Wednesday, October 7, 2020: Fall Colors and a Mooning

Antelope Reservoir to Unity, Oregon

The morning was comparitavely warm, with a temperature up near 50. The rising sun was providing welcome warmth that made it easier to get up and around. We made our coffees, packed up our gear, and got out on the road.

We headed north on Forest Route 17 and then turned onto Forest Route 16 to make our way back to Highway 380. I got into my groove quickly and we made quick work of the 20-plus miles back to the highway.

I arrived at the intersection where FR 16 and Highway 380 meet and came to a stop to ensure the coast was clear. I felt for my front brake lever, but found it wasn’t there. I stopped to see what was going on and found one of the bolts holding the lever to the handlebar had rattled out somewhere on the bumpy dirt road. The remaining bolt had loosened up and almost made its way out. I repositioned the lever, tightened the remaining bolt and got back on the road with a plan to find a hardware store at our next stop.

Highway 380, as we headed east, was amazing country. Miles of canyons and valleys lined with green pines and ash trees with leaves that had turned yellow for the fall. Occasionally, we would ride through a layer of the yellow leaves, sending a cloud of leaves fluttering into the air.

We turned onto Grant County Road 63 and wound through the Malheur National Forest and Ochoco Mountains. The road was fun and twisty, with very little traffic. We found ourselves riding through tunnels of trees as we made our way toward Canyon City and John Day.

We stopped in John Day and picked up a new bolt (and a tube of Loctite). With my front brake level securely back in place, we sought out a meal. Taking up the recommendation of the clerk at the hardware store, we checked out the Grubsteak Mining Company.

The restaurant looked like an old-time Wild West saloon on the inside. The seats were made from logs, and the walls looked like rough-cut wood boards. Greg and I both ordered the meatloaf sandwich, which was on special. Comfort food always sounds good when you’re eating one cooked meal a day. The meatloaf was just like homemade, and the bacon and cheese added just the right amount of flavor.

We rode east on Highway 26, climbing into the Blue Mountains. The air cooled as we climbed up above 5000 feet at Blue Mountain Summit before dropping down into the Burnt River Valley.

We stopped at Unity Lake State Park and set up camp. Using my Oregon State Parks pass, we got another night of free camping. The campsites were huge – Greg set up his tent about 100 feet from mine – and the grass tent areas were soft and green. Another great amenity of the state park were the hot showers. Taking a hot shower after a few days of wiping myself down with a washcloth felt great.

Skies took on a bright orange-pink hue at sunset and the clouds added just the right amount of drama as the sun went down behind the Blue Mountains. Rays of sunlight streamed upwards through the clouds making the sky take on the look of a painting.

Just before calling it a night, we got another visit from the ISS. I kept looking up at the stars – Saturn and Jupiter were aligned in the sky. I put my telephoto lens on my camera and pointed it skyward, easily seeing the Galilean moons of Jupiter.

Day’s Mileage: 175.8, Total Mileage: 792.6