Well I’ve had to ride 3968 miles, cross three major mountain ranges and endure heat exhaustion, fire and a tornado to get here – but I’ve finally found a decent cup of tea in the US. And by decent I mean Yorkshire Tea, brewed in a pot, with a jug of cold milk and served up in a bone china cup and saucer – and to top it off it comes with two scones plus cream and lemon curd.
I am in heaven – well actually it’s a traditional British tearoom in the Oregon town of Redmond. ‘Aunty Karen’s’ is an oasis run by ex-pat Karen George who came here from Slough and is now showing the Americans how a proper cuppa should be made. She’s also serving a selection of delightful delectables with an English twist, so you can enjoy a Colchester Salad, Balmoral curried chicken or a Windsor Sandwich. It’s all rather wonderful, made more so by chatting with Karen as I get through an entire pot all by myself.
As Terry and I relax surrounded by iced sponges, tea caddies and Union Jacks, we can finally feel the stress and worry of the last few days seep away. It’s a little piece of America that will be forever England. We feel so at home that we stay far far too long. But more of that later.,,,.
The day had begun in rather unusual fashion in that we’d set up camp so late after riding on from the fire on the Ochoco Pass, we had no idea what our surroundings were like. Now we could see the expanse of Ochoco Lake to our left as we pedalled on with Mike towards Prineville. On the way we passed a sign announcing the road over the pass was still blocked by fire. It confirmed that, for us, we’d made the right decision. It looks like the fire could be causing a problem for TransAmmers for some time.
With no traditional mom and pop diner in sight as we came into Prineville, we spotted the Good Thyme Cafe. With great coffee, breakfast and fast wifi we had no problem extending our stay to well over an hour. These breakfast stops are essential, not only giving us time to fuel up for the day (we eat big time at breakfast) , but also to charge all the gadgets, do the days washing in the restrooms ( there’s always one days set of cycling clothes drying on the bike) and update the blogs.
Fed and watered we head towards Remond starting with a long hot climb out of town. Sadly today’s route was mostly on busy roads, so although there was a shoulder the constant roar and fumes of traffic make cycling unpleasant. And those good old boys in their American trucks do their best to give us a nice encouraging cloud of exhaust fumes as they blast past. We stop for fruit on route – Oregon is proving a great place for fresh produce – and head back into the traffic.
In Redmond we somehow get separated from Mike, so spotting the tea room we dive in leaving our bikes outside in case he rides past. And then, bedazzled by sponge and tastes of home we forget all the lessons of the past few days.
So as the temperatures outside continue to rise, we continue to sip and chat, so by the time we bid farewell to Karen and have swopped contact details and taken photos, the day’s heat has reached its crescendo, cooking well into the 100s. It’s my idea of cycling hell and one I’ve created entirely for myself with my teapot obsession. I should have read the leaves because they were saying quite clearly – you are going to fry.
I have no idea what the scenery between Redmond and Sisters is like – and I really don’t care. With my bandana soaked in water and pulled over my head ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ style I kept my gaze firmly fixed on the tarmac below and not at that burning, unrelenting, unforgiving sun. There was no way I was going to let it overpower me today, I’d just had enough of the headaches. I wouldn’t even have glanced up if Terry pointed out a whole herd of moose on the hillside, or Kylie had skipped across naked in front of me.
As we passed fields being irrigated with water we rode close to the edges, occasionally managing to get a refreshing spray in our direction. A few miles out from Sisters a car stopped to offer us water. But by then the worst was over. With the day cooling we could finally begin taking in the scenery, the piecemeal farmland of earlier had been replaced by views of mountains – the Sisters. Tomorrow they would be our companions as we crossed the McKensie Pass.
We met up with Mike in a bar on the outskirts of town and then opted for some luxury at a Great Western before topping off the day with a Mexican meal. It was already clear that Sisters would have been a great place to hang out for a few days with its ranch-style buildings and deer wandering around the streets, but we need to cross those mountains to feel the cool air of the Pacific and escape this heat.
Today’s Miles: 46
Miles since First Landing: 4087