Epilogue

If you haven’t yet read the post for Day 14, please read it first, and come back to the epilogue when you’re done.

As the trip was coming to a close, we began to discuss what we would do next year.  We’ve covered a majority of the western United States, and any other trips of interest would either require higher mileage days or a longer trip.  We are uneasy with either option.

After a bit of thought, we came up with the idea of a Colorado 4X4 road journey.  The original intent of these adventures had been to explore the backcountry, roads not typically seen in a car.  Given our personal limitations, this isn’t possible on motorcycles, but it is on four wheels.  So, we made the decision to do a Jeep trip next year.

There was only one problem, I didn’t own a Jeep, and dad’s CJ-5 wouldn’t make it to Colorado let alone get us through the trip.  This is not an insurmountable problem, but a solution had to be found.

Since we returned a day early, Saturday was free.  So, after washing the bikes and enjoying breakfast at Einstein Bagels, we made our way to the local Jeep dealer.  It took four hours, but we left the Subaru Outback with the Jeep dealer and drove home in a new Wrangler.  I had no choice really, right?

This Jeep is a base upon which to build, and it may take me most of the year to get it where it needs to be for our trip.  We’ll be sticking to proper 4X4 roads, but we will be in the backcountry, so the Jeep needs to be capable surmounting basic obstacles and have the necessary implements for extraction.  Equipping the jeep for these capabilities will be a fun project.

Next year’s adventure will include a dog (Einstein), camping, cooking, jeeping and hiking.  I guarantee it will be different, but I know there will be a story to tell.

As an aside, we did a 4X4 trip in 1999 or 2000.  It was short, and it included a dog, camping and cooking.  From that experience, we can share a tip.  Watch what your dog eats if he’s sleeping in a three person tent with two people.  Eating the wrong thing can make for a very unpleasant tent experience.   Don’t even ask about the Dinty Moore Stew…

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Day 14 – Ogden, UT to Arvada, CO

The Comfort Inn in North Ogden, UT (actually it was Farr West) provides a substantial breakfast, and we enjoyed our share.  With our bellies full and the bikes packed, we pulled out of the parking lot at 7:30. 

I planned the route for the day on our GPS the night before, and in order to get the recalcitrant GPS to do what I wanted, I had to select the shortest route option.  This made for an interesting route out of Ogden.  We had ample opportunity to view the sites while sitting at more traffic lights than I could count.  While our hotel had a fantastic view of I-84, it was more than fifteen miles and thirty minutes before we actually entered the freeway.

As we entered I-84, somebody must have turned on the world’s largest fan.  We were both struggling to maintain speed and direction against this amazing force.  As we struggled with the wind and began to climb, the temperatures rapidly dropped.  It was 70 degrees F when we departed the hotel so dad soaked his cool vest in water and opened the vents on his riding gear.  We were now experiencing temperatures closer to 58 degrees F, and he became a Popsicle.

After several miles of wind, cold and construction, we exited the freeway.  Before going any further, we took advantage of a parking area to warm up and suit ourselves for the cooler temperatures.   A little warmer, we began our back road journey for the day.

UT Hwy 35 is scenic road that follows a river before beginning to ascend.  Given the amount of corners, the 40 and 45 mile an hour speed limits aren’t terribly restrictive.  As I approached a 15-mile an hour corner, an animal caught my eye.  I continued forward at a much reduced pace.  As the animal became clearer, I could see it was a sheep; as a matter of fact, it became a herd of sheep.  They were all over the road.  More incredible, however, were the dogs that were lying on the side of the road keeping a watch on things, and carefully watching me as I rode along.  Maybe this had something to do with me asking if Bah Bah Black Sheep was anywhere to be found.

Getting closer to Duchesne, UT, the GPS chose to route us on a dirt road.  We declined this recommendation as dirt was not in the plan, and we entered Duchesne on asphalt where we turned west onto US Hwy 40.  We followed 40 to Vernal, UT where we spent the first night of last year’s trip. Our plan had been to spend the night in Grand Junction, CO.  At this point, we were less than 150 miles from Grand Junction, and it was only noon.  While enjoying lunch, we made the decision to cancel the reservation and head west on US 40 until we needed to stop or found my house.

It was 3:00 PM when we refueled in Steamboat Springs, and it didn’t look like we could find a room if we wanted to.  People were everywhere, so we made the decision to shoot for home.  We followed US 40 to CO 9 and took that down to I-70. I’ve only seen trick riders do so much dancing on a motorcycle; we were both struggling to stay seated.

We made it home right at 6:00 PM with rears that were happy they wouldn’t be on a motorcycle the next day.  It had been a long day, and our route wasn’t optimized for time.  But we were very happy to be home safely after an adventurous two weeks on the road.

Everywhere you go there are interesting people to meet and new sites to see.  This country has a lot to offer in the form of diversity and wonder.  Meeting new people not only gives me the opportunity to get to know them, but to also see a different side of myself.  I hope everybody has the opportunity to experience life outside of his or her bubble, and to learn what makes this country unique.

Stay tuned for the epilogue that will be published soon…

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Day 13 – Baker City, OR to North Ogden, UT

Given our knowledge of the motel’s breakfast options and our need for sustenance that sustain us during our long journey, we chose to avail ourselves of the McDonalds next door.  At 6 AM as the doors opened, I walked in, placed our order and returned to the hotel by 6:10.  After consuming egg mcmuffins, orange juice and coffee, we loaded the bikes and miraculously left the motel at 7:15.

After 70 miles we waved goodbye to Oregon and accelerated to the more reasonable speed Idaho allows.  As we entered Nampa, we decided to surprise a friend with a visit.   If you remember Dennis from last year’s journey, he is still doing well and was happy to see us.  After a short one-hour visit, we made our way southeast on Hwy 78 eventually rejoining I-84 in eastern Idaho.

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Our bellies and our bikes needed energy, so we availed ourselves of the first exit with food and fuel.  Glenn’s Ferry is a small town, but their sole restaurant is staffed with friendly waitresses who serve a wide selection of good food.  I wouldn’t hesitate to stop there again.

When we rejoined I-84, we didn’t stop until we reached our destination, which was over 240 miles later.  With sore rears and achy limbs, we pulled into North Ogden’s Comfort Inn.  We chose convenience over quality for dinner and picked up a Dominos pizza.

Tomorrow’s journey to Grand Junction is 333 miles via the northern route.

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Day 12 – Hells Canyon

This morning came as many others have, too quickly.  I got up at 5:45 and shaved.  Dad followed shortly behind.  The breakfast selection this morning provided for the least choice we’ve seen on the trip.  If you like cereal and toast, you’re in luck.  The cereal dispensers were adorned with signs admonishing guests to pull the lever slowly.  Dad pulled the lever slowly, but his Raisin Bran wound up all over the counter regardless.  With the assistance of the desk clerk, a significant portion of the cereal went back into the dispenser.

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It was 8:30 when we left the motel parking lot in search of Hells Canyon.  The temperature was moderate, and the roads were relatively clear.  We continued to struggle with the 55 MPH speed limit on the wide-open, newly paved and wide-lane roads found in eastern Oregon.

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After a little more than sixty miles, we turned on the road that ascended through the canyon.  While there were missing chunks of asphalt the size of Volkswagen bugs, this road was also posted at 55 miles an hour.  For fear of accidentally finding one of these “pot holes” with our motorcycles and descending to the canyon’s namesake, we kept our speeds well below 55.

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We stopped at the Hells Canyon overlook to take in the grandeur.   This is an area worth coming back to explore.  The canyon itself descends over 7000 feet to the Snake River below.  The recreational opportunities are endless, but our time was limited.

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We stopped in Joseph, which unbeknownst to us is quite the tourist town, for lunch.  The salads and French dip were worth the stop.  From Joseph it was another 100 miles back to Baker City.

After doing laundry, we celebrated our last evening in Oregon with sandwiches from Safeway.  We’re looking forward to making our way home beginning tomorrow when we travel to Ogden, UT over 400 miles away.

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Day 11 – Madras, OR to Baker City, OR

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Neither of us was anxious to get up this morning, but at 5:45, I successfully made the effort.  After shaving, I woke dad, and we continued to prepare for the day.  It was 9:00 when we began the fourteen-mile journey back to the Museum at Warm Springs.

As we were descending from the plateau and just before we entered Warm Springs, a very large buck darted across the road at high speed.  When I first saw the buck enter the road, I thought, “Wow, that is a huge dog.”  Then, my thoughts turned to, “Holy cow, that is one fast buck.”  I’ve never seen a deer move so quickly.  Fortunately, he made it across the road without incident.  He must have had a hot date.

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The museum was interesting and educational.  It’s definitely worth the visit if you’re in the area.  The three tribes that make up the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs Reservation all relied heavily on the Columbia, Deschutes and John Day rivers along with the surrounding lands for sustenance.  They were forced into a very small reservation in the mid 1800s, and this drastically changed their way of lives.  A large portion of the museum is dedicated to maintaining and remembering their native culture through language and dance.

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We departed the museum at 11:30, and began our 240-mile trek toward Baker City, OR.  About an hour later we stopped for fuel and food.  The temperature for most of the journey was above 90 degrees with a maximum of 101.  I never knew 88 degrees could feel so refreshing.

For some reason we can’t figure out, Oregon has a ridiculously low speed limit.  We haven’t seen a speed limit above 55 MPH the entire time we’ve been here.  Let’s just say we’re not respecting their recommendation.  I would fall asleep at 55, and as Sammy Hagar so eloquently sang, “I can’t drive 55!”

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We made it to Baker City just before 5:00, and we did confirm that there is a Mexican restaurant across the street.  Fortunately, there is a Safeway one block down, so we opted to microwave our dinner tonight.

Tomorrow we’ll explore the Hells Canyon Scenic Byway.

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Day 10 – Tillamook, OR to Madras, OR

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The Red Apple Inn doesn’t provide a continental breakfast so Jimmy Dean came to our rescue this morning.  We each had two bacon, egg and cheese breakfast sandwiches to start the day.

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It was close to 9:00 when we began our four-mile journey to the Tillamook Air Museum.  The museum is located in blimp hangar at the Naval Air Station Tillamook.  Hangar “B” was built along with Hangar “A” to house the blimps used by the Navy to patrol the northern Pacific Coast during World War II.  Hangar “A” burned to the ground in 1992 leaving Hangar “B” as the sole remaining structure..  These blimp Hangars are the largest wooden framed structures in the word, and they are huge!

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The Tillamook Air Museum has over thirty airplanes on display and almost every one of them still flies.  We were the first to arrive, but by noon, there were quite a few guests visiting the museum.  It was around this time we headed for the café to enjoy lunch.  Dad wanted to remove his suit liners before we left, and he decided to do so in the restaurant.  Sitting in a booth, he removed his riding trousers, removed the liners and then put the trousers back on.  He did ask the couple sitting next to us if they would be offended, but what about me?  It’s not often you see a man strip to his underwear in the middle of a restaurant, thank goodness.  I’m sure more than one person has a new story to tell about a crazy old guy at the Tillamook Air Museum Café.

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It was close to 12:30 when we left Tillamook and began making our way toward Madras.  The ride took us through Portland and the Mount Hood National Forest.  We had spectacular views of Mount Hood and comfortable temperatures most of the way.  As Madras drew closer, we descended into the desert, and the temperatures began to rise.  The motorcycle’s thermometer registered 100.4 degrees Fahrenheit at one point.  We had one minor delay for construction, and one missed turn in Portland, but we made good time nonetheless.

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At 4:45, we pulled into the Madras Econolodge, checked in and sorted the bikes.  After a bit of relaxing and washing up, we enjoyed Mazatlan, a Mexican restaurant for dinner.   Why is it there is always a Mexican restaurant adjacent to our motels?

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Tomorrow we’re visiting an Indian museum before heading to Baker City, OR.

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Day 9 – Hoquiam, WA to Tillamook, OR

It was another slow start to a slow day.  Our destination for the day was only 150 miles to the south, so there was no need to rush.  And the chilly gray foggy morning didn’t seem all that welcoming.

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I can’t remember the last time I had Fruit Loops for breakfast, but at forty years old, they were my choice this morning.  Continental breakfasts at chain motels are, as Forrest Gump would say, like a box of chocolates; you never know what you’re going to get.  It keeps breakfast experience fresh and exciting.

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It was close to 9:45 when we pulled back onto 101 to continue our southbound journey.  The temperature hovered around 59 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the morning with intermittent misty rain.  As we entered the town of Seaview, WA, I noticed a sign for a crab restaurant.  In the hopes of finding good seafood and warmth, we followed 104 into town.

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We wound up at a very small café called the Loose Caboose.  This is a five-table restaurant with one waitress and one chef who is also the owner. Dad had a mixed seafood soup with salad, and I had crab cakes with clam chowder.  The meal was really quite good, and the coffee gave us much needed warmth.  After a little more than an hour at the Caboose, we continued south.

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Shortly after crossing the Columbia River into Oregon, we stopped at a tourist info center.  There we learned of the nearby Lewis and Clark National Historic Park.   My father has a big interest in the Lewis and Clark Discovery Mission, so we took a short detour to visit the park.

It was surprising to me that the visitor’s center was quite crowded.  We wondered through their small museum, watched a thirty-minute film and visited the Fort Clatsop recreation.  Dad really enjoyed our time there, and I was reminded that our adventure is nothing compared to that of Lewis and Clark’s.

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It was after 3:30 PM when we rejoined Hwy 101 and continued our journey to Tillamook.  The traffic was much heavier than we had previously seen, so the final sixty miles weren’t swift.  We passed the cheese factory as we entered Tillamook and found our motel shortly thereafter.

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As we entered the office of the Apple Motel, a very friendly South Korean woman greeted us by exclaiming she loves motorcyclists.  She did take care of us.  We have a room directly across from the office, and our bikes are parked under a portico.

After a shower, I walked to Safeway and bought a chicken, bread and sundries for dinner.  Tomorrow for breakfast we’ll be having Jimmy Dean breakfast sandwiches cooked in our circa 1902 microwave.

Dad spent the evening puttering around outside in what he considers his formal attire, long underwear.  He was cleaning the motorcycles and chatting with or waving to everyone who came into the motel.  We are eight feet from the office door.  For some reason, who can imagine why, a few people seemed to look at him askance.

After breakfast and a visit to the Tillamook Air Museum, we’ll be making our way east to Madras, OR.

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