We leave Battle Mountain and after looking at the TAT Maps and some serious consideration, we decide to re-route a portion of the days ride. The TAT Map had us entering Oregon, then heading back south through Nevada and then back north through a small corner of California, before heading up and into Lakeview, OR. We also had a time constraint to work with. We decided that once we entered Oregon on the TAT, that we were going to stay in Oregon and re-route east to Lakeview. It was all similar terrain and geography, so we werent worried about "missing anything".
We probably took the least amount of photos on this day, as the terrain was more of the same for the most part. We rode mostly gravel this day, mixed with the very fine, flour like "bug dust"...which would scare you into paying attention should you get a bit complacent on the gravel!! We made pretty good time as we passed the occassional homes and ranches that were scattered throughout the criss cross of gravel and dirt roads we rode.
Around noon, we were really feeling the heat. The TAT Map showed us going past an old, abandoned ranch a few miles ahead. Sure enough we found the old ranch and the creek crossing (dried up at this point) that was noted as a checkpoint on the map. We took advantage of a huge Cottonwood tree next to the abandoned house and enjoyed a brief lunch in the shade that the tree provided. It was the only shade we had seen or will see for most of the days ride! We could not help but daydream about the old ranch...the creek that literally ran behind it and the trees that had been either planted of tended there. It was a little oasis in the middle of a sandy, sagebrush filled landscape. I wondered about the family that lived there years ago...did the kids play in the shade of this enormous tree? Nostalgia.
Back on the trail, we had the 100 degree wind in our faces again, as we rode more of the endless dusty roads that are Nevada. We saw "Paradise Valley" on the TAT Map and it appeared that we could gas up there, so we steered in that direction and it wasnt long before we were entering the tiny little town. We stopped in front of a "turn of the century" Saloon that reminded us of the building style you would see in an old Clint Eastwood western! We poked around a bit, and were unable to find anything but a few houses! We finally asked a man where the gas station was and he informed us that the closest gas station was about 20 miles up the road near the junction of SR 290 and SR 95.
We took off on the main paved road out of Paradise Valley toward highway 95. It was so hot out, I honestly wondered if my Pirelli's were going to melt on the 100+ degree pavement! We pulled into the gas station/convenience store and fueled up the bikes. We went inside and cobbled together a lunch of Doritos, and V-8 and some other "stuff". The air conditioning in this convenience store was fantastic! It must have been 65 degrees in there...ok, it sure felt like it! We sat down at a small table and enjoyed the A/C as we talked about our next move.
We were both "tired of Nevada" and its unrelenting and unchanging terrain. Neither of us had really wanted to suggest getting off the TAT for a bit at this point, though we discovered we were both thinking it. We decided to hit the highway that was waiting outside, in an attempt to make some really good time. We felt like we had seen enough of Nevada.
We rode highway 95 at about 55 mph. This would come to be our "cruising speed" on the pavement. The Super Sherpa would be comnpletely comfortable at 60-65 and would run at this speed all day. However, I was less certain about the KLX-300 as I was not as familar with this bikes characteristics. It is a water-cooled bike, so sure, it should be fine. But, it is also a high compression motor and I did not want to push it at 60+ mph for a couple hours at a time. It "should" be fine, but we played it safe...and there was no hurry and little difference making time going 55 mph instead of 60 mph.
We rode the highway until we turned off on Highway 140, which would take us into our next stop at Denio Junction, NV. We wasted little time grabbing something cold to drink and fueling up the bikes. We sat outside on an old picnic table where we enjoyed the cool "mist" that was piped out onto the chairs and picnic tables next to the store/Tavern. We were visited by what I guess is the resident beggar/pet...a cute little dog who's name I dont know!
We hit the hardball again and noticed that the western sky appeared a bit darker than usual as the sun was moving lower in the sky. We also noticed that we could look directly at the sun without our sunglasses!? It seems that the forest fires (there were at least two in the Nevada/Oregon area we were close to) made for a makeshift "filter" of sorts, allowing the full disc of the sun to be observed directly. I tried to capture the effect with my camera, but was less than successful.
As we rode west, we started to descend noticeably into eastern Oregon. The mountains we were in, and the elevation that we had now become accustomed to, would give way to 500 foot losses in elevation as we wound our way thru the Warner mountains. We would pass alot of cows on this stretch of road, and even prior to this, there were "open range" areas in which there were cows walking in a line along the shoulder of the road, and/or crossing randomly and without notice! There were more than a few times that I would get spooked by a cow that looked as if it were waiting to jump out (ok saunter out) in front of me as I cruised at 55 mph!!
As we made our way down the mountains, there were small groups of cows slowly and deliberately making their way up the mountain...on the opposite side of the road (apparently following the rules of the road) for no apparent reason. It was a steep climb over a bunch of miles and I wondered why they would do it!? It was getting to be dusk and a couple of times I missed seeing a cow or two and scared myself. A large owl decided to take off from shoulder of the road, off to my right, just as I was coming by. The owl's wing barely caught my clutch lever, before shakily continuing its takeoff over my left shoulder. It wasnt hurt, just startled...just like me!! We dropped a good 2500 feet down into what looked like a bowl of sorts. It was an enormous flat area of high desert that lie right at the foot of the mountains. Welcome to eastern Oregon!
I had never really gone through eastern Oregon, so I was curious whether it would mimic easter WA etc. It was similar and a bit different all at the same time. A few more trees than one see's in eastern WA, yet still an arid environment, and sagebrush was easy to find. It had gotten a bit cooler....about 80 degrees...which caused us to feel a bit chilly. Silly, I know but that 20 degree drop was significant! We both stopped and put a sweatshirt on,before we made it to the outskirts of Lakeview, OR.
As we made our way into Lakeview, (The "tallest town in Oregon...4800 ft above sea level) just as darkness fell...I damn near hit a deer crossing in the roadway in front of me. Truth be told, I was likely less attentive than I should have been and I was tired. I had just mentioned to Jim...I hope we dont hit a deer out here"!! We had ridden 299 miles for the day...150 on dirt, 149 on pavement.
We found a nice little motel across the street from a laundrymat and next to a small restaraunt....nice!! Dinner was lunchmeat and bread purchased from the smallest Safeway Store in Oregon. (Thats what they told us...and it was avery small grocery store!) Back at the motel room, we enjoyed our simple dinner and made plans to change the oil in our bikes and do some laundry before heading out the next morning.
It was a little sad to be so close to Washington, as it caused me to think of the "end" of the trip....something I simply had not thought of until we made it into Lakeview, OR. The next day would really be our "last day on the TAT", as we would be riding into Crater Lake National Park and then heading home by way of old Highway 99 to Tacoma, WA. (Paralelling I-5)
But that's tomorrow....
More to come,