An Idyllic Autumn Weekend

Click on the map to be taken to the Garmin Player page, and the GPS tracks for the trip.

Click on the map to be taken to the Garmin Player page, and the GPS tracks for the trip.

We seem to have one weekend every autumn with perfect weather. This year, it fell on October 19th and 20th. I had the weekend free of other plans and, after talking with Marv, we decided to ride to the Oregon Coast. Marv sent short-notice invites to friends who might want to join us. Chris Harnish was available to make the ride; Kurt was able to meet us for breakfast Saturday morning, but had to return home after that.

Our route would take us to breakfast in Centralia, south into Oregon, and then west to the coast. Marv and I met Kurt in Kirkland in a shroud of heavy fog at 8:00 Saturday morning. We didn’t pause, even to say hello, and rode the south-bound freeway system to where we planned to rendezvous with Chris who was coming from West Seattle. The timing was perfect because, just as we were coming down the on-ramp to southbound I-5, we caught sight of Chris in the right lane preparing to exit to our designated meeting spot at the truck scales.

We rode for an hour and exited the freeway at Centralia for breakfast at Judy’s Café. It had pretty good reviews, and it was certainly packed. The fare was ordinary, but ample and good. We had all been on The Treasure of the Sierra Highways ride in July, and enjoyed catching up during breakfast.

Chris was on a new-to-him Suzuki Bandit he bought in August, and was happy with the updated version’s extra torque and the snappy response of the fuel-injected engine. It seemed to be a good fit for him.

Chris's new bike.

Chris’s new bike.

After an ‘arrivederci Kurt’, we hit the freeway for another half-hour in thick fog before reaching our exit in Castle Rock where we topped off our tanks. Continuing south to Longview and crossing the Mighty Columbia, the fog seemed to lift like the ghosts of the thousands of logs stacked on the docks awaiting export. There were blue skies and nothing but nice roads ahead.

We went south on Apiary Road, and took a selection of roads through the wine estates, blueberry farms, and orchards of agricultural Oregon. The rich fall colors were resplendent in every direction.

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We rode over Bald Mountain and down the Little Nestucca River Road. They were perfect, and we all had a good time. We connected with US 101 in Beaver, Oregon, and were almost there. We departed US 101 at Hebo, and wound our way on some farm roads to the north end of Pacific City. After checking into our hotel, we tended to our bikes, and went down to the local pub for a meal.

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We got ourselves together at 8:00 Sunday morning, and walked for breakfast at the Grateful Bread, a very nice café with a Grateful Dead theme. They have good food, and it was the perfect place to start our day. Of course, I had the Ripple for breakfast. I think it may be the first time I’ve been on a ride with others, that I’ve been to a restaurant serving tofu. Chris and Marv found breakfasts they liked too, so it was a good choice. The buttery baking powder biscuits served with their breakfasts were outstanding. It’s now in my repertoire of good restaurants for that area.

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We took Cape Kiwanda Road north along the socked-in coast, and came across a dead elk lying in a ditch. It was an enormous animal; the vehicle that hit it must have really taken a hit too. We turned east onto Sand Lake Road, US 101 into Tillamook, and then a bit farther north to Highway 53. I finally got some video of Chris.

Someplace along the way, the fog cleared, unveiling a beautiful day. The rest of our morning would have us wandering on spellbinding, leaf-strewn country roads amidst a shower of summer leaves gone crimson and gold. I was keeping an eye out for a herd of elk we’d previously seen in this area, but they were not to be found; they must have known it’s hunting season.

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We stopped for a break on the Mist-Clatskanie Highway at a corner I’ve dubbed ‘Wisdom Corner’.

Wisdom Corner

Click on the photo to open an interactive panoramic view.

After continuing to and through Clatskanie, we took U.S. 30 east to Longview where we once again crossed the Columbia and, in doing so, left the sunshine behind. We took the usual back roads to Castle Rock where we elected to take the freeways to get home at a decent hour. It had been a perfectly-timed trip. Any future trip to the Oregon Coast has a high bar to clear if it’s to compare with this one.

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