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Old 05-26-2014, 02:57 PM   #1
Xlrrp OP
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Joined: Mar 2014
Location: Washougal, WA
Oddometer: 20
Washougal, WA to Lake Chelan, WA- Camping


After turning 50, I decided I needed to get out of my comfort zone and start doing some things I had always wanted to do, but couldn't because life continued to get in the way. Family, job, chores, etc. I could always find a reason to not do a motorcycle camping trip. In 2005, my wife and I sold everything and moved from Santa Rosa, CA to Washougal, WA (she has family here). It was a big change in our life but actually worked out for the best. At the time, it did not seem to me to be a good idea because I had to get rid of my Jeep Rubicon, Harley 1200 Sportster and Suzuki DR650. Needless to say, I was not thrilled!

Anyway, after being up here for nine years I know it was the right choice. It's a great place to raise a family, we have three wonderful kids (oldest is going to WSU in Pullman this fall) and good jobs. We live in the country away from the hectic city. Life is good! So, last year I ended up getting the itch to get back into motorcycling (I blame it on the "Long Way Round" series because I bought a bike shortly after watching it). I had a $3000 budget. Unsure of what I could get for that much or even what kind of bike I wanted, I started searching. At one point, I had decided to finance something much more expensive (Harley Electra Glide) but then I found the bike I ended up buying (2004 FZ-6 in great condition).

I was able to talk the seller down to $2400 and throw in a tank bag, tail bag and Shoei helmet. That left some extra money in the budget for "stuff". I have never wanted a sport bike before, but the deal was too good to pass up. Now that I've had it for awhile, I couldn't be happier. I've slowly added things to make the bike more comfortable and have used it to commute to work all winter.

While I did have major concerns about commuting in Portland, OR traffic and riding on I-205/I-5, I decided to give it a shot. Can't be any more dangerous than jumping out of a perfectly good airplane or scuba diving in the Red Triangle of CA where Great White's live..... Right? All joking aside, I learned that is it much more dangerous. I lived in Kuwait for three years and actually think the Kuwaiti's drive better (safer) except for when they back up on freeways after missing their exit (in traffic lanes.... weird going 70mph and seeing backup lights coming towards you)!

I rode for years and know the typical dangers to motorcycle riders, but I have to say that smartphones were not something I was prepared for. Most drivers are screwing around on their phones and paying no attention to what is happening around them. As they say on the Gold Rush show, this is a "game changer". That leads us to now. I decided to do a two day camping trip with the PNWRiders (2014 East meets West Campout) at Lake Chelan, WA. It's a place I've never been and I'll be with people I've never met. Way outside my comfort zone.

I will be departing around 0900hrs this Friday on what should be roughly a six hour trip, give or take. Besides not having gone motorcycle camping since 1982 (maybe 83), I have also not been on a solo ride of any significance other than 30 miles to/from work. The "what ifs" started entering my thought process and I realized I cannot be prepared for everything that could possibly happen. Not a feeling I like having but once I accepted it, the pre-trip stress dropped a number of notches.

Today I decided to pack the bike instead of waiting til Thursday night. I have been following GO SUTTO's cross country trip (Wandering the US on a V-Strom) on this site and liked his cooking kit. I ended up buying the same thing (MSR pocket rocket w/GSI Pinnacle Dualist cook set). I am also following MASTODON on his cross country trip (Through A Bug-Splattered Helmet: A Solo Ride Across America) and between the two of them, got ideas on how to secure my gear, what to bring and other nuggets of valuable information. I will also be staying off sand/dirt after seeing the issues Mastodon's Triumph had on these surfaces.

For camping gear, I decided to get quality stuff. Using Ebay and being patient, I think I did pretty good on the deals and after about four months, I had what I needed. I went with REI Big Anges brand as the reviews were favorable (Lynx 2 tent/footprint, Grouse Mountain down sleeping bag, Q-Core SL insulated sleeping pad and Air Core pillow). I had added a cheap Ebay top box (was only $55 or so) and installed it on a Shad top box mount. All my camping gear (except the GSI cook set) listed above fit into the top box and will remain dry and secure. Not only that, but I was able to stuff in a Joey camp chair and a Motopump Mini Pro inflator/tire plug kit too! That top box is enormous....

I ran out of gas once on a bridge.... it sucked and was operator error. The previous owner told me not to go more than 200 miles without fueling up. At 206 miles, it ran out (he was off by six miles)! The view of Mount Hood from the middle of the I-205 bridge between OR/WA was awesome, but I do not want to experience this again so I added additional fuel just in case. I have two 30 ounce MSR fuel bottles that hold almost .5 gallons of gas. I mounted them in tractor owners manual tubes (lots of info on this site..... where to get them, how to mount them, etc.). Works great and I hope the only reason I need them is to help out someone else who runs out of fuel :)

I had purchased a set of cheap no name saddle bags (yep, from Ebay) and with the addition of the fuel bottles, they no longer fit as intended. Today I modified them so each one mounts by itself around the fuel bottle (also around the grab handle and Shad top box mount). They are mounted using stainless hardware and wing nuts to quickly remove them. Looks goofy, but it works and I know the saddle bags will not hit the tire, exhaust or fall off. One saddle bag is full of food and the other is full of my clothing. I also used the soft tail bag (came with the bike) and put misc. stuff in it. In the magnetic tank bag (also came with the bike), I added a first aid kit, map, pen light, lighter, knife and human/snake/zombie/mountain lion/bear deterrent (in that order ..... and yes, I do have a permit).

The last few things will be my Iphone 5 to navigate using a GPS app (CoPilot). I'll have paper maps too. I found a cool handle bar mount from England that also includes a charger (Ebay..... everything's from Ebay). It's weather proof and with my Sena 10 blue tooth, I can hear turn by turn directions and also listen to my tunes. Speaking of tunes..... Billy Joel, Bon Jovi, ELO, Dire Straights, Cheap Trick, Katy Perry, Ke$ha, The Kinks, Soul Asylum, Roxette, Pink, Bruce Springsteen, Montgomery Gentry, Missing Persons and a bunch more are on my playlist.

I decided to give a Camelbak a try too. One thing I learned over the years is hydrate or die! I like the idea of being able to drink while I'm riding and I hope having it on my back is not uncomfortable. If it is, I'll lash it to my tank bag or something and use it that way.

So, four days to departure. For many of you on here this is a routine trip not worth mentioning, but since I have not done anything like in 30+ years I'm treating it like it is an expedition. This is also a shake down for a nine day WA to CA trip that I will be doing in August (Bend, Crater Lake, Trinity, Mendocino County going down and the CA/OR/WA coast on the way up). For those of you who have posted ride reports on here (or who are in the middle of a ride) I cannot thank you enough. I've learned much from your adventures not to mention the motivation you have given me to do this and to dream of longer trips.

I will try to take some photos and post some info during the trip, but it may end up being afterwards. I'm pretty sure I will not have access to Wifi and may not have cell service there. This will be my first ride report and I will do my best to make it entertaining (but not too entertaining at my expense)!

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Old 05-26-2014, 05:10 PM   #2
Gnarly Adventurer
Joined: Jan 2014
Location: Free State Wyoming
Oddometer: 425
It was a big change in our life but actually worked out for the best. At the time, it did not seem to me to be a good idea because I had to get rid of my Jeep Rubicon, Harley 1200 Sportster and Suzuki DR650. Needless to say, I was not thrilled!
You had bad advice , a Ruby and a DR should be issued at birth in Washougal WA. ...

Carry on, love that country. Look up Browns Park...............great 4X4 trails!!
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Old 06-01-2014, 09:49 PM   #3
Xlrrp OP
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Joined: Mar 2014
Location: Washougal, WA
Oddometer: 20
So, best laid plans of mice and men....... My first trip report is not going to be as I had planned. It's very lame actually!

Instead of riding solo, I met up with another member of the PNWRiders forum in Camas and we rode together. He ended up leading as he knew the route well and had been in that area before.

Anyway, we made good time. I mean.... really good time! On the downside, I missed many excellent photo ops and notes of the trip. We made very few stops and only for fuel and food. I think we departed Camas at 7:45am and I believe we pulled into camp before 3pm. That includes a sit down lunch stop and I believe three fuel stops (I wanted to fuel up no more than 150-175 miles or so). Did I mention that we made good time?

The campout was awesome. I met a number of really nice people, hung out in various camps and basically just relaxed and enjoyed the area. The weather was perfect. I am so glad I decided to attend the PNWRiders 2014 East meets West Campout!

Friday- Arrived in camp and set up. The other member I rode with didn't have reservations until the next day so he stayed in my site in a hammock (that he plans to return to REI). For dinner I made a rice/chicken concoction that was edible but not great.

I met a number of the other forum members and hung out with the group until after 11pm (a visit from an angry park ranger due to the noise (and language being used) made me decide it was time to hit the fart sack in my own camp).

I didn't sleep well.... The REI Lynx Pass 2 tent worked great. Easy to set up, lots of room and well made. My Big Anges Grouse Mountain bag was also nice and comfortable. I made the mistake of not having enough air in my air mattress and too much air in the pillow.

Saturday- Breakfast was instant oatmeal. Yuck! I don't even like oatmeal. I also had some type of instant coffee mix stuff (chocolate flavored). I shared my oatmeal with a friendly Marmot that came over and I realized the coffee wasn't cutting it.

My new friend (not the Marmot, the guy from the forum) and I rode into the small town of Chelan and had a nice breakfast at the Riverwalk Café. I had strawberry waffles and bacon.... and lots of coffee :) Much better and I recommend it if you are in the area.

We had planned to ride with another couple to the town of Omak for lunch (Corner Bistro with high Yelp ratings). We got back to camp but they had already left. We headed to Omak quickly and beat them by about ten minutes (they took a different route). We had a nice lunch and followed them on their Sportster back to camp on some twisty country roads. Lots of fun (plus I didn't have the weight of all the camping gear and my bike felt normal again).

Had a burger and fries that night from the park concession stand which was surprisingly okay. After two rum and cokes and hanging out with the group again at a different campsite (confuse the rangers if they responded again for noise..... but they didn't). At ten(ish) I climbed into my tent. My nights sleep was much better. I wore ear plugs, put more air in the mattress and took some out of the pillow. All in all, it was a nice day.

Sunday (today)- I woke up at 5am, which is unusual for me. After a shower I tried breaking down camp as quietly as possible. My riding partner woke up, emerged from his hammock/tent thing (kinda like a cocoon) and we packed up and left around six or so. First sharp turn out of the park a herd of six or more deer were in the road as we rounded the turn. Luckily, they moved and we were not moving very fast. Cold road, tires and riders.

We had a nice breakfast somewhere. Wish I could recall the town or restaurants name, but I'm beat and can't. It was a great way to fuel up for the ride (me, not my bike).

Had an uneventful ride to Hwy 14 with a couple stops for photos and fuel. Once we hit the Gouge, the wind was really strong. Lots of people wind surfing, but riding in it was not fun. Really took it's toll on me and once I got home I ended up taking a long nap.

I had a great time, met some really wonderful people and rode longer in the saddle and more miles than I had ever done before. I learned a lot from the trip. It was a little over 600 miles round trip with another 200 thrown in with all the running around I did while at camp.

After Action Review (or Lessons Learned)

* My new Yamaha gel comfort seat isn't! It's a tiny bit better than the stock saddle, but not by much. My butt was really hurting after 125 miles. I did some squirming around and standing up on the bike. Once at the camp, the shorter rides were fine. I did bring an Airhawk seat cushion and used it on the return trip. What a difference. I will be using it on future long rides.

* If riding with someone, make sure you both have the same goals. I enjoyed the company very much, but my trip should have taken a few more hours as I had planned to do a number of stops for photo ops and to explore. I will do a solo long trip in the future and see if I enjoy it better.

* I packed way too much crap! My bike was weighed down and much of the stuff I didn't even use. I need to really evaluate what is needed and what isn't. On the return trip I packed differently (trying to get the weight in my saddle bags and not my top box). My steering felt like lead and at slow speeds I could barely turn the bike. At the first fuel stop, I put it back the way I had it on the first leg of the trip and it was tolerable.

* Camp food that is carried on a motorcycle is not for me. For future trips, I think I will invest in a good coffee making device and that's it. I will eat at nearby restaurants. I'm not a food snob, but there is only so much you can carry on a bike. I do plan to get a tiny grill thing that goes over the fire so I can cook a steak if I decided to on a camping trip...

* I wore a camelbak on the way there and the straps really dug into my shoulders and it was no fun. I decided not to use it on the way back and I was much more comfortable.

* I rigged up some goofy cheap Ebay saddle bags over my tubes that hold my extra fuel. They stuck out too much and I didn't like the way they would shift in turns. I am looking into hard bags.

* I'm pretty convinced that I want to stick with a sport touring bike as I had a really good time in the turns and enjoyed the power when passing. An FJR 1300 is looking pretty nice right about now.

Time to hit the sack. I'm very glad I took tomorrow off in order to recover. I feel like I'm still on the bike. Anyway, I'll try to add a couple photos tomorrow (I only have a couple) and sorry the report was not better.

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Old 06-01-2014, 10:00 PM   #4
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Joined: Dec 2013
Location: San Diego Riverbed
Oddometer: 53
Sounds a lot like my first forays into sport/touring. Right now I'm a bit shy of halfway from San Diego to Anchorage. Definitely pushing my comfort zone but it's fun! Hard bags and better wind protection help a ton when piling on miles.

Today was great: campsite by Mt. St. Helens to Abbotsford BC by way of Port Townsend and Whidbey Island.

Keep riding, keep experimenting and keep having fun!
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Old 06-02-2014, 01:01 AM   #5
Journey not Destination
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Joined: Sep 2003
Location: Port of the Gasparilla
Oddometer: 1,176
I enjoyed the RR. Discovery learning is always the most interesting read.

Looking forward to the pics.
The Adventure Continues
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