Throughout the winter of 2012-13, I had been daydreaming of the rides I’d done the previous riding season, and mulling over rides I wanted to do again. I’d made an especially nice ride with Marv and Kurt soon after getting Marv’s bike roadworthy again, called ‘4 Days to Ride’. We’d spent a night at the Belknap Hot Springs Lodge in McKenzie Bridge, and another night at the Sunset Motel in Bandon.
I wanted a longer ride in Western Oregon in nice weather. We ride to coastal Oregon in the winter a lot, and I wanted to do it on dry roads without rain in my visor. I posted a ride to go to Bandon on the central Oregon coast over Memorial weekend. I figured I could take an extra day or two, and have an extended stay at the Sunset beach-side motel.
There was another ride posted later on our group’s web site with a constantly-changing set of dates that finally settled on the weekend before the ride I had posted to go to Bandon. Since I had planned to take the time off work to make both rides, I decided to see if Marv, or anyone else, wanted to tie the two rides together and make it a ride across Oregon.
It was a great idea. We could ride with one group in Idaho, and then make another ride across Oregon to the coast on miles and miles of twisty roads. It was a great plan… until we started getting close enough to get an accurate weather forecast. Marv and I consulted on it for a while, and decided to make a ride with a loop in Eastern Oregon, and a loop in Central Oregon. Then, we’d then spend a few days riding through north-central and coastal California, followed by a loop in Western Oregon.
There was only one rider with the disposable time and inclination to come along for any of the ride, which had now expanded to nearly two weeks. Dennis Cook made the first three days of the ride; it was just Marv and I for the remainder of the ride.
I put in my last day of work Tuesday and, with the next two weeks scheduled for vacation, I went to Marv and MaryLou’s house Tuesday night for an early morning start on Wednesday.
The first leg of our trip would be from Marv’s house to John Day, Oregon. The best route to get to the east side of the mountains is over Snoqualmie Pass on I-90. Twenty or so miles east of the summit, the weather is more reliably warm and dry. I steered our route off the freeway near Cle Elum, and onto side roads and two-lane highways winding in a southeasterly direction. We made our way to Biggs Junction, where we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon.
I have a poetic notion about things and, when planning the ride, I thought I would like to route us on OR-206 and go past where Marv had crashed last summer so he and his bike could finally make it safely around that curve. We stopped to stretch our legs, and to show Dennis where Marv had crashed. We were all still head-shaking, trying to figure out how such a gentle corner could have been the one that got him.
I got Marv to pose in the ditch where he had landed.
Having dispensed with the remains of last years demons, we proceeded with the big ride.
We rode down the wonderfully twisty, alpine OR-207 to OR-19.
We took another short break at the Thomas Condon Visitor Center driveway.
We would have gone in to have a look, but the gate across the driveway was closed. We took OR-19 through the red-rocked canyons to US-26, and on to John Day. We stayed at the Budget 8 Motel which wasn’t the greatest, but it met two of our criteria – it was economical and had a good internet connection.
We’d ridden through a little drizzle as we left Seattle, and there were a few bouts with it all the way through Washington. The weather was fair once we crossed the Columbia River into Oregon and, although it had threatened, it didn’t rain on us in the afternoon. We had put in 430 miles, the longest of the days we’d ride on this trip. From here it would be comfortable distances and good roads.
We ate at the Outpost in John Day. My food was unimaginative and dull, but it was good enough. It tasted as though they had opened jars from Costco, and heated the meal in a microwave. Restaurants with dozens of entrées listed on laminated menus with color photographs of the food never surprise me. The waitresses were friendly, and we had pleasant conversation over dinner. After dinner it was back to the motel, and a good night’s sleep.
The John Day Loop
Dennis, Marv and I had a very nice day-ride from John Day. The weather was dry with a few threatening clouds, as it often is in the spring. It wasn’t warm, but we had a few sun breaks on a mostly-overcast day. We left John Day on a loop starting out heading south and east in a counter-clockwise direction. Leaving John Day to the east for a very short spell, looking sharply for animals lingering in the road, we turned south on Fields Creek Rd. It’s a narrow, but very-well-maintained ranch road. There were cattle guards every few miles, but we didn’t have to chase any cattle from the road.
The winding canyon scenery was nice, and I soon started warming to the ride and loosening up. My bike and I were grooving. When I’m on motorcycle trips, I usually suffer from a caffeine deficiency. The rides always begin before I can get my full ten cups of coffee, especially since the coffee makers in motel rooms usually have those tiny little teaser pots that make only four cups. How they expect anyone to survive on those meager rations is beyond me.
We stuck with the paved road, and intersected with US-395. Our route was to ride north, back towards Canyon City and John Day, but to turn again after a few miles on a nice twisty section of US-395. We got to enjoy a little bit of the nice section, but soon came to a road construction stop. A pilot car led us to the end of the construction zone, which happened to be right at our next turn.
We turned southeast on Canyon Creek Lane. It’s another nice canyon road, two lanes this time. At the next intersection where we would turn east, I went ahead on the route and turned left, east on Logan Valley Rd., but noticed Dennis and Marv weren’t following me. They had arrived at the intersection, but didn’t leave behind me. I decided they must be getting eager for a breakfast stop. I know I was still jonesing for coffee. I turned around and decided to lead them to the nearest town, which was about twelve miles in the direction opposite to where we were going. I likened Dennis and Marv to a couple of horses you need to stop and put the feed bag on every now and then to get them to keep pulling the buggy.
Since I thought I understood why they hadn’t followed me, I didn’t stop to chat them up and ask why they were waiting. I just went past, and they fell in behind me. A few miles down the road, I looked in my mirror to see Dennis making a u-turn. Marv was not in sight. I flipped directions, and sped back to where I found Marv and Dennis reattaching Dennis’ tail bag to his bar. It had bounced off enroute.
I led them to Seneca, which is barely a town at all, but they did have a café. We rode past it, because it didn’t appear to be open. We stopped at the convenience store up the street, which seemed to be the gathering spot for the town-folks. We asked the people out in front if the café was open; they said it was.
We pulled into the parking lot of the café, dismounted, and went in for what we hoped would be breakfast. There was no one in sight, but I heard pans clattering in the kitchen. I walked back and spotted a middle-aged gal working. When I asked her if the café was open, she told me they’d be open in half an hour. I was surprised she didn’t tell us to sit down and have a coffee to wait. It seemed like the kind of place that would be eager for business, even if it arrived a little early. She made no-such overtures. We weren’t willing to wait that long, so we mounted up and hit the road again.
We rode east, past the intersection where Marv and Dennis had delayed, and were back on the route. We followed NF-16 into the beautiful 5,000-foot-high Logan Valley. I kept expecting to come across a herd of elk in some of the meadows, but they were apparently occupied in other environs.
We continued to the reasonably-well-paved NF-16, and then NF-13, with Prairie City and lunch for our next stop. Arriving there at the intersection with US-26, we filled our tanks, and had an outside lunch at Chuck’s Little Diner while we enjoyed the warm sunshine. I could have easily dozed off in the sun with the gentle breeze. The small town was very quiet.
We left Prairie City on US-26 and, at the junction with County Road 20 in Bates, we turned northwest onto County Road 20. This is one of my favorite roads. The curves have a great rhythm and, with the Middle Fork of the John Day River to follow, it was a half-hour of bliss. About five miles before we intersected with US-395, the road became a bit hazardous with sand and debris in several of the blind corners. When riding the road from the southeast towards the northwest, the occasional protruding hillsides crowd the right shoulder pretty closely, particularly toward the west end. The result is shortened visibility in some of the curves with unexpected sand and gravel in critical areas. We all survived by riding a little slower in the west end of the road.
We turned south on US-395 for a short ride to the Highway 402 turnoff. Shortly thereafter, we pulled over for a break. Dennis decided he’d had enough for the day, turned back to US-395, and returned to the motel in John Day. Marv and I continued on to Monument, and the intersection with Highway 19.
We turned south from there, and would connect with US-26 for the trip back into John Day. The weather began to look a little more threatening, and we rode into a short cloudburst. Marv pulled into a driveway to park under a tree while he put the rain fly on his tail bag. I quickly stretched my own over my tail bag.
When we arrived at the motel about twenty minutes later, Dennis was there. We rousted him from a nap, and we all went for dinner at the Outpost. We had a nice day-ride in the bag.
Dennis would turn towards home Friday morning; Marv and I would turn to the west. Our destination was only about 320 miles away where we would be spending two nights at the Belknap Hot Springs Lodge in McKenzie Bridge. The first four hours of our route was on the Izee-Paulina Highway that runs parallel to US-26, but is about twenty miles farther south. It’s a fun highway to ride, and offers a variety of terrain. There’s everything from alpine twisties to desert sweepers.
We had to wait for a very short construction zone about twenty miles east of Post, Oregon. We talked a bit to the flagger while we waited for the go-ahead. About five miles after clearing the construction zone we came across a small, very old deserted house made with heavy, rough-sawn timbers, and having a stone chimney. We pulled over for a short break, and to have a look at it. By its appearance, Marv and I guessed it to be from the twenties or thirties. There were remnants of primitive junction boxes revealing it had been retrofitted with electrical service, although it didn’t look like it was a concern when the place was built. I suggested to Marv that the place would probably be full of rattlesnakes. Marv was skeptical of my suggestion. When we walked up to the building and peered through the windows and doors, I was imagining how miserable it would have been to live in a log house like this in the high plains of central Oregon in the winter, ca. ~1930. Brrrr!
Our construction flagger went by in his pickup truck, pulled over, and had a word with us about the place. He warned us that the place was notorious for ratttlesnakes, and there were pack rat dens around back. We finished our survey of the place, and then continued down the road.
We took a break at a small general store and sandwich shop in Post. As we pulled in to park, we took note of a Multi-strada that looked like it was packed for two-up. Marv and I sat out in front, enjoying water and shade. The couple who were touring were going the direction from which we had just come. They were on a weekender, with John Day as their destination.
We were looking at the sign outside the store – ‘Post Oregon The Center of Oregon’. Marv and I both had the initial read of the sign as ‘Post Oregon Tire Center of Oregon’. It took me a double-take to catch the correct read on it. We both thought it too much of a coincidence that we’d both get the same mis-read on the sign at first glance. It must have been something about the way the letters were spaced.
When we got to Prineville, we were due for a tank of gas. Our route was going to take us up to the Prineville reservoir on the Crooked Highway and back before continuing northwest to McKenzie Bridge. We still had about two hours of roads to cover, and it was nearly 2 pm. I reckoned it might be a good idea to get on the west side of Bend/Sisters before Friday afternoon traffic ensued, so I backed us out of the route to the reservoir. To continue would have had us crossing Bend and Sisters from the southeast to the northwest at around 3 – 4 pm. We wouldn’t miss much by skipping that stretch of road and heading straight over Santiam Pass.
The traffic wasn’t too bad, but it was nice to be on the west side of the busy pass, well on our way south to the next overnight stop. We stopped shortly after turning south on Highway 126 to try our first video recording for the trip. We followed the curving McKenzie Highway down to McKenzie Bridge, and noticed another rider shadowing us . We bypassed the turnoff to our lodgings for the night so we could have dinner before we packed it in. A few miles down the road we pulled into the parking lot of a place called Takodas, and our shadow pulled in behind us. He was an English guy on a very long tour. I think he said he was currently living in Alberta, and was going down the coast on a ride he would finish in August. He asked us about Aufderheide, and beyond.
We checked into our hotel, and both hit the hot springs pool. It was a luxurious way to relax after a day of riding. There weren’t many guests at the lodge, so we had plenty of space. The lodge is located adjacent to the McKenzie River with nice grounds and a foot bridge spanning the river rapids. Their internet connection however, may as well not exist.
The lodge is kind of cheap in strange ways. They’re very particular about how much food they put out for breakfast at any one time. As a way to cut costs, it’s done in a way that is very obvious to the guests. I can’t believe they’re able to remain in business with the people with whom I interfaced running the lodge. The want to nickel-dime you for things, and their people skills are sub-par. I felt comfortable enough staying there, but I won’t go back. They just seemed…ignorant of the notion of hospitality. They have a satellite internet connection and, understandably, their bandwidth is closely monitored. Their policy is that you can get 25 mb of data during your stay. I used it sparingly so I could check my email on the second day. Well, 24 hours from the first time I logged in, my connection expired. When I inquired at the front desk, and explained that the connection pop-up displayed that I had only used 7 of my 25 meg, they told me I could buy another allotment for $2.95. I asked them why I needed to do that, since I hadn’t used my allotment, and they said they would contact their technician.
“OK, well in the meantime, can you just give me a new password slip so I can go ahead and check my email?”
“What I’ll do is sell you a new 25 meg allotment and, after we confirm with our technician you haven’t used your allotment, I’ll reimburse you the $2.95.”
It was sprinkling lightly when we awakened Saturday morning, but the sky was very bright. You could tell the sun was trying to burn through, but it just wasn’t quite there yet. We waited around until about 10 am, and then decided to go without sunshine. Our planned route was to be a large clockwise loop around the Cascades, starting out on the Aufderheide Scenic Byway , up to Sweet Home and Detroit, and then back to the lodge for the second night.
We got started on our route, thinking we’d be able to squeeze a decent ride from a marginal day. We stopped at the Cougar Reservoir Dam, and explored a few side roads to the end of the pavement before continuing south towards Westfir.
After an obligatory stop at the covered bridge at Westfir, we continued to Oakridge for coffee. By the time we got there, it was raining, so we decided to head back and skip the rain riding.
We picked up a BBQ’ed chicken and a tub of macaroni salad at the local grocery store to take back for dinner, and started backtracking to the lodge to wrap up the afternoon. We made it back around 3 pm. I was cold, and had spent the last 30 miles looking forward to the hot springs pool. It was a fantastic way to wrap up a cool, wet day. We hung out for a while, and then selected a video, Full Metal Jacket, from the lodge’s collection of DVDs. I’d seen it years ago; Marv had never seen it.
Ashland, Oregon – or Welcome to Summer
It was raining lightly as we left McKenzie Bridge Sunday morning. The day’s route would keep us east of I-5 on paved forest service roads and two-lane highways. We took the McKenzie Highway west. After taking side roads to get to Cottage Grove, we stopped just before we had to make a decision on our route. Would we go as planned, or would we short-cut? The rain had stopped, and we were starting to see patches of blue sky bouncing around in the heavens.
There was a guy sitting in his pickup truck in the parking lot of the small convenience store where we stopped. He got out and struck up a conversation with us. He was a local, so I asked him a few questions about my route to make sure I wasn’t leading us into a long stretch of dirt road. I described my plan to him, and he said it would be a paved route all the way through. He advised us to watch for the elk popping up around a curve.
Marv left the decision to me. I wanted to explore some of the forest service roads in the area, and stuck to my route. We skirted around the north side of Dorena lake. After hooking around the southeast tip of the lake, we found an old covered bridge where we stopped for a break.
The next stretch of highway was really nice for about an hour. It eventually petered out to a narrow forest service road, but the pavement was in good condition. We exited the forest near Steamboat, and followed the highways down to Crater lake.
We stopped for fuel in Diamond lake just a few miles from the entrance to the National Park. The fuel was expensive there, as you would imagine it would be in a resort village in the middle of nowhere.
We continued along the snow-lined highway to the entrance to the park. At the fee station, Marv pulled out his Golden Age Passport which granted both of us free entrance. I asked the ranger if the roads I had planned were all clear, and she assured me they were.
When we stopped at the first pullout to view the lake, it was as clear and beautiful as looking into heaven’s own mirror. The view is so pretty it could break your heart. The perfect reflection of the cloud-flecked sky made me feel like an intruder; it was gorgeous.
Although the plan was to circumnavigate the lake, we found the road around the east side of the lake was still unplowed. After taking a look at the snow banks behind the closed gate, we decided we weren’t going to make that excursion this visit, so we exited the park on Highway 62, and headed for Prospect.
As the day progressed, it continued to warm. We were starting to feel California. I was now riding with my heated gear turned off, and considering removing a layer. We passed through Prospect, followed the route to Butte Falls and Big Elk Rd., and then took a roller coaster ride down the Dead Indian Memorial Highway into Ashland.
After checking into our motel, we were walking to a Mexican restaurant for a late dinner, when a motorcycle went by. There was something very strange about what the guy was riding. The bike had a very distinctive high-pitched whine, and there appeared to just be a flat block with cooling fins where the engine should have been. After talking it over, we were both thinking we’d seen an electric motorcycle. As the rider sped past, I felt my future wash over me with his wake.
It had been a beautiful day; we‘d finally found warm sunshine and the smooth twisty roads of riders’ dreams.
Goodbye Oregon. California, here we come.
There was a mission I wanted to accomplish before leaving Ashland Monday morning. I’d heard of the Ashland Shakespeare Festival, and often told myself I wanted to attend it one day. While I was in town, I decided to have a look at the theatre district. I’d heard there was a very nice amphitheater there too, and wanted to do a quick drive-by. It will help me to have an idea of where things are located when I do finally make attendance. The result of all this is that poor Marv, who has no interest in any of this, has to tag along through the streets of Ashland while I try to reconnoiter. I made a mental note of the layout of the town, and filed it away for future recall.
I love riding in California. We took old Highway 99 and, after pausing to say good morning to some deer waiting for us in the middle of the road just before crossing the border, we jumped on I-5. A few miles after clearing the fruit-inspection stop, we exited onto the splendid Highway 96. Along the way, we stopped for a few minutes to appreciate Highway 96 and its smooth pavement. Our route would have us riding several marginal roads Monday. On the agenda were Scott River Road, Sawyers Bar Road, and the road from Forks of Salmon to Sommes Bar. These are ‘adventure’ roads requiring attention for debris and obstacles.
At the gas station in Etna, we talked to two riders on cruisers. They were from Western Washington too, and asked us about the roads, as some of their planned route was the same as ours. Since we’d been on these roads before, we were able to answer some of their questions. The first question by anyone on a street bike when asking about a road they don’t know is, ‘Is it paved?‘
We took our time wandering through these rural backroads, stopping where we found things of interest.
At Forks of Salmon we stopped to see the bats in the bat barn. You can see many remnants of previous gold rush days; there are still people mining there.
We took Highway 96 South to Highway 299 where we turned east to Weaverville. We were just ten miles or so from Weaverville, when Marv passed me and pulled off the road. He told me his bike had faltered a couple of times. We switched bikes so I could see what he was talking about. He was right; there was a distinct hic-up during acceleration. After filling our tanks, we checked into the 49er motel in Weaverville and went to dinner.
At dinner we discussed the possible causes of what we noticed in his bike. Neither of us could pinpoint a specific thing we thought could be the cause. We thought maybe the kill switch or the side-stand interlock switch could be the culprit. These obvious, easy-to-get-to things were evaluated and seemed to be free of faults.
Weaverville to Fort Bragg – It ain’t braggin’ if it’s true.
I decided to alter today’s planned route a bit in order to stay off the cow-paths in the event Marv’s bike ran into real trouble. We took Highway 3 south to the junction with Highway 36, which we then rode all the way to Fortuna. At one of our pit-stops, Marv told me his battery voltage display was fluctuating between 11.1 volts and 13.9 volts. That gave us both something to think about as we rode.
In Fortuna, we stopped at Starbucks where I got on the internet to see what sort of motorcycle support was available. After looking at possibilities for an hour and discussing our options, we decided to call Motosports of Ukiah, located 140 miles south on Highway 101. I asked them to hold a spot for us, and we headed for Ukiah so a tech could take a look at Marv’s bike.
When we arrived, Marv rolled right into the garage. Bruce, the lead technician, was really helpful, and went straight to work on the problem while Marv and I wandered around the show room.
After 30 minutes, the tech came out, saying he’d isolated the problem, and was in the process of fixing it. He’d done some voltage checks, and found the stator and voltage rectifier/regulator were fine, but the negative battery terminal was severely corroded. Yep! It was that simple. Marv and I were out of there and on our way to Fort Bragg within an hour, thankful the problem had been identified and resolved.
We rode from Willits to Fort Bragg on the outstanding Highway 20, wearing big smiles and looking forward to riding the rest of our trip with confidence.
Fort Bragg‘s Figure-8
The coastal region south of Fort Bragg has several roads that are peerless in their quality. I tried to work them all into the routes for our three days in the region. Some we got on the day we arrived. Some we got on the day we stayed in Fort Bragg. We tried to get the last of them on the way back north.
Marv and I started on a figure-8 loop out of Fort Bragg. We were enjoying a very nice section of the Comptche-Ukiah road. We found the west half of the road to be a sweet ride; the east end gets primitive and bumpy. At some point on this road, Marv must have hit a pretty hard bump. The support provisions for the OEM integrated under-seat panel and fender had too little edge-margin, and they pulled through, dropping the fender and breaking his fragile Chinese aftermarket cowls. We lifted his fender and secured it to the sub-frame with safety wire and zip-ties, and taped the fractured cowls with duct tape. I don’t think Marv will ever comment about me carrying too many tools and repair materials again. We were both glad I had them that morning.
While finishing up the repairs, a friendly talkative local guy pulled up behind us in a pickup and offered assistance. He told us about having to take his son to college in Iowa, and that he was thinking of getting a sport-touring bike to make the trip. We appreciated that someone stopped and offered to assist us.
We continued on our figure-8 route to Ukiah where we had Marv’s bike fixed the previous day. We stopped for a break and a bite at a small hole-in-the-wall Asian restaurant. We again found the locals to be friendly and talkative. This time, perhaps a bit too talkative. When we walked into the restaurant I ordered the food, and Marv talked to an old tie-dye type who was asking about our bikes. We sat down and, while we waited for our food, we realized the guy was pretty eager to have someone to talk to. Marv and I exchanged a glance that said “Don’t engage in conversation or encourage him.” He soon struck up conversation with the next customers who came in. I could tell by the looks on their faces that they were catching on to what we had discovered. The guy was harmless enough, but was just a little nutty.
We left Ukiah on Highway 253 for Boone, and then turned west on Mountain View Road. As we turned onto it, I realized that it was a road we had taken last September. It’s not exactly the pristine asphalt we would have hoped for. Nonetheless, we continued on it to Highway 1, and then followed Highway 1 south to Stewarts Point where we stopped and wandered through the unusual marcantile and looked at some of their pioneer antiques.
The rest of our route included the Stewarts Point-to-Skagg Springs Road. This is a marginal, but scenic road that reconnects to Highway 101 in Cloverdale.
There we were, deep in the heart of wine country, and neither of us was even slightly interested. The estates and vineyards are interesting to drive past, being very nice, and certainly affluent.
The last leg of our ride today was Highway 128 from Cloverdale northwest through Boone. It was a really nice ride to reconnect with the coast and a ride back into Fort Bragg. We had enjoyed a splendid day, having ridden some great roads in perfect riding weather. It was just as good as it gets.
Fort Bragg, the Lost Coast, on the Road to Trinidad
We left Fort Bragg late, after a good dose of coffee. We were on Day 9 of our trip, and I’d had enough ‘adventure’ roads. I think Marv had as well, so I wasn’t sure if I was going to tell him there might be a short, adventurous piece of road for us today. Later on in the day I was glad I hadn’t mentioned it. Adventurous was quite an understatement.
We rode from Fort Bragg to Leggitt on Highway 1, one of the great California motorcycle roads. We turned north on Highway 101 for a spell, working in a few alternates to the highway, but it was mostly 101. At Garberville we turned west and took the Shelter Cove Road to Ettersburg, where we turned onto the road that I had some reservations about. It is called the Ettersburg-to-Honeydew Road. As it turned out, my reservations were justified; it got narrow and bumpy soon after we got on it. It was surprising in a couple of places. There was a fire truck ambling along it at one point that really caught us by surprise.
About four miles before finishing this nasty piece of road, in the ‘town’ of Honeydew, the pavement disappeared and the road was loose gravel. It also happened to coincide with a series of steeply-descending hairpin switchbacks. I was glad we were going downhill on this section, because going uphill would have been very difficult. The gravel was the kind that makes a bike wallow, and I wouldn’t have wanted to try to negotiate those switchbacks, having to give it enough gas to overcome the steep grade. Marv and I tip-toed down the hill, and were soon on pavement again.
When we got to our next decision point, we were wondering if we wanted to finish the route, not being interested in any more roads like the one we had just ridden. There was a small mercantile store at the intersection and, as we arrived, two sport-touring guys pulled up from the direction Marv and I were headed. We talked to them for a while. They were from Gilroy, south of the Bay Area. The one rider had loaned his new ZX-14 to the Corbin Company in Hollister so they could use it to design Beetle Bags for the bike. In return for their use of his new ZX-14, Corbin gave him a set of Beetle Bags, along with a Corbin seat. My Beetle Bags came from that same factory in Hollister, and were a direct result of the design made possible by the rider’s loan of his ZX-14.
We asked them about the road and they said it was pretty rough, but it was worth it for the scenery. They asked us about the road we had just ridden, and we recommended they deviate and continue on Bull Creek Road to 101. We suggested that it would be difficult for them to make it uphill on the gravel section we had just covered, and that the rest of the road didn’t get that much better. I wonder which way they ended up going.
Marv and I continued on the Lost Coast Highway, and into old Victorian Ferndale. It was very much worth the views. We stopped on the beach for a break, and both chuckled that, if those two thought this road was rough, they were in for a shock if they didn’t heed our advice and take Bull Creek Road up to 101, rather than the Honeydew-to-Ettersburg Road.
Our route got us to a very nice motel in Trinidad. We had completed another full day, and we were both tired. I hadn’t planned the rest of the route yet, but I knew I would not be taking any more roads that were questionable.
Get Your Band-on
We took our time leaving Trinidad. The coastal weather that morning was typical with a morning haze and, out to sea, we could see a front coming in. The coastal transportation corridor near the border between California and Oregon is narrow, there being very few alternatives to Highway 101. We took these alternatives as they became available. This isn’t a real detriment, because Highway 101 is no slouch, and some sections are downright gorgeous.
We stopped in Crescent City for lunch where we happened across another rider on tour, an Austrian living in Alberta. Motorcycle riders always seem to have interesting stories to tell when they’re on tour. There’s a rich fabric of life woven while riding two-lane highways on two wheels.
We encountered very little traffic and, with one or two nice diversions, we rode Highway 101 all the way to Brookings.
In Brookings we turned onto an interesting alternative – Carpenter Rd. It had some very nice twisty sections as it rose to high ocean-view bluffs. It was a very pleasant surprise, as neither of us had ridden this road before.
I’m always pleased when I can find roads Marv hasn’t already ridden. His long history of sport-touring has put him on more roads than just about anyone I know. It’s nice when, after we finish for the day, he pulls out his old road-worn maps and highlighter, and marks new roads he’s covered. I think I managed that nearly every day this trip. They weren’t all good roads, but at least they were new ones.
There’s a bit of the explorer in me. I’ll often be looking at a map of an area I’m thinking of riding, look at the roads I’ve been on, and wonder if the ones I haven’t been on are any good. The advantage of covering some of these marginal roads is that, in the future when routing through these areas, I’ll not have so many unknowns. I’ll know whether the roads are good, marginal, or should be avoided, and whether they fit with the trip I’m planning. Many of the rough roads are the ones on which you find the most interesting things. Riding slower, on roads that aren’t so heavily travelled, is where the stories are.
Leaving Golds Beach, we found Cedar Valley Road. It was a very good road, and a pleasant surprise to both of us. We hadn’t expected to stumble across a 1st class motorcycling road that neither of us had been on before. It pays to have an open mind to exploring new roads. Every now and then, you can discover something like this.
We continued on Highway 101 with a stop at Cape Blanco lighthouse for a break and a few photos. The Oregon Coast has several active lighthouses that double as tourist attractions. We must have timed it right, because we found coast uncrowded and pleasant.
We arrived in Bandon and checked into our beachside motel just as the weather front we saw earlier in the day made landfall. We walked across the road to dinner, and then retired for some TV and chess. I stayed up late putting together the route for the next day.
The Bandon Loop
We woke to a sunny morning in Bandon and, after a light breakfast at the motel, we were off on our loop around western Oregon.
The route I planned the night before turned out to be the perfect length. We went north, finding a very good set of roads to negotiate our way around the Coos Bay area and on up to Reedsport.
We went east from Reedsport on the Umpqua Highway for a ways and then turned south on the road to Loon Lake. I had toyed with a route that would have gone southeast on Camp Creek road from there, but we had been on enough forest service roads. The excursion up to Loon Lake was just to see what there was to be seen.
We returned to the Umpqua Highway and continued east to Highway 138. We turned south, followed Tyee River road through the best part, and then wound our way south and west to connect with Highway 42. That took us back out to Bandon and the coast.
There isn’t much to say about the roads in the Bandon loop route. They were very good with no unexpected hazards. The weather was great, and it was nice to have a full day with no bumps or surprises. It was a day of smooth curvy roads through nice scenery. It’s easy to take days like this for granted when we finally get to our prime riding season.
Back in Bandon we had dinner at a little Italian joint, went back to the motel, and decided what to do for a route home. We were still over 500 miles from home, and had time to enjoy the ride, so we picked a spot near halfway home, and planned the next segment of our route. Pacific City was the target.
Bandon to Pacific City
We took all day to wander up coastal Oregon to Pacific City. The traffic was amazingly light for a holiday weekend. It made it easy for us to meander where we saw things of interest. We putted through the little towns, stopped at a farmers’ market in Yachats, and had a lazy day.
We took a few diversions to Highway 101 when they were available. The only portion of the day where we encountered any traffic was in Lincoln City, right where one would expect it. After a few stoplights, I led us on a detour that quickly got us out of town with no more stops.
We made it to Pacific City around 4 pm. After chain maintenance and a cleanup, we went down to the Sportsmen’s Pub. I had a very nice clam strips basket, and fish and chips. Marv got one of their steaks. We enjoyed our food, and watched the locals.
Memorial Day and Home
We awakened Monday morning to rain. We knew it was coming, and had steeled ourselves to the notion that the last leg of this trip was not going to be very enjoyable. After some thought, we decided that the fastest route home was the best choice for the day. There’s no point in trying to enjoy the back roads when it’s raining…and it was raining. It was varying degrees of drizzle to light rain. We spent the day riding the superslab home. We hit some stop-and-go traffic between Olympia and Seattle, but we managed to get home early enough to enjoy the evening.
This trip had everything in it. We had ridden over 3,400 miles in three states. We’d ridden in good and bad weather, and in alpine, desert and forest terrains. It felt like we’d ‘been-everywhere-man.’ There was a lot to process over the two weeks. The John Day segment with Dennis seemed like a completely different trip.
Thanks, Dennis and Marv, for making it a great ride!