing a dog from running loose isn't difficult. And as much as I love animals, a vicious dog is a danger to everyone.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Scott FenwickSorry to alarm you and Pat, Scott. I thought about not exposing this incident at all, but decided I wanted to maintain an honest account that didn’t sanitize our experiences. It seemed like people should hear the truth and come to their own conclusions about it.

For myself this wouldn’t be a reason to stay off the road, any more than I would because bikers sometimes get killed by drunk or crazy drivers. Things happen, and you can’t avoid all risks. There are bad dogs and bad dog owners, but at least where we’ve been riding they’re a relative rarity. One bad incident (though we’ve also had our share of scares along the way) in forty years is pretty good really. It is a reason though to carry a decent first aid kit, personal identifying information, and a way to communicate.

Enjoy those raised beds! We’d probably be doing that too if our home had a yard - if we had a home.
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4 months ago
Ron SuchanekTo Ron SuchanekI should also say that your description here was vivid and terrifying, even though I knew ahead of time. Great writing.
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4 months ago
Susan CarpenterScott and Rachael,
OMG!! What a frightful experience! Puncture wounds and torn flesh are not trifling injuries - please do as the doctor ordered. I'm thinking of you both and wishing you a very speedy and uneventful recovery.
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4 months ago
Gregory GarceauTo Scott AndersonIn no way did I try to upstage your incident with my one measly extra stitch. Yet, I guess, technically, I DID have more stitches than you. Sure, that make me one stitch tougher, but that's not the point. Sure I did have 14 stitches compared to your 13, but mine came suddenly and pretty much free of anxiety, blood and pain. The thing that makes your dog attack much worse is that you could see it coming and you had to endure the additional pain of seeing your wife get attacked as well. I can't even imagine that. You are tougher than me, and Rocky is probably tougher than both of us.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Susan CarpenterDoctors, experts, pointy-headed intellectuals. They all think they’re so much smarter than the rest of us. I’ve got a lot of common sense, so when I’m feeling good about it I’ll do what I want.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Gregory GarceauYES!, Rocky shouts, as I read your last statement to her. Sounds like we’ve correctly established the toughness scale though:
Most folks < Mr Tough Guy Garceau < me < Rocky.
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4 months ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekAnd great feedback. Thanks!
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4 months ago