Friday, May 22, 2015
Exploring Oregon, Pt. 1
The list of places I want to explore is undoubtedly a long one, but I decided to dedicate my recent big trip to my home state of Oregon. There's so much country here and I've hardly scratched the surface. I wanted to ride the blue highways here because the idea of "yonder" isn't always so distant a place.
First things first was to call up my dad and get him to go on the ride with me (this took roughly zero arm-twisting). I've ridden with a number of folks over the years, but there are few I can stand on longer trips as much as my dad. Call it genetics, but our pace when traveling is nearly identical, as is our interests in what we'd like to look at. We did the math and it had been over 7 years since our last major ride together. We were long overdue.
We enjoyed lunch at The Prodigal Son Brewery and then headed south out of Pendleton on Highway 395. Veering East on Keeny Forks Road we ventured into the Umatilla National Forest and found ourselves a quiet spot to camp for the night. Save for a nearby den of Coyote pups, and a few distant cows it was awesome to break away from the noise of city life. It was only the first night and already I found myself returning to center.
a damn fine cup of coffee. Hey, why not?
Painted Hills, one of Oregon's many amazing geographical anomalies.
Somewhere around the town of Mitchell I was getting some wicked hunger pains so we found our way to the Sidewalk Cafe & More. For those familiar with the Cafe Calendar rating system in Blue Highways I counted at least 4, plus a chalkboard logging the number of milkshakes they'd served to date: One thousand ninety. Additionally there was a ton of Cycle Oregon memorabilia lining the walls which is a definite sign of a good spot in my mind: two wheels good.
Deschutes Brewery Public House. Clearly we made the most of an otherwise terrible situation. Don't get me wrong, Bend isn't bad, but it it sure ain't no camping trip.
Leaving Bend as quickly as possible the following morning we rode Southeast along China Hat Road. My judgements about the potential racist connotations of the name aside the road leads into some impressive parts of the state as it cuts a dusty line through one of Oregon's most active Volcanic regions. On a map it looks like a whole lot of nothing, but the reality is clearly to the contrary. Needless to say the KLR was right at home on the crushed gravel roads. I had just installed a fresh set of Metzler Enduro 3 Sahara tires before this trip and was enjoying every inch of them out here.
We found refuge along the Western shore of Upper Klamath Lake. Most folks seem to want only to high tail it from Klamath Falls to Medford and skip over the little gems in between. We found ourselves in an empty campground away from the noise of the highway. Plenty of peace and quiet to camp: perfection.
Aerobie Aeropress and a Snowpeak collapsible pourover on this trip and I think it was this morning I realized how much I prefer the cup the pourover makes comparatively. For the record it's not a need for caffeine but a love of the routine. I just like the process. The way freshly ground beans smell, the taste, the warm cup in your hands. It's grounding somehow. You can call me bourgeoisie all you want but yes, that is a fancy-ass hand mill for grinding my Stumptown Coffee beans. I'll decide what I want to make room for in my ammo cans thank you very much.
From Jacksonville we found ourselves on an epic ribbon of asphalt that cuts past the tiny town of Williams before climbing into the mountains. It remains unbelievably paved all the way into Cave Junction Oregon, and offered up some of the top views of our trip. It was a remarkable win on our ride, and apparently Oregon's way of saying "Thanks for visiting. Hurry back soon!" just before we dropped down into California.