Tuesday, June 23, 2009
2009 Oregon Ride
Long roads like this are abundant in the Oregon Outback.
I left Wisconsin alone on my 2008 Triumph Tiger on Tuesday, June 2nd. I had a good load on with camping gear and all. Always pack too many clothes. When I start packing, I try to go light, then add a few precautionary articles that I never use. This trip was no different. I wore the same socks and long johns for eleven days. That may sound like I would have had a foul odor emanating from my body when I stopped to dine, but I did some rinsing of the Patagonia Capilene in the evening and put them on fresh and dry in the morning.
My destination was a place in Eastern Oregon, just 145 miles over the Idaho line. An area called the Oregon Outback. It is a high desert region and to me, a place of beauty.
I did 580 miles on the first day, and that was after a rather late start. I stopped in St. Paul and had a cup of coffee and smoked a cigar with friends before I left. I had to stick around long enough to con my good friend Steve out of a couple of pounds of ground Smokey Double Dark beans for the trip. I spent the first night in Wall, SD. Yes, there is a town there named Wall, not just the famous drug store.
Yep, free ice water at Wall Drug. Veterans get a free donut and a cup of coffee!
The Welsh motel is right at the end of the exit ramp and you can park your bike, (or your car), right next to the door of your room. Makes loading/unloading easy. Nothing I hate more than hiking panniers and trunk cases up a flight of stairs. I’ll avoid this at all costs. I had camping gear and did do some camping out, but when riding alone, I like to get the miles in. After all, I can’t see stopping at six in the evening when there are three more hours of daylight to ride in.
Convenient motel with room side parking.
The next day, using this daylight riding theory, I did 680 miles and pulled into Idaho Falls, ID before dark. I had left Wall in the rain and got to Idaho Falls in the rain. I had two periods of being dry in between. I was tired and skipped dinner. The next day had me riding all the way in to Burns, Oregon. My destination was to be the Crane Crystal Hot Springs on Friday. I had called Crane Crystal and they were full Thursday night, so I stayed in Burns, 27 miles away. I arrived at Crane Friday as planned with a total of 1780 miles under my belt. The Tiger ran perfectly and the new Dunlop Roadsmart tires I had installed did a great job in the rain as far as traction and confidence.
My friend Hal arrived a couple of hours after I did. We sat around and talked as we are very good friends and haven’t seen each other since last September. We dipped in the hot pools and relaxed. We set up our tents and enjoyed some sunshine. Later on that Friday, a thunderstorm moved in with hail and driving winds. We sat that out in a small recreation room that was on the grounds. After the storm, the water temperature in the natural hot pool went from 101 degrees down to 96. I guess that’s what happens when you add ice, (hail stones), to a bowl of hot water.
The next day, we decided to stand pat and stay at Crane Crystal. It was overcast and the weather report said it was going to rain all day. It didn’t and we dried all our gear in the breeze. We got a small sleeping cabin on Saturday night, so we were able to pack up our bikes and be ready for travel on Sunday. We were on the road, headed East, by 7:00 a.m.
We covered Eastern Oregon on US Hwy 20 and blasted right to Boise where we got to the REI outdoor gear store right when they opened at 11 O’Clock. Hal replaced his tent, I added some guy line to my kit and a new water bottle. We set off and took a scenic route North on Idaho 21. We stopped in Stanley, ID and had a bite to eat. We had been riding in and out of mild rain all day. In the higher elevations, we encountered snow flurries, but the road was dead dry. That was a great sensation to experience, snow falling down with dry pavement beneath our wheels. At the cafe in Stanley, we had a very unique experience as well.
The waitress came to our table and announced that her name was Angela and that she was from China.
She was all of four foot eight, as slender as a fence post and oh so pretty. She asked us if either of us had ever been to China. We both said, “No”. Hal got up to use the men’s room and I hailed Angela and said, “You know, I have been to China, twice. I was in Hong Kong in 1969”
Angela told me she wasn’t even born then. She said she lives in Guangdong Province, not far from Hong Kong. I asked her what her real name is. She answered, “You’ll never remember it.”
Stock photo of Hong Kong. I visited there when it was still a Provincial British Colony.
I told her, “I don’t want to remember it, I just want to hear what it is.” She was absolutely right. I don’t remember it at all. It was just a nice encounter and in such contrast to riding the motorcycle. To hear about a young Chinese National who is here working in a resort town in Central Idaho for the summer as she studies and practices her English before returning home and continuing her classes. I wondered about immigration issues, but I guess it’s okay for her to work here as she is most likely of legal status. Besides, her skin color is white even if she is Asian. The staunch right wingers that want to rid the USA of all immigrant workers must not have known that the Idaho resort owner hired a Chinese. So much for my jab at politics for this post.
We kept riding and spent the night at a quaint little Mom and Pop in Bellevue ID, where we could pull our bikes right up to the door. We rode the next morning, in the rain, to Arco, ID where we fueled the bikes and ourselves. The restaurant in Arco was unique in the fact that it was in the lobby/office of a campground. I got off my Triumph and poked my head inside the front door and asked, “You serving breakfast?”
The blonde waitress said, “Yes, come in out of that rain!”
We went inside and started to take off riding gear. We filled two chairs with jackets, helmets, gloves and bags and we sat in the other two. The waitress stood around and talked with us and told us about Arco. We found out it was the first city to be powered by nuclear energy in the nation. We also found out that their economy didn’t suffer because of the economic downturn. It has always been bleak and dismal and was still the same.
While we ate, a man came out of the back. We had seen another motorcycle in the parking lot. He left after thanking the blonde gal. She told us he was freezing from riding and he was from British Columbia. She offered him a hot shower and a place to change. When we left, she thanked us for stopping in and having someone to talk to. All in all, it was a nice stop. The rain had quit and we resumed our ride and headed for Idaho Falls and the Teton Mountains. We had thought of going through Yellowstone, but the One Eight Hundred number I called for road conditions painted a bleak picture for motorcycle travel. The eastern entrance was closed and snow tires were mandatory for all vehicles. We headed for a more Southerly route through Jackson, WY.
Yours truly on the unladen Triumph Tiger.
Teton pass was wide open and dry. We rode to Jackson and stopped for gas and cup of coffee. The ride along the highway in front of the Tetons was beautiful. The fresh snow glistened brightly. We turned East and attempted the Continental Divide at Togwatee Pass. It was raining, and that turned to snow as we gained elevation. Near the summit, a full blown snow squall hit us. The white stuff was gathering on the windshield and was 1/2 inch thick, but the road bed was wet. We hit construction and traffic was stopped for about 20 minutes. We sat on our bikes as it snowed to save the only dry place we had, under our derrieres.
When traffic moved out again, it was mud and slippery slime. The bikes did good. This is where having some riding skill came in handy. Hal and I both rode motocross when we were much younger. We made it over the pass and into Dubois, WY where we stopped for gas. We continued on to Riverton and got a room for the night.
The next day had us on a beautiful winding road through the Wind River Canyon and on into Thermopolis. Thermopolis is known for the tremendous hot geothermal springs that come out of the ground. Folks have been using these pools for years as a therapeutic bath. As we passed through, we stopped to eat, but we didn’t dip. Our ride had us going North into Worland, then East to cross the Big Horns at Ten Sleep, WY. The pass in the Big Horns was dry and fast. We carved up the curves with gusto with virtually no traffic on the road.
We found a foggy moist cloud on the Eastern side of the pass and donned rain gear once again. We sure looked foolish all bundled up and dying from the heat when we entered Buffalo, WY. We stopped for coffee and took off the cold/foul weather gear. Our ride had us in Rapid City, SD by nightfall. We got a room and had a great dinner.
Wednesday morning, we headed out in the rain yet again. We managed to get through Rapid City and into the South Dakota Badlands. We did a a scant nine miles on Interstate 90 before we turned off and headed for US Highway 14. We followed 14 through Pierre and got into Montevideo, MN. We spent the night there and made it to River Falls on Thursday as planned. I had logged 1940 miles from Crane, OR to River Falls, WI for a total of 3720 miles for this leg of the trip.
I was gone eleven days. The last day was around 200 miles. I also sat one day at Crane and rode only 27 miles the day before that. That left eight days of riding with a total coverage of 3473 miles, or a 434 mile a day average, in the rain and snow and gloom of night. Well, not the gloom of night as it stays light until well after nine p.m. In June up North. I had used US highways numbered 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 26 and 30. I don’t know if a US Highway 22, and 24 is south of where we went. Not sure about a 28 either.
I had a plan to make a trip across US Highway 20 from Waterloo, Iowa to its eastern terminus in Boston, then travel south to Washington DC and pick up US Highway 50 and go west. US 50 will take me all the way across the country to San Francisco. I’d then ride up the coast to Newport, Oregon and meet US 20 again and take it back East to Waterloo. I’d have to take a camera and a recorder to write that story, but no matter, it would be a great trip to follow two transcontinental major highways from end to end.
When we returned to Wisconsin from Oregon, we would spend a few days at my home, then take off again for another ride down the Mississippi River. All in all, a great experience. Some would wonder why I enjoyed riding in the rain. After all, we had at least some sort of precipitation every day except the last day in Minnesota. But to me, that’s what riding a motorcycle is all about. Being out there, exposed. Ready and willing to experience all that Mother Nature has to throw at you. Be in it, live in it, be part of it. It helped to know we had cell phones, tool kits, and roadside assistance. I guess I knew if I got uncomfortable or the roads were unsafe, I could stop. I also remembered that at the end of each day, I’d probably be inside and warm.
I have the above stated trip planned for next year and the possibility of another trip or two in August of this year. But now, it’s time to get ready for leg two of this one, from River Falls to Fort Thompson, South Dakota, via the Mississippi River, across Missouri and up the Missouri river, all in recognition of the 4th Annual Crow Creek Commemorative Motorcycle ride. That will be the next report. Enjoy the movies and pics and thanks for stopping in at thew Round Circle.
This YouTube features music that you'll never hear anywhere else in the world. I swear! It is also just a small part of the many miles we rode. It is around 4 minutes long.
Peace to all.