Tag Archives: Oregon

Being All Adult and Such

Cheers, good readers!! How’s it been?

As typical, much has happened since the end of the big trip. That interview I cut the trip short for paid off well. I’m 2 weeks in on being a Field GIS Tech with a sweet small engineering firm that I’ll never name here. Like to keep personal and professional firewalled. Suffice it to say, it’s a good place with potential. Plus I get to drive a sweet Toyota around in the beautiful mountains in Washington, eventually all over the West.

Tomorrow I’ll be moving in to my new place, the first non-roommate place I’ll have had since 2007. Glory be!!!!! Cheap, cute and chill. 5 minutes from the office and the Salmon Creek Greenway with trails and such. Not that I’ll be there much as it’s field season so I spend weekdays in the field and weekends home.  Still, it’s mine and it’ll be a great place to be able to come back to and have how I want it.

Having moved over 60 times in my life (living in Govt dorms, on couches, in the dirt, with shitbag roommates) being able to have a homey base to work/play out from is a very welcome thing. Hell, I might even go so far as to get plants again. So grown up!

Thumper got me out on a few more little Oregon trips the couple weeks after I got back from the trip, but isn’t in the best of health.

Exhaust is falling off, the starter switch failed in Astoria so I had to spend the next 2 days gear starting a KLR and that ain’t no goddamn fun at all. Got it back to Bend and will deal with it over the winter.

I will use this space to once again sing the praises of the lowly KLR 650. That fucking tank is one of the most broadly capable bikes on the planet and they’re cheap as shit. One seeking a tough bike to really get out in the boonies with could hardly go wrong buying one.

I’ve been flirting with new bikes, the Suzuki V-Strom 650XT in the lead unless the Yamaha T-7 comes out awesome and under $10k. Knowing the Strom is less off-road capable than the current ride, it would have been plenty capable on the stuff I rode on the big trip. My taint was so fucking hammered after 11,000 miles on a KLR that I decided a new ride was in the mix. I mean, I have ridden around 16,000 miles this year alone, not like some of the poor bikes out there, abused by neglect, sitting around collecting dust under the ownership of one wearing a Born to Ride shirt who sells it after 6 years and maybe 3000 miles. Sad, so sad, it’s a sad sad situation. And it’s getting more and more absurd.

Met with an eclectic group of delightful folks to memorialize a good friend who died last year and had the honor of taking some of his and friend Corey’s dad’s ashes together up to a feature on the back side of Mt Hood called Snowdome. Was a burly scramble and rolled the shit out of my already dodgy ankle, but totally worth it. He asked to be there and it was important to his wife and sons.

Memories of experiences and epiphanies from the Big Moto Haul still pop up on occasion. Little things can trigger a long 1000 yard stare moment where I’m still out there having the coolest experience dirty, tired and content. Many more such excursions shall come in the near future.

For a short bit, tho, it’s time to be a happy little homemaker and worker among workers. As well as coming to the realization that, once again, Portland is my home.

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A Good Start

Why, howdy!

After the initial first day clusterfuck start typical of such an undertaking, things have rolled along smoothly. Not that day 1 was terrible, just a too long day ending at a poor camping spot due to the damn sun going down. Actually saw some sweet country and got to ride some sketch Forest Service roads to get the whole thing kicked off.

The rest of week one saw me roll through some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen. NE Oregon and eastern Washington are places that have passed me by as destinations to explore up to this point. So glad I chose to run through the area on this trip, it did not disappoint. From the Painted Hills, Ponderosa stands in huge meadows to dense mixed conifer west-side style forest, it was all there. Plus plenty standard desert. Well, except in WA. They seem to have whacked most of the native sage steppe and replaced it with a metric shitton of dry-land wheat. As in as far as the eye can see Kansas cornfield style.

I knew there was some, but not that much. Didn’t take away from the reason I went that way in the first place: Palouse Falls and Dry Falls. Remnants of the Missoula Floods, or if you are into emerging hypotheses, an astroidal impact on the North American and European ice sheets which may have kicked off the Younger Dryas ice age, these features are massive and impressive. Trying to imagine kilometer high walls of water full of huge boulders stripped from the very bedrock and washing over the terrain leaving behind such features as an after effect is truly mind blowing.

Much of the first week was on dirt and gravel USFS and county roads with a few stretches of pavement on little remote ‘highways’ and 25 miles on I-84 to connect it all up. Rolled through a postage stamp sized community called Troy on the OR/WA border deep in the Grande Ronde river canyon then lots of twisty dirt to a sweet camp spot ruined by a good ol’ boy hauling water in a semi all night long in the sticks running his Jake brake. Fucker.

Hit Winthrop, WA where I worked my first season back in fire in 2011 after my massage business collapse with the economy and finding decent work hard to come by. Crowded as hell, but still beautiful and found an old camping site with a creek and good hike far from the masses.

On to Republic WA to spend a day with friends from the USFS in Bend and got in another sweet day swimming to help keep the oppressive heat and road stench from getting bad. So far on this trek I’ve gone swimming more times than in the previous 2 years and it’s all been a hoot. Good to see dear old friends and their kids, share some stories and just hang out.

Returned to my favourite (see what I did there?) country on the planet to visit friends Mike and Dale (and bonus friend Katie who was also visiting) in Revelstoke, one of the most beautiful spots for a town you can imagine. Showed up a day earlier than planned to be able to hit up Skydive Salmon Arm to celebrate the 150th Canada Day by hucking out of a Cessna 182 at 10k feet with buddy Rob strapped to my back. Skydiving is one of those “gonna do” things I’ve always imagined I’d get to. The time came and it was all I could hope for. Going to have to go a few more times to see if it’ll be the next activity to pursue since ice climbing isn’t really a thing in Oregon.

Mike has been at it for a while so he was jumping for fun, the girls had each done a tandem so opted for the First Jump course which has you control your own chute and land yourself. Wanting to do it, but get in freefall, the tandem seemed a good starting place and was soooooo worth it. Canada Day was the best day I’ve had in a long time combining the jump, good food, swimming, a sweet small town fireworks display, and awesome friends to do it all with.

 

Finished up my time in Revie playing cribbage, spending a day on the Columbia swimming and kicking it, watching Letterkenny (a Canadian show that is one of the funniest things you’ll ever see) and generally enjoying time spent in the company of friends. You may notice a theme with my visits. After a year and a half in Silicon Valley practically friendless, it was time to be among my people and I’m getting my money’s worth on this trek.

 

Currently I’m in Calgary tapping this out at friends B-Rad and Beckie’s place. Oh, and Neve, Jane and Emma the Wonder Schnauzer.  The run over Roger’s Pass was stunning, but hard to pay attention to as the road was packed with less than skilled drivers. Parks Canada made all federal parks free for the 150th celebration this year so the woods are packed with tourons. Did get to see a smoking semi trailer full of meat that had caught fire and some other nifty stuff, however.

 

This trip has been a blast and is as I had hoped, plenty new beautiful sights seen and time with well loved friends. Kicking it here to visit folks and get in some local playing before heading out to Yellowknife, NWT the 16th. Plan to post again before, then after, that run. Then east……….

For The Moto Nerds

So, the KLR has taken everything I’ve thrown at it without complaint. Well, excepting running really low on gas yesterday and clogging up my fuel intake. Acted like it was out of gas with a 3/4 tank after filling up so I fussed with the switch and got it to take fuel down the reserve tube, but I’ll have to pull the thing and clean it tomorrow. That was the only hitch, nothing mechanical, just thumping along.

The Giant Loop Great Basin Saddlebag has been good for the most part, but is a little awkward for such a trek. Not a bad item, just difficult to access some of my kit the way it needs to be packed. It’s a small complaint for a great piece of gear as I’ve got my system down well enough. The Fandango Pro Tank Bag is awesome, plenty room and not in the way. The down bag, sleeping pad and other goodies I’m testing out for Next Adventure are doing well and a full review of much of my gear will be forthcoming. Figure it’ll help new folks make better gear choices if they can see how they work in real world moto conditions.

My Kenda 761 tires have been doing well considering they are mostly for road and I’ve beaten the shit out of them off road over the last few months. Nearly dead, there was a small leak in the rear I pump up each day for pavement, was fine for dirt. New tires were ordered ahead of time and sent to B-Rad’s so this weekend I’ll be slinging a new set of Shinko 700s on and doing the oil. Used them before and like ’em, we’ll see how they do on the forestry trunk roads heading north. Should be fine.

So far, mine is the only Gen 1 KLR I’ve seen traveling, plenty around for local use. A few Gen 2, plenty BMWs/Tigers/V-Stroms and a smattering of Africa Twins and KTMs. HDs, lots of HDs, holy Christ.

Feel free to ask questions about route, gear, conditions. If I’m going to be in your neck of the woods and you wanna grab a cup of joe and bullshit, I’m game as well. It’s all about the folks you meet on a trek like this.

So, That Big Motorcycle Trip…..

Hooooo, boy! It has been a while since my last blatherfest.

Lots of nifty little adventures, including overnight camping trips in my lovely Oregon desert to working ‘vacations’ in Portland to assist friends, have been occurring right under your nose.

Yes, yes, I promised big bold write-ups of my little moto romp through the desert Southwest and I’ve been fantastically lazy concerning writing about it.

An overview shall follow.

Ahem.

In the beginning, there was the end of a contract with Apple. The cry “Hallelujah!” rose up from the masses. Well, me to be exact. Shit was packed into Mighty Whitey (the Soob) and hauled to Bend, a flight was procured to return to Silicon Valley and my bike, and thus the adventure began.

Being a comedy nut, I hit the jackpot in the days before heading out as Bill Burr and Doug Stanhope (with Morgan Murphy and Brett Erickson) were doing shows on consecutive nights at the San Jose Improv. Nearly wet myself with glee. Both shows were sweet and really set a good tone for kicking off a new adventure.

My route took me through a lot of So-Cal sights I’d never been to before, but had seen photos of and heard about from friends, magazine articles, etc. over the years. Hit up Carrizo Plain National Monument the first night, I’d been there before, but it’s always good to get the kinks worked out in familiar territory. Pissed down rain all night and proved my choice in tents was a gooder. Fellow riders, if you want a good, small, light solo tent the REI Quarter Dome 1 is reasonable. The foot area is a little funky to set up, but I had plenty room and stayed dry. What more do ya need? The next morning a heavy mist was about giving the feel of being on the moors.

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Carrizo Plain NM

And as many have noted, the desert flowers were blooming like crazy everywhere. Photo evidence to follow.

Starting out with a pile of wet kit to pack wasn’t the top of my list, but got it out of the way early and it was dry as hell most the rest of the trip. Headed through lovely Bakersfield where I met a cool fellow who had moved there from PDX at a Starbucks and chatted a bit about bikes, pedal and motor.

A short aside concerning Starbucks for my PDX coffee snob friends. Yes, Portland is a mecca for all coffee aficionados who love the Stumptown bright, light to medium roast that every company copies thinking they are recreating the wheel in their own special way. There are many parts of the country that would kill for Starbucks as shitty watered down Folgers still dominates the small town cafe scene in the Great American Beyond. As a traveler, ‘Bucks fucking rocks. Clean shitters, solid WiFi and decent coffee. Not to mention a lot of travelers hit it for the above reasons so you can meet some interesting folks there. Not 5th and Alder downtown interesting, but fun interesting.

Totaling 3500 miles and 17 days the trip far exceeded expectations and led to meeting a bunch of cool folks and seeing some of the most beautiful terrain on the planet. The route took me to Trona Pinnacles, Death Valley where I rode through the awe inspiring Titus Canyon, Mojave National Preserve for a hike up huge sand dunes:

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Kelso Dunes, Mojave NM

and Joshua Tree NP which was packed, but I still found a sweet little place to camp and hike sans other people. And a desert tortoise. Well, a former desert tortoise.

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Hard Livin’ in the Desert

Salton Sea was very full according to the local guy I bought a soda from in a tiny little lakeside village. And smelled like rotten fish ass. Cruising along, I noticed a film crew and checked them out. They were filming a spin off of Sons of Anarchy. Chatted with a camera man and a few actors for a bit and got a shot of a sweet moto rigged to film riding scenes:

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Can’t imagine it was fun to ride, but the results are worth the headache I’m sure.

Hit Salvation Mountain and Slab City as I’ve heard about them for years and was curious. There were a couple very cute young women taking sexy shots of each other at Salvation Mtn, which I thought was a hoot. This dude’s monument to Jesus and the girls are taking ass shots in the middle of it. Figured, what the fuck, and asked if they would take a shot with my bike and they were in, so:

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Seattle Gals with Thumper

Sometimes you just have to ask.

Oh, here’s the Mountain:

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Slab City:

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was cool and gross all at once. Cool little camps, a library, funky social clubs in a place government has forgotten about. On the down side, the volume of random trash reminded me of photos of third world shit holes and was EVERYWHERE. Apparently living off the grid and away from the clutches of The Man requires folks to be goddamn filthy pigs.

My one actual crash was soon after Slab City, going from a deep gravel road that was freshly graded and shitty back on to the main dirt road. My front tire washed, the bike went down fast and my foot got pinned facing the wrong direction under my cargo box. I flipped over fast feeling the tension on my knee and took about 5 minutes to get positioned well enough to use my other leg to push The Pig off my ankle. Another gear plug, my ankle would have been fucked bad except I was wearing my Sidi Adventure GTX boots. I had around 300# resting on my ankle and a lesser boot would not have done the job of protecting my leg. Both my knee and ankle are a little funky still, but they weren’t destroyed thanks to good gear.

A 60 MPH cross wind for many hours through the rest of So-Cal and a subsequent sand storm finished up the California in memorable fashion. Plus it was hot. Very hot.

A couple gals I went to High School with live in AZ, so I visited Tammy in Cottonwood and hiked around near Sedona and reminisced about the good old days, then turned south all the way to Sierra Vista to see Candy. On the way I attempted to visit the memorial for the Granite Mountain Hotshots that burned up in 2013, but was so pissed off by the bullshit “Our Heroes” whitewashing of their demise I chose to pass. One day the truth about that burn-over will come out and a few fuckers who are protecting their and other folks asses will be held to account. Fucking scum. For those of you unfamiliar with why I give a shit, I was a wildland firefighter for 20 seasons and had friends die in the line of duty. Our desire to get the job done was usually taken advantage of and the results were sometimes horrific. Nuff o’ that.

Candy took me on the tourist loop and we checked out the cool sights including this amazing Celtic cross:

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Our Lady of the Sierras

75′ tall, way bigger than it looks here.

All the adventures up to this point, however, ended up being a warm up for the best part of the trip and, truth be told, the previous year.

So, I mentioned early on my fandom of comedy. Well, it turns out my favorite comedian, Doug Stanhope, lives in Bisbee, AZ a short distance from Sierra Vista. Musician Mishka Shubaly and Comedians Kristine Levine, Anthony Desamito, and Carmen Morales had a show planned in Bisbee so I got tickets, an AirBnB and spent a couple days checking the place out. Met and BS’d with Castle Rock Kenny for a couple hours and checked out Floyd’s shop. Before hand I had made Twitter buddies with Tom Konopka, a long time friend of Doug’s who runs their little haven and loves on the dogs. Mentioned I’d be in Bisbee on my trip for the show and would love to meet him if possible. Ended up scaring the shit out of me while I was hopping on my bike at a diner. Apparently, he was across the street when I tweeted a thanks for recommending the place so he swung by and grabbed me in a big bear hug. Very friendly and warm, super cool guy.

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The show was top notch. Mostly locals and friends of Doug’s larger social circle in attendance. I stood out as a visitor, but it made chatting with folks easier. Saw Tom and he introduced my to Bingo, Doug’s super awesome wife and a few others including Chad Shank, one of the coolest humans alive with a voice perfect for story telling. Met Greg Chaille, Doug’s business manager, and got invited back to the Funhouse after the show.

Doug was on tour, but just being invited back to after party with the friends of my favorite comedian was spectacular. Turns out Kristine Levine grew up near where I lived and we chatted for hours about that and how Portland turned into a hipster hellhole and plenty other stuff. An impromptu concert kicked off with Mishka doing a set and Chaille riffing on guitar while 2 smashed comedians scream sang along. Met Henry Phillips and Ichabod, the aforementioned dogs Tom looks after and a number of others heard about often on the podcast.

Time came to head back to sleep and got great props from Chaille and Tom, being thankful I was polite and respectful. I still giggle thinking how awesome that night was.

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The Funhouse

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The Bingo Sign

The trip wrapped up short due to a last minute interview in Portland, so I ended up riding 1700 miles in 3 days across Arizona, Nevada, and Oregon. The weather got progressively shitty the further north to the point of riding through a riving snow storm outside Fallon, NV. Still pretty though as this shot in northern NV shows.

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The last little blast home involved a night at Crystal Crane Hot Springs outside Burns, OR for a chance to warm up and decompress after 3 days of hard riding. I try and hit this place 2-3 times a year as it’s the perfect finish up for adventures and is cheap and chill.

Rolled into Bend with stiff fingers and a taint in desperate need to be off the seat of a KLR. 18 days of a whole lot of fun that has inspired plans that will be presented in the next installment of Ken finally decides to get off his dead ass and write.

Toodles!