DAY 27 - GHOST TOWNS AND DUST LANDS
Day 27 - Shaniko, OR - 1304 km
I already expected some serious climbs. Kent said, “Ya gonna need a day to crawl outta Maupin!” Looking at the paper map in their cottage in the woods. The elevation is slow and gradual. From the Columbia River the road goes up immediately. But more than that these days are filled with solitude. Quiet highways through endless landscapes. The central region in Oregon is called high desert. It’s dry and remote. Only a few small towns are creating a living from little streams that flow through the canyons. The Dalles, Boyd, Dufur, Tygh Valley, and then Maupin. Great descents into town and then a long steady climb back on the windy plains in nowhere land.
I took a little break in Shaniko to fill up my water bottles and find some food. It’s a ghost town, at least most of it. A few people still live here running the General store for traffic coming from Highway 97, which runs through town. From a distance you can see the old houses under the clear blue skies. There are just a few blocks. Once a thriving little exportation hub, when gold was discovered in the surrounding area around 1870, now barely surviving as a shadow of its former existence. It’s quiet. The wind makes the facades squeak. You can still get some ice cream at Goldie’s. People say ‘Shaniko is a great place to do nothing.'
I stocked up, charged my batteries at the diner, and took the road south towards the Painted Hills. Soon the road turned into gravel and I didn’t see cars for the rest of the day. I surely enjoyed the ride, with the bike finally off the pavement and in its natural habitat. I left some air out of the tires and cruised comfortably up and down the sandy roads. Thís is why I wanted to tour on a fatbike. To really be able to get off the grid, into the forgotten corners of America.