My friends Rob and Steve organized a ride around Washington last year. Steve is the Road Captain, finding all of the best roads to ride on a motorcycle. Rob is our Number 2, Steve's Wingman. He makes all of the hotel reservations well in advance so we have a place to sleep. All Dave and I had to do was ride - and we had a blast.
Before the trip was finished last year, we decided to ride around Oregon this year. Sadly Dave couldn't be with us this year, so two replacements were found - Pat and Gerry. I think I can safely say a good time was had by all.
Steve, Rob, Pat and Gerry started out from Kitsap County and headed to The Dalles via Hiway 7 stopping to visit Mount St. Helens as we did last year and exploring Gifford Pinchot National Forest. I left Thorp and headed directly south via Hiway 97 and 142 thru Klickitat Canyon - another of our favorites from last year. I arrived at the Best Western in The Dalles much earlier than the rest because I didn't take any wrong turns. I did get a bad recommendation for dinner though and Rob didn't let me forget that it was my choice. At least I found the liquor store - too bad it was closed.
Day Two we headed in a roundabout fashion for La Grande via Shaniko, Antelope, Fossil, Long Creek and Ukiah. We found all of our missing shoes and a real shoe tree! Pat's bike has a name - The Leaf Blower. His Honda VTX1800 has a sewer pipe for an exhaust and he turned the tip straight down thinking the noise would be less offensive after bouncing off of the pavement. We all soon learned to not follow too close as his exhaust acted like a leaf blower, cleaning the path behind him and blowing anything in it's path in every direction.
Day Three was 370 miles of slicing and dicing thru Hell's Canyon. Steve on his Road King, Rob aboard his Aprillia and Pat were really carving the corners. I held back a bit and Gerry rode in his own comfort zone. His Honda ST1300 didn't have many miles on it when he started this ride. We joked about being "halfway" as we rode thru Halfway, but in reality we had two-thirds of the day's ride ahead of us. It was a long day and we were tired when we finally arrived in John Day for the night.
Day Four was a dash across the state to Oakridge thru Paulina and Post, where for $465,000 you can buy the town - gas station, general store, bar, post office, restaurant and residence all in one building on two acres of land. We stopped in Sisters for lunch and rode on thru Mckenzie Pass down Hiway 19 to the Best Western in Oakridge.
It rained. My sheepskin seat cover got soaked. I got no sympathy from my compadres - they had no sheepskin. Our destination is Crater Lake. One of those places you "must see" in your lifetime. We stopped in Prospect for gas and lunch. I love small town America. You can keep your Denny's and Shari's. I won't even mention those places where you talk to a clown to order your food. The road to Tiller was under repair so some tricky riding on fresh oil and gravel was required to get to Canyonville. Steve found a recommended ride from there to Powers on a Forest Service road. It's not so much of a road as it is a bike path. We needed Gerry's GPS unit just to find it. It was a slow ride and Steve kept his eyes open for oncoming traffic as he rounded the corners. Nobody offered to take the point from him. We were anxious to get to Coos Bay and breathe easy.
The ride up Hiway 101 towards Tillamook looks better than it is. Unlike Hiway 1 on the California coast, traffic is not restricted, so we fall in with trucks and motorhomes, but Steve planned ahead for this and cut away from the coast at Waldport on 34 that runs along the Alsea River. On the maps it is a twisting blue line, in reality it is a twisting yellow line. At the gas stop in Philomath, I made Pat drop his bike, but I stopped him from turning the wrong way on a one way street. He wasn't very happy with me for a while, but damage to the bike was minimal and he didn't have to dodge oncoming traffic. I think he forgave me. He led us thru Corvallis and the Oregon State campus to a nice lunch stop as he knew the area since his daughter attends school there. Steve took over after lunch and led us to Tillamook - our last night together. The Best Western is next to a Fred Meyers and we made the beer run afoot.
More rain. I was only half joking in Oakridge when I said we should go back to Eastern Oregon. I decide to sit a while in Tillamook and hope the rain stops, the others stick to the plan albeit with a later than normal start. I later learned that they missed the turn off to Neciacum junction and when they got to Hwy 26 they stopped and consulted as a group. They decided to take a more direct route home so they continued up 101 to Astoria and took 401/101/107 to Montesano then on to McLeary, Shelton and home. It was sad to see them leave without me, but damn it, I'm retired - I don't have to be anywhere bad enough to ride in the rain. A couple hours later the rain lets up and I head north on 6. It starts to rain again. It continues until I cross the coast range. I turn north thru Timber and Vernonia (Axmen country I guess - I haven't watched the tv show). My feet are soaking wet in my hot weather riding boots. I decide to stop in Seattle and visit Carolyn rather than continue to Thorp today. I even made it to Everett to visit Mom for an hour or so, then took Hiway 2 over the Cascades to Ellensburg. My bike is filthy!
Now I'm sitting warm and cozy in my little house on wheels, smiling about events of the past week and looking forward to "Spud Run '09". Will you be here Dave? I missed your dry humor (and the dry weather).