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Old 10-05-2011, 09:43 PM   #1
Easy-Z OP
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Finding footsteps past……or just a good excuse to burn gasoline

A few months ago I posed a question about some possible war games that were held just before the US became involved in WWII. I had heard from my grandfather that he was in eastern Oregon at one point early in his Army career before heading to England to go to the beach, so to speak. I thought it was more likely that it was in Washington, since he was at Ft. Lewis for some time but I wanted to know more. I was pointed toward a Wikipedia entry. Say what you want about Wiki, it was a great resource as I became more interested in what went on, and the desire to visit some of these places. I also had some places that I wanted to visit that I somehow had passed by before.

I planned to do the trip alone, but as I discussed it at a Thursday meetup I found an interested party. Flyosh had some days off from work and was thinking about a ride so he went along. Always better to have company!

First things first. On the way out I wanted to ride McKenzie Pass, OR-242. Somehow I have never done it before. This is a perfect twisting snake of a road through the ferns and firs. At the top is a large lava field.





In reading the Wikipedia article, I found that the only surviving structure from the war games in 1943 was the officer’s mess hall at Camp Abbott, which is now the Great Hall at Sunriver resort. I asked Grandpa about it and he said he was never at Camp Abbott, but since it’s the only remaining structure from that time I wanted to visit. Seems pretty opulent for military.










The first guests were arriving for a wedding and the motorcycle heathens got some funny looks.


Don’t for a second think that I didn’t want to roost the lawn on the way out.


We then headed south and east toward Fort Rock. I had ridden past Fort Rock and looked at it from a distance a handful of times but I wanted to get a closer look.




There’s also an old town site right next to the current town.






We camped down 15 miles of gravel road on BLM land just outside town.




It got dark


And then it got cold. Which was fun because we couldn’t have a fire.


But in the morning it warmed up quickly and we were on our way.


More…..
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:47 PM   #2
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On the way back to town was a geological site that was worth the visit. It is imaginatively called Crack in the Ground.


Josh is down there somewhere to give some perspective. It’s deep, and very long.


We then headed to town for some breakfast. In a small town like this a couple of heathen motorcyclists creates quite a stir. The lone old prospector-looking man sitting on the patio of the restaurant commented, “I hope you guys have your earmuffs.” Later someone inside asked where we were headed. When I told him we’d be doing the Steens Loop he said that’s where he grew up. His parents were the last people to live in the Riddle Brothers ranch on the south loop road and that was where he grew up. The lady at the table also told me that the aspens were starting to change up there. Cool! But that was for the next day.

Today we were headed for Wagontire. In my short conversation with Grandpa about his time here he said the only thing he remembered was a town called Wagontire. In the Wiki article it talks about the town being the last “battle” site of the maneuvers, so I can guess that that’s the reason why it’s the only thing he remembers - because it was the last place he was. Wagontire never grew much, and was always a simple gas stop with nothing more. It’s only been a couple of years since it completely closed down and there’s no one left. There are a couple of RV’s on the site so I guess someone lives there, but basically it’s a ghost town.
















There is an airstrip across the street. It is dirt, but now is completely overgrown with grass and sagebrush. Apparently there was once a flight chartered for France that had to make an emergency landing so they started calling it Wagontire “International” Airport. Not long ago, planes would land here and taxi across US-395 to fill up at the gas station.




We left and headed toward Hart Mountain. I have been here a couple of times now, the last time was just this past spring. I love the views on the way up and it is a National Wildlife Refuge, specifically antelope refuge. On the way to Poker Jim Ridge we passed by Flagstaff Lake. The ducks didn’t like me riding past them.




I have seen antelope there all three times I’ve been. This time I also saw a couple of coyotes off on the prairie.





Lots of dusty roads.


We headed out the east side of the refuge down 40 miles of gravel to OR-205. When we got to the pavement it was decision time. We were less than 10 miles from Frenchglen but I knew that the gas station is sometimes open, sometimes not. If they are open sometimes they don’t have gas. We were planning on doing the entire Steens loop and if we didn’t get gas we would probably make it back to Frenchglen but maybe not to the Narrows or Burns. We decided to go with the sure thing and head down to Fields for gas. We then turned right around and came back north to the Steens loop.

Out here, better safe than sorry. Out here, gas is scarce, towns are scarce, people are scarce. On these highways you give the “motorcycle wave” to other passing cars because you haven’t seen another one for 45 minutes. It’s that vast, and that’s exactly why I love it out here.

We pulled into the South Steens campground with plenty of daylight to spare and scavenged for some campfire wood. The place was almost full on a Sunday night with hunters, but they went to bed early and were all gone early in the morning.


More…
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Old 10-05-2011, 09:51 PM   #3
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Today, the Steens loop! I have wanted to do this for years, but the handful of times I’ve been here it was still early in the summer. The road is typically not open until early July because of the snow pack, this year was even later. I was stoked to finally be riding it, and I can’t wait to do it again.




Lots of big gorges to look down into.


They’re doing some work on the road and there was a constant convoy of trucks moving earth this way and that, but it was never too much of a big deal.


Rocky section being worked on.


Josh heads up to the summit.






Still water in the Alvord.













During our view-intense pee break my bike was blown over by the wind. No pics. But it did get the 3 vulnerable items, a broken break lever (just the tip), a broken hand guard and a broken turn signal. Duct tape to the rescue!


On the way back down we finally got to see the aspens. Note to self: next trip, stay in the North Steens campground. Beauty!








The Loop finishes in Frenchglen so we stopped for lunch at the Hotel. We mapped out our route and figured out what time we would be home if we bombed it from here. Josh had to work the next morning but I was thinking about staying out one more night. My decision was made when the weather turned from 75 and sunny in Burns to 55 and blustery 60 miles west. I might as well tough it out in the weather and get home. The last 3 hours was in solid rain all the way from Bend.

There was one more stop though. One of the “battle” sites mentioned in the Wiki article is Brothers. This is also just another wide spot in the road, but it now has a rest stop and across the street is a DOT yard with plenty of cinder ready to spread on the roads in the upcoming winter.




I wanted to spend more time here but as I said, the weather was turning bad and I wanted to get home. There wasn’t much there to see anyway. So there you have it. A very nice little 3 day weekend in Oregon in October. It doesn’t get much better.
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Old 10-05-2011, 10:30 PM   #4
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Enjoyed your trip

Easy-Z , that was a nice trip. I've been to several of the places, but you strung them all together, making for a great ride. Nice to see the antelope too.

Glad you had the duct tape along.

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Old 10-06-2011, 03:19 AM   #5
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Nice report. You have the 'get some foreground to make it more interesting' photo eye down. Lovely images!

I trucked the li'l KLX down that way a few weeks back and base camped at Fields. Ticked off a bucket list entry with a nekkid-except-for-boots dusk ride on the playa (no pics ), lolled for hours in the springs and generally farted around the foothills. The locals were great - time to talk and happy to see another soul. The icing on the cake was meeting remarksman and crazybrit after they rolled into Fields late one night to bivouac off the TAT .
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Old 10-06-2011, 05:13 AM   #6
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WOW Zac, that's some good stuff there. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 10-06-2011, 06:52 AM   #7
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Dammit Eazy-Z,....,
Now I feel gotta go that way again.
I passed by the 395 to Wagontire, I passed by the sign to Crack in the Ground and Hole in the Ground.
Now I gotta go see them. And the other 50 things I missed.

I saw plenty of cool stuff for THAT trip, and got to ride at least the North side up to the Steens.
Wow. Steens gorges are awesome. Your pic's do some justice to them, that is hard to capture.
There is something,.... romantic? about FrenchGlen, It would be a great area to retire, in another life.
But I only saw one lousy antelope's ass as it was running away on Hart Mtn.

BTW. You shoulda roosted some grass onto the grill of that BMW SUV.
I wouldn't have done it either, but I would have enjoyed it, if you had.



.
Yesterday, I had to set up an upscale bar in downtown Hood River for a slide show presentation.
They were showing pictures of their trip to some exotic place, some "impressive" place they went.
They stayed in nice hotels and spent lots of money. They took an Eco-Tour and saved the world.
They took lots of pictures to prove to their friends that they could afford to do all that.
Lots of Audis, Subaru Wagons, Prius's, and Volkswagon Eurovans were outside.
Lots of "Image" of "Outdoorsy".

Now, if I seem a bit jealous about what they could afford to do, it may be true.
But,...,... I'd be willing to bet that few of these people have ever seen any of the things in your RR.
Or the beautiful Punchbowl Falls, just 15 minutes outside of Hood River.
Or Flag Point Lookout, and the 15-mile Creek Canyon just below it, just 1 hour from where they live.
These things are not on the way to the airport to go and see somewhere else.
I really just wanna go to all the places I see in other NWers ADV RRs. Thanks for sharing yours.
..........Oregon First !!!!!
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:53 AM   #8
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Nice report looks like a fun trip.
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Old 10-06-2011, 07:59 AM   #9
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My last few work days have been kind of stressful so seeing your ride report of my favorite part of Oregon has reminded me of the great times I have had this past summer on my two trips. Thanks! I will go off to work today a lot less stressed
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Old 10-06-2011, 08:07 AM   #10
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Good stuff Zac
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Old 10-06-2011, 10:17 AM   #11
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Awsome!!
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Old 10-06-2011, 11:30 AM   #12
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Very cool area, nice pictures. I like the old history stuff.
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Old 10-07-2011, 12:02 AM   #13
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Thanks for sharing the narrative and pix. We were down there in 2010 and rode the length of 205 with a stop at Fields. You're spot on about how infrequent other traffic is on the roads. We took the White Horse Ranch Road over to US95 and that was 50 plus miles of gravel. I would have loved to have made the Steens loop on my d/s bike. It's on my list.
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Old 10-09-2011, 12:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Easy-Z View Post
Today, the Steens loop! I have wanted to do this for years, but the handful of times I’ve been here it was still early in the summer. The road is typically not open until early July because of the snow pack, this year was even later. I was stoked to finally be riding it, and I can’t wait to do it again.




Lots of big gorges to look down into.


They’re doing some work on the road and there was a constant convoy of trucks moving earth this way and that, but it was never too much of a big deal.


Rocky section being worked on.


Josh heads up to the summit.






Still water in the Alvord.













During our view-intense pee break my bike was blown over by the wind. No pics. But it did get the 3 vulnerable items, a broken break lever (just the tip), a broken hand guard and a broken turn signal. Duct tape to the rescue!


On the way back down we finally got to see the aspens. Note to self: next trip, stay in the North Steens campground. Beauty!








The Loop finishes in Frenchglen so we stopped for lunch at the Hotel. We mapped out our route and figured out what time we would be home if we bombed it from here. Josh had to work the next morning but I was thinking about staying out one more night. My decision was made when the weather turned from 75 and sunny in Burns to 55 and blustery 60 miles west. I might as well tough it out in the weather and get home. The last 3 hours was in solid rain all the way from Bend.

There was one more stop though. One of the “battle” sites mentioned in the Wiki article is Brothers. This is also just another wide spot in the road, but it now has a rest stop and across the street is a DOT yard with plenty of cinder ready to spread on the roads in the upcoming winter.




I wanted to spend more time here but as I said, the weather was turning bad and I wanted to get home. There wasn’t much there to see anyway. So there you have it. A very nice little 3 day weekend in Oregon in October. It doesn’t get much better.
Nice RR "Z." Just did the Steens Loop myself. It was great!
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Old 11-11-2011, 09:27 AM   #15
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Bump. This was in yesterday's Grand Rapids press about my grandparents.

In the last paragraph, the great-grandchild on the way in my brother's. And I was one of the 22 at the First Wok meetup last week.

http://www.mlive.com/ada-cascade/ind...even_deca.html
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