Cycle Oregon, advertised as "The best bike ride in America
", came to Grant and Harney Counties this year. I caught up with them in the little town of Seneca Oregon where I saw a classy and beautifully organized event unfold.
For the week Cycle Oregon was here, the population of Grant County was increased by about thirty percent. Fortunately they brought everything they needed with them -
This is a popular way to travel by bike around here. This makes sense because it can be fifty miles or more between even the most minimal services. You need to travel with a support group or lug all your food, shelter and anything else you will want along with you every mile of the way. Everyone I talked to at Cycle Oregon said they had a great time but I think in a way they missed the core of the unique experience we have to offer.
To give you some idea of what I am talking about, this is a satellite image of the US at night. The lights are cities and the dark areas are everything else.
This is a close up of Oregon. The bright blotch in the upper left is the Portland metropolitan area, the smaller patch in the lower right is Boise. The distance between the two is a little over 400 miles (644 km). The thin blue arrow points to the conurbation of John Day and Canyon City which is the commercial and political hub of Grant County.
John Day is the home of the only traffic light in Grant County. The next stop light is 70 miles south in Burns. The next closest is 80 miles east in Baker City. The next after that is 120 miles west in Prineville and you must travel 126 miles north before you see a traffic light in Pendleton.
Some talk of thin places on this Earth. I do not know about thin, but eastern Oregon is definitely wider than most places I know.
The word "civilization" comes from the word "civis" meaning townsman as opposed to the uncivilized who live outside the towns. Eastern Oregon is as uncivilized as you are likely to find in the sense of having no towns nor anything pertaining to them. And yet you still have access to things like communications links and medical services when you need them.
I read a blog by a visitor who was vegan. She wrote that she enjoyed bicycling through eastern Oregon. The one thing she did not like was that the few stores she could find did not carry much in the way of organic, vegan or even just vegetarian.
She missed it because there is lots of that kind of food here, you just have to know where to look. People lived here for ten thousand years on the naturally occurring edible produce of this land. If organic, unprocessed and sustainable is your goal, here it is.
This planet currently has over twenty cities with more than ten million citizens in them. Each of them filled with commerce and entertainment, science and industry and all the other things that make civilization civilized. And, at the opposite end of the galaxy is Grant County, the Zenith of Un-Civilization.