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My Summer trip, or Ain't Oregon


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Winter is settled in and I’m seeing morning temps as low as -9F. So with PMS in full swing, it’s time to remember the fun I had in 2016. Here, then, is my ride report from my summer trip. Leaving my home in the Berkshires, and heading cross country. Departure was June 3oth and the following are copy and pastes from my emails home:
Hello all From Ingersoll, Ontario.  Two days into the trip and I'm right on schedule.
Day 1 had me going north through the Adirondacks and and then southwest below the St. Lawrence and Great Lakes.  I ended up in Henderson, NY for the night where the motel owner had an MGTD with a lot of modifications in the front yard.  During the ride, the weather was perfect.  I saw a lot of corn that achieved the knee high goal on schedule.  Also went by Whiteface ski slopes.  No sign of gypsy moths in New York!
Day 2 was set up perfectly.  The Niagra Aerospace museum open at 11am and I arrived about 1130.   I was the only visitor until a small group came in later.  Here is the entrance:
Inside the neatest thing was a WW2 fighter plane made locally and in service in Russia until it crashed and was lost until just a few years ago.  Found in a lake, it was returned to the museum and is now on display. This very nice girl let me take her picture by the plane:
Just a few miles further on my travel, I crossed into Canada (took all of 15 minutes, but the line to get back into the states looked to be hours long).  Then west and southwest staying just north of the water.  This is flat country with lots of orchards, farms and even tobacco.  And one other thing . . . I lost count of the windmills.  Well over a hundred of these things, and more under construction.  I was passing them for hours!
The typical view ahead had about 15 or more windmills in view.
So I end the day at a Comfort Inn in Ingersoll.  Did you know that the dollar has gained a lot of value in the last couple of years?  Now = to 1.29 Canadian!
Setting up for tomorrow, I'm 4-1/2 hours from the Gerald Ford museum in Grand Rapids. It's then another 1-1/2 hours to the SA Badger ferry at Ludington which will take me across Lake Michigan if I can get a spot.  The ferry leaves at 8:30pm and arrives in Wisconsin at 11:30 after changing to central time zone.  So I booked a motel to be sure I have a place to sleep when I get there.  Hope I can get a spot on the ferry.
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July 3rd. - Second Report
I'm so excited . . . I met another girl, but that's today and we have to start the report with yesterday.  Leaving Ingersoll, On, I rode for an hour or so to find a Starbucks.  You always expect to find a BMW rider at Starbucks, and sure enough there were two bikes in the lot and one was a Beemer.  Two guys from Indiana on their way north into Canada.  We had a nice chat and I had a really good coffee.  Leaving the lot it turned out I was about 5 minutes from the border. I pulled up second in line at the gate and was through in about 5 minutes.  Once again, the backup going the other way was really long,  I'd guess we'll over an hour for those leaving the states.  Guess I'm just lucky ?
So the first stop of the day was the Gerald Ford Museum in Grand Rapids.  It took until about 1:30 to get there, going through farm land mostly.  I was now seeing wheat and soy beans in addition to corn.  Oddly enough there was even a Buffalo farm:
These were not like you'd see in Yellowstone.  All dirty looking and no real full size animals.  Anyway, the Ford museum has just opened a couple of weeks ago.  Not fully organized yet, so that when I went in the guard said the staff was at lunch and there was no one to take my admission money.  So I got in free to see a really nice facility.  I don't suppose any of you think of Ford as being the best ever president, but this museum brings home the fact that anyone who rises to this office is pretty special people.  Ford was a combat veteran with distinguished service, long time member of congress, and very well respected for his integrity.  After the Nixon fiasco, he was what the country needed, and he further initiated a number of reforms and foreign policy concepts that became very important to our country in the years following.  Another interesting tidbit by one of his cabinet members was that Ford is the only president who could brief the press on any and all parts of the federal budget without crib notes or coaching.  The Ford cabinet members hold a reunion every year, the only cabinet to ever do this.  Shows the kind of respect that Ford had from his compatriots.  Anyway, here's the front entry area:
Right outside, people were already setting up for the fireworks to be held that night.  But I was moving on in order to catch the ferry across Lake Michigan.  There are two options.  The fast ferry costs $150 while the SS Badger is $100.  Turns out the Badger is the only operating coal fired ferry left from the old days.  It was originally used to transport rail cars across the lake, but now it's all cars and trucks and people.  The boat can take well over 100 cars, but my 8:30pm departure had only about 40 cars at most and about 6 motorcycles.
There was a constant belch of black smoke that left a trail far behind the ship as we moved across the lake.  Really, coal doesn't have to burn that poorly.  I had to get ahead of the stack to get a clear picture of the sunset.
Arriving in Wisconsin at 11:30pm (now central time) I was reserved at the ocean view motel for Late arrival.  This set me up for a leisurely start in the morning as I headed to the EAA Museum at Oshkosh, WI.  EAA being the Experimental Aviation Assoc.  The museum is full of experimental and home built airplanes, plus a number of WW2 aircraft and memorabilia.  A couple of interesting hours, plus I met another girl.  Still couldn't get a date, but you can't blame me for trying.
Here's a copy of the Wright Brothers plane:
Then it was on to Mercer, WI where I am set for the night.  iPad Maps says it's 735 miles to my next stop, which is the Theodore Rosevelt National Park (North Section).  I stopped here very briefly with RoyB on the return leg of the 2006 Alaska trip and have always wanted to take some time here.  So that's the plan.  I don't expect to get there tomorrow, though.  But will try to set things up to arrive in the morning Tuesday and stay overnight to return for more exploring Wednesday.
So that's it for now.  Next report might have wild bison and canyon pictures!
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Monday, July 4th is the holiday, but that seems to mean that no one is on the road.  My route today was almost all back roads and I had them to myself most of the time. Heading west in Wisconsin the land turned pancake flat with huge farms.  I saw a new crop that I think was oats.  Not sure though.  At one point I was on reservation land and it was interesting to see the contrast when I left the reservation.  The land went from untended lawns and woods to neat farm houses and lush crops.  Do the native Americans need to be so listless and empty to prove their nativeness?  Their homes were a mess and there was no evidence of caring for their property at all.
Anyway, in the afternoon I stopped for a break and took this picture to show the flat land.  Also shown is my next remodel project house:
As the end of the day approached I was looking for gas and the gps said a few miles ahead.  Ended up in a very small 'town' that had no paved roads.  The gas station was, of course, closed.  But a guy gave me directions to get north to route 2 where there would new gas about 25 miles away.  I was already 5 miles into the low fuel light, and the known limit on this bike is 30 miles on the warning.  So off I went.  Meanwhile, there are very nasty clouds to the east and the lightning started as I approached the gas station.  Reserve miles ended up at 35.4 and the rain was just starting to fall as I prepared to leave.  Happily, my arrival at route 2 also meant that motels were right at hand.  So I rushed over to the American Best Value Inn and checked in with a first floor room.  The hail started as I slid the bike under the cover of the second floor walk:
The rain was short and I got to walk to supper.  Good day at about 500 miles.  Tomorrow it's less than 3 hours to the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Museum in Washburn, ND.
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Tuesday July 5:
Today started with a 3 hour ride to the Lewis and Clark Interpretive center and also Fort Mandan.  Very interesting exhibits and some fine sculptures of native Americans:
This is about 2-1/2 feet tall and there were about 10 of them.  The fort had a fun tour where the ranger had to admit that no one knows exactly where the original fort was.  They have never found any physical evidence.  Probably all washed away in a flood years ago.
From there it was several more hours to get to The north section of Theodore  Roosevelt  National Park.  This is a valley with a lot of history and surrounding bad lands.  Tomorrow I'll be doing a couple of hikes here, but today was a quick ride through to the main overlook.  I found this guy taking a dust bath by the road:
And here is a view from the top:
I also have several new items that have come to view as I go west.  First sage brush today; first sighting of canola crops with lovely yellow blooms:
And another tidbit is that you can get premium gas here without ethanol.  Things run better with real gasoline!
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WEDNESDAY 7/6/16 reporting from Alexander, ND
Well, this has been quite a day!  The sole event was my visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park (north section).  This is a section of the little Missouri River valley where the river cut through sedimentary layers and have left badlands type formations.  There is some history here as this is the area where Roosevelt had his western ranch (about 10 miles away).  Also the site of the real deal cattle drives.  Buffalo have been reintroduced here some time ago and there is a wild herd in the park.  Ya-Ya, we've all heard this before.  Buffalo this and that, but when you go to the park you don't see any.  This has happened to me several times.  Yellowstone being the exception.  Well, today I got up close and personal.  Yesterday was the dust bath by a lone male.  Today there were probably over a hundred around.  Also of note is that mating season is just starting, so the boys are all a-tither.  But the big males are in charge.  My first item is to go to the end of the park road and do a hike to Sperati Point.  Getting off the bike, I'm the first person to arrive.  Looking back down the road there is a buffalo walking right up the road and directly at me (I had passed by this guy coming in).  I'm alone and there is no protection around and he's walking straight at me.  Standing by the information sign, I have a 6x6 post to put between me and him.  So I stand there with the big camera out while he walks right up to the other side of the sign.  I'm less than 10 feet from him, snapping away and he's ok with that:
After a minute he moves on.  No pics on the phone so I can't share right now.  Moving on, here is the view from Sperati point:
The river valley in the center, erosion on the right, and river left to right near the top.
The primary overlook at this park is called 'River Bend Overlook', and I head back there, only to find that the buffalo have taken possession and a big male is bellowing.  I think this is his way of claiming the female he was standing beside.  A ranger is on hand to make sure no one does anything stupid.  Again, a bunch of pics taken but not with the the phone.  Here is one of the big guys:
Next up was a nature walk of about 4.5 miles which took me through grassland, forest and rock peaks.  Very nice.  As I approach the parking lot rain drops start up.  Just a sprinkle but the sky did not look well at all.  So I headed out and back here to the motel.  It's now lightning and a steady rain while I do a laundry.
Tomorrow is going to be travel day, with the next stop at Browning, MT at the Museun of the Plains Indian.  This is right below Glacier National Park, which I won't be doing this trip.  Looks like 540 miles so I might not quite make this in one day.  Will see how the day goes.
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Friday July 8th
Let's start with yesterday, which was a travel day.  Leaving Alexander, ND I headed to Great Falls, MT.  But, in between, there is this interesting looking place called Fort Peck (check it out on the map).  I had expected to see a pioneer days fort, but that is long gone and the road construction prevented me from getting to the town anyway.  I did get to the museum on the north side of the lake, which reveals that this area boasts two of the most complete T.Rex skeletons ever found.  The originals Aren't here because they don't have the facilities to care for them, but they have full size models and skull castings etc.  The museum also details the construction of the Fort Peck earthen dam, which was built in the 30's.  Don't know if it still holds, but at the time this was the largest earthen dam in the world.  The #2 dam was in Panama and was 1/5th this size.  The lake created by the dam is so big . . . How big you ask?  If you put the entire population of Montana in the lake, each person would have a 1/4 acre lot.  That's pretty big!
Here is a picture of the Dino display:
So after that stop it was on to Great Falls without event.  Except for some road construction areas where we had to follow the escort car for several miles.  It was so nice this morning to find a Starbucks right around the corner from the motel.  First good coffee I've had since the Canadian border.
On to today, leaving Starbucks my first stop was just after 9am at Browning, MT for the Museum of the Plains Indians museum.  This is a very small place with only a couple of rooms of exhibits.  But they are very well done with lots of history and original and replica clothing exhibited:
This is well worth the stop if you are in the area.  Just below the eastern end of Glacier National Park.
It was hours before this point that I was starting to see the mountains at the western horizon:
Signaling the start of the fun part of the motorcycle riding.  I am now in the mountains at Ponderay, Idaho and ready for the Cascade mountains tomorrow.
We all hope for no 'events' on our vacations.  But I am having one with my nice red motorcycle.  The drive chain was expected to last the trip and be replaced after I get home.  But it is now failing and won't make the 5000 remaining on this trip.  I have ordered replacement parts and will have to spend Monday wrenching at my nieces house in Belleview, WA before getting back to more fun events.  Such is life when you downgrade from BMW engineering!
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It is now Sunday July 10th.  Yesterday leaving Ponderay, Idaho it was raining and about 55 degrees.  But another Starbucks had me well fortified.  As the day progressed, it dried out and was pretty nice going into the Northern Cascade mountains of Washington.  If you haven't seen this area, it is every bit as nice as the mountains in British Columbia/Alberta etc.  The road through the the park is about 50 miles or so with elevation from 2500 to about 5500 feet.  Here is a sample:
The night ended at the south side of the park in a nice motel with no cell service, and apparently satellite internet wifi which was almost useless.  But the bed was great ?
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Today was a short drive to Belleview, WA where I am with fambly and will replace the drive chain on the bike.  Will check back in when I get to Mt. Rainier.
But one more thing.  Breakfast was at a place called 'The Eatery' in Rockport, WA just south of the North Cascade park entrance.  You gotta try their cinnamon rolls, or you might call them 'sticky buns'. Simply amazing:
Oh, And a pic of me:
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July 14th and I'm back on the road after fambly and friend time. While there I replaced the chain on the bike:
Then on Tuesday afternoon I transferred to another host who is my sister's bestest buddy from high school (that was just a few years ago in case you’re wondering).  Together we had some great coffee, and did a 6 mile hike including 1700 feet elevation change up to see a glacier on Mt. Rainier.  Then on up to the summit in her Tacoma with 286,000 miles on it.  The thing runs great but it is time for new shocks.  In keeping with this trip I brought clear skies but cool temperatures with me:
We also walked the trail of the Patriarchs to see old growth Cedar and Fir trees.  Yes, they were really big! I'm not sure, but perhaps it's us who are the patriarchs?  This lady can out hike me with ease.  I was pretty done in after the first hike.
After a nice dinner out, we then went back home for ice cream.  This morning (Thursday), it was more good coffee and then off to the south side of Rainier (Paradise) where the air was a bit hazy, but bright sun.  Continued on to Mount St. Helen's where the haze was still evident.  I liked Rainier better, but the Observatory here is very well done and shows a lot of detail about the 1980 eruption:
I'm now in Castle Rock, WA and tomorrow will do some very twisty forest roads (paved I hope) to get to the windy ridge view point on the east side of St. Helen's.
As a side note, I ran the battery out on the 'big' Canon camera at Rainier.  Complaining about the short battery life, I check the camera only to find that I was at 258 pictures for the trip so far.  All charged up now and should be good for the ride home in that department.
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Friday 7/15/16
A little early here, but this report finally comes from the name of the trip.  I'm in a place called McMenamins at Edgefield, Troutdale, OR, about one millimeter east of Portland.  Originally a poor farm it was then a nursing home and is now a hostel and function facility on a good number of acres.  I have a bunk in the men's dorm for two nights at $30 per.  Pretty good deal.  The building is all old school quality workmanship and materials.  To bad the newer repairs can't match the original, but it's still very nice.  There are numerous bars and restaurants here and I now sit outside at a pub style eatery with a tequila sunrise to keep me happy.
The primary thing today was to see the east side of St. Helen's.  This is accessed via national forest roads that are paved, but not maintained like a normal public road.  Obviously this is hilly (mountainous) country and the road continually wants to wash down the hillside.  So there are lots of drops that are only partially repaired.  With the bike, I can dodge the worst of this and go pretty fast.  Say 40 in a 25 (or better).  But I wouldn't want to do this in a car that can't escape the suspension testing dips.  However, I very much enjoyed the mountain view from this side.  Much better than at the Johnson facility yesterday.  The day started at about 55 degrees and didn't warm up until I was fully off of the mountain.  But the clouds did clear for me to get good pictures.  Most all of them with the big camera.
Here is the low clouds before I started up in altitude:
But getting up to the Windy Ridge view point I had this:
But a walk up a lot of stairs:
I also had views of Mt. Adams on the way down which was pretty cool.
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Saturday 7/16
As usual for this part of the world, the morning started out cloudy and cool.  But waterfalls are in shadow anyway, so I went first to Multnomah falls to start the loop trail of 6 or so miles.  This takes me to three falls and a bunch of forest with lots of moss near the wet falls.
Here is Multnomah:
Getting there early was advised to as to avoid the 'crowds'.  Arriving before 9am found a number of cars in the lot and a fair number of people near the base.  Starting the hike on a paved trail the traffic ended abruptly when I reached the top of the falls.  There the trail turns to dirt (and rocks too) and most people turn back for the comfort of their cars.  
Continuing on the trail for a couple of hours brings you along the top of a ridge and then down again towards Wahkeena falls.  But on the way down is a very nice smaller Fairy falls. Then the final Wahkeena falls:
Returning to the parking lot I found out what the crowds warning was all about.  The road is narrow and the lot small.  It was crowded and there were lines a good 1/4 mile each way trying to get in or just being held up by the masses.  But my motorcycle only section had room to spare as I pulled out and headed back to the hostel.  Next stop is the spruce goose!
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Sunday 7/17
Today was the Evergreen air and space museum.  This is the home of the spruce goose.  The largest wing span, largest floating plane, largest wood plane ever made.  Did you know that you can fit a WW2 bomber on the tail wing of the spruce goose?
Really, it was pretty hard to take a picture of this to convey how big it is.  We had a great tour guide.  Retired career Air Force pilot who told us war stories and about all the planes he had flown.  The space side got a rather short look see from me as the time was getting late. You could easily  spend a couple of days in this facility.
After the museum I have finally reached the end of the country.  The Oregon coast looks to be beautiful as reputed.  But TOO MANY PEOPLE !!!!  The tide was out so not the best time for photos:
Now the trip will take a new turn.  When I get to the California border, I head eastward.  The one stop left now is the museum of the Rockies in Bozeman, MT.  Other than that, it's some nice country (read twisty) roads and progress towards home.
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Monday 7/18
Today was to ride south along the Oregon coast some more, plus inland for mountain and river valley loops.  All went well except that the temperature never reached 70 degrees.  Started out about 60 and peaked at 69.  At 3pm I was along the coast with fog rolling in and the temp went down below 60 again.  Pretty frustrating, but perhaps better than what you east coasters are enduring.
The Oregon coast is pretty much the same as California with beaches and these neat rocks poking up along the shore line.  This one in the morning (low tide again):
And this one with the fog thing going on:
Now in Crescent City, California, I start out going back north a couple of miles to route 199, Grants Pass and on into central Oregon.
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Tuesday 7/19
Big ride today. Leaving Crescent City I headed up 199 to Grants Pass.  A very twisty and lumpy ride.  Then a quick stint on I-5 and on to Route 66 (I think not 'that one') which turned out to also be great fun.  199 was through old forest at the north end of the redwood area and had some very big trees.  66 went up into the high plains with beautiful pines and blonde meadows.  Think Bonanza!  At the top of a pass on 66 I stopped for breakfast.  Was the only customer:
Now into the high plains area of Oregon the temperature has finally caught up to the east coast.  Highest was 93 degrees today.  Altitude was from 4-5000 feet and later descending to about 2500 where I am now in Ontario, OR.  The land has become very dry and all sage brush.  Total miles was 560 today which sets me up for an easy day tomorrow to Bozeman, MT.  I'll do a laundry and then be ready for the Museum of the Rockies on Thursday.
I also passed the Kalmath river where the Oregon trail (southern fork I believe it's called) crossed the river back in the day.  Here's what that river looks like now:
One other thing that was nice was this.  Real gas the way God intended!
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Wednesday 7/20
Leaving the motel in Ontario, OR I hadn't realized that in two minutes I would be in Idaho. I started out going south east to pick up the Payete River and then the Salmon River (Idaho routes 21 and 75). Very windy roads following the river valleys.  A great ride.
Here is a sample of the view when I got out of the river canyons:
I have had the problem before that you can't always tell if a road is paved.  Well, here is Idaho route 29 which suddenly announced 'pavement ends'.  I had 42 miles to go on this road with no idea how long the dirt would last.  A quick review on the gps said the detour to go back and reroute on pavement would add 170 miles to the day.  Not an option.  So I stuck it out and in 13 miles the pavement started up again.
Yes,  Blow the picture up and those are cows on the road.  I'll leave it to your imagination what the dark spots on the road are.  At any rate I ended up in Dillon, Montana.  Still short of Bozeman, which is another couple of hours further on.
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