Monument - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

April 15, 2020 to April 16, 2020

Monument

A Brief Scare

Rachael is up before me this morning.  When I walk out from the bedroom, she immediately announces a change of plans.  She thinks she’s getting sick.  She has a bit of a sore throat, her digestion is off.  Most alarmingly, she says she has a fever.

My heart sinks immediately.  How high, I ask?  98.5.  That’s a fever?  Yes, she says, and reminds me that her normal is about 97.5, as is mine.  I take my own temperature to calibrate the thermometer, and it’s 97.5.  Something’s going on with her then.  Nothing to do but wait and hope.  The ride planned for the day is obviously out.

Two hours later, she’s feeling better; and by the end of the day she’s perfectly normal.  Bad pizza last night?  Or she’s just looking for a legitimate excuse for taking a rest day on one that’s too cold and windy for a ride to be appealing anyway?  Who knows, who cares.  We’re just happy for the outcome.

I consider taking my own ride, but out of solidarity decide I should just sit around the cottage myself, finish my book, and keep her company.  I do get out once today though, for the all-important growler run.

I’m becoming fond of 1188 Brewing Company. An appealing product line, a good attitude. I’d like to come back through sometime when we can have a meal here, and maybe take in some live music.
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Today’s ride

Rachael wakes up feeling totally normal and refreshed after a rare complete day off.  The wind is down and the temps are up a bit, it’s sunny - a great day for a ride.  It’s still a bit coolish though, so we decide it’s time to drive downriver a ways to where it will be a few degrees warmer - past Dayville (no dogs out today), through Picture Gorge, and then north on Route 19 through the National Monument to Kimberly.  This is the end point of the first ride we took here, three weeks ago.  

Rachael made it all the way to Kimberly on that ride, but I didn’t because I was lagging behind with the camera.  So, she’s seen a few miles of Route 19 that I missed before.  We’ll pick them up today, on a V-shaped ride - east and up the North Fork to Monument, and back to Kimberly again; then south on 19 up the main channel a ways, and back.

The ride east along the North Fork is beautiful, as so many roads around here are proving to be.  This is a minor one, with very little traffic.  No one is driving along here but the locals, and there are few enough of them.  Rachael pulls ahead at the first photo stop, and I won’t see her again until I reach Monument 14 miles later.   It would be an easy ride without a 10-15 mile headwind, but we’ll get it all back on the return of course.  The beauty and curse of out and back rides.

East of Kimberly, following the North Fork. It’s a very relaxed terrain, climbing gradually over a series of very low rollers. Monument is only 300 feet above Kimberly, but we’ll accumulate about a thousand feet of climbing on this 28 mile OAB.
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Just east of Kimberly a fruit orchard lines the river. Their sign advertises apples, pears, nectarines, cherries , and two others I forget. Should be colorful for several weeks.
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Another for my small album of objects trapped in fences. Should be a best seller some day when I get around to publishing it.
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The North Fork appears larger than the main channel, which it will merge into at Kimberly.
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Dramatic landscape along the North Fork. Modest cliffs, deep bends in the river, ranches and small holdings.
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Several of the properties sport attractive rust collections.
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This is the only one with a horse’s skull though, so we’ll include it.
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Tumbleweed duty. This woman just walked out in the road and dismissively dumped this weed off of her property.
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The crossing at Manny Neal Road.
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Some hives, and a bend in the river.
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When I arrive in Monument, Rocky is just biking in herself and is a bit agitated.  She rode past Monument for a mile or two while waiting for me, but turned back when she encountered two loose dogs.  They sound small when she describes them, and just guarding their property; but she’s taking no chances.  I suspect it will be awhile before she’s comfortable anywhere near any dog again.

It’s about time for lunch, but not without finding a loo first.  There’s one in the park, but it’s closed for the plague season.  A man walking by helpfully informs us that the small corner store has facilities.  When we get there though, we find that we’re barred from entry because we aren’t locals.  The folks of Monument are taking no chances!

Like several of these small towns in Grant County, it greets us with a rustic welcome board with a map of the county on it.
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Nice hawthorn in front of Monument’s school.
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We’ll just be moving on then. We could appeal, but we’re not desperate enough yet to humble ourselves.
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Andrea BrownUhhhh. This is legal?
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownSeems pretty questionable alright, but we didn’t think we were the ones to challenge it. There’s probably a guard dog behind the counter.
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1 month ago
Jen GrumbyThat's a puzzler. I can't imagine they're getting that many visitors in Monument right now.

Would love to hear the story behind the sign.

Seems like a welcome sign with a bottle of hand sanitizer might generate a few extra sales.
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1 month ago

The ride back to Kimberly is a breeze.  Only two things worth mentioning.  First, were on the lookout for a good spot for a nature break.  Nothing’s obvious, so we decide to keep riding until we come to Big Bend Park, a small roadside campground we recall from the ride out.  It’s farther back than we remember though, and we’re already almost back to the car by the time we come to it.

And, there’s another loose dog!  This one is more serious - a big black lab that starts chasing me down the road.  Fortunately, this is a normal encounter - he starts barking while he’s chasing me, and gives me time to get off my bike and stand on the other side until the owner calls him to off.

A three dog day!  That calls for a song.

The beautiful North Fork.
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Lunch stop, Big Bend Park.
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Back at Kimberly again, we turn south on Route 19 and follow the main river upstream in the direction of Picture Gorge, 18 miles away.  We’re not going that far, of course.  I’ve only mapped out a route long enough to get Rachael to her 42 miles - seven out, and seven back to the car.

It’s enough though.  This road is phenomenal.  Biking this stretch today, and then driving it on the way to and from John Day today, we’re reminded again of how special it is - one spectacular land formation and  bend in the river follows another for the entire 18 miles.

Today, it’s even greater because we’re treated to a live rodeo performance - it’s branding day at the Longview Ranch!  The crew is hard at it, rounding up the youngsters, roping them, rassling them to the ground, branding them, and moving on.  Big smiles all around - everyone is having fun, it seems; except for the bawling brandees.

On the outskirts of Kimberly: the merger of the North Fork To the main channel.
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Longview Ranch is a long ribbon, lining about five miles of Route 19.
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Some long horns on Longview Ranch.
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Branding Day!
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Branding Day!
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Branding Day!
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Branding Day!
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Ron SuchanekBranding sounds a bit unpleasant for the cattle, but what a great opportunity to see it happen in person!
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekDefinitely. I felt really lucky, particularly because it didn’t occur to me to follow up on those youngsters running across the highway on their way to a branding party last week. Really lucky to have gotten a second chance.
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1 month ago

We continue on for another several miles, and then turn back.  Somewhere along here I see a huge raptor gliding low above the river.  I can’t see it well enough to be sure, but it must be a Golden Eagle, or maybe an immature baldie.  By the time we make it back to the car, I’ve got my 43 miles in, and Rachael 48.   

This is such a scenic road!  On the drive home, we agree that we definitely have to come back once more before leaving John Day.  If it weren’t such a long drive, we’d probably be out here every week.

Route 19, along the John Day.
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Route 19, along the John Day.
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Route 19, along the John Day.
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Route 19, along the John Day.
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Video sound track: Out in the Country, by Three Dog Night

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Jen GrumbyWhew! Glad Rachael's fever was short-lived.
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1 month ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyDefinitely. Between dressing wounds and cursing out the slow internet, we’ve got all the adversity we need already, thank you.
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1 month ago