Monday, August 27, 2012

Road Stories - Destinations

When people ask me where I'm going for my summer road trip, I often tell them 'thatta way' while pointing in the general direction I'm planning to go.

Now, that's not because I don't want to tell them (maybe sometimes it is actually ;) ), but because I often don't know. When you're on a bike, it's better to be flexible, to allow the weather, conditions of the road and environment and your own feelings and gut instincts to guide the way.

In today's environment of GPS' and instant information, the most useful thing I find on road trips is a basic, free, BCAA (or AAA) map. If you stick to the smallest roads you find on the map (that are paved) it's actually amazing what you'll find.

Having said all that, sometimes you have to break your own rules.

I've been wanting to ride to California since I was about 16 or 17 years old. I remember vividly the desire to just head south and to see where I end up. It's taken over 20 years, but I finally rode to Cali.

I wasn't the only one stopping to take a photo, the gentleman and his wife also stopped and frankly, I like the photo he's in better than the one I took after.

It felt good to finally get there. Of course, it didn't work out the way I planned. After travelling a fair distance, I was faced with 40+ Celsius (100+ Fahrenheit). California was in the midst of a significant heatwave.

So I only stayed for a day and a half, preferring to return to Oregon, the desert specifically, where it was cooler (yes, I went to the desert to cool down).

But, I enjoyed the Redwoods highway

And the coast

That's marine cloud you see in the background, temperatures in Crescent City were about 10 C cooler than just 15 km away, where it was over 30 C.

Bjorn's ever-present "will it look better in black & white" game

I wanted to venture down further down Hwy 101, but road construction (and hunger) conspired against me. So I made some stops to take in the scenery south of Crescent City.

I did run into a creepy talking giant and his bull.

(the horns don't quite line up, do they? ;) )

And I had a little picnic consisting of an apple and a granola bar while staring at the ocean.

Really, closer to the highway than I would have liked, but always within eyesight of the trusty KLR

Once I realize I wasn't going to be spending much time here, I went back out after dinner to take a few more photos.

A different take on the lighthouse

The next morning I was back on the road, riding through Oregon back into Northern Cali, through some very dense smoke due to the forest fire at Happy Camp.

I bought an extra litre of water here and I was so glad I did. I got hot.

On the plus side, I did find Big Foot.

Often, having destinations isn't what my trips are about. But sometimes, it does feel like a good thing.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Road Stories - Planning is good

Yes, that's Jerry using a gatoraid bottle and a length of plastic tubing (provided by yours-truly) to siphon some gas from the KLR (a.k.a 'The Tanker').

Now, it would be easy to write about Jerry screwed up and how important it is to plan ahead and have gas and know where to get more blah blah blah.

All that would be total BS.

We knew Jerry would probably run out and that I'd have plenty of gas. I brought the tube all the way from Canada. Totally planned, no problems and Jerry made the gas station we intended on that extra single bottle (which in itself is actually quite amazing.

But when you're riding, you can't plan for everything. Like the cop who pulled us over just before (nice guy btw :) ).
Or the guy who crosses lanes without looking.
Or the dumbass who doesn't know how to drive their rental RV and so takes up the oncoming lane in tight corners.

So, you have to ride at a point where you can get there. And back. And survive the unexpected.

Some days later, on the way back from California, I planed to go north on a small forest service road. It showed as paved on the map and would allow me to pop out in Oakridge, ride north to Rainbow and eventually end up in Bend (after a long day though).

Turns out, the road was not only unpaved, but washed out further ahead. And the gravel felt like marbles and the wash-boarding was horrible. Note that I stopped on a flat part so I could take the photo.

So, I ended up turning around. I figured I'd have enough gas if I turned to make it to the Roseburg if I had to (look up Roseburg and Bend on a map and realize how far appart they are :) ). It was 37 or 38 degrees, I don't think I'd have made Bend in either case. I was out of water when I rolled into the hotel.

Planning is good, but plans are often worthless.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Road stories - Experience

This year I'm not going to sit down and try to do a ride report. I don't have the drive. But, I want to share some of the stories that you return with after a while on the road.

So I'm starting a new type of post, the road story. They'll be little vignettes of travel.

Onto the first one - Experience:

On our first day on the road, Jerry and I rode through Washington State, past Mt. St. Helen and into the very northern parts of Oregon.

The first hotel we hit was sold out, so we rode over to a place that we stayed at previously, either last year, or perhaps the year before? We couldn't remember. It's getting like that. The trips and the stories run into one another.

I don't see it as a bad thing. We've just had enough riding time, that the specific trip is not important. The day, month and year are irrelevant. But the experience is what counts.

All of it made us feel like quite old hands at travel. So as we sat outside the hotel, getting ready to lock up the bikes and a guy comes up to talk to us, we're used to it. After all, we're the big travellers.

Except, we're not.

He'd just finished a 6000 mile ride (that's 10,000 km for those metric folks) and he wanted to chat. A bit of a round trip, with a stop in Deadhorse, Alaska, just for good measure.

So, it turned out he'd done the big ride, and we were on our first day, with bikes looking shiny and new, by comparison.

And it reminded me of a saying from diving:

"Experienced is relative to who you're standing next to."