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Archive for October 2nd, 2008

I was up early on day 2 and stood for a moment in the motel doorway, contemplating the Road King as though it were some postmodernist sculpture in the sunrise. Its gleaming chrome “big twin” engine, pipes, polished black-on-black fenders, beach bars and seven-inch headlight is nirvana in terms of form and function. I suspect the low grade headache has more to do with the tequila shots from the El Aguila Real restaurant the previous night than the crappy pillow.  It was time for some caffeine.

The rest of the crew was stirring and we headed across the street to the Tall Town Café & Bakery for some melt-n-your-mouth handmade cinnamon rolls.  Even from the outside you can tell this ‘Ol School bakery means business and the eggs with home-made biscuits and gravy were perfect for the short 250 mile ride into Reno.

After breakfast we brought the eight bikes to life in the motel parking lot and the neighbors likely wondered when was the quiet possession of their homes revoked?  The sound makes your heart beat a little faster and we shake, rattled and rolled down the US 395 trail.

The road encourages a relaxed pace and many of the trappings of modern travel are just not on this road.  Like the Doobie Brothers song “Clear as the Driven Snow“… “I keep rolling, and rolling, and I can’t stop, and I can’t stop…” there are no big box stores, no chain motels, no fast food chain restaurants and a couple hand painted billboards.  In fact at the Oregon – California border in New Pine Creek there is a shop called “Just Stuff“.  I’ve never seen a customer parked there in all my years riding to Reno, but it’s still there!  And near by the Goose Lake State Park is a large shallow lake that straddles the state line area and it’s so remote reservations are not necessary.

We cruised thru Alturas, Likely, Ravendale and Litchfield.  There is a running joke in this part of the country that the GNP is your choice of rocks, junipers, or sagebrush.  Not much happening in the high desert, but I did learn that the WNBA basketball player Kayte Christensen attended elementary school in Likely.  How unlikely! 

At Standish we filled up and chatted a bit with some High Desert State Prison guards making a shift change at the high-security, lethal electrified perimeter fence prison. We skirted Honey Lake, avoid speeding tickets and rolled into Reno by mid-afternoon.

The crew unloaded and enjoyed all that Reno and Street Vibrations could offer up in the form of some refreshments.  A couple of the “sig others” arrived in town and we had an awesome dinner in a local Italian joint called La Strada.

Next up is the Virginia City, Kit-Kat and Carson City tours.

Read more about the Street Vibrations trip at Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

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Mac Shadow

Mac Shadow

Seven a.m. Wednesday (September 24th) morning. With the taste of coffee still fresh in my mouth, I finish suiting up.

Tucking the t-shirt into the jeans under leather chaps, pulling the black-leather jacket over an old 2002 long sleeve t-shirt with a Street V logo on the front, I quietly open the garage.

Outside, the autumn air is cool, but no rain like the forecast predicted! Sure it’s cloudy, but the moisture has yet to arrive so, the hard bags will hold the rain gear a while longer.

Mounting the bike, I hit the starter button, and that Harley rumble fills the neighborhood. Without a hesitation, I kick it into gear and I’m off, heading for the open road,….then it dawn’s on me that I forgot to stop at the bank yesterday to get cash for the trip. I’m not off!

A quick ATM stop and now I’m really off…leaving the “burbs” behind. Out on I-5, the white reflectors rush past at a solid 55 mph, and I feel the tensions of the work week slip away. The kiss-ups, backslapping and glad-handing, telephone yelling, busted deals, office politics, near misses, petty squabbles, seemingly life-and-death decisions, employee theatrics…all gone, blown away by the wind in my face and the moment.

Lakeview is today’s destination and I’m in “big twin” heaven, easy riding, and it’s all mine: the machine, the highway, the distant rolling hills.

Oregon Route 31

Oregon Route 31

I met the eight member posse at the Troutdale Flying J and we headed east on I-84.  My initial plan of following the ‘shortest-distant-between-two-points’ theory didn’t work out because rain moved up the valley and a decision to avoid wet riding meant getting to the east side of Mt. Hood as quickly as possible.

At the Dalles we stopped for gas and a “biker biscuit” and then rode south on US 197 – re; the Dalles California Highway.  We crested the Tygh Grade Summit and then proceeded through Dufur.  About a half-hour outside of Maupin the air became brown and visible due to forest fires off in the west.  We dropped down to about 900 feet to the Deschutes River at Maupin in a dramatic winding river crossing and then climbed the Criterion Summit at over 3,300 feet.  We intersected with US 97 at Shaniko Junction and proceeded to Bend for a lunch stop with the “Starz“.

We intersected with Oregon Route 31 south of La Pine and headed east.  The highway is a 2-lane, rural road for its entire length.  The thrill of leaning into a corner and twisting the throttle out–straightening up the bike until you lean back upright and roll into the straightaway–is as much fun now as it was on any rickety 1970s two-stroke with balding knobby tires back in the day. 

OR 31 is part of the Outback Scenic Byway and goes between La Pine and just past Lakeview at the California border. It passes multiple natural attractions like Fort Rock State Park, Hole-in-the-Ground and Summer Lake.  This ~150 mile route starts in the Deschutes National Forest, through stands of lodgepole and ponderosa and we got to experience the beauty of the rural country and the remains of volcanic activity.  It’s a landscape of marsh, mountain, rim rock and sage-scented air.

We arrived at the Interstate 8 motel in Lakeview with time to watch the sunset and wipe the windshield free of our bug collection.   We ate dinner at the El Aguila Real Mexican food restaurant and enjoyed post dinner refreshments at the Eagles Nest Lounge…a local “elk-hunter” bar.

Read more about the Street Vibrations trip at Day 2, Day 3, Day 4 and Day 5.

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