Oregon Outback: September 2006

Sacramento, CA. 12:01pm, 9/2/06
Thursday night, I realized I had nothing planned for the long weekend at all other than rotting at Ice Oasis and watching Peter play hockey. So, out came the maps and books, and I decided on a spontaneous trip to the Oregon Outback.

I left just before 8:30 this morning, and slabbed it up to Antioch. The freeway wasn’t kind to my shoulder, but at least the traffic was good. I met a new friend in the 7-11 parking lot in Antioch, a homeless crazy-but-pleasant tweaker, who called me “doll”, promised to pray for my safety, and taught me the “secret meth handshake” (which I’m sure will come in handy on my travels). After showing off his veins and track marks, he claimed to be off heroin now — “now I’m just on alcohol!” — which is admirable but frankly probably not true. I felt bad for the guy and gave him half of a Clif bar. We exchanged mutual sincere wishes that the other would take care of themselves, and I headed towards the Delta.

I took Highway 160 north to Sacramento, through the Sacramento River Delta. I’ve never been on 160 before, and I really liked it. There was almost no traffic, allowing me to pull over to photograph the river, bridges (of which there were many), and other cool stuff. I fell in love with a building in Isleton, and took a few pictures — much to the apparent entertainment of the local sheriff, who was driving past at the time.

So, now I’m at a McDonald’s in Sacramento, having a Diet Coke and stretching out my shoulder. Next stop, Yuba City, then to Red Bluff for the unfortunate inevitable stint on I-5.

Los Molinos, CA. 2:37pm, 9/2/06

Butt break in Los Molinos, also known as “ass middle of nowhere somewhat north of Chico”.

The dude that pulled up into the parking spot next to the Z left his car running while his wife ran inside, leaving me baking to death as his car poots hot air directly into my face. This makes me sad. I was sitting here first, buddy!

The northern central valley continues to be hot and boring. Zzz.

Weed, CA. 5:05pm, 9/2/06

It’s time for a nutritious Taco Bell dinner in Weed.

The temperature is cooling off a bit with elevation, which is nice. I know intellectually that Redding must occassionally dip below 100F, but I’ve never seen it.

There’s not much interesting to report, sadly. Traffic on the 5 was good, but I kept the speed down due to the high po po presence. I counted 5 squad cars in the Shasta Lake area alone. Lots of semis, of course, but far fewer RVs than I’d expected on a holiday weekend. Hopefully that luck will hold through Monday!

Time to get onto Hwy 97 and head northeast.

Mt Shasta, Hwy 97. 5:12pm, 9/2/06

Welcome to Oregon, Hwy 97. 6:21pm, 9/2/06

Oregon actually officially welcomed me about 50 yards back, with a 55mph speed limit sign, but this’ll do too.

Klamath Falls, OR. 7:32pm, 9/2/06

I’m safely tucked in for the night in Klamath Falls. I got one of the last hotel rooms in town…I almost turned it down because it’s a smoking room, but I’m glad I took it as three more people came in looking for a room while I was paying (I took the last room at that particular hotel). An open window and fan seems to be helping the smoky smell, plus the clerk gave me a nice discount.

Now I’m waiting for dinner at “Mr B’s Steakhouse” and am enjoying the combination of a Full Sail amber beer and my book, “Scenic Driving: Oregon”. The waitress and a jovial older gentleman at the next table got a kick out of guessing my age while I searched my cargo pants pockets for my ID. I may be pushing 30, but at least no one believes it. πŸ˜‰

Tomorrow’s fun is going to be a kickass 200+ mile loop in the “Oregon Outback”. I’m especially looking forward to seeing Fort Rock, an ancient volcano rim. Other highlights will be Oregon’s only geyser, Indian petroglyphs, and a bunch of mountain passes. *happysigh*

Klamath Marsh NWR. 10:45am, 9/3/06

I was waffling about whether to take 97 up to La Pine, then 31 down to Silver City, or take the Silver City Highway across. I’m so glad I did the latter. The marshland is colorful, expansive, and utterly desolate.

Hwy 31, north of Silver Lake, OR. 1pm-ish, 9/3/06

I’m allergic as hell to these stupid yellow bushes, but they sure are pretty, aren’t they?

I had a great lunchtime conversation in Silver Lake with a local couple and their…friend? relative?….who’d ridden his bike in from Boise yesterday.

It was one of those tiny mom and pop restaurants (“Silver Lake Cafe and Bar”, not that you’d miss it as I think it’s the only joint in town), and the only open seat was next to this group. We met when the husband said “It’s not *that* warm out, so I bet you’re on a motorcycle!”

We talked bikes, routes, small towns, and the wife, Diane, and I even got a good rip going about strong and independant women. She wore a Nascar baseball cap over frizzy dyed-red hair, and her tank top and shorts showed off quite a few tattoos. She told me great stories about her sister, their daughters, and her 7 year old granddaughter.


Fort Rock, OR. 3pm-ish, 9/3/06

Had a great time at Fort Rock.

I continue to get the serious heebie-jeebies from apparently-out-of-place massive rock formations. Fort Rock wasn’t quite as shudder worthy as Morro Rock, but I still got the shivers. Whaddup wid dat?? What makes me think I want to see Ayers Rock, anyway?

The absolute best part of Fort Rock was the homestead village just outside of town. The place is run by Josephine and Chester, who were great to talk to and tell some fun stories themselves. Chester was a deadhead in San Francisco and said he was at the infamous Altamont concert. Josephine was so happy to see someone under 50 enjoying history and picking up a brochure on Oregon’s historical markers that she actually hugged me. πŸ˜€

Lakeview, OR. 6pm-ish, 9/3/06

This dude cracked me up. “Thanks, buddy!”

The activities I’d planned for the later part of the day didn’t pan out for various reasons, so I decided to make my own fun. Naturally, “my own fun” basically involves taking pics of dorky shit I find. πŸ˜‰

Alturas, CA. 9pm-ish, 9/3/06

I’m in Alturas tonight, in the same Super 8 that we stayed at last October on the Sport-Touring.net ride. Hopefully there won’t be ice on my bike again tomorrow morning. πŸ˜‰

The Black Bear diner next door just underwent a change of management and hasn’t gotten their liquor license renewed, so I had to go to the local liquor store for my beer fix. Now I’m hanging out in the hotel room, futzing around online while drinking a beer and watching Law & Order. It’s like I never left home! πŸ˜‰

I played leapfrog with a group of cruiser riders this evening. I assumed they were part of a tour group as some of them had matching luggage, and I overheard them at a gas station and thought I heard a foreign accent. Anyway, they wound up at the Super 8, too, and I got to chatting with one of the men. It turns out they didn’t have an accent — they’re all deaf. They were all riding to a deaf group’s annual rally that was up in southern Oregon over the weekend. Very cool!

Home tomorrow. πŸ™‚

Pre-coffee humor, Alturas, CA. 7am, 9/4/06

The car parked next to me at the hotel has a bumper sticker saying “Don’t blame me — I voted for Rossi!” Obviously not referring to Vale, but it amused me nonetheless.

I disappointed the young waiter this morning by not having come from Burning Man. Alturas is only 100 miles from Gerlach, and I’ve seen a few playa refugees at the restaurant already. Did the Man actually burn right this year? Something went spectacularly wrong with the burn both years I was there…coincidence, I’m sure. πŸ˜‰

Every so often, I think about my last time at Burning Man (September 2000) — I remember standing on top of the RV, looking at all the LEDs and EL wire, wishing I was riding my motorcycle through the desert alone instead. It amuses me, then, that I spent Burning Man weekend alone in the desert this year. This seems like a nice tradition to start.

Lake Almanor, Hwy 147, almost Greenville, CA. 9/4/06

The Sierras continue to Not Suck. It’s a gorgeous day — bright blue sky, not too hot, about 75F in the trees.

Bridges over the North Fork Feather River, Hwy 70. 9/4/06

Loved this view of the two bridges. Too much traffic on 70, but otherwise a great ride.

Tire-d. 9/4/06

I seem to have worn out my tires.

I hadn’t noticed before this trip, but today it’s been painfully obvious. Not only is the Z not holding a line like she should (her not-quite-professional rider notwithstanding), but I could see the squared-off rear all the way from my vantage point inside the restaurant today at lunch. Now I’m sitting on the curb in front of my gas station parking spot and noticing the front is cupping and at the wear bar, too. Oops.

I guess just over 7k isn’t bad for the stockers. I’ll call Hare Racing tomorrow, and hope they can reshoe my baby with Pilot Roads before the Wind Dancers Pacific Rally next weekend.

On that note, I’m about 90 boring freeway miles from home now. I’ll stop once or twice more to take pity on my poor butt (even the Rick Mayer seat is no match for 150 miles of interstates) and should be home by dinnertime. Yay!


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