Once again I have been blessed with the opportunity to live out more of my bucket list, I have seen picture’s, heard stories and read lots of ride reports on adv rider about the great Pacific Northwest, so I knew I was in store for lots of fun riding, great people and epic scenery.
So a plan evolved to ship my trusty VStrom to Spokane Washington, ride around some and ride it home in 8 or 9 days and see what all the fuss is about the pnw.
I designed and built a pallet to ship it on, Marc came over to help me do the final strapping and to make sure it would get there safely, so 2 weeks before I would be leaving I Took it to Chatfield Trucking and Corey was to have it delivered it for me the following week.
At the urging of our Lkq area manager Nick Eckers My Bike was shipped to the Lkq heavy truck location in Spokane, They took great care of it there for me until I arrived to get it out of their way. Thank you Nick, Brad, Bob, Jon and Aj. Sure was nice to meet you all and spend some time at one of our other truck yards.
Nick offered me a spare room to spend the night, Nick, Brad and I went out for a great meal, a couple of beers and terrific conversation. My bike was tucked away nice and warm in Nicks garage with his awesome 65. Thanks again to Nick for the hospitality.
As I left Spokane in the morning with a plan to ride the Columbia river gorge and find somewhere to spend the night late in the day, This would become a daily theme as I would start each day with rough idea of where I would travel and let the plan be fluid from there. Later in the trip forest fires and cold rainy weather will have an impact.
Weather was warm and sunny, I drank plenty of water and stopped at this place for an ok lunch.
Typical views along highway 14 on the north side of the Columbia river.
Along the way I stopped at a small state park to rest and found there was a bunch of people wind surfing and kite surfing, not sure why I didn’t take any pictures but was great fun watching them. I noticed that forest fire smoke was starting to get thicker and when I stopped for gas near Dallesport I found out the the gorge was closed just 20 miles ahead and I would be detoured north of Portland, So it was time to move south toward Maupin and the Mount Hood National forest.
Mt. Hood in the distance covered in snow and a cloud for a cap.
I rode until late and found small National forest campground to spend the night, only 2 other camp sites where occupied.
I woke to sunrise and a moon rise.
This shot as I crossed the Clackamas River the following morning, what a great ride on Highway 26 through Government camp, I did have a little drizzle and fog for about an hour of riding, then the weather was all sunshine the remainder of the day.
Brad Hohn the plant manager in Spokane told me about a museum in McMinnville Oregon. The Evergreen Aviation and space museum.
The center piece of the museum is the spruce goose, If you haven’t heard of it look it up, great story about it and billionaire builder Howard Hughes. The shear size of it was amazing and very difficult for me to get a good picture of it to convey that size.
An Sr-71 Blackbird another great story behind these aircraft used during the cold war era, google it and read the wiki page.
The lunar landing module was a little smaller than I thought it would be. Overall a great museum and I will surly stop there again if I am in the area.
Then I was off to the coast, you can not come this far and not have a look at the Pacific Ocean right?
I got on the 101 near Pacific city and moved north through Tillamook and Astoria. I was disappointed with Astoria, as what usually happens with beautiful places they become overrun with residents and tourists.
I relaxed on the beach for a bit, this guy did catch about a 1 foot long fish out of this huge surf. It was late in the day but I decided to push on across the Asotia-Megler bridge.The bridge itself was an adventure, Part of it was tall and the wind was blowing hard, I kept a firm hold of my hand grips! I decided to make for Aberdeen Washington for the night. If not for the fact that I took a wrong turn and had to back track 15 miles back down the peninsula from Oysterville I might have arrived in Aberdeen before dark. As I was pushing on in the dark, Doing the math of all the miles I had planned on this trip, including a route into Canada to the icefeild parkway. I realized I was taking all the fun out of it by “having” to see everything, at that time I remembered that its not about the destination but the journey. It felt like I took a big load off my shoulders by changing my plans to see only as much as I could and enjoy myself everywhere that I went.
I got a cheap room in Aberdeen and got up and went for a nice walk around the area. Stop and smell the flowers, right? I Headed east to Napavine and another Lkq heavy truck yard, I stopped to visit and had a nice talk and tour with the plant manager Jim Wilson. He reaffirmed my decision to move on to Mount Rainer National park.
Turned out Mount Rainer was spectacular, It has it all, terrific motorcycling twisty roads with a new road surface, awe inspiring views and a number of tourists that was manageable.
This picture says it all for me.
The last view I had of the mountain I stopped and took this picture with my dslr, I thought because of the lighting that I had taken a terrible picture, when I got home and downloaded my pictures it turned out to me my favorite from the trip, It looks like a painting and I enhanced it very little, just increased the exposure a little. FYI most of the pics on this blog where taken with an iphone 6 you can tell which ones are high megapixel taken with my Nikon.
I think Rainer has a very good tourist to square mile ratio and was one of the most beautiful places I have visited. A return visit and some climbing are in order.
I pulled in to a campground on the southwest side of the mountain and these guys waived enthusiastically from their camp site. I pulled up into the site next to them. They are Mark and Kieth and they are Baptist pastors, one from Alaska and one from Oregon. Mark has eight children, 7 of which are adopted from troubled homes, he it a great man with the patience of a saint, Keith also owns a motorcycle rental company it Alaska as well as being a pastor. he is currently shutting down that business to free up some family time. It was great to spend time chatting with kindred spirits, They have done a lot of riding and were a big help in my decisions for my future route home. They are the type of men we should all aspire to be.
In the morning before I left.
I rode Highway 12 through Yakima and Walla Walla then preceded south to Enterprise Oregon, I was there because pastor Mark had told me about a road the was it great need of being ridden. North on Highway 3 then changing to Highway 129 is know as Rattlesnake Grade. It was a super fun ride that I had to myself most of the time, another part of the country that I need to explore more.
One of the most memorable days that I have ridden.
This sign is truthful, the road is exhilarating but dangerous, you had to keep your attention on the road and stop every so often to enjoy the views.
I spent the night in the last available room in Lewiston Idaho.
I rode over Lolo pass, another great road and some history coincidence I rode the pass on Sept. 13th also! I did have it a little easier that they did. I am guessing the route is a lot improved 212 years later.
There were fires in the area and at times thick smoke. The scale of these fires and smoke are hard to comprehend. After a log day in the saddle I spent the night in Butte in an ok hotel on the interstate. That night I was to learn of the coming rain and cold that would impact me for the next several days.
I was off early the next day to visit Yellowstone, A place I have wanted to see for a long time.
I enjoyed Yellowstone but only had a day planned there, The loads of slow driving tourist made it boring to drive and clouds and the rain moving in meant I missed some of the best scenery. I also found out that the road I planned to take to Cody for a dry evening stay there was closed, So my only real option was to turn south toward the tourist town of Jackson Hole Wyoming.
The highlight of the trip to Jackson was the Grand Teton Mountians, Wow they are beautiful, Not the best day to take pictures but you get the idea.
As I rode in the rain and cold, I realized that camping out that night was not possible for me, I was shaking and nearing hypothermia. I got a room in Jackson for the night and recouped for the long run home.
I got an early start and had to retrace my steps and go about 30 miles north to highway 26 east, It was 36 degrees and raining over a 9600 foot pass, my heated jacket liner and gloves kept me mostly comfortable. As I was adding up the miles I need to cover the next 2 days I routed to the fastest route home.
I rode to Casper and on to Rapid City South Dakota for the night, My last day on the road It started out 42 degrees and cloudy, I dodged the heavy rain and had an uneventful push home on I90.
My Final thoughts on this trip, Next time I would do less coast and more mountains, The coast was great but the heavy traffic and loads of people where not as fun as the tear up the road riding and terrific views and remote area’s of Rainer, Idaho and Montana. I would like to give Yellowstone another shot, I am sure with more time, patience and some good weather that it will have more to offer me but I am calling it overrated for now. I also would love to explore more of the Grand Teton area. As far as wildlife, I seen Deer and Buffalo but no Bear, Elk or Sasquatch. I found that Subaru cars have a fatal error and top speed is only 10 under the speed limit, 20 under in a National park or on sweet motorcycling roads. I do this blog for me to review some of the great experiences in my life as well as to hopefully inspire others to get out and explore the world and the beautiful places and great people it has to offer. 3252 miles on the bike this trip.