81 miles from Prairie City to Mitchell OR. This was another long day. Due to the spacing of towns in eastern Oregon, once again it was either a very short or long day. The day took us through some interesting volcanic and fossil rich geology. Unfortunately the roadside signs explaining it were mostly missing. After a gently rolling first half, we had a gradual climb of 25 miles, then a rollicking 6 mile descent to the finish in Mitchell. Pretty tired and sore afterwards. Even though I’m a tougher rider than a few months ago, this many miles is hard.
We met an extremely fit 70 year old guy on a bike identical to mine (a first). He started his eastbound Transam trip a few days ago. It amazes me that people are still starting this late. We also saw a couple on their way to Maine today! John E. would be amused that they carry an entire fricket set. They should arrive by Thanksgiving. Brrr!
We’d been told that Mitchell was the famous ‘disaster’ town, but were denied any details until we arrived. What we found was a gritty but still functioning town of 170. Even our eyes jaded by a hundred nearly ghost towns registered that this town had been through a lot.
As we had our traditional arrival milkshakes. The waitress warned us “we’ve got several fires burning nearby, we might have to close down early. And we might ask you to help fight the fires” Peter instantly chimed in “Rich here is a fireman”. Thanks. Later we saw the local fire engine go by; it was a large wheeled front loader. The bucket had been replaced with a dozer blade, and a smallish fire engine body (type 6) had been welded on the back. Great idea for a short handed grass fire.
We walked around town for a while and went in the few remaining businesses, then started reading bulletin boards with the town history. Like many towns around here it endured multiple boom and bust cycles as mining, lumber, and, ranching came and went. When we went to dinner we were handed the history book we had been told about. Basically it was a scrap book of disaster headlines all featuring Mitchell. Three flash floods, some leaving 6′ boulders on Main St. another account of a 50′ wall of water wiping the place clean…and 2 large conflagrations burning the town down, and so on and so on. This book is a hundred pages and contains no happy news. It reminded me of the king from the old Monty Python movie “They said I was daft! But I didn’t listen!!”, who keeps building his castle in the swamp even though it sank twice, then burned down, fell over, and sank again. They’re proud of their town here in Mitchell, but there’s also a lot of real estate for sale. Wimps need not apply.



2 Responses to Disaster town

  1. Wayne DeBord says:

    Impressive progress Rich! Looks like just another day or two to Astoria?

  2. Michele says:

    Wow, transcontinental bike riding fricket players. Impressive. There ain’t no sticks and cups on the side of the road?

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