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Old 08-23-2007, 09:04 AM   #1
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Talking Rain forests, Volcanoes and Big Sky

Rain forests, Volcanoes and Big Sky

Teaser Pic (don't worry, there are many more pictures in posts 2 and beyond, and less text ):

Sunday, Aug 12. A.k.a: T-4
Most people think a trip begins when you are on the bike and starting your first day of riding. Of course that's not true, and we know it. So this time I thought I'd actually start my ride report as I'm getting ready for the trip (or maybe it's just that I spent $200 yesterday at Mountain Equipment Coop and need to make myself feel better about it!)

This is going to be my first long road trip on the KLR, all previous trips were on my sportbike. In July, Jerry and I did a 5 day romp through BC's south east on the sport bikes ( ) and now it is time for Tony and I to crash a VFR meet in Vancouver, WA with the KLRs. I like the idea of taking holidays a month apart (it's good to have something to look forward to after all! ).

We are leaving early, going to long way down via the Cascades and Yakima via St Helens into Vancouver, WA. "Just say NO to I-5". Then back to St Helen Windy Ridge for the "meet" part (thought I'm iffy on spending that much time with Honda riders ... ). From the sounds of it, Tony put us at the back of the fast group. Personally, I'm a bit concerned about that. Knowing the roads on the south east of St. Helens, I think those VFR bastards will slow us down

Over the last week or so I've been getting the bike and myself ready, including:
  • Buying a new rear (Gripster from a Cheng Shin 858)
  • Getting EBC front brake pads
  • Fitting the saddlebags and noticing they were starting to split (you have to love cobblers, for $3 the stitching now looks much tougher than when they were new)
  • Agonizing over taking the DSLR or not
  • Discovering that there was rain in the forecast and not having full rain gear (I still need to address that as I'm writing this).
  • Finding out that Tony has to leave a day earlier than expected
  • Deciding that I always wanted to see Crater Lake anyways, so with Tony leaving early I'd go and take "detour" south for a few days of photography (i.e. I'm taking the DSLR and the compact digital)
  • Getting some great help on changing my trip (a BIG thanks to all the people who contributed )
  • Realizing that I haven't gotten around to updating the KLR's subframe bolts (DOH! I've had the kit lying around for weeks. I'll put the bottom ones in for sure, the top will be tight to get done!)
  • Getting a rubberized shell for the DSLR body ( ) I still need to 'liberate' a bunch of bubble wrap and packing foam from work
  • Realizing that my large tripod will not fit and picking up an UltraPodII instead ( It is supposed to be able to mount on handlebars as well, weighs next to nothing and can support the weight of the DSLR with a ball head for full adjustability
  • Picking up tire levers, patch kits, a bicycle pump, a replacement swing arm cap (for adjusting the chain, thumpers do rattle off stuff ;) )
  • A spare 2 GB SD card now that I'm taking 2 cameras (5 1/2 GB of storage for 7 days on the road better be enough ;) )
  • Emergency "Space Blankets" in case I really get stuck someplace for the night and have to build shelter (I'm not planning on camping so breaking down off a Forrest Service road would be very sub optimal )
  • Miscellaneous bungees and straps
  • New sunglasses (see previous report on braking my Dragons on day one of the trip to the Kootenays)
And that's all in the last few days.

I've got 4 days left now and still need to do a few things (the top subframe bolt and getting some rain gear being foremost on my mind ... oh and a whack of large freezer-bags to keep everything dry. If I was smart, I'd just go and buy a larger dry bag ... I wonder if I'm smart enough for that?!) Well I do have a 20 liter dry bag I could take instead of my hand tail bag. Though I rather like the tail bag for it's versatility and have become rather attached to it over the last few trips. I guess I'll decide Wednesday night, we leave Thursday. I'll see what the long term forecast holds!

Just talked to Tony to get an idea of the departure time on Sunday so I can make reservations and get my route mapped out for the day. Looks like a 9 AM departure. Also, I think we may try to get out and do a 'dry run' on Tuesday after work with the luggage on the bike. Should be a good test.


Called the Odell Lake resort and got the last room for Sunday and Monday! (YAY!) Things are coming together.


Here is what I have so far for routes:

Day 1 Thursday, Vancouver to Yakima
Day 2 Friday, Yakima to Vancouver, WA, via St Helen
Day 3 Saturday I have no idea, but looping around Mt. St. Helen and parts of Oregon may be involved
Day 4 - Sunday, Vancouver, WA to Odell Lake via Detroit, and Oakridge along the Cascades scenic byway
Day 5 - Monday, Odell Lake to Crater Lake and back.
Day 6 - Tuesday, Odell Lake -- to where?
I'm not sure how I'll be heading home. I may cut over to the coast, I may decide to follow the same route back, or use what I've learned and change my route on the fly. I like planning the first parts of my trip and then improvise as I learn about the conditions, how I'm feeling after some significant time on the bike, how the bike is holding up etc. Who knows, I may meet people along the way that know other cool routes, or are riding themselves. Change is good

Day 7 Who knows


Aside: Sunday night: Just got back from having beers with Peter (who was very late and gave me some time to track all the items I still have to complete). He's still planing on riding through Zimbabwe, South Africa and Mozambique in 2009 and wants me to come along. I tried to convince him to join me this week and next, but his bike is still in Africa. Really, just an aside. It's good to have goals and I figure I would never get up to riding through Africa on my own...

But that really is the distant future. I need to get down to getting ready for Thursdays departure...

Monday, Aug 13, T-3: Getting stuff on sale

Managed to pick up a bunch of ziplock bags at Safeway on sale. Do you realize they make a 4 XL bag that's large enough to put a vacuum into?! Freaking HUGE! I went through and started sizing all my components to see what would need to go into which bag. Then I called Tony to tell him about the sale. Turns out he'd been at Safeway not an hour before an bought some of the same ziplock bags on sale!
We had a good laugh.

Tomorrow I need to get the raingear situation sorted.

Tuesday, Aug 14, T -2: Packing, test run and re-packing

Tony and I both wanted to get out and see how packed KLRs would work out, but before I could do that I had to address the potential "wet weather" situation we were going to encounter. So after work I quickly dashed over to Imperial motorcycle and picked up proper rain gear and waterproof, insulated gloves. Yet another $200 spent before even leaving town. But necessary.

Tony stopped by at 6:30 pm and we headed out for a quick trip up Cypress mountain to see how the bags behaved at highway speeds and to see if they'd be steady in the hairpins. Good thing too because the wet weather 'covers' that went over my softbags were horrible at speed. Nothing but billowing messes which caused a fair bit of instability. Once we stopped, those things came right off the bike. I'll probably still take them, but they will be for emergency use only (i.e. torrential downpours). I also found that I was carrying too much weight in the side bags and decided that I needed to take an additional bag for tire levers, tools, spare tubes etc to move some weight around or I may rip more stitches while on the road.

While I removed the bloody 'covers' and added some bungees to help support the weight of the soft bags, Tony was busy getting his bags turned around the right way (the heat shielding really does go on the side with the exhaust after all ;) ).

So all in all a good thing we went out on a trial run! Very useful. Having learned all this valuable information, we returned to Kitsilano via Stanley park's nice bumpy roads to ensure things wouldn't shift around in the bumps. No problems there either, so we stopped off for a beer and to check over the routes / timing that Tony had printed up. Things are looking good and I found out that another KLR would be joining us (an '08 at that).

Here is Tony all excited for the trip (I don't know who the grinning bastard is next to him though ;) )

Thursday, 9:15 am is the departure time. Tony has an early morning appointment, so we'll be leaving rather late in the day.

Once I got home I found another small backpack that will fit on the back with the drybag and moved weight around. Lets hope it works out as planned.

Wed Aug 15, T-1: The final bits 'n pieces

Found out that the local London Drugs has the remote control for my DSLR in stock (YAY) which was the one item I thought I would not be able to get before I left. I'll be going over at lunch to pick it up. Finished photocopying all the important papers (Passport, drivers license, travel insurance, motorcycle registration & insurance) and charged both cameras last night. Tomorrow we ride and I'm sure I won't sleep very well ;)
Just got back from lunch (read: shopping!). Got my knee brace and the remote for my DSLR. Not much left now, though the border lineups look nuts at anywhere from 1 - 3 hours! What is this, summer holidays?! OK, I guess it is
Good thing Tony and I have Nexus passes to get through.

Thursday, Aug 16th: GO TIME!

I just moved the bike from the underground so I don't have to take the parking remote. In a couple of minutes it's time to lug all the gear outside and go meet Tony. Hopefully an amazing week of riding awaits!

Next: The ride begins for real: Crossing the Cascades and battling the wind

We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

jeckyll screwed with this post 08-23-2007 at 11:36 AM
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Old 08-23-2007, 11:35 AM   #2
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Day 1: Thursday, Crossing the Cascades & battling the Wind

I meet Tony gassed up and ready to go. Well, he's a few minutes late, but no worries. The weather is cool and windy, but no rain yet.

Note: We are not really "on the run" no matter what the sign might say ;)

Tony and I have Nexus passes so we got across the border quickly. Despite the fact that my card couldn't be read at the station and I had to go into the office to get it checked (worked fine indoors, I think they are biased against guys on bikes ;) ). We got there just at the right time as they were in the process of opening the Nexus lane. Avoided a 45 minute lineup. The customs guy came over to ask about the KLR's. I told him about about, maybe he's here already.

We waited for Terry for a bit, eventually he showed up just as we were getting ready to get going. The plate on his VFR is mounted deep under his seat and customs checked over his bike before allowing him into the country (insert appropriate squid comment here). Tony and I had our obligatory "You're new to riding with us, don't follow us into the corners we carry a bunch of corner speed and don't feel like picking your ass up out of the ditch" discussion. After a short trip down I-5 we turned off in Bellingham to cut over to Watcom lake road. Tight twisties and rough pavement and I was eating it up. The tires were sticking like glue and the luggage wasn't bugging me much (though I did drag a peg coming through a traffic circle earlier, whoops ). Odd combination of the 858 front and gripster rear, but it's working like a charm. After gathering everyone back up, we are off into the Cascades via the south skagit highway (i.e. avoiding as much of the boring stretches of hwy 20 as possible). Just after Concrete, you guessed it, troopers. No problem, we're slow at this point and they pulled over some vacationers.

We gass & go in Marblemount and start climbing, stopping briefly at Diablo lake. The light is poor, very washed out sky, but what can you do?

There are so many vistas, I can't stop at them all, but at the peak of the pass (5400+ feet) we make another quick stop. It took a bunch of editing to make things recognizable in the shots I took at the top:

Terry and Tony were great though, they didn't complain about all the times I wanted to stop and take some shots to see what would turn out.

Down the other side we went and it got much warmer in a hurry. By the time we rolled into Winthrop it was into the 90's according to Tony's gauge! We stopped at the Duck Brand Inn, thinking we could sit outside and keep and eye on the bikes and luggage, but no go. They had a real problem with yellowjackets and would not serve outside at all. So we made sure we got a nice seat under a fan.

Terry thought he might come back the next week and wanted to go find some info about the town. Tony told him 'Take your time'. Well, this was a mistake. We sat and waited and at some point I think I asked Tony what the hell he was thinking, given that we had to get to Yakima, which was a long stretch even if you leave early. And we left _late_!

Tony decided to chill in the shade, I played with the D40 to keep busy:

Finally, we were back on the road, via the Twisp bypass and down to Hwy 97. The wind was really kicking my ass. In Winthrop I'd strapped the Ballistic jacket on the back and was now riding just in my 661 armor to keep cooler and also because the jacket causes huge buffetting with the vents open. Still, the stock windshield on the KLR does not exactly provide much wind protection. I was wishing for my ZX9R and my leathers at this point. But such is life.

We slogged it down 97, stopping only for gas. I wanted to make time.

Tree picture to show I'm not whining for no reason ;)

I'd missed the 97 Alt turn and we took 97 on the east side of the river. Oh well, it didn't add too much time. Through Wenachee and over the mountains again. And man did it get cold. I really should have stopped to put on my jacket, but instead I ducked down and tried to hug the tank, tuck my left arm under my body and pin it. Remember, this is a KLR so pinning is while climbing to over 4000 feet doesn't do much. Finally, when turning off towards Ellensburg, I saw what looked like an abandoned farm. A good time to get some warmer cloths on and take some pictures.

The wind going down to the turnoff to the Yakima valley road was brutal. The KLRs were moving side to side in a big way and Tony and I were fighting them a bit. The luggage sure didn't help cut down on wind resistance.

Finally, we get into Yakima and start looking for the hotel. We'd taken the wrong turn off and finally stopped to talk to some guys from the Yakima gang unit. Maybe we were in a bad neighborhood at night?
No matter.

Finally I find the turn off to the hotel after finding the downtown center (Jerry and I stayed at the Howard Johnsons right across from the Holiday Inn Express last year when passing through Yakima so it was familiar).

We put the KLR's to rest for the night:

And stroll over to the Red Lion. It's "The Place" around that neighborhood. Sure enough exactly one table is occupied with the guys from Albert & BC that came down from the BC interior earlier that day. We'd seen their bikes piled into a parking spot at the hotel (we were smarter and parked right in front of the reception desk to keep the "Killers" safe, after all, who'd want to steal a Honda?! )

Paul, Craig and Mike were just getting their dinner. So we tried to order, but no go. The Kitchen was now closed. DAMN. We were starving. So Tony asked the waitress if we could order in pizza. She told him it was no problem and was getting ready to give him the number for domino's ... but none of us brought our phones. She gave a us a look, whipped out her cellphone, dialed the pizza place and relayed our order.

Very cool.

We ate, drank and were merry

"Honestly, I was just scratching! You're not really going to post that picture are you?"
Yes Tony, I really am


And one shot of the waitress because she was very cool:

That's pretty much it for Thursday. A long day, followed by a number of beers.

In the next installment:

KLR - Tougher than man!
Catscans aren't fun when you're in pain.
And, good medical coverage is key when on the road...

Stay tuned!

We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

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Old 08-23-2007, 02:15 PM   #3
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Old 08-23-2007, 02:59 PM   #4
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Day 2: First pass along NF 25 a.k.a. watch out for that gravel, eh?!

We got a leisurely start in the morning, enjoying(?) some of the free food the Holiday Inn Express had to offer (btw, I felt no smarter before, during or after my stay, but then I also didn't feel like making a stupid commercial, so it's a wash I figure ). I had some yogurt and part of a cinnamon bun instead of my regular full breakfast. This would come back to haunt me later...

Off we went around 9 am, another late start but this was supposed to be a nice short and easy day, all we had to do is get from Yakima to Vancouver, WA.

We set off, gassed up and I took the lead. After last nights searching for the hotel, I felt that I had a good handle on where the highway was from here. I got us on the highway sure enough, but thought we were going the wrong way until I saw the White pass sign. Yay, we are on the right track. Nice and slow as this route is quite popular with the local LEO's.

We take the turn off and it's on. Off I go through the twisties, really wishing that for this particular stretch of road I had my trusty 9R. The big sweepers and smooth pavement make for one hell-uv-a ride (or as Jerry commented on the riding through there last year on superbikes "That was f*cking criminal" ). Still, a nice steady pace with the Killer and I find myself slowing in the straights until I see a headlight coming around the corner far behind to make sure Tony is around (with the VFR's behind him) and then I'm off again.

Road conditions are good but a few passes need to be made. The scenery is wonderful.

We are on a steady climb until foiled by road construction. There had been warning boards before we turned onto this highway, but we happily ignored them. Apparently part of the rockface has become unstable and unsafe, so the highway is down to one lane if you're lucky, while they drill and try to remove the lose debris.

I signaled the girl with the lollipop and she let us ride to the front of the line, bypassing semis and my personal nemesis, the RV!

We used to opportunity to capture a few shots, nothing else to do after all...

Once we got back underway it was a fun descent into Randle, where we stopped for gas and found ourself checking out this ultra sleek ride:

The owner came over to check out our ride, turns out he's thinking of getting a bike and is debating something in the DL 1000 range. Good for him I say!

I visited the facilities and was getting concerned about what kind of place Randle was. I mean check out the size of these ...

... locks!!! If that's what it takes to protect the toilet paper, can you imagine what they'd have to do to hang on to stuff that actually matters. Also, people don't seem all that bright. Here, check out this sign on the door and then you tell me ...

OK, I promise to NOT use the top lock (made of air?!) ...

We got on the road again, Tony leading the way. It was overcast once more and bit dark in the woods. We rode pretty close together, this being a road made for a dual sport and took off. Tony and Jerry are 2 of the guys that I can ride in pretty close quarters with and not worry too much. After a couple of minutes, Tony waved me on and I put the tire combo to the test.

They passed!

I didn't seen anyone near me for some time, slowing for the construction spots where they'd torn up the pavement and left nothing but gravel.

We had agreed to gather up at the bottom of the Windy Ridge turn to see which way we'd head from here, whether up to the lookout, or into Cougar for lunch, or perhaps to Carson. I got there at about 11:48 am (yeah, I looked) and took a few pictures while waiting.

The timeline and my thoughts, now go something like this:

11:50 am "Damn, I really made some time on those boys, I can't even hear them yet"
Cars go past

11:53 am "Hmm, that's a bit long."
More cars go past

11:55 am "SHIT." I knew something wasn't right. But having been in this situation before, given that there were 5 riders behind me rushing back would not help. I decided to wait another 3 minutes (i.e. a total of 10) before turning back.
The sleek roadster from the gas stop in Randle went past. Now I knew something was wrong.

11:58 am My earplugs are in and I'm slowly retracing the route. After a couple of minutes of riding I see Tony, give him the "Thumbs up?" and he rides past pointing at himself. I didn't know what this meant and pulled over to see if he had come to get me. But he's not coming back.

So I set off after him... still none of the VFR's to be seen, WTF is going on here?

I catch up to Tony just past the turn off to windy ridge where they were paving. I notice dirt and new scratches on the KLR.

"What the f*ck happened?"

"I went down in the gravel in the hairpin, I didn't see it coming"

Turns out that he had serious pain in his shoulder and thought it might be either broken or dislocated. The guys had fed him some pain killers and Tony hopped back on the bike, they lifted his hand onto the throttle at his request and he rode off to make it to Vancouver, WA. One of the other guys finally caught up to us ( I think it was Craig). So I lead out, giving Tony much space from the front but keeping an eye in my mirrors. I'd stand up and make bumps as obvious as possible so that he wouldn't be surprised by any and we carefully made our way back into Cougar.

Tony wanted to push on so we helped him get a few more painkillers down (not easy when you try to leave the guys helmet on, his bike running and his right hand on the grip).

Tony and I would set off to make it to the hotel, the Viffer guys would follow after. There was a tour of a racebike manufacturer in OR they were supposed to be at. No worries, we left riding easy. I made one wrong turn in Woodland but got us to the hotel. At the I-5 exit we notice the big blue "Hospital" sign right next to the Holiday Inn Express sign.

How did they know?!

Anyways, we check in rather carefully, I get Tony's bike unloaded, get the stuff to the room etc etc.

Tony needed help getting his helmet off and out of his leather jacket (thank God for gear, the face shield was scratched the leathers were too, but otherwise everything was ok ... besides the shoulder that is.)

We had planned to take a cab to the hospital, but it was literally a 5 minute walk. Off we go.

Here is Tony in the ER

The pain was kicking in now, but not much to do but wait.

It's around 3 pm and I am _starving_. Remember that light breakfast I had? Well, when you got the chance while on the road, eat damnit! And get gas ... wait, wrong day for that... anyways.

I walked over to BK and had a whopper and felt better. Tony told me I wasn't much good now that he was at the ER so I might as well go. I didn't need to be told twice

When I got back they had him in a room and had already X-rayed his shoulder a couple of times, but it looked neither broken nor dislocated. Of course, he couldn't move his arm one little bit and was about ready to scream in pain (they ended up giving him 3 shots of percocet, at least I think that's what the stuff is called). X-rayed his hand (Tony: Umm guys, my hand is fine, my shoulder is KILLING ME!).

Finally they order him a CAT scan (good thing for that travel insurance, no?!).

I walked back to hotel, having turned my cell phone on and written down the room number for Tony so he could call and I'd come back to get him. When I returned to the hotel, I found that Mike had gotten there and gave him a shout to fill him in on the details. He'd skipped the race tour and we were both hanging back.

I texted Jerry to let him know that Tony went down and Jerry offered to drive down if Tony needed "emergency evac" back to Canada.

Just after 6 pm I got a text from Tony: I am out, dislocated. All is good.

He was walking back to the hotel in a whole new ensamble. I don't know if this is the fashion statement of the year, or the new look in Paris for fall, but Tony really didn't pull it off.

So, the reason his shoulder looked ok in the X-ray? Because the shoulder sat behind the socket, having been pushed all the way around. YIKES. Apparently it took 5 hospital staff to get it back in. They were more than a bit shocked when they asked him where this happened and found out that he rode for 2 hours on bumpy roads and then _walked_ over to the hospital.

Tough SOB.

Mike, Tony and I walked over to grab some dinner.

Yes Tony, you're #1 in my book too and I'm glad the middle finger still works

Unfortunately, no beer for Tony due to all the drugs they had him on. But he was feeling much happier now that the shoulder was back in place.

Total damage:

Tony: Severely dislocated shoulder, some minor rashes and a swollen thumb
KLR: Bit of 'road rash' on the hand guard. Slightly twisted handlebars. That is all.
KLR 1 - Man 0.

Getting home would be interesting, but we'd sort that out the next day. There was a big get together after tomorrows ride and Tony wanted to be there for that. So I'd go on the ride to represent the KLR riders with something like 35+ VFR boys.

I was going to do my own thing, but that's really a story for tomorrow

Speaking of which, in the next installment:

-Representing the Thumpers
-Almost getting taken out by some dumbass 2 up on his VFR
-Hard riding on great roads, a crash on Windy Ridge and 'getting there first'.

Also, tomorrow some of the good scenery pictures start making it into the thread and I'm finally glad I brought the Nikon D40.

We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

jeckyll screwed with this post 08-23-2007 at 03:05 PM
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Old 08-23-2007, 03:55 PM   #5
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Old 08-23-2007, 06:08 PM   #6
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Day 3: Saturday a.k.a. anyone who needs more than 1 cylinder is a wuss

Some good things came out of yesterday. No, not the fact that Tony fell off and hurt himself. But in hanging out with Mike and Tony, it turns out that Mike has always wanted to see Crater Lake as well and is thinking of going that way this year instead of cutting over to the coast. From what I recalled, the room I got had a pull out couch, so he could crash there.

Mike is a very mellow guy, sticks to the rear of the pack and rides his pace, which is pretty much the speed limit. You may ask why this would be good news, given that I am typically found at the other end of the riding field? Well, he won't be tempted to 'stick with the quick guy' so I won't have to worry about him and most importantly he's a good guy off the bike.

I was going to call ahead today to verify the room situation.

The way those VFR guys were braking up the ride, they had the slow group meet hideously early (6:30 am I think) then the medium guys and then the fast guys last. Each group would have breakfast and then split off to head up the mountain. Seemed odd to me.

No matter, I was going to sleep in till 7:30 and then have breakfast at the hotel. That way I could also see how Tony is doing in the morning.

I wake up fairly early as the guys start their bikes, but go back to sleep and get some decent rest.

Tony is in excellent spirits, he got a good nights rest, his shoulder isn't really bugging him and he managed to put on a real shirt. The sunnofabitch is talking about riding home tomorrow! Well he's going to kick around to see how things are and we'll discuss the 'getting home' situation when I get back after riding. My plan today is to head up to Windy Ridge and then see who's there, then decide on a route and basically do my own thing.

As I pull into Woodland at 9:15 I see a bunch of VFR guys. I ask them if they are the "fast group". They realize who I am and we chat for a bit, they are concerned about Tony so I fill them in (this would happen all day, so I'll just leave future instances out of the thread :) ). I set off, find my rhythm and set a steady pace to Cougar, passing the occasional car. Overall traffic is light and it's cool out but not raining. Not a bad day for riding.

In Cougar I pull over and close the vents on my jacket as I know it is going to be colder climbing up. Now the real twisties start and I go hard. About as hard as I think you can go on a KLR without scraping the plastics (my Sidi Explorers have been rather ground down on the outside edges as a result ).

I blow past some cars and some cruisers (damn things take up the whole road and go nowhere). And then I run into a huge group of VFR's stuck behind 3 trucks (15 + bikes). I didn't like the look of that at all and decide to pass. Well if you've taken that road, you can imaging that this is not easy. I stood on the pegs, threw the bike in the oncoming lane and went. Two quick 'goes' at that and I was behind the front two guys who had pulled next to the front trucks window and were gesturing and it seemed cursing. Not knowing the whole story, when they too off (a 919 and a VFR on closer inspection) I followed.

Both guys were from Oregon and were ripping. For the first dozen turns or so I kept up with them, but then we had more traffic and bikes to pass and ... well you try passing on a 400+ lb bike, 200 lb rider, 30 or so lbs of gear and a grand total of 39 HP. Yeah, not happening. I made sure to keep the passes sane and generally waited for bikes to wave me past (unless they truly had no freaking clue I was there after a few turns in which case ... *shrug* ).

This kept up all the way up to Windy ridge, a great ride on a KLR and I made excellent progress at one point passing a fellow KLR rider (who pulled over and waved me past).

The view from the top lot:

I guess I was first From what I remember I got there right around 11 am and I kept it slow in all the long straight stretches. I'd seen the 2 guys who really ripped in the lowest parking lot, they would pull up later and it turns out that they had nothing to do with the VFR meet. They seemed to know the road quite well On the 9R I would have enjoyed watching their cornering techinque close up

I got the camera out:

Here is the other KLR. I'm sorry, I forgot his name, but he's on advrider, perhaps he'll see this and remind me. Cool guy, is thinking of taking the Killer back to Argentina at some point in the future. We chatted for a bit.

Eventually the VFR guys started rolling in and I decided to hike to the top of the lookout. Last year I skipped this, Sidi Vertebra's are not the best hiking boots. But in my Explorers I had to do it.

Let me tell you, it's a ways!

But it's a nice view :)

On the way down you really notice how steep the stairs are as the literally drop away from you (those tiny specs down below are the bikes and riders)

Eventually everyone had pulled in and I found out that the food would be off the mountain. Everyone started heading out. As I get around a corner I see this (I was standing on the pegs, again, and got a good view early)

I immediately pull over and start signaling to other rider to slow down. Last thing we needed was for someone to have an incident while trying to avoid the lineup for the accident scene. It looked like a bike too, I was really hoping that it wasn't anyone from the group.

Aside about this accident: Some cruiser guy on the way down the mountain panics, locks it up and dumps it. Only wearing a little skullcap. Mike, who was there, said he didn't know what day it was and his pupils were tiny. /rant: Wear a full face helmet for crying out loud, no matter how cool you think you are. /endrant

It was obvious that the road was blocked so I took a few more pictures

When everyone had gotten going again (the ambulance actually waved all the bikes past), I was riding in the middle of the formation (I should have known better and gotten to the front!). As I'm standing on the pegs purposely swerving to hit all the dips and bumps on the edge of the road I almost get clipped by a guy who was blitzing past everyone. Now, I was IN MY OWN LANE!

I spoke to him later and he though "everyone was letting him through to the front" and that I'd gotten over to let him past and knew he was coming.

Ok, I have a question for you: If you see a guy standing on the pegs do you think he can see his mirrors? When this guys is bobbing around inside his lane, taking in all the bumps, this is now a sign to try and shove into his lane. What a tool. I was, no strike that, I am pissed. Right after seeing an accident? Turns out this ride was a memorial ride for a friend of his. I better stop now, before I post something a bit more direct...

Onto happier things:

Once this happened I decided that I broke my own rule about riding in a big group of *ahem* "mixed" skill riders. So I made a couple of passed (note: _clean_ passes into large gaps in traffic or when people waved me past. Waved, like with their hand, to signal me ahead...).

Soon enough I got to the bottom of Windy Ridge and took a right. No one was in front of me and I went. Eventually I caught up to some of the 'faster' riders. I ended up behind George, a pretty cool guy, I thought he was brining his KLR but he didn't. Still he rode the corners pretty well (he should, apparently his online handle has his racing number in it ;) ). I'd let him get a tiny bit ahead and then shoot in after, catching up slightly in the corners. Fun was had indeed!

Another aside: You may be wondering: "So Bjorn, yesterday your buddy falls off, today you see another accident scene and some guy almost clips you. Yet you're ripping it up?"
It's a good question. But you have to remember, _I_ didn't fall off. _I_ didn't cause any issues. I'm riding my ride. My pace. At a level I am comfortable. Now at the back of a group of riders, knowing that if they tossed it, I'd ride around them ... or even over, I'm on a Killer after all. "When you're gonna go, go!" I firmly believe that hesitation kills. As does riding beyond your level. Stick to what you're good at.
Aside over :)

Eventually we get to some straights and everyone guns it. I slow down. Slow in the straights, quick in the corners. No reason to change that now.

We have sandwiches and everyone has fun.

Tim, in the yellow vest, wasn't riding as he *ahem* rearranged some parts on his wife's BMW that morning. Good guy, I felt bad that he couldn't ride. He and his wife brought a truck with trailer and spare gas even. And all the food!

(Tim's comment to me later: "You know, I was pretty impressed with how you tore out of there, but I would have been even more impressed if you'd backed it in when you pulled in." Everyone's a damn critic )

I wasn't about to make the same mistake again and left first after lunch. Some guys were trying to tell me where the turnoff was and drag me to a GPS and stuff. I blew them off. I knew I had to hang a left somewhere and get to a town that started with a "C". Common, how hard could that be? So I tore out of the parking lot and headed off. One guy on an older Viffer followed a bit back. I blew past a turn, jumped on the brakes and almost made the turn. A quick U and I'm on the road to Carson (told you the place started with a "C" didn't I!).

The road soon turns twisty and I gave her. Also because I really had to take a leak and there was nowhere good to go at lunch! I finally turn down a forest service road and find a friendly looking tree. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh. Too much water and gatoraid ;)

I get to the gas station in Carson second (the guy on the older Viffer must have passed when I turned and ... well you get the idea :) ).

Everyone rolls in. One guy was out of gas up the road, another had been stung by a bee / wasp right on the neck and they were trying to cool it with ice. I broke out the Adventure Medical kit and my AfterBite stick did the trick. That stuff is gold for bug bites!
(Comment: "F*cking KLR guy even has a first aid kit" LMAO )

Now, George and I had chatted about taking a scenic byway over on the Oregon side but now 8 or 9 other guys are going to join ... sure enough it's a bit of a gong show getting people organized, there's toll bridge etc. On the other side they gun it. Now, if you actually read all the stuff I write, you know my theory. I just let them go in the straights.

As I turn off toward the 'Scenic Byway" _another_ accident scene. Someone totalled a Mercury econobox by running it off the road and smack into a tree. Eventually I get back to the guys (who had no clue I wasn't with them any more. Nuff said about that). I got a few pictures, but tourists were everywhere. I took off and rode back to the hotel.

Tony is doing well and his shoulder is great. He has exercises he has to do and has good movement. Turns out the handlebar position on the Killer is only a few inches off where his sling is anyways. He took the KLR for a quick spin in the parking lot and is going to ride home on Sunday. He's got friends in Seattle, if he has any major pain or discomfort he will ditch there and take a greyhound home.

We kick back for a bit and I give Odell lake resort a call. Sure enough, the room has a pull out couch. Mike is coming along, good stuff!

At 8 pm we wander over to the place everyone is having dinner and get rained on (not a good omen for tomorrow).

Couple of old guys looking at old bikes ;)

Tony could drink tonight, so he was a happy camper

Mike and I picked a time to leave in the morning, we'd take our time as I had to get Tony's bike set up for him with the giant top box and his side bags. We figured we'd roll out around 9 am.

That's it for day 3.


-A different pace
-How would the gear perform in the wet
-More twisties and high passes than you can shake a stick at

Stay tuned.

We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

jeckyll screwed with this post 08-23-2007 at 06:19 PM
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Old 08-23-2007, 09:05 PM   #7
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Sunday: And then there were two ... a.k.a. the day the rain came

7:30 am seemed to be a real comfortable time for me to get up early in this trip.

Got downstairs and had some breakfast, got my stuff packed and then loaded Tony's bike. He was going to meet some of the VFR guys for breakfast at 9 am and then ride. I asked him to text me to let me know.

Mike and I were going to get started around 9 am and I think we took off just after. The day was looking ok, it had rained quite a bit over night but everything was looking quite good right as we left. I'd only done about 100 kms since the last fill so I passed on gassing up when Mike did. After all, I can get almost to 400 km before reserve.

We did a very short stretch down 205, passing through Portland and then turning off to hit the Cascades Scenic Byway, a mix of roads from large well paved and wide to small tight and as twisty as you'd like. Our pace was calm and relaxed though when the first stretch of corners came I went ahead. Mike and I'd discussed this and picked meeting spots along the way. That way we could each ride our own ride and would know where to look. The first spot we chose was Detroit, OR.

But when I saw the first good spot for a shot, I didn't really have to wait long for Mike to show up. He was quite happy to make the stops and take pictures as was I. The clouds were threatening, but so far so good.

The road soon got tighter and narrower, with some nice scenery along the way. I could have stopped every 10 feet over the next 4 days and never run out of things to photograph.

Just to show you the road we were on, we were taking 224 East (I shot this backwards ;) ). Plenty of the corners were still wet, we were definitely on the rainforest side of the Cascades, surrounded by lush green forest.

We were steadily gaining elevation and I felt myself getting colder. This trip was supposed to be hot and I was worried about how to stay cool before leaving, not about how to stay warm. I'd started the day wearing my new Joe Rocket winter gloves, insulated and waterproof and they did a nice job keeping my hands warm. But my legs and torso were not nearly warm enough. Finally I pulled over and got my rain gear on. Another chance for Mike to catch up. I immediately started feeling better and actually believe that I'd been getting just a touch hypothermic. The rain pants & jacket kept the cold air out and now I was actually warming up. I forget how high the summit was we crossed, but I do know that Mike said it dropped to 9 degrees Celsius (48 F).

At one point I pulled off on a little gravel path to get a closer look at a rock formation. You can see that the lines in the rock are vertical! The forces that shaped these mountains ...

I was warming up nicely though and the road was great but wet. Shortly after I put all the raingear on to keep warm it actually started to rain. Man was I glad to have spent the money on the rainsuit and gloves!

We dropped into Detroit and stopped to have "Lunch". Both of us had chocolate bars and decided we didn't need gas yet. There were many indicated places on the map before the turnoff on FS 19.

Aside on the route: I thought that FS 19 was a gravel road. Google maps has no way of really distinguishing the two, but when we looked on Mike's map of OR it be came apparent that is was paved. Initially he was going to loop around and avoid it, but once we were riding and saw that the little roads were indeed paved Mike decided to follow the same path as myself.

Now, remember earlier how I'd said when you're on the road never wait to get gas or eat well? Yeah, some days I'm not so bright. I mean, I _thought_ I was being smart...

So off we rode, some straighter roads for a bit. The rain got much harder and we pulled over so Mike could get his rain gear on. Great mounds of crushed vulcanic rock across the street from where we stopped. I'm not sure why, but they spread this stuff all over the sides of the highways in Oregon, as Mike informed me. Well, here where we stopped, it covered the land scape naturally. Quite stunning.

As we turned down 126 we encountered the lavaflows. A completely alien looking land scape! I was amazed and wanted to stop and take shots, but was not going to get my D40 out in the rain. No joy :(

I vowed to come back though!

We passed by another accident site (what is it with people just running off the road on easy corners down here?! It boggles my mind).

By now I'd watched the kilometers climb on my trip meter. And I was looking to get some gas. As it turned out, some places indicated on the OR state map were at time single buildings! Like Belknap Springs. On the OR state map and just one building and let me tell you, it wasn't a gas station! Now, I've got a huge reserve, but I do not like to run on it. It's for emergency use. Well, we passed on the 242 offshoot despite the fact that the road was supposed to be great even just to the gate... I didn't want to put 22 miles on the bike that I didn't need to as that would definitely put me on reserve.

So onto the next place, Mackenzie Bridge. You guessed it, no freaking gas station. WTF?!

Finally, in Rainbow I spotted a Shell station. About time! I'd gone 380 km and ended up still having 1 1/2 liters to spare before reserve (that's a 1 1/2 quarts for you Yanks ).

Now, I didn't see a sign for FS 19, but figured it was somewhere behind us. I decided to go gut instinct again (I didn't have a map and my google maps printout showed that in theory the turnoff was behind us). Didn't matter, we had plenty of gas now.

So we start taking a road that I thought looked promising and get to a covered bridge. I know these are popular back east, but I hadn't seen one in person.

Mike's bike

Bjorn's bike

Could they be more dissimilar?

The bridge is really quite intricate

I decided to ride to the road on the other side and investigate. A couple with an Explorer pulled up and I asked them if this was the way to FS 19. I think they said, yes, there was a turn ahead, but I had my earplugs in and helmet on. It sounded promising

I waved Mike over and sure enough, a little ways up the road we saw the sign for the Cougar Dam and FS 19

That gray, washed out bit in the distance is where we are headed... think it'll rain some more? You betcha!

I got the lens wet and some of my shots have nice big water spots on them. So the camera went away, back into the padded case, ziplock bag (4XL double folded ) and the side bag lined with bubblewrap :)

The road was great, but there were large amounts of rocks in the corners (from the cliffs) some the size of a babyheads. Not something you'd want to hit full lean on a sportbike. But on a KLR -- naww, still not something you really want to hit!

I took it fairly easy, but tried to be smooth and keep a good rhythm. It's all about being smooth. I used to say "Fast is good, smooth is better". A few years ago I used to purposely take the sportbike out when it was raining. You have to be smooth to manage something with 140+ hp and the contact patch of a couple of postage stamps in twisties. Now that I have decent raingear I think it's time to do this again Nothing helps riding more IMO.

Back to the story though. The road kept getting progressively tighter and we got to the point where you could actually see the moss growing on the side of the tarmac! Finally I pulled into West Fir. FS 19 is wonderful. They were doing work on it replacing culverts though and at one point there was a sign "Rough road next 22 miles". Most of the gravel sections were marked though (a simple pylon by the side of the road was enough) but some weren't. They made for interesting hairpins. I think there was one corner which I ended up tripple apexing. Still, I think I managed around 45 - 50 mph by staying in it a bit more in the straighter stretches.

I waited in West Fir for Mike. As I figured I'd have some time, I got out of my rain gear and hung it up, walked over to the river. Enjoyed the quiet. Not too many cars and very peaceful.

Mike pulled in and asked me how long I'd been waiting, 10 minutes? I told him it was 20 on the nose

I packed up my rain pants because they are a pain to get on and off without taking the boots off and I didn't want to tear them, but I kept the jacket on. A smarter man than I would have put the pants back on too

We headed out onto OR 58 and took it East towards Odell lake. As we ride I see the sign proclaiming an elevation of 3000 feet. Then, not long after, the sign for 4000. And then 5000. Shit. I didn't realize we were heading over a major pass! And it's raining again. I did mention that a smarter man would have kept the pants on ... well, screw it, I wasn't pulling over. It wasn't that far.

The squeegee on the gloves worked a charm though getting the rain and spray from the semi trucks off my visor.

Just on the other side of the 5000 foot sign I see the sign for Odell lake west, shortly after the one for Odell lake east. I really hadn't though we would be staying at almost 5000 feet. Damn. Cool though, we pulled in and it's a very rustic place, right on the lake.

There is even a tiny bit of sun in between the rain, though a cold wind is blowing over the lake.

The room is small and rustic, the guy at the front desk is pretty cool, the waitress (who I believe is his girlfriend) is a hottie and they have Cascade Ale. YUM

Not a huge day today riding wise, but tricky conditions. A good day and I'm glad to have had Mike along for the ride.

I had thought about taking a gravel FS road down to Crater lake, but I'm feeling tired after several long days of riding and then the rain today. It does start to wear you mentally. I decide to make tomorrow just about the photography and to ride the highways with Mike. His plan is to ride on into California after we complete our exploration of Crater Lake.

Aside: the pull out couch turns out to be tiny and tip over easily (odd design) Mike ends up crashing on the floor. He'd picked up the tab for dinner and I wouldn't take any money for the room beyond that. I think we both felt we were getting the better end of the deal. It's nice when that happens. You don't really see it much these days...


-Climbing to over 7000 feet and the coldest it's been on the whole trip
-The blues lake I've ever seen
-And then there was one...

Hope some of you are enjoying the journey with me.

We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

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Old 08-23-2007, 11:37 PM   #8
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Day 5, Monday, Aug 20. Crater Lake! a.k.a. Picture day

We turned in early the on Sunday night, both of us tired. I don't remember exactly what time we got up, but I'm guessing 7:30 am isn't far off (there is a pattern here in case you hadn't noticed ;) ).

By 8 am we are on the road. It's a chilly morning, clouds are overhead, but it's not raining. I am really really hoping that we won't get hit by rain, this day of all days. I'd come a long way, as had Mike. But as Tom Robbins once said "The weather is to be celebrated or to be ignored".

The KLR won't run right, but then I realize I'm at 5000 foot and it's 10 Celsius. So I keep the choke on a bit till she warms up all the way. I'm traveling a bit lighter again, no need for all the cloths to come along, so one bag less on the bike today. Over the I started keeping the orange safety vest on the back of the bike, the drivers on the interstates here scare the crap out of me. Especially with the poor weather we had. So I put it on again (it ended up there the rest of the trip). Little things ...

Mike and I roll into Chemult at about 8:40 am. The sun is peaking out here and there and the day has promise, though to the West some awful dark clouds loom on the horizon. We dropped down a bit from Odell lake, but not much.

Breakfast is excellent, home cooked omlet with hash browns and toast. That's the way you get a morning started. Plenty of coffee and water to round it out. I leave stuffed!

Soon enough we are heading past some redwoods over another summit (5900 feet I think) on the way to Crater lake.

We paid our $5.00 just after posing at the entrance sign to the park, with the crater in the background.

I believe Mike has a picture of myself with the sign, I'll need to get it from him sometime when he gets back online.

The lava rock desert below the rim

My first view of the lake. I'd made it

The blue of the water is stunning.

I climbed to the edge of the cliff, some 400 feet above the water, to get a shot of the wildflowers. Little chipmunks are zipping around everywhere and I catch one out of the corner of my eye. I wonder where he went, but stay ready. This is the result:

I'm pretty pleased I must say

For those amongst you who enjoy photography, I shot that with a 35mm focal length. The little guy was less than 5 feet from me I think (and I was less than 5 feet from the cliff ).

A quick note and then just some pictures from around Crater Lake. I will try to post info boards along with the actual shots so you can get an idea what you are looking at. Note: It was cold. Damn cold. Like 7 Celsius cold (44 F). And the wind was howling. 15 - 20 mph? Maybe more, I'm bad at judging wind speed. The wind was blowing the Clouds right over the lake, but here and there some blue sky showed through. We got lucky that it wasn't any worse

All the wildlife is friendly. Unfortunately, I think that's a sign that they get fed by the tourists. Nevermind the fact that this will make some of the animals not prepare properly for winter...

No, I didn't worry much about the photographic aspect of getting the info off the signs.

Side story: As we get over to take some pictures of the phantom ship you see above, I overhear a woman complain about how bitterly cold it is:
Me: You don't get to complain. We're on bikes. *grinning*
She: Yeah, but you bikerguys are tough! *smiling back*
Me: Oh, it's worse than that! *straight faced*
She: *silence and a bit of concern*
Me: We're Canadian! *laughs all around*

On this side of the lake the trees that are exposed have almost all their branches leeward.

The water is just soooooo blue!

You can see the wind...

And then, right around noon we split up. Mike is heading out of the park and west towards the coast then south. I'm going east, then ??? Well, this is the furthest point from home and my plan ends. I like it. :) We shake hands and he rides off.

It was good spending the two days with Mike. It was an odd feeling watching him ride away. Safe travels Mike!

I realized that I've never toured alone on a bike. I stand at the crater for a bit longer, gather my things and head out. Briefly I see Mike's bike ahead, but then there is one more view that draws me. No more reason to check my mirrors to make sure I didn't lose anyone or to communicate & plan a route up front.

I leave the park. The weather is turning again. It's darker all around, the clouds have caught up for real. It gets a little warmer as I drop about 2000 feet in altitude (from a max of 7100 feet today). But as I make my way north I can see rain ahead.

Just as I pull into Odell Lake Resort a few drops start falling. I haven't had any lunch and it's after 2 pm. I get my gear upstairs, have a nice long hot shower to warm up, shave (it had been 5 days and I was starting to look a bit "road worn") and head downstairs for a couple of cups of steaming hot coffee and a huge slice of Kona Coffee Monster Mud Pie. YUM.

I could hardly finish the whole thing!

Feeling fat and lazy, but still being in photography type mood, I grab the camera, put my rain jacket on and carefully protect the camera inside it. Out I go to see what is around the resort.

Nothing stunning like the shots from Crater Lake, but it kept me busy for a bit and I enjoyed spending time out alone, climbing through the bush (it is a national park and once you get away from the main trails, quite deserted).

I finish the day with an excellent Cordon Bleu and another fine bottle (or three) from the Deschutes brewery.


-Not maps, GPS or destination
-I fall in love
-Low on oil, out of gas and in the middle of nowhere


We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

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Old 08-24-2007, 08:27 AM   #9
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Beautiful pictures Bjorn. What camera are you using? Some of them look a little photoshop'd. ;)
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Old 08-24-2007, 08:49 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by klebel
Beautiful pictures Bjorn. What camera are you using? Some of them look a little photoshop'd. ;)
Thanks for the comments, it's probably good time to talk about that anyways :)

For my DSLR I'm using a Nikon D40 with the 18-55 DX lens with a circular polarizer (very important when taking shots of the lake).
My point & shoot is a Casio Exilim z750, which has some great presets and also very wide ranging manual controls.

Editing was done using the basic feature that Picasa has available:
-cropping & straightening
-hitting the "I'm feeling lucky" button (and sometimes adjusting the highlights / fill light if necessary)
-well, turning some black and white of course and adding a colour filter (I like adding a yellow / dark yellow filter to my B/W images).

On a couple of the pictures where the sky was washed out, I came in with a graduated filter to darken the sky, but whenever possible I just cropped the sky out.

Overall the light was ... tough ... the entire trip. I usually shoot down a couple of stops and when switching the filter on & off sometimes I leave that, though I shouldn't. Typically the "I'm feeling lucky" adjusts the histogram for me (I'm damn lazy I guess ). If I'd had more time in each location, I would have used the histogram features on my cameras to not have to do the teaking post, but when you're travelling ... well it's tough :)

I realize that the blues from crater lake look almost too blue, but they look like that in real life (once you've got a polarizer to cut out the unwanted reflections).

You do see some effects if I shoot on 18 mm with the polarizer, I tried to shoot closer to 24 mm if I feel it will make too much of a difference. Sometimes I don't really like the look of the wide angle with a specific sky part darkened...

Mike was shooting with a D70 with the Nikkor 18 - 70 mm lens, but no CP. The difference was huge around Crater Lake especially. I think Mike will be picking a CP up in the future :)

On some of the shots that are coming from the last day, I used what Picasa calls "warmify" to bring in a bit more soft natural colour as I didn't make it to the location at sunset (when the colours are naturally present). It's similar to using a white balance of 'cloudy' on a sunny day. Thought this should be subtle enough to not really be noticed.

Ok, that was probably way more than you were asking :)
We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

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Old 08-24-2007, 08:52 AM   #11
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Great report!

Did your buddy Tony make it back ok?
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Old 08-24-2007, 09:00 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Burl Swift
Great report!

Did your buddy Tony make it back ok?
Hey, thanks for asking!

I realized I didn't get that into the story. At Odell lake resort, I had zero cell coverage. I'd asked Tony to text me at the end of the day to let me know how everything went.

When we rolled into Chemult for breakfast I turned on my phone and finally had reception. Tony made it home though he got rained on hard in Seattle (that never happens, does it? ).

It was good to hear.

When I told Mike he said "Oh yeah, I saw him post on the VFR board last night." But he didn't tell me the bastard!

We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

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Old 08-24-2007, 01:24 PM   #13
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Day 6: Starting the trek home a.k.a. Navigating by the Sun alone

Monday night I got the folks at Odell lake to check on the weather for me. I'd been kicking around a couple of different routes to get home, a western route up the coast and over the Olympic peninsula and an eastern route ... well my detailed plan included "go east for a while, umm then north for a longer while". You see, I was fully prepared!

There were a couple of items I was looking for though. As you may remember (if you're not just flicking through looking at pictures ), I had to pass on taking pictures at the lava fields and I promised myself I would return. So that part of it was easy. But after that ... well, I did like the Yakima river valley and wanted to see it again. I'd just let the day play out.

The guy at the front desk told me he thought that I'd be better to go east, as the chance of showers was 20% vs. 30% on the coast.

Umm, 10% from the weatherman doesn't count for much in my book though.

I'd crashed early on Monday night and was awake and ready to face the day by 6:30. I packed everything, making sure I had both wet and hot weather options handy on top of the side bags so I could adjust as necessary.

By 7:30 I had checked out, the bike was packed and ready to go. There were clouds overhead but the sky to the west of the lake looked a bit brighter. I was hopeful that there would not be more rain at the lava fields today! My plan was to ride to Oakridge, have breakfast and then head out to face the potentially long ride today.

After a quick jog over 5000 feet I dropped down to below 3000 and things warmed up. I found a Chevron and the guy came out to "get me setup".

Aside: What is the deal with Oregon and gas? So, they have to pump your gas for you. Unless you are on a motorbike. In which case the pumpjockey has to come out, take your credit card and swipe it in the pump and hit the gas selector switch. Thanks for keeping me safe there folks. I'm sure that I've had plenty of problems with both in the past.

Now, this particular pumpjockey would have crushed any horse he sat on. Plus, he did smell all that good, let me tell you. Combine that with the fact that the only "good" option for breakfast seemed to be McDonalds or a place that advertised in very large letters about their "all you can eat" (which explains how said jockey got so large) and my desire for breakfast faded. Fast!

I decided to hit the road, check for food in West Fir (umm, nope) and keep riding. If the hunger got too bad, I had an emergency powerbar in my side bag. So off I went, leaving OR 58 behind and getting back onto FS 19. It had obviously rained the night before, steam was coming off the road and with the sun behind it at times I was riding blind. So I kept my speed down and crawled through the corners.

At one point I stopped to try and capture how hard it was to see...

That about covers it. If I hadn't been riding, it would have been quite pretty to look at! Here you can see the suns rays slicing through the fog in the background

Eventually I turned a bit and the road got better, though still wet and I started to have a bit of fun. Just past a bit of a climb I was carving a corner one way, as a green Cherokee was going the other way. Now it had big antennas on top and some logo thing on the side, but that's all I could see. A quick look in the rear view and he was already gone, I didn't hear any lights or see any sirens and kept it pinned. I really like this road, it twist and turns ... I wonder what the total corner count would be if you were to add it up.

Soon enough I was back at Cougar Dam. I took a couple of more pictures and stopped for a bit. I was the only person there and that's hard to beat when you want do just kick back and take it all in. But my hunger kept driving me on. It was coming onto 10 am and as I got back into Rainbow, the place where we'd 'found' some gas a few days before.

I stopped and grabbed a snickers, but didn't feel really satisfied. Truth in advertising my a$$.

A younger guy stopped and chatted, he was quite excited to see where I was from and how far I'd come. He and a friend did a multi day tour through OR and CA but he's thinking going to something other than his z750 as it hurts his back. Good guy, always nice to talk to someone who 'gets it' :)

I have to admit though that I had a mishap at the store. As I went to put my helmet on my right footpeg I got the chinstrap hooked and the helmet went rolling down the pavement. Bastard! I scratched the face shield. Whoops. Such is life.

Now having a bit of food in my stomach I decided to explore 242 up towards Sisters and the lava fields there. I knew the road was closed 11 miles in, but figured that would make for little traffic and good times.

The corners were banked (except for that one left hander that goes off camber at the eeeennnnnddddd ... wheew!) and I had a blast. Gorgeous rainforest.

I stopped at the gate to again enjoy the silence. You can see the steam coming off the road, everything was still plenty wet :)

A short hop back to the main highway and north towards the lava fields. I played leap frog with some trucks, cars and RV's (have I mentioned how much I hate RV's yet today? Well now I have!) and then... there they were.

What an absolutely alien landscape. Amazing.

I'm glad I came back. With the KLR I simply pulled through off the road and got a good 10 feet into the softer stuff to park. Safely away from traffic I was all set to explore. For this day, as I'd done yesterday, I kept my lowepro case hooked to the waist belt of my backpack. It was a little in the way, but I had quick and easy access to my DSLR without having to dig in my side bags everytime so it was worth it to deal with a bit more 'stuff' hanging onto me.

Just up the road and now, well some here say that the adventure begins when things stop going as planned. Hmm, lets see, I've got:
-no plan, check
-no map of either OR or WA, check
-no destination, check

Yup, I was good to go for the day. This also lead into my interaction with one of OR finest(?).

I was about 15 minutes further up the road and it forked leaving me looking at a bunch of number on signs. Behind me a trouper had pulled in in an undercover Dodge Magnum. I walked to 50 yard or so over (making sure to pull of my helmet ;) ) and asked him which road I'd take to Yakima
Me: Hey there, could you tell me which of those highways I'd take to get to Yakima
Trooper: Umm, well that one there takes you right back to I-5 and Salem
Me: *bit stunned* Oh, ok, thanks.

I obviously went the other way. I guess he knew how to operate the radar unit though, so he was good to go to protect the general public from ... well from going a few miles over the speed limit. Still, he was nice enough and tried to help.

You guessed it though, I headed east. Towards the town of sisters, over some much more well traveled roads. You could tell by all the damn LEO's everywhere. Yikes!

I took it fairly easy and enjoyed the scenery. Finally rolling into the town of Sisters, OR. I had planned to stop. My stomach told me that I was really time to get some food it was lunchtime! But everything looked so damn touristy that I couldn't do it. On the way out of town I saw a smaller highway off the left. I rode past, checked on the position of the sun, realized I should have taken it instead and did a quick U turn.

Yup, this felt better! I was heading dead east instead of south east. I knew that hwy 97 had to be east of me and I could ride that sucker all the way into Washington state and eventually to Yakima.

At one point I found a nice spot to pull over and take a few shots.

As I walked back to the bike I saw this (I didn't adjust the mirror, it was just like that)

And when I hopped on the bike to go and looked down to see how many clicks I'd done since getting gas ... well wouldn't you know it

I stopped right at 15,000 km. No lie. Some might call it a fluke. I knew I'd made the right decision turning this way and going east to get home in general.

On I went, encountering more law enforcement, but keeping the speed reasonable, until I got into the town of Redmont, OR and I had the biggest slice of pizza I'd ever seen. I threw a nice icecold cup of pepsi down my throat and voila, I felt refreshed and ready to go again. The cutie behind the counter even knew which way I'd have to go to get to Hwy 97 "Umm, just go straight and when it turns one way keep going, it takes you onto the highway". Easy on the eyes, got me food, knew the directions. Things were coming together.

So I'd superslab it today. I made up my mind to go photograph the Yakima canyon in the morning, which meant I had a fair bit of distance to cover.

Out onto the higway and into "Big Sky" country. Some may call it boring, but as I rode, I started to appreciate the landscape more and more. The "Sisters" mountains were just south west of me, the highway was dull but there were many birds of pray and some buttes to the right as I rode. I kept a solid pace, saw a bunch more LEO's with unfortunate folks pulled over. Was passed by a Toyota with a KLX in the back, from BC (hope you had a good time in OR boys). And saw a bunch of GS's going the other way.

Time passed, the mountains and buttes passed and then I saw a little sign, I did a U turn to get the shot:

I'd re-crossed the 45th parallel. Cool. And look at the clouds. It was like they were lining up to be photographed.

I hopped back on the highway, got up to 70 mph and ... the bike dies. What? Only 360 km on this tank? I guess she does use a bit more gas when you're pushing harder. A quick switch to reserve and she fires right back up, didn't eve drop all the way to the speed limit. I sure hope there is gas ahead. I thought I'd get closer to 400 km on the tank and had been looking at the distance signs to find gas in that range. I guess I'd have to move it up a touch.

No problem, just around the next turn and over the next rise, I stop.

The guy who 'got me setup' was a cool character. He was used to folks passing through and when I asked him if he had any clue how far Yakima was, "146 miles" was his response without so much a 1/2 second delay. I guess he got asked that one quite a bit. As I was taking pictures a woman and her daughter pulled in to ask how far to Portland.

Wait, Portland?

He stayed cool as a cucumber "I guess you're going the long way then." I had to try not to laugh. He got her pointed in the right direction eventually. They must have missed the turnoff to The Dalles a ways back. I hopped back on the road and kept it going north. There were so many places I wished I could have spent a day or two to photograph.

The abandoned gas stations and buildings.
The wind farm I passed.
The valley down to the Columbia.

I'd seen my first pronghorn antelope a little ways back. He was standing next to the side of the road waiting to cross at a break in the fence. I saw him only for an instance as I passed at around 70 mph, but he looked like a strung bow, ready to shoot across the road. So cool. No chance to turn and get a picture, he'd be long gone. Sometime the images you keep in your head are more important than the ones you 'capture on film'. That one will stay with me for quite a while I'm sure.


Eventually I crossed over into Washington. The reason the sky was so milky when we'd passed through eastern WA those days ago became pretty clear

Looks like they had a bunch of grass fires.

I took one long look back into eastern Oregon. I knew I'd have to return to that place and take more time. There was something about it that was holding on to me.

Even the beautiful clouds seemed to stay south of the river, like they were happy where they were and felt no need to cross over and deal with the hills and valleys on my road ahead. I checked my oil level again before pulling away. All day I'd debated topping up. It was at the low mark and had been there for a few days, perhaps even since I'd left Vancouver. I decided that if I happened to run into a motorcycle shop or an autoparts store I'd get a liter (that's a quart of those of you who missed the early conversion lesson ;) ). It wasn't to be though. I passed them by over the next few days. The killer was running fine, no reason to fix what isn't broken. Even at low, it's still enough. Rad fluid was right at low, oil was right at low, tires were down to the minimum pressure I felt comfortable with. And I'd just run out of water in my camebak. I had a good thing going and wasn't going to screw it up this late in the game.

I pulled into Yakima and had no problem getting a room at the Holiday Inn Express we stayed in the first night of our trip. As a matter of fact, Robert, the same guy who checked Tony and I in the first night, was once again working the front desk, though this time with a cute blond named Jessica. I came back again later to kid around with them. Good times.

I got the room right next to the one we were in ... what 6 days ... before. Walked over to DQ and got some food (the Red Lion was dead again, I checked). Got a 40 oz bottle of Corona at the 7-11 across the street along with some gator aid (Life, it's all about balance ). They didn't have any oil I'd be willing to put into the Killer, I did check.

Again I turned in early, before 10 pm I think. I tried to watch some TV but couldn't do it. Earlier I'd contemplated riding out to try and catch the sunset in the Yakima canyon, but I was tired.

Tomorrow would be a big if I was going to push all the way back to Vancouver, with yet another crossing of the Cascades (my 6th this trip?).

I set my alarm for 6:30 and turned in. Maybe tomorrow I'd sleep in my own bed again.

We must not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time. - TS Eliot

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Old 08-24-2007, 02:09 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by jeckyll

Himalayas on a Motorcycle - Photography book by Chanderjeet
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Old 08-24-2007, 03:29 PM   #15
thumper 8
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Joined: May 2007
Location: Vancouver, B.C.
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Originally Posted by Burl Swift
Great report!

Did your buddy Tony make it back ok?
Yep - I made it home OK. Took the slow road up I-5 on Sunday - although the pounding rain and the grooved pavement (for imminent repaving) and occasional hydroplaning on near flooded roads on the 405 (to detour around the I-5 construction) were challenging. Took about 5 hours.

Many thanks to the absolutely amazing ER folks at Legacy Salmon Creek Hospital ( ) - still no real need for painkillers and physio starts next Tuesday.

All is good - although I wonder if I would have met a different fate with my knobbies on instead on the more road oriented Michelin Seracs, which were great on the highway and in the rain, but bailed on me at the first sight of gravel... oh well.

2012 Triumph Tiger XC

Taking the road less travelled... and loving every minute of it!

All my bike pictures here:
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