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.
- It’s HOT in Pendleton and cold in Seaside.
- The smell of wheat fields and ocean air isn’t something you get in a car
- Harley riders cannot be stereotyped. There is the rich and famous to trailer trash and all in-between!
- 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.
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