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French Glen, Oregon

French Glen, Oregon

No blog post can touch on the full spectrum of a trip, but I’ve put together some snippets of what our “off-season” ride looked like heading to Laughlin River Run in April.

You might say we got a sense of the diverse charms that spring weather in Oregon provides by starting in Portland and tracing a route up the slopes of Mount Hood and then south toward Bend then east to Burns.

Can anyone say weather woes?  There was wind, rain, heavy thunderstorms, hail, lighting BOOM! and all of this during the first 5 hours of the trip!

Harney County - Oregon

Malheur Lake in Harney County – Oregon

By no means am I complaining, but even with all the technology to expand our knowledge about weather patterns and conditions sooner or later, you’ll have to ride in the rain… and did we ever.  After the 5-hour trip to Burns we are now certified wet-weather professionals!  By the time these cold and weary travelers stopped in Burns we were done with the wind-chill riding.

This part of the trip was like a steeled-toed kick into springs teeth!  Winter reigned.

Plugging In

Plugged in outside of Winnemucca

As a side bar, have you ever noticed the difficulty of heated gear and in routing the cables and making the connections?  I typically avoid “plugging-in” until it’s very cold and  raining.  The extra rain gear and winter clothing is bulky and then we’re trying to route these COAX 2.5mm connectors through the sleeves into a SAE 2-pin connector and somewhere in the mix is either an on/off switch or a single controller that allows you to control the vest or any other item connected to the vest (gloves, pants, socks) as one single zone.  This rarely works well when there are multiple heated garments because they develop hot spots and I’ve had a vest get too hot while the gloves were cool and those dual electronic controller units for two separate zones mean even more wires and more expense.  Yeah, it all looks easy enough sitting in the motel room, but the reality is it takes coordination to get it all on, position it correctly so that you have freedom to move and then it’s a “do-over” after a fuel or rest stop.  It should be easier?

Eastern Sierra NV Mountains

Eastern Sierra NV Mountains

At any rate, the next morning we grabbed a sausage biscuit, put on rain gear, “plugged-in” and rode out early from Burns toward French Glen.  We took the French Glen Highway (or Oregon Route 205) to avoid the worst of the rainy weather.  Part of the group was headed directly to Las Vegas (700+ miles) and wanted to put some major miles on vs. the remainder of the group planned a more leisurely ride down to Laughlin with a day or so in Death Valley.

“America’s Patriotic Home” — Hawthorne, Nevada.

Ammunition Depot at “America’s Patriotic Home” — Hawthorne, Nevada.

We headed east then turned south on Oregon Route 205 through the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge where the summers are short and it’s home to countless migratory birds.  Despite the seeming nakedness of the landscape on most of the route, this area of Southeastern Oregon which OR-205 travels through is a true wonderland of high desert topography. There are no less than four designated scenic byways that take off from OR-205, or is the route itself.  From a motorcycling perspective, the road isn’t all that challenging and like many little used desert highways in Oregon, the actual road surface is in good condition for the entire route.  For a majority of the ride, the road is straight with a few long bends that, fortunately, change your perspective of the wide open landscape occasionally.

Parked at Motel - Hawthorne, NV

Parked at Motel – Hawthorne, NV

I’d like to tell you all about the photographic panoramas and the many intriguing natural geologic pictures I took in the spectacular mountain range, but there was heavy fog, mixed with thunderstorms and for a couple hours outside of French Glen we even rode in full on snow flurries.  And I’m not talking about a blizzard of Snow Geese mind you, but traversing the area in blinding snow.  We did see the French Glen “Historic” telephone booth!

This trip didn’t offer us the time to ride Steens Mountain loop road, or continue over the summit ridge and onto the Alvord Desert.

We did the math.  We double checked weather radar and this was the quickest and the logical adverse weather avoidance route.  We hoped to avoid much of it, but the storm and high winds engulfed the entire state.  As we motored on my mind wondered if this was how the settlers and fortune-seekers who made their way West through gorges and high-mountain lakes had to deal with during their overland route.

By the time we hit the Winnemucca stopover point, the weather was beginning to improve.  At least the snow and rain had stopped.  Winnemucca is a gateway of sorts to the Great Basin, with Idaho and Oregon to the north, Salt Lake City to the east and Reno to the southwest.  It’s located at the crossroads of Interstate 80 and U.S. Highway 95.  We did notice that a strong wind was blowing out of the south.  This was high-wind warnings and there were a lot of semi’s pulled over to the side of the road waiting it out.

After a lot of miles I became convinced that the great state of Nevada had the sole purpose of being an ATV enthusiast’s playground.  Of course, this isn’t 100 percent accurate, but as you ride along the desolate roads it might as well be.  The sand in the air blew into our faces, covering us with a fine layer as we rolled on the throttle and continued south down Highway 95.

The group I was riding in overnighted in “America’s Patriotic Home” — Hawthorne, Nevada.  The town is unique with Walker Lake at the foot of Mt. Grant, but more importantly there is the Naval Undersea Warfare Center and the Ammunition Depot in the area.  At first glance that is incongruous since it’s in high desert east of the Sierra Nevada and at least 300 miles from the nearest ocean.  The Army stores some nasty stuff at what started out life as the Hawthorne Naval Ammunition Depot (NAD).  The facility is made up of hundreds of buildings spread over more than 225 square miles and bunkers dot the sagebrush-covered hills which are visible from the highway.  Sadly, back in March 2013 a mortar shell explosion killed 7 marines and injured eight during mountain warfare training in the area.

We overnighted in Hawthorne which is shouldering its share of the economic slump as there are empty storefronts with windows neatly covered with plywood painted white, red and blue stars. We found a Mexican restaurant called Diego’s which was within walking distance of the motel and after a 425 mile day enjoyed some refreshments and good food.

We were headed to Death Valley via the eastern entrance at Beatty and planned to stay over at Stovepipe Wells and ride around the valley floor for a day.

The Ride To Laughlin 2014 – Part 2 (HERE).

Photo’s taken by author except French Glen photo courtesy of Jamie Francis/The Oregonian

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

 

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It’s time to forget the finances and focus on the road!

Fortunately Washington and Oregon have partnered up to provide a unique riding opportunity for the 2010 H.O.G. Rally and this is a save-the-date notice.

Motorcyclists now have the opportunity to attend two rallies back-to-back and ride more than 1600 miles on some of the Pacific Northwest best roads.

The Washington State H.O.G. Rally starts in Vancouver, WA and edges its way up the Columbia River Gorge to Yakima and Wenatchee. The rally ride “edges” ever northward along the Columbia River, with a stop at Grand Coulee Dam then on to Spokane. The final day takes motorcyclists down the eastern “edge” of Washington State and into Lewiston, ID, then on to Kennewick for the closing ceremonies.

Then a day later and only a few miles from the end of the Washington Rally starts the Oregon Rally.

Pendleton is the start of Oregon’s Rally and you’ll ride the “edge” of the Cascade Mountain range to an overnight stay in Bend before “edging” along to Crater Lake and then an overnight in Medford. The final day puts motorcyclists on the “edge” of the Pacific Ocean with closing ceremony in Coos Bay.  Below are the dates, links for registering and additional information.

Washington State HOG Rally
August 20 -23, 2010

Oregon State HOG Rally
August 24 -27, 2010

Facebook fans can go to Oregon and Washington fan pages.

And if that wasn’t enough riding and fun… when the H.O.G. rally ends head over to Woodburn, OR. for the All-Harley Drag Races on Saturday, August 28th and Sunday, August 29th

Photo courtesy of H.O.G.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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OR31On the first day of fall the saddlebags were loaded and ready for another motorcycle trip.  This time the posse pointed our motorcycles south and headed toward some promised fun in the Nevada desert. Street Vibrations was the destination, but our journey through country roads and byway’s was the largest part of the reason that we ride.

The northwest weather provided a late summer blast of heat which was much different than previous years where the threat of rain was always looming.  There were two groups rolling and I was in the second group who departed at noon.   With a solid six hours of riding ahead of us until we reached our overnight destination we didn’t have a lot of down time.  It was gas-n-go and personal refection time would be experienced while we looked at the dramatic views of high Cascade peaks.  Our route was I-5 then connect with Santiam Pass Highway (US 20).  This is a well traveled route as we viewed the Cascade peaks which is made more striking by the contrast between black lava and white snow.  Traffic was light with few commercial trucks and we made our way to Sisters in record time.  Prior to reaching the summit we picked up forest fire smoke from the Tumblebug complex.  A 10,000-acre fire near Oakridge and the wind filled the cascades with smoke.

Arm_OR31We intersected with Oregon Route 31 south of La Pine and headed east.  The highway is a 2-lane, rural road for its entire length.  I never tire of 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 — it’s as much fun now as it was back in the early days of dirt bikes.

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 ParkHole-in-the-Ground and Summer Lake.  This ~150 mile route starts in the Deschutes National Forest, through stands of lodgepole and ponderosa.  As you continue south the landscape has a lot to offer; including high elevation subalpine vegetation, colorful lichen encrusted rimrocks, lush meadows, deeply shaded mixed conifer old growth stands, and sagebrush/juniper covered rolling hills. There are seasonal wildflowers and the views are stunning throughout the route.  The air is filled with bugs.  So many in fact it was difficult to view the road from certain areas of the windshield.

OR31_RestWe arrived at the Best Western motel in Lakeview with time to watch the last of the sunset and clear the windshield free of our heavy bug collection.   Dinner was at a terrific restaurant called the El Aguila Real Mexican Food and we enjoyed post dinner refreshments with a few rounds of pool at the Eagles Nest Lounge…a local “elk-hunter” bar with a number of locals playing lotto slots and explaining how they are trapped in a go nowhere town.  Interesting group to say the least.

Walking back toward the hotel talk turned to nutrition — don’t ask me why — maybe the enchiladas and bean burrito overload at 9pm set it off.  Maybe it was being denied a maple bar at the just closed donut shop and our eyes turned toward the grocery cart return which glistened under the moon light.  It made for the perfect impromptu athletic competition.  No one in town seemed to mind the multiple grunts in the early misty morning.  As a result we now have a new “chin-up” champ.  Sure fatigue prevented a Lakeview world record, but in the off season and with enough high-frequency chin-up reps that record is set to fall next year, right Steve?!

Road Trippn’ to Street Vibrations 2009 — Part 2 HERE

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Black_HorseI’ve heard of the “Trail of The Black Horse” motorcycle ride in the past, but never had the time to look up the information let alone determine if I could pull some time off work to make the ride.

I recently learned the ride is basically the McKenzie Highway from Sisters, Oregon to McKenzie Bridge on Hwy 242. The folks at Black Horse Saloon in Bend sponsor the ride and it all comes together on August 22nd.  The Black Horse Saloon is a great biker friendly saloon in central Oregon and home to a number of motor head clubs.

The ride is a narrow road which is closed from November thru July every year due to snow pack.  The route crosses a lava flow just west of Sisters and near the 5,325’ summit there is Clear Lake (head waters for the McKenzie River) a renowned location for fresh-water SCUBA diving.

This is one ride to add to the do list!

Photo courtesy of BHS.

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Or_SummaryI decided to write Harley-Davidson and personally shout out that they are welcome and the state is open for business!  The letter is below.

Mr. Keith E. Wandell

President and CEO

Harley-Davidson, Inc.

Milwaukee, WI 53201

 

Dear Mr. Wandell:

After reading Senators Arlen Specter and Bob Casey letters on the potential York plant closure I wanted to let you know there is something about Oregon that ignites poetic inspiration, even among the most level-headed business types of your stature.

I could wax on about you (after you get a valid motorcycle license) and your executive team riding motorcycles in the spectacular Cascades, the dreamy coastal towns and rich farmlands of the Willamette Valley, but it’s really about America’s best kept secret…the quality of life.  Oregon has it in spades.

You may know us as the “Silicon Forest” when in the 80’s and 90’s the chip manufactures fled the high cost of California.  The state provided deep tax breaks and the suburbs were attractive to technology workers who could afford a far better quality of life in terms of schools and housing.  The tax breaks (although no longer as deep) have been extended to an increasingly dominate green movement and ever increasing public sector.  Did you know we were the first state in the union to pass a nickel “tax” on bottles and it’s been nothing but rainbows and butterflies ever since. 

Rain?  Don’t let visitors discourage you about the rain.  It’s rare, but when it occurs it’s more like mist.  And with more and more of us working in the solar panel industry we smile at the rain.  And don’t forget the trendy places like Portland’s Pearl District where the York plant management “sophistos” can sashay into all the charming restaurants from high priced condo’s.  You’ll find java beans with extra whip for the chauffer driven commutes along with Northwest brew pubs to sample the hops late into the night.

Sure we’ve been hit by the debilitating housing addiction like all other states after the California bubble collapsed and they stopped buying homes, but the best part is the spectacular vacation home market in the high-desert of Bend amid the volcanic peaks in the center of the state.  We now have record low prices and high availability where many of the H-D execs will want to relax after a long work week.

And speaking of talent, Oregonian’s are here for a reason and it’s not because of the left-leaning lifestyle.  It’s a great jump point in preparation for H-D’s future plans across the Pacific in China.  For example in the 90’s there were many manufactures that thrived in the state — printers, DVD players, digital projectors, memory chips, etc., — who moved to Asia as those sectors matured and profit margins evaporated, sending production to the places in China where labor costs are lowest.  We’re fully aware of this phenomena and would not be alarmed by such a move should H-D look to reduce the cost structure even more.

As you weigh various options and consider the long-term competitiveness of Harley-Davidson, I strongly urge you to give serious consideration to any option that will move the 2,000 jobs at stake to Oregon.  Don’t let the Governor, “Lazy-Ted”, distract you about hybrid technology.  He’s a short timer and spends much of his day looking for electrical outlets.  But, for the record here is the Oregon Economic Summary  (.pdf) for your review.  So, do the unexpected and create additional market buzz for the motorcycle company.  Create a new Harley-Davidson presence in the Northwest region….your gateway to China!

Sincerely,

Mac — Editor, Northwest Harley Blog

I’m thinking he’ll respond.  What do you think?

Photo courtesy State of Oregon.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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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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I’ve been thinking about Rides and Routes for next spring and summer.  I’ve been playing with ride planners on the HD site, but they are U.S. based only (leaving out Canada) so, Google maps software is better and has features which better fit my interests. Also its much snappier than the HD MapQuest application.   Most unfortunate is the fact that wordpress.COM won’t support iFrames so, I have to do screen shots of the maps to provide you a visual image vs. just embed the HTML code.  At any rate here is some info for your review and future planning.

Below is the approx 2050 mile trip from Bend, OR to Milwaukee. This is the route for the 105th Anniversay Ride Home. When you click on the “view larger map” link below you’ll get the full map and all of the route details.

bend to milwaukeeView: Larger Map

This next map is a 2200 mile trip Portland – Las Vegas – Salt Lake – Portland.

pdx_las mapView Larger Map<

Below is a 678 mile Las Vegas – Zion National Park, Utah – Grand Canyon, AZ tour.
grand canyon 
View Larger Map

If any ride or route seems interesting let’s pull a plan together…

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