48 States or Bust – The USA on Two Wheels
Miles Today: 278- Trip Total: 4,995 – Daily Average: 262.9 (travel days)
Boardman, OR to Corvalis, OR
(-stayed at cousin Scott’s -) (OR – 21/48)
– THE COLUMBIA GORGE –
We rode through the fabled Columbia River Gorge area. I had heard a lot about the place and it was as beautiful as reported, but I couldn’t see very much of the first part of it from the interstate. And that’s because the winds were buffeting me and the bike ferociously. There was no letting hands off the bars. At a gas station the guy said it was almost always like that – and when it wasn’t, it was way too hot. He said since the windsurfers were out, it must be even windier than usual.
We got off the big highway about an hour or so after traveling and got onto the old, even more scenic highway. This one though was tough riding for me also; this time because it was so narrow, twisty, and had no shoulder. We passed a few of the fabled waterfalls and then came to the grand-daddy of them all – Multnomah. I had never heard of this world famous falls. It was a two tier waterfall with the top part being 542 feet high and the lower falls being 69. It is the second highest all-year waterfall in the US. It looked gorgeous as the water tumbled from the top of the mountain.
People were there from all over the world and the place was abuzz with activity. It was the first time that employees of a gift shop let us put our gear in a back room so we didn’t have to carry our helmets and heavy jackets around. We were very appreciative.
As usual, I would volunteer to take pictures of folks so the whole family could be in the shot. I did this with one big group of 24 or more women and we got very friendly – turns out they were grandmother types from Taiwan but had the spirit of teenagers, that’s for sure. For the last photo (after about 5 different of their cameras) I handed my camera to a passing guy and I got in the middle of the otherwise all-woman group. They laughed and laughed. We’d see each other over the next half hour as we’d walk the short distance to the falls. One woman in particular, Bebe, would pull me over to be in all their various pictures.
Karen walked up to the big cement bridge part way up to video from there. It was originally a wooden bridge but was replaced by cement in 1914. It was a magnificent view of the falls except that for the first time at a major attraction the sun was in the wrong place for great pictures. It was high over the falls throwing glare all over the place. We did the best we could. After about 90-minutes or so we packed up the bike, which incidentally, was in a “motorcycles only” area. We chatted with a guy who had a brilliantly dazzling shiny-silver Harley. He helped us with directions to Stayton, OR which was our next stop.
But first we traveled more of the old highway seeing a few more falls on our way, until we came for the cut off for the Vista House on Crown Point. We climbed for what seemed ages around little twisties and finally reached the top where there was a cool looking old building. The view of the river was amazing in both directions, but much of it was lost on me because it was at this point we noticed that my beloved miniature binoculars must have fallen off the bike at some point, so I was upset about that.
We shortly traveled down the mountain and headed toward Salem, OR, and then toward Stayton where my college buddy, Ken, and his wife Maria live. Regrettably, we ran into several significant traffic jams and sat in the broiling heat for a bit waiting for the long line of cars to move. That right emergency lane looked mighty tempting to me and twice I skirted down on the right in front of 50 or so vehicles.
Eventually, we were on I-5 where the traffic was moving. I noticed a white car behind me and there appeared an orange light on the roof of that car. I immediately got nervous thinking it was a police car – and as he rode behind me for awhile I was thinking that he was considering whether or not to ticket me for riding in that side lane. But then after a bit, the car passed and I noticed it was a regular auto with some kind of bright colored ball on the antenna. Whew! BUT THEN, right after that I looked over to the left and there hanging on my side was an auto with “SHERIFF” emblazoned on the door and the fellow inside with the badge was gesticulating to me. My stomach drops, but then I notice he’s giving me a vigorous thumbs up (After clearly reading our “All 48 States” sign on the back of the bike!).
In Stayton we visited with one of my longest old time friends, Ken Weaver (and his wife Maria). Ken and I met over 40 years ago. Hadn’t seen him since one of my coast bicycle rides back in the early 90’s, I think. We were college chums what seemed like a million years ago at Kutztown State College. We got to reminisce for a couple hours and catch up on each other’s lives. Ken and Maria live on 5 acres in a rural type setting and it was truly peaceful and quiet as the four of us sipped lemonade and talked about our lives.
Eventually, we had to get going. We called cousin Scott and got directions to the nearby town. Then we trucked about an hour to Corvalis, OR where my cousin Scott and his soon to be wife lived. Readers may remember that on the other side of the continent we had stayed with Scott’s sister, Leslie. (Whose little baby was pictured on the motorcycle on day 1 of the trip.) It was great seeing Scott and Sara. The two will be married at the end of the July and we were sure sorry that the timing for us attending the wedding wasn’t a little better.
After unpacking we all chatted a bit. And I munched on the humus and crackers that were laid out and it was delicious.
Karen’s new mc pants had arrived from Aerostitch. (Carla came through for us!) After we fixed the velcro calf adjustment, the bright yellow pants fit perfectly. Scott and Sara took us to a Corvalis vegetarian place called Nearly Normal and we munched on good stuff in the outside area.
When back to the house, Karen showered and got ready for bed and I fiddled with the AOL connection for waaaaayyyy too long into the evening. I tried all manner of things to get it working, but could not do so. Finally fell into bed at 11:45pm exhausted and frustrated at not being able to figure out the problem.