We'd stayed up with Tom later than we'd stayed up the whole trip, so we slept in until 9 and woke up to his van driving down the dirt road. He left his business card tucked into the bungee on my solar panel.
We couldn't leave without at least trying to get to the hot springs. We walked around the hill on a dirt road that led to the bank of the Malheur on the other side. Only between us and the "island" with the hot springs was a good twenty feet of mild rapids, a water temperature around 40 degrees. We aimlessly kind of stared at the river for a while before I decided that the good things in life don't come easy and we took the plunge. The water came up to out waists in the middle, and the downstream rush tried to carry us off with each step. But we made it across, hand-in-hand. And it's a perfect hot spring in that island there. Dug out a little so it's deep enough to sit and submerge but still a little wild. We watched the cows graze and the hills stand still and the sky change color until finally we figured we'd better wade back. Plus we were hungry. The way back was easier and not as cold as I remembered.
We heated up some Quaker Oats then packed up and headed out to the road. We didn't have a specific destination in mind. Juntura is kind of the entrance to the Oregon canyon lands on highway 20, so we spent most of our day with these touring walls squeezing and flowing the road around broad curves.
We agreed to meet at various mile signs, with Rachel going ahead. In he morning, I was stopped by a guy in a red pick up who had seen us riding the previous day. I had stopped to pump some water from the creek, since we were running low, but he had a bunch of bottles in the back and gave us 4 liters. Then, ten miles before our meeting point after lunch, I earned the first flat tire of the trip. I pulled off to the side of the road (butted up against the canyon wall) and had just unloaded the bike when an outback pulled up, piled with bikes and other gear. Turns out, the lady was a bike mechanic from West Yellowstone. She fixed my flat in two minutes flat. Unbelievable timing. I pedaled on to Rachel, but hit road construction pretty soon after. One of the guys in charge, Scott, pulled up with his flatbed and said I'd better get on since I was moving too slow (ouch). He ended up driving me all the way to Rachel, since I'd lost so much time earlier. And about a half hour later, he honked at us from behind in his jeep and gave us extra lights to use for our trip. How de-light-ful!
We toyed with the idea of asking a homestead if we could camp on their property, but neither of us felt much like socializing. We ended up on this magnificent ridge overlooking Vale, and into Idaho. Dinner was tough to cook in the wind, but the sunset was worth every frustrated flame, and the wind died down soon after.