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

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