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.


  1. Yep! Cool, cloudy and windy in Bandon today. Best be prepared for a drop in temp of 30 degrees. See you soon!

  2. We could use a drop in temp of 30 or even 50 degrees. Keeeyryst its hot!
    We ate at a similar place in KCK yesterday, called "El Camino Real," not much to look at but spectacular and true Mexican food.

  3. Corona & Lime x 2...Now we're talkin!!!!

  4. PS...Nice Blog Larry...been entertaining since day 1...hope to meet up with you someday...DS