Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Day 70 - Rattlesnake Country

Resting with 10 miles to go!

Merry Christmas! Nyx has been planning Christmas in July for two states now and today was the big day. She gave the whole team gifts for the 12 days leading up to Christmas. The gifts were anything from "a slightly melted ice cream sandwich" to "five peach rings." She made a 12 days of Christmas song about it but I can't remember how it goes right now so I might have to include it in a later post. 

We had a busy day today. It was a shorter ride, only 55 miles from Burns, OR to Wagontire. We had a headwind which slowed us down considerably but our 9 person pace line made fighting the wind easier. Southeastern Oregon is not the prettiest of states and the sagebrush covered land was pretty desolate. The mountains on the horizon were shrouded with smoke from western fires. We are not close to where the fires are burning but the wind was blowing straight for us, carrying all the smoke our way. We stopped in Riley halfway through the ride. It was a tiny town with a gas station and a post office and that was it. But the gas station had a cool general store attached selling sweet postcards and some outdoor gear. It was a worthwhile stop!

A thriving metropolis!

Wagontire, Oregon is barely on the map with a thriving population of 3. We are camping on the property of Marty, the most prominent man in Wagontire. He introduced himself to us by promptly killing a rattlesnake with a 2-by-4 after we arrived. The snake was on his property and he didn't want it hurting anyone so he swiftly and skillfully took care of it before removing the head and the rattle. Culture-shocked, the teams' mouths were agape as we watched him drape the decapitated corpse on an old hitching post in front of the "cafe." Marty is eccentric but a very friendly man and a gracious host. We are lucky to have him, otherwise we'd have no way of getting through the Oregon desert without doing centuries at a time between viable host sites. 

Marty told us that that's the fifth snake he's killed in the last few weeks. We a kept a wary eye on our feet as we set up tents and took hose showers in the afternoon heat. Luckily, no more snakes were spotted. Not yet. 

Tonight, we had to work as a team to allocate grant money to affordable housing organizations that had applied. Our route receives a certain number of grant applications that we need to read and decide which we want to find. Because SC2SC sponsors a house in Colorado Springs, which uses $55,000 of the money we raised, we had $10,000 to allocate in grant money and 16 applications to choose from. Having applied for grants with Purdue Habitat for Humanity, it is really interesting to be on the other side of the grant decision process. There are many worthy applicants but we have narrowed them down. Bike and Build has certain specifications that we look for in applicants such as youth empowerment. It was a lengthy process and tomorrow we are going to work on appropriately distributing grant money the organizations and projects that we have left. 
Finally, we had our Christmas party and we exchanged Secret Santa gifts. Some of them were really funny and we had a great time handing them out. Most were cheap gifts from thrift shops. The highlights were Reece's Pieces that had melted into a blob for Amanda, a postcard-sending kit for Sarah (who still needs to send her postcards from Charleston, SC), and a camouflage colored stocking for Curtis who spent five minutes looking to see if there was anything actually in the stocking (which there wasn't.) We played Kenny Chesney Christmas music because it was the only holiday music that Lacy had on her laptop. It was a perfectly dysfunctional Christmas. 

Now we are curled up inside our tents, attempting to sleep while they blow wildly in the breeze. Hopefully, the rattlesnakes will stay outside. Hopefully, our tents won't collapse on us in the middle of the night. 85 miles tomorrow. We are praying for cool temperatures and tailwind as always! Goodnight!

Yep. Sorry, Mom!

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