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Antelope, Oregon Garage 

Antelope, Oregon Garage

Near Antelope, OR (Wasco County) there are some beautiful motorcycle roads.  I’ve traveled this county a few times and the route just off the Dalles California Hwy is a peaceful sagebrush filled valley with rolling hills.  The roads are Antelope Hwy (H-293) and the Shaniko Fossil Hwy (H-218).  If you’ve not driven this part of Oregon then I suggest taking some time and add it to your ride list. From Antelope you can start a scenery loop ride to the “painted hills” section of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument.

Antelope has a sorted history and if you’ve been in the northwest any length of time you’ll remember how the town became famous in the early 1980s as ground zero for Rancho Rajneesh (Big Muddy Ranch) – a self-proclaimed prophet arrives with thousands of enlightened red-robed followers to start a colony with the sex guru – Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh.  All wearing a 108-bead mala (necklace) where the color of beads hold significance as it designates each person’s level of sexual inhibitions as they merrily went about their day.  Known as “Rajneeshees” the folks on the inner-circle had a Tantra-esque belief in the power of sex as a door to samadhi’…a vehicle to the last step of enlightenment. 

wasco_countyAs an aside,  the Bhagwan used three Rolls-Royce automobiles as collateral to buy the Martha Washington Hotel in Portland, which they renamed Hotel Rajneesh. The Bhagwan collected many Rolls-Royce’s (93 at one count) and every day, he drove one of the cars into Madras to buy an ice cream soda. Highway 97 became a tourist trap, with people from all over the country stopping to take a look-see at the “Rajneesh show.”  In July 1983 the hotel was bombed and the cult became paranoid.  Equipping the Antelope compound with 150 security guards, semi-automatic weapons, tear gas grenades, riot guns and helicopter recon teams.  There followed a traumatic but semi-successful name change attempt of the town, use of the state’s own laws against itself, a plot to kill the federal prosecutor in Oregon, immigration fraud, several lieutenants convicted of crimes and the departure to Europe with lots of donated money.  The Bhagwan eventually returned to India in 1986 and died of heart disease in Poona on January 19, 1990.

Today Rancho Rajneesh has been converted into a modern Christian Youth Camp.  I believe it’s called “Young Life Ranch.”  The roads (Muddy Creek Road, Burnt Ranch Road, and The Gosner Road) into the place are rough/gravel and not recommended for heavy weight motorcycles.  There are now huge buildings, locked gates with signs posted on every tree and gate.  There is a private 4000 foot aircraft runway along with a super oversized pavilion filled with RV’s.  There is also a large go-cart-track with banks and a graded perimeter.  The youth “compound” is not open to the public.  All road gates are padlocked.

There is a plaque topped by an Antelope at the base of the towns post office dedicated to those who lived through the “Rajneesh Occupation” of 1981-1985.

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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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