We woke up with a fine layer of ash all over camp. Even though we were still reveling in the sudden appearance of trees and water, apparently Oregon was still incredibly dry. More fires burning west of us. So it goes...dry conditions are nothing new to us.
Right out of camp we were treated to a surprise. Looks like Oregon is having the same beetle kill problems that plague Colorado. That global climate change is a real sonofabitch. I blame Al Gore (thanks for the internet though, Al).
The Forest Service seemed to be well entrenched in neutralizing the problem. We never figured out the final destination for these huge piles, but they were everywhere.
Hey John, got a match?
This was one of our nicer mornings of riding. We'd stumbled on what would be a long term friend most of the way to the ocean. Forest Service 28. Single lane asphalt. No traffic, no shoulders...just easy ridin'. I saw my first mountain lion out here. It crossed the road right in front of me like a long tailed bullet. I've never seen an animal move so fast. I stopped the bike but it was gone without a sound. Pretty amazing.
Around the same time, John was having another close encounter with wildlife. A bee got into his helmet and decided to sting him in the face while at speed. Yeowch.
Beware big cats and face bees.
We were enjoying the ride enough that we didn't even bother hunting for the TAT. We knew that our little asphalt carpet would dump us out into Silver Lake eventually and that was just fine by us. The TAT was only ever something to hang an adventure on, so neither of us ever felt beholden to sticking to it. I may have felt guilty about 'cheating' in Colorado, but by this point I was pretty happy to enjoy whatever lay in front of me. It was a nice feeling.
Eventually we did drop into Silver Lake. Unfortunately the cafe was closed, but we had fun talking to the lady at the gas station. She lived right across the street and didn't mind having somebody to talk to any more than we minded stretching our legs. She told us all about the freaky-deakies that come through their town on the way to Burning Man. While we were talking, a shitty old car full of college kids with pink hair pulled up for gas. Ah, Burning Man...
After Silver Lake we hooked up to the TAT again.
To our surprise, it wasn't long before we were up to our eggs in sand again. More dust!
I guess those tacky red Oregon roads we'd seen in so many ride reports weren't in the cards for us. We saw more Sasquatches than we did tacky trails in Oregon. Somewhere in here John snapped. He came down with the sand madness that we've all heard rumors about. Much swearing and creative arm flailing ensued. For his mental health (and mine), we decided it would be better to find something more suited to well-bred gentlemen such as ourselves. So long for now TAT.
A decent gravel road leads us to lunch and helps ease John's sand madness.
Who needs lunch with all this dust to eat?
In Crescent we found the holy grail of TAT restaurants, The Mohawk Lounge. Seriously. Best. Meal. Of. The. Trip. Go there. We enjoyed the friendly service, the fantastic food, the incredible ceramic liquor bottle collection, and of course, the menagerie of stuffed animals. It was utterly fantastic. We didn't want to leave.
The bears ate your fries!
Feeling very happy and satisfied, we hit the trail again for some more easy gravel.
I still wasn't used to seeing water. Every bridge had me stopping to take pictures.