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I am screaming deliriously inside my helmet. I am so cold I can’t feel my hands or face. Over the last 70 miles the freezing wind has worked its way into my core and is affecting my brain. I yell at everything I see, swearing jubilantly. I may be crazy but it’s kind of fun to be this insane if only until I warm up.

We count down the miles from Silver Lake to Bend, Oregon. It’s all highway and definitely not on the Trans America Trail but Bend is close enough to justify a detour. Only problem is it’s maddeningly cold out. When you add the steady 50 mile an hour windchill on the motorcycle, it’s just vicious. For people who haven’t ridden a motorcycle in the cold it’s surprising. You have to dress until your uncomfortably warm and even then, once on the bike and up to speed, the wind will slowly freeze you.

As we roll into Bend the sun is out and we are counting down the minutes to hot soup. We have seen how much suffering the body will endure and now we get our prize. Downtown Bend Oregon for Fall Fest! There are towering puppets, robots and 12′ high ferries on stilts. There’s food trucks, a solar powered car, live music on two stages and endless tents full of art, innovative products, farm foods and craft brews. Plus an entire street towering with massive inflatable playgrounds, titanic slides, boxing rings and jumping rings.

We find a cozy Thai place and get our soup. Then we spend most of the afternoon in Thump cafe betting on fighters in the children’s boxing ring outside. They get huge boxing gloves and most can barely lift them and it’s hilarious. Such odd and funny little creatures. Then we grab a thick porter from the brew stand and head over to the main stage. We are stunned by the unique sound of Tango Alpha Tango. Comparisons of any band to Bob Dylan are old hat and this band’s raw, innovative and refreshing sound is anything but that. Traces of blues and Bob can be whiffed but this is a band with a sound all their own. Plus front man Nathan Trueb is a trip to watch. He has a captivating presence that emanates from the music and resonates through his facial expressions, body movement and most importantly his playing. He throttles the single pickup Fender and squeezes out a cavalcade of sound that had us dancing or writhing or both!

We got to meet Nathan and his brother and keyboardist Aaron around the fire later that night. They are down to earth and definitely worth a listen.

We stopped by REI in the Old Mill District and picked up some needed stove fuel and a few other warm items off the sale racks. Then it was back to the street party which was in full swing. There were fires in the street and we got fish tacos and put our feet up. On the main stage was an extremely energetic band playing to a huge and enthusiastic crowd. They were a kind of over caffeinated blue grass band. I’ve never seen someone able to throw flying kicks while playing a huge stand up bass, or stand on their bass drum to lead the audience in song! It was a blast but eventually we had enough. We had been in some of the most remote parts of the country where our own breathing seemed loud. The crowd and the noise were overwhelming our senses.

We tucked into the nice and most importantly warm Rainbow Motel. We fell asleep listening to drunk girls in the next room babble into the night. Tomorrow we would turn around and head back to the trail, back into the woods.

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