“Rising From The Ashes” West Coast Tour

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Day Trippin'' started by DesertSurfer, Oct 29, 2020.

  1. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    ( Passing the center of town in Detroit Oregon burned to the ground.)

    My plan was to ride my 2002 Aprilia Futura from Marina Del Rey California to Portland Oregon through Bend Oregon... and possibly going over to Eastern Washington before working my way south for another stop over in coastal Glasgow Oregon. Then heading home back to So. Cal. and Marina Del Rey.

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    ( The fall colors of the Southern Sierras in California.)

    I call this ride the “Rising From The Ashes Tour” for several reasons.

    My 84 year old mother has been hanging on after several recent heart attacks, she’s had numerous stents placed in arteries near her heart.

    She has heart arrhythmia. She is the longest living survivor of Myasthenia Gravis. She still takes care of herself and prefers to live alone. And she finally came to the realization she’s getting tired and ready to let her life play out.

    So she decided to host a living will event and distribution of her heirlooms.

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    ( My n99 moto mask for filtering smoke from the forest fires.)

    The other reason for the title of this trip is I’m recently recovering from high stage 3 throat cancer. And like a raging wildfire that ravaged through my body I’m rising from my own ashes and challenging myself to take on this long motorcycle journey. And along the way, celebrating my cancer survival with my close family and friends who live in the Pacific Northwest.

    I’ll be riding from my place in Marina Del Rey preferring to take my sport touring Aprilia north. But with all the current fires up and down the West Coast I’ll have to try and dodge all the burning and toxic smoke on the way up there. My plan was to get over to highway 395 and ride behind the fires and smoke heading north.

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    ( Coastal Oregon, few people get the opportunity to experience a destination that rivals views of both coastal Northern Big Sur California as well as the Northern European coastlines of Ireland and Scotland.)

    For those unfamiliar with my alias I’ve been mostly hanging out in the Orange Crush/ Dakar Champion section on my KTM 950 Adventure over the last 14 or so years.

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    I’ve written quite a few ride reports. I’ll try to copy and paste them somewhere here in case this ride report peaks some interest.
    #1
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  2. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

    Joined:
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    [​IMG]

    A date was set for my mother’s event in Bend Oregon October 19th through the 23rd.

    Prepping my bike meant a new set of Michelin Pilot Powers, chain cleaned and adjusted, oil and oil filter changed, K&N reuse-able air filter cleaned, valve adjustment done last year along with fork fluids and seals. LiPo battery showing strong, portable wall charger packed along with, tire plug kit, mini compressor, complete tool kit. ROCK AND ROLL!

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    10 year old waterproof boots pulled out of my shop gear locker at last minute revealed dry rot. My attempt at shoe goo’ing gave me second thoughts so a quick trip to Cycle Gear landed me a pair of TCX boots on a blowout sale.

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    ( Old versus new.)

    I can fight through many kinds of adversity but not cold damp feet on a long wet ride.

    Forecasts showed temps in the mid to high 90’s in the first half of the state then dropping down to the 40’s on the balance of California and Oregon. Two sets of riding gear needed, for hot and cold conditions. Not much room for clothes, a bunch of riding cool and warm moto tees, moto socks, riding bvds, meds, travel dop, head strap flashlight... and power cables.

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    ( Mono Lake near Mammoth California.)

    I checked the weather and fire conditions, carefully planned my itinerary, packed my bags and headed out.


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    ( Meal break at Tom’s Place Resort south of Bishop California.

    Trying to avoid the noonday sun I headed out on a Saturday morning giving me a three day travel window to ride 850 miles. This would be my first real motorcycle trip since my cancer recovery and I had questions how I’d handle the rigeurs of the road.

    Oddly, the cancer and neck surgery to remove lymph nodes damaged my shoulder, upper back and sternum. I spent a great deal of physical therapy and rehab to gain back my strength, muscle and nerve impulse again.

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    ( Flashback of rigorous neck/ shoulder rehab at my cousin’s home patio gym.)

    A BRIEF STATUS ON THE FIRES...

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    Before I departed... California and Oregon had been inundated with fires. About 6 weeks ago a converge of opposing weather systems caused lightning showers along the Western States creating over 80 wildfires. The worst ever seen in modern history. In fact, upon my departure some fires were not yet contained after months of incinerating and reports showed new fires with a heat wave and adverse winds. In fact my family up in Oregon nearly had to evacuate from a devastating fire that stopped three miles short of their community.

    Central California was also hit hard and I knew I’d have to stay east and would need to wear my n99 mask with clean filters to avoid the residual smoke.

    Heading up the backside of the state it was a hot ride without a lot of breeze... other then normal air resistance. The ice in my camelbak was cooling my back nicely. I’d make a convenience store stop to replace the ice long before the water needed a refill.
    #2
  3. motowest

    motowest Two-wheeled Adventurer

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    :lurk
    #3
  4. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    Heading up into Central California the temps dropped quickly. I strategically packed my separate warmer gear in my top bag, easy access with minimal unpacking. So I began the musical jacket dance as the temps changed throughout the trip. When my air temp gauge bent down to mid 60’s I did my first exchange.

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    ( Fall colors as the seasons change in the Pacific Northwest.)

    There’s a point on highway 395 where the road bends. On a motorcycle you suddenly realize you’re riding down a deep bowl in the earth at near or below sea level... with towering 10 thousand foot plus mountain ranges on both sides looming over you... And it’s breathtaking.

    There are many adventure photos in exotic lands ... enticing riders to plan expensive travel itineraries... All for the opportunity to feel the insignificance of being a human within the scale and scope of nature. Riding in the Owens valley so near the lowest point in the Americas (over the east range in Death Valley) and paralleling Mt. Whitney at 14k plus feet... is definitely one of those life affirming moments (sparing all the hubris of an international travel schedule).

    I’ve driven this route by cage many times and the low roofline conceals one of North Americas real natural beauties. A mere fixed lens camera or IPhone cannot do this experience justice and must be witnessed live.

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    ( A view of the land form in Mono Lake.)

    Off in the distance I could see the remnants of smoke from the Central California fires. This deep bowl I was riding through would be trapping and holding in the residual smoke for many weeks after the burns I suspect. The beautiful clear skies and incredible mountain walls soon disappeared like the curtain drop of a concluding theater projection. With my n99 moto mask in place, dark and dreary would be my new backdrop until the day’s end.

    Frustrated at how my delays were adding up... and as temps dipped below the 50’s.... I had to make another swap out called the thermals dance. And I chose to stop and eat at a favored diner in Lone Pine to fuel my hunger and warm up indoors.

    After a long break I stepped outdoors again to even colder conditions. I returned inside to cancel my motel reservations two more hours up the road in Reno... and booked a local motel three blocks away. The quick jaunt to my new stay confirmed temps in the 30s, a 50 degree climate swing within half of my ride. These extreme temp changes were an additional form of fatigue.

    I departed 9ish the next morning after the lot was cleared of hikers exploring the high Sierras before season’s end. This is an especially popular destination for those hiking up to 14k feet in a day at Mt. Whitney. A rare and enlightening experience for the human soul.

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    ( ( Mt. Whitney at 14,505k ft.)

    Climbing Mt. Everest is the opportunity for humans to push themselves to climb above 10-12k elevations and beyond continuously. On Everest you separate the last assents into various sections. The last section being referred to as the death zone where altitude, lack of oxygen in the bloodstream and technical climbing cause a recipe for a high percentage of disaster... and ultimate death or the escape of it and overcoming all those forces.

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    A climb to Mt. Whitney is that physical push of a 14k ascent and overcoming some of those same forces against you.

    I salute Mt. Whitney and those day climbers as I pass through the low valley heading toward Bishop. I stop to eat at Tom’s Place, then pass Mammoth, Mono Lake, Bridgeport and onward to Reno. Again the temps drop into the 40’s as I pull into town. I immediately search for the local advice of safe and good food in Reno from an employee at Nevada Adventure Rentals. This looks like a great travel resource and well versed in camping gear and adventure bikes. Mask fixed to me like an alien space traveler I say my thanks and drive over to a hipster cafe.
    #4
  5. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    The small towns leading to Reno like Minden have a real charm about them. Reno itself is that burgeoning and exploited Nevada commercialism similar to Las Vegas. What it does have is a Cycle Gear store.

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    ( I assumed all of northern Nevada to be a sparse desert... but was pleasantly surprised at the show of fall colors.)

    I noticed my dry bag had “dry rot“ and the glued straps were breaking. One had already let go.

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    ( Front lower strap/ coated material glue patches on dry bag separating.)

    My bag purchase and warranty were in their system and a pro-rated credit given towards the purchase of a new bag at a reduced sale price (due to all things CoVid, I suppose).

    While there I picked up a face shield cloth ( always forgotten on long trips IDKW?), a cool breathing tee for $5, a new pair of moto long johns also on sale ( thank you CoVid)
    and chain lube. A lot of moto elite poo poo Cycle Gear until they’re in multi state travel mode where it can be a trip saver... case in point.

    Food at the hipster bar was fantastic, the name will come to me ( ask me about how my cancer radiation weakened my short term memory).

    I was surprised there were so many Dodger fans in Reno as the large screens were on. Everyone was rooting Dodgers for their game 5 win. And wearing masks and distancing with the garage door wall opened alfresco style below heated lamps.

    I will say, as a single guy, aside from all the political ramifications of required CoVid masking in public... it elevates the perception that all single women at a hipster cafe are 10’s... But I digress.

    After a few refreshments I chose to stay local and not risk riding. Temps were cold so I found a cheap Quality Inn within a few blocks.
    Normally Quality Inns are of a certain standard and warrant a slightly higher fee. This one must have been bootlegging the name and was a stern reminder that “ You only get what you pay for”.

    I couldn’t get out of there fast enough.

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    Onward and crossing two states today, Nevada to California... and to Oregon.
    #5
  6. RedDogAlberta

    RedDogAlberta High Plains Drifter

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    Great shots. We have a couple dandy days ahead for last rides and then things go straight to hell.
    #6
  7. rkover1

    rkover1 doc

    Joined:
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    I retired from over 40 years in Radiation Oncology. I wish you well on all your roads. Sounds like you already have a head start.

    doc
    #7
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  8. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    True that RedDog! The weather changes regularly as you’ll see. I don’t want to spoil it but hellish is a proper description.

    Thanks for following along Dr. RK, And thank you for working to save so many patients like myself.

    One of your contemporaries saved my life and spared my quality of living.

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    Hopefully I can inspire others that there can be a bright light at the end of the cancer tunnel... thanks to the hard work, dedication and services provided from people like yourself.

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    ( Aftermath of one of my cancer surgerIes.)
    #8
  9. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    From Reno into California was back to being sport bike fun as opposed to the touring bike feeling of just soaking up miles.

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    The roads became narrow and winding. The scenery was lush and green as I headed out of Susanville California.

    The weather varied between mid 30’s to low 40’s. I came prepared with warm, waterproof gloves and heated grips... which I found negligible below mid 40’s.

    Same with my warm riding gear... which for some reason had weak points I needed to identify and solve on this trip. My core was cold and I even had thermals on an already three layer jacket and pant set.

    I also had to make time and arrive in the afternoon. I needed to meet up with my siblings to greet my other relatives arriving for this event. This figures to be about a 400 mile day.

    Having fueled up, I plugged in my headphones, turned on my playlist and let The Edge start the pavement party with a classic U2 song “WAR”.

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    I love this part of the country for it’s remoteness, continuous steep hills and corresponding valleys. And for it’s total lack of development.

    It’s a motorcycle loner’s lonesome paradise.

    The savory stretch of road to the state’s border passed by quickly. Then the pacing instantly changed to the slow crawl of 45 mph speed limit signs and annoyingly unwarranted traffic lights nearing the Oregon border.

    I really wanted to take a side trip over to Crater Lake as I passed the turnoff.

    For those enamored with epic scenery, this rivals anything on earth. I begrudgingly continue ahead focusing on with my mission at hand.

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    ( Crater Lake view from the lodge on a previous trip.)
    #9
  10. Mr Head

    Mr Head Adventure Hippie Supporter

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    Great shots. Thanks for hauling us along.
    #10
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  11. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    Hey Heady,

    Glad you could join in. The haul gets worse but also gets better.
    #11
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  12. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    Heading up highway 97 I had been on my bike all day save for lunch in Klamath Falls at a Black Bear Restaurant, nice prime rib sandwich special.

    But temps were 30’s or 40’s all day and I was cold to the bone. I added another layer on the bottom putting jeans on over my long johns and then my riding 3 layer riding pants. I was surprised they fit.

    I’ll give the Michelin Man a run for his money as I waddled out to my bike and required two hands to pull my leg over my bike.

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    Zeroing in on Bend, Oregon over the next 60 miles I would be skirting the Cascade Lakes Highway and the watershed of the Rogue river. This stretch of forests, lakes and rivers heading west all the way to the Pacific Ocean is truly gods country. And it’s where I cut my teeth adventure riding in the wilderness for over 40 years. Dirt routes known as Windigo Pass, Steamboat, Beartooth, Suttle Lake trail, Cultus Lake trail, Elkhorn, Illinois River trail and Daniel’s creek were my rites of adventure riding passage growing up.

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    (Traversing a narrow shelf trail overlooking the 3000 ft. Illinois River Canyon in 1988.)
    #12
  13. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

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    I am in!
    #13
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  14. Mr Head

    Mr Head Adventure Hippie Supporter

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    Isn't it odd, how we managed to survive riding in jeans and trainers, open faced helmets with no GPS, trackers or coms?

    Heaven forbid we venture out into the wild with the wrong tire for the terrain. :imaposer

    Glory days.

    Keep it coming. :clap
    #14
  15. keithg

    keithg Been here awhile

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    And sweatshirts and safety boots from our job in the steel mill.......................
    #15
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  16. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    This trip up the West Coast and especially Central Oregon means many things in my life including a celebration of lifetime adventure riding friendship.

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    ( 2018 on a gravel overlook in the Elliot National Forest above Glasgow Oregon... right after Jake’s near death illness and before mine.)

    Since my early teens I’ve been adventure riding the dirt trails, back country and wilderness of Oregon with my high school buddy Jake.

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    ( A pic with Jake in the same Elliot forest 22 years earlier in 1998.)

    We pretty much dedicated our limited free time to physically mapping out all the remote trail riding in Southern and Central Oregon in our lifetime.

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    ( Trail riding along the lava flows off the Cascade Lakes Highway in Central Oregon in 1992.)

    We generally tried to choose bigger bore adventure style bikes to accommodate long distance back country exploring at the inconvenience (mild) of muscling around the extra weight of a bigger bike when the trails disappeared... in other words what we called “going rally style”.

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    ( Fun rallying through the Oregon Forests in the early 2000’s.)

    We mildly followed the Dakar Rallies in the late 70’s, early 80’s. Not because we wanted to ever be racers, but were inspired by the long range riding independence and technology leaning toward these bikes.

    (And because we thought Jimmy Lewis was a GOD for riding a BMW GS1150 competitively in a Dakar... Hahaha!)

    We managed to have a blast adventure riding the lesser known but quite amazing terrain and enjoyed the stunning scenery mostly to ourselves over the many years... since adventure riding had never really been a thing in the US and especially in Oregon.

    Jake was a kind of self interested outdoor photographer and we began to document our rides for namesake and future tabletop laughter. I begrudgingly brought my share of cheap 35mm disposables to get the “B” sides of our trips.

    As life has a way of complicating life, my photo albums stayed in photo boxes in my place in So. Cal where I lived for my work. And Jake’s were up in Oregon.

    In 2017 Jake nearly passed away from a complicated illness. He had in fact died on the table several times prior to being saved.

    We never got that opportunity to reunite with ALL of our lifetime photo boxes... mine of which he’s never seen in it’s entirety. And had he passed away, all those memories in pictures would have been lost “like tears in rain” ( Rutger Hauer’s Bladerunner quote).

    After Jake’s miraculous recovery, we met up in Southern Oregon for a reuniting adventure ride but I wasn’t able to bring up my photo boxes.

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    ( Jake and I celebrating his survival ride in 2018.)

    Then tragedy struck and I was diagnosed with high stage 3 throat cancer and rushed into immediate surgeries and treatments. What a shame it could have been to have left while those prized photo boxes lay silent in storage.

    Luckily I recently survived my cancer treatment (saved with huge props by my doctors at UCLA Health Medical).

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    And I packaged and shipped the photo albums up to Jakes so I can swing by his house in Southern Oregon and we can relive our 40 years of adventure riding photo history... to much anticipated hooting and hollering!

    So stay tuned...
    #16
  17. NSFW

    NSFW basecamp4adv Super Supporter

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    more well-deserved wishes to you and mom.

    subscribed!
    #17
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  18. N-Id-Jim

    N-Id-Jim Long timer

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    Great story, IN
    #18
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  19. DesertSurfer

    DesertSurfer Tail sprayin

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    ( “After what I’ve been through, is this where it all ends?”... voice from inside my helmet on the snowing Santiam Pass.)

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    I arrived in Bend Oregon Monday late afternoon in time to meet up with my Sis and older Brother, a hand full of cousins and our Uncle. And my mother who had not seen me since my surviving cancer.

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    It was great to pass around hugs with all my family ( masked up) and the praises for my successful recovery.



    [​IMG]


    Family never felt so good. This moment was everything I had hoped for and more when I was sitting in the hospital awaiting the results of my surgery and biopsy.


    The importance and meaning of “FAMILY” is that secret of life. They give us joy, peace and value. And they are the reason for my survival.


    Cancer can be a harsh reminder of the simple pleasures of life. But a reminder indeed.


    I was tired from my 10 hours on a moto and had been cold the entire ride, running on adrenaline.


    I headed to our Airbnb to shower then to hang out at my Mom’s to celebrate with family through the week. A celebration indeed.


    After the 4 day event I packed up and headed for Oregon City to visit my nieces and their families... limited out due to CoVid safety.


    I checked the weather conditions which were supposed to be nice and warm... which could be low 50’s.


    I headed off selecting the lower Santiam mountain pass to avoid any untimely weather.


    On the highway past Bend and into the town of Sisters I began riding under clouds. A slight mist appeared then went from my face shield.


    Heading beyond Sisters and up the steep pass it looked dark at the top... VERY DARK.


    I was prepared for rain... whatever.


    Reaching the top of the incline the darkness was thick, cold, wet with snowfall coming down like a massive swarm of locusts. At first the snow skipped around my shield with my glove acting as a windshield wiper.


    At the top the wet snow froze to my shield. The temps were dropping and the blanket of white lining both sides of the road told me this was an hour or so into a snowfall.


    The pavement was completely covered with slush... and not much traffic to cut through it ahead of me. I had to raise my shield to an upper detent position and see under my frozen icy shield.

    A few cars riding in the two lane past me sprayed my face from under... and the cold snow stung until the slush slid away.


    Now dropping down a steep decent into a curve... I could feel the slight slide and grab of my tires on the freeze dried icy pavement. An oncoming semi truck at the apex had me shitting to stay in my lane.


    “After what I’ve been through, is this where it all ends?”... was the voice from inside my head.


    I was quite FUCKED at the moment... and the snowfall was not letting up on this rollercoaster mountain pass from hell.


    At the next passing lane a vehicle pulled beside me. I looked over expecting to see a local pointing at me laughing “who was this crazy snow rider”... only to see a State Trooper shaking his head in a gesture like “are you ok doing this”?


    I shook my head up and down “Yep”... Too dumb to stop now.


    The Trooper pulled behind me, slowed down to give me a huge buffer from any traffic behind him... and turned on his flashers.

    This allowed me to slow down to 30-35 mph and safely ride while glove shield or face wiping snow off me. This Trooper has my utmost respect. I wish I could tell him thanks in person.

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    (Coming down the backside in the rain. I couldn’t convince myself to pull over and pry my hands from the grips to photograph the snow flurry.)

    35 excruciating miles later I crested the last pass and as I descended the snow turned to rain. I rode behind the clouds and into clear blue skies and the temps rose. Halefuckinluya!

    Now following along the river it suddenly hit me like a brick... that distinct smell of a death burn.

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    The hills looked of charcoal. Trees in groves stripped of life. Wildlife decimated. This was horror witnessed in the round. I pulled into the town square of Detroit Oregon off the highway. It was burned to the ground.


    [​IMG]
    #19
  20. Mr Head

    Mr Head Adventure Hippie Supporter

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    That snow story had me clinching. Yikes! :yikes
    #20
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