West Roosevelt, WA
Camp, Umatilla RV Park
HOT! HOT! HOT!
Well, there was good news and bad news this morning. The good news was that I had found (and successfully blocked) all the sprinkler heads. The bad news was that I had pitched the tent in a bit of a low spot (a low spot in the middle of a hill...how does that happen?!) and so there was a puddle under us. Thankfully, nothing got too wet and everything was dry by the time we were ready to pack up and go. As we were preparing to leave, the camp host came over to talk a bit and also see if we had noticed the skunk sniffing our tent last night. Uhhh...no. Maybe that was a good thing.
He also told us it was supposed to be 102 in Roosevelt today. Yuck!
The only thing that made today better was that 1) we were prepared for the heat this time, 2) it was mostly flat, and 3) there was no headwind. We were definitely in the desert. It was really dry and hot, everything was a dead brown color, there were no big plants or trees, and there was no shade anywhere. None.
We pedaled on through the endless heat and sun and brown. At one point April said my leg looked really red. I glanced down and saw the typical red shade I turn when I'm hot and said it was nothing. At our next rest stop she told again she thought it looked really bad, so I looked again. To my surprise, it wasn't a burn red, it looked like I had scraped the length of my calf and it had just started bleeding! I had heat rash! Apparently, the best treatment for heat rash is to take it easy and stay cool. Hmmm...not likely to happen this time!
For lunch we just had to pick a point on the side of the road and stop. There were no towns or turn-offs or shady spots. April leaned her bike against the guardrail and hunkered down in the tiny shadow it cast. I just turned so a different side of my body was roasting. I want my tan lines to be even! The water in our water bottles was so hot, we're pretty sure we could've made some nice hot soup or maybe tea.
One cool thing we got to see was the construction of a tower that holds high-voltage electric lines. All throughout the northwest here, they're building electric framework. It's one of the fastest growing and biggest industries in the area. Because of the rugged terrain, they flew in each piece of the tower hanging from a helicopter, and a guy up on the tower would transfer it from the helicopter (while it hovered there) to the tower. Then the chopper would fly off and come back with the next piece. It was quite a process to see.
Finally, at mile 30, we came to the only sign of life we would see until we pulled into town that nigh: a restaurant/mini-mart at the intersection of two roads. While we rested a bit and sipped some cold juice, April talked with some of the other people in the store. A guy named Larry was excited to learn we would be going through Missoula and up to Glacier National Park. That area is where he grew up.
With our bottles full of ice water, we set out once again. But in only 20 minutes, the ice was gone and the water was cool. In under 40 minutes, it was already warm!
Our plan was to camp in Umatilla, OR, because we'd heard there was a free park to camp in. The last leg of our map involved crossing the Columbia River back into Oregon. As we were headed for the bridge on a bike path, we came to a tunnel and our first shade. Yay! We decided to hang out in the nice cool tunnel for a few minutes before we crossed the bridge. As we came to a stop, we looked ahead and saw...a truck, slowly driving towards us. It was a bike path tunnel so there wasn't room on the sides to get out of the way of the truck so we had to walk back out into the hot sun and wait for him to come through. As soon as he was out, we went back in. But he stopped, got out of his truck and followed us into the tunnel to talk to us.
He was very nice, but told us there was no way across the river from here that he knew of. But our map said there was a bike path. But he didn't think this was a bike path. He had been working a construction site (putting up what else, but high-voltage line towers) nearby, and he didn't think we could get across the river this way. Well, not without going on a long complicated route involving locked gates and climbing fences, that is. Finally, after about 20 minutes of trying to decide what to do, he mentioned taking the bike path up and over the interstate. Yep, he said, just on the other side of the tunnel was a bike path up to the interstate bridge, but he wasn't sure what was up there.
That was what we were looking for! I'm not sure how we were miscommunicating so badly, and why he didn't mention it before then. Having finally gotten that all straightened out, we said goodbye and continued on our way across the bridge (there was a special bike path up there) and into Umatilla. We headed to the visitor's center to inquire about the free camping, but the lady there hadn't heard of such a thing. She said there was a nice site next door that allowed tents at $15 a night. Bummer. Ok.
April worked up in her head how she was going to try to bargain the price down since we were on bikes, and Oregon's state, county, and city parks have special rates for hikers and bikers. Sometime between the visitors center and the campground next door, April hit her limit, both physically and emotionally, and when the guy said $15, she said, "Even though we're on bikes?" He said, "Yep," and she just said, "Ok."
But we couldn't set up quite yet. They were watering ALL the tent spots. Yep, at 6:15 in the evening, they were making all the ground soaking wet in all the tent spots. Well, we were at a loss. We didn't know of any other campground in the area we could go to and it was getting late. We decided to go get some groceries and come back in a bit.
By the time we made it the half mile to the grocery store and had started our shopping, April was feeling a little weak and woozy, so she decided to eat some of our groceries while she shopped. She started with some cheese, and immediately felt better. We split a Snicker's Ice Cream bar once we got back outside too. Noticing a trend with ice cream fixing things? :-)
When we got back to the campground, close to 7, the camp manager was just turning off the water at the tent sites. I asked about camping in the dry grass by the RV's, but he said that wasn't an option because they were auto watered at midnight. He offered us a tarp he had to help keep our tent dry. We took it.
While we ate dinner, we caught up with our friends, the Amidon's, who are monitoring our mail and had just returned from a missions trip to Africa! It was great to hear from them and find out what had been going on in their lives.
Some nice showers helped wash away the salt that had caked on our clothes and bodies and made us feel better. I also redid the tape on April's handlebars. It needed to be done before we started the trip, but we ran out of time. They are now a lovely shade of pink!
As a side note, "butt butter" or chamois cream is great at helping prevent chaffing. I'll just leave it at that. :-)
It's still pretty hot at night. I don't think we're going to be using the rain-fly tonight. So far, our time in the sun has resulted in blistered ears (despite multiple sunscreen applications) and heat rash on my leg. Not too bad considering the extreme conditions we were in.
Tomorrow we'll add some ear covers to our helmets and I'll wear long leggings to stay out of the sun. For now, enjoy the sunset and good night!