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.

1 comment:

Grumpus said...

Brilliant! & I thought searching through fellow 'Vancouver blogs' would prove disheartening.

I love these hills and I love your photographs and your site in general is thoroughly absorbing!

I'm checking out older posts at random...It's always somethin' else to see familiar Vancouver sites through the eyes of another wanderer.