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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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Five of a Kind At Grand Canyon

This is a shout out to an extraordinary posse.

Hardly the stereotypical, tatted-up, badass bikers portrayed in pop culture or do we ride the machines of American Chopper — slick and polished.

From the outside looking in you can’t understand it, but there are many benefits to riding a motorcycle with a group.  Aside from the obvious “wind in the face” to take your mind off daily troubles to the cool events that you visit from glitz to back-water destinations.   From the moment you mount the motorcycle the most important aspect from my vantage is the posse camaraderie.

Whether I’m with my family at home or the “family on the road,” the center piece of the posse is the Harley-Davidson motorcycle. Oh sure some lost their way for a time and rode other kinds of bikes, but these days the posse is like a mini-community based on a shared passion and a common interest around the Harley brand.  And while we defend the motor company we haven’t drank the Kool-aid!  We’re a demanding and very vocal enthusiast bunch when it comes to items the company needs to do to please it’s customers.

A Half-Dozen at HCMR

Has the posse always agreed on everything?  No.  We’ve had the typical debates about the merits of camping vs. checking in, riding with a large group or going solo, silence vs. Boom! Audio, up early vs. sleeping in, freeway speed or riding slow back-water roads and the more contentious item of planning way ahead or plan as you go.  We’ve tried them all and each has offered up some unique and fun adventures.  And no matter what the trip or the destination, all a good motorcycle ride needs is camaraderie and fun roads, right?

And speaking of roads, one common thread is that we all have plenty of time to ride.  That is to say, we make time to ride.  As much as we have in common, all of these accomplished riders is also entirely unique.  Each has his own set of experiences, his own philosophy of life and riding, and his own collection of interesting stories about life on the road.  I especially look forward to riding in the dry hot desert while others think a misty Highway 101 ride down the coast is “just perfect.”

I’ve been riding with this group for many years and everyone adjusts.  In fact, some of the members have history back to the coastal range and the dirt bike days at Lee’s Camp before a Harley-Davidson motorcycle stirred up any emotions.

The remainder of the posse at the CCA Ride

I’ll often get ask how we do it.  How do we handle riding all those miles.  I’ll typically just say that if you string a few 300 mile days together, one day at a time, then you’ve got a Posse Ride!

We’ve enjoyed following the “road less traveled” as so many other riders do.  It made us appreciate how divvied up this western part of the U.S. is, with dozens of valleys separated by mountain ranges, woven together by asphalt strips. These roads are really three-dimensional curves, and a rider will certainly get longer life out of the Dunlops, wearing out the sides as much as the middle.

As the years fade away — I’m reminded of winding our way along the back roads of the countryside – and it made me appreciate how rich the memories are of the years riding with an incredible group of friends.

Thank you all for the memories!

Photos taken by author

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Two-LaneThe weather, the gambling action, the leather and the chrome all attracted higher attendance for Street Vibration 2009.  Maybe the lack of hype or the “sky is falling” press about impending club-on-club violence helped?  There was a positive “vibe” in the city which I’ve not observed in a couple years.  I ask and didn’t hear much from street vendors about the current recession is the new normal… yada, yada.

As I roared out of Reno yesterday on my way home I thought about this video — “Rockin’ The Beer Gut” — a bit of truth wrapped up in a humorous ditty that tells us even though we have dangerous unemployment and we may not be perfect, don’t work on Wall Street making millions, it doesn’t mean we can’t have fun!  And fun at Street Vibrations we had!  The 546 mile ride back gave me plenty of time to try and recall what stood out from years past — there was that monster jump at the Grand Sierra Resort by Ryan Capes who broke the standing 254 foot (ramp-to-ramp) record and then turned around and broke his own new record by clearing 316 feet on a motorcycle, then there were the Motorcycle “Clubs,” more than a dozen all getting along, but mostly it was about the scenic journey on two-lane tarmac with green mountains to sage brush desert which was fantastic.  The weather (mid-90’s) didn’t hurt and put the FUN back into the experience.  As well as tens of millions to the local economy.  I certainly left my small share!

The event didn’t pass without incidents, however.  More riders often means more accidents.  First, there were several motorcycle accidents on US 395 related to the set up for the monster jump.  Then there was a lady who was on the Harley-Davidson demo bike ride and wrecked.  A couple on U.S. 50 who crashed just east of Spooner Summit which sadly resulted in the only fatality at the event.  Then on our ride back from Virginia City we came upon a motorcyclist who struck a wall on Griner’s Bend, a sharp curve at the south side of Virginia City on State Route 342.  It turned out that 6 people were injured Friday afternoon, two of them seriously, in four separate accidents all involving loss of control.  The Nevada Highway Patrol (NHP) reported there had been 18 motorcycle accidents over the course of the rally weekend.

The final attendance tally and the economic $$ impact will be out in a few days, but from my perspective it seemed like more people and the street crowds were bigger.  Not as record breaking as a few years ago, but none the less significant.  I plan to provide an trip chronology and will post it up over the next few days.

UPDATE: September 29, 2009 — AP is reporting that there were 72 arrest made at Street Vibrations even though LEO consider the event largely peaceful.  Most of the arrests were alcohol related, including 23 for public intoxication.  The police issued 77 traffic citations and responded to six reports of stolen motorcycles.

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in-outI’ll be in-an-out over the next several days.  Maybe even have time to grab a tasty burger.  Heading to the southwest desert sun with a group of friends to ride Lake Havasu, Oatman and catch some of Laughlin River Run.  As a result the blog will take a hit on postings.

In my view it’s been too dam much about restructuring, resizing, and laying off over the last 4 months.  It’s time to ride and this is about much more than just a motorcycle rally.

Photo courtesy Child Abuse Prevention at In-n-Out.

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Large Group-StarWhat turned out to be a post-Sturgis story telling and laugh adventure ended up being a birthday celebration for Eastwood, and a re-cap of the Reno-Street Vibrations ride…quite a milestone for the posse to reach this year and doing it on one of finest motorcycles on the planet!

First a big THANK YOU goes out to MC for hosting the gathering and devoting all the time to making it a successful party. Whoo hooo…

What better way to welcome a close of the Northwest riding season (at least without rain gear and winter gloves!) than to have a recap of the heat, the rain, the rides, the repairs, the pretty, the ugly, the FUN!

It was an amazing season of riding and one for Mac’s Most Excellent Adventure – The Movie!   And speaking of movies, a big (“bring it in close” hug) for Jimmy for the hard work on pulling together the movie/slide show of the trip.  Great music mix and something we can review over the years…THANKS!  So,  we’ve put up the Saddle Bags for another year and look to planning next year. Below are a bunch of picts from the party…
















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And speaking of birthday celebrations August 2008 is the 105th Harley Birthday party and 25th Anniversary of H.O.G. in WI. I’m thinking this could be a great adventure to add to my riding log book….

The first Harley Davidson motorcycle was created in 1903 with a single cylinder, three horsepower motor. In 1906, Harley Davidson manufactured the first 50 motorcyles bearing their name. The V-twins that it a household name today came out about 1909. The “Choppers”, we love, were born and “Hogs” were named for the extra room used to transport racing pigs without switching to a larger vehicle. In 1983, H.O.G., The Harley Owners Group, formed its first chapter. Today more than 1,000 chapters are in existence and more than one million members.

I’m looking forward to planning out the ’08 rides. If you are the lucky owner of a Harley then you know what its like being a member of the family.

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