Stoke Factor: 8
Miserableness Factor: 5
Snot Rockets Blown: 24
Miles: 29.39 + 18
Avg Speed: 7.4mph
This was supposed to be my rest day. I had planned to go 25 miles south to Crane from Hines so I could rent a cabin and spend a day at the hot springs. There’s no denying that I “deserved a break” but also it was hard to try and reward myself only 4 days in. Excluding day 1, the other days all kept on target. I told myself that if I averaged about 60 miles for the duration of the northwest, I could still be in line to hit my finish date.
There’s something to say about staying in that hotel room. There was no possible way I could afford to stay in more hotels – I had been running out of funds quickly as I pampered myself trying to push through the difficult Oregon roads. After Boise I expect to be flat broke when I reup on my gear. I’m not particularly worried- the roads I have skated are lined with amazing people on them who insist that I succeed.
Staying in a hotel room meant that it was my first day in society for a few days. I very much hated it. After such a terrible night and feeling the peering eyes of onlookers, I couldn’t wait to get away from masses of people again. I’m not a particularly introverted person but when everybody has to take a moment to decide whether to call you “he” or “she” all you can hope for is to disappear.
Wanting to continue on my route and get away from everyone, I called Lance to see his suggestion. He said exactly what I wanted to hear- push on, don’t stray off course, and enjoy the little things. I jumped on the road and kicked myself forth, it was only 56 miles to Juntura, where Lance suggested I visit and camp at the hot spring there. Almost as soon as I left I took a wrong turn and found myself X amount of miles north on the 78. I checked my map, my phone, and the signs around me and couldn’t draw any conclusions on where I was, so I flagged down a truck to ask. He said he was going “into town” to get his 450,000 mile truck worked on. I had never seen a truck past 320,000 miles on the odometer, nevermind 450,000. Needless to say I was impressed. I was grateful for the short ride back to the 20.
As I pushed, the pavement was a god send. I had a stupid big smile on my face, even though I knew I had a 2000ft climb to conquer through the Drinkwater Pass. Almost as quick as I smiled the pavement turned back into chip seal – the road was probably the most dangerous section I had been in yet. I limited my time in the road for the smoother parts and felt my feet going numb as I wobbled over the pebbles. Every 10 miles or so I would stop. The ACL issue came up again- I rubbed Battle Balm all over it at mile 25 and felt great. That stuff really does help in a pinch!
I rolled into Buchannon elated to be out of that horrible stretch of road. Buchannon is another teeny tiny town with a small population and a single store. There was the Indian Gifts and Store, a small hub. The man there seemed to have heard of me. He said, “didn’t you get picked up in Burns?” as if he had been following me the whole way. In fact, it seemed like my story made it to that location before I did. I grabbed water to refuel and a coffee- I can’t believe how much coffee I have been drinking. Every time I do, I use less cream and less sugar. I guarantee my next cup will be just black.
After that town, there lied my 2000ft ascent. I could see my first 700ft up the first hill, but being revived and excited to walk after the horrible first miles I skated it was very welcome. Forward I went. The hill never ended. BIG uphill, little downhill, BIGGER uphill, and so it went. Once I got to 4500ft again, flurries of snow kissed my face. The more east I went, the harder the snow fell through the pass. I expected at the pace I was going to get to Juntura by 10pm.
Coming up the most daunting part of the hill, a tow truck stopped and waited as I walked an additional mile in that direction. He was waiting for me! It was really snowing then- I trudged through a thin layer of frost to reach the truck. He told me to jump in, and not wanting to spend a whole day hiking I agreed. I question the legitimacy of my skate as I accept these few and far between rides, but at the same time I know that if certain factors were different, like the season I was in or if I had an additional person with me, I might not feel so quick to make haste. At the same time, I suppose you could say my distance is illegitimate because of the uphill walking- regardless, the world records are mine and mine alone until someone else challenges me, if I should get them. After enjoying my time out on the road and meeting the amazing people, speed doesn’t seem so important to me.
In the tow truck, we talked about the difference between wolves and coyotes based on what I saw two nights prior. His best advice was to punch it in the nose. Coyotes are skittish, and if you see a pack of wolves, you’ll know it’s a pack of wolves, and you’re already done for. The driver was very informative about my route. I was happy to learn anything he had to say. As I made my way more east, it showed how little I knew.
He was going to Nampa, which I believe is in Idaho. Technically I could have sat along for the ride and made my way to Boise, but I was still excited for the springs and to get back on my board. The anxiety I feel when not near my board is insane. I’d sooner lose my sleeping bag before my board. We dropped down the final descent, 18 miles through a horrible snow storm, and right to a small restaurant called the Hunter’s Oasis in Juntura. I also learned it is pronounced GEN-turr-ah, and not HOON-tar-rah, like a true San Diegan would say it. It only made sense that it wouldn’t be said that way- I was very far from Mexico.
At the Oasis I ordered the most fantastic “border burger,” a burger with guacamole, bacon, mayo, tomato, onion, lettuce mix, and cheese. I tossed the idea of getting a buffalo burger in my mind but wasn’t quite willing to pass up some avocado in my life. Back in Oceanside, I am used to getting 20 avocados for 5 dollars at the man on the side of the 76’s cart. Here in Oregon finding anything with an avocado was like striking gold. During my meal I met Morgan and Jordan, the respective waitress and cook. I engaged in conversation about my route and asked how to get to the hot springs. Jordan gave me very detailed information, but I knew somehow I would have fucked it up and gotten lost in the woods.
I paused for an interview with Great Big Story, who had rented a room but wasn’t going to stay because the next day I would be resting. A dog had attacked, which I can only assume was terrifying especially out here in Nowhereville, Nowhere where nobody was there to aid. As we interviewed, Tammy, the owner of the restaurant and attached motel, approached to get information about the dog attack. Since there was no break in skin the topic was moot- truly we just wanted to interview so they could be off to Boise, and me to the springs before dark.
Once I was about to go hunt for the spot, Tammy reimbursed the hotel to them and offered me a free room. It was so surreal- at that point I had no interaction with her and she simply offered out of the kindness of her heart when her waitress shared my story. I gave her a well-intended high five and setup in my motel room. I was so ready to pass out. I said goodbye to Great Big Story- I have no idea when they are returning but they will surely be missed. Even though they are there for the documentary and news and not supporting me with rides or money whatsoever, they still supported me with periodic motivation and a gauge of how I was doing. You have no idea how good it felt to hear, “You did a great job” at the end of a hard day. Anywho, the first week came to a close at that point and I was ready for my next solo chapter.
Tammy gave me some toothpaste, shampoo, and body lotion. At one point in the shower I realized body lotion is NOT soap, and made myself a vaseline pod ready to be shot through a tiny tube of slippery goodness. The slippiness was feeling pretty cool until I balanced on my bad ankle and fell straight onto my tailbone. For whatever reason there was a handicap chair in the shower and it had almost felt like it was there in expectation of me falling.
I visited Morgan again to get an update on the elevation and weather coming up for me. She was very informative and luckily had cell service to look things up for me. The whole lot had no Wi-Fi and I thought it was pretty neat. There are few places that offer the simple life like the Hunter’s Oasis. Once I got my information, Jordan told me he was going to the springs after work and I asked if I could join him. He was happy to say yes!
Waiting for him to get out of work, I popped RV with Robin Williams on the TV. No cable, no Netflix, just three DVDs were there to entertain myself. If I wasn’t waiting the three hours to get to the springs, I would have just slept. I ended up attentively watching the movie. Who knew JoJo was so stinkin’ pretty? It was hard to watch her and not feel jealous. I’d give up everything to look remotely as beautiful as she does. The idea of feeling beautiful is fleeting. Alone, I am confident and sexy, but one look at any other woman and I am back to the self loathing jerk I am.
Jordan knocked on my door, and I gathered up a towel, my Shocktop 24 oz, some weed, and the pair of shorts I found in my folded up laundry the day before. We went by car with another guy, also named Morgan, down the road and off to the springs. It was pretty cool to be at a time where I was free to explore, with two total strangers out in a small town. We parked off to the side of the road and walked through some water to get to the island where the springs were. A truck was there and two campers had taken what would have been my spot if not for Tammy. They didn’t even have a tent!
The spring was surreal. I can’t believe that hot springs are a real thing. It was like jumping in a bath. Steam came out of the water like a hot tub and bubbles surrounded me from the air escaping out of the lava underneath. I enjoyed a few bowls and my beer while I shared stories of my skate and learned about Morgan and Jordan. We tried to take pictures but they all came out blurry- I think it makes the experience more authentic. Was it even real? A random body of water in a random Oregonian town you could only get to if you knew the way? Without Jordan I surely would have been lost.
It was funny as I got ready to get in the water. Everyone at the Oasis called me “he.” Its difficult to correct people when they are being so kind, I don’t want to seem ungrateful whatsoever. As I took my shirt off to reveal a bra and two breasts, I said, “Oh yeah, sorry you’re going to think I’m weird as hell but I’m transgender so I have boobs and now you know.” How else was I going to say it? Morgan replied, “You’re not the weirdest thing to come out of California. As long as you’re being yourself.” It was cool to hear. Out here these things don’t matter. You are who you are and life goes on whether you’re a guy or a girl or somewhere in between. I loved that, although at some point it would be nice to be referred to properly. I can only assume it is the same feeling as when a white person tells a black person “I don’t see color.”
I handed Jordan and Morgan my business cards and gave them each some of my weed for their time. I felt like I made friends, and have been making friends everywhere I go. Some day, when this is all over, I’ll go back to Brothers and eat one of Talya’s breakfast sandwiches and hang out with Jordan and Morgan at the springs. They told me February is the best time to go.