Can I turn 40 again next month?

Despite the old and run-down nature of the Westward Ho Motel in Bend, I managed to sleep adequately well. I couldn’t wait to get out of there the next morning, however. I rode to the north end of town and grabbed a bite of corned beef hash and eggs at Shari’s — across from The Riverhouse where I should have stayed to begin with — then continued over to Prineville where I gassed up the bike.

I followed Highway 26 east to Mitchell before heading north to Fossil. I often stop in Fossil for a BLT but wasn’t overly hungry so I continued back west toward Antelope. I was hoping to buy a bottle of water and have a short break in Antelope but their only store/diner was closed despite the sandwich board sign out front advertising the fact that they now sold bottled water.

8 miles up the road I stopped at the only remaining establishment open in Shaniko,

Shaniko, Oregon
Shaniko, Oregon

an ice cream shop that also sold a few other items. I got a nuked corn dog and ice water for $1.50, gave the old lady working there a $5 bill and said, “Keep the change.” After chatting with the old man sitting on the front porch for a bit I continued north on Highway 97 to Biggs where I gassed up and chugged a frappuccino. Once across the Columbia River I made my way to my sister’s ranch halfway between Goldendale and Bickleton, at the end of a rough and bumpy dirt and gravel road. My bike was covered in dust and dead bugs and I’ve never seen anything more beautiful.

My sister and her husband and I stayed up to around 10pm chatting then headed to bed. I slept well and was up by 6:30 am the next morning. My Dad and his wife arrived from their home in Hermiston around 8:30 am and we visisted until noon, had a quick lunch, then I mounted back up and headed back down the dusty trail, homebound.

I had to change into and out of my cold/wet weather clothes three different times on the way home. The weather was tumultuous and fickle, hot and muggy one minute then cool and rainy the next. I made it home safely, however, without getting overly wet and despite the nearly bald tire on the back.

My trip was a huge success. I logged over 2,500 miles in 9 riding days (12 days total, with a three-day stay in San Francisco). It made me want to turn 40 again next month. And next year. And the year after that.

Homebound

When I checked in the night before, the lady at the front desk mentioned they have a complimentary breakfast for their guests up on the fourth floor. I awoke a little before six and got dressed, ready to eat. I called the front desk and asked when breakfast would be served. “Our breakfast is served from 7:30 to 10:00 AM each morning.”

There was no way I was hanging around for an hour and a half for a free breakfast.

I loaded up my gear, got on my bike, and pulled out of the motel and headed back toward home. The only restaurant open in town was a McDonalds, so I wolfed that down and headed out.

The ride south on 97 was cool and very few cars were out and about. I headed up Blewett Pass, the scene of my unfortunate speeding ticket the year prior (going 70 in a 60 zone; I was actually only going 63 mph), and noticed the same Washington State Trooper parked in his stealthy little side road clocking people as they passed by. I waved. He waved back. I wondered if he remembered me.

My bike didn’t come to a rest until I stopped at the Chevron in Goldendale to fill up my gas tank and scarf down a Reses and frappucino. The wind was blowing from the west, hard. It was the strongest crosswind I’ve ever ridden through and it was a challenge to keep my nerve.

Descending down the hill to the Columbia River, I hit SR14 westbound toward Dallesport. What was a strong crosswind now became a wicked headwind. The bridge across the Columbia back into The Dalles and my home state of Oregon was only 17 miles away so the wind wrestling endeavor was short-lived.

Once I pulled south away from The Dalles on highway 197 the wind died down considerably. The skies were becoming overcast, which I didn’t mind after the heated ride the day prior. At Dufur I headed west again, this time up a narrow back road that connected with highway 35 just north of Mt. Hood Meadows.

By the time I reached Government Camp there was a mist on my face shield. I rode through an intense but very brief (15 seconds, tops) rain shower at Zigzag. Traffic was mercifully light considering it was a summer Sunday. Normally the string of cagers between the mountain and Sandy was without end and without any real hurry, either. I saw two more state troopers, either clocking people as they passed by or in the process of pulling someone over.

I reached my home at 12:15 PM, after having traveled 284 miles from Leavenworth, Washington with only a single 10 minute gas and food stop. The total trip was a hair over 2,100 miles in six days.