California road trip day 2

After the rain of day one it was great to finally hit the sunshine. Roadtrip’s are an awful lot easier in the sun.

Day two starts and it’s once again looking like rain so on with the waterproofs before hitting I5 for the days ride to Redding, CA. A lunchtime stop had to be programmed in for the Euro quarter final between England and Italy, and Grants Pass seemed a reasonable target. On the road at 8.15 am and there’s little traffic, something that didn’t go un-noticed by Elliot who decided to investigate both straight line and on the curve performance of his bike. I have no idea of the final speed he achieved, however, making use of our comms, my advice was “Okay, you’ve got your ton-up, now think about the Highway Patrol cars we’ve seen.” The fast disappearing blob became a bike again.

After a fuel and stretch stop we arrived at Grants Pass in time for the game. The quickest solution was a coffee shop with WiFi, and after some nervous moments trying to find a decent stream we settled back to enjoy the somewhat obvious rearguard action followed by penalties failure. Our mood was lightened by the fact that the weather was improving and it was time to consign the waterproofs to the tank bag. The pants and overboots would not be seeing the light of day until again for some time.

Back on the road, past Medford and into mountains and up to a height of 4350 ft, quite a climb. We were finally nearing California. On the way down it was time to if not panic, then get slightly uncomfortable on the saddle. The reason for the squirming? My low fuel light had come on and I had no idea how far it was to a gas station. We were truly in the middle of nowhere. Deep breath and ride on.

One of the weird things one comes across in the US is the state border. The transition between Oregon and California was marked by a border post complete with guards asking if any fruit was on board. Although I’d normally see this as an unnecessary inconvenience,

I had a chance to ask how far the next gas station was. A mile and a half to go. Phew, I knew I’d make it.

The sun was now very evident. After the rain of day one it was great to finally hit the sunshine. Roadtrip’s are an awful lot easier in the sun. Come the first vista point it was time to stop, break out the camera and soak up the Vit D.

The final part of day 2 will be remembered for the high winds which sapped energy and enthusiasm. Another long day on the Ducati. Tired but not that achy. A meal stop was followed by finding the motel. Day over, we were in California. A great sense of achievement filled both Elliot and myself, and we’d only really just started this adventure.

Montana road trip – day 3

It was the sheer scale of the pass that was so impressive. This was the start of the Rockies.

A good nights sleep in a real bed and it was time to explore the area. Today the Logan pass beckoned. Logan Pass cuts through the Glacier National Park in north west Montana. Straddling the continental divide, Logan Pass is at the start the mountain range that heads north in to Canada, the range we call the Rockies.

Having lived in BC for around 4 years, what would I make of our destination?  After all, BC is a beautiful place, the mountains here in (almost) daily view, the provincial and national parks stunning. Would Glacier National Park measure up?

After an hour’s drive we arrived at the park entrance and headed towards the pass. A glimpse of what was to come came around every curve, the park gradually opening up before us. The ascent to some 7000 feet began. The climb was steady, never steep and the higher we got the greater the view. It was the sheer scale of the pass that was so impressive. This was indeed the start of the Rockies. To be honest, it’s really not worth trying to describe was unfolded, this place has to be seen to be appreciated. Even the camera cannot truly capture the vastness. Let’s just say that it was a snapshot of this awesome natural environment.

The unfortunate thing was that as the pass was do busy with visitors we didn’t get a chance to stop at the summit to explore more. It was still worth the trip though, just to experience the vastness and beauty of the pass.

Changing subjects, one app became a must use on this trip – Yelp. When WiFi was available, Yelp and the iPad helped find somewhere to eat and somewhere to sleep. Invaluable.

Day 3 came to a close. Day 4 would see us going under canvas for a couple of nights on an Island on Flathead Lake.

Road trip – preparation

I’m heading off to Oregon on a road trip. It’s the first time I’ve tried something like this and I’ve probably under-prepared. Here’s the story so far.

Oregon trip plannerInspired by the Long Way Round when I moved to Canada I started to dream about riding down the west coast highway. Plan A was to ride from Vancouver to San Diego, however, only having 15 days of holiday a year meant that I needed to rethink the ride, at least for the moment. Some simple research indicated that just riding down the Oregon coast would be a fantastic experience, with several locals telling me how beautiful that part of the country was. Hence Plan A.2 (there is no Plan B).

My plan was very straight forward, map out a Short(er) Way Round ride that took in the coast and forests. I would take my Ducati GT1000 on a journey that neither bike nor rider had experienced before. It would be a mini adventure in lieu of the full blown coastal ride.

Outlining the adventureI spent some time brain storming and outlining the route and everything I’d need from kit I’d need to insurances, places to stay and so forth, then I hit Google maps to get a route together. I didn’t want to overstretch myself so decided the maxi,um riding time would be 6 hours a day or a distance of around 400-500 Km. I ended up with the route in the pic that takes me  straight down to Seattle and across to Aberdeen on day 1, then down Highway 101 – Cannon Beach, Newport, Florence down as far as Crescent City at the tip of California.

The Short(er) Way Round route

The return journey would be inland and through the forests via Bend and Yakima. The Short(er) Way Round was coming together.

Over a few weeks I gradually added to my outline as well as addressing tasks on the ‘to do’ list. Bike serviced, better kit bought, luggage bought. Now there’s a story, the luggage. Ducati sell some rather splendid saddle bags in leather at a mere $1400 for the pair. I have to admit that I couldn’t bring myself to shell out so much and so looked around for alternatives. I ended up, on recommendation, at Modern Motorcycling at Commercial and 12th in Vancouver. An old school accessory and bike sale place, I picked up some generic Oxford saddle bags, plus a pillion bag for the princely sum of $200. Far more palatable.

So, the plan came together and on July 8th I head off in to the unknown. Okay, it’s not exactly off the beaten track. but it’ll be my adventure, and that’s what counts.