Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Hwy 14’

HCMR-13I’m talking about the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally in Baker City, Oregon.

The king of the curve!  And it all happens on July 12-15th.

The U.S. Government named Hells Canyon a national wilderness area which protects the canyon into the future, but the real essence of the area is in its native American past.  It’s home to the Nez Perce and for hundreds of years the area belong to a proud people.  Today their spirit lives on as you ride in the area.

I’ve been to the Hells Canyon a number of times and it seems like I uncover more motorcycle riding treasures on each trip.  There is fantastic scenery, friendly people and wonderful roads.  I have not, but many riders have ridden all of the motorcycle rally routes and yet they still return looking for more.

The Little Dragon (188 corners in 14 miles) demands it, but all the roads require that you bring your “A” game, because the challenging twisty roads offer up a great experience to those who conquer them.

The best news is that the rally was pushed out a month or so last year after having a couple years of questionable weather.  Hey, I like rain as much as the next guy, but standing around the tent heaters was the last straw for me and I for one am thankful they moved the date to a timeframe when you can count on the weather being awesome.

It will be nice to walk around in shorts in downtown Baker City and check out main street, the Corner Brick, The Geiser Saloon and old town cafes.  I hope to see you there.

I’ve previously blogged about the “June-uary” rally HERE and a list of HCMR posts HERE.

Photo courtesy of HCMR

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
Advertisements

Read Full Post »

The Devil's Tail

It’s about 90 days out until HCMR, but if you wait much longer to ride the dream in historic Baker City be prepared to camp out on the High School football field.  Not that there is anything wrong with that as the posse tried this a couple years back.

There’s truly something about Baker City, Oregon.

It’s a city that rolls out the red carpet for bikers and welcomes them like they are veterans returning home from a war.  Local residents volunteer their homes and when ask provide updates on what’s new in their fine city.  It’s a friendly atmosphere, warm outgoing residents, great food with refreshments, and this year a Main Street that will be closed to traffic where the vendors will hawk their wares in the street along with the motorcycle show.

And that’s just Baker City. Add to this the awesome motorcycle roads that intersect at Baker, I-84, Hwy 30, Hwy 7, Hwy 203, Hwy 245 and Hwy 86. Also nearby are Hwy 244, Hwy 237, Hwy 26 Hwy 82 and the Hells Canyon, Blue Mountain and Elkhorn Scenic Byways. And don’t forget the more important road — The Devil’s Tail — a 22 mile road from Oxbow to Hells Canyon Dam is the signature ride of the rally. It could be the most inspiring 44 miles you’ve ridden on a motorcycle!

There’s a lot more and if you’re looking for a narrative taste I’ve blogged about previous trips HERE, 2010 HERE and 2009 HERE.

You wake up in the morning and the beauty surrounds bikers on all sides. The Blue Mountains, the Elkhorn Ridge, the Seven Devils, the Wallowa Mountains and the Strawberry Mountains. More natural landscape in your first breath than many people get to experience in a lifetime.

I’ll see you there.

Photo taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

The Devil's Tail

I’m talking about the 22-mile road from Oxbow to Hells Canyon Dam called The Devil’s Tail and the 11th annual Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally (HCMR).

The rally starts in three days.  My one wish is for the weather to improve and provide us rain-beaten riders some sunny blue skies to enjoy this awesome motorcycle rally!

Last year I participated in the enjoyment of pulling off the tarmac to overnight under the stars and camped at the high school.  I learned a lot about storage because you need a good tent, a better sleeping bag, an air-mat and a “butt buddy” i.e. chair!  Most importantly I learned to make a motel reservation early and avoid the entire space is a premium issue.

The Hells Canyon Wilderness is an area located on the Idaho/Oregon border. It has some of the most spectacular views of the Snake River as it winds its way through Hells Canyon, one of the deepest gorges on the planet. The gateway is Baker City which is uniquely located as the connecting point of more great motorcycle roads than just about anywhere. I-84, Hwy 30, Hwy 7, Hwy 203, Hwy 245 and Hwy 86. Also close by are the Hells Canyon, Blue Mountain and Elkhorn Scenic Byways to discover.

I hope to see you there.

Last year’s blog posts for Day 1 HERE, Day 2 HERE, Day 3 HERE and a tent camping postscript HERE.

Photo courtesy of Steve & Eric Folkestad (Event Organizers).

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

This past weekend I rode the OR HOG (Sage-Snow-Surf) Motorcycle Rally.  More than 300 motorcycles arrived in Pendleton, OR.  We started our day from Vancouver, WA and headed East on State Route 14, also called the Lewis and Clark Highway.    It winds its way through the Columbia River Gorge along the river then up over steep bluffs, forest and finally makes it way into grasslands.  It’s about 180 miles and two-lane road after you depart Camus, WA.  You end up at the junction of I-82/395 just across the state line from Umatilla, OR and about 40 miles from Pendleton.

We were most fortunate as the wind was behind us with blue sky and mid-80 temperatures.  We rode past the Stonehenge, the Maryhill winery and near Goldendale we got a great view of the aluminum smelter.  I made a mental note to do a bit of research on this plant as I recalled it belching smells in full production a few years ago, but on this day it looked abandon.  It turns out that Brett Wilcox purchased the plant in 1996 for $67M.  It needed to be temporarily close (as the workers were told) in 2003, however, the owner of the plant sold off the power it purchased from producing aluminum on the open market at a hefty profit that went directly into the pockets of executive management.  Everyone was laid off and retirement funds disappeared. (Source: HERE)

Finally we arrived at the Red Lion in Pendleton and picked up our HOG packet, signed the release forms and then headed downtown.  Pendleton is located in Umatilla County and is situated along I-84.  For reference it’s south of the tri-cities (Richland, Pasco, Kennewick) area of Washington.  Beside being labeled by the National Drug Intelligence Center (PDF) as a major distribution stop for many drug traffickers en route to the tri-cities from the Southwest Border it’s also home of the Blue Mountain Enforcement Narcotics Team (BENT) and home of the famous Pendleton Roundup.  

Pendleton got its start as Goodwin Station in 1865 as a stop on the Oregon Trail.  The town’s name was changed to Pendleton in honor of Ohio senator, George Hunt Pendleton.  The Rainbow is Pendleton’s oldest continuously open and operated bar and restaurant and the oldest doing business at the same location.  Many know that that the Chinese came to the area to work the gold mines and many were employed by the railroad.  As the area grew, they soon became an integral and somewhat hidden, part of the local economy.  The Chinese operated laundries and underground opium dens and were relegated to Pendleton’s seedier side. But I digress.  Back to the OR HOG Rally…

We parked the bikes on main street near Hamley’s Steak House for a little grub and some refreshments.  I introduced myself to Larry (HD head tattoo above), met JT (regional HOG director) and took in some county music in the courtyard.  We headed to the restaurant and order up some fresh Salmon (yeah, go figure!) in this truly amazing steakhouse.  Most notable besides the Western stylized décor are the nude photo’s of famous Western outlaw wives!  We received a Pendleton hat for drinking some and Linda/Lynette of the Kiwanis introduced us to the “save-the-date” for the 2009 Bikers in the Blues motorcycle rally.

Up early Friday and headed South on US 395.  I like to think of this route as Oregon’s “mother road”.  US 395 is a 1400-mile stretch which runs from the Canadian border in Washington state to San Diego, CA.  We rode out through Pilot Rock then in the middle of one of the small gorges there is a junction to OR74 which enters Morrow county and then Heppner Hwy.  Heppner has upgraded from years ago when I passed through on Eastern OR hunting trips.  With the Willow Creek dam you’d think it was a major water recreational resort.

We separated from the “official” OR HOG Rally route which veered off to Condon then on to Welches, OR for an overnight in the “snow”.  Instead we headed directly to the “surf” part of the trip, arriving in Seaside in time for a well deserved happy hour and to meet some friends who rode directly to the coast.

On Saturday we were treated to a one-in-a-million type day on the OR coast.  Mid-70’s, blue sky and NO wind.  Did I say there was NO wind.  Incredible!  It was a rare t-shirt riding day and Santiago invited everyone over to his Manzanita “Villa” for breakfast…there we were…perched high on the sand dune above the valley in the hills we were treated like royalty at the Hotel Piccolo Mondo in Acquappesa, on the Calabrian coast in Italy.  Very Tuscany!

For now I’ll reserve another post/rant about the “Goin’ Coastal” aka the Seaside Biker Fest.  Suffice to say it was most lame.  Sure there was a tattoo artist, bike builder and a couple t-shirt vendors…but, I’ve seen more activity at Taco Wednesday’s than in Seaside.   We manage to have a lot of fun even without vendor booths to spend our money.

Here is what I’ve learned on the OR HOG Rally.

  1. It’s HOT in Pendleton and cold in Seaside.
  2. The smell of wheat fields and ocean air isn’t something you get in a car
  3. Harley riders cannot be stereotyped.  There is the rich and famous to trailer trash and all in-between!
  4. Harley riders are some of the nicest people you’ll ever want to meet.

The event was well planned out and Cindy (HOG Director) Wayne Schumacher and the HOG Rally Committee deserves a shout-out.  The rides were long, scenic and PERFECT weather.  There’s no pleasing everyone and I say get out and ride, whether your doing a poker run, rally or just on your own this is the time of year to get into the Northwest riding zone.

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: