Sunday, December 7, 2008

Oregon Skies

Having spent 30 days in monastic retreat at Our Lady of Guadalupe Trappist Abbey in Lafayette Oregon, I feel sometimes that I miss the smell of the woods in winter in Oregon. The retreat had been the last 15 days of November and the first 15 of December in the year 2000, and it required a vow of silence, obedience and poverty which mandated a vegetarian diet, some hard work which entailed running a self sufficient cloister, managing the abbey's significant piece of wooded land and making the abbey's famous fruitcake and creamed honey. I also remember there is a book binding workshop and we built ware houses and stored Pinot Noir wine from the very delicate grapes that for some reason like to grow in this part of the world. My best times, was the Chapel singing (not barred by the vow of silence) and the personal meditation time. I had the hardest time with the seated meditation, I reckon I am a creature of motion. I spent all my personal meditation time hiking in the nearby woods and sometimes had the silent company of one of the monks who was a strong hiker. One of the brothers was a hermit and had his Shack up a hill in the woods and I would often go up there to see if I would catch a glimpse of any activity. I only saw him twice, once when the Abbot took me up there and when he came down for Guadalupe day, talk about lost in prayer.
I wrote to John Kramer and David Rowe and explained my ailing and they recommended a Susan France Permanent. As it happened a group of ORando's were riding the 3 Prairies, I suppose to satisfy R12 requirements. Now a Randonneur would have done the STP on Friday and the permanent on Saturday but with gas prices down,I loaded my bike and and drove south on I-5.
I left really late and did not arrive at the Travelodge in Newberg OR (Lafayette is a few miles further south) till it was past midnite and with gear management involved was able to get 3 hours of sleep before driving to the Newberg Public Library, the agreed meeting/parking place.
Everyone arrived promptly with lots of reflective gear in the freezing cold and we rode a short distance to Thriftway to obtain reciepts for the first control, 0730 and we were off.

Hatsu idling in front of the Randonneuse from the fogline at Thriftway. She had arrived from White Salmon that morning.

More about this tandem team later, they created a big sucking sound that pulled us to the final control in the last hour of the ride. It was not long before the Sun came bursting in, I was pondering the effect of a degree on the longitude line on the atmosphere. Mostly rollers and a few rather steep ones we cruised past farms, orchards, vineyards, hazelnut groves and ofcourse grassland.

Cecil Anne paced us up the early hills, what a climber? I had seen her work earlier this year at Bingen and she does it with a rather heavy bike with wooden fenders and springs on the saddle, not to forget her trademark stuffed Bunny to keep her company on long rides. Here at Dayton between Doc Sal and The Kramer, heading for the control at Dallas.

The group stayed pretty much together on the way to Dallas, chatting under blue sky with frozen grass on the side. A gentleman (and I use that term loosely) stopped Cecil and myself just before a climb and asked what we thought if bikes were required to travel the road in the opposite direction with motorists. "It would be very blinding at night" I thought out loud my mind already on the rest of the group who were already at the summit of the climb. He continued to develop his premises, argument with Cecil until I heard about a "biker in MY lane", "My Lane" I retorted and quickly admonished myself about my own ego, leaving Cecil to explain the Law to him.

A rather peaceful ride in the sun, we controlled at the subway in Dallas and then at Newberg before going back out to Mt. Angel. Returning to Newberg, I stopped to capture Mount Hood whispering in the distance (you probably have to click on the image to see it).

Then the sky became magical.
Even the eastern sky had its own glow.

It just got better and better with the sunset.
Turning us all into Sunset Paparazzi to use Cecil's term, and thats when a front grupette disappeared sucked away by the tandem. I decided to chase, wanting to thank John Kramer before he left for White Salmon.
It was hard, what a mirage of shimmering light glimpses as my hopes of catching them swung back and forth. Assisted by a traffic stop I caught them a few miles before Newberg and the final control.

Photo taken (that's Bill Alsup in the shadows to my left), it was back to the library where the rest of the group met up, sadly I had to skip the invitation to Burgerville to get into the drive back north.

Thanks to the Oregon Randonneurs (ORando's).


T-Bunny said...

Great story, beautiful pictures, wish I could have been there to experience it first hand with you, but your blog is as good of a substitute I could ask for. ~T

Cecil Anne said...

It was a joy to ride with you on Saturday - and to relive the ride through your terrific report. I am looking forward to more rides with you in the future! We can race each other up the hills . . .