Thursday, July 22, 2010

July 21, 2010 – Day 46 The Ride Home

The weather report looked pretty good this morning although Lakeview failed to make the cut somehow. That seemed odd as Lakeview's a fairly substantial town and is often mentioned in such matters. Maybe I need to watch something else besides the Weather Channel?

After a nice breakfast compliments of the Best Western folks I set out on what was to be my last day’s ride. I didn’t know it at the time as I’d anticipated turning south after riding to Crater Lake but that was not to be.

Before checking out I couldn’t resist taking a photo of the hair dryer in my room; I thought it resembled one of those built-in wall vacuum cleaners more than a hair dryer and I was cautious using it, wouldn’t want to lose what little hair I have left.
After you dry your hair you can vacuum your car!

I rode west out of Lakeview on highway 140; the air was crisp and the Yellow Peril’s outside air temperature indicated 55 degrees. Riding in sunny but cool weather with only a T-shirt under the Bohn Armored shirt was chilly; at least it seemed so after spending the last few weeks roasting. The big Honda was equipped with heated grips and get this – heated seats – which I’d never experienced on a bike so I turned them both on. Within just a few moments my hands and toosh were toasty warm and I was thinking how decadent this would sound on the blog. So what I thought, I’m happy and a happy rider is a safe rider. Eh? You buying into that? OK, you got any interest in owning a very large bridge, say one from Brooklyn?

What a great sign for such a small town
The little town of Bly, OR is around 40 miles west from Lakeview right on highway 140. It’s a smallish place with a friendly atmosphere; very much like small towns everywhere. Farming and ranching are the main pastimes for the local citizens although there are other means of earning a living. “Antique” shops for one thing are always prevalent no matter where you travel and Bly has its share.

Beer Cave? For real? Really?

Warm summer smells everywhere

Other diversions are there also and in Bly it’s hard to ignore such offerings as Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show located in the W.W. Smith Mercantile building. The hour was too early and as such I wasn’t able to witness an actual performance; therefore I can’t testify if it’s real or merely an interesting mural.

During World War II Bly held the unique distinction of being the one and only mainland US city to suffer casualties from Japanese bombings. A large sign in the city park tells the story and for those needing further proof there's a monument located at the actual site just a few miles away. I remember hearing about the fire bombs launched against the Oregon coast but this was the first time I’d visited the area.

The small city park is also designated as a rest area and it took me a few moments to recognize the facilities due to the unusual name on the building: The Perch. Very appropriate when you think about it, and just another illustration of how small town people don’t always take themselves too seriously. I’ll bet living in Bly is, uh, fun...
The next stop along my way was the community of Sprague River. I’d picked their little town as it’s located on another small back road and it sounded interesting. As it turned out there didn’t seem to be anyone around although there were several shops, a fire station, and one very humble church.
No gas today. Maybe none tomorrow either.

I took a couple of pics and as I crossed the highway to get a closer view of the welcome sign I attracted the attention of the local pit bull and his 3-legged companion. I love dogs as you all know and they seem to sense it but this pair were acting very aggressive and made a bee-line towards me. I stood my ground which seemed to confuse the snarling little pit bull and for a few delicate moments it was a Mexican standoff. (Can I still use that term?) Then a large truck attracted their attention, probably because he was moving slowly and sensing they could run him off they abandoned me for easier prey. Good doggies; go get the big bad truck…
Three legs are better than two if you're a dog
The Jesus Loves You Church

By then I’d had my fill of Sprague River and left post haste, no sense in hanging around for another session with good dog-bad dog. Chiloquin is located not far away and it’s a delightful little town with the clean waters of the Sprague River running right through it. I took the following two pics standing in the middle of the town's bridge. You can clearly see the river's bottom but no one was swimming or boating. Strange.
Considering the many references to Native Americans aka Indians to old geezers I expect it’s either a reservation or was occupied by the tribe at one time. The Modocs most likely.
Modoc Motors is long gone
Modoc Motors yard holds relics of the past

There are lots of interesting things to see there so I parked the Yellow Peril for a walk-around. Of great interest to me the Family Food Center sells enormous candy bars for only a buck fifty and I quickly fell victim to one. After that I visited the library/art center across the street and poked my head into the library for a few moments. Librarians like to talk to strangers and I’ve found them to be a great source of information wherever I’ve traveled. Besides that nearly all of them offer free Internet access so it’s a good way to check your email while on the road. The art center features work by locals and some of it was pretty good.
Union Creek was next on my list of way points and the ride to it was sunny and smooth. Along the way I paused to look at the information board for the vanished volcano; Mt. Mazama which after blowing its stack formed the basis for Crater Lake. It’s interesting to note the location of the sign occupies the very same elevation as the bottom of the lake....zzzzzzzz... I think I'm getting restless...
Highway 62
The road to Union Creek takes you right past the entrance to Crater Lake Park but I chose to go around as I’m still mad at them. I mentioned this in last year’s blog – Nova Scotia on a Ninja – which is I think old geezers who’ve been paying taxes forever should have free admission but the park jerks want ten bucks just for a look-see, even if all you do is drive through. Phooey on ‘em.
Is this a great old building or what? Check out the 2nd story door

Stay on highway 62 and once past the park a few miles you’ll come to the Rogue Gorge Viewpoint (free as it should be) and I stopped to ogle more of the beautiful rushing waters. As often as I see our outdoor miracles I’m always impressed and today was no different. While there I met a couple of guys who were interested in the Yellow Peril so I had a few nice moments socializing; then it was time to continue.
Nice kiosks for people who can read

Rogue Gorge

More Rogue Gorge

This was also the point when I needed to decide whether I wanted to drop down into northern California and make my way home up the coast highway or head directly west to Roseburg and ultimately to Bandon. I’d been on the road for 46 days and traveled thousands of miles on two wonderful bikes and I was beginning to feel a bit homesick. The westward route won out, I was going home.

I continued riding southwest on highway 62 until reaching the tiny hamlet of Trail where I turned onto highway 227, the twisty little two-lane back road leading me to Canyonville. How many people in Oregon have ever heard of Trail? More than five? Beyond that there were several stopping points for road oiling operations and it took quite awhile to get past all of them. I rode extra carefully as I didn’t want to splash fresh oil on the Yellow Peril’s bright paint work. I'm a bit lazy about cleaning things up...
Slippery icky black nasty oil...ugh

Around 25 miles before reaching Canyonville I stopped for lunch at an old country roadside spot called the South Fork Café. It’s been there since 1949 according to the gal running the place but she couldn’t tell me much more. I commented to her it would be interesting to travelers if she had old photographs that could be hung and she pointed out a patch of original wall paper. Whenever they paint the inside they leave that one area untouched which is every bit as neat as a photograph. That's more than a little weird, eh? Outside there’s a long rock wall which the original owner had built with rocks he’d collected during his travels all over the USA. He must have toured in a dump truck. Maybe he knew my dad...
Priorities..we all have 'em

Does "Rustic" come to mind here? No? How about rusty?

Convenience store ala South Fork Cafe

Original 1949 Wall Paper...heya heya heya

As soon as I arrived I was treated with a glass of cold iced tea, free for nothing. That was followed by one of the best BLT’s I’ve ever had, fixed from scratch of course. Who wouldn’t like that little café? Some of the locals dropped in to chat it up with the waitress, one of them a guy with every other tooth missing. Very scary looking but probably way cool around Halloween time. As I departed I noticed an older Honda creation parked outside and I thought how impressive their products are, seemingly indestructible. I'm pretty sure it belongs to the toothy guy.
Someone ought to shoot this critter...Wait, someone already has!

The rest of the ride home was nearly on autopilot; I set the cruise control on a steady 60 mph and watched the scenery play by. My route took me through Roseburg, then onto highway 42 past Winston and eventually the town of Coquille. As I passed by the coffee shop where Jerry Smith and I often meet I spotted his car and performing a U-turn without dropping the bike I headed back. His dog Daisy wagged her tail as I passed their car and I caught up with him inside scoring a cookie and coffee. He was surprised to see me and we sat outside enjoying the sunny afternoon catching up on the past few weeks.

After awhile I realized I’d probably better get home so I said goodbye and got back on the road. As I pulled into Bandon I missed the first of our three stoplights and while I was waiting for the green Linda drove by in her Volvo. For a moment I was caught off guard but finally woke up and waved but by then she was gone. We only live seven miles out of town so I figured it would be fun to catch up to her on the way home but I missed the other two lights. What are the odds of missing all three lights in a little Podunk town like Bandon?
Dogs ignoring me...good to see you too

Anyway as it turned out she made a stop at one of the stores so I beat her home by a few minutes. Daisy and Chance were confused about the big yellow motorcycle but soon caught on to who was on it. Bedlam broke loose for awhile, then they settled down and went about ignoring me the way dogs do when you leave them alone too long. Shortly after that Linda arrived and the bedlam began once again. Dogs really enjoy living moment to moment don’t they?

I guess this will do it, I’m home and happy as a clam with the way things went on the ride; I met lots of new people, visited old friends, had great times, gained back all of the weight I’d struggled to lose and in general thoroughly enjoyed the summer. For those of you interested in such things the combined total mileage between Green Girl and the Yellow Peril tipped the scales a bit over 11,000 miles. I  haven't a clue what the cost was and I don't really care; I figure if you go on a cruise you come home with memories, photos, maybe a few souveniers and lots of receipts. This wasn't much different except for the large yellow item in the garage.

In closing I’d like to say for all of you who opened up your homes to me a special thank you; you’re among my very best friends, and for the rest who spent an afternoon or evening with me I owe a lot. These annual rides are very special to me and knowing people like you makes them even more enjoyable; I am truly fortunate.

Best to all, please stay in touch.


Tuesday, July 20, 2010

July 20, 2010 Day 45 Riding Oregon’s High Desert back roads

This morning I was totally ready for a long day in the saddle. I spent a few minutes figuring out where I wanted to ride and watched the Weather Channel for the latest updates. Bandon appeared to be languishing under a blanket of coastal fog or else the television screen needed cleaning. 
The motel people put out a really exceptional breakfast compared to the others I’ve seen. For one thing, besides the usual flakes & bagels they offered biscuits & gravy – yum! There was an omelet bar set up and a lady to fix them as you like plus fried bacon on the side. What a great experience this place was, I think it may have been the best one of my entire trip.

Since I’d given YP her first bath last night I needed only to load up my gear and I was off for a long haul on the slabs. I rode I-84 for around 40-50 miles, then bailed off at Hammett to ride state highway 78 northwest to Marsing, ID on the Snake River.

Marsing is an interesting little community; due to their location on the Snake River they are very involved in the sports fishing industry. They also have a neat little city park where celebrations are held and old geezers can fish.
I stopped to use their facilities and while there took a few photos of some sleeping ducks. This evidently caught the attention of the local head goose as he took offense to me right off. I shot a few of him coming full bore down the lake at me and as comical as he seemed I decided not to encourage a goose nip. I recall being nipped by various fowl when I was a kid and they can give you a pretty good welt if you challenge their authority.
He sees me...
He's on his way...

Imminent attack...retreat, retreat!

My next destination would be Jordan Valley just over the state line in Oregon. The ride was very good, the temperature had climbed to nearly 100 and even though the humidity was low it still felt very hot. I stopped to photo the time/temp sign at the high school, then stopped again just outside of town for a long look at the open range grass lands. I love this part of our state and it felt good to be close to home.
Jordan Valley Grass Lands

Riding on towards Burns took me through several buttes with lots of twisties and ups and downs to deal with. The entire area is pretty much open range so you have to keep an eye out for cattle on the roads. I saw quite a lot of them near the roads but only a few actually on it. The heat and early time of day kept the deer in their beds so I didn’t expect to see any.
Hiya Mr Range Bull...See ya...

Arriving in Burns I decided to have lunch at McDonalds and it turned out to be the strangest experience at one of their restaurants I’d ever had. For one thing the place was busy as the dickens with all ages of people from little kids to teens to old folks. The strangeness was mostly due to the crew working; they didn’t seem to have a clue as to who ordered what and were constantly giving people the wrong orders or making them to go when they should have been for eating in.
People, mostly old ones like me, were milling around in front of the counter trying to locate their orders and the employees seemed totally confused. I waited about 20 minutes for a Big Mac & fries which isn’t exactly an unusual order while others may still be there waiting. Maybe the crew was brand new or something, it was hard to tell. When I finally got my order I commented to the lady next to me “Hey, same day service, that’s pretty good!” She laughed and the counter gal looked perplexed. I’m so funny. Ha Ha.

After lunch I stopped for gas and it was the first time in Oregon since I’d left. I’d nearly forgotten we aren’t allowed to pump our own gas so I had to wait for the attendant to help me. His first comment was “We don’t pump gas into bikes, you’ll have to do it but first I’ll have to enter a code and slide your card.” He did so, then handed my card back, selected the grade I wanted, wiped the hose nozzle with a paper towel and handed the pump to me so I could fill it. What a silly business this is, we really need to stop this foolishness and do as nearly all the other states do; let people fill their own tanks.

Outside of Burns there is a rest stop where they have a kiosk showing the history of the Burns Piute tribe which I found interesting. I know very little about their tribe and one day I’d like to learn more. Maybe if I ever get too old to ride – God forbid – I’ll motor around the state in our RV and spend some time catching up on local history.

Leaving Burns I rode west on highway 395 until I came to the small community of Riley, more like a wide spot in the road and where 395 turns south towards Lake View, not far from the California border. The ride was fast and in places challenging where RV’s were piled up in groups and no one had the nerve to pass. I couldn’t understand this as there were plenty of stretches that were safe for passing.

I followed one group for about 10 miles, then said to heck with it and passed the entire bunch of around 12 campers and cars in one pass. I could see for at least a mile ahead and it was clear as a bell so I’m clueless why I was the only one to break out. I’ll say this about the Yellow Peril, when you need to pass she has plenty of grunt to get the job done.

Lake Abert is located just north of Valley Falls, an area of particular natural beauty. I’m always amazed to find places like these; I’ve lived in Oregon my entire life and I’d never heard of it either one. I stopped at a point of interest sign about Abert Rim just as a group of hikers were starting the climb up. Take a look at the size of the packs they were carrying; they must have been planning an extended stay from the looks of them. I’ve never done much back packing but when I did my packs were as light and small as I could possibly make them. The ones these guys were hauling looked like body bags or something.
Look at the size of those packs!

My next stop was going to be Sprague River, another 100 miles or so west but since I’d ridden close to 500 miles today I decided to overnight in Lake View. As I approached the city I noted a Best Western sign and I headed directly to it. Inside I noticed the people sitting around looked a bit out of the ordinary as they were dressed weird; like in lab coats or orderly outfits, etc.

I must have looked a bit confused as a man popped out of the woodwork somewhere and asked if he could help me. I commented to him “This doesn’t look like the other Best Westerns I’ve seen, is it by chance a hospital or something?” Internalizing I was actually thinking it looked a lot like a loony bin. “No, it used to be a hospital but it’s no longer used for that. Best Western is next door” and he pointed to a window where I could see their sign, one driveway away.

I excused myself and as I was leaving he asked “Have you got a reservation with them?” to which I replied “No, I never know where I’ll be from day to day so reservations don’t work for me.” He immediately responded “Well if they don’t have a room come on back and we’ll find one here for you.” “OK, thanks” I said and beat a hasty retreat. That was one spooky bunch of people and no way was I going to check into the Zombie Hotel.

The folks at Best Western were full to the gizzard with road crews and travelers but they had one room left if I could wait for it to be cleaned. I did so and it didn’t take them long to get it ready. While I waited I crabbed and complained about their high prices which fell on a set of very deaf ears. I’m afraid the place in Jerome has spoiled me for good, I’ll never again be happy with places that don’t offer you a free cold beer.

My final challenge for the day was to find a place for dinner and as I’d noticed a Mexican restaurant next door I asked one of the cleaning ladies about it. She said it was very good and I should give it a try so I ambled over to have a look. The place was about as tacky as any I’ve ever seen so I walked back to the motel office and asked them where to eat. They recommended the Mexican place next door and when I mentioned I’d already looked at it and wasn’t sure if all my shots were up to date and maybe I should pass. They both insisted it was good and one of the best places to eat in Lake View so I decided I’d have a go at it. What's the worst thing that could happen? Food poisoning? Death? No big deal.
Have you had all your shots?
Authentic Mexican Restaurant decor
I liked watching this guy work, no wasted motion

You may recall I’d had dinner at a Mexican place in Steamboat Springs the other night and how luxurious the setting was and how elaborate the appetizers were? Well this place occupies the exact opposite end of the spectrum except for one thing: Their food tops them by miles. They may not have much going in the way of ambiance but I peeked into their kitchen and it was clean so I wasn’t worried about getting Titticaca or something worse. They serve a traditional appetizer of chips and salsa which were both fresh and tasty, especially with a chilled Corona and lime.
For dinner I ordered Chicken Mole` enchiladas accompanied with the requisite rice and beans and they were to die for, obviously prepared by people who know how it’s done. A second Corona put the finishing touch on an outstanding meal and on the way back to my still overpriced digs I stuck my head into the office and thanked them.
The real deal - Chicken Mole`at its best

That’s a wrap for today; tomorrow it’s more back roads riding towards California before I turn north to Bandon and home.