So after a trip to <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comffice:smarttags" /><st1:State><st1lace>Montana</st1lace></st1:State> and shagging chase vehicle for the big desert adventure I find myself faced with a three day weekend with no plans whatever. <?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-comfficeffice" /><o></o> I’m loving my new KTM so much that when the statement for the first payment arrived this week I already had 5200 miles on it and the rear tire is 90% cooked. So I feel I should do the responsible thing and wear the last 10% off so I can replace the rear in good conscience. <o></o> The weather was really iffy for Labor Day, so I plotted and plotted in MapSource all kinds of routes around the wind and rain. But there were too many decisions and finally I just decided I would just throw the routes out in the deleted file bin and wing it for the weekend. <o></o> I did decide on a couple simple things; <o></o> One: I would run with the wind until I had to turn back into it. <o></o> Two: Each day I had to go somewhere I’d never been even if it was just a new Podunk town. <o></o> Item one required that I was head east and that meant up the Columbia River Gorge but I had spent so much time in the Gorge that item two was going to be a bit tricky. <o></o> Saturday Morning and into the Gorge on Hwy 14 out of <st1:City><st1lace>Vancouver</st1lace></st1:City>. First major stop, Bonneville Dam which was still spilling water at Labor Day. Either it was some kind of “save the salmon” court order or we had really had a wet year. Followed by Bridge of the Gods, all standard stuff except in the spirit of rule two I did stop and read the information sign about the bridge and walk around looking for a good vantage point for a pic. This was the best I could do from the <st1:State><st1lace>Washington</st1lace></st1:State> side. A quick buzz by <st1lace><st1laceName>Drano</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace> which was thick with salmon fishermen as the fall run of Chinook was underway. The wind was really picking up and even riding with it was getting pretty bumpy as the gusts tossed me around. Here’s what the <st1lace>Columbia River</st1lace> looks like with 30 mph sustained winds and gusts to 50 mph. Note the tiny windsurfer in the middle of those big waves…that’s a ten or better foot mast on his board. After a few stops to watch windsurfers and kite-boarders playing I finally see the second Gorge bridge between Bingen and <st1lace><st1laceName>Hood</st1laceName> <st1laceType>River</st1laceType></st1lace>, which is shadowed by <st1lace>Mount Hood</st1lace>. Tired of the wind, I stop at the mouth of the White Salmon river to take in all the activity as well as make the turn up Alternate 141 out of the Gorge and up along the White Salmon to BZ Corner for gas and <st1lace><st1laceName>Trout</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace> for lunch. Talk about shoulder to shoulder fishing. Finally volcano number two for the trip, <st1lace>Mount Adams</st1lace> comes into view just outside <st1lace><st1laceName>Trout</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace>. A quick but very good lunch in the heart of huckleberry everything land, <st1lace><st1laceName>Trout</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace>. It is prime berry picking season so the woods are full up here despite the unseasonable weather. After lunch I was feeling a little guilty about ignoring rule two so far and had some decisions to make. Mostly, where to next? One last look back at the valley containing <st1lace><st1laceName>Trout</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake..</st1laceType></st1lace>. I am very familiar with the area between <st1lace><st1laceName>Trout</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Lake</st1laceType></st1lace> and Glenwood. Not only do we like to ride the trails up around <st1lace><st1laceName>King</st1laceName> <st1laceType>Mountain</st1laceType></st1lace>, but I hunt in this area as well. <o></o> Anyway, I rode through Glenwood and finally entered unknown territory. I decided to take a short jaunt off pavement to see how the KTM felt in the deep dust. After buzzing around a bit I reminded myself I was riding alone and might want to skip the dirt play lest I have to test picking the loaded KTM up on my own. Back on pavement, I knew generally where I was headed but finally had no clue where I actually was at the moment. I refused to zoom in on the GPS and just enjoyed some really nice twisties that took me down into a deep canyon. And as I was to discover down to the “Wild and <st1lace><st1laceName>Scenic</st1laceName> <st1laceName>Klickitat</st1laceName> <st1laceType>River</st1laceType></st1lace>”…rule number two accomplished for today. What a great ride and incredible scenery. Across the valley floor and I started climbing back out on more fun switchbacks and twisties distracted on by the views. The adage that the front wheel follows the eyes was driven home a couple times when I almost drove off into space enjoying a view. Back up on the high bench land I head for the town of <st1:City><st1lace>Klickitat</st1lace></st1:City> and back towards the Columbia Gorge praying the wind had eased. Proof once again that geology is always in motion! Despite the cloudy water from the weather, fly fishermen are working the river hard. At last into Klickitat for a short break and a cold drink. A short dash down the road and back out into the Gorge at Lyle, the wind is still unrelenting. Soon the city of <st1:City><st1lace>The Dalles</st1lace></st1:City> comes into view and I decide to cross over to the <st1:State><st1lace>Oregon</st1lace></st1:State> side and see if a fishing guide I know in Rufus is back in for the day. Up till now I have been running with a strong tailwind which causes some buffeting as it swirls, but crossing the bridge I was hit with a 40 to 50 side wind all the way. This caused a 4.8 butt pucker on a scale of 1 to 5. The green was gone for sure now, this is definitely the “brown end” of the Gorge but it has it’s moments too. I stopped in Rufus and Touche’ Clark’s “Fly By Nite Guide Service” shop was closed up tight and it seemed that the walleye fishermen had pretty much been driven out of the area by the wind and the accompanying windsurfers and high flying kite boarders. The waves here were also huge and breaking like a Hawaiian beach. Finally I hit I-84 passed the John Day Dam and headed for TriCities to share a pizza with my brother and hang out for the evening. I had at least accomplished my goal and had some great road riding to boot. Next up day two and some serious new territory for me.