Apologies to readers, as I haven't posted in while. This is part one in a three part series.
|Anong's Thai Cuisine|
|Going towards Lander on WY 287|
|The Grand Tetons|
|The Purina Check a Mix elevator |
in Lander WY.
This trip also follows to some degree the excursion my ancestors took over 140 years ago when they left Missouri and Iowa after the Civil War, looking for a new life in north-east Oregon. Their trip was much longer than mine, fraught with a lot more danger, more hardships and more interaction with native peoples than mine. I can't imagine doing this in a covered wagon, especially with children in tow.
Getting over the Tetons was interesting. The road over the Teton Pass was under construction and a lot of it was just dirt and gravel. Not a difficult thing with four wheels or a dual purpose motorcycle, but a little worrisome with a sport tourer. Non-the-less, we pushed on, which would be a central theme for my trip. Patience is not only a virtue, but more so is perseverance. After the Teton pass, we continued on Route 22 into Idaho where it becomes Route 33. At Victor, we changed direction, heading south-west on Route 31 or Pine Creek Road on to Swan Valley, the home of the Rainey Creek Country Store, home of the square ice cream cone. My ancestors never had it this good although a square cone seemed kind of odd at first. Hey, whatever works.
After Swan Valley, we headed west on Route 26 to Idaho Falls where we picked up I 15. We were still 164 miles from our destination for the evening, which was Twin Falls Idaho. Once down I 15 a ways, we picked up I 84 west to Twin Falls. I was hoping that Ross would want to stop in and see fellow KawaNOW member Bud that lives in Pocatello as my sore ass was getting to me and I could use a break. Such was not the case. Ross has an ass of stainless steel, so instead we pushed on to our destination, still over a 100 miles distant, outrunning more than one storm in the journey. As lightning struck in the mountains to the south, I prayed that we would make our destination safely. You see, 12 years ago I was closing the windows to the Florida room in my house during a storm and lightning struck in the back yard giving me a shock as if I had touched a 240 volt circuit. My wife said that it looked as if an aura was around my body. Since then I have been scared senseless when lightning strikes within visual and audible distance. Call it irrational, but I'd rather be on the safe side.
|Snake River Canyon west side|
|Evel Kneivel, Snake River Canyon|
|The Sagebrush Saloon|
From there, we proceeded on our way to Bend, which was our destination for the day. This would leave about 275 miles for the final leg to Crescent City. Route 20 is a two lane road and I found out a couple things about this part of Route 20 that I didn't know before. Unlike Route 20 in Iowa, which is straighter than the shortest distance between two points, Route 20 in Oregon has some twisty sections that run along the Malheur River, which was a taste of things to come. Another difference is that Route 20 is 2 lanes at best, a lot like Route 169 in Iowa. It was also a very hot day with temps between 100-103. In fact I learned something else from riding through this area, which is something called Virga. Virga is the evaporation of rainfall such that it never makes it to the ground. With the heat we were riding through, we could have used some precipitation.
As the day wore on, my wrists and forearms continued to fatigue and hurt. During the trip I made sure I drank both water and drinks containing electrolytes. The problem as I have been able to understand it is that the ergonomics of someone of my height, torso length and arm length create an ergonomic problem where I am leaning forward a bit. This gets exacerbated on downhill grades where I put more weight on the grips. It doesn't normally affect me in Iowa because we don't have any real grades that would magnify this issue and riding for days with grades doesn't help at all. By the time I got to Crescent City, my forearms were so over-trained in effect, that I had trouble cutting with a knife at dinner or holding a fork correctly. My thumb dexterity and strength was shot and I was getting persistent numbness in my forefingers. Understand that I have no problem with 100lb grippers and if I work out, using 140lb gripper is easy. But doing resistance training involves rest periods and limited duration of the exercise. The bottom line is that ergonomic considerations that won't show up if a rider is a commuter or short tripper will rear its ugly head on long distance rides. In my case, I was taking a trip where I would average over 450 miles a day for 9 days with a day off. I had no idea I would have this issue. The result was what I started calling "goofy hands", which would affect my ability and confidence in riding.
Upon arriving in Bend, we decided to try the first motel we saw, the Sleep Inn, which is on the east side of town off Route 20 and NE 27th Street. At this point I was looking forward to getting off the bike and laying down for awhile. Upon hearing the price of the room, which, if I recall was well over $100, Ross thought better of it (it was a little rich) and we headed to the other side of town to the Days Inn on the Dalles-California Highway and NE Irving. I don't think we went out to dinner that night and hit the hay early. Unfortunately someone had a small child that was screaming all night. Having five children, I fully understand, but at this point I was ready to launch someone. Luckily, I was able to fall asleep, but I was awakened by a screaming child the next morning. All I can say is that it was worse for the parents than it was for me. After a quick breakfast it was down Route 97 for a 101 mile ride to Crater Lake.
The ride to Crater Lake, for the most part, was one of the most pleasant rides of the trip. With morning temps starting out in the 50's, with crisp dry air and the smell of pine, it reminded me of Jackman Maine, where I had spent many summers as a youth. Central Oregon is beautiful that is for sure. We stopped in the La Pine mini mart for fuel and drink and headed down Route 97 and made a right to head west on Route 138 to Crater Lake's north entrance. Going west on Route 138 and into the park, we continued to climb in altitude and while the bike handled it fine, I could feel the temperatures drop, which was confirmed by the thermometer on the RT's computer. Upon reaching the overlook where the Rim Drive begins, you can see above what is called Llao Bay. Crater Lake was formed from a volcano, not a meteor as some believe. Some 7700 years ago, what was Mount Mazama erupted in a cataclysmic event that would have made Mt St. Helens look like a kids science project. Several cubic miles of ejecta were blown into the atmosphere and deposits can be found as far as Canada. All I can say is that must have been some sight.
|Behind Crater Lake|
Along Rim Drive are patches of snow off the road, hard pack leftover from the winter, even though it was August, and while the temperature in Medford would be 100, it was in the low 50's up there. While riding along Rim Drive the brake failure light came on and while the brakes seemed to work, it brought some concern. This motorcycle is a lot different from the Nomad I had in that it relies on computers for its functioning and a brake failure light could mean a few things at the least. This, coupled with goofy hands, made for an interesting ride. On top of this, I experienced something I never experienced before. Normally when I ride very twisty roads or roads I consider twisty for Iowa, I usually concentrate on the coming corner ahead of me as far as I can see into the corner. I found myself looking past the corner, out into the distance over the edge as it were and I have to admit it unnerved me, which didn't get better on this trip. I still don't completely understand why I had these issues with my hands/arms, tight curves and overlooks at altitude, but may be someone reading this can give me some clue. I never experienced anything quite like this before. When I was younger, none of this would or did bother me, so it's a little bit of a mystery. I should mention that the brake failure light went off when we left Crater Lake and I didn't give it much more thought as the brakes were working.
Anyway, heading out of the park, we headed down Route 62 towards Medford. As the altitude dropped, the temps went up and we were on our way to our destination. I was amazed at the speed of the motorcycles that passed Ross and me on Route 62. One squid on a liter sportbike had to be going well over 100 mph in a 45 mph zone. We were doing 50-55 mph, which is a comfortable pace that while above the speed limit, isn't crazy. Right after the squid came a K1300GT doing what I would estimate between 90-100 mph. Not as fast as the squid, but definitely getting someplace rather quickly.
We decided to stop in Medford for a much needed break at the Burger King to have it our way. At this point, I was looking forward to arriving in Crescent City and taking the next day off to give my hands/forearms a rest. Crescent City is only 112 miles from Medford, so we were really on the last leg of our trip to the rally. So we proceeded on I 5 to Route over Grant's Pass to Route 199 and as we descended towards Crescent City through towns like Cave Junction, Illinois Valley and O'Brien, so did the temps. I was glad to be where we going to be where we were supposed to be.
To be continued...