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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Anniversary Dual Sport Ride

Last Thursday August 10th was our 21st wedding anniversary.  We both took the day off work to go for a motorcycle ride.  What better way to celebrate the day, than on two wheels with a picnic lunch.

The night before we were both looking at different maps trying to link together some gravel roads in the foothills west of Corvallis.  Troubadour and I left the house about 11 am and fueled the bikes in Philomath and headed west on Highway 20 then turned north on Kings Valley Highway.  We stopped at the Ritner Creek Covered Bridge for a quick break and to look at the maps again.

(DRZ 400 and the Versys 300x)

(Ritner Covered Bridge)

(Versys 300x, notice we've taken the Kawi stickers off the front fairings)

We went north a mile or so further before turning left onto a gravel road.  I haven't done a lot of gravel on the Versys but so far it is way better than the Gladius ever was off tarmac.

Unfortunately we couldn't get to where we wanted to go.  The forestry service is closing all of our back roads and gravel roads due to fire danger and the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday August 21st. We are in the path of totality and the State is expecting one million visitors for the event.  

We re-routed and ended up at Fort Hoskins where we took another short break, snacked on bananas and tried to determine what roads might be open.

From Fort Hoskins we took Hoskins Road, a 9 mile long gravel road, to link us to Mary's River Road and and the Summit Highway - another twisty bit of tarmac.    Luckily the loaded log trucks behaved themselves and stayed to their side of the narrow road.

(Fort Hoskins to Summit Highway - the blue route)
Once on the Summit Highway we were on one of the roads we drove while in the Fiat the weekend prior, which also had a stretch of gravel a few miles long.

We went to Moonshine Park to check out the camping section and thought we'd have our late lunch there.  Unfortunately it was $3 a vehicle to park and it was really busy and almost uncomfortable really.  

(Summit Highway to Moonshine Park)
We were hoping to go north, but once again the gravel road we wanted was closed, so we had to adapt our route and went southwest again instead.

We headed west through Logsden towards Siletz and found the Twin Bridges Memorial Park where we stopped for half an hour or more.

(Moonshine Park to Twin Bridges Memorial Park)

(Twin Bridges Memorial Park - Lincoln County)

(A picnic in the park - everything is nice and green in the coastal mountains)

(The bikes having a rest in the shade)

(Suzuki DRZ 400 and Kawasaki Versys 300)

(A nice little spot to rest on a sunny day)

From the park we did another 5 mile stretch of gravel on Sams Creek Road to connect with Highway 20.  At Highway 20 we turned east towards Eddyville and then took Highway 180 the long twisty way to Blodgett, which is back on Highway 20. We try to stay off the main highway as much as possible and prefer the twisty back roads that kind of parallel the highway in sections.

(Eddyville to Blodgett)
At Blodgett we took Highway 20 east to Corvallis (13 miles) and were back at the house by 5 pm. Our total for the day was 6 hours and 113 miles (181 km), a nice relaxing afternoon.  

Now the Versys really needs a bath, it is completely covered in road dust from following Troubadour over the gravel roads, but at least it was earned dirt and not from sitting in the garage.

I do wish I had of stopped a few times along the gravel roads and taken pictures to show you the conditions and scenery, but I know for next time.

It was a good day to be out on the bikes together.

- Au Revoir

" A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance, and tenacity.  The order varies for any given year." - Paul Sweeney
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Drift Creek Suspension Bridge

We've been experiencing quite a dry spell here in Oregon with no measurable rain in the valley in two months.  A far cry from the 50 inches of rain we experienced last winter.  We've seen average temperatures in the high 80's to low 90's and one heat wave where we saw temperatures soar to 109˚F (42.77˚C).  We haven't been doing too much in the way of riding.  A few forest fires have sprouted up around Oregon and combined with the smoke from the fires in Washington and British Columbia we've had air advisory warnings whenever the winds shift.

On Sunday August 6th we did decide to take the Fiat and heat northwest towards the coast for a little hike. We'd been reading about the Drift Creek Suspension Bridge and Drift Creek Falls for quite a while now and decided it might be time to check it out. They are located just east of Lincoln City in the coastal range, approximately 9 miles up a windy one-lane forestry road from the Drift Creek Covered Bridge which I blogged about back in June 2011 in this post ---> LINK.

The drive up was fine and we managed to find a place to park in the parking lot, not on the side of the road like some folks had to do.  The trail is 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip and an easy hike - trail map LINK.  Unfortunately, when it is an easy hike it is classified as family friendly and is busy.  A lot busier than we expected for 1:00 pm on a Sunday afternoon.  Note to self - only do moderate and difficult hikes on the weekends.

The trail is a winding path through the woods, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) downhill to the creek.  We stopped for a few pictures on the way down.

(Heading down the hill - nice easy trail)

(Nature was reclaiming some of the downed trees)

(We crossed a few small bridges)

(Which meant creek crossings - water level is low)

(Interesting stump of a decomposing redwood tree)

At the 1.25 mile marker you arrive at the suspension bridge. The suspension bridge was built in 1997, is 3 ft wide, and spans 240 feet (73 meters) across the canyon. More info about the building of the bridge HERE.

(Our first view of the bridge)

(Troubadour on a suspension bridge)

(Me on the bridge - photo by Troubadour)

(Looking over the edge at Drift Creek Falls - not a lot of water this time of year)

(The other end of the bridge)
Because of other hikers we couldn't linger on the bridge.  Once on the other side we walked towards the edge a little for a better view of the falls and the span of the bridge.

(Drift Creek Suspension Bridge)

(Drift Creek Falls and Suspension Bridge)

(Troubadour pondering the falls)

(Photo by Troubadour - he turned around and caught me with the camera)

(I figured I'd stop being cheeky and stand up)
From here it was a short 0.25 mile downhill walk to the creek.  Unfortunately we'd found the rest of the people bottle necked at the rocky shoreline.  We chose not to linger, but instead turned right around and started hiking back up towards the bridge as fast as we could to get out of the way.  We were surprised at how many people were heading down there.

It was a pretty easy hike on the way back up and we were actually catching up to people.  We stopped  at the bridge to wait for folks to cross and Troubadour ventured a little closer to the edge of the canyon for one last picture of the falls.

(Drift Creek Falls, Lincoln County, Oregon)
We made it back to the trail head in what felt like record time.  For some reason it didn't seem to take us as long going up the hill as it did going down.  Usually it is the other way around.

Once at the trail head we had a snack and decided to follow the one-lane forestry road 16 miles west to where it intersects with Highway 101 along the coast.  It was a beautiful road, perfect for motorcycles with a lot of gravel spur roads just begging to be explored (just not in a Fiat 500). We definitely need to go back on two wheels for closer examination of those gravel roads.

We took our time getting to the coast, and after a short half a mile of coastal traffic turned southeast on Highway 229, the Siletz Highway.  A nice twisty way to avoid the tourist traffic on Highway 101.  We hadn't been on this highway since July 2013 (blogged about it HERE) and had forgotten how much fun it could be.  At Siletz we turned east on Highway 410, the Logsden Road. More twisties and even a stretch of gravel made us wish we were on the bikes.  One more turn east onto Highway 180, the Summit Highway took us Blodgett, Highway 20 and home.

We arrived home just before 7 pm.  It was a nice relaxing day, although we decided we had more fun exploring the back roads than on the actual hike.

- Au Revoir

"There's sunshine in the heart of me, 
my blood sings in the breeze;
The mountains are a part of me,
I'm fellow to the trees." - Robert W. Service, "A Rolling Stone" (1912)
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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

240 Miles, 2 Lattes, 4 Barn Quilts, and a Dozen Lamborghinis, Oh My!

Several weeks ago after being inspired by a barn quilt picture taken by ToadMama, I started researching to see if there were any barn quilts within a days ride of Corvallis.  I found the web page for the Tillamook Barn Quilt Trail. Tillamook is about 90 miles northwest of Corvallis and is famous for its creamery and cheese factory as well as being on Highway 101 at the coast.  We made a mental note that it might be a fun ride one day to see how many barn quilts we could see.

We thought that might be a good option for a last hurrah before sending ScooterBob off to Princess ScooterPie.  So, Troubadour took a peek at the maps to see how we might get there all while avoiding as much traffic as possible.  The last time we were there on bikes was in October 2014 when we went to the air museum ---- blogged about in this LINK.

Saturday July 15th was the day. We made a quick stop in Corvallis and then headed west towards Philomath to fuel the bikes.  From Philomath we headed west on Highway 20 then turned north onto Kings Valley Highway which lead us to Dallas.  Troubadour seamlessly lead us through Dallas and before long we were waiting to turn west onto Highway 22.  And we waited, and we waited.  There was so much traffic it took us a bit before we could pull out and I think I even bounced off the rev limiter on the Versys.  Sure wished for the v-twin power of the Gladius at that point, but we made it.

After 12 miles on the highway we turned north towards Willamina where we could take a back road further north/west.  We were looking for Bible Creek Rd, a one lane twisty forestry road heading northwest.  We missed the turn and ended up on Bald Mountain Access Road.  It too was a twisty one lane forestry road, it just took us further east that we were expecting.  Longer ride in the forest for us and a gravel section too, bonus.

The photo below is where we stopped to check out the map to make sure we were heading in the right direction and that the road would for sure intersect with the one we were aiming for - Nestucca River Road.

(Bald Mountain Access Rd looking back at where we'd been)

(Bald Mountain Access Rd looking at where we'll go)
We eventually came out on Nestucca River Road and stopped at the same information kiosk we stopped at in 2014.  We rested a few minutes, drank some water and ate an apple for a late lunch. The kiosk is right where Bible Creek intersects Nestucca River Road.  It was a happy accident that we missed our original turn since Bible Creek was closed and a detour in place.  From there it was a nice easy ride into Beaver where we made a left turn (north) onto Highway 101.  Heavy traffic on that stretch of highway made it seem like the longest part of the ride.

The first stop in Tillamook was Five Rivers Coffee Roasters at the north end of town and across from the Tillamook Cheese Factory. It was easy to find, easy to park. It was a nice building with lots of natural wood inside and was complete with a pretty picnic area out back off the highway. We each ordered a 12-oz vanilla soy latte.  Unfortunately I forgot to order them extra hot and with an extra shot of espresso.  They weren't very warm or strong.  Live and learn, the place had great ambience though.

(The picnic area at Five Rivers Coffee Roasters - Photo by Troubadour)

(Parked at Five Rivers Coffee Roasters in Tillamook, Oregon)
We stopped and rested for a bit and discussed not only the barn quilt trail, but also the smell of dairy air derriere.  One thing about riding in the land of cows is the smell.  Oh, the smell.  As Troubadour had his phone out taking the picture above a group of exotic cards drove by heading south.  There were about a dozen in all different colors.  PolarBear guessed after seeing a picture on Facebook that they were Lamborghini Huracans.  Not too sure why they were all headed south but it was cool to see.  They all had a label on the side like it was an event, but I can't remember what they said and it is too hard to see in the photos. All car photos by Troubadour.  EDIT - Thank you to Kari, aka Bluekat for the following link on the Lamborghini tour.  LINK.

(Lamborghinis on parade - a red one)

(And a blue one)

(And a black one - there were also green ones)
While stopped we took a look at the map and figured out a route that would give us the most barn quilts.  First off the following.....

(ScooterBob admiring the barn quilt)

(The Tiger, the Versys, and ScooterBob in Tillamook)
While stopped at the barn above Troubadour noticed a little rubber ducky on the ground.  He nestled it in the cables of my dash and it is now my little talisman.

(Rubber Ducky you're the one....)

As I mentioned in my ScooterBob post on Wet Coast Scootin (link HERE) ScooterBob decided to base jump off my tail bag after the above photos were taken and was subsequently banished to the ground lest he pull a Humpty Dumpty and we had to put him back together again.  We fought really high winds all day and didn't want to take any chances with another wind gust.

Back on the bikes we quickly realized that just because it was called a barn quilt trail didn't mean they were all on barns.  We bypassed the ones on the side of metal sheds and ugly outbuildings and ones that were really hard to get to or you had to ride into a dairy farm to see.  We did stop at the fairgrounds below for its colorful 'barn' quilt.

(Barn quilt at the Tillamook County fairgrounds)
As we were riding along we came to the conclusion that for a couple of vegans going into farm country for barn quilt pictures maybe wasn't the best idea.  Damn, your food stinks when it is growing.  We decided to cut the trail a little short and if there was easy access to barn quilts on the way back to Highway 101 we'd get them.  There were two more.

(Another barn quilt - further off the road)

(A little harder to capture at that distance)

(One last barn quilt - just couldn't get the truck out of the picture)

(And across from that barn quilt - cows!)
We made it to Highway 101 and turned south.  We decided to ride south to Hebo where we would turn onto Highway 22, the Three Rivers Highway.  Traffic wasn't even doing the 55 mph speed limit for the 19 mile stretch between the two towns.  At times we were lucky to be doing 45 mph. We were glad when we turned off that the rest of the traffic stayed on Highway 101.

The stretch of highway between Hebo and Valley Junction is such a beautiful section of two lane back road with smooth asphalt and sweeping curves along the river.  At one point we did stop for a rest and a snack since it was after 5 and lunch was only an apple.  Luckily we still had some trail mix and a couple of Cliff Bars.  The last pictures of the day were taken along Highway 22 where it intersects with Hiack Creek Rd.

(Troubadour taking a rest)

(The Versys 300x now sporting OEM hand guards, center stand, and heated grips)
We made one more stop at the Fort Yamhill State Heritage Area.  A State Park just before Valley Junction. It has some informational displays regarding the 27 different tribes of Native Americans that were moved from their land to the neighboring Grand Ronde Indian Reservation. There were also picnic areas and restroom facilities.  From there it was an uneventful ride home.  We headed east along the highway and then south to Corvallis.  We arrived home at 7 pm with approximately 240 miles (386 km) on the odometer 8 hours after leaving the house.  The Versys averaged 65 mpg for fuel economy and I made it on one tank of gas!  It is nice that it has a 4.5 gallon fuel tank. One gallon more than the Gladius and I can go almost 100 miles further on a tank.

On Sunday we boxed up ScooterBob and he was mailed off to Princess ScooterPie yesterday.  He should arrive in Victoria within a week or so.

Also on Sunday we were lucky that Don and Karla from Two Vegans Two Wheels were traveling home to Bend though Corvallis.  We were able to meet up for coffee and hang out for an hour or more.  We visited like old friends, but forgot to take any pictures.  Next time!

- Au Revoir

" This coffee tastes like mud!  Well, it was ground this morning." - Old Vaudeville Joke
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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Riding to the Coast for Coffee

Saturday June 17th we busted our butts weeding the shrub beds in the backyard.  We decided that Sunday needed to be a ride day because all work and no play.........

It used to be that we'd ride to eat.  Pick a destination based on a restaurant choice and point the bikes in that direction.  Since going vegan over 6 years ago that proves to be a bit more difficult so Troubadour had the idea of riding for coffee.  There are a lot of little coffee shops within a days ride.  

Troubadour left the destination planning up to me so I chose the Siuslaw Coffee Roasters in Florence as our destination.  Temperatures in the valley were going to top out at 86˚F (30˚C) and Florence was forecast for a high of only 70˚F (21˚C)  We decided on a route that had some back roads, some gravel roads, and a little highway riding too (no way to avoid the highways). This would be my longest journey on the Versys 300x to date - 195 miles (313.8 km)

We set off down Bellfountain Road to Territorial Road then headed west on Highway 36.  A left turn put us onto Poodle Creek Rd.  A nice twisty back road that heads South where it intersects with Highway 126.

We turned west on Highway 126 and then turned right onto a gravel road to take us to the Wildcat covered bridge. We'd actually been there once before - almost a year ago to the day and it was under construction at that time.  Having been built in 1925, it was long overdue for some TLC. Last years blog post --> LINK.

(ScooterBob at the Wildcat Covered Bridge)

( Looking a little right you could see a railway bridge)

There were quite a few people down by the river and some were in kayaks, and others were swimming. That water must have been cold though as the river is in the foothills of the coastal mountains.

We got back on the bikes and decided to take the gravel road, which turns into Stagecoach Road, until it  intersects Highway 36 at Swisshome. It is a lovely one lane gravel road that twists and turns and undulates along the river for about 15 miles.

Troubadour recently bought a 360Fly camera and was having some issues turning it on.  We stopped in a bit of shade while he fiddled with it.  I took advantage of the break and pulled my camera out of my pocket.

(Gravel road heading west - view from the Versys cockpit)

(Where we'd been - a view of the Versys mirror)

(Even had time for a selfie - I'm wearing my Rev'it mesh jacket and HJC helmet)

(Troubadour fiddling with the 360Fly camera)

He managed to get it working and we were off.  The camera is quite something.  If your computer's operating system is compatible or you are on your smart phone you can actually look around while watching the video and look at the scenery, not just the direction the camera appears to be pointed.  He has posted a few videos on Facebook, hopefully he will find time to blog a few clips as well.

Stagecoach Road comes out on Highway 36 which we took west to where it intersects with Highway 126 and took that along the river to Florence.  We stopped at the Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters in Old Town by the river.  As we were pulling up two motorcyclists were leaving so we had parking out front.  The outdoor seating was just to the left of the bikes.

I went inside and purchased us each a 16 oz iced vanilla soy latte.  They seemed rather weak, but they were cold.  We sat outside and enjoyed the view of the historic Siuslaw River bridge, which opened in 1936, and did some people watching too.

(The bikes at the Siuslaw River Coffee Roaster in Florence, Oregon)

(ScooterBob posing for the camera)

(Historic bridge over the Siuslaw River)

Too soon we were back on the bikes and heading east towards home.  We retraced most of our route except for the large gravel area as it would have taken us out of the way and we weren't keen on the extra stretch of Highway 126.  It is the major highway between Florence and Eugene and there is always a lot of traffic on the weekends, especially RV's.

We did stop twice along the way.  Once for a potty break (damn coffee) and once to give us a break from the constant buffeting of the wind.  Troubadour's knee was giving him grief and my sits bones were sore - not much padding on my arse the Versys seat. 

We arrived home at 6:30 pm, 7 hours after leaving the house.  Not a bad day to be out on two wheels.

- Au Revoir

"Why not seize the pleasure at once, how often is happiness destroyed by preparation, foolish preparation." - Jane Austen
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