Columbia River Gorge Tour - Rain, Heat, Gale Force Winds, Snow - And Pat Benatar
Tired of the dreary Puget Sound weather, I'm rolling in search of the sun.
I get a little more than I bargained for, but also stumble onto some great sights along the way.
View of the Columbia From the Washington Side
The general plan is to make a big loop to see the Hood River and The Dalles area of the Columbia River Gorge.
I was warned about the wind, but I figured "how bad can it be?"
Pretty effin bad, actually. Downright scary in some spots :eek1
The trip is two nights tent camping at Memaloose State Park just off I-84 on the Oregon side of the river.
I figure it's a good base camp to explore the area.
Leaving Saturday morning after the cable guy appointment and as luck would have it the rain starts just before he's finished.
I'm packed, I have hope things will improve, screw it - I'm all in.
I hit the I-5 slab to get south as quickly as possible.
There's got to be some sun out there somewhere!
Pictures, maps and commentary to follow.
I m in following your RR from Chile.
if i m not wrong hood river is a very windy spot for windsurfing or not?
Yes, it's famous for the windsurfing!
Hellacious winds - I dang near got knocked off my bike in a few places :eek1
Day One - Getting Out From Under the Rain
Federal Way to Memaloose State Park
It's raining as I pull out of the driveway.
Prime opportunity to evaluate the rain gear situation.
I do the I-5 grind in the wet - south through Tacoma, Nisqually, Olympia.
I pick up a couple of stragglers just south of Nisqually, one on a Triumph, the other on an SV650.
They're being cautious and tentative in the right lane and I cruise past to their left at about 70, sticking in the tire tracks, waving as I go by.
They fall in behind, speed up and track me to Centralia. I pull in there for a rest, thinking I'm finally free of the rain.
A quick stop for gas and a snack gives the water a chance to catch up with me so I squirt south again to try and stay ahead of it.
The route cuts east on 205 and then 14 east through Washougal and on along the Washington side of the Columbia.
My first real break is in Washougal near the river front.
Still a little wet out
Which way to go?
I think I'll follow the horse. He's pointed east.
The goal is White Salmon and then the bridge across the river to the town of Hood River.
The ride along 14 is really spectacular - my first time on this pavement and it was a joy.
Lots of sweeping curves with amazing scenery and some cool tunnels.
The highlight was coming through a sweet curve and staring a freight train right in the headlight.
The train slides by me, feeling as if it's just off my right shoulder.
The tracks are so close to the highway that it's an incredibly surreal experience.
Damn the lack of a helmet cam!
That will be rectified before my next ride.
The Bonneville dam is a nice spot to rest along the journey east.
I take a walk down to the fish ladder.
Out of focus, but I had to show these Lamprey - freaky animals
Struggling to Spawn
The bridge from White Salmon to Hood River is an adventure.
A very long grated deck that on it's own is perfectly negotiable, if a little unnerving.
The side gusts are what make this bridge attention grabbing.
This area is famous for the windsurfing and I'm hit by late afternoon gusts of at least 20-30 mph while trying to track the grate.
Great fun - who needs caffeine?
I crossed this bridge twice - not sure I would take it again.
I certainly wouldn't want to take it in the rain, especially with those wind gusts.
Seems like a recipe for rider on the deck soup.
From Hood River to Memaloose is a blast down I-84 while being buffeted by more gale force winds.
Safe at Camp
Goal accomplished, camp set up, time for dinner.
rain in Seattle...how unusual... :rofl.... the Gorge is a great place and I hope to be going back soon. in the meantime I have a trip planned to Kenmore to visit my big sis coming up in Aug. what do ya think the chances of 0 precipitation is then? LOL.... have a great journey... be safe...
Your chances are better in August than any other time of year, but there's no sure thing up here in the great PNW :deal
Saturday Night With Pat Benatar
So I pull into the campsite at Memaloose and there's a guy in the next site cranking the tunes out the back of his hatchback
A couple of weeks ago i went on an overnighter to Dosewallips where a group of party people were kind enough to share their music with the rest of the park. Thanks for that. One of their selections was Pat Benatar. Now don't get me wrong, I liked Pat back in the day, but that was 20 or 30 years ago. I've evolved. The rest of their music was similarly dated and over played, even back in the day.
Music selection aside, am I the only one who thinks it's impolite, at best, to flood neighboring camp sites with your noise? I suspect I'm not alone given that in both campgrounds there was only one offending site.
Long story short, at some point my neighbor dials up some Pat Benatar for my listening pleasure and I spend the next two days with one of her songs screwed into my brain, mile after mile, hour after hour, Pat Benatar over and over and over again.
Kill me now!
I must invest in an ipod :lol3
Feel free to borrow my Max Raabe cd.
Gotta tell ya…your ride report took me back to my home as I grew up in White Salmon and lived there until I went to college after which my parent moved out of the Gorge. It is a totally different feeling there now than when I grew up there…back in the 70s and 80s it was a heavy logging community and then the windsurfers discovered it and changed the whole dynamic. I covered many miles on my dirt bike as a kid riding north of Underwood/White Salmon on all the logging roads and hiking trails (no one used the hiking trails back then so we used'm as great single track rides:lol3!). Really miss that area!
Next time you go down that way make your way north to Trout Lake and then take the Forest Service roads to Randall and you won't be to far from Seattle…great ride.
More people is not always better...
Tilting at Windmills
Me and Don Quixote.
I spend a good part of the day chasing windmills, turbines actually.
Not something I planned, just kind of stumbled into it, like most of the roads I covered this weekend.
I'm up at 6:30 and headed to the shower - Memaloose does get points for this.
The plan is to cross into Washington at Hood River and take 14 east to the Stonehenge monument.
I'm on the road by 8 with most of the campground still asleep.
Leaving Memaloose you're forced to go west on I-84.
The plan is to head to Hood River, gas up and then cross the Columbia back to the Washington side.
The morning destination is the Stonehenge Memorial just outside of Maryhill.
I take another stab at the infamous grated deck - the winds are much lighter in the mornings.
The route east on 14 is rider friendly, two lane highway, with lots of nice curves and scenery.
Spotted this beauty just east of White Salmon. It's either a Ford 240Z or a Datsun F-150 - not sure.
I follow the river for a few miles and then spot a side road leading into the hills.
I'm here to explore so I make the spur of the moment decision to follow my eyes.
A good decision that leads to a nice relaxing slow speed curvy distraction with great views.
This road parallels 14 east and eventaully leads to the Balfour Kilickitat scenic area with parking lot, pit toilet, and trails overlooking the Columbia
This spot is just off 14 and handy for a rest and emergency pit stop
View of I-84 on the other side of the river
Time to Move On
The route for the morning so far takes me from Hood River to The Dalles where I cross the river and then back again just to see the bridge
Lots of nice curves and views from White Salmon to The Dalles on 14. The road is smooth.
When I finally get there I want to check out the bridge - this one is paved, thankfully.
I cross over into Oregon and then back again, taking pictures along the way.
The views are better than the pictures convey.
Heading towards The Dalles
Fishing Platforms - common over here
Heading back to the Washington side to continue on to the Stonehenge Memorial
Next post, heading east on 14, things get arid and I finally spot those wind turbines in the distance.
Beautiful Country, Sweet Pics, Nice RR man.
Thanks for sharing :1drink
Great Pics, and good commentary :clap
Nice pics. I don't know that I've run the HR bridge on my 'Strom yet. I've done it on my old DR350 though. It's a funny feeling, even in some cars, but ya just gotta have a little faith.
it's those nasty side gusts that make it hairy :eek1
perhaps a shot or two ahead of time would help :1drink
then again - maybe not :lol3
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