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Posts Tagged ‘US 97’

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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