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Every year I take at least two long out of state trips - usually associated with vfrd in some fashion or another, this last year 2011 was no exception. August is usually the time sombody organizes a PNW rally, usually in Canada or in Oregon - Superfunk, Choco, or Didit being the characters most involved with that in the last 3 years. I try to come when I can, time and money are the only thing holding me back, and usually those things are not so bad. I am thankful to have a decent job with lots of Personal Time (PTO) as they call it - I usually dont take time off for other things at all so it accrues rather generously for me for the most part, and I love my motorcycle adventures across the USA and Canada - perhaps in the future that will expand to other places as well, I have still a lot of the USA to explore, and Northern California was on that list for this trip. I decided in this blog entry to just write about the "getting there" part and include the video above of the Old Spiral Highway to show you all why I wanted to go! The roads in the Pacific North West are simply superb - and along the way too. The company I keep is second to none - most of this is true about VFRD members I have met, but this group is special to me since we have one hell of a good time together. http://www.vfrdiscussion.com/forum/videos/491/osh11.mp4 I did all my usual getting ready to ride stuff, oil change, new tires, check over the bike, do any scheduled maintenance, and pack - then unpack and remove any crap I don't really need and then do it again, (because most of the time you don't need half the stuff you bring). I remember meeting a guy on an Aprillia a few years back, stock seat, full leathers, did not even bring a back pack, just stuffed some underwear under his seat and brought his phone - he borrowed my charger even - NOW THAT IS SPARTEN sport touring. I have not yet come to that - no I bring at least 3 changes of clothes, cameras, mini lap top, phone, extra gas - (veefalo she has such a small tank), walking shoes, and shaving kit - OH AND TOOLS. So well I have not made that jump just yet! However I have come along way! He was riding from Oregon to Laguna Seca with lots of places to get stuff along the way, me I usually have to travel across some great expanse to get to where I am going with hundreds of miles between gas stations. Well anyway back to the story - I called my buddy Jack, a guy I met in the winter who rides a Connie 1998 vintage and hes a real character, perhaps not the fastest guy around but fun to hang out with for sure, and long in the tooth and gray as hair can get. I like him. He tells me meet up in Cripple Creek so we can take advantage of the $2 casino breakfast - Cripple Creek Colorado is about an hour away from my house in the mountains behind Pikes Peak and its a gambling town. So Jack and I sit down and bullshit over ham and eggs and an orange juice from a can (hey it was $2!) and then we take off toward hwy 50 to go ride the Black Canyon. Its an easy day, nice and sunny and a bit hot actually, Jack is riding close enough and I am not pushing it so we are having a good time, up and over Monarch Pass - its a good thing we were going slow cause a rare state patrol officer was on the pass in full patrol mode. My radar went off just as I had slowed down to get behind a car, I was ready to pass at the first opportunity so I got lucky. I did not say I was riding like a saint, I just said I was not riding as fast as I normally do, I had a bit of fun going up and down the pass. The thought of Jack behind me rolling along kept me from really burning it up and perhaps getting a ticket, I am not used to seeing State Patrol on the pass, usually they are in the plains down below and close to Gunnison. We stopped in Gunnison for a sample of brew at the Gunnison Brewery (eww not so good) and a bite to eat and took off cause it was so so to not so good! Cant say I enjoyed that meal but Jack kept me entertained as usual with his stories. Hes got a lot of them and they are pretty good ones, the dude knows motorcycles thats for sure. Then we hit the Black Canyon and had an awful time there too cause well they just chip sealed the damn thing and left all this loose chip all over the place and so it was more like a dirt bike ride then a sport ride. Oh well we decided to forgo the Grand Mesa when we got to the stop at the half way point and just turn around and make up some time, the road was not much fun in that condition and to keep on going at that pace would have had us in Grand Junction at 9pm. The first 3 miles of the Canyon were good but after that NO. So we just slabbed it from the Black Canyon on over to Grand Junction, we found a cheap motel and Jack talked the guy into $25 bucks apiece, and it was worth about that HEH. Oh who cares I slept good, and we went and got a great steak at wwpeppers, it was incredible - my boss told me about that place and it was worth the $$! Cheap room = good meal money! Then we walked over to the local brewery and had some excellent beers and talked up the sassy bartender, she was a hoot. Jack was in his element, funny as usual. In the Morning we took off early, I split with Jack and headed to Utah, I decided to make a morning trip into the Colorado National Monument right there on the west side of Grand Junction I thought I had gotten there early enough not to pay but they got me on the other side! Then speeding over the Interstate to get off and do Douglas Pass at incredible speed, I was having fun, but boy there was a lot of cars on it? One every minute it seemed but no cops! Most going the other way, so I did not have to pass too many cars. Into Utah I grabbed some lunch in Vernal and enjoyed the stuff on the walls, some really nice guns on display. Then I took off over the Flaming Gorge and had some fun riding up and down that, its really pretty the sand stone rocks and the cool blue water. I shot over the pass and around that road all mired in RV's and Harleys. Shot past so fast those RV's with that big 12k cc engine pounding out the miles one by one - passing was just a matter of rolling on the throttle in 6th gear even up hill it was more then enough torque to get around those RV beasts, but the HD took a shift down to do that. It is mostly slab from then on, until I got to the Sawatch mountains, I was rolling into Mountain View Wyoming, just in the Utah notch there coming in and out of Utah, you got to go through Wyoming a bit - anyway the Radar was blasting so I slowed it down to a crawl and sure enough the local sherrif deputy was sitting in a ditch were you cant see him and hitting everything - he pulled out and followed me till I pulled in for gas and and just wanted to see the bike. Turns out he owns a 2006 vfr and wanted to see the new one, never heard of vfrd though? Jeez the word is not spreading! I dont think he is an internet type of guy anyway. So I pushed on over I-80 into Utah again and turned off Evaston to go ride the Sawatch. I took no pictures from here on to Ogden UT cause I was pushing for time and really really enjoyed coming down why 39 it is a fun road in the mountains east of Salt Lake, mostly nice sweepers and good chip seal. I like chip seal when its done right - its grippy as all get out when done right. Ogden is not my favorite place, big bad uncle sams bankers work there and its sort of just a strip mall with no so great resturants, well I haven't found any yet to put it more accurately, I found a decent motel and camped out for the night. I was on my way to Boise, and to spend a day with my Uncle Lonnie there, but on the way I would stop in Albion Idaho to my favorite resturant in Idaho - the Sage Brush Inn It was a slow day so the owner came over and sat with me for a half an hour and shot the breeze very nice guy and he told me about this place called the city of rocks about 10 miles south of Albion I should go an visit, it is a rock climbers dream, world class climbers come from all over the world to scale the rocks there he said so I went and took a look! It was mostly hard packed dirt road - that is untill I climbed out of the park and into the valley below then it was chipped rock spread out over hard packed dirt road and slippery and slidy for 20 miles. I had a death grip on the bars cause it would slide out way too easy - but after 10 miles I relaxed and got used to the loose feeling a bit but damn dont let off the gas or use the brakes cause then you were tank slapping your way though 2 inches of loose rocks! I was glad to be back on the interstate after that and just cruised up to Boise and there my I met my uncle at his door, he let me in and we spent a good day catching up on things. The next part I will continue later, the ride to meet my Canadian riding buddies!
I really look forward to my summer trips, saving up and planning for the winter to get on the bike and roll across roads I have never been on or rarely get the chance to see. This past summer I took a trip to Northern California by way of Utah, Idaho, Oregon, and Nevada some 4000 miles on my vfr1200. This is the continuation of the trip left over from my last blog entry. I had met with Radar, Didit, Fay, and Craig and we were starting out the day in Redmond Oregon, with our destination for the day to be a sleepy little place called Shady Cove where the rest of our party (Axle7, Tammy, and Jeff) was going to meet up with us. We headed west with a little bit of slab to Sisters Or, it was a very scenic bit of slab and out in the country a bit but very pretty. Didit lead us to this funky road called the McKenzi highway into a volcanic lava field that cut right into it ending with a very tight down hill section that was fun if a bit cautious since it had gravel strewn into all the right hand tight turns. Seems Oregon has its share of Yahoos to that cant keep their tires on the pavement and toss a bunch of dirt and gravel up into the road! Full Size Didit was still having issues with his stator so he was riding without his headlight plugged in so we decided to stay off the main roads and go down some serious back roads to avoid getting stopped by the police. The Mckenzi highway was a bit narrow and the trees came right up to where the pavement stopped so I took it a bit cautiously till I could get a feel for the road, I turned on my camera a bit for some video. So we had a great time rolling down the McKenzi Highway and we originally was going to head over to Eugene and then roll back to Crater Lake but instead we turned off at Rainbow and headed down this incredible road called Aufderheide Dr that skirted the edge of Cougar Reservoir - a fun road with deep long extended turns in and out of the hills that had me scraping pegs - Radar led the way and kept up a challenging pace - then it headed up the mountain side and into some shady tree lined back roads that just kept going on and on and on. I was having a blast, we saw some kind of wildcat cross the road on a rare strait section and then we stopped at the end to check out a neat little covered bridge in the village of Westfir Oregon. Then we rode another 5 miles to Oakridge and stopped for breakfast at some tiny little cafe called Mannings Cafe and had a very good breakfast. 2 hour already into our ride it was shaping up for a great day of riding - I got the tip to ride that Cougar lake road from http://www.oregonmotorcyclist.com/ - a great resource for the motorcyclist planning a trip into one of the best motorcycling states in the country. So after that we had a hundred more miles or so of strait slab till we could enter Crater Lake National Park Crater Lake was a hoot, goofing off quite a bit we played around the park for a good hour or so then headed down the road to Shady Cove to meet the rest of us! Not much of a narrative this time but the photos speak for themselves
Continuing on in this blog entry with more of the story of last summers California PNW adventure! Its not often you meet people you just click with - and certainly this is rare with individuals but even more rare with a group. This close knit group of Canadians are just the best (well most vfrd people are the best) but something special cannot be denied! I just love riding motorcycles with these folks, I trust them and its always a blast - even when everything goes wrong! This time is no exception! I finally made it to the sharp pointy place the french called Coeur d'Arlene. There is a sleepy little motel there called the Flamingo we seem to patronize as a group every time we pass through. My second time there they actually had a room for me this time. Complete with a fat cat that likes to jump up on your bed before it is touched by human hands to claim it as his! I am a cat person anyway so it does not bother me. Some cats act like dogs this is one of them! So I was the first to get there, then Radar showed up with Fay on the back - then Didit rolled in with Craig in tow and we almost had a complete set of Canadians at that point - just missing Axle, Tammy and Jeff our Vancouver contingent, we would meet up with them in Oregon in two days! My original plan was to ride with these guys for 3 days then head up to Canada for the meet going on up in Nelson that weekend, it was really ambitious for sure with 500 plus mile days in the middle to make it there and home! I dont know what I am thinking some times I bite off more then I can chew but things sometimes dont work out as planned and you just roll with the punches. I had a night planned at the McMinnimins hotel in Portland along the way too I was looking forward to another sample of that raspberry ale I liked so much when the PNW meet was in Troutdale the year before! OH well - when you plan too far ahead, something always gets fouled up! I sort of like the aspect about motorcycling of not knowing what to expect, sometimes I pull up lemons and sometimes I pull out sweet surprises from the hat. We soon got on with this vacation get together by walking over to a restaurant a few blocks away and had a wonderful dinner as Didit smoozed his way into the heart and minds of the servers and wrangled up a nice patio table out front, we came a bit late it seemed and just about everybody in Idaho was in Couer d'Arlene to get dinner the same time we where. He charmed his way into getting us a great spot. We had a great dinner and we needed it since we were in for a long day of twisties from Idaho to Enterprise OR, to go ride the Old Spiral Highway and Then do Rattle Snake Grade, it was not too far but it turned out to be a strange adventure none the less. Full Size Our first leg of the day was the ride around Couer d'Arlene Lake - a 20 mile twisty road that runs along the lake side. All I can say is its a great way to start a motorcycle ride. I set up my video camera under my headlight, I tied the tether cord to the attachment on the camera (good thing I took this precaution). Then rode about 100 feet as it fell off the mount and then dangled there for the entire length of the lake route. Damn luck! It was a fun ride though and we took it at a good clip! Didit and Radar switched up the lead and I followed for the most part because video is better with a subject in front to focus on, of course the subject turned out to be a shot of the front wheel as the camera dangled by a cord for 20 minutes! Jeez it would happen that way. Then we rolled down a pass behind a chemical hauler semi truck hell bent on not letting any of us pass. We waited patiently for what seemed like hours for a safe and legal spot to pass which turned out to be the end of the good stuff! Jeez 30mph in lonely twisties with a semi blocking us for 15 minutes was hell! So it was still early and time for a bit of breakfast in Saint Maries Idaho, it wasnt bad at all - the company was better, lots of laughs.. Me just realizing my camera was dangling by a thread! So all the passing they did to get around me to get in the shot was all for nothin! We had a bit of very nice country side to go through to get to the next major highway, still out in the sticks we had one pass coming out of Saint Maries that is really good with lots of sweepers. Usually it has too much traffic, I say usually since I have done it once before so I don't really know what I am talking about, so I expected much traffic on it and it WAS there just as I thought it would be! However its two lanes going uphill so I passed a ton of cages and trucks to get to open road and everybody followed suit. Being that we were about 100 miles into the ride I should have filled up in Saint Maries! My bike only has a 4.8 gallon tank and I hate worrying about gas, but I did not do that - so I slowed it down a bit except one really good part on hwy 6 about 5 miles north of a blink town called Harvard Idaho, its a railer of about 2 miles, just hard right then hard left then hard right, very predictable but the turns are very very deep so you can sustain leaned over position for a long time the hard over to do it on the other side for a while, back and forth they just keep coming! Great little stretch of road going up the hillside, and lots of trees around you, a they have concrete rails up on both sides so it feels like your in tree tunnel just leaned over as fast as you can turn the bike back and forth. Jeez that is a fun road, and just a bit scary going down hill cause you can get into to it way too fast and then you have to brake so you have to brake carefully and not upset the suspension. So we stopped for gas and then the fun started, Didit's bike would not start! Aww Jeez, I think we push started it and to the gas station down the road cause Didit needed a phone, or he needed a place where his phone worked in case he needed a tow. He filled up down the road and tried to start it again and nothin! The station had jumper cables so we jumped the bike started and then we unplugged his headlights and let it idle for about 20 minutes to charge the battery, they also had a multi meter they let us use - or maybe one of us had one? In any case the bike was charging without the headlights plugged in so Didit just left them unplugged, we would head to a dealership down the road! First we found a motorsports shop in Moscow, but they pointed us to a Honda dealer over in Washington just across the state line 11 miles away in Pullman WA. It was there we found his RR connector was all burned up. The dealer loaned us some wire, soldier, and a heat gun to try to fix it, which we did, but it did not solve the problem. So we said lets keep on going, the bike was running fine with no headlights so we pushed on after a short lunch at a bar next to the dealership. Next up we hit the Old Spiral Highway and had some fun going down it! http://www.vfrdiscussion.com/forum/videos/491/osh11.mp4 Didits bike was just barely limping along and it was clear we had not fixed it with the connector so he decided to call around for parts and ended up getting our very own Tightwad from vfrd to send him a new stator and RR overnight to the hotel we had booked in Eureka CA. I had planned to ride with them all to Eureka then head north - but it seems plans and rides never seem to work out exactly as expected. We had one more section to do that day and then spend the night in Enterprise Oregon one more good spot of riding on Rattle snake grade then we would roll into Enterprise for the night. I spent most of the time looking in the mirror for a blue bike since we had no idea if the thing was going to make it, but it did! 2 days with a burned up stator phase, and no headlights. I think we tried to plug the lights back in and thats what killed the battery? So we left them unplugged till we could get the parts from Texas. Tightwad was a lifesaver! We decided next time if there is a next time we stay in Enterprise we will check out the motel in town instead of the Best Western, the quality is there but not for the price? So off we went after spending a frustrating 20 minutes waiting for a clerk to let us pump gas, Oregon has a stupid law about pumping your own gas, YOU CANT. Most the time they just let you anyway but they need to see if your doing it right first? 50 states in this country and each one is different! It is the law in Oregon that gas must be pumped by an attendant and there is no self serve! It freaked me out the first time I was there to see some dude stop me as I tried to pump my own gas, he noticed my Colorado plate so he did not go off on me - I am not used to being approached from behind and tapped on the shoulder pumping gas, I almost sprayed gas all over the guy cause he started the hell out of me. Thankfully I was expecting it this time around. We headed out of town behind a circus it seemed, an entire trainload of rv's and cars lined up for a mile it seemed and we passed them one at a time along the long straits out of town. Didit and I swapped mp3 cards so we could listen to something new, his wife prepared a whole playlist of songs I had never heard before. It was interesting, mostly club dance or workout songs, lots of fast music that made me want to ride at 100mph all day long! I had to slow myself down on several occasions. Today we were headed for Redmond Oregon. Full Size We just had to stop first in Elgin, I had to pee so bad I could not stand it, and every RV we passed flew by us as we hung out at the gas station there, oh well! We decided to make it a long stop and just relax and let them all get way way ahead! Which was a good thing since we did not see most of them again after that. So we sat down and talked and took pics in this tiny little place I just plugged in Didits route into my gps without shaping the points any or looking at the route, he had originally had us headed down the interstate in La Grange but I did not see that and my map sent me right into town for a 15 minute stop and turn around and go back waste of time. He was not happy about that, but oh well - when we all use different gps units they don't always translate the same. So we got back on and then turned off to some podunk place called Ukiah Oregon, a dumpy little stop in the middle of nowhere - and we had to pump gas from an old style pump and pay cash to the kid in the wheel chair with no legs and only one working hand? That was a bit akward cause I did not know if he wanted help or if he was sort of one of those militant handicapped types that get all offended if you try to help? I just said f'it and let him do his thing an walked into the dumpy little store. From there on out the roads are really good, we took back road after backroad, and I was really feeling good with the bike and letting it get deeper and deeper into the turns as we went along. It was a good 2 hours more of riding before we stopped for lunch in Service Creek. It seems if you are a motorcylist riding along the John Day rider it is imperative to stop in Service Creek for lunch, the food is good and its a very relaxing place to be, if not a bit hot. I had no idea but the middle of Oregon is mostly high desert, and it gets very hot in the summer! We still had about 100 or so miles to go and I needed gas - I was on fumes actually not far from Service Creek I was worried about running out but we pushed on all the way to Prineville and I still had half a gallon left in there and was not in any trouble, but I did stop and fill up the tank along the way with my spare gas can I had stored in the side bag, turns out I did not need it at all! Oh well better safe then sorry. It was just another 30 minutes to Redmond - and there we fought over who (Didit, Craig, and I) about whos turn it was to sleep on the couch, (ME). I had the room all to myself in Couer d'Arlene so I got the couch this time. We walked over to a great little restaurant down the road and had a great time - my steak was good Madalinas Grill is the name of the place it was just up the road from the Hotel. Another Best Western but this time much better value! Then Didit and I took in a movie from across the street, shoot I cant even remember what movie it was? There was a very nice Moto Guzzi sitting across from the theater. So far the trip was turning out to be pretty good, as long as we left Didits bike headlights unplugged!