And then there were four.....Oregon outback, In Search of History and Adventure

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by Hodakaguy, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. Hodakaguy

    Hodakaguy NorthWest Adventure Rider

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,336
    Location:
    Eastern WA State
    Well I'll start with a little background. The idea for this trip started while I was on a road trip with my GS last summer. I decided at that time that I would rather explore the back country with something more dirt worthy than the big GS so when I finished that trip I sold the GS and started thinking about this trip.

    The plan was to ride the official OBCDR route from Walla Walla WA to Seneca OR then split from the official route. Instead of heading West at Seneca we would angle East and then head south through the Steen Mountains, Alvord Desert, Guano Lake Valley and then to Denio NV to look for a crashed B-24 Liberator that is still in the Pueblo Mountains. We would stay off pavement as much as possible and look for abandoned mines, houses, buildings and what ever else we could find along the way. Over the course of the last year I've collected tracks, talked to other ADV riders, and built a route on the GPS to follow on the trip

    Fast forward to 8-28-09 and there are 6 of us ready to head out on a 10 day adventure. We had all ridden from Walla Walla to Tollgate OR several times so it was decided to start the trip at Tollgate and head south from there. We would trailer the bikes to the start to save the tires, my father would pick us up in Denio NV when we were done. We've all spent the last month going over the bikes and getting our gear all set to go. We all have super heavy duty tubes, D606 or Desert IT Tires, lots of tools, ect ect. The bikes are set so we were off and running. The following pics are a combination of everyones pics from the ride.

    Our Tracks:

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    The Gang.....

    [​IMG] Tom.....(AKA: Hodakaguy) Riding a KTM 530EXC

    [​IMG] Brent.....(AKA: StuckInMud) Riding a BMW 650GS Dakar

    [​IMG] Kevin.....(AKA: RelayTech) Riding a Suzuki DRZ400SM Converted for dirt use.

    [​IMG] Alan.....(AKA: Momacone) Riding a Honda XR650R

    [​IMG] Craig.....(AKA: Craig2211) Riding a KTM 530EXC

    [​IMG] Perry.....(AKA: YamWOW!) Riding a Yamaha WR250R


    8-28-09 Total miles at start on my bike, 490 Miles. Hrs on bike, 16.9hrs.

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    We loaded the five dirt bikes into the trailer and left the house for Tollgate OR. Brent would meet us at Tollgate on his GS. Special Thanks to ADVrider Richnewt for the use of his trailer for the trip, and to Alan for letting us use his Suburban :thumb :thumb :thumb


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    On the way to Tollgate we stopped in Milton Freewater to get breakfast. Hmmmm, one last day of real food, then bring on the instant oatmeal...Yummmm. Evidently Kevin is telling us a great story in this pic....something like..."So there I was, Hauling ass down the road when all of a sudden....."


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    We unloaded the bikes at Tollgate OR, and headed out for an adventure.


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    One of the first items to check out was a lookout platform overlooking a huge valley. We stopped here for a few minutes to take a quick look at the great view.


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    Here's a pic of Alan and Craig on the lookout.


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    The northern route of the OBCDR is mainly gravel forest roads and we were eating them up at a pretty good clip. It wasn't long before we were getting close to our first fuel stop, Starkey Station. We were navigating by GPS and although it worked great they will lead you astray once in a while. We turned onto a highway to cut over to Starkey Station (Looking at it later we could have stayed on the official trail and cut over a little later, that would have cut the pavement miles down) A couple people in the group were clipping along at a pretty good rate when my GPS said to turn on another gravel road, assuming that was the correct route four of us stopped at the turn and waited for the other two to turn around and come back.....but their GPS was telling them to go strait and take all highway. So we waited at this gravel pile along side the road for 35min or so until we received a phone call letting us know they were at Starkey Station. We learned a few lessons from this though, we implimented the 10 min rule, if someone doesnt show up or you don't see them within 10 minutes you start backtracking and looking for them. Also the person in front is responsible for the person behind them, so if there is a turn you wait until the next person see's you before you turn and so on. That system worked great, and there are a lot of turns on this route.


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    So once we received the call we headed out again following the off road route that the GPS was showing us. We managed to make it within 4 miles of Starkey Station before we came to gates with no trespassing signs. Well....back to the road and on to Starkey. This was the only time on the trip that the GPS lead us astray though.


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    Starkey Station. Fuel is hard to get on the OBCDR, it's wise to fill up when you can. That being said about 150 miles was the longest stretch we rode on the trip between fuel. Great places to top off your supplies or just get something cold to drink.

    Tollgate to Starkey Station, 105 Miles. My 530 Took 2.35 Gal.


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    Next stop on the route was this vintage fire lookout tower that is still in operation. It's constructed like a giant erector set with wood planks for the steps. You can climb to the top of these towers and if the rangers aren't to busy they will invite you in for a great view. We climbed almost to the top, took some pics and went back down to rest a bit and get a snack before heading on again.


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    Another view of the lookout tower. It's maintained in really good cond.


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    Looking up the stairs.


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    A view from up on the tower, looking south. You can see smoke in the air from a forest fire. We will be heading right through the forest fire on our route south.


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    We arrived at the forest fire, it was really scattered out with pockets of flames spread out across the mountain sides. There was a lot of smoke in the air.


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    Another pic of the fire


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    Fire Bomber flying over the fire site.


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    Here we stopped to watch the fire and figure out the route from here. Our tracks had us going right through the fire section. There was a forest ranger observing the fire at this intersection so Brent headed down to talk to him. He said we couldn't go the way our tracks wanted us to go because he had crews working down there, but he did draw us a hand made map of a route around the fire. He pointed at the road we needed to take and off we went......Except that the road he sent us on dead ended a few miles down the caynon and we ended up climbing back up to the same spot as the ranger again. The ranger said "oops, I meant that road there" (which was the same road our tracks was telling us to go down :huh ). So we continued down the correct road and came to a road closed sign. After talking about it for a few minutes we just continued passed the closed sign and on down the trail. It wasn't long before we ran into another forest ranger on the closed road so we stopped to talk to him again. He said "none of the roads in this area are closed so just go on through :huh ). Thats all we needed and we were on our way. We just followed the tracks the whole way through.


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    Home sweet home for the night. Several of us were carrying water purifier pumps so camping next to fresh water makes getting water for dinner, camel pack refills ect a breeze. Very scenic site and it felt great to relax for a while. I ended up having a couple packs of easy mac for dinner and some instant ice tea for a drink. No bike problems, no wrecks...just a great days riding.

    End of First Day, 166 Miles traveled. Hrs on Bike 21.6 hrs.


    Lots more pics to come, I also recorded the whole trip on a helmet cam so as I get the time I will add video clips to the RR. The further we headed south the more we found to explore. I'll update again soon.

    Hodakaguy
    #1
  2. luckybum

    luckybum old n tard

    Joined:
    Apr 7, 2005
    Oddometer:
    151
    Location:
    Redmond, Oregon
    "We learned a few lessons from this though, we implimented the 10 min rule, if someone doesnt show up or you don't see them within 10 minutes you start backtracking and looking for them. Also the person in front is responsible for the person behind them, so if there is a turn you wait until the next person see's you before you turn and so on. That system worked great, and there are a lot of turns on this route"

    I'm glad there are a few out there that still follow the old school rules. They still work!

    Great report so far. You guys were right in my back yard!
    #2
  3. Hodakaguy

    Hodakaguy NorthWest Adventure Rider

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,336
    Location:
    Eastern WA State
    8-29-09

    We got up, ate breakfast (instant oatmeal & hot chocolate for me) and we were back on the trail again.


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    Lots of smoke hanging in the valley from the forest fires.


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    Just outside of Granite OR we came across the old Fremont Powerhouse. The powerhouse was built in 1908 to provide electricity to nearby mines and towns. It was in operation until 1967 when it was closed and donated to the United States Forest Service. You can still stop by the powerhouse and a volunteer will give you a tour of the facility. You can see the red handle at the base of the building, that is the main water shutoff valve coming into the power plant.


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    This is a section of the original wooden pipe that carried water from a lake above the powerhouse down to the powerhouse. The pipeline was 8 miles long and by the time it reached the powerhouse there was 500psi of water pressure available to the water wheels. Impressive for a wooden pipe! Someone would walk the pipe every day repairing any leaks that needed fixed.


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    Inside the Powerhouse. There are two 1906 Pelton Water Wheels that drive two generators. Each generator is rated at 500KW.


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    The control panel. Lacking modern insulating materials the control panel was made from imported Italian Marble (which is a perfect insulator). The original gauges and switching gear is still installed in the panel. Very cool.


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    A shot of the generator unit. You can see some batteries on boards in the background, there used to be a whole bank of them there. They would use the batteries to spin the electric motor connected to the generator. The electric motor would spin up the generator and get a field created before they brought in the water to take over for the electric motor. The Pelton Water wheel that drives the generator is on the left, notice the dents in the top of the cover from rocks making it into the water wheel.


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    Here's a shot of the battery bank with a few of the original batteries left.


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    Inside the Pelton Water Wheel. There is a nozzle that directs water into the paddles and a manual valve that the operator uses to control volume of water entering the wheel. Each generator has a mechanical governor that regulates speed to the generator (I assume this is how they kept 60 cycles constant).


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    These smelter pots were inside the powerhouse with all the old tools. I thought they might have come from a nearby mine but the guide said that they poured their own bearings for the equipment at the powerhouse, so these were probably used to make babit.


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    One final shot of the powerhouse. You can see the company houses in the background (there were a couple more out of the picture behind the powerhouse). You can rent these houses to stay in for the night, I think he said they were $80 a night and they have running water. Pretty cool.


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    After the powerhouse we continued down the road to Granite OR to have lunch and fill the bikes with fuel. Granite is a old mining town, there are several old building still standing and a handfull of people still living there.

    Strakey to Granite: 104 miles, took 2.3 gal of gas.


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    After leaving Granite we headed south again towards Sumpner OR. I had marked a small side trail on the GPS so we could scout out a abandoned mine in the area, for some reason I find abandoned mines intriguing. The trail was the skinner mine trail and it looked like they recently widened it to accommodate quads. We all headed down the trail to find the mine.


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    We stopped where the GPS said the mine was and started looking around. It became obvious pretty quick that this was a open pit style mine and had no associated shaft that we could find. We did manage to find some metal objects and cable that was once used at the mine.


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    While looking for mine relics we came across this small hole that was lined with stone, it looked like a small hand dug well.


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    The bikes parked at the mine site, getting ready to move again.


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    A few of us had some small issues on this trail. Here Kevin lost his balance on a small bridge and the bike fell over at low speed. It bent his radiator brace inward slightly and in this picture he was straitening the brace back out. No damage to the bike otherwise though.


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    Brent managed to catch one of his panniers on this rock. It actually moved the rock some :eek1 Other than a dent in the front of the pannier all was well, he straitened out the dent later that night at camp.


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    I was cruising along in second gear towards the end of the trail and clipped a rock wrong, the bars slammed full left and the bike did a endo. I landed on my head and the bike landed on its side pointing the wrong direction on the trail. After a few seconds I realized my legs were caught under the bike and I could smell fuel so I yanked my legs out from under the bike not wanting to burn if the bike went up in flames. Craig was right behind me and showed up shortly after it happened. We picked the bike up and I rested a bit. I didn't get hurt, just knocked the wind out of me for a minute or two...and the only damage suffered to the bike was a shattered GPS antenna. The antenna was still working so I taped it back up with electrical tape and we were on our way again.

    See me moan like a school girl here, Man I came WAY to close to that big rock for comfort :eek1

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    We hit the trails again and ended up at Sumpter OR. Just as we rolled into town a steam train was just firing up. They sell rides on this train and a couple guys on horses just finished robbing the train when we pulled up. It was really cool to watch it come to life and see/hear an era gone by. Here 6 bikers were taking pictures and vids of the train as it got underway, and a lot of the people on the train were taking pics of us as they rolled by :D


    Here's a short vid I took of the train coming to life:

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    After watching the train we headed to the gas station to fuel up and get some drinks. While there the guy at the station described how to get to the crash site of the B-24 Liberator down by Denio. I took this picture as he was drawing his map out on the ground.

    Granite to Sumpter: 35 miles, 24.5hrs on bike.


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    After fueling up in Sumpter we went to check out the Sumpter Gold Dredge. This dredge is quite the machine. It served for years eating up the valley floor looking for gold. When they finished with the dredge they just left it where it stopped, which is where you see it today. This is one of three dredges that ate up the Sumpter Valley and the only one left today. They have preserved the dredge in its original condition.


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    Here's a picture that shows the overall operation of the dredge, and here's some info that went along with the picture:

    "A dredge is basically a giant shovel mounted on the deck of a boat. Instead of one bucket, this dredge had 72, each weighing one ton. The assembly of buckets is called the digging ladder.

    This Dredge was built on dry land (for about $300,000) and launched like a boat into a hand-dug pit filled with water. The digging ladder could scoop out 25 buckets per minute of earth, rock and minerals as the dredge chewed it's way forward, floating on the pond it created. The excavated material was transported up the ladder and dumped into a series of screens inside the dredge.

    Massive amounts of electricity were needed to operate a dredge. Long before any of the surrounding farms got electricity, a 12 mile, 23,000 volt line was strung to the dredge overland from a hydroelectric power plant.

    Everything larger than 3/4" emptied out the back of the dredge. The 96' "stacker" to the rear of the dredge was like a conveyor belt, carrying out the largest rocks and creating the "tailings" you see.

    This Dredge took 19 years to chew up thousands of acres of land and extracted about 9 tons of gold (about one cubic yard)."


    When you enter the valley you can see the tailing piles everywhere where the dredge had chewed up the valley. Go to Google earth and type in Sumpter OR and you can see the path the Dredge worked.


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    Here Craig stands next to one of the 2000lb buckets. This dredge is HUGE!


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    Entering the dredge. This is the winch system that was used to pull the dredge forward and turn it left and right.


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    Here is the drive belt to the winch that raises and lowers the bucket ladder. I don't think this dredge would pass OSHA standards today :D


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    Front shot of the dredge.


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    Good side view of the Dredge.

    Here's a short video tour of the dredge that I made:

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    After leaving the dredge we made one more quick stop across the street from the dredge at a old mining equipment museum. There were several neat pieces of equipment here.


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    This was a neat old drag line unit. Instead of having tracks it had two large feet that were on cams and would walk forward. It would lift itself up, move forward and then set itself down on its belly. Then it would repeat the process slowly inching itself forward.


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    Here's another shot of the feet for the drag unit. I would have liked to see this piece of equipment in action.

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    We stopped while back out on the trail again, here I was pointing to my GPS antenna. I'm just glad it was still functional as we used it heavily.


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    Next fuel stop, Unity OR. Here Brent is going something like....Look at this, SWEEEEET! Great time to get some cold drinks for camp, and one for now. Almost finished for the day.

    Sumpter to Unity: 48.7 Miles, took 1.17 gal. Hours on Bike 26.2


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    Camp the second night, just outside or Unity OR. Had a great days ride. 300 miles total on the odometer so far, hours on bike 26.4hrs.

    Had a couple more pacs of easy mac for dinner, washed some cloths with some creek water and changed the filter skin on the bikes air filter.

    Lots more to come.......

    Hodakaguy
    #3
  4. rcook52459

    rcook52459 Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2009
    Oddometer:
    168
    Location:
    portland ore.
    great pics and some history of ore.thanks.:clap
    #4
  5. twistys4me

    twistys4me Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Oddometer:
    62
    Location:
    Federal way, Washington
    This is looking Great! Keep it coming:lurk
    #5
  6. Motorcycle Fred

    Motorcycle Fred n00b

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    5
    Great trip!!!

    I lived in Baker City for the last 7 years before moving back to Central Oregon. The powerhouse, Unity and all those other cool places bring back awesome memories. There are literally hundreds of places to explore over there. 7 years for me and I didn't even come close to making a dent in finding them all.
    #6
  7. Nice_Rumble

    Nice_Rumble Long timer

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2004
    Oddometer:
    2,381
    Location:
    New London, NH
    Nice riding country. Subscribed.
    #7
  8. YamWOW!

    YamWOW! Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    460
    Location:
    Kennewick Washington
    I thought you had video of that sweet get off that broke your GPS.:D If you ride long and hard enough you can keep your bike on two wheels like me.:evil
    #8
  9. Hodakaguy

    Hodakaguy NorthWest Adventure Rider

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2007
    Oddometer:
    2,336
    Location:
    Eastern WA State
    Anyone that stays in first gear all the time can keep both wheels on the ground :D

    Yeah I have the footage, there is a lot of video from the helmet cam that needs to be gone through, then I'll make up some clips to post. Just have to get the time.

    Hodakaguy
    #9
  10. East Coast Rider

    East Coast Rider Just Me...

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2007
    Oddometer:
    4,151
    Location:
    Stuck somewhere in motorcycle Purgatory
    :clap AWESOME!! Keep it coming...
    #10
  11. Bryn1203

    Bryn1203 Dances with spaniels

    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2009
    Oddometer:
    1,829
    Location:
    Denial - UK
    Nice report and pics.

    America is wasted on the Americans ! It is not too late to change your minds about the hole independence thing. You get free health insurance if you become a British colony again ! - sorry. :D

    Don't you blokes get worried about being buggered by hillbillies during these deliverance type trips :evil :lol3

    Subscribed
    #11
  12. Buck Nasty

    Buck Nasty Rhinestone Cowboy

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    Oddometer:
    216
    Location:
    Bend, OR
    Badass and epic! Keep it comin' HG!
    #12
  13. bash3r

    bash3r I ain't no DingWeed

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2009
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    Location:
    Wentzville, MO
    Subscribed!!
    #13
  14. GalacticGS

    GalacticGS 1200 GS Rider

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Oddometer:
    3,902
    Location:
    Camas, WA
    Nice reporting HodakaGuy!

    Looking forward to more...

    :lurk
    #14
  15. papaduc

    papaduc Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2002
    Oddometer:
    395
    Location:
    Beaverton Oregon
    Fascinating area. Hope you guys had this much fun for the whole ride.
    #15
  16. stuckinmud

    stuckinmud all the time.

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    313
    Location:
    Kennewick Washington
    Yes, Hodakaguy is doing a great job reporting the details. So far this is only about 1/3rd of the trip. I got so into the trip I didn't take note of some of the details he managed to record. :clap
    #16
  17. MeefZah

    MeefZah Curmudgeonly

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2003
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    11,878
    Location:
    Lost Coast, Cali
    Looking like a fun trip so far! :clap I'm watching this thread.

    If I can make a suggestion, post the caption above (not below) the photo, it makes reading it and scrolling down easier.
    #17
  18. RustySpokes

    RustySpokes Ordinary average guy

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    Pueblo, CO
    Nice! :thumb
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    #18
  19. BikePilot

    BikePilot Long timer

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    Location:
    Tampa
    Great report, can't wait for the rest!
    :clap
    #19
  20. neiltkool

    neiltkool Adventure Rider Lite

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2005
    Oddometer:
    104
    Location:
    Tualatin, OR
    Hodakaguy,

    Awesome ride report! Really enjoying the photos and stories. Thanks for taking the time to put it together. -Neil
    #20