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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

8 days, 3 states, 4 bikes, 8 friends, 1,850 miles

Dave M. itinerary notes:  2013 OREGON RIDE………Leisure riding with short mileage and time for sightseeing, viewing of flora and fauna and the resting of aged joints

We went on line made a reservation for the ferry at Coupeville to Port Townsend and I was then ready to begin planning and packing…well, it’s been months since the talk of this ride began so I had to restrain myself from not packing sooner.  Can you tell I—we--needed to get out on the bike, ride with friends, get away, take a break…it doesn’t matter what you call it, or how you put it into words, a bike vacation is just what we need.

I know, for those who don’t ride, you might find it hard to understand why we would think a vacation on a bike (not just any bike but a Harley) would be something to celebrate or why you would take a vacation with not just one couple but three other couples.  We laugh, we share what we have seen during the day, we enjoy meals with friends you trust to always have your back, you know that what happens on the trip stays on the trip (well maybe a few phone calls to one couple who couldn’t join us this time so they can participate), and then there are the photographs to remember the sights.  I wouldn’t trade these motorcycle vacations with friends for anything.

Saturday it was rise and shine, well sort of…it’s not quit sunny outside but my heart is…time to ride to Starbucks to meet up with our friends and the adventure begins.  Funny thing is no one wants to be the last to arrive.  Larry and I are riding down the freeway and I see Dave and Dawn on the overpass above, ready to approach the on ramp.   As we arrived at Starbucks, all four bikes pulled in at the same time.

Coffee anyone?  The perfect song for our group was playing, Zippity Doo Dah and Rick was singing it as we left Starbucks: 

Zippity doo dah, Zippity aye,
My oh my what a wonderful day
Plenty of sunshine coming my way,
Zippity doo dah, Zippity aye.
Mister blue bird's on my shoulder,,
It’s the truth,
It’s actual,
Everything’s satisfactual!
Zippity doo dah,
Zippity aye,
Zippity doo dah,
Zippity aye!

We pulled out of Bellingham headed to the Coupeville ferry that would take us to Port Townsend wearing all our layers and plugged in.  Well, we almost missed the ferry….we pulled in, paid for our reservations, drove into our lane, waited about five minutes and then the boarding began.  There must have been about thirty bikes on the ferry when we left the dock.

Enough time for coffee or hot chocolate and a bathroom break and we were almost ready to dock.  We drove down highway 101 on the Hood Canal enjoying the views of the water and the small sleepy towns we passed through. We stopped for lunch at the Rusty Tractor in Elma, a nice little restaurant we frequent on our journeys south.   We continued on through Raymond, once known as a wild and wooly lumber mill town and now famous as the place the group Nirvana played their first gig.  The city of Raymond is also lined with flat rusted metal sculptures of animals and people.

Our final destination for the day, Long Beach, Washington,  originally called Tinkerville, and had a narrow gauge railroad at one time.  It has a fairly mild climate and hosts annual sandcastle and a kite flying contests.  You can see mountains of oyster shells, visit the kite or cranberry museum, go for a walk on the beach, or the half mile long boardwalk.

Bikes unloaded, coffee in the lobby and we were ready to explore.  We split up in two groups wandering the few blocks in town, checking out the sandcastle competition and walking to the beach.  It was quit windy on the beach but that wasn’t keeping anyone from picnics, kite flying, or using their four wheel vehicles on the sandy beach.  We found a small restaurant a couple of blocks from our hotel to enjoy a good meal before strolling back to our hotel.

Sunday morning we left around eightish down highway 101 to Florence Oregon.  It was a pleasant day riding down the coast, past one of my favorite towns, Seaside.  It was a little early so we passed on stopping at the Tillamook for ice cream and really glad we were going south instead of north, because all the weekend tourists were headed home north.  Lincoln City was stop and go through the lights and traffic and as Larry would say, “we successfully defied death and destruction.”   We stopped in Depot Bay for lunch at the Hag and saw sea lions on the rocks and a fishing boat maneuver through the narrow opening into the protected bay.  We passed through Newport which was also busting with traffic going north as we continued on south.

Well, we had a little excitement…seems some teenage driver out for spin in dad’s truck decided to pass us on a double yellow line, cutting into the middle of our group when he realized he couldn’t quite clear all four bikes without hitting oncoming traffic.  All of this was taking place on blind curves on highway 101.  Well that was enough to get our blood boiling but it was over, or so we thought.  We passed a pull out for viewing and there was the truck preparing to pull out into traffic again, headed our direction.  He pulled up hard on Dave and Dawn and again on a no passing section of the road he proceeded to pass us….again seeing oncoming traffic he pulled in between our bikes, he pulled out and quickly pulled in between our bike and Rick and Marina.  He wasn’t done yet…he pulled out again and leap frogged between Dave and Lorie and Rick and Marina.  God was looking out for Dave and Lorie today because this jerk was riding their bumper.  He pulled out on a double yellow with traffic coming in the opposite direction and passed Dave and Lorie again.  I guess when you are young you think you are invincible…think again because more than your life is at stake when you drive a weapon with no regard for your life or anyone else’s. 

We got settled in our rooms at the River House and found rubber duckies sitting on the edge of our bathtubs, this brought laughter and smiles to our faces.   We walked through old town to scope out places to eat dinner and settled on the Firehouse restaurant.  After dinner we walked down the street to the ice cream shop for dessert and I had black walnut ice cream, so hard to find, but black walnuts always reminds me of home, Missouri, black walnut fudge-- time to call mom.

Monday we left Florence, Oregon for Bend, Oregon around eightish (this time is what would become the joke on the trip, just ask Lorie what eightish means).  We rode on highway 126 next to the river under a canopy of trees shading the roadway and making us glad we had our heated gear on and plugged in.  The covered canopy gave way to a tree lined road that then opened up into a road with trees set back off the road.  The curving forest road turned to wide fairly straight road through flat farmland and orchards.   This was a road that our leader had never been on and it amazed us because it seems likes he knows all the back roads and byways of Washington and Oregon.

We managed to wind our way through the maze of city streets in Eugene heading east on highway 58 and 46 to Bend.  The farmland quickly turned to dry high dessert and warmed up quickly and we stopped for cold drinks and to remove layers of clothing.  We passed the lava fields and stopped at Cultas Lake Resort for lunch on the outside patio.  It was a pleasant break looking at the grass lined shore of the lake and the boat docks.  We saw children and adults playing in the water all the while we sat on a cool, tree covered deck.

Back on the road we headed to the Harley store in Bend for a few necessities before locating our rooms for the night.  Showers, cold drinks, coffee, and we were ready for dinner.  The food was good but a little pricey and the service was lousy at The Crossings Restaurant at The Riverhouse Hotel.   A 19% automatic tip for a waiter who clearly didn’t want to wait on us and then would not break our check down into separate bills after agreeing to this is unacceptable.  I wrote a review on Yelp and Tripadvisor to warn others to stay clear of this restaurant.  Thanks Dave and Dawn for being the first to put up a credit card and get us out of there.  I did however tell the manager what we thought of the waiter and how we were treated.  The waiter got to keep his 19% auto tip and we were offered dessert to go…no thanks….guess they just wanted us out of there, and we didn’t want to stay a minute longer than we had to.  Too bad the service personnel had such bad attitudes because the atmosphere on the patio was pleasant watching the river run behind us. 

Tuesday, day four of our adventure, we left Bend at eightish moving on down the road headed for Baker City.  We drove through tiny little towns in the middle of farmland and you could smell the cut alfalfa waiting to be baled in the fields.  Occasionally you could smell the sage brush and maybe juniper trees.  It is heating up and as we take a break and get something to drink, we are all removing the layers, and using the sunscreen.

We stopped for breakfast in Prineville which is east of Bend.  Prineville is the county seat and was founded in 1877 and located on the on the Crooked River at the mouth of the Ochoco Creek.   Breakfast was entertaining as we watched the rainbow bus filled with modern day hippies in their broken down bus with two blown tires.  The waitress said they were from Portland looking for a place to camp when they pulled into the restaurant parking lot.  Wow…camping without reservations…who would do that in this day and age of technology.  I removed another layer as it was beginning to warm up by the time we were ready to mount up again.  There is a chance of thunderstorms throughout the afternoon so we may need to pull over for rain gear later on or as Dave M. says, we will dry out as fast as it rains.

We stopped in Mitchell Oregon for a break and cold drinks.  There isn’t much to the town except a café and a general store, but it is the gateway to the Painted Hills.  The area around Mitchell was at the bottom of the Cretaceous Sea, home to the giant Tiger of the sea, the Plesiosaur, 80-90 million years ago. 

How hot is it?  It is time to stop again in Mount Vernon to remove all extra layers and grab cold drinks.  There isn’t much to this town except the Clyde Holliday State Park we passed as we pressed onto our final destination.

The last stop before Baker City was Sumpter where the only place in town that was open was a small bar.   Our eyes slowly adjusted to the dim lighting and we seated ourselves in the back room and ordered a round of tea, sodas, and iced water.  Refreshed and ready to go we drove back to the junction and turned east for the last twenty- six miles.  Sumpter was rich in gold, timber and ranching but today is mostly a tourist town.   They had a railway that went from Baker City to Prairie City, electric lights, an opera house, churches, newspapers, and sadly when the mines closed, the town died.  Fire almost destroyed the town in 1917 and they used dynamite to put out the fire, destroying twelve blocks.    An excursion train still runs through Sumpter and several years ago during the Hells Canyon Rally Larry and I rode those rails even if it was a short trip.

The Hells Canyon rally was the weekend before we arrived so riding through Baker City seemed fairly quiet.  The city may have looked quiet but the hotel was jumping.  It was almost booked when we checked in, but we did have reservations, thanks, once again, to our illustrious leader.   Showers, a change of clothes, a cold drink, and we were ready for dinner.  Why drive when there was a perfectly nice restaurant at the hotel.  Wow, the servings were huge.  A salad could feed two people and the prices were really good.  We talked, we laughed and then it was time to retire.

The railroad came to Baker City in 1884 and it was the largest city between Salt Lake City and Portland by the 1900’s.  It is the county seat and the historic district is on the national register of historic places.   The art deco Baker City Tower is nine stories and the tallest building east of the Cascade Range in Oregon.

Wednesday , eightish, day five, we rode east out of Baker City on highway 86 passing The Oregon Trail Interpretive Center.   There are lots of exhibits and you can view the ruts of the Oregon trail through the five hundred acre site.    Worth the time to stop which we did on a previous visit to Baker City.  The Oregon Trail is approximately two thousand miles long from Missouri to the the Willamette Valley.  It began as trails used by the Native Americans, then fur traders and in 1843 a wagon train with over eight hundred people, one hundred and twenty wagons, and five thousand cattle made the five month journey.

We stopped in Richland at Annie’s Café for breakfast.  Eight people can be overwhelming for a small one person café, but the owner handled it with great service and a smile.  He kept the coffee coming while he took orders and cooked as fast as he could go.  Dawn helped out pouring coffee for our group and we had an enjoyable meal to start off our morning.  Rick did, however, miss his chance at homemade cinnamon rolls; but he said they were too big to put in his tour pack.

Warm and it’s getting hotter, we stopped at Scotty’s Hells Canyon Outdoor Supply for cold drinks before turning onto highway 39, the Wallowa Mountain Loop over the mountain.  Dave M:  “No need for a potty break as your butt cheeks should be puckered so tight you couldn’t do anything anyway. Last time I was on this road it was gravel back in about 1956.”  Well the road has been improved and has been designated a scenic byway as an, “All American Road,” going through the Wallowa-Whitman National Forest.    We stayed by the river winding through the forest where the temperature was about twenty degrees cooler than it had been when we stopped at the store.  As we climbed higher, the temperatures began to climb also.  We turned west on highway 350 into Joseph where we stayed at the Indian Lodge Motel. 

We wandered around town, stopping for colds drinks and light snacks before dinner.  The bronze statues throughout the downtown area were amazing as were the wooden planter boxes that were filled with a variety of “flora and fauna,” each unique and different, some sponsored by local families or groups.  Larry made a necessary stop in the Joseph Fly shop for fishing supplies.  A guy can never have enough flies, so I guess he won’t complain if I buy another pair of shoes because a girl can never have enough shoes, right?  We had dinner at The Stubborn Mule where enjoyed a nice meal, reasonable prices, and plenty of time to talk about the day’s adventures. 

There just is not enough time to see everything, and Joseph would definitely be a place to revisit.  Wallowa Lake has great fishing, or a tram will take you up to the top of Mt. Howard where you can dine at the 8,150 elevation, and you can stay at the Wallowa Lake Lodge.   Check out  or  for more information.

Thursday morning we walked down to The Old Town Café for breakfast because it was seven twenty and we were all ready to go, way ahead of eightish.  Good food to start off the morning.  I had a cup--which turned out to be extra large glass cappuccino cup--filled with vanilla yogurt, blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, and fresh made granola.  The menu cover read:  Welcome to The Old Town Café, where the menu, prices, hours, and attitudes change without notice.   It was not until the next day that Rick mentioned the chocolate covered coffee beans at the restaurant and Lorie wondered why Dave M. had not scooped up a spoonful for her.

We traveled north through Enterprise on highway 82 then onto highway 3 up the Wallowas Mountains known as America’s Alps.  We left the range land where we saw dogs and a herder bringing the sheep into the pens.  Dave and Lorie were blessed as a deer that jumped just feet in front of them only caused them to put on the brakes and the two fawns stayed put on the side of the road.  We stopped at Joseph Canyon Viewpoint to view the winter grounds of the Nez Perce Tribe.

From here we continued north to The Rattlesnake, a series of switchbacks that took us down to the Grand Ronde River.  We were warned about gravel and rocks that we did find in some areas and we needed to weave around them, but not as bad as it could have been.  We began our climb back up WA highway 129 with more switchbacks and blind corners, stopping at Fields Spring State Park for a break.  From here we were in the rolling hills of the Palouse heading north to Lewiston Idaho, where we stopped at Asotin, WA, for cold drinks.  We crossed into Idaho and maneuvered through Lewiston and a construction site leaving the bikes, our boots, and chaps covered with mud from the gravel worksite.    We were at full throttle riding hard and fast uphill out of Lewiston on highway 95 where we as far as the eye could see were fields of mostly wheat and a few other crops. 

We approached Moscow for a little sightseeing of the downtown area.  It is an old city and has a certain vibe to it like other smaller college towns.  Four lefts and a right and we found a gas station.  The Moscow area was originally named Paradise Valley but had the nick name of “Hog Heaven.”  We were just a few miles east of the Washington border.

We stopped at Dad’s diner in Potlatch Idaho which didn’t look like much on the outside but the food was good and the bakery items fresh.

Somewhere in our wanderings this morning between Oregon, Washington, and Idaho we changed to Mountain Time zone and back to Pacific Time zone.  I know I saw the signs but I can’t quit remember where we were..or what time it was. 

We wandered highway 95 to hwy 5, back to hwy 97 and then to our destination of Harrison Idaho.   We stayed at The Lakeview Lodge overlooking Lake Coeur d’Alene.  There was a osprey nest on a pole sticking out of the water, visible from our rooms.  We could occasionally see two little heads bobbing around, looking for mom who was never far away.   We had a short walk down the street for dinner and then back to the hotel to sit on the patio to visit before retiring for the night. 

Day seven and sometimes the best made plans change.  We wound around the lake wearing our layers because the east side of the lake was shaded from the morning sun which was hidden by the hills.  We headed west on highway 90 and then north on 41.  This is where we had a change of plans with a relatively quick fix mechanical problem on Rick’s and Marina’s bike.  If you have to pull over and wait, let us recommend a truck weigh station, wide parking, easy on and off the freeway, and easy to describe to the truck and trailer sent to pick you up.  We had a short delay and visited Lone Wolf Harley Davidson in Spokane and wished Sasha Oakley a happy birthday in person.  Sasha loaned Rick and Marina her car and we stopped for lunch at Shari’s restaurant.  We drove back to Lone Wolf HD for the bike and then we were on the road again.  A big thank you to Lone Wolf HD for the quick response, immediately working on the fix, the staff for greeting us at the door with bottles of cold water when we arrived, helping us as we shopped while we waited, and filling our bike water bottles with ice and water before we departed. 

We stopped in Newport, WA, for cold drinks and to sit inside to cool off before continuing on our journey.   In Colville we stopped again because it’s hot and you begin to look for alternative ways to cool off-- like standing in front of the automatic car wash, catching the spray off the rinse cycle.  We continued over highway 20 and Sherman Pass to the Northern Inn in Republic, our home for the night.  We walked up to Esther’s Mexican restaurant for dinner after it had cooled off a little…a very little.  As we walked back to our rooms we decided to leave eightish in the morning.  Would that be five till, ten till, seven thirty?  Who knows.

We’ve been eight days on the road
New roads, new places, new memories
Down the coast and over the river
Snaking up and down the canyons
Hells Canyon to the plains of the Palouse
Our hometown’s coming into sight
We’re happy, we’re sad
The end to a journey
Eight days on the road
We’re gonna make it home today
Can hardly wait to go again

Saturday morning we left at eightish for Tonasket, located on the Okanogan River.  Tonasket was named for Chief Tonasket of the Okanogan people.  We began removing the first set of layers and finding cold drinks.  Dave M. was standing at the drive-up window for at little coffee stand when a truck pulled in.  While Dave was waiting for his order he proceeded to take the order for the truck waiting.  I think Dave M. would make a good barista when he retires from his day job.  He could certainly keep the customers entertained. 

Breakfast was at the Koala Restaurant in Omak where we had great service and lots of coffee.  All remaining layers came off as we were heading into the Methow Valley, stopping in Twisp for gas.  We decided to bypass a stop in Winthrop for ice cream because the blues festival began on Friday and parking is always at a premium.  We passed the parking and campgrounds for the festival and were amazed by all the vehicles and tents in the dry dusty fields.  My idea of camping is a hotel with a mattress, running water, and solid walls.

We climbed into the North Cascades, through Washington Pass, and stopping at Diablo lookout.  Next stop would be Marblemount on the west side of the mountain.    It was definitely cooler on the west side of the mountain but still warm and feeling warmer when you are not riding down the road catching a breeze. 

Rick and Marina left us in Sedro Woolley and the rest of the group headed home on highway 9.  We were beginning to feel the cooler air as we took the easy turns headed north.  We stopped at the Acme store for drinks and snacks.  From here we continued north and then west on Mt. Baker highway, with Dave and Dawn leaving us we reached Smtih Road.  We continued on with Dave and Lorie until they turned off for home.  A few more miles and we were pulling into our driveway.

If you want to find out more about America’s scenic byways, check out this website and you can order a free fold out map of one hundred and fifty byways:

Along your journeys you can also check out to find offbeat tourist attractions.

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