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Old 07-04-2012, 06:44 PM   #1
Hominid OP
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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

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.
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Old 07-04-2012, 06:57 PM   #2
chelo5sur
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I m in following your RR from Chile.

if i m not wrong hood river is a very windy spot for windsurfing or not?
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:24 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by chelo5sur View Post
I m in following your RR from Chile.

if i m not wrong hood river is a very windy spot for windsurfing or not?
Greetings,

Yes, it's famous for the windsurfing!
Hellacious winds - I dang near got knocked off my bike in a few places
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Old 07-04-2012, 08:30 PM   #4
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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.


Bonneville dam


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.

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Old 07-09-2012, 06:19 PM   #5
NotAllWhoWanderRLost
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Thumb HR Bridge

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hominid View Post
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?
Great report and photos!

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who thinks the Hood River bridge is a little sketchy when crossing in the wind...

My wife and I made the ride from the Stonehenge memorial to Hood River over the Memorial Day weekend and we really enjoyed WA14 instead of the mad dash on I-84.
There is nothing quite like riding in the Gorge, thanks for sharing your trip!
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Old 07-09-2012, 06:41 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NotAllWhoWanderRLost View Post
Great report and photos!

I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one who thinks the Hood River bridge is a little sketchy when crossing in the wind...

My wife and I made the ride from the Stonehenge memorial to Hood River over the Memorial Day weekend and we really enjoyed WA14 instead of the mad dash on I-84.
There is nothing quite like riding in the Gorge, thanks for sharing your trip!
Cheers,

14 is the way to go - definitely.

I would take the Hood River bridge again if necessary, but would more likely plan a route around it.
I might try to take the swerving back and forth method as suggested earlier if faced with something similar.
I don't think I would brave the HR bridge in the wind and the wet at the same time.


Beersville sounds like just my kinda town
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Old 07-09-2012, 09:35 PM   #7
243Win
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You need to try my SV down there in the wind. It simply does not care. Knifes right through it. I noted that in Nevada coming in from Lk Mead / Boulder City to Vegas. My DR was getting blown all over and the 800 Interceptor one lane over was steady as a rock. Not a wobble.

We should take the DR's on a ride down to Hells Canyon. Hell's Canyon will be fine.

Getting there,... Heh-heh, that's gonna be a different story.

Looks like a nice ride, wish I'd have gone too. Would have shown ya a better campground down there and some of the brew pubs in Hood River I've frequented while kayaking the Klickitat. And the road up the Klick' for that matter.
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Old 07-10-2012, 07:21 PM   #8
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Side Winds and Bike Profiles

Quote:
Originally Posted by 243Win View Post
You need to try my SV down there in the wind. It simply does not care. Knifes right through it. I noted that in Nevada coming in from Lk Mead / Boulder City to Vegas. My DR was getting blown all over and the 800 Interceptor one lane over was steady as a rock. Not a wobble.

We should take the DR's on a ride down to Hells Canyon. Hell's Canyon will be fine.

Getting there,... Heh-heh, that's gonna be a different story.

Looks like a nice ride, wish I'd have gone too. Would have shown ya a better campground down there and some of the brew pubs in Hood River I've frequented while kayaking the Klickitat. And the road up the Klick' for that matter.
I think the profile of the vstrom and my cargo setup makes it particularly sensitive to side winds.
The high center of gravity, combined with the large cross section and relatively light weight work against it.

I could see the SV650 performing better in those conditions.
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Old 07-11-2012, 09:53 AM   #9
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Nice report . Went that way a year ago , had a blast . Nice bike , BTW . Here is a picture I took over by Vantage that gives good perspective .
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Old 07-11-2012, 08:25 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gramp-Z View Post
Nice report . Went that way a year ago , had a blast . Nice bike , BTW . Here is a picture I took over by Vantage that gives good perspective .
Thanks Gramp,

good to hear from another local vstrom rider - we're not far from each other.
that photo does give some good perspective.

checked out your ride reports - good stuff
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:50 AM   #11
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rain in Seattle...how unusual... .... 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...
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Old 07-05-2012, 03:00 PM   #12
Hominid OP
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Originally Posted by 8thdwarf View Post
rain in Seattle...how unusual... .... 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...
I actually returned Monday, July 2nd - am writing the review from the comfort of my recliner

Your chances are better in August than any other time of year, but there's no sure thing up here in the great PNW
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Old 07-05-2012, 06:35 PM   #13
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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

Wonderful

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

Hominid screwed with this post 07-05-2012 at 06:45 PM Reason: add emoticons
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Old 07-05-2012, 07:43 PM   #14
243Win
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Feel free to borrow my Max Raabe cd.
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Old 07-06-2012, 10:54 AM   #15
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Home!

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!). 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.
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