It's a bright, sunny and cool day here in Sisters, Oregon. Current temp is 50 degrees, but when I went out to Miranda this morning to make our coffee at around 6:30 a.m., it was 33 degrees. The days may be getting longer, but the temperatures still feel like early spring.
Melanie and I have decided, after being quarantined in Sisters for almost two months, we are ready to begin our travels again. We do so, as you may imagine, with some trepidation, but armed with good information about how to stay safe in the time of pandemic.
We will miss our spot in Sisters. Our stay here has been nothing short of great. Even as the virus continues to plague many areas of the country. We are fortunate to have been invited to shelter here and grateful for our hosts, Christy and Jack. It's good to also know, if things don't go as we hope and plan once we're back out traveling, we have a place to which we can return, if need be.
It's the Sunday before Memorial Day. The New York Times headline, U.S. Deaths Near 100,000 an Incalculable Loss. Meanwhile, 45 spends Saturday and today golfing and posting racist tweets from a racist supporter. No mention by 45 of lives lost due to COVID-19. So it goes.
Memorial Day 2020
We end our Sisters quarantine tomorrow and begin our travels anew. First to Eugene, Oregon, then on to the Oregon coast.
I'd intended to cycle one last time into the Cascades on McKenzie Pass Scenic Highway to McKenzie Pass, but there's much to do in preparation for departure tomorrow. Aside from the beauty and great exercise I've gotten from my rides around Sisters and on the scenic highway, I'll miss the many and varied conversations I've had with people who take the scenic route.
Always maintaining the proper physical distance, I was reminded by a physicians assistant from Bend that physical distance didn't necessarily mean we had to forego social contact. We could talk to each other from safe distance.
I met someone from my hometown of Columbus, Georgia one day while in Windy Gap. She had worked in Portland, but retired with her husband and now lives in Sisters. While we went to the same high school, she is younger and so I missed knowing her when we both lived there.
There was the guy from Bend who misunderstood me thinking I was being critical of him when I said you'd have to be missing a brain not to understand the gravity of our situation during the pandemic. His response was to declare he had a very large brain and to ride off abruptly leaving his companion to apologize to me. Luckily, I saw them both again and was able to explain my comments were not critical of him. I did not mean to insult. He apologized too and, I assume, all was well.
I met another couple, John and Susan, from Bend as I was stopped and was drinking water at the closed seasonal gate on the highway. John asked if my bike was an electric assist. When I responded, yes, he mentioned his was also. We struck up a conversation as we ascended the highway and Susan mentioned that John would soon turn 91 years young. I suddenly felt like a kid.
Turns out John, who is a retired Mathematician/Physicist, had, for a time, taught at Auburn University in 1958. John has a blog, Hoalablog, you may find interesting. He suggested I start at the beginning, I would suggest you also start there and peruse at your leisure.
I've exchanged emails with them and hope to stay in touch from time to time. Susan sent along places along the Oregon coast she and John have enjoyed for us to consider.
Here's an excerpt from John's blog:
It is fall, 1957. I am newly married to Barbara, my first wife. We are in Auburn, Alabama where I am a Temporary Instructor in the Physics Department at the Alabama Polytechnic Institute, later to become Auburn University. We have ended up in Auburn because Barbara was acquainted with Dr. Howard Carr, head of the Physics Department and knew that the department badly needed people to teach elementary physics to engineering students and liberal arts majors. Letters written from Innsbruck plus a positive reference from my graduate adviser at Stanford (Georg Polya, a well-known mathematician) sealed the deal. Of course, I had pretty much forgotten the little physics I had ever known so I would need to learn the subject from the text I was teaching and try to stay a week or so ahead of my students. Since I was planning to become a physicist anyway, this was a fun challenge and I didn’t do too badly in meeting it. Certainly, I could appreciate and relate to the difficulties my students were having with the subject. Meanwhile, Barbara had decided to switch her major from mathematics to English literature so was taking graduate courses in the English Department.
That fall we were totally absorbed in life. I was passionately in love with Barbara and working hard on learning elementary physics and doing well with my teaching. As a faculty member I had easy access to football tickets and enjoyed going to games. The Auburn team that year was winning all their games, a new experience for me after watching games in high school and at Stanford. In high school I watched Punahou lose 64 – 0 to Kamehameha in their first game and lose every subsequent game thereafter. Stanford had a similarly bad season my freshman year. In retrospect I think that the Auburn team was the best college team I’ve ever seen. They had an overwhelming defense often holding opponents to negative yardage on the ground. Their games were not exciting because they did not seem to be very fired up. They would get a lead of a few points, shut down their opponents, and play out the rest of the game in a boring manner. There was only the suspense of wondering if the opposition would score on a fluke play. When it came time to play the last game of the season against arch-rival Alabama, the press was wondering if there would be an upset because Auburn’s wins had been less than dramatic while Alabama hadn’t done all that badly. The game started in a usual manner. Auburn won the toss and, as they always did in such circumstances, elected to kick. As the kickoff sailed down the field I suddenly realized I was looking at a different, fired up, team. The Alabama receiver took the ball in the end zone and started up the field, making little progress as flying tackles narrowly missed their target. The runner was shortly overwhelmed at about the 15 yard line. In the next few plays Alabama lost yardage and finally fumbled after a hard hit in their end zone. Auburn 7, Alabama 0. Subsequently Auburn finally displayed their offense. They did have an all-American end, Jimmy Phillips, who played sensationally and their ground game became effective. Final score 40 – 0. What impressed me about that Auburn team was the philosophy of doing the minimum necessary to win, in a relaxed manner, never playing to potential unless necessary or in a game with Alabama. This attitude, with its suggestion of power held in reserve, smacked of the Zen I would later encounter.
Also in that Fall Quarter I was becoming acquainted with Barbara’s family and numerous relatives, taking in the friendly Southern atmosphere, which overlay a terrible racism, seldom explicitly on display to me. However, I knew it was there. The first morning in Auburn I was awake at dawn, still not adjusted to the time change, so got up in the early light and headed to town up the main street. A black man came down the side walk in front of me, began to hesitate when about thirty feet away, then stepped off the sidewalk three or four feet into the street and cowered, half turned away from me with head bowed, as I walked by. I was totally appalled, having grown up in Hawaii where there are too many races and racial mixtures for serious prejudice though people other than haoles (whites) had been quite subjugated in the days before I grew up. By the time I was in high school, however, one could be taunted for being a haole and perhaps beaten up, so what prejudice there was operated in all directions. In Alabama, because I am a realist and definitely a coward as well, I never openly challenged the mores of that time, but tried to treat black people with respect.
From Oregon Health Authority on Memorial Day 2020
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Steven and Melanie