Momma Mac's Last Ride

Discussion in 'Ride Reports - Epic Rides' started by RMac, Oct 15, 2008.

  1. RMac

    RMac Cheese!

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,838
    Location:
    Stumptown
    September 9, 2008

    She never liked motorcycles, vowed she’d never allow me to ride one. Her cousin had been killed back in the 30’s flat track racing and she had never forgiven the machines. Still after persistent whining I finally wore her and Dad down. One night he just said, “aw hell, it’s his life, his money, let him buy the damned motorcycle”. So she found herself one day following me back home after taking me to pick up my first bike, a used and soon to be abused Honda Trail 90.

    Years later she confessed to me, that watching me fly down that road she could see the freedom the machine represented, she could see the joy that I felt. And she somehow got it.

    Over the years I’d joke with her about taking her for a ride on whatever bike I had at the time, or even letting her ride it herself. This went on into her later years, these past few when she lived next door to my family here in Portland.

    She’d lived in my childhood home for 25 years by herself after my father died in ’78. Never letting the loneliness or the fears get to her, she held onto her fierce independence as long as she could.

    One evening over the phone she mentioned to my wife she was considering moving into an assisted living apartment. I made some calls, the planets aligned, circumstances made it possible and soon she had condensed her life’s possessions into a Mayflower truck and moved 2500 miles away to live next door to her youngest son, his wife and her two granddaughters. She had given up her home in Arkansas and all of her independence, finally recognizing she needed some help.

    Now, almost four years later I’m taking her home, on the bike. She wouldn’t say no this time.

    So on a warm mid September morning I walked my youngest daughter to her 2nd grade class, gave her a hard lingering hug and tearily kissed her bye. She’s used to me sometimes going out of town for work, but never for this long. I’ll be gone at least three weeks, I think, for this trip. I’ll miss her and her big sister and her Mother terribly.

    Normally on the advent of a motorcycle trip I’m giddy and buzzing with excitement. This time was different. I found myself nearly overcome with a sense of foreboding and ennui as this ride represented the end of something beautiful, rather than the beginning.

    I left town by way of I-84 headed east. Let me say here I hate freeways when traveling by motorcycle. I rarely use them, preferring smaller two lane routes. It’s hard to have fun when you’re battling trucks and cages for space. Food along freeway’s suck, just the same old corporate franchised frankenfood product.

    But this morning I opted to make some miles fast and I’d ridden all the good routes east plenty of times. There was a very long way to go so it made sense at the time.

    I-84
    [​IMG]



    A hundred miles in and I changed my mind. A type A asshole in a Subaru w/ one of those 5thousand dollar bicycles on the roof tried to cut me off and gave me the finger for no reason I can figure other than he was in a Subaru, his life sucked and I’m on a motorcycle. So I diverted to a more scenic two lane that parallels the freeway, then cross the Columbia at The Dalles and take two lane WA14. I make a mental note to never ride a motorcycle on a freeway again if I can find an alternative.

    A more scenic alternative route, The Historic Columbia Highway near Rowena
    [​IMG]

    WA-14 follows the Columbia and though I’ve ridden it lots and it’s littered with cops trying to bust me for speeding I still enjoy the expansive views of the great river. Eventually it ends and I crossed back over to take US730 – US12 through Walla Walla to Lewiston and the famous Lolo Pass route over to Missoula. I picked a perfect day for it, light traffic, warm air, no wind, incredible scenery. I passed a geezer riding one of those ridiculous Bombadier three wheelers going 35 through a 45mph turn. Sorry I just don’t get it, but he had a huge grin as I go by.

    US 730 along the Columbia
    [​IMG]

    I was in the flow and the flow was good. I took no photos, just was not in the mood. Hell everyone has seen the sign warning 77 miles of winding road. And though the sunlight was waning I passed offerings of riverside cabins and cold beer to keep riding, risking breaking my rule to not ride after dark. I crossed the pass at sunset and paused at the entrance to Lolo Hot Springs but decided the rooms would be overpriced and continued cautiously in near darkness, nervous of encounters with deer, moose or other animal hazards. About 15 or so miles from town I came upon a group of sportbikers helping one of their own who had crashed. “just lost his front end, thank goodness he was wearing gear”. No shit. Nothing I could offer in the way of help. Soon I was some 570 odd miles from home cruising through Missoula looking for a motel and food. Tomorrow would be a big day.
    #1
  2. GB

    GB . Administrator

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2002
    Oddometer:
    66,690
    Excellent intro!!! Looking forward to seeing Momma's ride :thumb
    :lurk
    #2
  3. RMac

    RMac Cheese!

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,838
    Location:
    Stumptown
    Disclaimer.

    If a tree falls in the forest and no one writes about it on the internet does it make a sound?
    Seems the days of just going for a ride are gone and we’re now in an age where every minute detail of one’s life must be blogged about. I debated whether to write about this trip. There is a concept called oversharing. This report may at times get dangerously close. Sorry for that.

    The story won’t involve riding on untracked terrain in exotic locations. Only 30 or 40 miles off pavement out of 7350. Rarely out of cell phone range. Hardly an adventure (an overused word on this website). But it does involve a motorcycle, explorations, some nice roads and interesting characters. Guess I’ll overshare away.

    It’s going to start slow. I didn’t make many photos in the beginning. It’ll get better. I hope.
    #3
  4. Loud Al

    Loud Al .

    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2005
    Oddometer:
    4,017
    Location:
    Forest Grove, OR
    Go ahead and write what is in your heart, not all adventures are physical adventures. I for one am interested in what you have to say.
    #4
  5. Uglyprimate

    Uglyprimate UglyPirate

    Joined:
    Jul 18, 2006
    Oddometer:
    6,950
    Location:
    Fort Whine Indiana


    Not all authors write for anyone's benefit but their own. Most great works are only great after the author is long gone.

    You write for yourself first. It's your outlet for your emotions.

    Tell this story to the same person(s) who went on that bike trip. Write about them, to them. From your words, we get to know them as well and for a brief reflection in time, we get to travel with you.
    #5
  6. no

    no kidding

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    112,974
    Location:
    plains
    :lurk
    #6
  7. olebiker

    olebiker Old buzzard bait

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2008
    Oddometer:
    4,840
    Location:
    Kingston ON Canada
    Yeah if you don't mind I think I'd like to ride along on this one.

    Carl
    #7
  8. Mats

    Mats Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Oddometer:
    285
    Location:
    Sweden
    Me too, please.
    "explorations"- I liked that..

    Cheers
    Mats
    #8
  9. The Full Monty

    The Full Monty Adventurer

    Joined:
    Jun 25, 2008
    Oddometer:
    97
    Location:
    Clear Lake Shores, TX
    Not sure where we are headed, but I am with you on this journey.

    mb
    #9
  10. 3Putt

    3Putt Is that a gimme?

    Joined:
    Sep 21, 2007
    Oddometer:
    759
    Location:
    Illinois
    I'm hooked :lurk
    #10
  11. barnyard

    barnyard Verbal tactician Super Moderator

    Joined:
    Sep 23, 2007
    Oddometer:
    14,551
    Location:
    central Mn
    I have a real good idea where you are headed.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Tom B
    #11
  12. little foot

    little foot Super Mediator

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2008
    Oddometer:
    13,633
    Location:
    The Springs, Oklahoma
    You can't see me but I'm following real close. ENJOY !!!! the ride.
    #12
  13. beerjonny

    beerjonny Planning mode...

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2005
    Oddometer:
    234
    Location:
    Willow Grove, NB Canada
    In. :lurk
    #13
  14. papaduc

    papaduc Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2002
    Oddometer:
    396
    Location:
    Beaverton Oregon
    If you promise to stay off the freeways when possible, I will follow you on your journey to take your Mom home.



    OK I'll follow even if you take the freeway.
    #14
  15. achesley

    achesley Old Motorcyclist

    Joined:
    Mar 16, 2003
    Oddometer:
    3,562
    Location:
    Jennings, Louisiana
    Do your thing. We'll follow in spirit. Heck, I travel quite a bit and never do ride reports worth putting in print. Just notes in my book and a few pics for memories. Some times these reports are all pictures and no script, no plot.

    Hang tuff
    #15
  16. RMac

    RMac Cheese!

    Joined:
    Aug 23, 2004
    Oddometer:
    1,838
    Location:
    Stumptown
    September 10, 2008

    Raining. Damn. After yesterday’s near perfect weather I hadn’t counted on rain. Gonna make that ride over Skalkaho Pass interesting. Crappy motel coffee, cereal, pack and hit it. I stop in Hamilton Montana to get out of the rain and visit with inmate Thumpercrazee.

    Thumpercrazee works at Al’s Cycle in Hamilton and it was his suggestion that I take the Skalkaho Highway. I want to know if this is still a good idea considering it’s a dirt road for twenty or thirty some odd miles as it crests the Sapphire Range at 7250 feet. He convinces me it’s good in spite of the fact I’m riding on road tires and bagged out with gear on a 475 lb beast. Says it’s easy, a goldwing could do it. It’ll be great.

    The Skalkaho Highway out of Hamilton immediately narrows and climbs sharply. The rain falls harder. My visor fogs so I crack it open in spite of temps in the 40’s. Damn it’s cold. Yesterday it was summer and my constitution isn’t ready for cold and wet just yet.

    Skalkaho Highway
    [​IMG]

    Pavement ends and the road is smooth hard packed dirt. But wet it’s much slicker than I like. And it’s perched along the edge of a steep grade. Consequences of screwing up are severe, so cautiously I make my way up and pause at the pass to admire the falls.

    Skalkaho Falls
    [​IMG]

    Skalkaho Pass
    [​IMG]

    Slicker than I'd like
    [​IMG]

    Saddling up I pull in the front brake to steady the bike, only the brake lever pulls all the way in to the bar. Hmmmm. Not supposed to do that. I pump it and it comes back to normal. Weird. Visual inspection reveals no gushing brake fluid or other obvious problems and since it seems to have repaired itself I take a leap of faith and decide to trust it. Besides I don't really want to try to field bleed my system here in the rain. Must have been a bubble or the altitude or the cold I tell myself, knowing that’s bullshit. Heading down I’m nervous about potential lack of brakes and traction but only nearly eat it a couple dozen times. Back on pavement. Thump was right, it was great. I had a huge grin in spite of being miserable cold. Some day I gotta get back here on a dry clear day so I can really enjoy it.

    Stop in Georgetown for some lunch and to thaw out. Damn it’s cold. Dropped my helmet and busted the chin vent. Damnit. Duct tape fixes that. I had planned a brief detour up to the ghost town Southern Cross to see if I could find the mayor, a squatter who I met up there some 10 years ago but I’m behind schedule and decide to press on. I also decide against the next dirt “shortcut” I had planned since I have no local knowledge of conditions and really don’t need to die in the mountains today.

    Cold and raining I pass through Anaconda, a weird and grim place. A 10 or so mile freeway detour is unavoidable. Coming in to Butte I slow to make an exit for gas and a passing cattle truck anoints me with a slimy green spray of partially digested vegetable matter on my visor and my self. Ah the glamour of cross country motorcycling.

    But the rain stops. And I’m back on two lanes dry and fast through the Montana countryside. Twin Bridges to Virginia City I see hardly anyone.

    Montana, somewhere between Virginia City and West Yellowstone
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    One last leg into West Yellowstone to procure the last available room in town.

    West Yellowstone
    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
    I had hoped to make it all the way through the park today but that’ll wait till morning. I indulge a steak dinner at Bullwinkles followed by whiskeys at the Stagecoach bar. Thumpercrazee was right, it’s all good. Thanks Thumpercrazee, great to meet you.
    #16
  17. Thumpercrazee

    Thumpercrazee Long timer

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2003
    Oddometer:
    1,438
    Location:
    Georgia, USA
    Hi there Rmac,

    It was indeed my pleasure to visit with you that rainy morning. I am sure glad that you enjoyed the route. Glad that your entire trip was good. I hope next time I can get out and ride along. Call if I can be of assistance.

    TC:D
    #17
  18. Drowsy Dave

    Drowsy Dave Square Peg, No Hole

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2006
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    1,284
    Location:
    Middle seat on the Astral Plane.
    I have an inkling where this is headed. If I'm correct then its a bittersweet time for you.

    I've thought about having my sons do something similar when its my time.
    #18
  19. D in the D

    D in the D discipulus adventum

    Joined:
    Apr 22, 2008
    Oddometer:
    53
    Location:
    Westland, MI, USA
    :lurk
    #19
  20. Resq47

    Resq47 Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2005
    Oddometer:
    88
    Location:
    MI
    I helped a large family take a group shot on a skyway overlook in the Smokies Monday. They had driven from MN to TN on what I'm assuming was a similar mission.

    Respectfully following
    #20