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Posts Tagged ‘Deschutes River’

From South Sister – The Pole Creek Wildfire

Not all summers are created equal.  This year the northwest has experience an incredible summer.  With warm and dry conditions continuing across the West we’ve also  experienced a record breaking number of wildfires.

Let me repeat that…  This is one of the worst wildfire seasons on record for the west.  Almost 7M acres or more than 10,000 square miles have literally gone up in smoke!

In a few days I’m headed to Street Vibrations in Reno and it looks like the posse will be “dancing” around the wildfires and smoke no matter which direction we take.  If you’re heading toward central Oregon there is the Pole Creek Fire burning 6 miles southwest of Sisters.  It’s scorched over 16,000 acres and only 10% contained.  In fact, I was in Bend this past weekend and when traveling on Highway 20 burning trees were visible from the roadway.  This fire has fouled the air throughout the Willamette valley and the folks in Sisters have been told to remain indoors.

Smokey Air On The Deschutes River – Bend, OR

If you are riding to Reno from Washington there are more than 240 wildfires burning in that state with the largest near Wenatchee.  If traveling down the I-5 corridor south there are a half-dozen fires in northern California of which most are in the Shasta National Forest area.  If you prefer Highway 395 as the route to Reno be aware that in northern California there are a couple of fires near the city of Likely.  Even Susanville has a 25 acre fire burning a couple miles out of town.

If you’re looking for more information check out HERE on the various forest fires status.  Yep, the Reno ride this year will be about smoke and dodging the forest fires.  Let’s hope the criminal element of motorcycling don’t stink up a good event.

Ride safe and see you at the Street Vibrations Rally.

Bend photo taken by author.  South Sister photo courtesy Mo Brethower.

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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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