SEA TO SHINING SEA: Delawhere?
NIMROD, OREGON — DAY 10 - 33 miles today. Total has reached 302 - How about that? Delaware area code. Still much less than 1/10th of what we need to complete to get home.
We rode all day today, upstream along the McKenzie River. Powerful flow of water coming off the Cascades. Snow melt and lots of rain. A few hydroelectric plants harness that flow to electrify thousands of homes in Eugene.
(Tina just stopped in to fix the heater in this cabin we have tonight. Full of energy and full of positive personality. The Oregon accent isn't strong but still distinctive. Tina put me immediately in mind of Cathy at the Rodney Hotel - another Pacific Northwester. Talk to Cathy and you'll get a sense of the Oregon accent and lilt.)
A flagman hollered out to us when we rode past.
"Where you all headed?"
"Delawhere!" I hollered back.
"East Coast!" Recognition on that one.
Delaware's pretty tiny.
We had a nice visit with Bill and Val. Very hospitable. Bill's recuperating from bone spur surgery on his heel. Surgeon shaved off a bunch. "I put it off 15 years," said Bill. An athlete, Bill's strong as a bull and solid as a rock. He'll recover quickly but it will still take several months. When we were in school together, Bill swam the butterfly and individual medley. All American. As graceful as a porpoise. Johnny Weismuller had nothing on Bill.
Val's studying for a Masters in Divinity. Doing a stint now as minister for a country Methodist church. I told her I like the Methodist hymns.
She told me Methodism founder John Wesley's brother, Charles, took the melodies from many 18th century popular bar songs and added his own lyrics. Pretty smart. Go to church, learn about the love of Jesus, and stretch your vocal chords with beautiful melodies celebrating the great redeemer - melodies that you first learned with a pint glass in your hand. "O for a thousand tongues to sing!" That's happiness.
At lunch along the river, beef and bean burritos chased with dried apricots and the Lord's Liquor - water. I talked with a good ole boy in a big pick-up truck with a boat and trailer behind. He was trailering the distinctive dory-type boat I had been seeing all along the McKenzie.
"It's called a McKenzie River Drift Boat," he told me. "The design allows you to oar the boat through and over rapids. It's the optimum design for fishing the river - a design that has evolved through the years. Prince Helfrich or somebody like that perfected the design."
He told me he drifts the river with a spinning rig baited with worms and other live stuff. "Salmon and steelhead trout. They're just starting to come up the Columbia to the Willamette and then up the McKenzie. I throw the salmon back because I don't really like the flavor. But the steelheads are milder - like trout. I don't throw them back."
We'll head further up the river tomorrow, planning to camp near the famous hot springs known as Belknap. The Cascades have lots of volcanos. Sitting in the 104 degree water should feel good after a long ride.
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