Tuesday, June 30, 1981

9. Prairie City, Oregon

Day 9:  Tuesday, June 30, 1981

Rock Creek to Prairie City:  77 miles

We left our Rock Creek island early in the morning, and continued down to the John Day River valley.  In Dayville, we stopped for breakfast, where we had the largest pancakes and sausage patty we'd ever seen.  The other customer in the cafe was a retired geology professor who had taught at Houghton (in Michigan's Upper Peninsula) for 20 years.  He said that Corvallis, where he grew up, was too wet, so he settled in Dayville, where it was nice and dry and the fishing was good.

Rock Creek meets the John Day River in the Picture Gorge.  It made for a beautiful downhill.  At the top of the gorge, a flock of about 100 sheep were baaing as I rounded the first turn into the narrow canyon.

Because of the interplay of volcanic and sedimentary activity in the region, there are excellent fossil beds that have been analyzed by geologists.  The oreodont seems to be the local pet prehistoric animal.

John Day was a hop, skip, and a jump away (actually, it was about 3 hours' ride).  We intended just to eat lunch there and then move on, but we ended up spending four hours in town.  A rock had caught in my freewheel and was making a terrible racket.  At first I thought the trouble was in my bottom bracket, and I overhauled it, but the noise was still there.  When I removed the rear wheel, the stone fell out.  It had broken a spoke, so I put in a new one and also rotated my tires.  The rear one wears much faster than the front.

Prairie City railroad depot
The Sumpter Valley railroad depot in Prairie City
Other bikers had rolled into town, and decided to spend the night there, but Jack and I moved on to Prairie City.  We didn't expect any camping facilities, but found that the town had a small camping park built around a partly-restored railroad depot.  It had been on the western end of the Sumpter Valley Railroad, which used to run from Baker to Prairie City.  The park had very nice facilities, and they charged only $1 to set up a tent and for a shower.

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