Trans America 2020 on a Yamaha WR250r

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RacingBlue, Jun 26, 2020.

  1. Natche60

    Natche60 Adventurer

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    And while on the subject of ruts, when you're on deeply rutted, muddy or snowy roads, you know which rut is best? It's always the other one!

    Keep it safe and enjoyable!

    Mike[/QUOTE]

    That's the truth!
  2. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

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    Austin, Texas
    I would kill for a national license, though I know that wouldn't really work because the state is the one that needs the revenue. I'll just get my fix in when I get back to RI.
  3. BornAgain

    BornAgain Been here awhile

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    Rosenberg, TX
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  4. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
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    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Day 28

    I had a later start this morning, I wasn't really on the road until after 10. I wasn't too worried though, as I knew that I would soon jump into Pacific Time and gain an hour.

    I left my hotel and rejoined the TAT in Eagle, where I also stopped for gas. Today was the day of the longest stretch of gas on the TAT. I originally thought this stretch came from Wendover, UT to Tremonton, UT, but I was mistaken. Payette, ID to John Day, OR has it beat by about 20 miles. I crunched some numbers last night using some past MPG calculations, and I figured I could make it, but I'd have to dip into the Rotopack. No worries on that though, literally half the reason I bought that thing was for this long stretch.

    I was a bit worried that the road out of Eagle would pretty much stay tarmac until Emmett, it seemed to be going on with no end, and I only had about 20 miles from downtown Eagle to Emmett.

    [​IMG]


    The route ended up being a pretty even mix, and while windy none of the dirt was particularly difficult, just a tad washboardy here and there. The TAT basically runs through 3 Horse Ranch Vineyard the entire time. The entire time, I did not see a single horse nor a vineyard, I was disappointed. The miles went by quickly, and soon I was on State Road 16 descending into Emmett.

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    At this overlook, there was a plaque with a story about the Pickett Corral Gang and how they used to run the valley. I'll let you read it for yourself. I thought that was a neat bit of local history, and it tickled my love for the old West. I had cowboys on the brain for the rest of the day.

    I didn't stop in Emmett, I was planning for gas and food in Payette right before I crossed into Oregon. I had forty miles from Emmett to Payette. As was the case before, and pretty much the case outside of the Sawtooths, the riding was very easy.

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    To be completely honest, I was a little disappointed at how easy Idaho was. Even in the Sawtooths, there wasn't anything that was a serious challenge like Engineer Pass. Not that I expected Engineer Pass, but still. I had pretty much crossed it in two days, only spending one fully day in the state. I guess it gives me some fuel to go do the Idaho BDR, as the state itself is just gorgeous.

    After passing through some feed lots, I arrived in Payette, a town I actually knew existed for quite some time. The reason? The video game NCAA 14. In my UT Austin franchise, I recruited the #1 QB prospect in the nation, George Wilson, to the team. He won the Heisman two years in a row for me, and he was from Payette. That's just a video game, but Idaho does have some football pedigree between Boise St and Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, who is from Riggins.

    I got lunch at the A&W in town. For any of you fast food chicken fans out there, A&W's chicken and sauce tastes a lot like Raisin' Canes. There is no connection between these two companies, as Canes is independent and A&W is a Yum! brand. This is also the only A&W I've been to, so maybe it isn't like this all over? I'll have to investigate this matter further.

    At the gas station, the lady next to me was having a fit about something and yelling incoherently. I managed to capture about half of it on my GoPro when I discretely turned it on while pumping. Listening to it again, I still don't know what she was talking about.

    I got back on the TAT and crossed the Snake River into the final state of the trip, Oregon. More specifically, I was starting the 182 mile stretch of no gas to John Day.

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    There was no sign marking the cross into another state, despite this being a hardball road. The entire classic TAT (Tennessee -> Oregon) I saw five state signs; Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Utah, and Nevada. Four of them were next to each other, and Arkansas was just by virtue of crossing the Mississippi. I guess it saved me from being a tourist and taking a picture with every state sign, though I do like the one I have with Utah.

    The first bit of Oregon runs through farmland in the Snake River floodplain.

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    Eventually the elevation started to change, and I was back in the hills.

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    After riding on I-84 for a few terrifying miles (this is the only portion of the TAT on interstate), I joined a dirt frontage road and made my way to into Huntington. It rained on me for about five minutes on this road, but eventually passed when I pulled over to get out my rain gear. It always seems to work that way...

    [​IMG]

    Going through the route on Google Maps, there is gas in Huntington. In future, there will be a nice fancy Chevron truck stop, but that wasn't finished. The gas I am talking about was apparently at a trading post in downtown. Google images shows me it is one pump.

    I left Huntington, rejoining dirt almost immediately, and heading into the barren hills of eastern Oregon.

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    This place was seriously remote. There was truly nothing out here, and for like fifty miles I did not see a single soul. The only real signs of civilization were fence posts and the very occasional farm house. Even then, some times I wouldn't see the house, just a lonely mailbox deep in the bush.

    The roads, however, were very nice, and I was able to keep a pretty constant rate of speed going, good for gas conservation. No rocks, no loose coverings, and only the occasional washboard made for this section a breeze. I joined Willow Creek Road, and made my way past the Malhuer Resevoir.

    [​IMG]
    (Malhuer Resevoir)

    Way off in the distance, past the cattle, is a truck and a little black spec. That spec is a person, a fisherman just relaxing by the bank. Towards the right of the frame was another fisherman on a boat. These were the only two human beings I saw between Huntington and the end of this road in Ironside. In the lower center of the frame, you can see an old bush peeking out through the bushes. It gave me some major Into the Wild vibes, and I decided that when I get home I should finally sit down and read the book. Having seen the movie before and listened to the soundtrack multiple times, I figured it was only right. Also, listening to the Into the Wild soundtrack should be required for this trip. I've done it, and it makes you feel so cool and adventurous, regardless on your thoughts abou Christopher McCandless.

    I rejoined pavement near Ironside, and headed north to my next turnoff.

    [​IMG]

    The TAT turns off at East Camp Creek Road, which eventually turns into National Forest Development Road 16. Once again, as I trace today's route through Google maps, I discovered that there was actually gas in Unity, Oregon, about ten miles north of the turnoff. Again, it seems like it is a one pump deal, but it is still gas. So while this section certainly is daunting, it isn't actually isn't 182 miles, or the 200 that Sam wrote down, of no gas. I'm not trying to call him out or anything, it is pretty hard to miss considering I had no service in either of these towns, and Unity was pretty far out of the way. In all of Sam's routes, I don't think he ever went more than 5 miles out of the way for a stop, except for maybe Liberal, Kansas.

    I turned onto the forest service road, expecting dirt all the way until John Day. So color me surprised when a few miles down the road it turned into very smooth pavement.

    [​IMG]

    The paving wasn't the best quality, there were a few stretches with sections of gravel down the middle, but it was so smooth, I felt like I was gliding along. The hills lost their barren quality, and soon I was in some very thick forest.

    [​IMG]

    The slab went on for nearly thirty miles. I was begging to think this had either been paved in the last year, or that Sam had just sort of given up on finding dirt. Regardless, I was quite enjoying myself. The forest was nice and cool and the riding was allowing me to make some awesome time. Every so often, the road would make its way out of the trees and into a lookout, where I could take in the view.

    [​IMG]

    Eventually, I rejoined dirt, hoping it would be some more easy riding. It was getting later in the day, around 4, and I was starting to get pretty tired.

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    It looked good to start, and then maybe half a mile down the road I ran into this.

    [​IMG]

    Coming around the corner, all I saw was the left side, and I had a heart attack. thankfully, the right side was levelled out by rocks, and I could get across. I should have taken this as a warning as what was to come.

    The road was covered in these ruts, but smaller versions that were really hard to see until you were right on top of them. It got rockier and rockier, and soon I was climbing back up. The road was taking all sorts of weird turns, and getting narrower and narrower. I was having a hard time believing I was on the TAT, especially when I came to this.

    [​IMG]

    @michaellmcc I think for the first time on this RR I can confidently say I was on single track. My handlebars kept hitting the brush, and the huge rocks in the middle made for some extremely slow riding. Eventually, I got out of this and rejoined a semblence of a road, and kept on pushing. The view opened up as well, rewarding me for my hard work.

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    The road became a lot easier as well.

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    Though it had a really steep dropoff.

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    Eventually, I descended out of the hills and back into a valley. I thought I was going to stick on slab for the rest of the day.

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    But once again, with about twenty miles to go, I hopped on dirt and started climbing.

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    You have no idea how badly I wanted to go into this and camp out. If you like overlanding, there is a a really good trip report for the Idaho BDR, and they go in a lot of these things. I'll link it at the bottom of the page. Alas, there was something there already, so I kept going, stopping one last time to enjoy the scenery before I went to John Day.

    [​IMG]

    The road coming in was twisty, but the dirt was firm and I didn't slide at all. Then, with twelve miles to go, this bad boy came on.

    [​IMG]

    I was pretty impressed that the WR250 had gone 178 miles on one tank, especially through the big hills I just traversed. No worries, I came prepared.

    [​IMG]

    After filling up, and only spilling a little bit on the ground, I made my way into John Day, then Clyde Holliday State Park, where I spent the night. For dinner, I went back into John Day and went to the 1188 Brewing Company. I got the buffalo wings and the bacon mac n cheese for food and those both hit the spot. For a beer, I got the All Hips and Tips, which was amazing. I'd highly recommend stopping in John Day just so you can hit this place. The waitress knew what the TAT was, and talked about the other riders who had come in earlier this year. I guess they get a lot of us.

    I went back to camp, wrote half of the RR again and fell asleep. I finished the rest this morning, and am planning on getting to Prineville today, then Crater Lake tomorrow, and then from Crater Lake I think I can push to Port Orford. I don't know though, can anyone comment on if that last leg is doable? It seems to be ~200 miles, but might be really slow going.

    Here is a link to the overlanding Idaho BDR report:

    https://adventuretaco.com/idaho-backcountry-discovery-route-jul-2019/
    bomose, TwilightZone, Cigar and 12 others like this.
  5. chudzikb

    chudzikb Long timer Supporter

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    You will like crater lake. It is one of the most awe inspiring places I have seen. Do some hiking if you have some time, well worth the effort. I think we did Mt. Scott, kind of cool looking down into snowbanks.
  6. ArdenLoneWolf

    ArdenLoneWolf Been here awhile

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    outside of crater lake heading to medford is beckies restuerant. grab a on tap deschutes beer and slice of homemade pie, they have all sorts depending on the season. I use to ride my drz400 there everyday after work at Rogue River hotshots when we were at our hoome station in prospect. some great campsites along the rogue river there too! Jump in!
    RacingBlue likes this.
  7. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jul 10, 2019
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    Austin, Texas
    Day 29

    So here are the last three days of the ride, or at least what I am hoping them to be.

    John Day -> Prineville

    Prineville -> Crater Lake

    Crater Lake -> Port Orford

    Let me tell you, it feels really weird to be planning my arrival to Port Orford. I really don't want to, as I'm afraid I'm goin to jinx something. Fingers crossed.

    I left Clyde Holliday State Park at around 10:30. Another late start, but again I wasn't too upset considering that I only had 155 miles slated for the day. I really wanted to go farther, but it was like 100 miles between Prineville and La Pine and there was nothing in between. I'm down for wild camping, but I've never done it before and I'd prefer my first time to be a bit closer to civilization in case something bad happened. I also didn't want to push myself and tire myself out. It looked like some slow riding, so who knows how long that bit would have taken me. I'd much rather be fresh, and after today I really glad I decided to hold off.

    I got gas in Mount Vernon, then drove south. The road started paved, then turn into some very fine gravel.

    [​IMG]

    I hoped it was all stuff like this, as it would be a good day. I reentered the forest, and soon found myself climbing again. Nothing too extreme, but it was pretty obvious I was going uphill. The only problem was that there wasn't really a veiwpoint so I could see the valley below me, I was just in some thick trees. Finally, they parted ever so slightly so I could get a quick picture.

    [​IMG]

    As windy as the first section was, I rode through it pretty quickly. The roads were just that well maintained. I was very impressed with Oregon's forest roads, for the most part. I made my way through, wishing that there were more vistas so I could shower you guys in scenery photos, but when I arrived back on pavement at CR 63, I found myself disappointed.

    After five miles on tarmac, I rejoined dirt and began to follow Forest Road 24 around Flagtail Mountain.

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    Here the roads began to deteriorate. There were more rocks as well as potholes scattered around. The worst section was about a mile of a thick layer of gravel over the road.

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    The worst part was, there was no parting. This must have just been recently laid down, and consequently I almost laid my bike down. Keyword, almost. After a few more miles snaking my way through the forest, I crossed the South Fork John Day River and made my way farther into the Ochoco National Forest.

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    And then entered a valley for a bit.

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    I was starting to get hungry, so when I got to another open area I stopped and polished of a bag of beef jerkey, calling it lunch.

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    I had LTE here too, so I browsed the internet for a bit, a rarity in the woods. After "lunch" I had around 100 miles until Prineville. A fifth of those seemed to be on Highway 26. I hopped back on the bike and continued to ride.

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    Lot of wildfire scars in this part of the country. Not that I'm surprised, it is just something interesting to note. This section of the TAT was pretty nice, as the forest did start to open up.

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    It did come at a price though, as the roads started to get a lot worse. They alternated between tarmac and dirt. The tarmac was nice, but the dirt was awful. Sections of it would be nice and smooth, and then there would be mile long stretches of potholes. They were deep too, and I had to carefully weave through them, yet still keep a comfortable rate of speed so I could actually get to my destination in a timely manner. Where there weren't potholes, there were long stretches of washboard, which got really old fast.

    [​IMG]

    The last bit of dirt before Highway 26 was the worst. It was basically a wide trail, with whoops, ruts, and potholes the size of a large dog scattered around.

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    I exited the forest with a bitter attitude and hopped on Highway 26, riding it into Prineville where I called it a day.

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    I was unfortunately not able to get a clear picture of the snowcapped peakes visible on the way into Prineville. Hopefully, I'll be able to get a nice shot of them tomorrow, as they were so cool.

    If it seems like something is off about me today, then you are very observant. I did not have a good time today. The entire time I was riding, I was uncomfortable. I felt claustrophobic on the bike, getting squished by my saddle bags and tank bags. My earplugs kept on coming out and I had to stop every half an hour to re put them in. I went over enough washboard today that I probably have to get my fillings redone. My head itched constantly, and perhaps the most uncomfortable detail came when my riding pants kept hiking up into my crotch. It all around sucked, and the scenery wasn't good enough to elevate my mood. I'm sure you have all had days like this too, and I'm sharing mine to keep in the spirit of honesty. We can't have only good days on the TAT, and even when things aren't breaking down, it can still be rough.

    Here's to hoping for a better tomorrow.
    TwilightZone, 1jonjon, Cigar and 11 others like this.
  8. ChongLi

    ChongLi Adventurer

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    @RacingBlue I listened to the Into the Wild soundtrack a lot while bicycle touring around the Icelandic highlands. Perfect soundtrack for desolate landscapes, especially when you don’t see anyone for a day or more.

    Your trip is almost over, but dispersed (wild) camping is where it is at. Very easy and legal in most national forest and BLM land in the west. Can’t remember the last time I paid to camp next to a bunch of strangers...
    Ginger Beard and RacingBlue like this.
  9. SOLOKLR

    SOLOKLR Back to work

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    Wikicamps. Works pretty well at finding good places
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  10. Retired 18Z

    Retired 18Z Adventurer

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    "Flat days" are out there. Looks like you picked the right day to visit Crater Lake (weather wise)! That should be a welcome reward for this flat day. Just beware of the tour-rons in their cages gawking while driving their steel boxes.
  11. flashbang

    flashbang Adventurer

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    To talk about uncomfortable days riding on my tat trip I pulled a groin muscle in Ark. Had to get pain pills ,but at least I was still riding. That's always the bright part of an uncomfortable day.
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  12. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    FYI: when the fuel light turns on, you could have 40+ miles left in the tank, depending on speed. We got 220mi out of the 3.1 gallon WR tank once. It is probably nice to dump that rotopax in and get the weight off the back of the bike.

    I enjoyed the report, I know how hard it is to write at the end of the day, thanks for the work.
  13. Aces 6

    Aces 6 Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

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    Way to persevere. Dehydration/fatigue are cumulative and can contribute to those "bad days". A nap never hurt! :snoreMake reaching the Big Blue that much more meaningful. Stay safe.
    RacingBlue, Retired 18Z and chudzikb like this.
  14. veriest1

    veriest1 Minimalist Gear Hoarder

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    Check out Tenkara poles (there are other brands too these days). They're so easy to use even a Texan like me can fly fish with one.
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  15. SwampyDeadHead

    SwampyDeadHead Adventurer Supporter

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    Keep truckin dude.
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  16. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

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    No cell coverage so no RR tonight. Camping at Crater Lake and I had to leave the park to ask this question.

    There is a closure coming into Port Orford on the TAT. It is the last road, NF development road 5325 that turns into Elk River Road. Apparently there is a closure on it according to the TAT Facebook group. I can’t find any info about it online and need to find away around it. No one will give me a straight answer to where it exactly is. Does anyone know where it is?
    Retired 18Z likes this.
  17. Yinzer Moto

    Yinzer Moto Long timer Supporter

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    That looks like a pretty long road, there appears to be many ways around it that will only add a few miles.
    RacingBlue likes this.
  18. overlander

    overlander Gravel Travel Tours Supporter

    Joined:
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    Wicheetaw, KS but longing for Texas
    65FF240B-A998-4945-AAD5-340DF9F91D65.jpeg 29790776-8E2B-4D96-85C9-F1AEE6EEF1B1.jpeg 9F75678F-A0C7-4084-B794-3994E2B63222.jpeg The closure may be this massive rockslide I encountered today that’s about 20-30 miles before the elk river road. It looks totally impassable and I’m NOT encouraging anyone attempt it but I managed to move and pile rocks into a rather sketchy but doable way through.
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  19. RacingBlue

    RacingBlue Been here awhile

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    Absolute legend.

    This isn’t the one I’m talking about though. It seems to be construction based on the FB post. Maybe its farther up the TAT, but the only thing the guy on Fb said was it was the “last road before port orford.”
  20. Retired 18Z

    Retired 18Z Adventurer

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    From the Fbook TAT page: [​IMG] I tagged you on this photo in Fbook.
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