Oregon Backcountry- Just Gonna Wing It

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by underkill, Jul 12, 2011.

  1. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    After surviving our first rainy winter up here in the pacific northwet, tons of overtime at work, and visiting relatives, we decided we needed a vacation. Preferably one with as few people as possible and lots of riding! We've explored a fair bit of Washington so far, but we wanted something a little different.

    We decided on Oregon. It was far enough away that we couldn't explore it on a regular 4 day weekend, but wasn't so far away that it was California. Perfect! :evil To maximize the amount of riding time we'd have and minimize the amount of time I'd have to spend playing on the freeway during rush hour with a bike that won't actually do the speed limit, we decided to trailer the bikes and go from there. In the automotive equivalent of couchsurfing we made arrangements to leave our car and trailer with Zootpatutie (our new buddy Todd!) in Bend, Oregon.

    What now?

    Well, since I'm an Engineer and therefore like to make lots of nitpicky lists and organize things (don't make me put the first aid kit in alphabetical order again...) I took it upon myself to prepare the bikes and gear for our soon-to-be-epic adventure.

    The first thing I looked at was the first aid kit. I get hurt... a lot. I'm a klutz and try to keep up with a guy on a freaking KTM 690. I'm an idiot. :lol3 but Blinkerfluid also has quite a penchant for greasy diner food and milkshakes for breakfast! So, some pepto bismol etc wouldn't be too bad to have around either. We had a premade kit from Adventure Medical Kits. (fitting name, no?) Bring it hiking and biking with us all the time. I added more pepto, tylenol, eyedrops, everything I could possibly think of within reason.
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    So, now that the people repair kit was out of the way... I turned my focus to the tools and spares. I have a KLX250. There's not a lot of stuff on that little bike. Replaced the shitty wrenches with less shitty wrenches, tow strap, chain fixins, zip ties, etc. Got a spare spark plug. 2 spare tubes stuffed in socks because if ya dont have em.. you're gonna need em! :cry Got those cute little tire irons with the wrenches on the ends. (engineers like shiny machined surfaces darnit! :rofl) Pretty much went through the tookit thread and redid my whole situation. I probably could repair anything on my bike with the stock toolkit... but my dear, sweet Blinkerfluid had to have the most badass fuel injected fire breathing bike ever and ended up with a KTM 690 Enduro R (say it with me! ARRRRRRRRRRR!!! yeah, that means fast!). Does the stock toolkit include a spare fuel pump, fuel injection widgets, sensor gizmos, and other assorted KTM-only doohickeys? yeah... no way... so.. eh, screw it... if it breaks, the KLX will finally be faster and I win! :clap
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    Well, I can't leave any mechanical device alone. Fix it until it's broke! :evil So needless to say we modified some things on the bikes before we left. Woulda done it anyway, but a big trip is a nice excuse to buy stuff for my bike that I wanted already.

    2009 KLX 250s
    Easton fatbars with Cycra handguards. (so I can bash into things and be comfortable while I do it!)
    Lowering link of dubious quality courtesy of ebay
    Custom seat. (stock seat mercilessly attacked with a turkey carving knife. This is why we can't have nice things)
    Jetted carb and FMF Q4 (now it almost sounds like a motorcycle!)
    Skidplate (again, with the bashing of bike against stuff...)
    Tail chop (because a girl and her Dremel is a beautiful thing)
    Dunlop 606 front tire, MT43 trials rear tire (I love the 43 and won't run anything else ever!)
    Footpegs.

    2010 KTM 690 Enduro R
    Enduro Engineering handguards (ebay FTW!)
    Hyde racing skidplate. (Blinkerfluid couldn't get an aluminum one like everyone else)
    Yeah, that's it. The bike's pretty decently cool to begin with. and we couldn't afford to buy him any farkles for it. It did get a new set of tires though, so that's nice.

    We kept hearing about how you really need a 200 mile fuel range out there in the Oregon desert. :cry Well, my bike has 1.9 gallons stock and I go on reserve at 90 miles. They don't make a fuel tank that fits my bike yet, unless I want the one that fits like crap and is bright green. So, in the end, my inner cheap-ass won and I bought 2 color-matched 1 gallon gas cans from lowe's for $8 each and called it a day. (my bike is red too, so this is a bonus!) All the tanks they make for the 690 are ludicrously expensive and we just didn't want to mess with it. So the 690 got a 1 gallon gas can as well. That was easy! :evil

    So, big trip with camping involved and an undetermined amount of time? Yeah... we're going to need some luggage! We'd both had racks and aluminum panniers on other bikes and didn't like them. Too heavy and I, personally, hit my legs on them every single time I walk the bike around. So we went with the Giantloop Coyote saddlebag and Fandango tankbag. We took the bikes loaded up on a test run around the Olympic mountains up here in the rainy pacific northwest and guess what... NOT waterproof. So, 2 tubes of seam sealer later, and we're ready to go! The saddlebag comes with 3 inner bags to keep your gear separate. I washed those in nikwax also, just in case. I really hate being wet. Might have gone a little overboard since we're going to a Desert and there's no rain in the forecast. Better safe than wet. Blinkerfluid had all the tools and spares in his tank bag... I had my DSLR in my tankbag. (with homemade foam and duct tape protective case!)

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    #1
  2. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Port Orchard, WA
    Woke up Friday to the typical mad dash of loading the bikes on the trailer and the last minute piling of shit and everything you could ever possibly need in the back of the car. (cast iron skillet? wheelbarrow? ferrets? never know!) Finally got on the road and fought 4th of july weekend traffic the entire way down. Finally made it to Bend, Oregon and Todd's house and started relocating the stuff filling the back of our Subaru Outback into the small bags on the back of our bikes. Turns out we were wearing more gear than we were going to be packing. Go figure! Got a hotel for the first night so we wouldn't have to worry about anything and could start our trip well rested and ready to go! (and caffeinated! can't forget my coffee!)

    I started the next morning off right by whacking my helmet on one of the hanging plants by the lobby. :roflWe left bend by way of China Hat road. China Hat is a really fast gravel road through scraggly trees with snowy peaks faintly visible in the background. Road had lots of annoying braking bumps in it, but it made up for it by having tons of cute chipmunks. (i'm easy to please and I love critters!)

    This is the view right outside Bend up on a little hill:
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    I never realized how many tall mountains Oregon has. Last time we drove through it must have been cloudy because we missed ALL of them. Up by Seattle the mountains are just drowned out by Rainier (yes, its THAT huge!)

    We took China Hat for a long time and other various gravel roads and ended up in Fort Rock. It's been a while since I've had a geology class, so I'll quote wikipedia:
    "Fort Rock was created when basalt magma rose to the surface and encountered the wet muds of a lake bottom. Powered by a jet of steam, molten basalt was blown into the air, creating a fountain of hot lava particles and frothy ash. The pieces and blobs of hot lava and ash rained down around the vent and formed a saucer-shaped ring of lapilli tuff and volcanic ash sitting like an island in the lake waters"
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Rock

    Photo from above because my bike can't jump that high:
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    Needless to say it was VERY cool.

    Fort Rock in the distance....
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    Parking area
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    Someone LOVES Fort Rock!
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    Looking up the side of the rock face
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    Pretty big!
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    Your's Truly
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    Remind me to not go hiking in Sidi Crossfires again
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    #2
  3. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
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    Location:
    Port Orchard, WA
    Lots of tiny delicate flowers grow out in the harsh desert
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    So, our "trip planning" consisted mostly of googling totally random things out here in the desert that sounded interesting. The problem is that, like Washington, lots of stuff in oregon is named exactly what it is. Fort Rock isn't very original. I've also spent a lot of time riding to places like the "high steel bridge" and "7 mile road"... which brings us to the next highlight of our trip: Hole in the Ground. yup.. there really is a place called hole in the ground and amazingly enough it really is a giant freaking hole... Apparently hole in the ground is the opposite of Fort Rock. The area was a lake, magma rose to the surface, flashed to steam, blew all the rock and dirt out, and collapsed into a giant hole.

    Doesn't look that big right?
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    I'm squishing Blinkerfluid and the 690
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    We rode down one of the trails to the bottom of the hole where I found this sacrificial redneck target practice barrel.
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    I'm also amazed at the amount of SKY out here. Both Blinkerfluid and I are originally from the Midwest, but we've lived in Washington for a year now and I guess we've gotten used to the cover of thick fluffy gray clouds and tall trees. The desert is so OPEN.
    #3
  4. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    Now, this wouldn't be a proper ride report without some FOOD! and I believe this was the only place in the little town of Fort Rock that served food.
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    the 690 showing her dainty delicate side :lol3
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    We were definitely having a good time though! :rofl
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    The further we rode the shorter the trees got until there really weren't any left at all. The scenery turned into sagebrush and rocks. Sometimes it felt like riding on the moon. I've never spent any length of time in a desert. Sagebrush smells good! Meant to snag a piece for my tank bag, but I forgot.

    The next stop was another location with a totally obvious name: Crack in the Ground. :roflLaugh at the name all you want, but this was one of my favorite places on the whole trip!
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    yup, that's a giant crack in the rocks!
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    Then a little path goes down through it and the temperature starts to drop
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    interesting volcanic shenanigans (again, need to brush up on that science-y stuff)
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    looking up
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    lava bubbles?
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    Blinkerfluid
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    Sasquatch was here
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    other side of crack in the ground
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    Back out into the desert
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    Crack in the ground was awesome! I really want to come back and hike it properly! :clap
    #4
  5. bretedge

    bretedge Do Epic Shit

    Joined:
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    Oddometer:
    437
    Location:
    Moab, Utah
    Awesome! Beautiful scenery, nice riding and great ride report. Diggin' this one. Looking forward to moving to Bend from Moab and these PNW ride reports keep that fire stoked.
    #5
  6. Craig McCurdy

    Craig McCurdy BIGMAC

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2009
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    Location:
    Hood River, Oregon
    Looks like a good time! :lurk

    We have one of those bright green tanks but on a green KLX and it will take you anywhere you want to go...:D
    #6
  7. jglow

    jglow Two wheeled traveler

    Joined:
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    Location:
    Lowry Crossing, TX
    Keep it coming. :lurk
    #7
  8. tellicotom

    tellicotom Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2008
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    284
    Location:
    East TN Mountains
    Excellent Pics and discussion! The "Crack in the Ground" with the lava bubbles does look awesome! I've not seen anything like that in TN...though we do have a fair amount of caves.....

    Thanks for sharing...

    TellicoTom
    #8
  9. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

    Joined:
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    Great shots, cool route so far! :clap

    Did you guys find ice in Crack-in-the-ground?
    #9
  10. timbanditos

    timbanditos Adventurer

    Joined:
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    Cool pics, looks like an awesome trip! (there is alot of blue sky in the eastern WA too)
    #10
  11. UpST8

    UpST8 turnin gas to noise

    Joined:
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    Location:
    californication
    :D Great pics and report thus far!! What happened next??? :ear

    Good to see yall are having adventures out there, we will be joining you on the West coast this fall. Really looking forward to getting out of Tidewater.
    #11
  12. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    Nope, no ice! It's July though, and we didn't hike very far. I Really want to come back and hike the whole thing properly. It was very very cool! :D
    #12
  13. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

    Joined:
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    West coast? That'll be awesome! Whereabouts? If it's San Diego I can come down for work and visit you and Dhillr in one swoop! :evil
    #13
  14. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

    Joined:
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    So after hanging around at crackintheground and taking pictures of the motorcycles from every conceivable angle in front of various rocks and bits of shrubbery... it was time to keep on riding!

    This is the fabled Fandango road that our tank bags are named after.
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    That doesn't look too bad! lets go! :lol3
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    Fandango road is wide and gravel and runs through a valley with hills covered in sagebrush on both sides. The road conditions kept getting worse the further we went until it turned into nothing but braking bumps and babyhead rocks. I don't usually mind babyhead rocks, but I didn't adjust my suspension for the additional weight of luggage so it handled like a water balloon on roller skates in addition to the presence of luggage keeping me from moving around as much as I need to. Let it be known that if you plan on doing this, I'd start in the morning.. we hit it after lunch and it just got hot as hell and there are NO TREES here... beautiful ride, but by this point I was already getting tired and a tad cranky.. and then I got hot and frustrated. Not a good combo. on the plus side there were a couple totally random oddball lakes and lakebed areas to check out!

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    I was, once again, glad I bought a skidplate. I used it! (and then I hit a rock sideways and ended up sideways inside of a giant bush... but.. these things do happen)
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    Blinkerfluid on the 690.
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    One of those dry lakebeds. There were random patches of black rock strewn about the hillsides. I love this Oregon geology!
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    Action shot! SHAZAM!
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    #14
  15. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    Another thing I might not have mentioned yet about Oregon. Everyone with their own fence has horses and everywhere else there are cows! Cows everywhere... and that means cattle guards everywhere! They weren't as big a deal as people made them out to be though... so no biggie. Except THIS one! it was raised a couple feet and I saw it move when the 690 went over it. I shoulda gone first. :rofl
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    More tiny delicate flowers growing through the cracked dirt
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    little motorcycle, big sky!
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    This was the only shade available. Coincidentally, it also looks a bit like the Windows background picture. Or maybe that's just me.
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    The lake in the distance. We dropped down into this little valley where there was actual green grass. Rode alongside a deer for a ways and saw a ton of antelope. Kinda reminded me of the Mongolia scenes in Long Way Round.
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    My momma says I gots to wear a helmet...
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    #15
  16. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    Blinkerfluid had certain spots mapped out on the GPS to get us through the whole Fandango rd etc route that takes you to Plush, OR. The problem is that the main road is a dirt road.. the side roads? pretty much faint paths. Oregon might even put larger cattle trails down as roads at this point. Needless to say, we missed some turns. Didn't really matter because we ended up where we wanted to be. I haven't posted much of them, but I have a ton of pictures of beautiful scenery, badass motorcycles, and Blinkerfluid sitting on his bike staring at the GPS. :lol3

    Either way, we made it to Plush.
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    This is another one of those towns where the gas station is the general store and the bar and the hangout and the grocery store and the library etc etc. I got the steak fingers. They were delicious. I didn't get the typical "goofy ADV grin with middle finger over the food" shot... I was really hungry. :D
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    We were planning on camping, so we bought some stuff for breakfast. Blinkerfluid went healthy and got canned peaches and a bag of Mrs. Fields chocolate chip cookies. I decided I burned enough calories yelling obscenities at my bike and picking it back up off the ground that I deserved powdered donuts for breakfast. :evil The lady working at the store was super sweet and helpful and told us about some hot springs that people camp at all the time up on Hart Mountain. We decided that watching the sun set from the top of a mountain while soaking in some secluded hot springs after a full day of riding sounded pretty much like heaven so we set off...
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    This whole valley is actually a wetlands area.
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    The road going up the mountain was twisty and probably a lot more fun than I should have made it that late in the day!
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    Proof that I didn't actually light the KLX on fire in the middle of the desert :rofl
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    #16
  17. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    We finally made it to the top of the mountain. There is a ranger station of sorts up there. Hot springs! We're almost there!
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    The hot springs were down a bit from the main road and we could see the deep blues and other bright colors... unfortunately there were also about 7 other cars full of people there. Most of them might not be camping, right? I was really hoping for seclusion.... So we stopped to discuss and realized something that we hadn't noticed at all while riding.

    The air was almost black with swarming mosquitos... :eek1 We didn't even take out helmets off. I was glad to have my bandana over my mouth already. (690 kicks up some dust!) I got bitten 3 times through my gloves. It was ridiculous. So we left. :cry Surely there must be some other campgrounds further down the road?

    ...and what a road it was! The sun was starting to set, turning everything gold.
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    My only action shot.
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    just kidding!
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    I had to stop to take this picture. Not enough coordination to dig out my dslr while riding. Next trip we go on, I'll be sure to try some fancy shenanigans with my Canon SD1400.
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    Well. Obviously the sun is setting. We're both tired. There is NOTHING out here. No campgrounds. and there was a sign that said to camp in designated areas only. and the next town is an hour or more away I think. Did I mention this is also an antelope preserve? I'm not totally cool with stealth camping but eventually my love of sleep won out. We found a side road and rode that for about a mile and decided we'd just go for it.
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    The main road is that way
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    Now, I feel compelled to mention here that Blinkerfluid has been talking nonstop for months about how he wants to sleep out under the stars in the middle of the desert with no light pollution or people or anything! There were no lights here.. not even a faint blinking tower in the distance. Utter quiet and solitude and darkness.
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    Stars so close you could reach out and touch them.
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    Awesome end to a freaking awesome day! :clap
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    #17
  18. wachs

    wachs just passin' through

    Joined:
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    Spectacular images! :clap:clap:clap

    Now that you know about the weirdest cattle guard in the western USA, (like we've never seen anywhere else) just set it up in 3rd or 4th and give it the gas!

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    #18
  19. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    HAHA! Very nice indeed! I didn't think to jump it... I think my pig flies... but I'm not sure how she'd land it!

    BTW specs for day 1:

    Miles Ridden: 277 :wink:
    Drops of KLX: 2 :cry
    Lessons Learned: Wilderness camping makes me paranoid. Wearing earplugs and one of those girly girl eye cover thingies helps this. If I'm going to be eaten by wild animals I don't want to see or hear anything. :evil
    #19
  20. underkill

    underkill Horsepower Junkie

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    I wake up for work at 4:45 every morning anyway. So I was up before the sun. Slept pretty darn good and didn't get eaten by coyotes. The wind did pick up a little bit, which made the tent flap around more than usual because we couldnt get stakes in the ground. Either way, the sunrise was a great start to the morning even though I didn't bother making coffee!
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    Sunrise over the sagebrush
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    Blinkerfluid: NOT a morning person.
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    Ended up on some pavement after our escape from the Antelope preserve. I had thought we were out of the preserve before camping. turns out we werent! oops! :eek1 Also, there are tons of jackrabbits out here... they're like the squirrels of the west... running out into the road and then changing their minds and running back.. No jackalopes though.. I was really hoping to see one! :evil
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    We rolled into Fields at 8:00. The gas station opens at 9:00. We met up with a couple on some Beemers, and a guy on a zebra painted somethingoranother. They're all on ADV.
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    Fields only really has this one building. it's the gas station, post office, hotel, etc... Very interesting! It's still foreign to me that not all little towns have gasoline... I also hate that you can't pump your own gas in oregon..
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    #20