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.


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