Friday, August 29, 2008

The gas station "incident"...

Looking back, I apparently forgot to mention my gas stop in Chiloquin, OR, just before Crater Lake. As I pull in, yet another gas station attendant was filling up the guy in front of me as I was waiting in line. Geez, not another gas pump babysitter! I don’t want to tip this guy for handing me the pump! Sheesh, I try to do it myself, but it wasn’t happening. The guy takes my card and hands me the pump. I feel like a 3 year old! But, luckily this guy goes to the next car after handing me my receipt. Ok… well… thanks?

Now, back to Port Orford… After I finished soaking in what I had just accomplished (any how fortunate I was), I decided to get some food, find a room and gas up. I pull up to the pump to find another attendant tending to the car on the other side. I swipe my card and grab the pump. As I’m waiting to get authorized, the gas attendant, a 40-something year old woman hiding behind large sunglasses (it was almost dark outside at this point, not sure why the sunglasses were necessary) and a baseball hat, says in her most authoritative voice:

“Um, no?”

By the tone of her voice, you would have thought that I was trying to steal or vandalize something of her own and that she had the authority and means to be judge, jury and executioner. I’m so shocked at this point, I’m literally speechless. Not only was this woman a total *****, but this beautiful state that I just rode through is also a nanny state… what a crying shame.

Rather than putting her hand around my crotch area to pump the gas, she does let me do the pumping, but I still had to hand the pump back to her after I was done. Still speechless, I drive off thinking about this law and how funny it is and how I now realize why each Oregon gas station I pumped gas at was a little quirky. Now, would it be more fun to watch non-Oregonians get busted pumping gas in Oregon, or watching Oregonians trying to figure out how to pump their own gas in the 48 babysitter-free states?

At this point I’m ahead of schedule by 4 days, which means I have 5 days to get to Portland before my flight leaves…more on that later…

Thursday, August 28, 2008

(Day 23) The last dash…

Saturday, July 26, 2008
Day 23
Crater Lake National Park to Port Orford, OR

My sleeping bag is rated for 35 degrees Fahrenheit, so it must have been 33 or 34 degrees, as I was a bit cold when I woke up at 6am. I have the whole getting packed and back on the road thing down to a science.

1. Release air from mattress
2. Put wrist watch on
3. Get out of bivy
4. Put sandals on
5. Disassemble tarp
6. Roll up mattress
7. Roll up sleeping bag
8. Disassemble/roll up bivy
9. Compress tarp, sleeping bag and bivy in stuff sack
10. Secure all non-wearable items in bags and tighten the load down
11. Socks, knee pads, pants, boots, armor suit, jacket, helmet, gloves, backpack.
12. Put sandals under netting
13. Gas on, key on, choke out, kill switch to run, 2 twists of throttle, start button
14. Idle for a bit, choke off, reset GPS trip computer
15. Load route for the day on the GPS
16. Go to nearest gas station for gas, water and granola.
17. Have fun.

Coming off the 7000’ rim of Crater Lake:

…I would gradually lose 5000’ of elevation all the way down to Lost Creek Lake. During this descent, the temperature rose to about 65 degrees in hardly any time at all. Not warm enough to take the jacket off, just perfect as a matter of fact.

On the way down, my GPS signal would have a hard time finding satellites underneath the tall and thick forests:

Even though I was on asphalt, the ride was still very spectacular and totally what I was expecting Oregon to be like. I motored down highway 62 to Shady Cove to get gas and provisions. The gas attendant was standing at the pump like she was waiting for me. Ugh, I don’t want full service, but it was my only option. She stands in between me and the pump so I have to hand her my card, she swipes it, asks me what grade of fuel I wanted and hands me the pump. I feel like I was being babysat. I get my 2 or 3 gallons and hand the pump back to her and she walks off after handing me the receipt… huh? No tip? Cool! I’m gone! (Still building this gas station story up aren’t I?)

Anyway, the TAT wasn’t far way:

The plan now was to rat-a-TAT-TAT all the way to the coast. On my GPS, I had these 4 parameters currently on display: Time and speed (since my odometer and watch were both concealed somewhat) and ETA (estimated time of arrival) and elevation. The ETA was always way too pessimistic and I’m not sure why I left that metric on display. Had I put the DTD (distance to destination) on instead, I would have known what I was in store for. But, from what I saw on the map compared to the map scale, it wouldn’t be too long before I was on the coast and sipping margaritas, or so I thought.

Anyway, this TAT trail is getting good:

Coming around another corner, I run up on this:

YO!!! Where is the ambulance?! Police?! Fire Truck?! I hop off the bike and check to see if anyone was in there. Nothing. Hmmm, what the heck is going on? Then, I saw some purple tape that read “evacuation route” running in and out of the car. There were also signs of the Jaws of Life being used and there were no fresh skid marks on the road. I deemed it safe, but still couldn’t figure out why they hadn’t towed this car out of the woods by now.

Anyhoo, back on the trail:

Be careful trying to break the speed of sound around these corners, you never know what lies ahead:

Hmm, can I see the ocean from here?

Naw, of course not, I’m just crossing I-5, my last interstate crossing:

Dang it, I had just gotten around 3 or 4 trees before getting to this point:

Guess we’ll have to get around them again! The logging in the area really takes away from some of the sight seeing and opens it up all at the same time…is that the ocean out there? Nope:

Wesk Fork, cool:

After I-5, the trails went every which way, up, down, north, south, east and west. My mental compass was all out of whack:

Coast?... nope:

Sure is pretty up here though:

Ehh, must took a wrong turn somewhere; the brush is passable, but just too thick to make good progress:

Shortly before the following picture, there was a “Road Closed” sign, looks good to me:

Oh, I see, a few rocks in the road, this must be why they closed it. That’s nothing the Orangutan and I can’t handle:

Well now, maybe this is:

Notice in the picture above (if you can) how my route (in purple) is just a straight line between each of my turn points (not following the road)…this is what I had to deal with all the way across the country.

The reroute was easy, but a little lengthy. Oh well, by this point I was starting to wonder if I was going to make the coast by dark. Each time I’d start to drop in elevation, I thought, “This is it, here it comes!”. And then the elevation would go back up to 4000’ feet. Typical thinking for an east coaster I guess.

Anyway, I guess I was too busy zooming in and out of my GPS unit figuring out which roads I would need to take to remain on the trail. Therefore I didn’t get many pictures until I knew I was really close to the coast.

One last road block:

I should have just rode over the bump and past the road closed sign, but I was already over 250 miles on the day and was really itching to get on the beach, so I rerouted. This reroute put me on pavement, but still offered some great views. I bet you could see the ocean from here if not for the cloud cover. But still a cool view:

Getting closer on Elk River Road. I thought I had seen just about every cloud there was until I saw these:

The only word that came to mind was, “mystical”. A left onto the famous highway 101 and I’m in Port Orford… finally. This view wasn’t as grand as Crater Lake, but still higher than my expectations:

From the driveway of my home in North Carolina to the Pacific Coast, all on a dirt bike. I made it on July 26th, 2008 at 4:46 pm:

The lady who snapped this picture had a much longer left leg than the right one (just kidding, of course):

Total mileage: 4733
Daily mileage: 288
Wildlife observed: [Sorry, slacked off on the wildlife reports]
Favorite Sight: The “mystical” clouds laying motionless over the Port Orford bay area
Favorite Scent: The pine trees again
Favorite Sound: Waves crashing on the beach
Favorite Taste: Fish and chip dip
Favorite Feel: Riding in the sand… the first time I’ve done this and something you’d get arrested for on the east coast.
Ailments: Nothing! Just a little tired, but it was a relaxing feeling as well.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

(Day 22) Let me give this dirt trail mapping a shot…

Friday, July 25th, 2008
Day 22
Lakeview, OR to Crater Lake National Park

Hmmm, according to the GPS data, I was only moving at 7:05am this morning. I must have been slacking off knowing I was finally out of the desert and into civilization. First stop was to fuel up. The Chevron seemed to be about the only gas station in town and it seemed to be open with people walking in and out of the store. The pump took my card, reset the numbers to zero, but would not pump the gas. Dang it, so I cancel the transaction and try the next pump… same story. The next pump? Same story. I motion towards the attendant in the garage area that the pumps aren’t working. He jumps up, runs to the back of the garage and apparently flips a switch… now we’re in business. (I know, dumb story, but I’m just setting you up for later).

It was good being back into the woods and mountains; shade was plentiful, water was never too far away and if you’re out in the middle of nowhere, at least you have mountains to keep you thinking about what was on the other side, whereas in the desert, if you’re in the middle of nowhere, you know it all too well.

Anyway, the trail makes a big loop around the north side of Crater Lake before heading out west to the coast. The area in between me and Crater is really nothing but logging roads. The GPS map of the logging roads looks like a broken car windshield. With my GPS routes not following the roads exactly, there would be many, many instances where I would have to stop and fiddle with the GPS to figure out which road I would need to take. So, I decide to create my own route directly to Crater Lake, avoiding as many highways as possible. The route that Garmin maps out for me looks very promising. Coming out of Lakeview, it overlapped part of the TAT and leads me directly into this semi-locked gate:

I could have opened it, but I believe it would have taken a couple pliers and it looked like it would fall apart. Not trying to mess with all that, the reroute was easy and it wasn’t too long before I was off the TAT and on my own route.

Ah, yes… now this is the Oregon I’ve been expecting:

The logging roads were fun, fun, fun. Twisty, fast, cool temperatures and fantastic scents coming from the surrounding evergreens and pines:

There are probably 1.2 million ways to get across Oregon with all of these logging roads:

One of those ways (which is marked on the GPS) lead me to the top of a mountain where a guy was cutting firewood (I think there are logging areas marked specifically for the public). It’s not surprising that this guy was cutting wood at this point because this is where the road ended. I talked with the guy and he mentioned that he thought a road “used” to go through this area too. He suggested I try the other side of the mountain. No problemo! Err, wait, maybe a slight problem:

I was just blazing my own trail through the wide array of ground cover and eventually hit a hidden brook where I would get stuck. Notice the bike is standing on its own, that’s how deep and narrow the brook was. I eventually muscle it out and continue making progress to the top of the mountain and find a nice two track trail. I was having a ball:

Hey, it’s Nevada’s state flower again, how lovely:

My own route was working out well:

…until I was forced upon the asphalt due to a totally incorrect road mapping on the GPS:

I try to get back on my route, even ignoring a “No Trespassing” sign:

This would lead me to a public recreation road. Later, about 5 miles into the trail, I would learn that it wasn’t intended for motorized use…whoopsie. There were many, many gates like the one below, locked on the left, open on the right:

Eventually, this trail would run over a paved road, so I figured I better take that rather than have some hippies tell me that I couldn’t ride my dirt bike on the bike path. Around this time, I feel my gear shifter starting to feel a little soft. Luckily it was only a loose screw. My first roadside repair after 4000 miles:

One more attempt at getting back on some dirt roads…locked, doh!:

I could have easily rode around, but this seemed to be private land, so I boogied on out of there and back onto the hard stuff:

On the outskirts of Crater Lake:

My GPS said there were two choices to reach the top of Crater Lake, a straight road and… a curvy road. Hmmm, tough choice, think I’ll pick the curvy road!

Unfortunately it turned into a foot trail 7 miles before the peak:

This truly would have been a riot had I attempted to climb Crater Lake by hiking trail, but I guess I’m too old for all of that nonsense. However, one day I do plan on coming back and climbing this trail, I have no doubt that it would be awesome.

All of those trees that I so heroically bypassed on the way up the trail, I would have to un-heroically bypass on the way down:

Even getting a little stuck once:

The sign says, “Snow Play Area”:

Soon afterwards I was getting close to the top of Crater Lake. It’s a shame that we have to fight traffic, get caught up in the rush of things and see so many tourists ambling about this uniquely beautiful area. I actually had one guy tailgate me around the rim road, Geez man! Enjoy the scenery why don’t ya!

But anyway, Crater Lake was truly awesome and well worth the hassle:

And, the area around the lake is just simply beautiful as well:

This is a place I could come back to many times over; I can’t imagine what went through the minds of the people who actually discovered this place. This was one of those rare instances where my high expectations were exceeded.

So anyway, I decide to take advantage of the campsites in the park (I’ve already paid my fees, may as well get my money’s worth out of it) and camp out for the night. Just as the sun went behind the mountains, the mosquitoes came out in full force. Out of all the places I stayed, the bugs were the worst here. I built a fire in an effort to fight back:

… but to no avail. So, I wiggled into my bivy sack before it got dark, tried to learn the French that was being spoken at the next campsite and eventually fell asleep. Stats:

Tomorrow I have ambitions of hitting the coast…

Total mileage: 4445
Daily mileage: 185
Wildlife observed: [forgot to write this information down for the day]
Favorite Sight: Is there any doubt? Crater Lake.
Favorite Scent: The evergreens and pines would put out all kind of combinations of scents. Riding through on a motorcycle is really the only way you can experience this.
Favorite Sound: Not realizing I was standing in a brook until I cut the engine off.
Favorite Taste: Unfortunately, instant oatmeal.
Favorite Feel: Riding around the rim of Crater Lake knowing that there is a wall of water on the other side waiting to burst out.
Ailments: ‘Skeeter bites.