Almost Home

Yes, we made it home but not without more adventure…. I suppose that’s why they call it Adventure Riding. I’ll try to catch up on the last three days of our journey.

Tuesday 9-15-15

We were packing up at the warm, hot springs campground when another TAT rider on a Husqvarna motorcycle pulled in. His name was Garett from Indiana and asked if he could ride with us for a while, no problem.

Looking forward to getting through the last of Nevada we finished the last of our morning oatmeal and were riding by 9:30. It wasn’t long before we came to a rather large water crossing.

We sent Weston on foot to scout the water depth and pick a path. He thought it was passable but this was the swampiest, smelliest, deepest and longest water crossing of the trip. I looked for a go around but nothing presented itself.

Weston, being the youngest and least injured volunteered to go first. I recorded a short video….

Weston really did take the deepest route and got thoroughly soaked.

Muck everywhere…

Onward we rode trying to get out of Nevada. The riding was better even though the weather was cool and wet. I was enjoying the ride but worried about not having enough gas to get to Fort Bidwell, NV. Sure enough the “mighty 250 that could” started sputtering within sight of town and I was stranded on the side of the road. I was hoping for gas in Fort Bidwell so Weston stayed with me and Jon and Garett rode the last few miles into town to search for gas. I should have known that indeed, there is no gas station in Fort Bidwell. There is really nothing of anything there…. except by some stroke of luck we found this….

A club of old cars was parked in town having a lunch stop and impromptu car show! This guy here saved the day…. look what he had!

Ha, I couldn’t believe it. We each took a gallon and profusely thanked our benefactors. I tried but they wouldn’t accept any payment for saving us from being stranded.   These guys were excited to here our story and glad to help.

Tempted to just say thanks and ride off I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I had to look around at the cars, I had never seen so many rare automobiles in one location, I asked and they said there were about 50 cars, most of them nearly 100 years old. Amazing.

You just don’t see this every day…. mostly never!

I asked how on earth did they end up at a nowhere place like Fort Bidwell, NV and they explained that they purposely look for very deserted roads and isolated places to visit with these vehicles to avoid traffic. What an amazing stop.

We were told that the nearest gas station was in Cedarville, 20 miles to the south. I considered trying to make the jump over the mountains in the Fremont National Forest to Lakeview which was 40+ miles but heard there was a restaurant in Cedarville and we hadn’t eaten since our oatmeal breakfast so south we went. Garett wasn’t interested in a 40 mile detour so he headed north. We saw his motorcycle later that evening parked in front of a hotel in Lakeview while we were looking for a campground in the rain. I could imagine him taking a hot shower or having a cool beer at the local bar. We never did see him again.

In Cedarville we got gas in the rain and found the only restaurant in town, the Country Hearth run by Janet Irene. We arrived soaked, dangerously cold, tired and hungry. It was nearly 3:00 so we were the only patrons. Janet, a grandmotherly looking person served us warily at first but eventually warmed up to us as we told her our story. She recommended camping at the local fairgrounds only a few blocks away. And then made it more tempting by letting us know she was open until 9:00 and would be building a fire and had cold beer if we wanted to come back. I was convinced…. they boys were not. Onward to Lakeview, OR! They proclaimed anxious to get in some more miles and finally leave Nevada, rain or shine.

By the time we said goodbye to Janet she was worried about us leaving to cross the mountains in the rain and let us know they were predicting snow. She was honestly concerned for our well being and made us promise to call her to make sure we arrived safely or she was calling search and rescue. Off we went.

Sure enough it snowed…

Ha, now did we have every kind of weather on this trip? (Actually, no…)

But despite the cold and snow the ride to Lakeview was easy and as enjoyable as could be. Lakeview wasn’t that impressive. The only campground was the local fairgrounds and the only camping area seemed to be occupied by the local homeless population. We consulted our iPhones and decided to make the 20 mile run south to Goose Lake State Park which is on the shores of what once had actually been a fairly large lake/reservoir before the California drought. Now it was completely empty.

We were tired, cold and feeling the effects of over 5,000 miles on the TAT. We managed to sleep but for the first time I was cold enough at night to use my backup battery to power my heated liner in my tent. Also for the first time I didn’t get any pictures of our camp site. I did take time to call Janet and let her know we were OK, she was relieved. Thanks Janet.

Wednesday 9-16-15

The day started with a neighbor in an RV inviting us to come over for fresh brewed Starbucks coffee. Whoo Hoo, no instant for us at least. His name was Gives and was travelling with his three legged dog and deaf, mute, albino dog. We all hung out around his picnic table and swapped stories about travel and dogs. Thanks Gives.

We rode back to Lakeview and looking at my map I decided we should top off all the bikes and make sure our extra 2.75 gallons of extra fuel was full as well. The next stop would be Silver Lake, OR approximately 200 miles away. Just on the edge of our range.

It was another cold, wet day which at least for me was tough because I hadn’t thoroughly recuperated from the previous days ride. My gloves were so wet and my hands were so cold it was difficult to get my gloves off and on so I didn’t take any pictures except this one in Silver Lake.

Yes, we made it on fumes to Silver Lake and Yes, there is a gas station but….. NO, it wasn’t open. Only open on Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. No gas on Thursday. Hungry and cold we went inside more to warm up than anything else. I ended buying a Hostess Fruit Pie and a fifth of Whiskey for lunch. I only took a sip of the Whiskey but it helped warm my inside and calm my nerves as I found myself for the second day in a row wondering where I could get some gas.

I only half noticed a guy hanging around the store who was roughly my age and seemed somewhat disheveled with an old leather jacket that said Harley Davidson. Maybe it was the visual of me, definitely disheveled, dripping wet, standing there slugging down straight whisky that brought him over to me. “Want some gas?” Ahh, sure….

Long story short he came back a few minutes later with a five gallon can and told us to take all we wanted. Wow. We split the gas between bikes and even though our new friend objected, this time I managed to give him money for the gas. Thanks Harley Dude!

Back in the cold and rain we rode the remaining 60 miles to Gilchrist, OR. I had enough and decided it was time to use my fatherly veto against camping every night. It really was getting to the point of being dangerous with a real chance of serious hypothermia setting in since we hadn’t really dried out in days. I’m sure we were all mildly hypothermic anyhow.  I’m not sure if I was surprised but I didn’t get any objections from the boys…. oh yea.

Our iPhones guided us to the Gilchrist Inn. I called ahead to make sure our hopes of a dry night wouldn’t be dashed and was assured they had room. The hosts, Rick and Kim couldn’t have gone out of their way to help us more. Kim took one look at our sorry selves especially Jon with two sprained ankles and immediately returned to our room with a first aid kit, bath salts for a bath and a cold pack. She insisted on not only drying our wet clothes in her dryer but washing them as well. When I told her we were not riding any more for the night her husband drove me into town to pick up food and beer.

We were all fast asleep when Kim dropped off our clean and dry laundry off at 10:30 PM, wow, wow, wow, Thanks Kim!

Thursday 9-17-15

We had a nice morning, with fresh coffee brewed in an actual coffee pot. Wanting to get an early start we decided against stopping for breakfast and I walked to a nearby convenience store for milk and cereal. Perfect. Ready to leave by about 9:30 we looked outside and another downpour had begun. The goal for the day was Canyonville, OR, about 190 miles away and even a gas stop along the way. We had been averaging about 200 miles a day so it seemed pretty doable so we decided to take time and wait out the shower. We were finally dry and wanted it to last at least for a little while.

Around 10:30 the rain abated somewhat so we packed up, said goodbye to Kim and stopped for gas before resuming our route.

The track leaving Gilchrist circles around the back of town along a road that houses the lumber mill that supports the town. There was a sign that said Private Road and further explained that permission to use the road could be withheld at any time.  I checked my GPS and it looked like a public road, there was no way around it and we would only be traversing the sawmill operation for a very short distance. We continued on when a guy in a pickup truck started waving to me in the lead. I suspected he wanted me to stop but I decided my interpretation of his gesture was a friendly wave so I waved and continued on. The boys behind me stopped briefly and heard him say that this was a private road and we weren’t allowed. They relayed the information in our helmet communicators and we continued on.

Now I wasn’t sure if this guy was coming after us so I was tempted to ride fast and just get out of there. On the other hand, it was a somewhat busy parking lot with cars and trucks maneuvering about so I wanted to go slow just in case. I ended up compromising by going about 20mph when a Ford Focus pulled out right in front of me, not even looking. I tried to emergency brake as much as I could while still maintaining control on the wet blacktop with my knobby tires. In slow motion I was closing on the car with my speed down to only a couple of miles per hour. I could see the driver not even looking in my direction as I got closer and closer. I thought I would just miss the back of his car as he crossed in front of me when he suddenly looked left, saw me and hit his brakes. CRASH BAM DOWN.

There were people all over that saw the whole thing and they all came running. I stayed on the ground purposely while I assessed my situation waiting for any pains, listening to the yelling and making sure it was safe to move.  Convinced I was actually ok I eventually got up and helped Weston pick up my bike. Once again, proper riding gear including helmet and body armor had saved me, I was fine except for the removal of the scab on my arm from my previous crash. I checked out my bike and amazingly it looked ok. Wow, what a tough bike, the little 250 that could.

Eventually I got around to looking at the car…. not as good a result.

You can see what actually happened is I  turned my handlebars at the last second and my tire tracks are on his bumper. My very sturdy Safari gas tank bashed the quarter panel and taillight and my metal hand guards dented in the top part near the trunk.

As could be expected there was a flurry of activity with people calling 911, asking if I was ok, taking pictures of the scene and spouting various comments about being a private road. I few people came over saying they saw the whole thing and couldn’t believe the guy pulled out in front of me. I didn’t feel any obligation to discuss the situation with anyone so I just sat down waiting for the police so we could be on our way.

Scene of the crash. Just beyond the white truck to the left is the BLM road.

So we waited and waited. Gilchrest didn’t have a police department so we were waiting for the County Sheriff, it could be a while. Eventually after everyone got back to work and the three of us were just waiting around when a young Hispanic man came over to apologize. He was the driver of the car and admitted he didn’t even look for oncoming traffic before pulling out of the parking lot. He was genuinely concerned that I was ok. I told him I was fine and my bike was ok and as far as I was concerned he didn’t owe me anything. For some reason I just couldn’t be mad at the guy. I asked about his car and he said as long as I was ok that was all that mattered. We shook hands and agreed that was that. A little while later someone who looked important dressed like an office worker (plant manager?) came over and asked if we worked things out. I said yes and he responded that he didn’t see any reason to wait for the police and we should just get going. We hot-tailed it out of there in no time just in time for the rain to return.

Except for the weather the riding was fantastic, I felt at home in the wooded mountains of Oregon riding some fantastic roads. After the snow I thought we had every weather condition…. I forgot FOG. Every time we got around 5,000 feet in elevation we were riding in dense fog that immediately fogged our face shields and made it nearly impossible to see. I felt that I was getting cheated out of some of the best riding of the trip and decided Deby and I would return one day to ride the Oregon section of the TAT, well, maybe skip the private road around the Gilchrist Mill.

We had been having pretty good luck following Sam’s tracks for over 5,000 miles but at one point later in the day the track took a turn on a pretty narrow side road. Yes, Dean. I saw your comment about getting lost in Oregon. I’m pretty sure we weren’t lost but the track was on a road that had been abandoned long ago by the forest department. When a road is abandoned they start by digging big trenches to discourage travel by car, they dig pretty many to discourage motorcycle riders and then to ensure the long term elimination of the road they plant really a lot of trees.

When we got to the firs trench Weston saw a motorcycle track and concluded it must be the way so off we went like a bunch of lemmings. Over trench, over trench, over trench and finally crashing through saplings in a dangerous way. It wasn’t good. Eventually Weston crashed.

This was not a road. While they were getting upright I walked ahead through dense forest and found the road that once there ended in a steep ravine with no hope of escape. We decided to turn around in a small wide spot. Here is Weston with his bike turned around to go back through the thick trees.

We spent over an hour trying to find a through route. When we finally got back to our starting point at the first trench we erected this sign to warn future TAT riders.

We zipped tied the warning to the tree hoping it would stay and the skull and crossbones would dissuade any future people from trying. Ok, I have to admit it was fun trying ….

Canyonville, OR is on Interstate 5 and is a slight detour off the TAT but we had arrangements for Deby to meet us there at the Holiday Inn with the truck and trailer in preparation for our final day of riding. We arrived as the sun was setting in what else but… rain. We were once again really thankful for a dry place to stay for the night. We decided to celebrate the almost end of the TAT by getting a steak dinner at the local casino. Ahhhh…. almost home but more adventure to come.

Tomorrow, the last leg.

Donn, Jon, Weston











One thought on “Almost Home

  1. Wow! what a great adventure. Thanks for letting me ride the internet TAT with you. Awesome write-up and great photos. is there a map that shows your start to finish ride? I’d like to look at that.
    Congratulations Donn, Jon, and Weston on a ride well done.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *