A little mountain medly this weekend

Mount’s Rainier and St. Helens to be exact! Hoping for some clear skies and good views. Room is booked, bikes are ready (pretty much), we’ll head out early saturday morning for about 400 miles, bed down in Morton at Roy’s Motel and RV Park (don’t ask, it’s cheap and it’s available, what can I say?), Sunday we’ll ride up to Johnson Observatory, then back down the hill towards home.

Terrebonne through Mt. Rainier, down to St. Helens and back home again

Estacada doesn’t know where their town name originated, but it’s still a cool place

Today, I think we’ll go this way:

Have to break in the new gloves I bought yesterday at the Beemer rally.

It was a great ride, perfect weather for the mesh gear – and only hot when we weren’t riding.

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I don’t think we’ve ever stopped to actually look at Timothy Lake before, but it was definitely worth a few minutes. Very pretty and the blue water was quite inviting on a hot summer day.

I’m pretty sure I took Mike up to Mt. Angel Abbey years ago, but he doesn’t remember it at all. Could be just our changing tastes now make it more interesting to him? Anyway, if you’ve never been, it is a beautiful and peaceful place in the summertime.

Be sure to take a peek into the chapel and the library if they’re open – the outsides of these buildings hide some quite astonishing architectural interior details.

The tiny museum is a real hidden gem, fortunately I vaguely recalled its location to the right and in the basement of the church or we would have never known about it.

Full of an eclectic array of items from around the world, it’s definitely worth a look. Just turn the light off when you’re done.

I usually like to stop at the church in town also, but it was Sunday so we continued on home.

If you’d like more information about the Abbey, check out their very informative website. The history section is especially interesting, even if you’re not Catholic this is a rare and easily accessible gem in our own Willamette Valley.

Fossil with Bill and Peter – breaking in that new Beemer!

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We slept in this morning ’till nearly 9am – something we haven’t done for a very long time. I thought we’d get going slowly, take the 650’s front wheel off and drive in to Bend to get the tire changed. The front tire is still the same one that I rode to Newfoundland, unbelievably still holding up and within wear limits.

After taking a shower, I came downstairs to hear Mike on the phone talking to Bill – I caught just the tail end of the conversation, but heard “we’ll meet you at 11am”. Hmmm, guess we’re riding!

Peter just bought a brand-spankin’ new BMW 1200 GS, and he’s looking forward to putting a few more miles on her. Mike decides to ride the EX500 and I’ll be on my darling Ducati. As we’re getting ready to roll out of the driveway, I notice the EX is a little noisier than I remember and I check the oil window – which is empty. I yell at Mike that I don’t see any oil. We shut ’em down and he runs into the shop and grabs the oil – we do a quick top up and we’re on our way again. Only 1/2 hour late, rats! Sorry guys.

After turning off of 97 onto 218, the road is freshly striped with very wide sections of tar. Not a big deal if they’re skinny strips, but it looks like the road department was trying to re-pave the entire section with the stuff. The bike hops, slips and jumps through the first few turns and I’m just hoping the entire highway hasn’t been “fixed”. Fortunately the evil stripes peter out in a few miles and it’s back up to speed.

I’m like a neophyte on the Duc, my lean angle is wimpy and I can’t get through my brain how much more agile the Ducati is in the twisties than the Beemer. Slowly I remember my lean lessons and we get going at a little quicker pace. I really need to spend more time with the red bike this summer.

Everything is so green! Wildflowers dot the landscape, and all the creeks are exploding beyond their banks, carrying mud and debris with them in a race to the lowlands. It smells so fresh, a mingling of pine, juniper, flowers and warm wet earth.

Peter is rockin’ the new ride, which looks gorgeous in all its aluminum-boxed and swiss-army-knife kitted glory.

Lunch salads at the Big Timber are great as always. We pick up the tab as a Happy Birthday to Bill, who hit the 6-0 yesterday.

After lunch we head to the gas station, which is closed for graduation (they’ll open back up at 4pm), so it’s off on Hwy 207 towards Mitchell. Bill asked me if I remembered where the little old schoolhouse is on this road, and I told him it’s after Service Creek, on the left in a blind sweeper. I said he’d probably pass it and we’d have to turn around. Sure enough, that’s exactly what we do.

I’ve always wanted to stop here, but just never taken the time. A little one-room schoolhouse at the edge of a wheat field overlooking a small valley. There’s a sign out front, but it’s too old to read from the road. Now we’re stopped we can see it “Waldron School Est 1874”. Surprisingly, the door is open and we’re able to check out the inside. Not much here but dead birds and flies lit by sunlight through the ancient glass window panes. The outhouse is a victim of erosion, falling into the creek bed below.

We leave the little school behind and continue in to Mitchell. Henry isn’t hanging out at the gas station any longer, his owner took him up to the house because he wasn’t spending as much time at the gas station as he used to and didn’t want the bear to get lonely and bored (or hungry – that would be bad). Mike finds some kittens and tries to stuff a few in his pockets, but I catch him and make him put them back.

Ice cream at the store and we head back home. A fun day, glad we got to help Peter put another 200 miles on the new beastie!

World Superbike racers are fast. Really, really, fast.

I shot this vid during the very first practice of the day – so this is the first time that the riders have been on the track this year. If they’re this fast on a sighting run, imagine what they’re gonna look like in the mains on Monday!

This morning was a little cold, windy and spitting rain – turning into sunshine late in the afternoon. Tomorrow should be warmer.

This track is massive, and so beautiful. American flags snapping in the breeze on the finish straightaway, snow-capped mountains in the background, just awesome!

Shooting photos of these guys using pan-n-scan is insane. I can usually get about 90% of my shots this way when we’re watching MX or Supercross. The near 200mph speeds these big bikes hit before they’re diving into the chicane means I have to basically just scan and click and hope a bike shows up somewhere in the shot.

I got a few cool pics, the other fifty or so? Not so good!

Tomorrow, we’re up for more of the same, we’ll try and walk the entire track. Should be great!

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Three day weekend? We’re riding to Salt Lake City!

The World Superbikes only land in the USA once this year, and we’ll be there!

Miller Motorsports Park just outside Salt Lake City is the venue. Lorrin and Sue attended last year and had such a great time they wanted us all to come with them this time.

We’re taking a couple of extra days, leaving Friday and returning on Tuesday. Racing is Saturday – Monday, with the main event on Monday. Saturday night is a concert with Styx, Foreigner and Kansas – all included in the cost of our tickets, can’t beat that!

We’re staying at the Raddisson near the airport, 52 bucks a night on Hotwire, can’t beat that either!

Updates and photos to come!

Beacon Rock and Historic Columbia River Highway

A few weeks ago we were talking to Lorrin and Sue about fun places to visit in their stomping grounds (Wasco County), and Lorrin mentioned Beacon Rock.

This 850-foot-tall monolith is the core of an ancient volcano, the softer outer material washed away by the Missoula Floods of the last ice age.

What is left is a rock that many claim to be the second largest in the world – depending on your definition! What is certain is that the Army Corps of Engineers planned to make rubble out of the entire thing back in the early 1900’s. Henry Biddle purchased the property to preserve this piece of geologic and American history (Lewis and Clark named the rock during their journey of discovery), he then proceeded to create a trail to the top.

Beacon Rock – Wikipedia

Mr. Biddle was a fascinating man, and should probably have a more prominent place in Oregon/Washington history. I was hoping to find a book on him, but if anyone did put his life’s story on paper, it’s no longer in print. WSU does house his photography collection – sure would be neat to get a peek at these!

http://nwda-db.wsulibs.wsu.edu/findaid/ark:/80444/xv80043

I was a little concerned about hiking a mile straight up, then back down again, but for some reason, it seemed like a breeze (actually, it was a breeze – the wind on the East side was really whipping!). My fear of heights didn’t even kick in here, the walkways and railings make for a very safe and secure place to view the panorama of our gorgeous gorge. We saw kids as young as 4 walking this on their own, so it’s a very family-friendly adventure.

The views are amazing! It’s hard to take your eyes off the horizon and focus on the trail. My favorite thing was getting a good view of the original Bridge of the Gods. This is the cataclysmic landslide which the current bridge is named for. Between 500 and 1,000 years ago, a huge section of Table Mountain and Greenleaf Peak tumbling into the Columbia River, actually damming the water and creating a huge lake that drowned trees nearly 35 miles upriver.

The debris field, and the mountains that let all that rock loose are clearly visible from our vantage point 800+ feet above.

Remnants of the landslide

Lewis and Clark saw clues to this event, and the Native Americans told them of this “Bridge of the Gods”.

Anyway, I’d always wondered why they named that tiny little steel bridge such an imposing name – now I know!

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Photos from the first half of our day

After wandering downhill, we got back on the bikes and headed to the Oregon side of the gorge and Highway 30 – The Historic Columbia River Highway.

About the same time Mr. Biddle was building his “rock” trail, the Columbia River highway was being developed as the first specifically designated Scenic Highway in America by Sam Hill (check out Maryhill Museum and Maryhill Loops for more info on this fascinating fellow). Sam and his gang did a pretty good job, with the gorgeous rock retaining walls and delicately soaring concrete bridges showing off the wet, mossy, and rocky beauty to its best advantage.

Mike didn’t remember ever visiting this place. I do vaguely recall spending a little time here with Don and Tammy Hoxie back about 20 years ago – anyway, it’s been awhile!

The road was busy, and parking was at a premium – not a big deal on a bike, we just snuggle in wherever there’s a little space.

There’s so many beautiful waterfalls here – Multnomah Falls is of course the most popular, but each one is just so cool – I wish we had more time!

Multnomah Falls

The last falls before the road climbs towards Crown Point is Latourelle Falls. We still had a few minutes to spare, so I pulled in here and we started walking towards the falls – who do we bump into? My good friend from High School Debbie Miller! We knew we’d all be somewhere in the Gorge today, but with no real plans to meet, it was quite a coincidence.

Our poor families had to stand around while Debbie and I talked a mile a minute and had a great time catching up. Soon it was past 4pm and time to really hit the road.

We stopped at Crown Point for a few quick photos, then headed back towards home. Unfortunately we took the slow route – sometimes the shortest distance isn’t the quickest way, especially when there’s multitudes of traffic lights involved. Fortunately we finally spied our Hwy 26 signs in Gresham and we were back in gear. We didn’t pull into the driveway until dusk – way too late for safeties sake, but fortunately the well traveled (but boring!) Highway 97 kept the deer from being an issue.

So much fun packed into one day – not nearly enough time to enjoy it all, for sure!

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Photos from the second half of our day

Want to take a hike on a big rock? Here’s the info:

http://www.portlandhikersfieldguide.org/wiki/Beacon_Rock_Hike

http://www.stateparks.com/beacon_rock.html

And the best maps and info for Highway 30 can be found here:

Historic Columbia River Highway

Oregon official Highway Website

Have you had your “Rush Hour” this week?

Last weekend we went riding with John and Cindy. Cindy is a new rider, and is doing something few women our age attempt. She’s challenging herself to try something risky and which could cause physical harm, but which can also reward her with new skills and the chance to pump her fist in the air and yell ‘YEA!’

We were talking about “ride jitters”, and I told her I still get them. I’m a worrier by nature, so I stress about things. I confessed that especially getting on the Ducati after so long riding the BMW would give me a high level of anxiety. I also said it was something I knew was good for me, and I really am addicted to the adrenaline rush when I get it right.

So, here’s the question, do you have something that gives you an adrenaline rush? Something physical that’ll get you high on life for an hour or two every once in awhile? Getting that “Rush Hour” during the weekend can really change my outlook on life for the next week.

I think most guys already have this dialed. Of course, there’s exceptions to every rule, but most boys know how to play. Girls seem to play differently, they cooperate, they work towards goals, they usually don’t challenge and they don’t play to win. Some people hate how adrenaline makes them feel, it can bring on upset stomach and all sorts of things we usually try to avoid. The thing is, if you can work through that fear reaction, I think the benefits are worth it.

The older I get, the harder it is to push the envelope. My fears outweigh my adventurous spirit, and I’d rather stay in my warm cocoon of “normal” activities. Because I do know how good that rush feels, I’m still able to push through and do some things I fear. Not everything. I’m not going skydiving or bungee jumping any time soon, I still pick my battles!

Also, it doesn’t require me to be in top physical condition (obviously!), I can ride a motorcycle, pedal a mountain bike slowly down a rocky trail, stand on a high parapet and look straight down, kill a big spider, or travel to places I’ve never been before. Each of these things challenge my comfort zone, and each can bring a nice “Rush Hour” of adrenaline.

I’ve learned over the years that for me, that short term “Rush Hour” is a great reward, but the greater reward is knowing I can continue to push my boundaries. Travel further, ride longer, kill bigger spiders! The world is my oyster (ugh, raw oysters, that would push my boudaries)!

So, what boundary are you pushing against?

An ‘Oh Wow!’ Weekend – Lolo Pass and Montana

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Have you ever revisited a spot and just been amazed at the beauty you missed (or forgot) the first time?

Last weekend was like that for us.  Two years ago (to the day) we attemped this same ride with our buddy Bill.  That time we encountered a massive storm and battled through the worst rain we’ve ever ridden in.  Although I remembered the Lolo Pass road fondly, for some reason I completely blocked out the beauty of the scenery (or maybe the rain washed it out of my brain?)

Friday evening we drove over to carpenter Nick’s place to see what he’s been up to – amazing changes there, new paint, flooring and other mods really make a difference!  We picked up cinderblock and mud so he could ride over to our place instead of driving and toting supplies.  Our intention was to use the 3 day weekend to finish the inside of the garage, but Nick had cedar delivered to his place and needed to use the time to build a fence.  So driving back home at 10:30pm we saw a 3-day weekend stretching before us with nothing to do.  Hmmm, ride??

Getting home I jumped on the computer, checked weather reports (very good), and looked for rooms (also promising). Waking up bright and early Saturday I called and booked rooms for Saturday night in Riggins Idaho and Sunday night in Stanley Idaho.  This would put us at a little over 400 miles each day.

The sun was shining and high temps were in the 80’s, perfect riding weather, although the furnace effect did warm things up through Oxbow reservoir, it cooled again as elevations increased on the road to Cambridge.

I did remember this road from our last trip – especially the tight twisty climb up the canyon side next to the reservoir – fun, but a little tense for me as I still have a bit of an issue with heights.

Scaling the Wall at Oxbow dam

By 6:30pm we were happy to pull into Riggins and find the Big Iron Motel.  This little spot offers motorcycle discounts, and the owners Scott and Rose have really worked hard to make this a nice place.  Comfortable beds, soft linen, nice pillows, and other amenities really shows the care and hard work they put in here.  Highly recommended!

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Our room at the Big Iron

The next morning we got an early start and headed down the road towards Grangeville and our turn onto Hwy 12 – Lolo Pass.  The road was damp in spots, showing that at some point overnight they’d had rain.  Glad we missed it!

Lolo Pass has the most amazing corners. Long, sweeping, banked, and no reduced radius endings. Some are so long and tight, I swear I’ll meet myself coming the other direction at the exit!  With every heaven there’s a hell – and this road’s bad side it the speed limit. 50mph is just stupid, and aggressively patrolled by a State cop whom we narrowly avoided by chance.

Breakfast of huckleberry pancakes at Lochsa Lodge and from here out we were in new territory we’d never ridden before.  At this point, the road leaves the river valley and raises up to meet Lolo Pass in all its rocky twisty glory.  A tiny bit of snow and a few gravel patches showed the winter didn’t let loose of this one until just a few weeks earlier.

Dropping down the other side, we landed in Montana. The road opened up to sweeping views of open farmland green with new crops and dotted with freshly born foals and calves.  The smell of sweet grass and lilac was nearly overpowering in some spots.

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Riding through old small towns made me wish for more time, museums and vintage buildings flew by though, with no time to stop and smell the roses.  At one point, a sign to Daly Mansion made my head turn in time to see a long shaded lane flanked by maple trees leading to a massive light pink-brick Georgian-style mansion.  The view was gone in an instant, but not before I added it to my mental list of ‘places to see when we have time’.

We did stop for a few minutes in the next town when I spied this old beauty

St. Marys Mission - Circa 1840s -  Stevensville Montana

St. Mary's Mission - Circa 1840's - Stevensville Montana

This quiet spot is still lovingly maintained by the Catholic parrish, and the attached cemetary added a sweet sadness with newly planted flags and flowers in readiness for Memorial day.

We continued on, following the Salmon river through red rock canyons and open valleys.  Such varied, ruggedly beautiful terrain here.

Hard to believe this was all one road, and the pictures were taken within 100 miles of each other – looks like we’re in three different states – well, four if you count the state of elation we’re feeling from being able to ride this!

I was a bit unsure of our Sunday night’s lodgings. Everything in Stanley was over $100 and the Salmon River Motel was $65. I’m always happy to get a deal, but then find myself wondering WHY it’s so cheap? Time would tell. Upon arrival, the motel appeared like a normal 1970’s cracker box, with cabins located to the side.  Opening the door to our room, we were pleasantly surprised to find a full kitchen, large space, two beds, and then sliding open the curtains brought the biggest surprise – the Salmon River, huge and full, racing by not 5 feet off the back deck!  This had to be the most beautiful view we’ve ever had from a motel room.

Million dollar view from our 65 dollar deck

Million dollar view from our 65 dollar deck

Waking up the next morning, we were on the road again early.  The view for the first few miles out of town was dominated by those imposing Sawtooth mountains, then began climbing into a heavily forrested area.  I was worried the road would get boring at this point – just trees and no view.  Boy, was I wrong! Soon we were climbing and negotiating 20mph switchbacks on a road that became increasingly more beautiful and technical.

Breathtaking vista on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway

Breathtaking vista on the Ponderosa Pine Scenic Byway

Even dropping down into Boise the road treats you to views of Lucky Peak Lake surrounded by steep rock walls with beautiful blue water sparkling below.

We did our time on Hwy 84, then happily turned off at Vale for the final leg of our journey.  Arriving home in time to watch the Lakers get trounced, it was good to remove our sore butts from the saddle – 1300 miles in 3 days – definitely not a relaxing weekend, but totally worth the pain!

No epic rides for Memorial Day

So, we’d planned to ride Lolo Pass in Idaho, then through Montana and loop home by way of Boise – but the satellite images of the storm showed that it would be taking pretty much the same path we were on!

Yep, we wimped out.  This weekend looks better, with a bit of thunderstorm activity maybe in the afternoons, so we’re going to do the Rufus loop again, this time with Steve and hopefully John along for the ride.  Maybe we’ll get to test the rain-worthyness of the tent!  Yeeehaw. 

Wish us luck!