Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 14-16, 2012 - SE Oregon

Friday Sept  14, 2012

I left home for a three day motorcycle ride to SE Oregon. As I passed through Sisters, Oregon the sky was filled with smoke from The Pole Creek forest fire (25,886 acres so far) south of town. My first stop for the day was breakfast at Jake's Diner  in Bend, Oregon. 

After a good meal I headed east on Hwy 20 to Brothers, Oregon to my first post office visit on this trip. The post office was inside the store with nothing else in the town except an ODOT rest area.

I backtracked into Bend on Hwy 20 and then rode south on Hwy 97 to Sunriver. The Sunriver post office is tucked in the back part of an industrial park in a huge building, which seemed odd. In talking to the Postmaster business has been down ever since the move into this location. Not surprising as being Sunriver is a vacation destination. I would think you'd want the post office located somewhere easy to find and where it could be seen when driving on one of the main roads leading to Sunriver.

Next stop was Fort Rock which is southeast of Lapine off Hwy 31. Here I met Sue the Postmaster who has worked 28 years at the post office. She didn't take the early retirement the USPS was offering instead she is going to hang on for two more years.

Leaving Fort Rock I stayed on back roads and went east to Christmas Valley. Along the way I passed many center pivot wheel lines watering the alfalfa fields. I connected back to Hwy 31 and rode south to Summer Lake where I stopped for a drink (milk). During the hour I sat on the bench outside the market, three different people stopped and had lengthy conversations with me. These small towns sure are fun.

Continuing south on Hwy 31, I passed through Paisley and Lakeview on my way to New Pine Creek which is on the border of Oregon and California.

Here I dropped off a post card and rode back into Lakeview.

I found a WiFi hotspot at a coffee shop in Lakeview and uploaded a few photos to Facebook. I then called an old college friend Bill, who lives in Adel, as he offered me a bed for the night the next time I rode through the area. I took Hwy 395 north of Lakeview and then caught Hwy 140 east to Adel. Hwy 140 is a wonderful road but since it was early evening I rode with caution as there are many  deer on this stretch of road plus it's is open range so the cattle had left their mark (patties) on the roadway.

I had a good visit with Bill and Sally, Bill's wife. Sally's cooked a great meal that evening topped off by fresh peach cobbler she baked.

Saturday Sept. 15, 2012

Bill and I were both up early and I since I had a long day ahead of me I was on the road by 7am.

I stopped by the Adel post office and dropped off a postcard then visited the Adel Store. You must visit this store if you're ever in the area. Lots of hunting and ranching history is hanging from it's walls and ceiling.

From Adel I rode to Lakeview then west on Hwy 140 where I stopped for breakfast in Bly. I saw a bunch of vehicles parked in Bly which seemed odd for a small town. Turned out Cycle Oregon was finishing up in Bly this day. I was about 3 hours ahead of the large groups of bicycles, that would soon be arriving, so I finished my breakfast and continued west on Hwy 140 to Sprague River.

Next I arrived in Chiloquin where I crossed over Hwy 97 and got on Crater Lake Hwy (Hwy 62) and stopped at the post office in Ft. Klamath. Sadly the general store and gas station, which was open last year, was now out of business. Another casualty in our small towns that are dying across America.   

I didn't ride all the way to Crater Lake as I've done that many times before. Instead I keep moving and took the back roads to Prospect and Butte Falls where I stopped for lunch. I then rode into Medford where I fueled the bike up and stopped to visit with my children & grand kids.

After a nice visit I rode south from Medford to Ashland then east on Hwy 66 to Klamath Falls where I spend the night with my other children.

Sunday Sept. 16, 2012

I left KFalls around 9am and rode north on Hwy 97 and stopped for breakfast Melita's Restaurant in Chiloquin. After a great meal I decided I'd keep riding on Hwy 97 unless the traffic got heavy, which it never did. 

I turned west on Hwy 58 towards Oakridge and Eugene then north on I-5 and home. I was very surprised there was hardly any traffic on any of the roads today, which made the ride home quick and very enjoyable.

My last fuel stop had been in Medford the day before and I'd covered 324 miles and still had fuel to spare. Just love the long range of the Honda ST1300!! I brought back my fair share of bugs while riding around Upper Klamath Lake. Took me a few hours the following afternoon to get them all washed off.

This was another great ride around Oregon and I've almost completed my goal for 2012; to visit all the post offices on the USPS reduction list. Of the original 41 Oregon post offices on the list, I have visited all but two - Arock in far SE Oregon and Agness in far SW Oregon. Hopefully later this fall or early winter I'll be able to visit them.

This past spring and summer as I've been riding around Oregon, I have met many wonderful people and gotten to see some amazing sights. I've enjoyed every minute and mile on the road and hope next summer to find a new adventure.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

July 23-27, 2012 – Visiting Post Offices in Central & Northeastern Oregon

Monday July 23, 2012

I left Stayton, Oregon Monday morning at 7:00 to begin a week long motorcycle trip around Oregon. Originally my son-in-law and his dad were going to join me for this ride. We did a similar ride in June 2011 and were looking forward to riding together again. Sadly on the afternoon of July 12, 2012 our daughter (who lives in Klamath Falls, Oregon) was riding her motorcycle home from work when someone turned directly in front of her and hit her with their car. The accident broke her pelvis and she was in the hospital for 3 days. My wife and I helped our son-in-law take of her during the first 9 days but he needed to stay home with her afterwards and therefore was not able to make the trip. His dad decided also to not ride. Our daughter is recovering very well (she is a miracle according to her doctor but I already knew that) but it will be a slow recovery process followed by physical therapy. So I ended up riding alone on this trip but my thoughts were certainly with our daughter – Love you June Bug!!!

At the hospital with our daughter - She had to spend three nights but was getting released this day

I started off on Hwy 22 heading east to Detroit, Oregon where I turned north on Hwy 46 towards Timothy Lake and connected with Hwy 26 south of Mt. Hood. I then turned east on Hwy 216 until I reached Maupin, Oregon where I added some non-ethanol premium fuel into the ST’s tank. I saw many rafts floating down the Deschutes River on this Monday morning. I crossed over the river and got on Bakeoven Road on my way to Shaniko, Oregon where I then rode Hwy 218 to Fossil, Oregon. I’ve ridden many back roads and Hwy 218 between Shaniko and Fossil is one of my favorites of all time. It is smooth, beautiful scenery and has lots of fun curves (twisties).

Fossil, Oregon

I planned to grab a bite to eat at Service Creek but the restaurant was closed. :-(  After Hwy 218 I got on Hwy 19 which took me by Spray, Oregon and then to the first Post Office on this trip in Kimberly, Oregon. The only thing in Kimberly is the Post Office as the store is closed. Here I met Sue (Office-in-Charge) and Sherry who is the part time route driver in the area. We talked about Post Offices in general, had some laughs and then I took photos before heading on my way.

Kimberly, Oregon

Old Service Window

Sue & Sherry

Sue & Kevin (me)

 Leaving Kimberly I rode north on Hwy 402 towards Monument and Long Creek, Oregon. Much to my dissatisfaction, I’d come across road construction and would need to ride on loose gravel. I was riding a Sport Touring motorcycle which doesn’t like gravel roads. I rode very slowly for the next 10 miles on really loose gravel then had another 15 miles with loose gravel in the center lane and on the edges of the roadway so I still had to be careful around every corner. I was glad when I reached Long Creek without any issues and got on Hwy 395 where I headed north to Ukiah, Oregon and my camping spot for the night.
Long Creek

 I made a quick stop at the Dale Post Office
Not many PO Boxes at Dale, Oregon

I arrived in Ukiah at 4:15pm and just missed the Ukiah Postmaster but did get to visit with the relief person. I forgot to get his name but since he reminds me of a friend (the white facial hair) I’m going to call him “Bob”. Bob worked at the Portland Post Office before retiring and moving onto the family ranch outside Ukiah. Bob was originally from Helix, Oregon and had a sister who taught at the same high school in Salem (Sprague) that my daughters attended.

Ukiah, Oregon

"Bob" at the Ukiah Post Office

After visiting with Bob I walked across the street to The Thicket Café for dinner. I pulled out my iPod to see if  WiFi was available, which it was, and learned they didn’t have cell phone service in the area. Not a problem since I don't have a cell phone. :-) I was able to read my emails and send messages to family and friends letting them know I’d arrived safe after my first day of riding. After dinner I setup my tent at the Dale-Ukiah Primitive State Park:  There were three trailers and one motor home at the campground on this Monday evening. I covered about 300 miles this first day.
Camping at Dale-Ukiah State Park

Tuesday July 24, 2012

I picked up a North Face sleeping bag before this trip which packed down to about one-half the size of my old sleeping bag. This helps when you are carrying all your gear for one week on a motorcycle. This new North Face sleeping bag is rated to 20 degrees and I was concerned it would be too much bag for this mid-summer ride. Well I quickly learned you can never have a sleeping bag that is too warm as it got down to 36 degrees this night. As I was taking down camp, twice I stopped to warm up my hands using the hand dryer in the restroom – IT WAS COLD! I put on an extra coat under my riding jacket before leaving camp and was very glad I’d installed heated grips on my motorcycle last spring. It was 38 degrees when I left camp but within 30 minutes, as I rode on Hwy 395 north and down the mountain towards Pilot Rock, Oregon, it quickly warmed up by 57 degrees.

 Pilot Rock, Oregon

I took one layer of clothes off and then continued north on Hwy 395 to Pendleton, Oregon where I took on more fuel. Leaving Pendleton I rode by miles of wheat fields surrounding both sides of Hwy 11 on my way to Helix, Oregon. Riding into Helix around 9am I noticed a wonderful old brick high school on the right (east) side town.

 Helix High School

Here I meet someone (again I forgot to get a name) working on a waterline in the front lawn of the school. We talked about the town and the school. Kids come from miles around to attend this rural high school. I learned in years past the town had businesses like a hardware store, grocery store, fuel station, café and other shops but now there aren’t many businesses left. The town does have a swimming pool and a City Park, which got hit with a flash flood last week. Good thing I didn’t plan my ride the week before as there were heavy rain showers, lightning strikes and flash floods throughout this area.

 Downtown Helix, Oregon looking West

  Downtown Helix, Oregon looking East

City Park and Swimming Pool in Helix after flash flood

At the Post Office I met Postmaster Lena and Sue, who was taking over at the Post Office for Lena. The hours of the Helix Post Office are being cut to 4 hours per day and Lena can’t afford to only work part time. This is a similar story that I’ve heard at other Post Offices.

Helix, Oregon

Lena in foreground and Sue in the background

After visiting with Lena and Sue it was time to find breakfast. The only food service in Helix opened at noon but Lena said I could find food in Athena, Oregon which is about 7 miles down the road. I found The Doubletree Restaurant on Main Street to be the perfect place for breakfast. Here I met Debbie and had the BEST biscuits and gravy on my entire trip. Next time I’m in Eastern Oregon I’ll be stopping at The Doubletree for more – Yummy!

 Debbie at The Doubletree Restaurant on Main Street in Athena, Oregon

 Athena, Oregon

From Athena I rode east through Weston, Oregon and then jumped on Hwy 204 which took me back into mountains, but now it was much warmer, and dropped over in to Elgin, Oregon. I then got on Hwy 82 and rode towards Joseph, Oregon.

 Weston, Oregon

 Elgin, Oregon

Along the way I stopped at the Lostine Post Office in hopes to meet Postmaster Mrs. Muriel L. Jones, who Lena in Helix had told me about. Muriel became the Office-in-Charge at the Lostine Post Office back in 1975 and then the Postmaster in 1980 and she was getting ready to retire. I arrived after she closed for lunch and wasn’t able to meet Muriel as I couldn’t wait around since I still had a long day of riding ahead of me. I took some photos and then was on my way.

 Lostine, Oregon

 Inside the Lostine Post Office

My next stop was Enterprise, Oregon where I grabbed a smoothie and a WiFi connection at the Gypsy Java and sent travel updates to my wife since I didn’t expect to have any WiFi available for the remainder of the day.

 Enterprise, Oregon

The next town I rode into was Joseph, Oregon, They were getting ready for Chief Joseph Days Rodeo and the running of the horses through town. The streets were lined with people but I just wanted some fuel and be on my way since I’ve seen plenty of horses in my life. I rode north out of Joseph on Hwy 350 to Imnaha, Oregon. Look at a map, you can’t get much more NE in Oregon than Imnaha. At the Post Office I met Postmaster Bonnie and I really enjoyed visiting with her. Bonnie was able to quickly recall the name of someone I went to college with back in 1977 by me just telling her he was from Imnaha and graduated from high school in 1974 or 1975 (Eric B. is his name).

 Imnaha, Oregon

 Postmaster Bonnie at Imnaha, Oregon

It was getting warm, about 95 degrees, and I LOVED IT!. It was about 3pm so I walked over to the Imnaha Store and Tavern for some lunch/dinner. The store is the only other business in Imnaha except for the Post Office. Here I had a great meal in a great environment. The signs and animal heads mounted on the walls reminded me I wasn’t in the Willamette Valley where businesses make sure they are "Political Correct" and don't upset anyone.
 Imnaha Store and Tavern

  Imnaha Store and Tavern

  Imnaha Store and Tavern

After Imnaha I backtracked on Hwy 350 since the direct route from Imnaha to Oxbow/Copperfield, Oregon was a gravel road and instead I took Little Sheep Creek Road and North Pine Road (which is paved) through the Hells Canyon National Recreation Area.

I then turned onto Hwy 86 and rode east to Oxbow/Copperfield where I would be spending the night at the Idaho Power Copperfield Park. This park is on the Oregon side just below the Oxbow Dam on the Snake River:
After setting up my tent I walked over the Oxbow Post Office to take some photos.

I’d taken the iPod and found WiFi available outside the Post Office. I sent more updates to family and after returning to my camp I noticed I still had WiFi service. Turned out the campground has WiFi so I was able to catch up on all the news, Facebook activity and the next few days weather forecast. WiFi can be accessed in some of the oddest places these days. This campground had showers so after two days of riding it felt good to get cleaned up. It was a great day of riding with little or no wind and sunshine all day long. I rode about 350 miles this day.

Campsite at Oxbow/Copperfield, Oregon

Wednesday July 25, 2012

The next morning I had camp broken down early (6am Pacific Time Zone) but since Oxbow is in the Mountain Time Zone it wasn’t that early. I’d be riding west to Baker City, which was in the Pacific Time Zone, so I’d get my hour back. Hwy 86 was having chip seal work done to the road surface but this work crew had done a much better job keeping the loose gravel to a minimum. As a crested one hill I found myself dropping into the valley where Halfway, Oregon is located and at 7am it was a beautiful sight.

Looking into the valley near Halfway, Oregon
I continued on into Baker City where I got fuel for both myself and the bike. Breakfast was at the Inland Café, which is another must stop for me whenever I’m in Baker City, Oregon. After Baker City I rode on Old Hwy 30 to Durkee, Oregon. At the Post Office I met Postmaster Anita. We talked about the economy, healthcare and other hot topics before taking some photos and getting on to my next destination.

Durkee, Oregon

Checkout the old Zip Code sticker in the lower left of this photo

Postmaster Anita and me

I backtracked on Old Hwy 30 to Baker City and then rode west on Hwy 7 until I reached the intersection with Hwy 245. This is another great ride into the mountains and down into the valley on the other side. Lots of curves and great views along the way to Hereford, Oregon, my next stop. At the Hereford Post Office I met Shanna who would only be the Postmaster for six more days. The hours of the Post Office were being cut and even though Shanna lives in the house attached to the Post Office she didn't want to be tied down six days a week for only a few hours each day. Similar message (working six days a week) I heard from may of the Postmaster along the way. Anyway, Shanna and I had some good laughs and when Bert, the United Parcel Service (UPS) driver arrived, I had him take photos of Shanna and me.

 Hereford, Oregon

Herefore, Oregon  Postmaster (until July 31, 2012) - Shanna

 Posing with our sunglasses on - We tried to ignore all the comments Bert was making at the time

 UPS driver Bert and Shanna

The old high school in Hereford - the kids now go to Burnt River High School in Unity, Oregon

Just down the road (12 miles) is Unity, Oregon. This town has the Burnt River High School: where kids from the surrounding area attend school. Many of the small towns I passed through had there own high schools in the past but have since had to combine with other schools as enrollment dropped and school budgets got tighter. At the Unity Post Office was Postmaster Brenda. The Unity Post Office hours are being cut but at least Brenda's husband had a job so they can afford to stay in the area and their children attend Burnt River schools.

 Unity, Oregon

 Postmaster Brenda - Photos of her five children in the background

Old (closed) store and fuel station in Unity, Oregon

After visiting with Brenda I drove to the market at the other end of town to get a drink (milk of course) and eat a Clif Power Bar. Here I met a group of four KTM dirt bike riders from Hillsboro, Oregon who were riding south to north in Eastern Oregon. They were covered in dust (of course I forgot to take a photo) and they all had GoPro video cameras either mounted on their helmets or chest protectors. We sat and talked about each other motorcycle trips. Their concern was making sure they found fuel stops as they only had about a 150 mile range. They did have a support truck tracking them so if necessary they could call him to drop off fuel in an emergency. With a 300-350 mile range on my bike, fuel stops weren't a concern. We both appreciated each others journey and wished each other safe travels.

Leaving Unity east on Hwy 26 I'd be riding into long stretches of road without much population. The Post Offices I'd be stopping at would be closed but I knew I wouldn't get to them all during working hours. My first stop was Jamieson, Oregon. Here the only thing in Jamieson is the Post Office and a few farm houses. I took a photo and slipped a postcard under the door to be hand canceled and mailed back to me. Postmaster Jeanie wrote me a note on the postcard and said she was retiring as of July 31, 2012. I'm glad I made this trip when I did because many of the Postmaster are retiring as of July 31, 2012.

Jamieson, Oregon

I then rode in Vale, Oregon which is a "real" town. Here I found a large Post Office and was surprised to see all the PO Boxes were the old brass boxes with combination locks. In most Post Office the locks got changed over from combination to keys.

 Vale, Oregon

 I found similar plaques at other Post Office Buildings
 It's rare to find PO Boxes that still use combinations and so many at a larger Post Office such as Vale
From Vale I turned right and started riding west on Hwy 20. I turned off Hwy 20 to visit Westfall, Oregon which has turned out to be the most remote Post Office I've visited to date.

Westfall, Oregon - This place is in the middle of nowhere and it was GREAT!

Continuing on Hwy 20 I stopped at Harper, Oregon. This Post Office had beautiful PO Boxes with eagles cast into the doors and a beautiful wood service window. This is the kind of stuff you'd expect to find at a Post Office Museum.

 Harper, Oregon

 Check out the eagles cast into the doors and they still have combination locks

Service window in Harper, Oregon Post Office

Next stop down Hwy 20 was Juntura, Oregon. I learned the Postal Service lost their lease to this location and are looking for a new place to put the Post Office in Juntura. Again I left a postcard and Postmaster Rachel wrote me a note on the card before sending it back to me - Thanks, I appreciate these notes.

Juntura, Oregon

It was around 4:30pm so I stopped at The Oasis Cafe in Juntura for lunch/dinner. When riding I try to eat lighter meals since I'm not burning many calories just twisting the throttle. As I'm looking over the menu I see a plate leaving the kitchen and it is piled with gorgeous looking hand cut french fries. The waitress tells me they are as good as they look and I'm tempted. I stay strong and order a turkey sandwich and green salad. Knowing how I longed for the fries the waitress surprises me by giving me a mini portion of fries along with my meal. Talk about good customer service. The tip I left reflected her thoughtfulness and my gratitude.

The Oasis Cafe in Juntura, Oregon - The french fries alone make this worth the drive

After a good meal I continued west on Hwy 20 to Drewsey, Oregon. Here the Post Office was on the end of a large metal building. This was a nice little town with a school and a store. Glad to see a small town that's been able to keep it's school going. A postcard was left and it was returned with a nice note written on it from Postmaster Pat.

Drewsey, Oregon

I made my into Burns, Oregon where I planned to spend the night but first I needed to make a quick trip to the Riley, Oregon Post Office, which was 22 miles west of Burns. I snapped a couple photos and left a postcard. Postmaster Anne wrote she'd been reading my Blog - Glad you enjoy reading my travels to these small Post Offices.

Riley, Oregon

Riding back into Burns (heading east on Hwy 20) I was passing slow moving vehicles. After passing a metallic red Toyota Rav4 from California, I was following him so long I'm surprised I didn't have his license plate memorized, a Oregon State Trooper was coming the other direction. I looked down and I was speeding. The trooper quickly turned around and turned on his lights. Luckily I've never been pulled over before and my record was clean so I was let off with a warning. I followed his warning and keep my speed below 65mph for the remainder of my trip.

I'd rather not camp at commercial sites (Good Sam, KOA, etc) and I all I found a Burns was a Good Sam Club RV Park. I remembered from last year's ride Lake County Fairgrounds let us camp there and since  Harney County Fairgrounds was located in Burns maybe they'd let me toss up my tent there. Sure enough they did allow camping at the fairgrounds so for $5 I had the entire fairgrounds to myself which included a nice grass area for my tent, showers and and an open WiFi connection - Life is Good! I rode about 350 miles this day.
 Harney County Fairgrounds in Burns, Oregon

 Perfect Weather

Great camp site by the horse race track
Thursday July 26, 2012

I had my camp down by 7am and was off to Crane, Oregon riding on Hwy 78 which is east of Burns. I arrived at the Crane Post Office just as Postmaster Mary was raising the flag. We talked about the local high school, which is a boarding school complete with dormitories for the students. Farmers & ranches from miles around sent their children to this high school. The town of Crane was a booming area years ago:,_Oregon  but things never recovered after fires burned most of the town down in the 1930's.

 Crane, Oregon

 Crane, Oregon - Postmaster Mary

 Crane Union High School - Boarding School

Old Crane Movie Theater

After visiting with Mary I had breakfast at the Crane Store & Cafe. A young man came in and was trying to get to Tacoma, Washington. He was lost and after a couple of us tried to explain routes he could take to reach Tacoma I decided it would be best if I gave him my Oregon State Highway map, which I did. He was very thankful and I hope he found his way.

Crane Store & Cafe

There is one Post Office on my list, Arock, Oregon, which is 2 hours east of Crane. I learned it is closed on Thursday's so I decided not to drive all that distance if I wouldn't be able to met the Postmaster. It is a Post Office I'll need to visit another time when they are open.

Update: On Sunday April 23, 2017 we made a trip to Eastern Oregon and stopped by the Arock Post Office. Sadly it wasn't open on Sunday but at least I got to see it in person.

 Arock Post Office
  Arock Post Office

Leaving Crane I rode west on Hwy 78 to Burns then caught Hwy 395 north through the mountains to Seneca, Oregon. along the way I notice miles of trees whose needles were all dead. At first I thought it was from a forest fire but the under brush looked fine. When I got to Seneca I asked and it turns got the forest was infested with moth that is killing all the trees. Sad to see our forests have these types of issues.
At the Senaca Post Office I met Sherry, who was an Officer-in-Charge filling at the Post Office as the Postmaster was on leave. I was surprised a Post Office the size of Seneca ended up on the reduction list. While at the Post Office a very nice elderly lady came in and was talking to Sherry and I. She had lost her husband to Parkinson Disease and she talked about what it was like taking care of him the last years of his life. It was suggested she put him in a nursing home but she said he built their house with his bare hands before there were any roads in the area and there was no other place he would want to live.

 Seneca, Oregon

Officer-in-Charge - Sherry

From Seneca I rode west on Hwy 63 (Izee Road) out of the mountains and into valley into ranch and farm land. These roads have been freshly paved (not chip sealed) and were some of the best surfaces I've ridden. I had to keep reminding myself what the State Trooper outside Burns told me: "Keep it below 65 mph." ;-)

My next stop was in Paulina, Oregon. The Post Office is located in the back of the Paulina General Merchandise store. Here I met one of the most out going and fun Postmaster ever, Elizabeth.  Elizabeth has been with the Postal Service for years and we talked about the changes she's seen over the years. She too is one that is retiring as the Postal Service has incentives for retirement and that is why so many Postmasters, who can afford to, are retiring. Elizabeth's daughter, Katie, is taking over for her mom. Elizabeth is going go spend more time running her ranch and more time with her grandson.

 Paulina, Oregon

 Service window located in the back of the store

 Elizabeth and me

Grandson, Katie (daughter) and Elizabeth (mother and grandmother)

I continued west on Paulina Hwy 380 to my next stop in Post, Oregon, which is the geographic center of the state of Oregon. I learned this Post Office is without a Postmaster. Postal employees are driving over from Prineville, Oregon to run this Post Office until someone permanent takes the job. It was mid-afternoon so I decided to get a bite to eat. Only three things were on the menu and Stephanie suggested the Cowboy Sandwich, which was a meatloaf sandwich. It was very good as was the potato salad side.

 Post, Oregon

Post, Oregon Post Office is located in the back of the store

After lunch I rode into Prineville, Oregon with hopes of calling it an early day and finding a camping spot. The fairgrounds doesn't allow camping but just outside the fairgrounds front gate there was a commercial campground - No thank you. I remembered when I drove through Maupin Oregon on Monday they had camping along the Deschutes River which looked nice and it was only 90 minutes away so I topped off the fuel tank and headed north to Maupin riding on Hwy 26, Hwy 97 and finally Hwy 197. The City of Maupin has camping in their City Park but when I drove through the park it was only one step below a commercial endeavor. And at a cost of $24 plus tax for a tent site I decided instead to ride down the BLM Access Road that followed the Deschutes River and look for a campsite. I found a primitive BLM camp area called White River which had three group sites (only one group site was occupied) and one single site and a pit toilet. The single site looked okay and it was close to the river where I planned to soak my feet since it 97 degrees at the the time.

After setting up camp I walked down to the river to cool off. After a few minutes the group campers arrived back at camp and headed down to the river to cool down. After a few hello's were exchanged, Dale asked me if I played horseshoes. Next Dale asked what I was doing for dinner to which I replied I had a freeze-dried meal I planned to eat. He said they were having steak and corn on the cob and invited me to join them for dinner - Tough choice but I went for the steak. ;-)

After cooling down in the river we went back to camp for horseshoes. I was teamed with Brian while Dale and Jeff were the other team. We had a blast and I must admit I was very lucky as I hit a double ringer to give Brian and I the win in the fifth and deciding game. I hope Dale will invite me to play again.

After a great dinner most everyone else went to bed but Jeff, Niiki and I stayed up and talked. I learned this week long camping and rafting trip with Jeff and Dale has been an annual event that has been going on for about 28 years. I also leaned Nikki and I share the same thoughts when it comes to Winco shoppers. We watched bats flying over our heads catching bugs and enjoyed looking at all the stars in the sky. Jeff said if I was around in the morning that Nikki makes a great breakfast and I was welcome to join them. I planned to try and get an early start (7am) but told Jeff I'd see how things went in the morning. I rode about 300 miles this day.
Friday July 27, 2012

I woke up around 6am (like I ways do) and took down my camp and loaded up my bike. I saw a few of the others, who went to bed early the night before, were up at the group camp. I went over to say "Thank you" and "Good bye". Before I got away Dale asked me if I'd ever been white water rafting, to which I replied not really. Dale said "Want to go?" I told Dale I was planning to get an early start and get home early that afternoon when Brian said "Don't pass up the chance". Next thing you know I'm getting ready to raft down the Deschutes River with some new found friends.

Jeff wasn't kidding, Nikki makes a outstanding breakfast sandwich! After breakfast we loaded up the supplies for the day and headed to the launch site, which is north of Maupin. You could tell Jeff, Nikki and Dale have done this a few hundred times as we were getting the rafts unloaded and prepped for the trip. It was a blast going down the river and I really appreciated the knowledge and skill of Dale, who I rode with. He knows the river and how to handle his raft.

After we finished the float, which took about 3 1/2 hours, I said my thank yous and good byes. Dale told me they were having lasagna for dinner and he was ready for another game of horseshoes or a game of bocce ball. It was tempting but after being on the road for a week I want to get home to see my wife. Maybe next year?

 BLM White River single campsite on the Deschutes River near Maupin, Oregon

The White River coming into the Deschutes River - This was the cooling off area surrounded by rocks

 The group camp: Jeff, Nikki, Dale, Carl, Rick, Kristen, & Brian

 Nikki making wonderful breakfast sandwiches on Friday morning

 Sitting around camp (l-r): Dale, Carl, Rick and Jeff

 Group camp (l-r): Kristen & Brian

Getting ready to float the Deschutes River north of Maupin, Oregon (l-r): Kevin, Dale & Rick

 Getting ready to float the Deschutes River north of Maupin, Oregon (l-r): Jeff, Nikki, Kristen & Brian

Getting ready to float the Deschutes River north of Maupin, Oregon (l-r): Dale, Nikki & Jeff

Floating down the Deschutes River near Maupin, Oregon: Kevin & Dale

 Lunch break on the Deschutes River near Maupin (l-r): Rick, Carl, Dale, Kevin, Jeff & Nikki

 Jeff & Nikki running the rapids

Rafting the Deschutes River near Maupin, Oregon

After rafting, I rode with Jeff and Rick in the shuttle vehicle and they dropped me off at camp as I still had four hours of riding time left and I wanted to get home before dark. All my clothes were wet so I needed to change into something dry before getting back in the saddle. Once in dry clothes I followed the BLM Access Road north along the Deschutes River to Hwy 216 and then turned south on Hwy 97, which took me into Madras, Oregon. Outside Madras I got on Lower Bridge Market Road which allowed me to bypass Redmond, Oregon and connected with Hwy 126 outside Sisters, Oregon. I got dinner in Sisters at the Ski Inn, one of my favorite stops when passing through Sisters, before riding the last leg home. I keep on Hwy 126 until it changed into Hwy 20 then when to Hwy 22 back to Stayton at 8pm. I rode about 300 miles this day.

I rode a total of 1,600 miles over five days. I meet many wonderful people and had great weather every day. I enjoyed the simple life of camping and not having any real plans day by day. It was fun to get out and visit these rural Post Offices in Eastern Oregon. I visited a total of 15 Post Offices which means I have visited 32 Post Offices from the original closure list and only have 9 more left to visit. Meeting the group of campers outside Maupin who invited me to dinner and then took me rafting made a wonderful week even better.  I can hardly wait to get back out on the road again.