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Old 09-23-2013, 05:34 PM   #16
Rick King
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Joined: Sep 2009
Location: Oregon
Oddometer: 10
Travel on 2-wheels broadens and clears the mind.

Drawn in immediately because of your writing style. Subscribed.
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Old 09-23-2013, 05:44 PM   #17
vink
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Safe travels and so sad to hear of your loss. The sound of the wind has always had healing properties for me, and I hope for you as well.
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Old 09-23-2013, 05:59 PM   #18
Max Wedge
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I have enjoyed the writings of Pert, Heggstad, King and Steinbeck, and now yours. In!
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Old 09-23-2013, 06:02 PM   #19
ragtoplvr
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Location: S. W. Mssouri
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+1 on healing of the wind, and the road. There is a difference between alone and lonely. I have never been lonely on the road, no matter how alone I have been.

Rod
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Old 09-23-2013, 06:40 PM   #20
ajarnold
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Subscribed. Wise to focus on moving forward rather than escape. There may be moments when it's a bit of both all at the same time. It's alright, momentum will keep you going forward.

Living after death seems harder on this side of it all sometimes. Peace be with you as you keep moving forward.

-jason
springfield, illinois
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Old 09-23-2013, 06:40 PM   #21
1955BIKER
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Subscribed!!
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Old 09-23-2013, 06:48 PM   #22
mr.slowpokey
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Sorry to hear of your loss. Glad you are out riding. Most people wouldn't have the courage to do what you are doing, even on a good day. The road is a great place to clear your head and relax. Enjoy your trip and ride safe.
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Old 09-23-2013, 06:57 PM   #23
Chet Punisher
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Outstanding beginning. Cannot wait for the updates. Thanks.
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Old 09-23-2013, 07:06 PM   #24
Import
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A great start.... Sorry for your loss, but very excited about your new adventure.....best of luck...
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Old 09-23-2013, 07:34 PM   #25
acejones
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Its interesting how traveling alone can have a cathartic effect; just clensing ones soul and clearing the head.
Ride safe and take all it offers.
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Old 09-23-2013, 08:38 PM   #26
Candiya OP
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Location: Bremerton, WA
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Day Two: Hood River, OR to Oakridge, OR, 237 miles

Route: 35 south, 26 east, NF 42, NF 46, 22 east, 126 east then west (basically south), Cougar Dam Rd, Aufderheide Rd, 58 east, Best Western in Oakridge

Favorite roads of the day: NF 42 and NF 46

It wasn't until the morning that I remembered I was traveling with tools. I pulled out the Leatherman but really didn't want to dunk the shiny new tool in water, when I glimpsed the tiny screwdriver I took for the indicator bulb covers. Perfect! I managed to wedge it under the seal and was satisfied to hear the tub draining begin.

It was another beautiful day, and I took a moment to enjoy the view of the river before heading back to the Columbia Gorge Hotel for breakfast. As they sat me at the table for two, I looked up, and the empty seat before me seemed to be staring back. Something about the size and shape of the table reminded me forcefully of the last morning with Mike, sitting at a breakfast table in a different historic hotel planning our vacation, just hours before the accident. My throat tightened, and I surreptitiously wiped away some tears. I dutifully ate my yogurt parfait, listening to the next table loudly discuss their RV adventures.









I had brought the Garmin to breakfast, and on my way out, I tried the computer at the hotel in a 3rd last ditch effort to download the route. Again, the computer wouldn't detect the device so I finally conceded defeat. I took the time to program a bunch of waypoints in the Garmin and book a hotel in Oakridge. After loading the luggage and returning the garage remote, I again set off later than I wanted, about 10:00.

The ride started off on hwy 35 through farm stands and self-pick orchards. The valley felt fresh and alive with growing produce. Mt Hood was so clear and close that it was a little imposing, almost scary. I'm used to my mountains a little farther away. I stopped twice for road construction. The second time, I pulled up next to three cyclists. I waved, and we started talking. They were bright and friendly, and it was fun to meet nice people on the road, literally. The road wound up into the mountains along a river. It was fresh, cool, and pretty up there with nice sweeepers at the top. I hopped on 26 for a short way, another beautiful highway through the woods.

Check out that mountain!



Next, the ride got interesting, with what turned out to be my favorite roads of the day, NF 42 and NF 46. These roads started off innocently enough, looking a lot like my regular backroads route of Dewatto. But eventually, it became a beautifully maintained one lane road, very narrow with little pull outs. This was one lane for real, no shoulder, and at the base of the one lane portion was a trucks sign. Since I had passed a couple logging trucks coming the opposite direction earlier, I sent a hearty prayer not to find any on this road!

NF 42 (Oregon Skyline Rd.)



Though it could have been scary, this ended up being my favorite part of the day. It was warm and beautiful up there, with wildflowers lining the road. It felt like an adventure! I'd stop at each intersection and consult my GPS and written directions. Along the way, I found wooden signs pointing to the Pacific Crest Trail, which made me feel close to the author of the book, Wild, and her journey of loss and redemption. This would have been a perfect place to sit and listen to the silence, but again, I needed to keep tootling along if I was going to make it to my hotel by nightfall. (Yes, I recognize the start of a pattern here.)

NF 46



This was a pull-out so it was much wider than the real road, which you can see ahead.



My bike where it's happiest – in the middle of nowhere. Okay, I might be anthropomorphizing just a tad. :)



With some regret, I bid farewell to the wilderness and NF 46 and turned onto 22, a two lane highway. Still, while I was sad to say goodbye to the wilderness, there were more roads before me to discover! Descending from the mountain, the heat rose, and by 1:30 pm, I was heartily ready for a bathroom, food, gas, and a chance to sit. I was wilting a bit. Right before I turned left onto 126, I spotted a little gas station.

While gassing up, I asked the attendant for her recommendation on food, and she mentioned that they had food at the little mini market abutting the gas pumps. This was an unexpected gem of a lunch spot. They had homemade baked goods, made-to-order sandwiches, and big milkshakes. I ordered a sandwich with all the fixings and a marionberry milkshake and wandered out to the small back deck to claim a table.

This is where the story gets funny, as I attempted to remove my leather jacket. It had been in the upper 80's to low 90's for hours, and the sleeves were practically suctioned onto my sweaty forearms. I wiggled unsuccessfully for several minutes before asking the girl at the next table for help. "I know it's ridiculous, but could you help me take off my jacket?" The hippy, 20-something girl smiled and grabbed ahold of the cuffs. After more funny wriggling, I was finally free of the thing.

They had a dog at their table, and every time I passed by, I stopped to pet it. It was a border collie boxer mix, and there was something about it that tugged at my heartstrings. I don't love all dogs, but the right dog will melt my heart. This was a good 'un. I thought again about getting a dog.

What a lovely lunch break: a fresh sandwich, yummy shake and ice water on a pretty, shaded deck overlooking the lake and mountain. The road noise was masked by the sound of running water nearby. I felt grateful and lucky to have found this little oasis behind the gas station. With the heat, I was only able to eat half the lunch, but I still returned to the road much refreshed.









I turned onto 126, and here's where the routing got tricky. I needed to find the turnoff onto Cougar Dam/Aufderheide Rd. without the GPS since I wasn't able to download the route. At one point, I pulled over in the sweltering heat and tried to check the GPS to make sure I hadn't passed it.

I continued on in temps up to 96, when all of a sudden, I had a moment of clarity. I realized that I was getting increasingly impatient with the RV and traffic ahead because I was desperate to find the turnoff and ascend to cooler temps. This was silly and dangerous. I needed to cool down now, not by pushing ahead. I found a gas station, filled up, and went inside to cool off. I plopped down in the shade outside outside with my two cold bottles of water, patiently struggled out of my jacket, and slowly returned to a functioning temperature. As I cooled down, I realized that I had forgotten 1) to open the vents in the arms of my suit and 2) that I had my neck cooler. These two mistakes showed that I really wasn't thinking clearly. It was good that I had stopped.

As I sat there leaning against the wood siding of the building, drinking my cold water and soaking my neck cooler in a ziplock with water, a grizzled hippy looking man stopped to talk to me. It started with him admiring the bike and telling me he doesn't like to go too fast. He had picked up a six pack at the store and invited me back to his house for a beer. "I'm harmless," he said with a laugh, "and single!” His eyes alit as he turned to me. “Oh, I forgot to ask!" With a gesture at the bikes, he interrupted himself, "Well, there's only one bike."

I sat on the sidewalk and silently surveyed my bike. I felt the lack of a second bike acutely. Mike should have been here with me. I responded haltingly, "Well, this isn't exactly a memorial ride, but my boyfriend died last year so...this trip is to deal with that. So, yes, I guess I am single." Single. The word tasted ugly and strange in my mouth. I think this was actually the first time I uttered the phrase “I am single”. I looked at him with tears in my eyes.

It surprises me how often this happens, but when I share my loss, people often share theirs as well. This man had lost 12 people in the past 5 years. As we wrapped up the conversation, he didn't give up on the invitations. "I have a house, on a creek, on 10 acres! It's just back there! You could follow me, easy!" His banter put a smile on my face as he drove off in his old beater pickup.



As I sat there cooling off, I watched people. An expensive SUV pulled up. As I idly watched the lady inside, I realized that she was smoking with windows up. Eww! She got out of the truck and immediately started complaining to her friend.

Next, a filthy old full-size pickup pulled up. The middle aged man who jumped out fit the truck perfectly. Denim overalls with a thin, worn, holed t-shirt stretched tight over his belly. He was covered in the same mud that coated the truck. But he was there to clean his windshield, and as he left, he asked where I was going and gave me lots of warnings to be careful up there. He was kind. Between the two of them, I would have much rather hung out with this guy than the lady in her fancy SUV.

I was now cooled down, and as I threw on my neck cooler and set off again, I was excited. Aufderheide. The whole reason I picked this route was to ride this road. I've heard good things about it, and I had been disappointed that we didn’t get to ride it on the memorial ride. As I climbed into the mountains, for the first time, I deeply missed riding with Mike's friends. I could picture them cutting through the turns before me with a gentle grace belying the power and speed of their machines.

I was surprised by the dam. It was beautiful! I stopped and jumped off my bike to take pics, sweat dripping down my face into the helmet padding. I then continued on in my slow, careful way. The road was pretty beat up in places, with a lot of debris and one full gravel washboard section. Gravel is my nemesis so I was glad to see that it wasn't long. I only saw a couple cars in the 58 miles so I reminded myself to keep it shiny side up. It wouldn't be good to get into trouble up here.

Yes, I took way too many photos at the dam















For some reason, this road didn't make my soul sing like others on the trip. It was slow going since I couldn't afford to misjudge things, and much of it was heading into the setting sun, which made it even slower. It was pretty, and I could understand why more skilled riders would enjoy it, but for me, it felt like an accomplishment to survive it unscathed.

This photo makes it look deceptively straight, but it gives you an idea of the foliage, at least.



At my first stop sign back in civilization, it was a treat to find a beautiful covered bridge. I didn't have enough guts to stop on the bridge for pics so I just pulled over at the stop sign in front and snapped away.





From there, it was only a short distance to the Best Western in Oakridge, where I checked in, showered, and walked down to pizza.

The Best Western in Oakridge



Pizza and salad for dinner. Pretty good.



Back in the room, it was time for more route planning. I realized that it would be a mistake to go all the way to Redding tomorrow. That would put me on the twistiest, most fun roads after I was tired. (I'm sure that part of the reason Aufderheide was a challenge is that it was the end of the day.) Instead, I decided to make tomorrow a shorter day and shoot for Grants Pass. That would place me at the beginning of the fun roads when I'd be fresh the following morning.

I didn't sleep as well this night and woke from 3:30-4:45 am. In the middle of the night, I felt very alone and lost, in a random motel room, in a random town in the middle of Oregon. I pictured how it would have been if Mike was asleep beside me and hugged a pillow. Eventually, I slipped back into slumber until morning, when I awoke ready for more adventure.

Candiya screwed with this post 09-24-2013 at 09:44 AM
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Old 09-23-2013, 08:52 PM   #27
Candiya OP
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Thanks for all the positive and supportive words, everybody. It's a little nerve wracking to be so open about the personal side. I appreciate the warm reception very much.
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Old 09-23-2013, 09:00 PM   #28
Klay
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Location: right here on my thermarest
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Candiya View Post
I pictured how it would have been if Mike was asleep beside me and hugged a pillow. Eventually, I slipped back into slumber until morning, when I awoke ready for more adventure.

Ouch.
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Old 09-23-2013, 09:08 PM   #29
zoro
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Location: Darwin, Australia
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Great story so far...I'm in.

I admire your courage to complete this adventure on your own like this, well done.

Looking forward to the next installment.

I think you will achieve what you set out to do once all is said and done, good luck and ride safe.
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Old 09-23-2013, 09:58 PM   #30
Steigs
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Great journey for many reasons.

Safe travels!
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