Thursday, September 30, 2010

Day 13 - Redmond to Portland

Today is the first day of BMW MOA (Motorcycles Owners of America) event, there were literally thousands of members camping at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center.  We had setup camp the previous night in a quite area of the campsite, I got up early and made a quick breakfast of oatmeal and coffee.  My Connie needed a new rear tire and the front tire didn't have much life on it either, I quickly headed to a dealer selling tires at the event.  I got a new Bridgestone installed in the rear but unfortunately he didn't have the size for the front. I ordered a tire and was promised the tire would arrive on Saturday, we were scheduled to depart Redmond on Sunday. As soon as the bike was ready I departed Redmond and headed towards the town of Sisters along route 126 also known as the McKenzie Highway.  20 miles later I was in Sisters, a small town of less than 2000 folks.  Sisters is a quaint little town with a very western look to it, I was expecting cowboys to ride in at any moment.  I stopped for a cup of coffee and then strolled around admiring the buildings along Cascade Avenue.

I depart Sisters and head north west on route 20, Santiam Highway, the road flowing along the Deschutes National Forest and offering a beautiful view of Mt. Jefferson with its sides still covered in snow.  I pass lots of lava flow along the side of the road and stop various times to walk through the lava rocks.  The lava is thousands of years old and in between the rocks you see all kinds of trees and indigenous flora growing, it's an amazing sight.

I pass Suttle Lake and Lost Lake and in Santiam Junction I take route 22 north crossing Willamette National Forest.  The road is carved through the forest which stretches for over 100 miles (160 km) along the western slopes of the Cascade Range.  I reach the town of Detroit and proceed north on route 224 towards Mt. Hood National Forest, the road now following sinuously a creek that feeds the Detroit Lake.  I make various stops for pictures and to relax in the cool forest as the temperature had been rising towards the mid 90's.

As I approach Portland I set my GPS pointing towards the Portland Aerial Tram near the South Waterfront Terminal and adjacent to the OHSU (Oregon Health & Science University).  I park the bike near the Tram Terminal and after purchasing my round trip fare of $4, I take the tram to the upper terminal at the Kohler Pavilion on OHSU's main campus, it's a 3 minute ride at 22mph rising 500 feet over Interstate 5, a major north/south Interstate.

The upper terminal offers a beautiful panorama of downtown Portland and a stunning view of Mount Hood and Mount St. Helens.  Mt. Hood located in Oregon and Mt. St. Helens, the one without the peak in Washington State.  I get back on the Tram and descend back to the terminal.  I have a Panini and a drink in the OHSU cafeteria and then leave heading downtown to the very famous Voodoo Donuts shop.  It's a quick jaunt down the busy streets and I quickly arrive at the store.

After seeing a program on the Discovery channel on TV about Voodoo Donuts, I had promised my daughter I would stop there for donuts and coffee and I would have one of the famous Voodoo Dolls Donuts.  I got my Voodoo Doll and slowly punished the doll by eating it slowly while sending pictures to my daughter by cell phone as I slowly ate the doll.  We both laughed as the doll looses her arms and started bleeding.

I leave the donut shop, ride a few blocks and park the bike near Lan Su Chinese Garden in the Portland Chinatown area. I stroll around the area passing the Darcelle XV, a female impersonators comedy show.

It was getting late and I still had a long way to go, my plan being to cross into Washington State, ride up Interstate 5 and look for a motel close to route 504, the road that leads to Mount St. Helens observatory.  I leave the downtown area and immediately run into rush hour traffic.  Half an hour later I have barely moved across the Willamette River, a few miles later I cross the Columbia River into Vancouver and I'm sweating with the temperature in the mid 90's, I immediately look for a place to have dinner and let the commuter rush subside.  I have barely traveled 10 miles, time to relax with a cold one.  As I cross the Columbia River I spot Joe's Crab Shack on the river bank on the Vancouver side of the river, I love crabs, and with the traffic still backed up for miles on I5, I take the next exit and head there.  I sat outside and had a scrumptious crab salad with a cold one.

I leave the restaurant around 6, ride north about 50 miles on I5 and find a motel with a laundromat near Castle Rock. The perfect place to spend the night, I had lots of laundry to wash.  It's hard to believe but I have traveled over 4000 miles on my trip all the way across the country and tomorrow I will visit Mount St. Helens.  I rode 240 miles from Redmond through beautiful towns, forests and rivers and I'm ever closer to the point where I will turn around and start heading east.  Mount St. Helens will be the most northern place I will visit on my trip.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Day 12 - Crater Lake National Park to Redmond

Trying to describe the beauty of Crater Lake National Park through words will not be an easy task and will not do it justice.   Words like blue, cobalt, turquoise, sapphire, indigo, aqua, azure, cerulean, cyan come to mind to describe the colors and the beauty of the water down in the crater but it's better expressed through photography.  The view from the top of the crater is simply breathtaking.

We woke up early, the sun streaming in through our tents, to the early morning chatter of the campsite.  The early morning was chilly, I quickly made a cup of hot oatmeal and followed it with a cup of coffee to start the day.  We took down our tents, packed the bikes and left the camp heading uphill back to the edge of the crater this time following the Rim Drive east around the crater.  The road, closed during winter, twists and turns along the edge of the crater offering plenty places to stop and enjoy the scenery.  Our first stop was above Danger Bay were we get a beautiful view of the crater.

Crater Lake National Park encompasses the Crater Lake caldera, which rests in the remains of a destroyed volcano.  The lake is 1,949 feet (594 m) deep at its deepest point, which makes it the deepest lake in the United States, the second deepest in North America and the ninth deepest in the world.  The caldera rim ranges in elevation from 7,000 to 8,000 feet (2,100 to 2,400 m) and the lake surface itself is 6,178 feet (1,883 m).  The lake's water commonly has a striking blue hue, and the lake is re-filled entirely from direct precipitation in the form of snow and rain.  I stood on the edge of the crater looking down in disbelief, I had never seen such deep blue.  In front of us stood Wizard Island, I could see its edges disappearing below the clear water.

We continued around stopping various times to admire the beauty of the lake but the previous night's mosquitoes were still following us.  My brother and I kept our helmets on most of the time for protection but the mosquitoes were not giving up, getting under our helmets trying to get at our faces, it was a constant battle trying to fend off the little devils.

We made our way around the lake eventually leaving through the Crater Lake Highway North entrance until we meet Route 138, making a right and following the next 15 miles on a road straight as an arrow until we meet Route 97, also known as The Dalles-California Highway.  At the junction right in front of us is the Diamond Lake Junction Cafe and Fuel Station, the sign by the road simply said "EAT", we quickly pull in.  I ask the young girl behind the counter for something sweet and she says they have a Cream Pie that is really good, how could I refuse, I get my slice and follow it with a cup of coffee.

Taken from Google Maps
We leave and continue north on Route 97 until we meet Route 58 West, also known as Willamette Highway, which goes towards Eugene.  We follow it for a few miles and then make a right turn onto the Cascade Lakes Scenic Byway.  The highway runs for 66 miles (106 km) in the rugged Deschutes National Forest on the east side of the Cascade Range. The route is so named because it weaves past a number of small natural lakes along the Cascades.  It's a beautiful road through the forest passing Devil's Pass, an area filled with lava rocks and lakes with amazingly clear water.  I was amazed to see the hills made of lava with the rocks right up to the edge of the road.

As we approach Bend I capture one of the most beautiful scenes so far on my trip, a beautiful green field with Mount Bachelor in the background.

We get to Bend and jump back on Route 97 following it north until Redmond.  We arrive at the Deschutes County Fair and Expo Center for the BMW MOA (Motorcycles Owners of America) event mid afternoon.  After registering we enter the expo center and quickly setup camp. There are already hundreds of other BMW riders at the camp.

We will camp for 4 nights while my brother attends the event.  I don't own a BMW, there's not much for me to see.   I will continue north through Portland and into Washington State tomorrow.  We covered 180 miles from Crater Lake National Park to Redmond through beautiful roads and fantastic scenery.