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Old 04-02-2013, 09:30 PM   #1
ORexpat OP
Oregon Expatriate
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Joined: Jan 2007
Location: West of Seattle . . .
Oddometer: 2,875
Can You Really Go Home Again? (Part 1)

This is the first in a short series of stories about coming back home.

I left eastern Oregon when I joined the Navy in 1975. I came back occasionally to see family, and served two sea tours out of Washington State homeports, but most of my time was on the east coast.

After 25 years in the Navy and another dozen in the Defense industry, I decided to really retire and return to the Pacific Northwet. I surfed ADV and other motorcycle forums for interesting-looking riding opportunities that would let me see my home country in ways I’d never seen it as a youngster.

I saw the thread for a spring gathering along the Crooked River south of Prineville, Oregon. I’d not explored the area much as a teenager, and never on a motorcycle. This was to be my first “return home” on a bike.

The weather West of Seattle was it’s usual; cloudy, foggy, a bit damp but not uncomfortable. Left Casa del Expat, West of Seattle, late, around 0930.

I-5 was it’s usual slab self on Thursday morning, but some weak early spring sun was peaking through the firs.

The ride up the Columbia River Gorge is always stunning. Leaving the city, you begin to see the power of the river across the lanes of traffic, and the rocky and forested walls of the Gorge crawl closer and closer.

As many times as I’ve been through the Gorge, I’d never taken old US 30 through the most scenic part of the area—today was the day. Pavement damp from the recent rain, and the falls along the road were roaring full of water on it’s way to the sea.

Multnomah falls is the best know. Just a quick stop; didn’t even get the good camera out. When you see slightly grainy photos in this thread, or photos taken while riding, I’m using my “LCC,” Little Crappy Camera. If something happens to this one, it’s not a big deal.

Multnomah is the most famous falls here, but not the only one by far.

If you’ve never been to the Pacific Northwet, it’s hard to comprehend the incredible difference in climate—vegetation, rainfall, forest cover, and all that—in the short transition from the rain-capturing Cascade Mountains to the much more arid steppe climate just a few miles further east.

In the transition.

This sign, taken on the return trip, explains . . .

Rather than get rained on in the Cascades, I rode through the Gorge and turned south at The Dalles on US 197. Near Dufur. I may not have escaped the rain entirely . . .

Gray skies low, threatening, but not raining like it is a few miles west . . .

Riding through the high prairie-like country towards Prineville brought back memories; I’d been through the area often Before Navy. Some things had changed; the roads were better and some of the ranches looked a little more prosperous—others looked like they hadn’t seen paint, new fences or equipment since I’d left.

Rolling through Prineville, I found that something rare, a gas station with ethanol free gas! Then through town and south on Oregon 27 to the Crooked River gorge and camp.

Rolled into camp through intermittent light rain showers that highlighted the sweet scent sage and Juniper, a campfire was already hot; “Want a beer?”

Damp sage, heady smell of Juniper smoke.
Eastern Oregon, close to home.
Rub the three-lobed sage leaf, the best perfume.
Sap rising in the Junipers smells better than any city on earth.

Superb welcome from everyone; no way I could capture all the names. Apple Jam, Mustang Shelly, Petroburner, Leenpockets, NotAllWhoRambleAreLost, Pigpen, many others. Great camp, great evening.

More to follow . . . .
Old . . . and . . . Slow

ORexpat screwed with this post 04-03-2013 at 10:28 PM
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