What the heck are these guys doing?

Matthew, Weston and Nathan are first year medical students with a passion for community health and biking. Along with Daphne, a first year Veterinary student, the 4 companions will embark on a five-week trip through 1,000 miles of rural Oregon wonder. Along the way they will be working in conjunction with the Oregon Academy of Family Physicians to facilitate community discussions on improving local healthcare options. See our photo album

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

It's All Mash Potatoes and Gravy

Howdy from The County!

We just wrapped up our final presentation with the Rotary Club of Enterprise. As we pulled up to the meeting location Matt's odometer read 975 miles. Anne Taylor and her fellow Rotarians were an active and receptive crowd. As has been our modus opperandi for the past few gatherings, Nathan., Matt and I presented as a team.  The meeting began with a short talk on serving one's community and it ended with active discussion of how rural towns like Enterprise can pull together to attract and retain more primary care physicians.

Before heading towards Enterprise we had a few days to recreate with our friends Nella ane Euell.  We loaded up the car and took in the Chief Joseph Days rodeo and the post-rodeo dance in the aptly named Thunder Room. Earlier in the day Matt, Daphne and I got a crash course in western swing dancing courtesy of Nella. To the credit of our fine teacher, we spun, cuddled and pretzeled our way through the night. The evening's activities were punctuated by the cowboy breakfast (served from 11 p.m. to 11 a.m.).

The following day we returned to LaGrande for some river time in the Grande Ronde and a fairly intense game of ultimate frisbee that left Matt and Nathan with a slight hitch in their step. We spent the evening packing and preparing for an early start. Eager to return to the road, we looked forward to our last long ride of the trip.

Our trek to the far north-eastern corner of the state included an 84 mile day from LaGrande to Wallowa Lake - our longest day yet! For the first portion of this stretch we were joined by Katherine and David, a couple of LaGrande cyclists. They guided us along some beautiful back roads and dropped us off just outside of Imbler. After coffeeing up in Elgin we set our sights on the notorious Minam Grade. We took the hill like the grizzled, road-hardened pros that we like to think we are.  The rest of the day was easy going despite the dry heat. A few water stops and one pilgrimage to the Little Bear Drive In later we rolled into the Wallowa Lake campgound.

We spent the next day soothing our tired muscles in the cool waters of Wallowa Lake, logging some quality reading time and exploring the local hiking trails. Later that evening we took part in a few rounds of Wallyball, a variation of volleyball created and refereed by an amazing camp volunteer named Lou. Sleeping in the tents felt like a return to home and we all enjoyed a long and deep sleep.

Returning to the present, we are sitting on the lawn of the Terminal Gravity Brewery reflecting on the trip and soaking in Eastern Oregon scenery. The trip will come to an official close on Friday when we will join the Oregon Rural Health Alliance and Enterprise community members for a discussion on rural health and a celebration of this trip.

We will surely post again before disbanding.  As always, thanks for keeping in touch!