Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Jet-lag photo walk

Michelle was a bit wiped out and I've been missing too much sleep, so we just went for a little walk around the 'Westside' of New West.

I slapped on the 35mm f1.8 and just shot with that. It is a bit freeing to have no zoom and a very light lens. I took a grand total of 30 photos. Which, given that it was digital, may be an all time low :) I like the following.

Church bush


White filling

No more Veggie Buffet

Valuable Green


That's a whole lot of keepers for 30 photos of which 12 were duplicates.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Drunk Horse Tour - Day 6

Some days are special. You don't always know it, but they just sort-of end up that way. And, worse yet, you may not even know it while they are happening. I guess life is a little bit like that. You're going along, doing your thing and nothing seems all that out of the ordinary. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

From what I remember (having lost my notebook with my trip entries) I had a decent nights sleep, having read in the lobby for a while and gotten a restful night.

I got up and walked down to a little caffee. Formica counters & chairs and a proper 'bar' to sit at with the small round rotating stools on a platform.

Breakfast was good and the coffee kept coming, I never had to wait. People were having discussions about what happens in a small town. An old guy was sitting next to me who, I'm pretty sure, was not as much there as he used to be. Couple of rural hay-bales short of a full shed... but not by all that much. Just old and a bit eccentric. And he seemed to be quite respected by the folks that ran the diner. I chatted with him a bit and got some grateful smiles from the people around. He was harmless. Just wanted to talk to someone.

After breakfast I took a couple of photos of the town.

Dinner the night before was here:

And every story needs a title

I guess that's where I'd found mine. Never said I was all that creative.

I took another look around the lobby after loading the bike, I'd enjoyed my stay in Prairie City

But it was time to go.

The morning was chilly and I'd added an extra layer. I headed out of town and started travelling north, just trying to find a bit of fun roads and gravel.

I guess I was headed this way:

I mean, you can't say No to "Mid Fk" can you?! I thought not.

The road was great, twisty enough to be fun, gravel enough to keep things interesting. Of course, when that one big truck came around the corner I had to think quick. But all was well.

These guys gave me some trouble.

I'd sensed that they'd be around and slowed, but damn, too close for comfort again, I didn't miss them by much when they jumped out in front of me. All in all I must have seen 6 deer in 10 minutes or less.

After a short stretch of pavement, I headed north again, more gravel and I got to climb out of the valley and get away from the deer.

They'd definitely seen some fire around here:

I was gaining altitude and the landscape was a bit spooky.

At this point, I was comfortable riding the bike fully loaded on gravel, I'd done it enough. Not too many folks around though. I was pretty much on my own. And OK with it.

I saw a turn off and a sign for a fire lookout, so I went that way. Parked the bike and started climbing.

Not the easiest thing to do in motorcycle boots. I took my time.

I'd come from somewhere back there. No, not the outhouse ;)

Turns out that going up that way was one of the smarter things I did on this trip. The woman who ran it was quite happy to see me. And to share her stories. I think I spent over an hour there, just talking and hanging out.

She sees large herds of elk in the valley below her post

I'm not sure how long it would take me to get sick of this view, but I'm willing to say that it'd be quite some time. I'm sure some of my friends would think otherwise.

The meadow below

People I meet along they way are not always much for picture taking, but I think you get the idea.

One more view. I realize that they may seem repetitive, but it was a highlight of my trip.

Don't step too close, that first step is a doosie.

You've got to keep busy when your sole job it to spot fires.

This is how they triangulate the fire:

Multiple stations try to get a direction on the fire and then they get the exact grid.

Eventually it was time to hike back down.

One more look as I was putting my gear back on.

And then it was time to move on.

I found some guys logging and they were blocking the road with their truck. Almost ended up in the small ditch and they moved a bit. Got to a tee and decided to head left. The road had opened up and I gave her hell. Got in a bit deep on a corner in the soft gravel and eased up a bit. No reason to go that hard, except that it's fun!

Eventually got back to pavement and got some coke and a twix an filled up the bike.

I ended up heading north on 395

Through a beautiful valley. At this point I wish I'd had a bit sportier bike. But the grass is always greener, isn't it? The views along the way were spectacular and I kept looking for gravel to ride. At this point I no longer had a plan, I was just riding where I felt like riding.

Oh noes! Look what happened!

The KLR got dirty! :D

I headed west along USFS53, which turned out to be paved, but I split off to go exploring and found some of the slipperiest gravel I've ridden to date.

Just like riding on marbles. I turned around as I wasn't having all that much fun. Didn't feel right.

Eventually I descended again and stopped to take a few photos.

Those two and one from the Yakima canyon are on my wall over my sofa. Good memories.

I stopped somewhere to get a snack (salami & gator aid this time, twix only gets you so far), I think it was Heppner. I was low on oil again, and sure enough the Shell where I stopped didn't have what I was looking for. Talked to a few people and got a tip. Missed what they'd talked about and didn't feel like going back again. A big thumper uses oil, it's a fact.

I just kept riding and eventually found myself staring at the Oregon - Washington border. Damn. I had no intention to be this far north. There's the Columbia river below. I jump on I-84 and follow it for a while.

Pretty sure I ended up in Biggs. Found a NAPA auto parts store and scored some 20-50 car oil. Not ideal, but it won't mess up the bike (these heavier car oils don't have all the 'low friction' additives that mess up a motorcycle clutch). Some things it pays to know when you're on a road trip.

I tried to find a room at a major hotel chain, but they wanted too much money, were right on the damn highway and I didn't like the look of the place.

I followed some signs and found a recently renovated motel. They seemed quite happy to see me, the girl the front desk didn't hurt the eyes and it was away from the interstate. Plus they had some tips for dinner. Sold!

The motel was right below some of these rock walls at the edge of the canyon carved out by the Columbia River below.

As the sun set, they took on a beautiful red tinge.

Eventually I turned in. What a day. Adventure awaited tomorrow. I just didn't know it yet.

An adventure is only an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered. - GK Chesterton

May you have some trips in your life that help you find out more about who you are.


Saturday, May 22, 2010

Some more Oregon 2009 photos

I had these on a roll the I just recently got around to developing.

They brought back some happy memories :)

Wet Dunes

Signs of life

Reluctant Photographer

Patterns in the sand

Some of the film had fairly significant damage. I'm not sure if it was a light leak or a temperature issue. But somehow, with a bit of cropping, they still hold a certain interest.

Sepia Dunes

On the Ridge

The final few shots are, rather fittingly, from our final night camping.

Cooking Breakfast

This photo is really here not for it photographic aspects, but more to show how we woke up. Michelle of course handling the cooking, she really has a knack for it. :)


The way the light was coming through the trees was really nice. Two final pictures


The path home

Thanks for coming along, I hope you have a good Victoria Day long weekend :)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Drunk Horse Tour - Day 5

I don't know why it's taken me so long to get further into documenting this trip. But it is.

After getting soaked the day before, I decided to follow the sun. I had planned originally to go meet up with some folks in Southern Idaho, but hell, sometimes you just have to go where the front wheel leads you.

South on 55

I started running south. I have to add that I don't know where my notebook is, so this will be by memory and pictures alone.

From what I recall, I was looking for a dirt path into Oregon. But after several dead ends, never did find it.

Eventually, instead of continuing to try and go 'right' (that's West when you're heading South) I decided to say f*ck it and I headed the opposite way. I don't even really recall why. Maybe I saw a sign. Maybe I just followed the sun. I know that I'd been to wet and miserable the day before.

Eventually I found my way into Placerville.

Now, a KLR doesn't handle that well at the best of times. But loaded with luggage in sandy soil. Well, I still had fun :)

Once I'd reached the metropolis that is Placerville, I snapped off a couple of photos.

It looked like the kind of place I'd love to spend a few days. But I had to move on.

The road out was filled with marble sized rocks. Some definite hairball moments. But less that I'd expect. In the end, I did a loop east of Hwy 55 but ended up back there. Finally I was headed west again.

Did you notice the sunny and friendly sky?! It factored large in my decision to head west. Some image are floating back to me now as I sit here, so many months later, and write about my trip. The highway West was not all that interesting and compared to some of the travelling I'd done, rather boring. But it kept me moving West and away from the shitty weather.

Eventually I got back to Oregon

I did a lot of looping around, exploring for paths that were shown on maps but didn't really exist. I don't think I'd ever done so much running back and forth over the same ground on previous trips. Maps and a GPS sure help get you lost.

Or, until now, maybe the just kept me from getting where I wanted to be.

But that was about to change.

I finally found a beautiful, sun baked, rattle snake infested (they were on the road, mostly dead) canyon.

I need to look up the name, but I want to call it Burnt Canyon? Or Burnt River? Doesn't matter. As I was riding, I saw people still trying to find gold.

The sign did make me smile

They didn't lie. :)

The run out was good. Twisty pavement. Comfortable temperature. Well running bike.

Eventually even the fun runs have to lead to a gas station, even on a KLR.

I grabbed a twix and some coke. A standard fare while on a road trip. Chatted with folks a bit and decided to move on.

One of the finer things about travelling solo is the ability to do whatever the hell you want.

Like stop for giant chuck-waggons.

With a view of the prairie below

I pulled into Prairie city and decided I liked the look of the place. Small, old and with room at the hotel. I didn't have a bathroom in my room, but there was one across the hall. And it was clean. And the pub was 2 doors down.

And completely restored & updated.

The sitting area was particularly nice and I sent quite some time reading in the chairs by the window after dinner.

That concludes Day 5. If you get a chance, take the small roads. Stay in the one off places. You may find things you didn't even know you were looking for.