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Old 06-06-2014, 12:10 AM   #1
DustyRags OP
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Dusty Does Oregon!

It occurred to me today that my Oregon trip in a couple of weeks is going to be the longest trip I've ever done by motorcycle. Like, more than three times longer than the longest one so far.

It's also gonna be the longest solo roadtrip of any sort I've ever done.

That kinda freaked me out a bit.




I'm not the sort to freak out for long, though, so I unpacked the goodie box from Amazon. All sorts of nifty stuff in there, like an oh-so-comfy ATV seat pad for those long days in the saddle, a flat repair kit I hope I'll never need, and a dry bag so I can keep you hooligans updated from the road without frying my precious electrostatic leash in the Oregon rain.

Oh, yeah, I'm going to Oregon. PDX, to be exact. I was going to shoot for Seattle and a nice-n-neat 2,000 miles, but then my youngest brother had the gall of graduating the weekend I'm leaving so I'm shoehorning in a quick trip to Santa Cruz and bumping my bump-off by 36 hours.

I *might* also have a buddy on on the infamous R6, but his work is miraculously exploding even faster than mine, so we'll see if that pans out.

Anyhoo, this is my bike: the venerable Honda Nighthhawk 750. It's got a year, but who cares, they're all the same. It's not a red year, that's all I'll say, I think some PO swapped out the tins for red ones.



I think it's quite the respectable machine, really. It's got some lower bars on it right now, and I'm thinking about throwing the bar-end mirrors back on it to give me some extra width on the behind-the-back vision. Or maybe some sort of lever protector or bar-end weight or something to fill the holes in the ends of the grips so the Oregon rain doesn't run down inside them.

Other than that, it's getting a new back tire on Saturday, fresh oil and a carb sync next week, and who knows, I might even get frisky and hose it off.

I'm thinking of doing a route kinda like this to PDX, and then I wanna ride down the coast on the way back. Probably stop overnight in Lassen and Crater Lake, a couple of nights with friends in PDX, and then 4 days down the 1 back home. Not much compared to some of the insaniacs in this nuthouse, but then we can't all be riding hard-tails down the Road of Bones, can we? I figure 1,600 miles in a week on a 15 year old air-cooled, carbed bike may not be too crazy, but it should be enough to keep the water cooler crowd at the office busy for a while.

Bug-out date is set for Sunday in a week (June 15), and I gotta be back at my desk on Monday 8 days later.

Ready, set, go!

EDIT! I finally get my ass on the road in post #14.

DustyRags screwed with this post 07-01-2014 at 12:26 PM
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Old 06-06-2014, 01:38 AM   #2
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Have a good trip.
I've made that trip several times coming and going in a long day, well over a thousand miles one way since my destination from Oregon was San Diego County.
Leave by 4:00 am and you can make it there a little while after dark in the summer. It's always easier going from south to north because going the other way means dealing with L.A. and Orange County at the end of a long day. At least you can lane split in the congested areas of CA. and that really helps in making good time.
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Old 06-06-2014, 06:08 AM   #3
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Good luck on the trip.Iam in for the read.
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Old 06-06-2014, 10:25 AM   #4
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Thanks, folks!

Tons, I'm doing 3 days up and 4 down, with a day in Portland in between. Should be nice days, with enough saddle time to really find the groove, but not so much that it becomes hugely painful. Someday, the Iron Butt will happen. But not this trip.
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Old 06-06-2014, 04:52 PM   #5
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The weather is perfect right now in Portlandia, check out the food cart areas if you get a chance for some great eats. Yelp them for directions. Safe travels.
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Old 06-06-2014, 05:37 PM   #6
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I will! I'll also have about five local guides that know food, and will try to make the Tuesday night bike night in Beaverton.
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Old 06-07-2014, 10:34 PM   #7
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OK! Avon Roadrider went on the rear end of Ze Nighthawk this morning! Just waiting on the sync gauges, and then I can throw some new o-rings in between the carbs and sync them. I also picked up a crush washer, so I can change my oil. We're chugging right along!

Of course, while I did all that, and was waiting for the tire to be changed, I made a huge mistake.

I sat on a CB1100. Nice bike.

Then I sat on a Yamaha Bolt. Cute. I'd ride that. Nice to see a cruiser with mid controls.

Then... then I sat on a Honda CB500F. Man, THIS is the ergos I've been looking for! If I could get this exact bike with the power of my NH, I'd be in heaven. Unfortunately, the 49 HP and 30-odd ft-lbs of torque just won't do for the sort of slab work I inevitably get stuck with. But man... what a sweet, sweet machine. I sat on the CBR500R too, and the CB500X, AND the NC700, but none of them felt made for me like the 500R did. I might have to just accept a drop in HP, get that for my next bike, and acquire and old naked Goldwing for distance work. 'Cause, damn!

Anyhow, then it was a birthday party (I'm 32! Woo! Time to go scare the kids with my walker!), and now i'm happily tippled and looking to scrub in the new tire tomorrow.

Things commence apace.
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Old 06-11-2014, 12:13 AM   #8
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Getting closer every day now... I picked up a stack of maps from AAA on the way home from getting the tire changed. Good times there. Did you know that AAA has maps with every. single. campground. listed? I grabbed one for NorCal (say, SF Bay Area and up) and it's got hundreds. State Parks, National Parks, State Rec Areas, Forest Service, private, everything. Pure gold.

And then the sync gauges came in. In the past, I've always made oil manometers, but I've got a little bit more cash on hand these days (meaning: any at all), and I'm sick of messing with oil, so I gave in and ordered a set. Came with a fuel bottle and everything. Look kinda like this...





Anyhow, then I got an invite to go see A Raisin In The Sun at Cal Shakes tonight, so I spent last night tearing the carbs out of the bike, pulling them apart and replacing the leaky o-rings in between them, and putting them back. Took most of the evening, but I'm really glad I did that- some of them had actually torn already, and others literally crumbled in my hands. I have no idea how these things weren't leaking like a French spy. I really shoulda done that when I rebuilt the carbs last fall...



Anyhow, after I threw in that emergency o-ring three weeks ago, the bike had been idling a bit rough- makes sense, the sync was mucked up. So it was with some trepidation I fired the old beast up tonight, but as soon as fuel flowed it fired and chugged along just fine. It sounds perfect. I'll still stick the gauges on there, but I suspect it won't need it. Sweet!

And then I ran out the Cal Shakes, stopped to ask about parking, went to do a paddle foot u-turn on the crazy steep driveway, didn't get the foot down far enough and dropped the bike. Arg. But the boots did the job, and my foot was fine. Bike was fine too, except for a tiny little scuff on the left engine cover and this...



So now I gotta get a new one of those before I leave. I might grab a couple of spare levers just to have on hand...

Anyhow, other than that little mishap, the bike is almost good to go. I need to sync it (maybe 15 minutes- I'm quick at that), and change the oil and change out that flippin' lever, and we're good to go!
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Old 06-18-2014, 01:09 AM   #9
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Well, I'm in Oregon! Saw Mt Lassen, did not see Crater Lake but did low side the bike in a freak snowstorm. Massive wind in the Columbia river gorge, I have new handguards (see: wind; rain; snow), and now I'm in a warm bed with a cat that's mad I'm not petting it.

I'll do a proper write up later, but for now you can find a lot of pictures at Instagram.com/dustyrags
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Old 06-18-2014, 08:05 PM   #10
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STUCK IN PORTLAND! I have a busted fork seal. I already sourced a new set of seals, but need a torque wrench, 27mm socket, and work space. Is there a bike collective or similar around here I can borrow shop space and maybe some tools at?
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Old 06-19-2014, 10:12 AM   #11
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Sorted! I tracked down shop space, should be all good to go. :)


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Old 06-20-2014, 08:12 PM   #12
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Just passed a bike like you

I just headed from Oregon to Washington, thought I saw a loaded down red Honda CB... Can't remember where, I was along Rt. 1, then 101. I'm in Port Angeles, WA now, headed over to Montana.
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Old 06-21-2014, 12:03 AM   #13
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I hit the 101 at Astoria about 1:30 today (Friday), and am near Florence, OR, in the dunes now. Red bike, black fly screen, red/black jacket, gray pants and white helmet?

In other news, the fork seals held up great, so I'm 1/3 of the way home home. Meeting a friend from Oakland near Fort Brag tomorrow, and then riding home together on Sunday. Then, stories and pictures.

You can also see my pics now, at Instagram.com/DustyRags. You don't need to be a member to see them.


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Old 07-01-2014, 12:05 PM   #14
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OK! It's been way too long, but let's get this RR started! Life has been interesting since I got back, but I still have a job for now, so that's something.

I was gonna leave town on Friday night and crash with friends in Sackatomatoes, but that got foiled by my youngest brother spending four years getting obliterated in Santa Cruz, and graduating Saturday morning. So I left Sunday morning instead.

Here's my starting milage:



I like to keep little records like that. Fresh oil, lubed chain, synced carbs, new tire, etc, etc. Off we go.

I still had to pass THROUGH Sac, so I figured I'd take the River Road out there through the Sacramento River Delta, and lemme tellya, it's worth it. A winding levee road through the country, similar to what I've seen of the South (well, pictures, anyhow- never been there)- farms, sleepy town, flat fields on one side and the river trundling along on the other. Good riding. Also quite warm and muggy. I considered bringing my perf leather, but went with a waterproof touring jacket instead- boy, was I starting to regret that.

And it got worse through Sacramento- I stopped for lunch, and was instantly bathed in sweat. No liner, all the vents open, long-sleeve wicking top, and it was tolerable while I kept moving. Cold drink, sandwich, and then back on the road.

I tried to find the Garden Highway, but it's not well signed and my map wasn't very good about in-close info, but I finally found it, and it's another gorgeous road. Quite a few Harleys out this way, winding road along the levee and the fields, decent for the most part although in some bits the pavement downright stunk. I mean, it was bad. Like, 45 miles and hour bad.

I took it at 65.

I rode the Garden Highway along the Sacramento all the way into Chico, and stopped for gas. It was seriously hot now.



Then straight roads, bla de bla, nothing fancy, until I got up into the mountains. Finally, out of the valley for good! The air cooled down, the roads got windy (and better maintained!), and I could start leaving the stupid behind. Every trip, it always takes me a few hours to a day to forget all the stupid, all the work bullshit, and the home life bullshit, and the stupid drama with friends bullshit and god knows what else. Hitting the mountains really helped with that. A nice change of scenery and mind (and temperature).

Then I hit Lassen. Not the mountain proper, but the park.

I got off the road, propped the kick stand into the gravel, boosted myself off the bike and drank deep of fresh air, cool grass, and the mountain sky. On the road, finally!

A couple of locals came around in a truck to take the dogs for a walk. They asked where I was from?

-Oakland.

Where to?

-Oakland, by way of Portland.

Long way to go.

I suppose. It was getting late (a recurring theme in this trip), so I hustled. 15 minutes later I stopped to put in my jacket liner, and then to get out my thicket gloves and put a sweater on. The temperature was falling like a rock.

Then I found Lassen National Park (rather than the state forest or whatever the rest was).



Unfortunately, being a Bay Area-dweller, I never carry cash. And my checkbook was in my work bag at home. So how do you pay the entry fee when there's nobody at the kiosk?

Well, I had shower and laundry quarters, so they got $5 in quarters. I'm glad this was a cheap one- some of the other parks cost as much as $18!

I kept riding. Lassen is gorgeous, and while it's got a 15 mph speed limit all over the mountain, I can't recommend it highly enough. Seriously, it was amazing.

I passed the sulphur pot, but didn't pull over in time to catch the turn-out. It was impressive- a massive put of stinking, steaming, bubbling mud right next to the road. Definitely worth checking out! I thought about turning around, but the sun was sinking and I wanted to get a camp sight before dark.

Then things slowed down, and a couple of rangers were blocking traffic- looks like some idiot in an SUV decided he was going to go back to see the sulphur pot, and tried to make a u-turn on a two-lane road with a drop off on one side and a ditch-and-hill on the other. Lucky bastard fell into the ditch, and not off the mountain, but he didn't look too pleased about it.

The next turn-out I definitely made a point to stop, and I'm glad I did.

Looking left, here's what I saw:



Yep, that's Lassen alright. Big-ass volcano just waiting to go all Mount St. Helens on us.

Looking the other way, there was a spectacular view. Here's a panorama.



That's pretty confusing, so here's another picture. Basically, that whole thing there's a massive crater that sorta exploded outwards some umpty-ump million years ago. That peak in the middle is all that's left of the original bit of mountain.



But whatever- behind me, that's Lassen! I'm excited! I made it out of the city and climbed a volcano on my motorcycle!



Oh, yeah, and after the 'splody bit, there were glaciers. Glaciers are like massive toddlers- they destroy things and drop whatever they were carrying around for some inexplicable reason with no warning in completely random places.

Like big rocks on the edges of cliffs.



And did I mention it was cold? I mean proper cold. Like when you jump into an icy river and get a headache cold. Seriously, I took my helmet off and instantly got a headache from the wind chill. Can't believe I forgot my beanie. Poor ears.

Onward! I stopped briefly at the top where there's a trail head to the top of the peak. One of my goals had been to stand on top of Lassen, but it was a two mile hike up and another two mile hike back down, and it was getting dark. Oh well, come back and do it in the morning, right? Right. Yeah, right- that never happened...

Then back down the mountain. Again, absolutely gorgeous, and absolutely cold. You could feel the temperature rising as I lost altitude at a magnificent rate on those switchbacks. I knew there wasn't a camp sight too far ahead, but it was getting dark scary fast.

Then I found the camp sight! It was $12, cash or check, and no camp host. Crud. I considered bushwhacking it, but I'd talked to a straight-laced-looking couple in a camper and pretty much told them I had no cash, so I decided not to risk it just yet. No sense in getting myself banned from the National Park System this early in the game... but they said there was another campground with host and store and everything just a few minutes down the road, so I kept moving.

"Just a few minutes" meant "two miles". And that one was closed for the season, and had not store and no host. Ditto the next one. Five miles later, I finally found a campground that was open and had a host! It was also $18 for the night! The camp host told me I could just fill out the paperwork for the other one and pay for it with a credit card on my way out of the park in the morning, like when you come in after the gate kiosk closes... wish I'd known that! I considered riding back, but at that point I was plum tuckered out and didn't really care to get back in the saddle. Also, they had a store here, and I was sure I'd forgotten something...

I made camp in the dark and whipped up one of those REI-made ready meals. Remarkably tasty for astronaut food. Not that this trip was even close to what astronauts do, but at 8 days was just about as long as the Apollo 11 moon mission. This was no mission, but it wasn't really a trip, either. When I say "trip," I think of something well-planned with a fairly big margin for error. Something like buzzing down to Fresno to see my family for a weekend, or maybe flying somewhere. Y'know, tight itinerary, all planned out, pretty routine. But this? This is a different animal entirely. Thousands of miles on a motorcycle with no plans beyond "I think I'll camp near Lassen tonight"? Not just taking a plane to Portland, but riding overland for days? No trip.

Not really a journey either, what with the Joseph Campbell meaning of the evolving hero and bla bla bla, but definitely a voyage. A multi-day undertaking that stresses the mind and body well beyond what modern transportation technology has made possible, a setting off with hopes and dreams, and the understanding that failure is very much an option. This thing required buy-in beyond a the normal leash of civilization. I don't think I've ever been on a voyage before.

Anyhow, with that sort of thoughts I read a bit and then slept the sleep of the righteous.
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Old 07-13-2014, 11:23 PM   #15
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OK, time to get back on the wagon here. Sorry for dropping it, life's been busy. You'll see why halfway through this post.

So the first night I camped next to some ADV types, but didn't talk to them. One was on a BMW of some sort (GS?) and mentioned Salt Lake, so I think he's from there, and the other one must not be, or he wouldn't have mentioned it. I was gonna say hi, but came in completely bushwhacked and they were packing up and leaving by the time I stumbled back from the biffy the next morning. So much for that.

But damn, Lassen was pretty in the background! Here's a view from the campground.



Pretty, huh? Wanna see it again? I thought so. Here you go.



Anyhow, I took a jog down to the little store thingy they had there to get cash and pay for camping, and pick up some stuff I'd forgotten (like a toothbrush, razor, and deodorant- all very important things if you're going to impress the hipsters of Portlandia). Grabbed a postcard for my sweetie and borrowed a pen, because I figured if I sent it Monday morning, it should make four counties over by the time I made it to the Washington border and back. Nope, she got it the day after I got home... so much for that. I made a big deal out of pointing out the postage date on it, and still got half brownie points.

I also picked up this "breakfast cookie", which turned out to be exactly what the package claimed it was. Hearty, sweet but not too sweet, and a perfect breakfast. If you see these things, grab one. They're worth it.



Then I packed up and hit the road at the bright-n-early hour of 10:00 am. I'm not a morning person.

Not much to report from there on out, really The rest of Lassen park is pretty, the highways around there are gorgeous, and I highly recommend them. Then I got to an intersection that was just off the edge of my map, so I pulled over to flip the map over, and because I'm addicted to the damn thing, decided to check if my phone had coverage.

It did.

I had one missed call from a number I didn't recognize, and like an idiot, I pulled into a unused salt barn driveway and listened to the message. It was from my manager's manager.

Now, normally when you're on vacation and work calls, there's two ways the message starts. The first one's like this:

"Hey, hope you're having a great time! Sorry to call you, but I had one quick question..."

Unfortunately, that's not how it started. This was the other kind. The kind that starts:

"Hi, Dusty, this is (manager's manager). Hey, listen, really sorry to interrupt your vacation, but please call me back as soon as you can. Hope you're having a great time. Thanks!"

You can probably guess exactly where this is going. I called back, but the connection was lousy and all that I could make out was that he was getting on a plane at 1:00, and call back when I could hear him.

Oh well. Fuck this, fuck that, and fuck you. I got the fuck out of there, I had a motorcycle to make my bitch in a big way.

More amazing highways, and then it petered out into prairies out toward Ash Creek area. Many of the small towns around here were mostly abandoned. Gas stations with weeds growing up through the pavement, hotels with For Sale signs in the dead windows, bars, cafes and homes boarded up. Town after town was two-thirds empty. It was seriously depressing, I gotta say.

I finally got out of that depression, and hit the Modoc National Forest.

Here's Modoc County, just before the forest begins. Big sky country, for sure!



Modoc's a massive forest of these weird, 20 foot height, scraggly pines with a single ribbon of perfectly straight asphalt laid smack through the middle of it by some enterprising politician. The speed limit was 55 if I recall correctly, but I imagine that some soulless individual could probably push a loaded Nighthawk through there at 80 miles per for a good 30 minutes without altering throttle or heading more than a couple of degrees. The only break in the action were the cattle grates, spaced every 2 miles or so for a bit there. Hit them fast enough and you just sort of float over them. One of them had a chipmunk in it that popped up about fifty feet in front of me to see what the action was. I got close enough to see the "oh shit!" look in his beady little eyes before he ducked back down and howled over him with not a dozen feet to spare.

I was laughing so hard I could barely hang on, and then a bird freaked out and streaked across in front of the bike. I didn't hear or feel it impact, but saw it tumbling down the highway in my mirror. Caught in the slip stream, and just like that, I wasn't laughing. That was the start of Animals Getting Too Close To Motorcycles theme of the trip, but luckily one only two fatalities (not counting the bugs on the Redwood Highway, but we'll get to that).

Up near Tule Lake I decided I was probably close enough to some sort of civilization (read: Oregon) to get cell service, so I hopped off to eat a cliff bar and call my boss back.

A rather picturesque location to be laid off, wouldn't you say? I love the symbolism!



Anyhow, we had a nice little chat, and he was very good about it all. Said it wasn't my fault, and I was always welcome to reapply at the company (though he personally wouldn't recommend that to anyone), he made sure that I got 16 days notice so I'd get one day of work in July and keep my insurance for another month, a bit of severance, all very nice. I asked him if this meant I could just keep riding and go hit Alaska, but I had to get back on Monday or else burn all my accrued vacation, and besides I needed to actually put in one day of actual god damn work in July.

Whatever, screw it, I was going to get a hell of a trip out of this! An old dude in a truck stopped to make sure I was OK, we chatted, turned out he'd grown up not 20 minutes from where I live (me in Oakland, him in Richmond), and that there were Native American petroglyphs not 6 miles down the road, AND the county had just graded it. How could I resist? I bugged out to go see the petroglyphs.

Unfortunately, not long after I had my second fatal animal encounter, when I didn't see a snake until it was too late to swerve. RIP, Snakey, I'm sure you were beautiful. I felt pretty bad about that- two fatalities in one day, and both from me riding faster than I could react. Sorry, guys, my bad.

Anyhow, I rumbled up to the petroglyphs, and the fat pig handled reasonably well on the gravel, despite being loaded down like a camel on the silk road. The petroglyphs were pretty cool.



The weathered-white stuff is old, the dark stuff is modern graffiti.



Some info about the whole thing.



I called my sweetie to let her know I was still alive and a free man now, made use of the National Park-provided port-a-biffy, and got out of the dirt.

Next up was Tule Lake, but first I ran across a WWII concentration camp. Did you know that the US had massive concentration camps where Japanese-American citizens were rounded up and kept? Yeah, we hear all about the German and Russian ones, but we did the same thing here. Maybe not as bad as gassing them in the showers and burning them in ovens, but we did put people in cages because they looked different than we did. People are fucked up.

Here's a marker.



Tule Lake itself wasn't special. Another mostly-shuttered town. I stopped at the local drive-up diner for a fish sandwich- remarkably delicious for a claptrap establishment in a mostly-abandoned town. I didn't think much of the "salad" that accompanied it, though- a few leaves of ice berg, a slice of tomato (almost ripe), and some thousand island dressing. I asked about gas, and the lady recommend I hop over the Oregon border to the next town- "we have gas here, but it'll be cheaper there". So I did.

The first thing I saw across the border was people. Yep, there were still small towns here, but they were full of people. Nothing was shut down, run down, or abandoned. Then a town, and smack on the side of the first building was this:



If you've ever been to Burning Man, you'll recognize that. I have, and so has my coworker who dragged me there, so even though I really needed gas and there was a station just ahead, I flipped around to get a picture of this for Tracy. Parked the bike, pulled out my phone, and it was ringing. It was Tracy. Bless her heart, she wanted to make sure I knew I was being laid off, even though everyone else wanted to let me enjoy my vacation. She was right, of course, I did want to know. We chatted for a minute, I told her about the mural, and she told me she had her Wifi hotspot and was working from the beach. Baker Beach, in fact. I sent her the pic, but she didn't send any back.

Then I got gas, and that was weird. They don't let you pump your own gas in Oregon. If you're in a car, you don't even get out, they just do it all for you. On the bike, they come to you and ask what you want (high grade, fill up), you hand them your card, they swipe it for you, hand it back, you key in your PIN, they push the button, hand you the pump handle, and leave you to do your thing. Weird as hell. I eventually got so used to it that the first pump back in California had me sitting on the bike for a good thirty seconds wondering where the damn attendant was!

Next stop was a hunting and fishing store. I saw some clouds on the horizon, and wanted a tarp to wrap around my duffel bag. They had nothing of the sort, but some nice longjohns, so I picked up a pair. The first night was cold, and I didn't want to repeat that. Totally worth it.

Then I head north, toward Crater Lake, but it's late now, so I'll get to the afternoon next time. Let's just say that despite being laid off, murdering two animals, encountering a concentration camp and ancient petroglyhps, the day's adventures haven't even started yet. It's gonna get gnarly!
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