Relocation - Alaska to Colorado to Washington - 2020

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by KeetAK, Apr 2, 2021.

  1. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    This next bit will be in two parts just due to the number of photos.

    The next morning I was looking forward to the recommended routes I'd been given by Gary. I'd plugged in the route to the GPS, but also had the map folded and in the panel of my tank bag. I set out for Orick, CA, along the coast road.

    I'd been on worse roads in worse conditions.

    Seriously nice day.

    From Orick, I turned inland as Weitchpec as my next destination. I did stop in Orick for fuel, and it turned out there was just one gas station in a town of 350.

    The road to Weitchpec was nice, especially since it climbed in elevation and cooled down just a bit.

    The road rose above the treeline and opened up to great views of the valleys.

    Not sure if the dirt sections were permanent or just under construction, but they're pretty mellow.

    My next marked destination was Etna, CA, and my GPS said it was only about 115 miles from Orick, so I wasn't worried about fuel. I rolled through the small town of Weitchpec and turned north toward the next landmark/turn, Somes Bar. From there I turned back east/southeast toward Forks of Salmon and the route that would take me to Etna, Sawyer Bar Rd.

    I owed Gary a beer for pointing out this route. It was just so good.

    Sawyer bar road is mostly a single lane asphalt road. There are areas where it widens to a very narrow two lanes, but most of it would be generous to call it a lane and a half. There was a mountain on one side, a sheer drop on the other, and no guardrail. There were sections where the road crumbled away that were marked with caution tape, and a couple of stop signs had to be added since the road was reduced to a legit single lane.

    Easily the best motorcycle road I'd been on (so far).

    Narrow. They were cool and pulled over to let me by, though. I saw a total of 6 vehicles on the entire road.

    You can just see the river down in the valley off to the left. The entire ride was spent slowing way down for blind corners, and pushing the bike as much as I dared in the fantastically windy roads. I'm 1/2 tempted to take my daughter on this road when I come back with her in May, just so I can ride it again.

    One of the places the road crumbled away. That plastic tape tied to a rock makes an impressive guard rail.
    doom, Oldmanx and dano619 like this.
  2. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    Once you get near Etna Mountain, there are a couple more really fun windy spots, but then the roads mellow out a bit. I hadn't seen any other cars, so I stretched the bike's legs a bit.

    The terrain changed quite dramatically as I got closer to Etna.

    Gary had recommended a burger joint in Etna, saying it was some of the best burgers in the state, but it was unfortunately closed due to covid. So I resigned myself to deli purchased at the grocery next to said burger joint.

    After lunch, I headed north to Fort Jones before turning left onto Scott River Rd, another recommendation of Gary's.

    Not quite as narrow as Sawyer Bar, but the views were just as great. Lots of volcanic rock up in this area, as I recall. Another good road if you're passing through or will be in the area.

    The original plan was to ride to Cave Junction, OR, but I also knew I wanted to go to Crater Lake. I'd stopped for a hydration break and was looking at the map to see I'd be going quite a ways west before coming back east. So I thought I'd let the Garmin take a crack at it and punched in "Medford" and selected the adventure route. It guided me to a tiny town called Seiad Valley, then had me turn right across a small bridge.

    Considering my history with the adventure route, I know what I should have expected, but it wasn't this, for some reason.

    I had no idea the last time any forest service had been down the road, but it was quite a while before I'd been through. Aside from this tree I rode around/over (the hill fell away just to the left of that brown scrub), there were rocks and logs on the road.

    A fire had burned through the valley, though it had been a couple years considering how much growth there was.

    The views at the top were absolutely incredible. I think I had just crossed over into Oregon here, or a little ways before this?

    The ride down the other side was on a wider road that had clearly been serviced more often. My only guess was it was California's problem on the "up" side and Oregon's on the "down" side. Regardless, I was soon back on asphalt and once again leaning on the throttle.

    Within 5 miles of regular road, I ran across yet another 790 Adventure R. The owner was a really nice guy that I stopped and talked to for a bit. When he learned I was headed to Medford, he offered to guide me in.

    I followed him as best I could. When he took 35mph corners at 65, I did too. I mean, we were riding the same bike, right? Only it wasn't until I got into Medford that I remembered, A) He'd told me he used to ride crotch rockets, and B) I had an extra 30-40 lbs on my bike. I blame the long day, but I really should have known better.

    I decided to just get a hotel in Medford and, for the first time, left some of my gear on the bike. In my idiot brain, I'd figured it was off a major road and I was parked in a place with heavy foot traffic and good light. The next morning I woke to find my hammock stand gone, my camp table gone, a dry bag full of camp food, and a mid-layer jacket, and worst of all, my cooling vest. Having my shit stolen was bad enough, but knowing I was heading back into central Oregon without the cooling vest kind of stung.

    More living and learning.
    doom, MGV8 and Oldmanx like this.
  3. dano619

    dano619 Long timer Supporter

    Sep 4, 2011
    sunny san diego
    FN thieves! Karma will get em!!
    Oldmanx likes this.
  4. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    I wasn't too worried about the lost gear since I'd be staying with friends and family for the remainder of the ride. Don't get me wrong, it sucks, but not much I could do about it, aside from not being lazy the next time.

    On to Crater Lake!

    The ride there was pretty normal, all things considered. Normal road, normal Oregon. Pretty, but not remarkable.

    Aside from the $25 entry fee, Crater Lake is a pretty unique place to visit. It was apparently a volcano called Mount Mazema erupted and collapsed around 5700 BC.

    The view of the land around the crater were so vast. Really kind of cool.

    A better view of Wizard Island from an upper parking area. The lake itself has an average depth of 1,150 feet with the deepest part being around 1,950 feet, making it the deepest lake in the US. It is only fed by rain as there are no waterways in or out.

    On the ride from Crater Lake to Redmond, I got bored with the highway and decided to try some of the forest service roads.

    Only problem was, the forest service roads in central Oregon are almost all sand, and some of that sand is quite deep. Fully loaded 790s don't like deep sand. I managed to keep it upright after a few close calls. I also had to ride over a couple berms where the roads had been closed off. Needless to say, it was a really bad idea and I was relieved to get back onto the highway.

    Even if those roads are boring, and hot.

    I split time between family and an old friend that now owns a farm out in Sisters. There's just nothing recuperative like time with good friends and family.

    All too quickly, it was off to Oregon City to see another family member. A cousin that I hadn't seen since the early 80s. Seriously. He previously lived in Sacramento, and for whatever reason, we just never went to visit. But he moved to the area some years prior, so I figured it was time to meet him again, and his family. It turned out to be a really good visit. He's the same guy I remember, just as funny and personable as he was almost 40 years ago. His daughter decided we were friends and spent the evening showing me her dolls and painting my thumbnails.

    Hwy 22, I think? Fun back road if you want to avoid the freeways.

    Almost to Oregon City.

    After dinner with them, I rode to see his parents in Hillsboro, my aunt and uncle. The next stop was to go see yet another old friend from my hometown of Valdez. She'd left the state years ago and ended up in a home in Tillamook Forest somewhere outside Beaver, OR.

    Really great mountain road. Most of it is shielded by trees and is just a really pleasant ride.

    If you need to get to Pacific City from Portland, NW Nestucca Access Rd to NF-85 is a good one.
    doom, MGV8, Cal and 1 other person like this.
  5. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    I gotta remember to include the maps instead of throwing them all in one post.

    From Avenue of the Giants, through Mattole Loop, and up to Weitchpec.

    This route is a really, really good one, at least between Etna and Orick.

    The backcountry route I took between CA and OR.

    Overall a pretty average section, aside from Crater Lake and the short detour onto the sandy road.

    Roughly the route for the last leg of the trip. Redmond to Oregon City to Beaver to Washougal (another friend) and finally back to Bellingham.
    doom likes this.
  6. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    Ok, back to the more interesting stuff.

    While visiting my friend in the Tillamook Forest, we decided to make a run to Pacific City to hit the Pelican Brewery for a couple brews and some dinner. Between the smoke from a massive forest fire, and the wind, the views were really good.

    The beach behind Pelican Brewery.

    The wind steadily crept higher and higher and we were treated to a tree being blown down on the power line, cutting the power to my friends house and her neighbors. Made for a good excuse to spend time on the deck looking at the stars, listening to the brook and enjoying a drink. Overall a great night. The next morning, she warned me the road might be impassable, and was welcome to crash for another night if I needed. I figured my odds were good since I would be on two wheels instead of four.

    The first, and most common, obstacle was all the leaves. I just kept picturing the tires washing out. Due to the amount of debris, I left it in 2nd or 3rd and just wound my way through various leaves, branches...

    And logs. I hopped off and moved this one off the road. Seemed like the right thing to do.

    The entire pass was full of crap.

    Some logs were far too large to move out of the way.

    I'm not sure when this one happened, but the occupants were long gone when I passed by.

    Back into traffic just outside of Portland proper. Headed to Washougal where another school friend was living. One of the best things about this trip was reconnecting with old friends.

    Just before Seattle, I cracked 10k miles!

    Under the expressway through downtown Seattle.

    The rest of the trip was pretty pedestrian. Just a regular flow of traffic down a long, boring freeway.

    40 total days from Anchorage to Bellingham and 7,400 total miles (11,909 km).

    Like anyone else that goes on longer rides like this. I overpacked by quite a bit. I chalked some of that up to the fact that I knew I'd be spending time in Bellingham, so there were some things I wouldn't normally bring if I had a home base. But, since I was relocating, I hedged on bringing more gear. I don't care what anyone says, weekend rides just don't prepare you for a trip like this.

    On the way down, I left some things in Bellingham (the first time through), some things at my niece's place in Redmond, and when I got to Durango, I gathered a box full of shit and mailed it back to Bellingham. Even still I could have gone with less, but didn't know what to expect for being on my own. My next trip to Durango, here in a few weeks, will be without the top box (at least that's the current plan). I'm going to entirely camp (when I'm not staying with friends or family), and do a much better job with backing up photos and tracking my route with the onboard GPS.

    The bike performed perfectly. I left it in road mode for most of the ride. I was loaded enough that I didn't see the need for rally mode (I rarely take it out of rally these days), and I almost never used rain or dirt (roads were dry, why bother?) mode. Somewhere along the way I'd purchased a small soft-sided cooler that I strapped to the top of one of the panniers. It just fit 2 large gatorade bottles, with ice, and was easily the thing I was most thankful to have for those hot days (even more than the cooling vest).

    I won't buy another set of Karoo 3, and the Shinko 804/805 only ended up lasting 3,500 miles, so I won't get those again, either. I'm running the Motoz Tractionator GPS and expect they'll easily last my next long trip. They've worn extremely well so far.

    I didn't want to stop riding, which I also suspect is a pretty common feeling. The very next day I shed the luggage, strapped down 1 small bag and went on a weekend ride around Port Angeles with my step dad.
    doom, msahern5, MGV8 and 6 others like this.
  7. docwyte

    docwyte Long timer

    Dec 23, 2012
    Denver, CO
    That sucks that someone stole your stuff!
  8. wetwider

    wetwider Been here awhile

    Nov 13, 2016
    Thanks for a good vicarious ride, KeetAK.

    Um.... Before you head back to Redmond from Bellingham, check in here for a few two-lane choices that avoid the hell-on-a-slab of going through Seattle & Portland.

    And, if you or anyone here has to cross Nevada on Hwy. 50 (by no means the loneliest road in America), break up the monotony by hanging a left (when west-bound) onto NV 722 just west of Austin (down the hill barely past the Highway Department's sand depot on your right) and enjoy! The first few mile aren't so special but 722 changes. It provides more altitude, curves, mountain, a little river, vistas, ranches, then spits you out back on Hwy 50 well to the west maybe 45 minutes after you'd have gotten there if you'd stayed on 50 - maybe much later if you find the hot springs. Back on 50, you might be thirsty in which case hang a left pretty soon on NV 361 and enjoy a cold one & bonhomie in an old Nevada road house, COVID allowing, there on yer right, . Maybe take a rustic cabin out back if you stay too long or the sun's setting.

    Something I was told that seems to work but might be dangerous: If you're unfortunate enough to be crossing the dry desert on a hot summer day, keep a small pair of needle nose pliers handy. When the whites of your eyes look like a Texas road map, itchy & red, and your nose lining's so dry and tender it hurts to breath, grab the little pliers and pluck a nose hair. You'll sneeze, your eyes'll water, your nose will moisten, you can breath without pain and be fine a while. The dangerous part I'm told is you can get an infection pulling them hairs but I never have in more'n a couple pliers-aided crossings.

    If it's a long crossing or your steed is slow, you can run out of nose hairs, in which case you might think to try an ear hair, but they don't work the same.

    'Looking forward to more of your travels, KeetAK. Good stuff!
    stewjames39, msahern5 and KYMike like this.
  9. staudio

    staudio Time to take a ride.....

    Dec 16, 2008
    20 Minutes north of the Golden Gate Bridge, CA
    Nice ride report and pics.
  10. KeetAK

    KeetAK Use a bigger hammer

    Jan 24, 2011
    Anchorage, AK
    This is all great advice, thanks!

    I know I left a lot of good roads un-ridden. The ride down, I was with my daughter, so my focus wasn't on motorcycle roads. Once I was on my own, I was entirely in the "get there" mode and had to get to CA before I could take a step back and think about what I wanted to ride instead of just where I was going.

    Portland/Seattle was really just me wanting to get "home". I'd been on the road for awhile and had a ferry to catch the next morning, so I didn't want to be on the road until midnight. I have a Washington BDR map and have ideas of better roads I'd prefer to take. I'll probably hit a few on my way south here in a few weeks.

    I'm skipping Nevada, for the most part, on my way back this time, but I'll again be with my daughter, so I'll have to find that balance of good roads and places where she can easily get to in her car.
  11. Pete Pilot

    Pete Pilot Been here awhile

    Jul 17, 2015
    Prince Edward Island. Canada
    Well done rider, both the ride and the report. Much enjoyed!!!