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Oregon Trail Interpretive Center - Baker City, OR

On Friday we were up early to grab coffee and breakfast before making our way out to the ‘Devils Tail’ and Hells Canyon Dam.

It was rather obvious while eating my scrambled eggs and looking out across the vendor parking lot that there were some hard-living characters who had run wild the night earlier.  They weren’t totally burned out, but obviously moving a little slower.  It got me to thinking about how Harley like virtually every other motorcycle manufacture, is facing a huge, looming crisis; the ageing of its core clientele.  Like every other market they touch Boomers dominate the motorcycle industry, especially for those expensive touring cruisers that generate so much profit for the corporate coffers.

Depending on whose data you reference; AMA states the average age of its members is 48, the American Motorcycle Industry Council’s most recent survey (2008) has the average pegged at 43 years old (up 5 years from 1998) and a JD Power and H-D survey has the average at 49 years old.  It would seem that motorcycling is no longer a young man’s sport.   Based on my observation this morning I would concur and while I didn’t see anyone trading their favorite ride in on an RV, I did see a lot of interest in the Boss Hog trikes and customers lining up for demo rides.  Most were intrigued with how to navigate the parking lot in reverse gear.

Hells Canyon Dam

I’m not sure about you, but I’m the kind of person who gets satisfaction when my mechanical stuff is humming.  It puts a smile upon my face and makes me feel glad all over.  I felt that way on the ride out to the Hells Canyon Dam.  The departure temperature hung in the mid-60’s – cool for eastern Oregon — and looking around the horizon it was clear there was going to be a mix of rain showers and blue sky.  Yeah, we were going to be dancing between the rain drops all day long on this ride.

We traveled out on Baker-Copperfield Hwy (Hwy 86) toward Richland, through Halfway with a brief pit stop at the Scotty’s Outdoor Store just prior to Oxbow as we headed back to the bottom of the canyon.  Hells Canyon is on the border of Idaho and Oregon, and the ride is deep in the valley alongside the Snake River.  Yeah that one — the one where Evel Knievel attempted his X-1 Skycycle jump over the canyon, unsuccessfully, back in 1974.   Many people will disagree when you remind them that the Hell’s Canyon is North American’s deepest river gorge at almost 8,000 feet, 2,000 feet deeper than the Grand Canyon, but it’s true.

Posse On Devil's Tail

And as a bonus it has one of the most famous rides in the area — the Devil’s Tail — a 22 mile route from Oxbow, Oregon to Hell’s Canyon Dam. There are hundreds of S-curves and twisty’s with picturesque views.  The Devil’s Tail is not for the novice, and requires attention to riding. Last year we talked to a motorcyclist who misjudge the road and dump his bike.  Fortunately they had only minor injuries.

Baker City "Rain Out"

Back in the day this road was used to deliver workers and supplies to the site of the dam construction when it was being built in 1966. Today Idaho Power employees use it to access the dam and outdoor hobbyist use it for recreational access.  At the end of the road the dam and water were nearly level with the road.  As you drive across the dam we were greeted with a loud “whooshing” sound and at the visitor’s center which is a short, but steep ride below the dam we took pictures of the large volume of water flowing through to make hydro electrical power.  It’s a spectacular sight and the close proximity means you literally feel natures power.

Interstate 84 North - Departing HCMR

We reversed directions and headed back to the Sunridge Best Western where we met up with some other riders who arrived late-afternoon.

On Saturday the weather was a mixed bag.  The morning started out partly cloudy with the occasional sun burst, but the Whitman National Forest was socked in with storm/rain clouds which is where the posse planned to ride for a ghost town tour.  We downed some breakfast and remained optimistic the day would bring something better.  It turned out that optimism was sorely misplaced!

Hwy 14 - West of Umatilla

Thinking it would clear later in the day we elected to hang out in the vendor booths in downtown Baker City and wait it out… but, rain is a life metaphor – into every ride a little rain must fall, right?   Well it did.  I know the Folkestad’s like to state that the HCMR has never been “rained out” and I’m not sure what criteria they use, but it started raining around 1pm with showers at first and then turned to a steady hard rain from 2pm through most of the night.  We graced the downtown area refreshment centers and talked shop with the High Desert H-D folks from Meridian, ID.  Downtown was jammed and by the time we returned to the motel restaurant/bar it was packed with wet riders who called the day a total bust.  Good for Baker City businesses, but it seemed the weather conditions were conspiring against us.

Near Maryhill Winery - Goldendale, WA

On Sunday morning you could smell the cool breath of mother nature as we wiped off the previous night rain soaked seats.  Unlike Western Oregon, the majority of the landscape in Eastern Oregon is wide open which allows riders to see the lay of the land and it provides plenty of time to take it all in.  For me I enjoy Eastern Oregon because it’s different.  The people are different (in a positive/good way), the weather is different, it looks different and the roads are different.  It seems that people have a habit of never appreciating a place until you’re about to leave it.   I had some regrets that I didn’t get time to explore the ghost towns, but we were about to point the bikes north hoping for a dry day!

We rode out of Baker City on I-84 and encountered cooler temperatures as we traversed the Wallowa Mountains.  The sun shined brightly and by the time we stopped to re-fuel in Pendleton is was actually warm.  We cut over to Umatilla and rode Hwy 14 on the Washington side of the Columbia River.  The pull toward home and returning to “normal” life was getting stronger as the pace quickened back to Portland.  We dodged some rain drops near “The Couve” and got home in time to learn that yes, the self-proclaimed “King” — Lebron James — was still not a NBA champion and that my friends means the only place celebrating more than Dallas that night was Cleveland!

In spite of the ‘rain out’ on Saturday the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally was a great experience.  If you have not attended it should be something on your bucket list!

Postcard From Hells Canyon – Part 1 HERE.

Photos taken by editor. Previous HCMR posts: 2010 HERE, 2009 HERE

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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I was fortunate to get out and enjoy a brief motorcycle ride this past weekend while absorbing all that an Oregon summer day has to offer.   It was great.

The area north of Highway 26 is well-known throughout the Portland Metro region as not only a great motorcycling destination, but is also home of the American Diabetes Association “Tour De Cure” bicycle ride.  The sights, sounds and smells are even more pronounced on a bicycle than on a motorcycle ride.  I’ve participated in this charity event the last few years which has several ride routes though North Plains.  In fact, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) provides funds as part of their “Discover Oregon Scenic Byways” program and several of the roads in this area benefit from a disproportionate amount of funds.

I started out on Shadybrook Road doing what I’d call the “North Plains Ramble” which leads through farmland and quiet, winding, rural roads.  Then we headed up Dorland Road, then traversed back east on Skyline Blvd.  The casual country atmosphere was a perfect setting for sweeping views, and the occasional Alpaca ranch and equestrian farm.

Skyline Tavern

Whenever I travel this route I feel grateful to have escaped the urban development for a small time-slice to enjoy the solitude and landscape.  And if you long for a large backyard, but live in a studio/condo then the ‘ol school “Skyline Tavern” is something that should be on your must visit to-do list.  It’s somewhat hidden in the forest growth on a curvy part of Skyline Blvd., but has a huge patio, horse shoe pits, darts and plenty of cold refreshments!  It’s one of those locales that has survived for eons because of the charm of the place.

If you want to put a smile on your face then I suggest that you head out to this area on your motorcycle!

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Can embarrassment and personal demons be squelched with money?

It would seem so and that $169,800 is all that’s needed!

I’m referring to the Iron Pigs MC member and Seattle police detective Ronald Smith.

It probably comes as no surprise that Smith, who as you may recall shot a member of the Hells Angels MC in Sturgis a couple years ago has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.  The suit alleges the department disparaged him and negligently provided false information that led to his indictment on a perjury charge.

Disregard that all charges were dropped and why let any of the facts get in the way when Mr. Smith sees dollar signs.  The only thing missing in this little drama is an attorney to throw in the proverbial race card and get the ACLU marching.

I’ve blogged about this incident HERE, HERE and HERE as well as provided a number of updates.  A brief recap is during the annual Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, Smith, who was in Sturgis with members of the Iron Pigs, a motorcycle club composed of LEO’s and firefighters shot and wounded a Hells Angels MC member, Joseph Patrick McGuire, in self-defense during a fight in the Loud American Roadhouse on Aug. 9, 2008. Smith was charged in Meade County, S.D., Circuit Court with the felonies of aggravated assault and perjury. He also was charged with a misdemeanor count of carrying a concealed weapon without a permit.

Now comes the pain and suffering.  Mr. Smith claims he was “guilty until proven innocent,” shunned and neglected.  Huh?  The lawsuit contends his reputation was harmed by the criminal charges and that shortly after the incident, the Seattle Police Chief at the time, Gil Kerlikowske said during a public-relations event that Smith was an “embarrassment” to the department and would “not be working for him much longer.”

That working for him part was absolutely correct!   Shortly after Mr. Kerlikowske became the “drug czar” or the director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy for Obama.  He is responsible for advising the president on drug control programs, and for coordinating drug policies among all federal agencies.

My point?  While the various bloggers have raged back and forth between supporters of the police to distrust of the police and the justice system…could someone, even the Seattle Police Chief please just apologize to Mr. Smith before he continues to take all of your hard earned tax dollars.

Photo courtesy Flickr and Iron Pigs MC.

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Music_ToyRunThe 8th Annual Musician’s Toy Run Benefit is set for this Saturday, November 7th at Trails End Saloon.   The ABATE/Shriner’s Toy Run is a motorcycle event sponsored by ABATE of Oregon where hundreds of riders take toys to the children at Shriners Hospitals for Children.  The actual Toy Run will take place on December 6th.

Like previous years, all toys collected and funds raised during the Musicians Toy Run Benefit are donated to the ABATE Toy Run which benefits Shriner’s Kids.  Last year’s musical event was a huge success, raising over $5000 and 6 large bags of new toys for the ABATE/Shriners’ Toy Run.  The venue for this year’s event is at Trails End Saloon in Oregon City, 1320 Main Street. The party will start at 3pm and entertain you untill 1am.  More information is available on musicians and the schedule is located HERE.

Be there for some great entertainment!

Photo courtesy Francinewest.com

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empty_plantWithout a doubt this has started off a bleak year. 

The media tells us that “deregulation” and “unfettered free markets” has brought our nation to the brink of financial ruin.  I opened today’s newspaper and find articles telling me it’s worse than everybody says.  Oregon’s jobless rate was 9.9% at the end of January.  The highest in 25 years.   The equivalent of the combined populations of Salem and Corvallis (214,809) wandering around jobless!

I’m not trying to pile on the bad news, but folks the great American tragedy just got worse!

In restaurants and pubs all over the Northwest people are victims of deceit and reeling from the harsh effects of the “short pour.”  Let’s say after an afternoon of motorcycle riding you decide to stop for a local “refreshment” and the pint you were just handed with an inch of foam on the top is not a pint at all, but more like 20 ounces?  It turns out that the largest percentage of volume in a pint glass is in the top inch of the glass!

beergaugeIt’s difficult for me to perceive how the small height at the top of a pint glass can contain so large a volume discrepancy, but the economic crisis has taken hold of the Northwest brew pubs and as a way to increase revenue, establishments are manipulating the liquid fill height.  Is there no justice?  For now Oregon might have low taxation rates on beer and why so many small brewers go into business here, but the magnitude of the deficit is alarming!

Fortunately as economic viability collapses all around us we find HOPE.

Chris Holloway is a scientist who studied electromagnetic waves and was familiar with Piaget’s research — Piaget was a scientist in the 1800’s who studied human inability to distinguish identical volumes in different sized containers — developed a business card size visual aid called the Beer Gauge which when held next to your glass indicates how much liquid you received (or didn’t) before you pay for that pint.

Why, might you ask, did I bring this up?  Life is just too short and we need to add some humor to our economic discourse.

Full disclosure: I have no affiliation or receive compensation for endorsing the Beer Gauge.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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police_bikeAs you may recall the situation happened at the Roadhouse bar with four off duty, out-of-state law enforcement officers and a firefighter, all members of the Iron Pigs – a police motorcycle club – who get into a heated confrontation with some Hells Angels members on the last day of the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  The confrontation ends when Ron Smith pulls his Glock 23 and shoots Joseph McGuire a HAMC member.

I blogged about the incident and posted several updates HERE, HERE and HERE.

Many readers weighed in with comments between support of the police to those who where very distrustful.  Some comments became derisive after the South Dakota court threw out the assault and weapons charges and then later dismissed all the indictments.

Recently Charles Remsberg, an author of three best-selling law enforcement training textbooks, and contributor to the PoliceOne site has posted an interesting “Behind The Scenes” recap of the shooting.  Part 2 of the report is HERE.  His report provides deeper insight into the minutes leading up to the shooting, the psyche of the various folks involved, the injuries and a bit of the grand jury transcript.  Granted Mr. Remsberg writes from a LEO point of view, but does so after nearly three decades of work where he earned the prestigious O.W. Wilson Award for outstanding contributions to law enforcement and the American Police Hall of Fame Honor Award for distinguished achievement in public service.

To be fair, and after reading Remsberg’s report some of my initial implications were inaccurate.  However, I do think my overall assessment was correct, at least based on the information that was released at the time.

At any rate check out the good report and you be the judge.

UPDATED: January 28, 2009 – Part 2 of the report HERE.

UPDATED: February 25, 2009 – In a plea agreement Joseph McGuire (HAMC) pleads no contest to simple assault (versus aggravated assault) and was sentenced to one year in the Meade County Jail.  According to Rapid City Journal, McGuire’s sentence was suspended as long as he does not break the law.  No fines were imposed, but he can not attend this years rally.

UPDATED: May 7, 2010 – Detective Ronald Smith has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.  Even though all charges were dropped the suit alleges the department disparaged him and negligently provided false information that led to his indictment on a perjury charge.  This was an embarrassment and the lawsuit contends his reputation was harmed.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Flying Pigs

Flying Pigs

“When pigs fly”…is an idiom or a popular saying used to indicate that something will never happen.  So, when will the “Law Enforcement” spin stop on this Sturgis shooting?  No time soon it would seem…

The Seattle Times is reporting that the off-duty police officer who shot Hells Angel member Joseph Patrick McGuire (33, of Imperial Beach, Ca.) at the Loud American Roadhouse in Sturgis was forced to open fire after being attacked and pinned to the floor by up to three members of the outlaw motorcycle gang.

The Rapid City Journal identified the Seattle police officer as Ronald Smith (43, of Seattle, WA). He is assigned to the departments pawnshop unit.  In grand-jury investigation statements he said:

The detective said one Hells Angel member “got in my face” and began an argument.  “I was cold-cocked on the left side of my face by at least one, if not three, Hells Angels,”…”I woke up on the ground pinned against a bar stool by a Hells Angel in a red bandanna,”…”I was receiving fists and feet from the top during this.”… “I tried to wriggle free, but didn’t have any leverage.”…”The Hells Angel in the bandanna tried to grab my gun just as another man was choking me… “I then pulled the handgun from my hip and opened fire.”

According to the newspaper, 25 people testified during the seven-hour court hearing.  No arrests have been made and the investigation could continue until the grand jury reconvenes on Aug. 27th.

Not everything is as tranquil as they would want us to believe…new information has been released on the detective involved in the Sturgis shooting has twice been investigated by the department of Office of Professional Accountability, a civilian police-oversight group, during his 15 years on the force. Both complaints were confirmed by the group.  One investigation stemmed from a verbal argument he got into with a Seahawk fan while working an off-duty assignment at Qwest Field in 2004. He also got into an argument inside a Pierce County restaurant in 2005 with a restaurant employee who was taunting and threatening him and his then-fiancée.  He received a two-day suspension for the incident with the Seahawk fan and a written reprimand for the other incident.

I’ve received a number of questions about whether it was legal for Smith to have a gun on him in the Loud American Roadhouse, because he was off duty at the time.  According to South Dakota law, people with concealed-weapons permits cannot carry firearms into bars. Police officers are exempt from this rule if they have written permission from the county sheriff, according to the law. However, the Law Enforcement Officers Safety Act (a federal law) enacted in 2004 supersedes the state law, allowing off-duty law-enforcement officers to carry weapons anywhere they choose, but it requires that the weapons handler not be under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

So let the spin continue as nothing has been reported about sobriety tests conducted after the shooting…

Update:  August 14th – Seattle PI is reporting that Hells Angel member Joseph Patrick McGuire was arrested Jan. 18, 2007, as part of an investigation by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the San Diego Police Department. Police served warrants on two San Diego-area homes that belonged to the president of the Hells Angels’ local chapter.  McGuire is the chapter treasurer and was arrested at one of the homes in Pacific Beach, Calif. Police seized a pound and a half of marijuana, in addition to hydrocodone and oxycodone pills, and $5,000 in cash.  The San Diego chapter president and vice president were charged in separate cases in the investigation.  McGuire was released on bond and scheduled for a pre-trial hearing Aug 20 in San Diego County Superior Court, with his trial set for September.  He was charged with possession of marijuana for sale and two counts of illegal possession of narcotics.

Update: September 5th – The Argus Leader is reporting that both men (McGuire (HAMC) and Smith (Iron Pigs)) are charged with alternative counts of aggravated and simple assault.  Smith was also charged with perjury.  In addition, misdemeanor gun charges were also brought against the four other fellow bikers with Smith (also part of the Iron Pigs): Scott Lazalde (Bellingham, WA); Dennis McCoy (Seattle, WA); Erik Pingel (Aurora, CO) and James Rector (Ferndale, WA).

Update: September 9th – The Seattle.pi is reporting that the perjury charge has been dismissed against Smith.  The grand jury indicted Smith last month on charges of aggravated assault, perjury and illegal possession of a concealed weapon.  Smith initially stated he was carrying his personal firearm, but the Seattle Police Department records contradicted him, showing that it was a department-issued gun.  This was the evidence that was presented which resulted in the perjury charge.

Update: September 17th – Aggravated assault charges dropped.  See HERE for more info.

Update: November 18, 2008 – All weapons charges dropped.  See HERE for more info.

Update: February 25, 2009 – In a plea agreement Joseph McGuire (HAMC) pleads no contest to simple assault (versus aggravated assault) and was sentenced to one year in the Meade County Jail.  According to Rapid City Journal, McGuire’s sentence was suspended as long as he does not break the law.  No fines were imposed, but he can not attend this years rally.

Photo courtesy Flickr.

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