Monday, April 30, 2012

Portland, Oregon

I decided not to ride today and just give my butt a rest.  I took a bus into downtown Portland just to check out the city.  The city where I live, Asheville, NC, is often compared to Portland so I wanted to check it out.  Once I got downtown I realized this was the farthest I had been away from my bike in over six weeks!  Maybe I should change my Facebook Status to "in a relationship with a BMW".

The downtown area of Portland was nice. It was clean and had pleasant architecture.  I thought it would remind me of Asheville, but it reminded me more of Hamburg, Germany.  A lot of red brick and water features.

These water fountains were located all around the city center.

It even has street cars just like European cities.

Of course, I had to eat lunch at one of the ethnic food carts that are located throughout the city.

The city seems to have a large Asian population.  Chinatown was quite large.

From what some of the locals told me I experiences typical Portland weather, on and off rain and sun all day.

Well the butt is rested and tomorrow I will head down US 101 towards California.  My next "goal" is to visit Salinas, CA to visit the Steinbek house and National Center.  I have been a fan of Steinbek since I was "forced" to read him in college.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

On the Road in the Pacific Northwest

I left Caldwell, ID and just rode, rode and rode.  The most interesting part of the day happened when I rode through Umatilla National Forest.  SNOW!

I rode on to Walla Walla, WA where I spent the night.  I was feeling  kind of down.  Six weeks on the road alone is kind of getting to me.  Especially riding though such desolate landscapes such as the desert southwest and the Oregon Outback.  I decided to head for Portland, OR and pick up the US 101.

I rode to Portland and on the way I stumbled on a replica of Stonehenge in Maryhill, WA.  If I am not mistaken this was also mentioned in Neil Peart's book Ghost Rider.

The ride was nice.  The road I was on followed the Columbia River.

I also got to ride by Mount Hood, OR on the way to Portland.

I made it to Portland where I will stay in a "flophouse" for the next two nights.  I have a non-smoking room, but I think the previous occupant smoked like a chimney in it.  Oh well, it's cheap!

As many of you know I am from Asheville, NC.  Asheville took the title of "Beer City, USA" from Portland two years ago.  Well, I had to try Portland beer while I was here.

I miss Asheville!

Friday, April 27, 2012

What a Day!

This photo shows what my day was like today.  I left Lakeview, OR and it was cold!  I rode up 395 to a little town called Riley.  I stopped to get a coffee and warm up.  The next gas was 27 mile away in Hines.  I rode there and the front end started to feel a little like an airhead with loose steering head bearings.  I pulled in to get gas and the attendant (in Oregon you have to have someone operate the pump for you) told me that my front tire was low.  I checked it out and it was flat!  I examined the tire and found a nail.  I asked the attendant if he had an air compressor and, of course, he didn't.  The closest motorcycle shop, according to the attendant, was 150 miles away with nothing in between.
For those of you that don't ride, you are NEVER supposed to ride on a plugged front tire.  If anything goes wrong the front tire will deflate rapidly and come off the rim.  Depending on the speed this can be fatal to the rider.  But, I had no choice but to plug the tire with a worm and ride on hoping for the best.  Luckily I had my "CyclePump" from BestRest Products with me.  I plugged the tire, pumped it up and rode 185 miles to Big Twin BMW in Boise, ID.  I arrived at 4:30 and by 5:15 my GS was sporting a new front Tourance!  I can't say enough about the service I received at Big Twin BMW!  Thanks guys!

I found a cheap motel ($35) in a Mexican section of Caldwell, ID and even had to revert to speaking Spanish again at the restaurant next to the motel!

Tomorrow I will be heading for Washington State.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Stuck in Lakeview, OR

I am stuck in Lakeview, OR due to the weather.  I don't really have anywhere I am supposed to be so there is no reason for me to ride in the rain and snow.  I am going to stay here another night and hopefully the weather will clear and be a little warmer tomorrow.

First I had heavy rain this morning.

Then it began to snow!

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lakeview, Oregon

I spent today just reading and writing in Lakeview, OR.  I am staying here just to take a break from riding and because I still have three weeks before I have to be at the Overland Expo.  I have plenty of time, no need to rush.  I took a walk into the town and I noticed how it is like so many other of the towns I have seen on this trip.  It is what my wife and I call a "Commerce".  That is the town where we went to undergraduate school, Commerce, TX.  The town really has no character and was probably formed just to provide a central place to provide services to the local population.  I went to a local restaurant today for breakfast and I was the only customer not from Lakeview.  I listened in on the conversations of the locals and they were all about mundane happenings in the town.  It sort of reminded me of the Chatterbox Cafe in Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon.  Perhaps that is why Lake Wobegon is so popular.  Ninety percent of Americans can relate to the stories told weekly by Keillor.

Downtown Lakeview, OR

Lakeview, OR

But as I was walking around town I did find something that made me smile.  Maybe the secretary should handle this project next uear!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Donner Party Campsite

I have added a link to the right of the blog postings that you can click to see where I am.  Click it to see where I am now!

Before leaving Fernley, NV I met and spoke with the guy that had the motel room next to me. He was Dave "Skinner" Collins.  He is a "Cowboy Cook" and he gave me an autographed copy of his Dutch Oven cookbook.  Skinner has crossed the country several times by mule and chuck wagon.

I left Fernley, NV and rode through Reno into Truckee, CA.  Just outside Truckee is the campsite of the infamous Donner Party.  The pioneers were caught by an early snow storm in the Sierras and had to spend the winter here.  After the food ran out most believe they resorted to cannibalism.

There is a trail that you can walk (I did) around the entire campsite.  Along the way are exhibits that include diary entries of members of the party.

Ironically the site is a picnic area today!

After that I began heading north.  I made it into Oregon and found a cheap motel where I will spend two nights giving my butt a rest!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Loneliest Road in America

Not much to report today.  I rode the Loneliest Road in America, Highway 50 through northern Nevada.  It was, well, lonely.  Miles and mile of nobody.  I stopped for gas in Eureka.  Cost: $4.55/gallon!

Later, somewhere between Eureka and Austin, I snapped this photo.  Does anyone know where I go the idea for this photo?

I hope to get out of Nevada tomorrow.  No offense to anyone from Nevada, but it seems if you do not gamble there really is not much here to do.  There are gambling machines everywhere:  gas stations, convenience stores, hotel lobbies, restaurants.  I'm no gambler and the noise from the machines really get on my nerves when I am around them.

Brunhilde in front of my cheap motel room in Fernley, NV.

Tomorrow I will probably head for Oregon and the Pacific Northwest.  I need to see a tree!!!!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Mexican Hat to Ely

Today I rode more than 500 miles through nowhere.  I did see some beautiful scenery.

I made it to Ely, NV which is one end of the Lonliest Road In America.  That is what I am going to do tomorrow.  I first heard of this road while reading Neil Peart's Ghost Rider.  I still have 24 days or so out here to toodle around before the Overland Expo.  I'm thinking of heading for Oregon, Washington and Idaho while I'm out here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Monument Valley & Four Corners Monument

Today I went to Monument Valley and while it was beautiful I must say I was disappointed.  First of all due to deep sand it is not recommended that motorcycles drive the 17 mile scenic drive.  I tried and had to turn around not only due to the sand, but a water truck had just wet the sand to keep the dust down.  The result was like trying to ride on the beach.  I almost dropped the bike twice and decided to turn around.  I did get a few pictures, though.

I still had some time so I decided to ride over to the Four Corners Monument.  I had been there two years earlier but it was closed for "maintenance".  I have since learned that the marker was misplaced by more than one hundred feet.  Again I was disappointed.  The "monument" is surrounded by what is basically a tribal flea market.  Navajos selling jewelry and souvenirs.

Oh well, tomorrow I will head north towards Idaho.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Mexican Hat, UT

I left Moab for the short 100 mile ride to Mexican Hat, UT.  On the way I saw the Goosenecks and Mexican Hat Rock.  The Mexican Hat Rock looks like an upside down sombrero and that is where this little town gets its name.

I am staying at the Mexican Hat Lodge.  Neil Peart (the drummer from Rush) stayed here and wrote about it in his book Ghost Rider.  It was also featured on Feasting on Asphalt with Alton Brown on the Food Network.  It is not a cheap place to stay but it will be my one indulgence after a month on the road.  The steak is cooked over a swinging grill.  Tonight I will just have the hamburger steak but tomorrow I will go all out and have the New York strip.

Tomorrow I will go to Monument Valley.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Lazy Lizard Hostel

While in Moab I have been staying at a hostel called the Lazy Lizard.  It is a funky kind of place filled mostly with twenty somethings.  I have a private room which is basically a plywood box for $26 a night.  It is kind of cool to have others to talk to in the evening.  If you are ever here I can recommend it.  The Hilton, it ain't.  But it is a good, cheap and interesting place to stay while in Moab.

The kitchen area where you can prepare your own food.

The common area with TV and Internet.

My room after three days here.  (No housekeeping at this price!)

My room was the last on the end.

I'm resting up today and will be headed for Mexican Hat tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Utah Highway 128

Today I rode Utah State Highway 128.  I leaves Moab and follows the Colorado River to I-70.  Nice ride!

The Historic Dewey Bridge
(or what's left of it)

Tomorrow I am just going to take care of a few things such as laundry and then Friday I will be off for Mexican Hat, UT.