|09-24-2013, 06:55 AM||#46|
Joined: May 2008
Location: Brandon, MS
Subscribed. So looking forward to more of your story. Peace to you and safe travels.
|09-24-2013, 07:28 AM||#47|
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Ottawa, Gatineau
"What do you want a meaning for? Life is a desire, not a meaning." - Charlie Chaplin
|09-24-2013, 07:46 AM||#48|
Joined: Aug 2012
Enjoying your story immensely. Lost my mother a couple years ago and found myself finding solace in the ride.
May the sun be on your face and the wind at your back! Keep it coming.
|09-24-2013, 08:36 AM||#50|
Joined: May 2010
Location: Billings, Montana USA
All the best of luck to you. Enjoy your journey and may it refresh your soul.
I am enjoying your writing and am looking forward to reading more.
Thanks for sharing.
Exploring the back roads of Montana....and beyond
2000 KLR 650, 2002 DL1000 V-Strom
If you live in or around Billings, Montana
please send me a PM.
|09-24-2013, 08:47 AM||#51|
Joined: Mar 2009
|09-24-2013, 12:19 PM||#53|
Joined: Dec 2010
Location: Bremerton, WA
Day Three: Oakridge, OR to Grants Pass, OR, 228 miles
Route: 58 east, 97 south, 138 west, Crater Lake North Highway, Rim Drive, Munson Valley Road, 62 west, 234 west, Meadows Road, Evans Creek Road, I5 north, La Quinta in Grants Pass
Favorite roads of the day: Meadows and Evans Creek
The day dawned bright and sunny, and I felt like I was starting to get into the swing of the trip. After a quick bowl of cereal at the hotel breakfast, I loaded up the bike. Climbing on, my first thought was, “Well, what interesting roads are we going to find today?” I was happy to be on the bike and moving.
To tell the truth, I didn't expect much from the roads today. The focus of the day was Crater Lake, and I had forgone the interesting roads to visit this sight. (Site? I guess it's both a sight and a site – lol.) As I plugged the waypoints into the GPS, it offered three alternative routes. One of them showed an alluring backroads route. Hmmm...try it or not? I was well aware of the tragic outcomes possible from blindly following a GPS, but it sure was tempting.... With a sigh, I opted for the standard highway route and hit the road.
A while later, I took a break on hwy 58. At this point, it was a pretty, forested, fast highway. I snapped a couple pics, had a bite of a granola bar and reconsidered that tempting off-highway route. The experience on NF 42 and 46 had given me a taste of backroads, and I wanted more. Surely, it couldn't hurt to just try this route. I doubted that it would go through, but wouldn't it be lovely if it did? (Note that I had the GPS set to avoid unpaved roads. I was looking for off-highway, not off-road.)
Taking a break on 58
Feeling audacious, I threw caution to the wind and hit “Go” on the off-highway route. Now I was having an adventure! I recalled the days not so long ago – just last year, in fact – when I'd only ride two carefully planned loops close to home.
Happy, I rolled along. The GPS told me to turn on 429. “This is it!” It was a two-lane country road. It crossed some railroad tracks, turned sharply left, and narrowed a bit. Now I was in national forest land. I felt bright, awake, and curious. I came across a small roadwork crew, and they looked at me with amusement as I rolled by. I'm sure they were thinking, “What the...what is she doing back here?” The GPS told me to turn, and I missed it, but it rerouted me to the same road a bit farther down. Suddenly, the road had gravel across it. I slowed to a crawl as I saw that the road had turned to dirt and had wooden bollocks across it. “Huh, the GPS wants me to take what looks like a trail?” Shrug. “Oh well, this is the end of the line for me.” I knew it was unlikely that this route would work out, but my mini adventure-exploration was fun. I pulled into the gravel parking lot for the beach beside me, took a couple photos, and headed back the way I came. “Well, this will make a good story for the ride report,” I thought with a smile. I rolled back through the road workers, and they smiled and waved.
Back on 58, I knew that I had “wasted” enough time, and it was time to put some miles behind me. I cruised along, and soon enough, it was time to turn on 97. This is NOT a fun road! Straight, straight, straight, big rigs, traffic, small clusters of dusty buildings every once in a while. I was getting pelted by small bees, and after the third smacked on my bare neck, I couldn't take it anymore. I pulled off as far as I could on the shoulder of a nice straight stretch (not hard to find a straight stretch on this road) and put on the buff to protect my neck. No photos here. It felt unsafe on the side of the road, and I wanted to get moving as quickly as possible.
I saw a small, independent gas station on the left. As soon as I passed it, I wondered if I should have stopped. “Naw...there'll be something up ahead on my side.” But there wasn't. About 10 miles later, I turned onto 138. I decided to pull over and investigate what the GPS could tell me about fuel. With about 80 miles on the tank, I didn't want to get into the park and run out at the lake. At first, it told me that the only gas station within 40 miles was the one I had passed. I had been so relieved to turn off of 97; the last thing I wanted to do was turn around and spend another 20 miles on it. Eventually, I figured out how to make the GPS show gas stations along my route, and it looked like there was one at the other side of the lake, within 25 miles. No problem. It meant that I'd have to give up riding the east rim of the crater, but that was okay. I'd make that concession if it meant that I didn't need to get on 97 again! All the straight highway riding had dulled my brain, and I just wanted to get to the lake.
I was curious about Crater Lake. I remembered Mike's photos from his solo ride in 2008. They were stunning – the red Aprilia RSVR before the crystal blue lake. I wanted to see it for myself. Soon enough, I was pulling into the park. I double checked the gas availability with the ranger as I paid my $5 entrance fee. Yep, I should be in good shape.
The North Entrance Road climbed up to the crater, and eventually, I saw a parking lot with a few cars at Merriam Point. This was it! I parked and hiked up the small hill for my first glimpse of the lake. With this much build-up, I expected to be walloped by the sight, but...that just didn't happen. It certainly wasn't your average lake, but I wasn't overwhelmed either. A few clouds had gathered over the lake, and the small ripples reflecting them gave the view an otherworldly feel. Oddly, I was probably more disappointed in my reaction than in the lake itself. Maybe there was a better view along the crater that would prompt a better reaction?
My first view of Crater Lake
Wicked helmet hair and Crater Lake
The view the other direction was pretty too
Returning to the parking area, I found that my bike had made a friend. Another bike was parked beside it, and I met Paul, who was on his way back home to San Diego. I was curious about his camping set-up, and he showed me some of his custom-built luggage solutions. Amazing what you can do with PVC and wood. We wished each other safe travels, and I continued on. I stopped several times for the obligatory 'bike in front of the lake' photos but never did find the view to prompt an “oh wow” response. You just can't force a religious experience. I had thought that with the extra time in my schedule today, I might spend some quiet time here at the lake, but no, this wasn't the place for it.
Paul from San Diego
Obligatory 'bike before Crater Lake' photos. This was the destination for the day so I took a bunch. Why not?
Not technically a photo of the lake since it's not visible, but I liked the clouds
And finally, I got a single photo of the lake that I liked. This is it.
At the Rim Village, I stopped for lunch. Juggling tuna salad, coffee, helmet, and tank bag, I settled into an outside table. It was fun to eavesdrop on all the different languages and accents: German, French, and several British accents surrounded me. Soon enough, I heard an American accent, “Mind if I join you?” It was Paul, and I was happy to have some lunchtime company. We shared stories from the road, and he explained that he had originally wanted to ride to Alaska but not any longer. He didn't want to have to traverse the length of California again. He already did it once on the way up and now was doing it again on the way home.
You'll probably laugh at me, but this was the first time that it occurred to me that I was going to have to ride home. My focus had been very day-by-day or even road-by-road. But I was now struck with the uncomfortable thought that every mile I rode now was a commitment to ride the same distance back. I tried not to think about it, but this disquieting nugget was lodged in the back of my brain now.
I bid Paul goodbye once again and headed out of the park, carefully negotiating the hairpin turns, even slower than normal once I saw a deer cross ahead of me. After getting the promised gas at Mazama Village, I exited the park and turned onto 62.
Descending from the crater, I noticed that I was riding poorly. I was uncomfortable on the bike. This puzzled me. What was going on? I realized that I was afraid – not of anything in particular, but my body was full of fear. Who did I think I was to attempt to ride so far? And then I would have to ride all the way home. What if the weather turned? What if? What if? I rode through the fear. It didn't occur to me to turn back. Riding through the fear is what this year's been about. Over and over again, stepping into the fear.
As I descended, the green, tree-lined rural highway began to leach some of the fear away. The temps rose and rose to the mid 90s, and the heat boiled the fear out of my blood, melted it out of my bones. I relaxed into the ride. There is no use worrying about tomorrow. There is only now, the warm haze, and the unrolling road.
In the late afternoon, I pulled off at a market to drink some water and cool off. Walking towards the front door, I found a much better option next door...ice cream! I clomped into the ice cream shop in my motorcycle boots, happy to find it open. With lots of flavors to choose from, I picked a coffee milkshake. The girl added 3 heaping teaspoons of Folgers to the ice cream. Oh my! I certainly won't fall asleep on the rest of the ride.
This is the funniest ice cream shop I've ever been in, specifically focused on hunters. The TV was showing a program about high-end arrows, and there was a flier for taxidermy services posted on the wall beside the deer's head. It was awesome. I love small towns.
Much perkier after my caffeine blast of a shake – only finished a quarter of it, but still – I got on the road again. It was late afternoon/early evening, and the sun spread long, golden rays across the landscape. I figured I was in the home stretch to the hotel and had made peace with the unexciting route of the day. It was still a lovely day.
This is when the GPS told me to turn on Meadows Road, and I found my bliss. A beautiful, freshly paved two-lane road, deserted, gently winding over hills and along rivers. It was not wilderness; there were driveways and fences, yet the houses were tucked away and not visible from the road. It felt solitary. I was overwhelmed with gratitude for this moment. Meadows Road led to Evans Creek Road, and the beauty continued.
Eventually, it was time to jump on I5 for a short while, the last stretch to Grants Pass. Merging on, I looked in the mirror and squeaked out, “Oh sh*t!” as I grabbed the brakes. A big rig barreling towards me passed, and passed, and passed. It was a triple trailer. We don't have those in my neck of the woods. Scary. I stayed in the slow lane and was glad when it was time to exit.
Riding through Grants Pass, I noticed that I was in a business district. Maybe I could find a shop to buy a keyboard. I had wanted to write this ride report from the road, but the touchscreen on the ipad wasn't cutting it.
Ah ha – a Walmart. (Yeah, not my favorite store, but it was easy.) Entering the store was a shock. The fluorescent lights seemed to go on forever, a strange counterpoint to the nature and forests of the past few days. The store was laid out the same as the store at home, giving the strange feeling that I had traveled hundreds of miles only to be teleported back home. As I walked up to the electronics department, a man at the counter was loudly extolling the virtues of tai chi. I'm not sure why, but this sealed the sense of unreality. I had now entered the twilight zone.
They didn't have what I was looking for, and I wanted to get to the hotel before dark. But walking up to the front, I realized that I was still sweating, and everything felt a bit distant. I needed to take some time to cool down so I bought a water and sipped it from a bench by the registers, watching the people of Walmart with bemusement.
The twilight zone, aka Walmart
Exiting the store, the smoke from the forest fires to the south looked ominous in the setting sun. I'd need to decide tomorrow morning whether to change my route to avoid the fires.
Continuing on, a mile from the hotel, I found a Staples. They had a pink, rubber keyboard. Pink wouldn't have been my first choice, but as long as it worked, I could overlook it.
I pulled into the La Quinta a little after dark, threw on a load of laundry (my first time using the guest laundry at a hotel), and grabbed takeout from Sizzler a few doors down. I settled into the room with dinner and laundry, feeling unexpectedly homey.
It was a good day, though the most enjoyable parts were completely different than I had expected. I noticed that this was a trend and reminded myself to keep an open mind and enjoy the moment throughout the trip. I tucked myself in for a good night's sleep.
|09-24-2013, 03:14 PM||#54|
Joined: Jun 2011
|09-24-2013, 07:15 PM||#57|
Joined: Jan 2012
Location: isle of long, NY
i'm sorry for your loss takes a certain strength to allow yourself to be vulnerable so thank you for sharing. also, as a female rider with similar fears/issues regarding solo travel, i find your report very inspiring. subscribed! be safe & be well.
|09-24-2013, 07:25 PM||#58|
Joined: Apr 2010
You go girl!
I love your guts and spirit!
You will remember this trip always. Your pics are incredible.
I also hope to love like you loved your beau someday.
Your boyfriend is a lucky guy.
|09-24-2013, 08:06 PM||#60|
Joined: Aug 2011
Location: Pacific NW
Really have been enjoying your ride! Great writing along with great photos. Your right in your assessment of being in the moment, Thats all we really have to remember! Looking forward to more, thank you.
The best executive is one who has sense enough to pick good men to do what he wants done and self restraint enough to keep from meddling with them while they do it. Theodore Roosevelt
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