Friday, July 25, 2008

On the road

I take off tomorrow (Saturday) for the "Ride 'round Oregon". My laptop will stay home. I will post pics and stories upon my return to Thorp next weekend.
I'm all set at Ross and Patti's. He got a wireless router and made sure I had internet access. Patti fed me and made me feel welcome. They may not get rid of me.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Polar opposites?

There are two gatherings in the area. Soap Lake has the Lava Love Run to the Sun motorcycle rally. Ephrata has the Basin Summer Sounds music festival. At one sight I can be surrounded by leather and watch the daredevils face the "Wall of Death". The other offers "Wines of Washington" and some cool jazz. I did both and was welcomed at both and felt comfortable at both.

The people watching at the Run to the Sun was probably more interesting if for no other reason than the amount of inked skin that was on display. I was there on Friday morning as the motordrome was assembled - the "big top" as it were. The riders had no roadies to do the heavy lifting. They all pitched in as the huge barrel slowly took shape and the canvas raised. Hours were spent inspecting the interior of the drome, and the sound of hammer on nail echoed in the lake. I imagine that a protruding nail head is the last thing they want to ride over. This is the same bunch that normally puts on the show in Sturgis. The local promoters paid for everything, so the shows were free to the public. I think the local farmers got a kick out of it. You can read more about the "Thrillarena" here: The feeling that I am at a small carnival prevails.

The main stage at the Grant County Courthouse is cool and quiet. There is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the street down the block. The Ephrata farmer's market surrounds the second stage on Basin Street. There a young man and his guitar try to garner more attention than the Rainier cherries. A funk jazz trio (trumpet, keyboard and drums) plays to a dozen fans (some dressed in leather eating cherries) on the big stage. It's early, just before noon. Unlike at the Sun Run, the beer garden is empty. It is pleasant, relaxed. Looking at the program, I realize I've seen many of the acts at Jazzbones in Tacoma. Again, here the shows are free. The money being made on $6 beers and Lion's Club onion burgers.

I spent the day riding the six miles between the towns making sure I returned to Ephrata in time for Vicci Martinez and to Soap Lake for the poker run.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

excellent adventure continued

Days four thru seven:

John Day to Oakridge, 265 miles.
This will take us through Ochoco National Forest, Sisters and on beautiful Hiway 19 along the Middle Fork of the Willamette to Oakridge.

Oakridge to Coos Bay, 308 miles.
Our ride on this day will include Crater Lake, Rogue River National Forest and the run to the ocean.

Coos Bay to Tillamook, 246 miles.
Highway 101 on the Oregon coast. One of those places you have to see before you die. Steve has thown in some twisty roads inland from the coast to make it even more interesting.

Tillamook to Ollala, WA, 258 miles (for them, I'll peel off and return to Thorp).
It looks like Steve threw in some of the logging roads we tried to follow last year! Maybe he just enjoyed having that logging truck chase him through the curves last year. I'll turn east on Highway 12 to Yakima. It's going to be great!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Day trip to Leavenworth

My sister Mary offered to drive Mom to Leavenworth thereby splitting the distance between Everett and Soap Lake. To make it even better, she brought her husband "Big Tom" and my sister Pam along for the ride.

It was good to see them all. You'd have thought I'd been gone for years instead of months.

Leavenworth is one of those towns that created a theme to draw tourists. Mom remembers riding the train to Leavenworth to watch the ski jumping events while she was in high school. The town was not much more than a gathering of ski cabins and maybe a couple of restaurants. Now it is a Bavarian resort town. Very cute.

We had a nice lunch, then spent a couple hours wandering through the shops. Nobody bought anything other than lunch and ice cream. It was a pleasant, if hot, day with family.

This picture of Pam, Mom, me and Mary was taken by Tom. I swear he only had one beer with lunch.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

gr8scott51's next excellent adventure

On the 25th, I'll move the rv to Ellensburg so Ross can keep an eye on it while I ride around Oregon with friends. The Shadow is ready to go, I think my butt and back will hold up for the almost 2,000 mile ride. Steve has mapped out the route, Rob has made reservations for lodging, Pat, Gerald and I are fat, dumb and happy - just along for the ride.

Here is the plan for the first 3 days:

The first day, the main group will ride from Ollala, WA to The Dalles, OR. A distance of 216 miles. I will ride from Thorp, WA to The Dalles, OR and join them there.

The second day is a ride of 342 miles from The Dalles to La Grande via Tygh Valley, the John Day Fossil Beds, the Ukia - Dale Forest State Scenic Corridor and the Wallowa - Whitman National Forrest.

Day 3 will cover 298 miles through the Wallowa Mountains and Hells Canyon from La Grande to John Day.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Mirrored beauty

Last night, 50 mph winds formed white caps on the surface of Soap Lake. Tents and canopies were blown down in the RV park. Trash was trapped by the chain link fence near the highway.

Today the lake is a reflecting pond.


Wednesday, July 9, 2008

What price peace of mind?

$333.73. At least that's how much it cost today.

My 1999 Honda Shadow A.C.E. Tourer has just over 25,000 miles. It has never given me a bit of trouble. I change the oil and filter and spark plugs and air filter on a regular schedule, but as I cruise down the hiways my mind's ear hears every strange noise, just waiting for trouble.

I shouldn't have worried. The mechanic at Yamaha Jack's gave it a thorough going over. Changed all of the fluids - oil, coolant, brake fluid - adjusted carbs, changed plugs and filters. He found nothing wrong and said whoever was doing the maintenance was doing a good job (unbelievably my head got bigger).

I charged out of the shop, headed for the old Vantage Hiway only to have the engine die. He turned the gas off when he parked it (just like I was taught to do but don't). Okay, try it again - runs great. Stopped in Vantage for gas and Gatorade. The temperature is tickling triple digits, there is fresh asphalt on the east bound lanes of I-90. Yikes!! I almost wish I didn't have a windshield so I could get some air to lower my body temperature a little. I stop twice near irrigation sprinklers to get a little spray, hoping that they are only spraying water. The state should put in some picnic areas like I've seen in other states, I could use some shade. I finally reach Ephrata and find that shade I've been seeking. I stuff my jacket in the saddlebag, my shoulders can burn, I don't care. Soap Lake is only 6 miles away anyway.

I am home now, the air conditioner is running at full speed, the temperature in the coach is down to 87. Bliss.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Laundry day

I may even run the vacuum over my worn out rug and mop my kitchen and bathroom with a sponge. That should take half an hour. No other plans.

Made an appointment to get the bike serviced on Wednesday at Yamaha Jacks in Ellensburg. Odd that a place named Yamaha Jacks is an authorized Honda service shop. I just want the piece of mind that the bike is in tip top shape before I ride around Oregon later this month with Rob, Steve, Pat and Gerald.

I started reading a Jason Bourne book that wasn't written by Robert Ludlum. Movies always ruin things. We all know that Matt Damon's wife died in India and that they didn't have any kids. Now I know that she died on a skiing trip and that they had two kids. I'm so confused.

I need more movies - or a dish. Actually I haven't missed the run of the mill shows, but there are a few - Monk, House, Bones, Numb3rs, Psych and baseball games and the races. Le Tour has started and if I had a dish I'd be watching it at 4 in the morning, drugs or no drugs.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

It's been a good day

I jumped out of bed - then remembered where I was and wished I hadn't jumped and hit my head. Okay, I crawled out of bed and carefully stepped on to the three step ladder that allows me access to my upper berth. After performing my daily ablution, I rolled the bike out of the trailer and headed for the Senior Citizen Center for the pancake feed.

Two large pancakes, three eggs to order, a large slice of ham, OJ and coffee for five bucks. I'm stuffed. The two ladies that run the center set their sights on me and told me more than I needed to know about the center and how they revived it after the director had run up huge debts and then disappeared. They seemed worried that I hadn't been eating enough because they told me that they had meals every day of the week at a reasonable price and dances on the last Wednesday of the month.

I made my escape and found my way to Main Street in time to find a spot in the shade for the parade. I hadn't noticed that I was in front of the bar and as the parade started the bar emptied out in to the perfect little area that I had staked out. Moving to the other side of the street, away from the cigarette smoke and boozy breath, I settled in to watch the color guard (a seven year old girl did a nice rendition of the national anthem) and the politicians and the old cars and the horses. No bands, no bagpipes (Gram would have been soooo disappointed), one float, a bunch of ladies in red hats on a flat bed truck having a good time and a bunch of bikers.

I ride a motorcycle - I'm not a biker, don't pretend to be. Most of these guys were posers, pretending to be one percenters. They turned a pleasant parade in to a mess of loud pipes, screeching tires and burning rubber. The only thing more offending to my ears were all of the sirens.

The kids won't need any candy until Halloween. Every car that went by threw large handfuls of sugary treats to the curbs on both sides of the street. The kids didn't even have to get up to chase the candy.

The parade was followed by the bed racers charging down the street. I don't think anyone was hurt, but there was opportunity for injury. As the races ended the crowds ambled to the park for the "Battle of the Bands". I wasn't ready for punk rock before lunch.

The salmon bake was scheduled to start at 1 but I knew I had eaten enough to last the day, so I wandered through the vendors stalls in the park, resisted the temptation of pirate swords and cowboy hats, found my bike and returned to the RV park.

I noticed a gathering of guys dressed in NASCAR gear and knew I had stumbled in to a group of fellow car nuts. We decided to take over the adult play house (true fact) and watch the race from Daytona. It was a typical restrictor plate race - uneventful until the last 20 laps, then ending in a big crash. It was nice to sit with a bunch of race fans and enjoy a race.

Now we are all listening to the Mariners, waiting for the fireworks that should start around 10. It's been a good day.

Friday, July 4, 2008

Happy 4th of July

After listening to the Mariners beat the Tigers (this is a treat as I have been out of the state for a while and not able to listen to Niehaus), I got the bike out of the trailer and headed out on the open road (an overused phrase I know).

I turned left out of the RV park towards the series of lakes that make up the Sun Lakes State Park. Just beyond the lakes that are the lower Grand Coulee system, is Dry Falls. I won't go in to how the falls were formed, you can look them up, or watch for the National Geographic show that discusses their formation. Very interesting.

When I left the park, I had no idea where I was going. I remember thinking this would never do for Dave. I didn't even have a map, just the general knowledge of the area. I decided to turn west for Waterville and gas. The I remembered the wonderful six miles of twisting, turning, 6% downgrade to Orondo and continued west. What a fun stretch of pavement. I rode beside another lake (Entiat) formed by another dam (Rock Island) south to Wenatchee.

Sharing e-mails with Steve after I got back to the park, he hit on one of the things that I noticed as I was riding - the smell of wet fields and orchards and dirt in the country. Every irrigation sprinkler head had its own rainbow halo. I took advantage of the sprinklers whose wayward sprays reached the two lane.

The final leg back to Ephrata and Soap Lake was uneventful, but enjoyable. I was looking forward to throwing a couple of burgers on the grill.

The park is filled to overflowing when I return. The empty spaces on either side of my RV are occupied with tents and families in preparation for the fireworks on Saturday night. A newborn announces it's presence from time to time. The malamute tied to the tent trailer hungrily eyed my burgers. They parked too near to my fire pit to be safe (to make room for three cars!) but if it burns down it's their problem. I think I'll have a fire tonight. I imagine that when they set up camp, they thought my coach had been abandoned for the weekend. I think my bike awoke the baby when I pulled in to my space. Maybe if I keep it awake this evening it will sleep all night. For some reason every guy in the park with a diesel pickup thinks he has to leave it running all the time or drive up and down all of the rows at five m.p.h. I don't get it. They aren't going anywhere, they don't leave the park. I guess it's the only way they can drink and drive.

The good news is they will have to go to work on Monday.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

The Fouth on the Fifth

Skokiam Day in Soap Lake begins with a pancake feed, followed by a parade down Main Street, a Salmon bake and fireworks - all on Saturday the 5th. Maybe I'll find some apple pie and a hot dog around here.

I love small towns. The stress level is minimal, road rage is over in a couple seconds, people smile and talk to each other, parking is free. Every other corner is not inhabited by Starbucks or McDonalds. The local grocer may not have the exact type spice that you just have to have for your sauce, but I bet the meat and potatoes are fresh - and the apples for your pie are still on the tree. I've never liked that frou-frou cooking anyway. I guess I'm too much of a Swede.

I've had fun the last four months, travelling around the western US of A, but I think at heart I need to own a house. I search the real estate ads of every area I visit. I've learned that I'm comfortable by myself, but Thom's visit (and departure) made it clear that I need to be close enough to my kids to hold them from time to time. I also learned that I need sunshine. The 19 clear days we had in western Washington last year were not sufficient. I want 300 days per year minimum.

That's how I feel this morning, I'll let you know if I change my mind.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Skokiam "Healing Waters"

Soap Lake was formed by a glacier a few years back. It is filled with ground water that has seeped through the lava beds in the area. The many minerals in the lava leached in to the lake with the flow of the ground water. It is a soft mineral lake with it's most abundant mineral what is commonly known as washing soda rather than calcium salts found in hard mineral lakes. The water is stratified in layers that do not mix with one another. Skin, circulartory, digestive and joint problems seem to be the disorders most commonly treated by bathing in and drinking the water.

Okay, that's the science portion of today's programming. The water is sparkling clear and inviting. One step towards the water from shore sinks you in muck above your ankles. Don't wear sandals that you want to keep in this stuff. This may not be true at the south end of the lake in town - I'll check it out later. The minerals leave an oily feeling on the skin that is hard to wash off with non-lake water. I haven't tasted it yet.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Soap Lake home

Here I sit at the Soap Lake RV Park. Tough life.

The first is a view to the south towards the city of Soap Lake, the second is my humble abode. Dangerous thunder/wind/hail storm predicted for tonight. I had best put up the awning.

I still have not been able to locate a shop that can perform the required service to my bike before the start of my scheduled 2,000 mile ride around Oregon with my friends from the shipyard. I'll call a couple more shops tomorrow.