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Old 04-02-2013, 09:30 PM   #1
ORexpat OP
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Can You Really Go Home Again? (Part 1)

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

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


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


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



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



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




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


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

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



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






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

In the transition.



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




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









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






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


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

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








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


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















More to follow . . . .
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Old 04-02-2013, 09:49 PM   #2
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Friday morning was Ride Time, but first breakfast and a look around camp.

Teasel.









MapChap lead the ride, South to Bear Creek Road, then east towards Grindstone. S1Marks and OreAdvSgt rounded out the quartet. These guys can ride!!! Gotta tell ya, schooled me properly! Fast riding on skinny, sometimes rough back roads.


First three taken with the LCC.













Rest stop and potty break. Left to right, OreAdvSgt, MadChap, S1Marks.








S1 hadn’t started with a full tank, so we vectored into Paulina for fuel. I grew up not 50 miles away as the buzzard flies, but had never been here. Glad to finally see it.



Then dodging late spring snowdrifts over the road, it was east to the South Fork of the John Day River to Dayville for a very late lunch.




Old guys like me need those potty breaks!




Beautiful canyon. Never saw this before either. Shame on me.








Dayville Café; fuel for the rest of us just up the street.








Now west on US 26, a road I knew well—my commute from home to college 250 miles to the west in Eugene.



We all agreed to a stop at the Painted Hills section of the John Day Fossil beds, just west of Mitchell. I’d been to other sections but not this one. Drop dead gorgeous.











MadChap and OreAdvSgt live in the Madras vicinity, and headed north from here for more gravel. S1Marks, studly rider he is, went with them.

The old guy headed due west on US 26 over the Ochocos . . .

And back to camp; with the late lunch and a powerbar, the best dinner was wine with a single malt dessert!

I’d almost forgotten what the night sky looked like without city light pollution . . . (apologies for the graininess; even my good camera has too small a sensor to do long exposures at night very well).




Two more days to talk about later . . . .
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Old 04-02-2013, 10:07 PM   #3
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Fun to know the background story. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your pics. Thanks for riding along. Great fun!!

Tim
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Old 04-03-2013, 03:30 AM   #4
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Excellent!
I was hoping you would do some reports!
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Old 04-03-2013, 04:13 AM   #5
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Dan's got new friends now.
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:42 AM   #6
Blixa
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Nice write-up and photos.
Looking forward to reading more.
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Old 04-03-2013, 10:26 AM   #7
MortimerSickle
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Cool pics, good write-up.



Pleased to meet you, and hope to ride with you again.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:07 AM   #8
OreAdvSgt
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It was a pleasure riding with you Dan, I hope to see you at some other rides in the future. Oh and the pics and ride report are great, thanks for sharing.

Chris (OredvSgt)
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:34 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by OreAdvSgt View Post
It was a pleasure riding with you Dan, I hope to see you at some other rides in the future. Oh and the pics and ride report are great, thanks for sharing.

Chris (OredvSgt)
I enjoyed the ride on Friday--was a hoot, if a bit faster than I'm used to!
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:35 AM   #10
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Fun to know the background story. Looking forward to seeing the rest of your pics. Thanks for riding along. Great fun!!

Tim

Thanks for leading on the route to the Paulina area. Nice weather and excellent company.
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:36 AM   #11
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Cool pics, good write-up.



Pleased to meet you, and hope to ride with you again.
Thanks! Was a pleasure eating your dust . . .

It's good to ride with folks better/faster than you are--helps the skill level!
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Old 04-03-2013, 11:39 AM   #12
ORexpat OP
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Nice write-up and photos.
Looking forward to reading more.
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Originally Posted by H14 View Post
Dan's got new friends now.
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Excellent!
I was hoping you would do some reports!

It was great meeting new folks. Gotta tell you, these desert rats can RIDE!! Friday's backroads ride was a blast, with some of the tow-track ranch roads (small ruts, a bit rocky, definitely less traveled than the roads to Laurel Fork through the Sinks of Gandy) taken at 40-60 mph. A good push for the skills.

Now Saturday's ride, when I get those photos, was a bit more challenging . . .
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Old 04-03-2013, 12:05 PM   #13
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Great write up Dan, nice to meet you, nice bike you ride...maybe when i'm a grown up, i'll ride something like that!
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Old 04-03-2013, 01:06 PM   #14
ORexpat OP
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Hah! I just wish I could ride half as well as y'all! You guys rock!

I also noticed that y'all drink; at least I was able to contribute to that . . .
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Old 04-03-2013, 05:40 PM   #15
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Great write-up and a lot of your pictures are incredibie. I always look forward to anything you post Dan. If retirement gets boring you would make a great motorcycle touring editor.
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