Archive | September, 2015

Oregon coastal highway

30 Sep

I’m here, awesome. I’ve a couple of new blog followers, thanks to you all.
Last night was a single bagger; meaning I didn’t need two sleeping bags nestled together. It was the warmest night that I’ve camp so far, about 12degC when I got up.
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Lots of places to pull off for pictures, this is Seal Rocks.
I lucked out and found a fantastic coffee house in Yachats. Green Salmon Coffee Company. I seem to have developed a traveler’s skill of finding great places to eat and this one deserves being stored into my GPS into the growing “food” list.
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The picture above is from the overlook at Devil’s Churn at Cape Perpetua.
I stopped at Hecceta Head Lighthouse and walked the beach, met a smoke jumper who trained at the Cascades base where Sammy and I are a year ago. We witnessed a harbour seal that had beached itself. Aggressive to us and we assume wanted to be alone, although we felt badly that it wanted to stay on dry sand and avoid the incoming tide. It seemed very lethargic but hustled to avoid the incoming waves. Sad.
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Just a neat sign on the side of a store.
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My day ended here in Port Orford. I decided to motel it for the night to be able to ride longer and start earlier tomorrow. Not a bad day, I took 117 pictures and the trip odometer shows just over 7,000km since I left home in Kingston Ontario.
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with a fish dinner at The Crazy Norwegian’s and one of these to get re-hydrated. image

Great beer, a bit hoppy, a bit sweet but not bitter. I’ve had a perfect day; I went in a mile or so on gravel and did a U-turn because it didn’t get me closer to the river I wanted to go to look for an agate. Ya right, what were my chances of finding one. Well, I’ve done it before and got lucky in a creekbed flowing into Lake Superior. My GPS had only one circuitous hick-up late this afternoon but the extra loop was scenic.
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How to scrub in new tires

29 Sep

My new tires installed at Pro-Caliber of course needed to be scrubbed in. The sidewalls might have some slippery stuff to be scuffed or cleaned off and the carcass should go through a couple of heat cycles. Bob and I left Redmond this morning and  fuelled up in Sisters, rode over McKenzie Pass where I took a sequence of photographs with my Fuji X10 camera of Bob in the corners. This road is great!
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I told Bob that he doesn’t ever need to bother going to the Tail of the Dragon at Deal’s Gap in North Carolina because Oregon has better twisties.
We visited Sahalie Falls on hwy#126, then into #20, dropping a couple of thousand feet vertical, and fueled up and had lunch in Sweet Home. The road down from the pass is one of the most enjoyable twisties that I have ever ridden.
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There was a series of warning signs, 1st, 2nd and last
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thanks for returning and getting this.
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WooHoo what a great way to break in my new rubber. We split after lunch, he got home safely and I made it to the coast at Newport.
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I expect to ride an hour south and camp at Honeymoon state park. I fueled up at a Shell station and had a long conversation with a retired fisherman. Actually a nice guy, a bit down on his luck but he does know about weather. His phone and NOAA and his interpretation convinced me it’s fine to camp for the night and not to expect to get wet. Possibly damp only on Wednesday, tomorrow, afternoon. But than riding south I saw a small fresh fish & chips restaurant at the south edge of town and decided to camp at the South Beach State Park just south of Newport and have some fish. So checked into a site, put up my tent and rode back to eat. The fresh ling cod dinner for $10 was very good.
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Exploring Oregon

25 Sep

I decided to camp for both Thursday and Friday nights at Cutsforth Park and spend a day riding a loop
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to put my hand in the Columbia River.
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I saw the biggest wind farm that I’ve ever seen, the Columbia Gorge Bi-state Regional Energy Zone.
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This morning, Saturday, I’ve spoken with Bob and hope to connect with him. He has offered to take me on a tour Sunday.
I stopped in Spray because of the bake sale, unfortunately it was sold out but the museum was interesting and I enjoyed my time talking with the hostess. The road from Fossil, yes there is a gas station in town, to Antelope is even better to ride than I expected from my research. WooHoo.
At Bob’s suggestion I camped at The Cove Palisades campground at Lake Billy Chinook; apparently it closes this weekend so I was possibly the last to register this season. I witnessed the full moon as is popped over the edge of the high rock wall to illuminate the campground. There was a good layer of frost in the morning. My sleeping bags together, and a warm fleece jacket and my balaclava provide me options to keep warm and sleep well. But I did find it cold when I got up was sitting at my picnic table having breakfast. It takes a long time before the sun reached down into my site.
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I lucked out and had a beautiful campsite, slept well and Bob arrived at 9:30 in the morning, we left the bikes at his home and he
took me on an afternoon hike at Smith Rock state park.
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I’m staying over with Bob and Cathy, generous and gracious hosts, thank you so much. In their driveway I washed the Vstrom and took off the sided cases to make it easier for the shop install new tires first thing Monday. While my bike is in the shop Bob plans to take me on a tour and do more hiking; I very fortunate to have met someone with so much local knowledge and a passion to show me some of Oregon that I would never have found on my own.
Monday we dropped the bike off Pro-Caliber Motorsports and went hiking to the Paulina Falls, the Pailina Peak to look down into the Newberry caldera and finally see the obsidian lava flow, glass only 1,300 years old. In geologic time scale terms that’s like only minutes before we arrived.
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In comparison the pumice rock is much lighter; of course Bob is a pretty strong guy.
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The shop had the bike all finished when we returned late in the afternoon. I left with new rubber and oil and a throttle lick a good overall feeling that the work was done properly and charges fair, just as quoted. Thanks Pro-Caliber.

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Welcome to Oregon

22 Sep

What a welcome! Highway 86 into Hells Canyon on the scenic byway (All American Road) through the deepest river gorge in North America, and then into Baker City after another long day. Lots of distance today and so many pictures; a typical day of 264 pictures and 494km or 307 miles. I could ride further if I didn’t spend so much time stopping. The average during my first five days was 627 kilometers or 391 miles but of course there isn’t as much scenery. The only slight mistake in my routing plans today was ending the day late riding west with dazling blinding sun in my eyes interspersed with dark shaded corners; the posted 55mph was a scary challenge. Saw only one deer and one fox, I guess I missed a few others that I didn’t see, nor did I hit any rocks on the roadway. But what a perfect time of day to do some magic hour photography.
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I took advice from a young guy at the gas station in Baker City and think that I may have lucked out staying inexpensively at the Oregon Trail Motel which has everything I need. The complimentary breakfast at their motel was very good. I could hear water running all night and didn’t realize that the Powder River tributary was only about 25ft from my back motel window. Although I have no real schedule I think that I’m ahead of myself. Even though I do have a route it’s hard to figure out when I don’t really know what’s ahead. Anyway I’m staying over two nights here in Baker City and will probably walk a bit to give my arse a break, do laundry and find a museum to learn some history.

Wonderful historic downtown and everyone’s so friendly. At Kicks Sports Wear, Ryan showed me around the old vault from the historic days when the building was a jewelry store. Just a block away I got my watch repaired by J. Tabor Clarke one of the few experienced watch makers still employed. He is a collector of mecanical watches and interested in my two old Mido wristwatches. He apparently fixed the old town clock so my Timex battery replacement was simple.
I stopped to have coffee at the Geiser Grand Hotel on main street and use the WiFi.
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Great strong real coffee, perfect. What a treat from the normal roadside diner dishwater blend.
Funny thing …. I’ve noticed that where ever I walk this morning a smell like dirty running shoes follows me. Hmmm, maybe I should have tossed my shoes into the washing machine last night with my clothes. My Icebreaker Merino wool socks are surviving well and boots sort of ok, but my shoes are gross. I feel a bit out of place. Sammy, you would enjoy this place.
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Oregon is good. I wonder if visitors to my home town feel as welcome. After coffee I met these guys, who had been just hanging around for a while and they suggested that I visit the Baker Heritage Museum,
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and so I did.
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It is a heritage museum so I expected to learn history but I got sidetracked in one section and could have spent most of the afternoon looking at rocks, minerals and gemstones.
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Like me, Mamie Cabin ended up with more rocks than marbles.
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It’s an impressive personal collection with many local specimens, others from all over the world. Of course some rocks have gold while other are florescent under the proper lighting
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I’ve just confirmed that I have a service appointment in Bend, Oregon for new tires and an oil and filter change at Pro Caliber Motorsports. From Baker City to Bend is only 180 miles as the crow flies and I’m leaving tomorrow (Thursday) morning but I’m sure to find some circuitous twisted roads to keep me occupied. The weather forecast is excellent for camping.

Not many people home in Sumpter
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I stopped at a mining equipment museum and the ghosts were eying my Suzuki technology while I took some pictures of theirs.
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I met photographer Ron in Granite
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Hot tubbing across Idaho

21 Sep

Life is great here, where do I begin?
Yesterday morning touring through Craters of the Moon was fascinating.

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I debated if I should be going solo into Bonneville Campground, in the Boise National Forest, on a gravel road following just a sign that I saw on the road. Obviously a good decision.
I had a cold night but slept ok with two sleeping bags, one nestled inside the other and a warm balaclava. I lay in my cozy bag wondering what sort of hot springs surprise I had saved for myself.
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Just a short hike before eating any breakfast to the tub shack from my campsite.
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I took lots of pictures of the steam in the cool morning air.
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I have the camping coffee all figured out, can’t beat Starbucks instant and a homemade penny alcohol stove to boil water. My stove that fits into the light aluminum pot is easy to pack. It’s slow and only suitable to boil a small amount of water but the fuel is relatively safe.
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The riding and scenery is fantastic southbound on hwy 21 from Stanley to Lowman and even better going towards Crouch.
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This is rockslide country, evidenced by rocks on the road, barriers, warning signs and netting. Last night just after I went to bed I was startled when a heard and felt what must have been a huge rock fall. All this steep rugged topography complete with signs that chains are required for snow or ice conditions makes for better twisties to ride. On my return I was blown past by a Buel, a motorcycle I’d seen earlier at a gas station. I presume he is local and knows the road. The road around Garden Valley is old, needing resurfacing soon. It was reasonably hot this afternoon and the many tar snakes could be soft and slippery if cornering hard. Riding solo this far from home, I tend to ride somewhat respectful of the posted speed limits. His riding buddy caught up with me later following a large oversize load barely making it up the grade.
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When I got up this morning in Bonneville campground it was cold while attempting to enjoy my orange juice and granola, only 2degC and 8degC when I had finished parking and rode off with 3 layers under my RoadCrafter jacket. Along hwy 95, west of New Meadows, I stopped at a forest fire-fighters camp and the temperature topped out at 34degC. They were having an easy day with everything under control and graciously allowed me to take some pictures of the big temporary working camp.
I’m lunching in Crouch / Garden Valley at the Dirty Shame cafe complete with good food, WiFi and some electric plugs to get charged up. Even my PPS battey is having trouble keeping all my toys charged, I’m taking hundreds of photos so using battery power. All posted pics are unfortunately just from my smart phone, I don’t ride with the technology needed to handle my real pictires taken my Fuji X10; they get dumped later into someone’s computer.

I’m back in Crouch for breakfast so I’ve ridden through Wildlife Canyon scenic backway 3 times. It is a great road.
North Fork of Payette River at hwy #55 SW of McCall.
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Further south it’s a world class white water river challenging for kayakers. To me it looked insane.

My exit from Idaho couldn’t have been more spectacular, hwy 71 goes downhill forever from Cambridge at posted 25mph to the Idaho Power dam at the Snake River.
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What a fun road to play on!
Tight squeeze right above the power dam.
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Earlier two Honda Goldwings passed me coming the opposite direction, uphill. I expect both well over the speed limit. The second, possibly struggling to keep up, was way over the yellow center solid double lines and in my lane. Mountain roads are hazardous and some very technically challenging; there is no excuse for riding in the wrong lane. Idaho hwy 71 has no guardrails but certainly safe enough at the posted speed. Generally speaking the drivers here seem to be more skilled, attentive and respectful than those back home in Ontario.

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Now I’m in Idaho

19 Sep

Hwy 22 to Victor was great but shortly the enjoyable mountains were behind me.

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It is a bit empty from Idaho Fall to Arco, good roads and few cars. I’m impressed that at higher than usual sustained speeds the Vstrom engine isn’t using any significant amount of oil. Last night I added only about 200ml to top it up. The bike is working just great as expected and hoped.
Passed by the location of the old nuclear station, Arco was the first community in the world to be powered by nuclear energy.
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I lucked out in Arco at the KOA getting a teepee at no extra cost; thank you kindly Angela, $28 inclusive with showers and breakfast is awesome. My Micro-Start PPS battery is working well to charge camera batteries and my phone; every traveler should have on.
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No need to put up my tent,
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so I went to have a burger for dinner at Pickles, apparently the best local joint. The cowboy hats outnumbered the motorcycle helmets by an infinitely large number. I suppose they know that I’m not from around here.
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I could easily get spoiled by sleeping in a big teepee with more space than my tent to spread out my gear. Just had a shower, washed some underwear and it’s time for bed.
Cool night, it’s wonderful to sleep in fresh air. I remember only a couple of weeks ago in Kingston the hot temps and humidity were stifling to work outdoors cutting the lawn and uncomfortable to sleep at night. This morning there was a good layer of frost on my picnic table! What a change. I’m blessed to have clear sunny days. The best weather indicator for me that ensures no rain is seeing the agriculturual irrigation systems pumping water. I’m sure it is expensive and that the farmers don’t use them if there is any rain expected.

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WooHoo

18 Sep

Things are looking better. The riding and scenery is now great.
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I had a tough cold start this morning with dark grey skies and I began to wonder just what kind of trip I had gotten myself into. It was just a long haul from Wright to Casper. Not fun. Then I saw blue sky, green vegetation and spectacular red rocks. Wyoming is spectacular and I’ve spent my whole day between 5200 and 6800ft elevation.
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I could see the snow peaked tops of the mountains of the Wind River Range. Look closely over the top of my bike.
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From there to Lander, for lunch, and on to the KOA in Dubois for the night.
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Nice facilities, right in town, great owners. Barbara even had cheese, crackers and jelly for me! Wonderful to have a strong WiFi conection right in my tent. It is expected to touch freezing overnight, I’ll let you know how my sleeping bags work out.
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Snowy mountains in the distance from downtown Dubois.
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A wonderful dusk with brilliant colours.
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It’s morning here and I’m comfy in my two sleeping bags, one fits inside the other. I went to bed last night about 9:30pm and it is 8:45am and I should get up, but I’m warm. Only 6 degrees so I might walk to get breakfast at the Cowboy Diner and pass on cold granola at my camp site. Instead I enjoyed meeting John and Kathy at their place, Kathy’s Coffee is the best within a thousand miles and the bacon and French toast was perfect. I’m off to a late start but enjoying the warm sun.
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I crossed the continental divide this morning, Saturday, and saw recent snow along the roadside,
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it was only 8deg C at about 9600ft.
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Riding hwy 36 from Dubois all the way to Jackson is excellent, even though there was lots of Saturday tourists complete with motorbikes.
Through Jackson Hole, hwy 22 to Victor Idaho through the Teton pass was a blast to ride. Most exciting corners yet on this trip.

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