Saturday, September 27, 2008

My Vancouver

Often, I feel very much apart from 'being a Vancouverite'. And while I know there are a number of things 'technically wrong' with the above, I think it reflects quite well how I feel about Vancouver. Not necessarily a direct part of it, but instead an observer, a bit grainy, maybe without all the necessary light. Looking on, but not always a part of.

I haven't posted much lately, life has been taking up my time in other ways. But more posts are coming. And soon :)

Monday, September 8, 2008

Home is where the bike is - Day 8

I had a great night's rest and followed that with a good breakfast. Today was time to head North and the beginning of the return trip.

There were still a lot of dark clouds around after breakfast and as I was packing the bike a Sheriff stopped by the hotel. As he got back into his car I asked him if he'd heard anything but he didn't and started to drive off.

A few seconds later he pulled in behind the bike and I thought "Don't tell me, he's going to give me a hard time about something". But that wasn't it. He'd come back to tell me that they may have a thunderstorm forecast at the office and he was going to call in to check. Cool guy!

My original plan was to hit some gravel going north, but the wind was blowing hard and with the chance of thundershowers, I decided to stay on pavement, at least for a bit.

It was cold and dark clouds accompanied me on my trip towards Hwy 97. I was going to do a quick trip on the superslab to get north and then turn off at the first opportunity.

That happened to be the road to Antelope. With a name like that, I had to check it out. And it was nice lonely twisties right off the bat. Awesome.

A major metropolitan center it's not ;)

And just outside ... wait, that's no Antelope!

It was a young deer buck.

I took it a bit easy, but with roads like these, easy is a relative term...

Just up the road I stopped in Shaniko as I was pretty cold and could have used a coffee. But sadly everything was closed.

I did manage to stay out of jail though, so it was a wash.

I headed north again and thought that they got rid of an old gas station I'd meant to stop at last year but then didn't. As I was thinking about the fact that some opportunities only come around once, I saw it.

After a bit of rain and more strong winds, I stopped in Moro for some lunch and to warm up. The soup, a grilled cheese and a bunch of coffee helped. The waitress had some tips for how to get north on the smallest roads possible. I thought it sounded promising.

Once again, I was enjoying the emptiness.

Soon enough I was at the Columbia and the wind was ripping. Not too much fun as I hopped onto I-84, but it didn't take all that long and I crossed over into WA in The Dalles. Biggs would have been closer, but hell, I went through there last year so why not go somewhere new?

The drive into Yakima would have been uneventful, if it hadn't been for the wind blowing me 2 feet in either direction. I thought I looked pretty out of control to people in cages... but I was starting to enjoy it. At one point I laughed out loud as I thought "Is this all you got?!?"
Sick, I know.


I'd considered Yakima as a stop at first, but having skipped a bunch of gravel this morning I had some exploring to make up for! And Yakima is not exactly a pretty town. So I passed it by and headed for the Yakima Canyon. Always a favorite of mine.

Last year I saw some big horn sheep, but with only an 18-55mm lens, I didn't get close enough to get any decent shots. I kept a close watch, but nothing. Oh well. You can't always get everything you come for. After all, I'd made it back to the gas station earlier, didn't I? I shouldn't be greedy.

Almost at the end of the canyon...

Well, maybe you can have it all ... as long as you don't get too attached to the outcome. I was there for about 15 - 20 minutes. Then more cars stopped and the moment passed. I moved on.

North through Ellesburg where some dumba*s in a minivan just about ran into me and then had the audacity to yell when I shook my head at him... a less relaxed Bjorn would have pulled him out of the van to help explain the error of his ways to him. But I just saw big horn sheep.

So I shrugged it off and decided to go look for an old road on the way to Wenatchee. I'd forgotten the road's name and what the turnoff looked like. So it was time to 'look around a bit'.

This wasn't it.

The next one definitely wasn't it, it wasn't paved. Of course, since I was having fun and had plenty of gas, who the hell cared. I followed it until it got a bit sketchy for a 4pm exploration. I stopped here and asked a couple of guys in a XCountry Volvo if the trails ended up back on the highway.

Their answer was that "they all end up somewhere". Which damnit, you can't argue with!

But given that the big trail looked like this already (that's where I'd come from)

I decided to go back.

And then

Yay! That's the one I was looking for. Now, when they say "maintained" that's sort of a relative term...

Great ride. Only saw one other vehicle, a small 4x4. Wonderful views.

Eventually I pulled into Wenatchee and decided to stay at a Holiday Inn express. I was tired and actually ended up doing a lot more miles that I thought I'd do today. Turns out, I got the last room. Again. And they had "managers night" which meant free burgers and beer. Nice.

In addition, I still had 2 Ale from yesterday, if they survived my special packaging.

Note: Cascade ale packs well in size 9 1/2 runners.

Again I slept early (maybe helped by a bunch of beer). Tomorrow is likely to be the last day of the trip. I was a touch sad. Home was starting to be the KLR. In the mornings I'd found myself get a bit jittery. As soon as I got on the bike I was calm and relaxed.

Day 9 preview:

-_This_ is on the state map?
-Familiar roads at last
-Some final thoughts

Sep 1st beach walk

I've been slacking when it comes to posting some new images.

Here are some from a bit of a walk along the beach (and back) from Sept 1st.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Redbull soap box races

Not as much fun as it sounds.

One good shot, which of course is me facing away from the 'action' and towards the viewers...

Friday, September 5, 2008

Home is where the bike is - Day 7

Today I was going to make the Painted Hills. In a way, that was the goal of the ride since I saw photos of them in someone's ride report a while ago.

I had not slept all that well as the motel was apparently on the truck route and I faced the street. But the breakfast was excellent and I got a chance to chat with a fellow KLR owner from California... though he and his wife were out in their cage, having just bought a camper.

I stopped by the office to check out and to see if the girl could check the forecast. The weather didn't look very promising.

Sure enough after riding about 30 minutes I stopped and got my rain gear on.

There were a couple of small climbs, even one 3000 foot 'summit' on Hwy 74 along the way. You see, it's clearing up over there!

But I'm of course headed over _there_

Off 'into the sh*t' I went. :)

Really, I missed most of the rain. It was windy again and the Killer was a bit of a handful given that there were no trees to provide any shelter from it, but the road was empty, the scenery was nice and I was having fun.
Once I turned south on Hwy 207 I saw some deer along the way, even as late as 10:30 am which was probably caused by the major shift in the weather. I took it easy through the valleys where they seemed to congregate.

The ride through Umatilla National Forest was beautiful.

I came around one corner and the entire road was full of turkeys! I got the bike slowed down and enjoyed the sight. No chance to get the camera out and nowhere safe to stop unfortunately.

It cleared up and I stopped a few times just to enjoy the silence.

There was only sporadic traffic and it gave me a chance to reflect and appreciate the ride ... and the fact that the sun was out and it was warming up a bit :)

For a while Hwy 207 South and Hwy 19 North are the same road. I was going to take a picture of the road signs because it made me laugh. Then I decided to just get a shot of what a difference water makes when you're in the desert...

I had spotted "Richmond - Ghost town" on the state map and decided to go explore to see if I could find it. I found it all right, but all the old buildings seemed to be on private property and have fences around it. It also started raining and I decided to move on.

View south towards Mitchell

I decided to stop in Mitchell to fill up. Cool little town. If I didn't want to get to the painted hills so bad, I'd probably have hung out for a bit. But the weather looked dicey and I decided to not 'waste' time...

And then, my first view of the painted hills

Stunning and I wasn't even in the park yet!

I got out the DSLR at this point. And man, was I glad I came.

For a while, I just sat down and looked. I was the only one at the viewpoint. It was great.

After a bit I decided to explore.

All too soon found a gate.

The rain picked up a bit, still pretty tough and the road was fun.

Back towards the park and another interpretive area. The sun came out again and I swapped camera gear and grabbed my ultra-wide lens.

Finally, it was time to leave.

I'd met an older couple from Prineville along the way and they spoke highly of it. I thought that it might make a good stop, though I'd originally wanted to get to Redmond.

Into the mountains once again and the weather turned truly nasty. Windy and strong rain. I put the full rain suit on, switched to the winter gloves and was dry.

I dropped down the other side of the pass and was glad to get out of the crap, into the sunshine and back to some more comfortable gear (the nylon raingear turns into a sauna after about a minute, especially in the sun).

This is where I was headed. Sun!

That's where I'd come from. Nasty Rain!

I got to Prineville, drove through and decide to spend a bit more and stay at the Best Western. Turned out that I got the last room and that I got the 'apartment' which had a full kitchen, fridge etc.

So I went next door to the store and bought supplies and made my own dinner. Figured that saved me some money and really I didn't mind just plopping down in front of the idiot box as they had a lazy-boy recliner! Drank a bunch of Cascade Ale and ate some pizza and then after a while got back to my book.

What a great day!

Preview of day 8:

-Cold! Wind!
-Finding the smallest roads I can.
-Looking for Old Blewett Pass road.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Home is where the bike is - Day 6

The morning doesn't look all that great. Last night's storm was pretty severe and while it's not all that wet yet, you could see it coming.

Some light sprinkles, but not too much yet.

We pack up, check a couple of weather reports online and head out. The plan was to take Old ID7 back and then drop into Lewiston to see if Wally World has the ATV pads that work on the KLR.

By the time we start the climb up Old ID7 it's wet. My tires are sticking well though and soon I'm riding on my own.

After a bit I stop to see where Tony got to and to take a few photos.

Turns out that Tony feels his front end slipping a bit and is taking the smart approach and going easy.

No big deal, he sets off down the road and I snap a few shots.

As I'm putting my gear back on, an empty logging truck passes. Hmmm, not going to be as easy to pass with all the spray.

Eventually I catch Tony and we ride over to Lewiston and find the Walmart. I got the last seat pad! :D

After a quick installation, we head back out of town to find the spiral highway. In the wet. Still what an amazing road. If only it were 10x as long :)

After a quick navigation error (mine) we ride back down the spiral highway and grab some lunch at a DQ. Tony is going to take 12 West, I'm going to head South on Hwy 3.

And I'm on my own.

It's always an odd feeling for me when I leave a riding buddy and start the solo part of my trip. I'm not sure why, but it is both easier and harder all at the same time. A safety net is removed but simultaneously, everything is up to me now. No checking, no discussing, just ride to where I want, when I want.

The road soon becomes absolutely amazing. What can I say, some of the best twisties I've ever ridden and the scenery is great.

Curve after curve after curve.

At one point there was a sign announcing 25 mph corners for 13 miles. I did take a couple stops along the way to just sit and think and soak it all in.

On the way into Enterprise I spotted these fellows...

I filled up and having forgotten that in Oregon they need to help you swipe your credit card, I was pretty much done by the time the gas station attendant came over. *shrug*

My goal was to ride to La Grande and kick back for the night. But frankly, I was less than impressed and decided to just keep riding. A quick stop and a check of the map and I rode towards Pendelton. I don't even know why, I just thought it'd be a decent jump-off point the next day.

The ride on I-84 was a bit painful and when I saw the sign for Deadman's Pass I decided to hop off and take a look around. Mostly it was the name though.

At the rest stop I read up on some of the history of the area and then decided to explore the little road that branched off, expecting it to end at some type of viewpoint.

I soon found myself paralleling the interstate and quite happy to do so.

I decided to just follow this little road and see where it took me.

The corners were banked nicely and it was a pleasure to ride here, versus fighting the blasts from the big rigs on the super-slab.

And guess what? I ended up in Pendelton anyway. I took a ride through town and then returned to the little friendly looking motel at the edge of town.

Glad I did too. The room was nice and clean, the girl at reception helped me with where to get some supplies and got me a room where I could park the bike right outside.

I was starting to run out of band aids and went to grab some, along with food, at Safeway. The blister I'd gotten when the bikes weren't running right and I accidentally touched the exhaust was pretty nasty and I'd used up most of my band aids over the last couple of days. Long days in gloves didn't help.

I killed the idiot box after checking the weather (it was looking pretty wet for tomorrow) and finally got a chance to start reading one of the books I'd brought along.

Another great day on the road.

Preview of day 7:

-Wet and windy
-The painted hills
-Watch out you turkey!