Almost…but not quite

The next morning we got out of camp around 11:00 am and headed for Prospect and the grocery store. A few miles out of the campground, we took a slight detour off Crater Lake Highway onto Millcreek Road, a quiet, heavily forested, yet residential road that parallels the main highway.

Bridge on Millcreek Road
Concrete bridge railing
Concrete bridge railing

Although only a few miles long, this road was spectacular! There was practically zero traffic. Nearly every house was set back from the street and there was ample acreage around each property. Often, the road itself was covered by a canopy of trees, shielding us from the sun and making us feel much further off the beaten track than we actually were. Passing a large ranch-style house that was set relatively close to the road, we met an old man who’d moved there some years ago from Medford. He told us that if we come back in a month or so we’ll get high just riding down the road due to all of the local pot farming, and then proceeded to tell us how medical marijuana saved his life. After that we noticed quite a few high fences with “No Trespassing” signs, but no curious odors.

About 10 miles into the day’s ride, we finally arrived in Prospect. Several times we passed back and forth in front of the town’s single gas station before realizing that its convenience store doubled as the town’s grocery store. It also looked like a favorite town hangout, with a covered porch and long wooden bench perfect for people watching just outside the front door.

We stocked up on some snacks, canned and dry goods, and a single sorry-looking green bell pepper. Produce was practically nonexistent and what few items they had were wrinkled and limp. Yuck! But, we had no other choice, so we made do with what we could find.

We were ravenous, so we sat on the bench and made impromptu sandwiches with some of the ingredients we’d just bought. And talked to Drifter Doug. Doug was originally from Virginia, but he’s been on the road at least five years. He’s seen nearly all of the country, stopping in various towns for a few months at a time before moving on. He was pretty raggedy looking, and obviously hadn’t showered in recent memory, but seemed harmless. He was a chatty fellow, and regaled us with stories about his travels for the hour we sat eating lunch and resting.

Finally, back on the road again, we slowly continued climbing towards Crater Lake. We stopped once more, briefly, in Union Creek, the last outpost before Crater Lake. After topping off our water bottles, we continued on.

We knew there was no way we’d make it to Crater Lake that evening. By late afternoon, we were exhausted, but still a good 20 miles away from the park. And we were running out of water. We hadn’t prepared to go tens of miles without access to running water. We flagged down a motorist who turned out to be a local forest service employee. He didn’t have any water, but he did tell us about a free camp about three miles up the road.

We rode on until we came to a large parking lot off to the side of the highway and signs for a snow park. (No snow at the moment, thankfully!) A few cars were parked there. We talked to one young family who had just arrived. They generously gave us a gallon of water and told us that they were free camping at the snow park, too. They had gone to Crater Lake to be in position for the Ride the Rim event the next morning, only to be turned away because the campground was full. It was a small consolation to us that we didn’t ride all the way to the park (as if we could!) only to be turned away because there was no room at the inn. Whew! Dodged that bullet! Over the course of the evening, several more cars hauling bikes arrived.

The snow park was obviously a snowmobiling area. There was no running water, but there were a few amenities, including outhouses and a warming hut for snowmobilers. The hut was open, with picnic tables and wooden benches inside, but the electricity was turned off. We cooked a pasta dinner on the concrete walkway just outside the door and then brought our food inside to eat a civilized meal at a round wooden picnic table illuminated by the natural light streaming in the open door. By the time we set up camp, cooked, ate, and cleaned up dinner, it was quite chilly and dark was fast approaching.  We finished all our chores and jumped into our sleeping bags just as night fell.

Today’s mileage:  30 miles.



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