I’m through what may be the last of the desert on this journey as I’ve found refuge in the cozy confines of Baker City, Oregon. Yes, I’m now in the final state of TransAm! I could be finished in as soon as a week if I wanted to put the turbo on. I’m not really in a hurry this time, as I’m delaying my return home until at least the upcoming solar eclipse. I’m surmising the first week of August for when I will close the TransAm out. This’ll be my penultimate article on the road.
The very East of Oregon has turned out to be a crucible. When you’ve eclipsed two months riding, you can start to gather a little hubris as to your endurance and what the road can throw at you. Well the arid ride through Hells Canyon, which pushed 40 miles of rolling hills sans amenities, pushed me and bent me. I’ve spent the last day recovering from dehydration and heat symptoms.
I was last posting in ‘Big Sky Country’, where I subsequently journeyed into the welcoming arms of Missoula, where the roads turned to a blissful bike path through the Northern Bitterroot Valley and all the amenities I could want were in grasp, even a round of Magic: the Gathering at the local comic book shop! Adventure Cycling, who developed the TransAm and other long distance cycling routes, is headquartered here and a visit to their office is worth the small detour into an urban paradise.
I’ve been using the Warmshowers service heavily these past couple weeks. The service is a parallel to Couchsurfing for the touring cyclist crowd. These stop ins with friendly, generous locals is great for restoring one’s spirits. I was reticent to engage in the service after going through the AT without needing it, but the reality is that there is a lack of backpacker-oriented amenities that only these people provide in these distant places. I should’ve been hitting these folks up way earlier in the trip!
Montana segued West into Idaho at Lolo Pass; this state has been some of my favorite riding on the route. We spent the first hundred miles of the state navigating down from the high mountain elevations for good through the Clearwater Forest, and are now hovering closer to sea level (Sub 4k elevation). Zeroing in Missoula led to a nice, albeit brief, bottleneck of cyclists throughout the state that have since dissipated to my riding solo once more. Idaho wound up ideal not only for the good company, but it was amazingly scenic from blistering river canyons to expansive bald mountains and dense forest, without much of the vehicular density that the Yellowstone orbit drew.
I’ve settled on a course for action following reaching Astoria. After I’ve finished, I will explore job opportunities in the Seattle and Portland areas. Should I be unsuccessful in placing myself somewhere by the eclipse, I’ll aim to grab a train as a scenic route back home to NYC to pick up where I left off at there (I am coming home regardless in Autumn). I’m quite open to suggestions on how to fill this exciting chunk of time I’ll have in this special place of the USA.