I was invited to attend an annual guys/father-son weekend at a remote cabin outside North Powder, Oregon. My buddy Mike and I were planning to ride there and back on our bikes (he rides a 2005 Suzuki Boulevard M50), but he came down with a creeping crud that didn’t want to go away, so he trailered his bike and I rode the originally planned route.
Departure was Thursday morning, May 29. It was raining, of course. My route took me over Mt. Hood via Government Camp, down highway 26 to Bear Springs, where I headed east on highway 216 toward Maupin. A cow elk crossed in front of me but there was enough distance for me to easily slow down in time. The sun came out so I stopped in Maupin and took a refreshment break.
Instead of heading south on 197, I headed south east on Bakeoven Rd. and am glad I did. I had seen it on the map but had never taken it. After getting a report that the road was in good shape from the lady working at the store in Maupin, I took it. The road climbs steeply with narrow turns until arriving at the top of the plateau, at which point it opens up. The clouds came back and by the time I got to Shaniko I had rain drops on my face shield once again.
Rolling through Shaniko and Antelope, I continued east toward Fossil, my intended lunch stop. Passing through the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds, the clouds had descended to ground level reducing visibility and began to dump copious amounts of rain. Although I had to slow down because of the reduced visibility, I was comfortable in my Aerostich and actually kind of enjoyed the experience. Because of an exceptionally wet winter and spring, the hills and grasslands were green and lush instead of brown and dry. The scenery and weather combined into something more like the Scottish highlands than eastern Oregon.
I arrived at the cafe in Fossil on 1st and Main wet and hungry but otherwise very content with the ride so far. My usual BLT and coffee was good as usual. The rain had stopped long enough for me to gas up and get back on the road.
My arrival in John Day occurred at 2:40, just ten minutes later than my arrival a year earlier. Yes, I left home at the usual 8:30, but after filling up my tank in Sandy, I didn’t actually leave town until 8:43. Let’s see, I left 13 minutes later than usual and arrived only 10 minutes later. How’s that for precise riding!
I checked into the Best Western, unpacked, and took a nap. By 4:30 my stomach was rumbling so I showered then headed next door to The Outpost for some beer and a personal Mexican pizza which was considerably better than the indifferent service I received from the waitress. Her surprisingly deep voice was disconcerting.