Columbia River Gorge Tour - Rain, Heat, Gale Force Winds, Snow - And Pat Benatar

Discussion in 'Day Trippin'' started by Hominid, Jul 4, 2012.

  1. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    255
    Location:
    Pugetopolis
    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.

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    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.
    #1
  2. chelo5sur

    chelo5sur Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 18, 2009
    Oddometer:
    199
    Location:
    Chile.
    I m in following your RR from Chile.

    if i m not wrong hood river is a very windy spot for windsurfing or not?
    #2
  3. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

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    Greetings,

    Yes, it's famous for the windsurfing!
    Hellacious winds - I dang near got knocked off my bike in a few places :eek1
    #3
  4. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

    Joined:
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    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.

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    Still a little wet out

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    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.

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    Bonneville dam


    I take a walk down to the fish ladder.

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    Out of focus, but I had to show these Lamprey - freaky animals

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    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.

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    Safe at Camp

    Goal accomplished, camp set up, time for dinner.
    #4
  5. 8thdwarf

    8thdwarf perfect,just perfect

    Joined:
    Sep 10, 2010
    Oddometer:
    129
    Location:
    Ventura Co. CA
    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...
    #5
  6. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

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    I actually returned Monday, July 2nd - am writing the review from the comfort of my recliner :1drink :lol3

    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
    #6
  7. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

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    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 :becca

    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
    #7
  8. 243Win

    243Win Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2008
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    712
    Location:
    Port Orchard, WA
    Feel free to borrow my Max Raabe cd.
    #8
  9. DaveWave

    DaveWave It is what it is.

    Joined:
    May 29, 2011
    Oddometer:
    45
    Location:
    Idaho Falls
    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.
    #9
  10. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

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    Thanks Dave, that whole area has definitely grown up over the years.
    More people is not always better...
    #10
  11. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

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    255
    Location:
    Pugetopolis
    Me and Don Quixote.

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    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.

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    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.

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    I take another stab at the infamous grated deck - the winds are much lighter in the mornings.

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    The route east on 14 is rider friendly, two lane highway, with lots of nice curves and scenery.

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    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.

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    This road parallels 14 east and eventaully leads to the Balfour Kilickitat scenic area with parking lot, pit toilet, and trails overlooking the Columbia

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    This spot is just off 14 and handy for a rest and emergency pit stop

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    View of I-84 on the other side of the river

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    Time to Move On

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    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.

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    Heading towards The Dalles

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    Fishing Platforms - common over here

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    Heading back to the Washington side to continue on to the Stonehenge Memorial


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    Next post, heading east on 14, things get arid and I finally spot those wind turbines in the distance.
    #11
  12. makad

    makad P/T Shed Dwelling Hermit

    Joined:
    May 7, 2009
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    Location:
    The Shed, Coolup
    Beautiful Country, Sweet Pics, Nice RR man.
    Thanks for sharing :1drink
    #12
  13. Moggs023

    Moggs023 Adventurer

    Joined:
    May 10, 2011
    Oddometer:
    18
    Location:
    St Marys, ON
    Great Pics, and good commentary :clap
    #13
  14. Red0ktober

    Red0ktober Adventurer

    Joined:
    Apr 19, 2012
    Oddometer:
    58
    Location:
    Hood River, OR
    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.
    #14
  15. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

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    255
    Location:
    Pugetopolis
    yeah, just need to keep it pointed in the right direction and keep a steady hand on the throttle.
    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
    #15
  16. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
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    255
    Location:
    Pugetopolis
    Thanks, it was a fun trip - more on the way, including those elusive wind turbines :D
    #16
  17. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    255
    Location:
    Pugetopolis
    [​IMG]
    The Dalles to Stonehenge Memorial


    Heading North from the bridge at The Dalles on 97 leads to 14 again - The wind is gusting up the gorge from the west.
    I'm leaning left into the wind and still moving straight ahead.
    I feel like I'm doing a whole different kind of wind surfing.
    Once I reach 14, I head on east again.


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    The landscape is arid canyon land here.


    It's still morning, but things are starting to heat up.


    I wanted sunshine and warm weather - I'm getting what I asked for and then some.


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    Tons of nice sweeping curves on 14 - lots of fun and the wind up here is not that bad.


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    Great pavement and great views of the canyons and river - time to move on.


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    On the way to Stonehenge Memorial I spot these turbines on my left.


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    Views from Stonehenge


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    I was considering continuing east from here, but after talking with a couple guys on BMW's I thought better of it.

    I'm Tired, hungry, and at mid-day it is now officially hot!
    The bridge from Maryhill to Biggs Junction on the Oregon side is within sight so I head down to see what's there.

    It's a fun bridge, but you need to be real careful approaching town.
    The one main intersection is a cluster and from what I hear closely monitored by the local deputies.

    Lunch choices are limited in Biggs Junction - Mickey D's, the gas station, or the local diner.
    I choose the diner so I can sit down and map out the rest of the afternoon.


    Next post - making a hairy loop back to Memaloose.
    #17
  18. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    255
    Location:
    Pugetopolis
    [​IMG]
    Biggs Junction to Grass Valley, 216 and the Deschutes, then back north on 197


    I came up with this route over lunch to get me back to The Dalles.
    I really don't know what I'm getting into.

    It's just a loop on a map after all, but it looks like it will work.
    Climbing south on 97 out of Biggs Junction are more wind turbines - a LOT more.

    These things are immense - hard to get an idea of how large without seeing them in person.
    The pictures just don't do them justice.

    A few miles down the road is highway 206 that branches SE to the left to Condon.
    I pass by it, but eventually find myself moving away from the turbines.
    I want to see these things close up so I make a u-turn and head back to the 206 turnoff.

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    About maybe 10 miles down 206 and I'm rewarded.


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    I'm getting hammered by the wind while taking these pics


    This stretch of road is wide open and unprotected - the wind is literally howling.
    My bike is parked broadside to the gusts and my riding jacket gets blown off the saddle.
    It's a pretty heavy jacket.
    I'm starting to wonder if one of these gusts could knock the bike over.

    I tool down the road a bit further and find a paved road climbing to the left that looks promising.
    It took me about as close as you can get to the turbines without trespassing.

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    Including the bike for perspective ;)


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    Don't touch the fence!


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    heading back to 97 - glad I stumbled on to these views


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    Getting back on to 97 south gives me a break - got the wind at my back heading away from the gorge.
    The landscape is desolate.
    Grass Valley isn't much better.


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    This would be nice if the store was actually open.




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    Just about everything seems to be closed here


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    The roadhouse is open, but it's time for me to move on


    Heading east on 216 it seems like a mellow ride through farm/pasture land and it was - at first.
    I don't see a single car or bike and only 3 ranch houses.

    Suddenly there's nothing but rocks and I'm looking at steep grade warning signs.
    Here is where I really needed a helmet cam - no places to pull over for a shot.

    I spend a half hour winding down the steep grade, engine braking in 3rd & 2nd gear the whole way.
    Steep drop offs to my left - rocks to my right, occasional gravel underneath.
    I'm averaging 20-30 mph and in a couple of sharp hairpins down to 15.
    Spectacular views.

    The road eventually bottoms out where it crosses the Deschutes.
    This looks like a good place to explore, but I'm on a schedule at this point in the day.
    I'll be back.

    On to 197 where I head north back to The Dalles.

    Facing into the wind again and things get hairy in a few spots.
    There were several moments where the bike felt like it was being pushed out from underneath me.
    Wind surfing again.

    I finally need to pull over and close up the vents on my jacket to minimize the parachute effect.
    Stop at the grocery in town to pick up dinner - the blasts are incredible down here.
    I almost got knocked over approaching a stop light at slow motion speed - geez!

    Battle the wind back to camp.


    Next post - Sunday night in camp and a big loop home on Monday.
    #18
  19. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    255
    Location:
    Pugetopolis
    Sunday night at Memaloose was nice.
    I make it back, prep the fire, and sip on a couple brews while I read some Anne Rice.
    I get some nice neighbors from Canada - they're on a car trip to the redwoods.
    I was just there last summer so we talk about the area and motorcycles.
    He rides a Beemer.

    Time for dinner.


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    Italian Sausage and Chicken Tortellini With Pesto Sauce


    Boil tortellini.
    Drain Water.
    Stir in pesto sauce.
    Heat and stir.
    Onion roll heated by the fire.
    Mmmmmmmm.

    Actually got a good night's sleep tonight.

    Monday morning - time to head home.
    Awake at 7:30 and rolling the sleeping bag and pack before getting out of the tent.
    Trying to be as efficient as possible.
    Hit the showers, break camp, and eat breakfast of leftover onion roll and trail mix.
    On the road at 9:00
    I want to stay in the sun on the way home - my route is solid to Yakima - after that I have options.

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    My eventual route takes me through Yakima and then west on 410 across Chinook Pass


    One of the bad things about Memaloose is that if you want to head east from there you're forced to go west to Hood River and then backtrack.
    So I'm back to HR to gas up this morning.

    The nice thing is that there is a parallel route to I-84 east, the historic columbia gorge highway.
    I take the scenic route - it's a nice, relaxing slow speed ride through orchards and then some nice twisty bits.
    Just watch for the signs on I-84 east just past Hood River.


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    Rowena Crest Viewpoint



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    Gap in the Fence at Rowena Crest


    There is a woman (grandma) here with a small child - maybe 4-5 years old.
    He pokes his head and shoulders through this gap in the fence.
    She looks down at him, asks him if he's scared of heights and then goes back to taking pictures.
    Not even occasionaly glancing back to make sure he hasn't stepped all the way through.
    A fall over the edge would most likely be fatal.

    I'm aghast - start moving toward him and preparing to yell a warning when he pulls back.
    If this was my child and I saw this, grandma would be having supervised visits from now on.

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    Another Fine Example of Parenting.


    This pre-teen or tween skate boarder is being followed down the hill by his dad in an SUV.
    Apparently he's encouraging his boy's Jackass aspirations.
    There's nothing he can do to protect the boy from the front seat of the SUV.
    He can only pick up the pieces if things go wrong.
    unfathomable.

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    Enough worrying about other peoples children.

    Time to head north on 97.
    Climbing out of the gorge is awesome with turbines in the background - they dominate the landscape.
    It's hard not to look at them, but at the same time it's kind of important to watch the highway.

    when you pop out onto the plain approaching Goldendale the view of Mt Rainier over the hills is striking.
    Not many pictures today - I have 270 miles to log and I need to be at work tomorrow.

    I eventually make it to Yakima for lunch at 1:00 - the weather is still hot.
    Tammy's Mexican Restaurant is where I end up.
    The parking lot is full so I take that as a good sign.
    I'm the only gringo in the place - another good sign.
    Cops in the parking lot the entire time I'm there - not such a good sign.


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    I Lock the Helmet


    Got this lock for a good price from 243WIN.
    Yeah, free is a pretty good price.


    If your looking for an americanized Mexican restaurant, Tammy's is not the place to go.
    Chips and salsa are not presented and apparently not available.
    I don't recognize some of the menu items and the names are in spanish.

    Rather than come across as a complete rube and play the "what's this, what's that?" game I order the special.
    Pollo Mole - the best mole sauce I've ever had - smokey and spicy, but not too spicy.
    The homemade corn tortillas are also great.

    Two big chunks of chicken, half a breast and a thigh, covered with deep brown mole.
    Brown rice instead of that weak 'spanish' rice you see at chains.
    I asked for no cheese on the beans - "we don't do that" - cool.

    The service was friendly, fast, and not only the best mole, but one of the best Mexican meals I've had.
    If I'm ever in Yakima again, I'll be eating here.

    I'm stoked for the ride home across 410 and Chinook Pass.
    The weather is hot - did I mention that it was hot?
    I'm digging the warm weather riding.

    Not sure if I have enough gas to make it home so I figure a top off at Whistlin Jack will do the trick.
    Just east of Jack's there is a detour around 410 due to a rock slide.
    Pay attention to the 35 mph speed limit through here unless you like speeding tickets!

    Gas up and bathroom stop at Whistlin Jack and I run into a fellow Vstrom rider.
    Jer is friendly and we talk setups before he takes off with his riding buddy.

    I'm intrigued with his Drift helmet cam, custom saddle, tool tube, crash bars, and footpegs.

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    Drift Cam Remote


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    Tool Tube


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    Crash Bars


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    Drift Helmet Cam


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    Jer


    West of Whistlin Jack things start to get suddenly cool.
    I took it for granted that Chinook Pass would be open and it was.
    What I didn't fully process was that it's July 2nd and the pass has only been open for about 4 weeks.
    Plenty of snow pack left.


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    Time to stop and add a couple of layers.


    I've seen it all on this trip - rain, blazing hot sun, gale force winds, and now snow pack.
    It's funny to watch people sledding down the pack after being in 80 degree weather less than an hour ago.


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    I followed this guy and his buddy from Canada for a while.

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    I'm not stopping - I'm going home.
    270 mile day - 800 mile weekend.
    Looking forward to sleeping in a real bed tonight.
    #19
  20. Hominid

    Hominid Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2010
    Oddometer:
    255
    Location:
    Pugetopolis
    Best Road: Tough choice - can't pick one.
    Anywhere on 14 between Washougal and Stonehenge Memorial
    The Balfour-Clickitat side road
    206 to the turbines
    216 crawling down the canyon to the Deschutes - actually one of the coolest roads ever - maybe this is the one
    Climbing 97 out of the gorge toward Goldendale - awesome high speed sweeping curves.

    Worst Road: Tie - I-5 south in the rain - I-84 near hurricane ordeal.

    Most interesting bike: Jer's 2009 DL650

    Most interesting vehicle: Ford 240Z or Datsun F-150, whatever it was. 4x4 Z-car.

    Best Food: Tammy's Mexican in Yakima, followed by camp stove tortellini.

    Wildlife Spotted:
    Countless Hawks, Osprey, Eagles, and Vultures.
    Turkey Vulture feeding on a deer carcass - didn't even flinch as I zoomed by on I-84.
    A young deer skittish enough to make me nervous - tried to run away from me, came to a fence, almost came back.
    Salmon at the fish ladder - Lampreys.
    A number of suicidal squirrels - why do they wait until your right on them to squirt across the road?

    Fun ride
    #20