Tag Archives: Road Trips

Same State, Different Worlds

It was an early morning departure. Dew was still clinging to the blades of grass and wide maple leaves. The quiet was briefly interrupted by the Vintage engine coming to life as I pressed the starter button, then the low rumble chug chug that took over seemed to be a perfect match with the rising sun.

I was riding north and west. As the sun at my back warmed my spine, the road ahead unfolded and warmed my anticipation for the day. I’d chosen a smaller and more meandering Oregon highway, and riding along I got thinking about how diverse and how many different worlds were contained in this state.

I’d just completed the last Rose City Grand Tour checkpoint earlier that week in a barren, yet beautiful section of Eastern Oregon, and was winding my way back home. Just days ago leaving the harsh spectacular wide open spaces down there I was smelling sagebrush and miraculously not squashing little fuzzy tailed rodents darting across the asphalt. Breathing in deep the arid desert wind felt therapeutic.

Most bridges spanned, what looked like, long forgotten and abandoned rivulets, dry channels with rounded rock, the only evidence of rushing water once upon a time. Perhaps this was only because it was summer, and everything will be transformed, turn alive and energetic when the winter snow melt from the distant mountains makes its annual flowing migration towards the sea.

I rode by the estuaries of many such accumulated waterways a week or so earlier, starting with the mouth of the Columbia as I crossed the border bridge into Astoria. I heard foghorns and saw seagulls feeding from the brackish water. Gaps in the fog revealed brilliant patches of blue sky and then were swallowed up almost magically only to reappear in a different shape in a different place. Later that afternoon seeing the mouths of the Alsea River at Waldport and the Siuslaw River in Florence empty into the ocean made me think they too had their diverse sights and meandering journeys along the way.

I soon turned inland taking Hwy 126 leaving the coastline and following the Siuslaw. Within a half an hour, everything was different. The briny air had transformed into to the rustic, earthy scent of a river and wafted pleasantly up into my helmet. Any trace of the sea was erased, and 30 minutes more, the fragrance was of forest, and the sights were of tall Douglas fir trees and leaning into the corners flanked by the river, I had ridden into another world.

I maneuvered over the Coast range and into the southern end of the Willamette Valley. It was thick with vineyards, hops, and Christmas tree farms.  I crossed the I-5 corridor quickly and was soon gaining altitude on the western slopes of the Cascades and hugging the curves of the McKenzie River right alongside me.

In what seemed like no time, I’d crested the pass, and Highway 242 was traversing blacktop cut through ancient lava fields, unchanged and frozen in time for 80 thousand years. As I descended, spread out below, as far as the eye could see, was the high desert landscape of Deschutes County. The snowcapped Mt Hood rose majestically in the distant north. It was crystal clear. Pine trees were getting fewer and being replaced by Junipers and sagebrush. Could this possibly be the same state of foghorns and seagulls I remembered from what seemed just a short time ago?

Having left that beautiful barren area of my last checkpoint of the season, an area where sparsely scattered little towns and clusters of trees were a welcome oasis between the vast and wide open distances, it was time to point the Vintage towards home. Soon, the world beneath my wheels changed once again and I was weaving and echoing my way through great canyons and ravines carved by powerful water that satisfied the thirst of the far-reaching acres of farmland I next encountered.  Later, I was beginning to recognize roads and certain favorite corners. The days and the diversity behind me solidified my appreciation of this multifaceted state. As I continued to ramble home, that earlier glow of warm anticipation seemed to renew itself thinking of next year’s yet undetermined and different worlds that lay ahead.

The Last Ride

It was late September and the sun was sinking in the west. As the brilliant fireball slowly faded, a silver sliver of a crescent moon was rising in its place. I was still many hours from home on this last ride of the season, but I wasn’t going to push it much further today. The roads were beautiful and sparse and I didn’t mind taking another day to enjoy them. The powerful water of the Columbia River along Hwy 97 carved through the dry desert and we passed through apple orchards side by side. Earlier, summiting a pass, the temperature was still very hot and summer like. The chair lifts were unswinging, hauntingly idle and still. The groomed brown trails below them and the A Frame cabins scattered about seemed oddly out of place and obsolete – like a dead man’s wallet.

Many times on this ride, I was escorted down graceful roads by changing trees. They were taking a defensive stance, and an unusually early display of autumn foliage was appearing. It had been a very dry summer and now an early fall. Whenever I pulled into a small town gas station or café, that was often the subject.

The sagebrush along my routes still looked comfortable, but the trees looked thirsty, and I saw round river rock stranded and exposed riding alongside the many dry or depleted streams and rivers on this ride.

I never encountered rain on this last ride out. Sometimes it tried, but mostly it was just empty threats. I was selfishly happy that none fell. In the big picture, rain would have been a good thing. This summer’s wildfires were exceptional, but it seemed they were finally winding down. Occasionally I would still pass a pocket of residual haze or see a plume of smoke off on a distant mountainside.

One day, somewhere in Eastern Oregon, the sky grew grey and thunder rumbled. It smelled of rain. Out in the distance it appeared to be falling, but as I approached and rode past that spot, the brief shower had come and gone. A low and sunken area had collected some rain that formed a shallow pool next to a stand of Quaking Aspens. Their golden and shimmering leaves reflected back in full color.

On other days on this ride, I rode past abundant farmland and evidence of recent harvests.  There is something exhilarating, yet reflective about going by acres of corn stalks that have just given their bounty or the left over aroma of a sweet onion field when the labor is done. The hot dusty trucks are loaded with beets and broccoli along with potatoes, Russets and Yukon Golds. Soon they will be bound for the market, and eventually our dinner tables.

The Vintage ran flawlessly throughout this ride and swallowed up the miles without effort. I just pointed it where I wanted to go and we experienced it together. Sometimes things got blurry about just who was leading who, but at the end of day, saddle sore and satisfied, it didn’t matter. Early the next morning we would plot out a course, set sail again, and the hours would disappear as quickly as those miles.

Knowing this was the last ride of the season, there was a sense of contentment and accomplishment as I pulled into the garage. I closed the door behind me and looked around. There was no trace of this last week on the road filled with adventure and exhilaration. Nothing had changed here in the safe cocoon, familiar and protected. It was quiet. The rag with some spilt oil was untouched, the rain gloves I decided to leave behind sat empty, and the calendar, with my departure date circled, was frozen in time.

There’s nothing routine about a motorcycle ride. No two roads are the same, no two skies are alike. No horizon is ordinary and no day is average. Leaning into an uphill curve or breezing alongside a canyon wall, I can feel the very echoes and the lightness of flight. The allure of the open road remains, and the sights, sounds and the smell of the scenery are never far from mind. I’ll never grow weary or be estranged of all those twisting roads and windblown scents and ever changing landscapes.

Me and My Shadow

Ok,  I’m ready – or maybe I should say, “We’re” ready.  I saw my shadow today, stretching,  shaking off cobwebs and gaining confidence. We agreed it had been too long out of the boots and the saddle and too long in the rain. Yep, we’re ready to ride. Feel the air change from breeze to wind as the gears are advanced.

See the fence posts and the rooftops become a blur,  smell the countryside go by and hear the Guzzi  purr.

It seems like a long time ago when leaning into a curve was a part of everyday life. When waving to the farmer in the field or racing with a freight train seemed the most natural thing in the world. Looking at the map of roads and envisioning the day ahead, choosing the B road, then later smiling as it unfolds ahead of you better than that paper version could have ever explained.

Nestled in between hot coffee in the morning and a cold beer at night, is the wide open road. Floating to and fro with great hours of adventure yet to be told.Shadow

That’s right, we’re ready. The pleasure and satisfaction at arriving, the anticipation of packing up and heading out once again – getting on down the highway.  Sometimes it’ll be chilly and sometimes it’ll be hot, but then after some days on the road it’ll always come down to that warm homecoming, a candle in the window and sweet smelling sheets…..

Under a Globe of Stars

I was 40 years old before I owned my first tent. I wasn’t a boy scout, and on my mother’s side we didn’t camp. On my father’s side, summer visits as a kid led to many nights spent high in the Sierra Nevadas with nothing but a ground tarp and a sleeping bag carried in on our backs. We were often sheltered on three sides by downed trees as I fell asleep under a globe of stars so vast and brilliant it made me dizzy. I awoke to the sunrise and mountain air, crisp and fresh. It was always hard to leave the comfort of the sleeping bag and get the fire started. That was usually a simple task as there were always red hot embers still glowing under a blanket of grey ash residuals from the night before. During these summer hiking trips I remember thinking how claustrophobic it would feel being zipped in, sheltered and unaware of the stars and the moon and then of the breaking dawn right outside the flap.

Motorcycle riding in my 20s, I’d often take advantage of a free weekend and good weather and just tie an extra jacket and sleeping bag to the back and head out down the road. Today, I wonder how it was ever so simple and uncluttered. I’d sometimes stay at friends or relatives, when just dropping in somewhere was normal and acceptable. Other times I’d find a parking lot behind a church or business in a small town. I also can remember just lying out on the earth a short way down a small road off the main highway in the Arizona desert, a vacant piece of lakeside in Oregon or an unoccupied beach somewhere in Northern California, all under those same glorious stars. Being a solo rider, I could stealthily come and go with barely a tire print.

Later I started riding Moto Guzzis. Still afflicted with that travelin’ bone but not too keen to join groups, I maintained my primitive ways, although by now occasionally grabbing a cheap motel. Over the next several years I met other Guzzi riders and even subscribed to the national newsletter. There, I discovered a special family feeling and common thread with these riders and the events and rallies held across the country honoring our brand and its linage. I started planning a ride to one of the events. While researching them, I noticed all these campouts had the grounds peppered with tents and some not 10 feet apart. I realized this was a gathering, not just one man’s journey and adventure. I could have it my way enroute, but once I arrived, I was part of the flock. I decided that was ok though, after all, a field full of snorin’, burpin’, fartin’ motorcycle riders is probably best left under shelter and canopy privacy. So, I bought my first tent.

During the next dozen years or so, while not abandoning my solo rides, I did use the tent 4 or 5 nights a year attending some of the Guzzi campouts over the summer months. Even with that relatively light usage, by now it had started to look saggy and dated. So, I bought my new tent.

The last Guzzi campout of this season was my first night inside. I’d pitched it among a smattering of others, under tall pine tress and cloudless skies. Its green color blended into the woods better than the blue. The poles and clips had improved; it went up almost without effort. Also new was a sort of mesh skylight that made a small window of stars visible, and pocket pouch inside that kept my flashlight within easy reach. The zippers had authority, and it stood more taut and confident than its aging sibling. New and improved, better, sleeker and it still had that new tent smell.

At daybreak, I woke to the different color hue around me. I unzipped the fly, poked my head out and watched a squirrel scramble up a tree. Someone had already stirred the embers back to life and started the coffee. There was something reminiscent about those aromas in the air as I pulled on my boots. Tented or exposed, all those miles covered and those years gone by, some things never change. Greeting the new day from your own little spot claimed on a patch of earth the night before remains a simple, yet important pleasure that can never be replaced.

When the Sun Came Back

Turning the ignition key for the first time since the sun came back felt warm and pleasant. A faint and wispy trail of a cobweb trapezed from the left grip down to the floorboard. That’s where my gloves and my boots were soon to be re-claiming their proper space. Before pressing the starter button, I looked in the mirrors and reflected on the long and drizzly winter now gone. The Vintage motor cranked once, and then roared to life as if the last several months didn’t count. As if there were no lonely, dank nights alone in the garage, and as if when we put up for the last time, just before the rains, we would be out again the very next sunrise. Of course we weren’t  and with each passing week, as the clouds got thicker, memories of summer rides and those sunny morning starts began to diminish into a distant horizon.

I twisted the throttle and let gently out the clutch. We started to move and it felt different than during that patch of winter when locomotion could be sluggish and limited. Now, it was fluent and flowing where balance became a dance and the warm wind a partner.

Passing by a deciduous forest full of bloom, I remembered stopping there on a winter’s day. Maybe it was the shortest day, huddled against a different wind, then cold, whistling through its stark and skeletal outlines. Meanwhile, when no one was watching, the trees sprouted small buds and were now robust and dense.

We picked up some speed and leaned into a corner. A little steeper lean than necessary, but I wanted the new tires to know just what we were getting into during the upcoming summer days. They gripped the blacktop with enthusiasm and confirmed to me they were ready. As I shifted into fourth gear, the winter months were fading fast in my mirrors, and in my mind.

It didn’t take but another mile or two, and it was as if we were never apart. My feet were expertly massaged by the comforting vibration of the road and my hands were soothed by the feel of the motor through the frame. It was an overall pleasing effect, highlighted by the unique characteristic of moving air not confined by a window. The sway and the camber of the road unfolded and unveiled sights, smells and sounds only experienced from the saddle. Coming up and out of a corner, a great meadow was revealed and the aroma of fresh field dirt and wild grasses filled the air. The wind fluttered and whispered sweet nothings in my ear.

It was hard not to be lulled into the serenity of this ride. My mind was respectful of it, yet receptive to its seductive power. The rhythm of the road was starting to intertwine with the tempo of my breathing. In and out, a regular cycle, and small beads of sweat appeared on my brow. The cadence of the motor chugged out an ode to this highway. The road then turned into another one and different clouds appeared above and the meadow became a mountain. Somehow, that first ride, the day when the sun came back with recollections and cobwebs, got dissolved by the months and the miles. I was riding on another day and down a different path. The new tires fully broken in now and comfortable like an old pair of jeans. The dust on the paint and the crinkles around my eyes attested to the experience. It was hotter now, but soon the leaves would change and a crisp bite would be in the morning air. I was the seasoned rider giving advice on this road or that, and telling tales of sweeping corners and clear mountain passes, and when long ago how warm and pleasant it was, when the sun came back.

Mosaic

Gotta get up, gotta get going. Rise and shine it’s a new day breaking – oh yeah. With an unconscious swagger and smile, I’m walking towards the waiting Vintage. The motor gets purring, and the spokes are shining, reflecting the sun of the morn. The chill is gone as the tires get warm with revolution. My shadow is long and leading me comfortably down a westbound highway out for the day’s adventure. By the time I hit fourth gear, the aroma is sugar maple and the breeze is an old friend.

Straightening out after a series of ambling corners, a bridge greets me – a cantilever. It was well tended to, agreeable and a proud family member of the small town it overlooked. As I crossed it, the river below was still strong from the winter snowmelt. The beams, alternating between light and dark with the sun and shadows, echoed back an alien sound, a mixture of wind, water and motor.

On the outskirts of most any small town is a Cemetery Road, dirt or gravel, leading up to weathered yet undisturbed plots of land where tombstones were brought in by horse and buggy 90 or 100 years ago. Young trees now grown strong and majestic, names etched in the tilting granite blocks of founding fathers, schoolteachers and shopkeepers, who by fate or by fortune never left the valley where they lay buried.

Entering the town, the flavor is a relaxed one. As I rode down the tree lined Main Street, it lazily meandered along with the course of the river beside it. Houses of brick and clapboard had swing-sets, gardens and pitchforks in the front yard. Businesses were opening up, and townsfolk seemed intent on making this day better than the last.  I gassed up and had a look at the map, more out of pleasure than necessity. There was one road out of town. As I glanced side to side for revenuers, the speed limit signs gradually increased, and I followed suit. In no time I was back out on the highway, settling in and absorbing the moment. The tires hummed along with me as I belted out a road song under the helmet confines. Sour notes were forgiven and blended in with the mood.

By noon the sun was sizzling high and only the occasional car passed. A mailbox on a post or a cattle guard in the dirt was the only evidence of a farmhouse or homestead hidden well off the main road. One stray cloud had outlined its shape on a butte far in the distance. A freight train, a mile long, stretched out beside it. Rolling silently down the tracks, it could just barely be discerned. Sometimes a cluster of trees, oasis like, would warn me of a settlement ahead, and nearing it, the water tower or silo would tell me just which one.

As I motored on through-out the afternoon, the road changes personality. Sometimes gentle and beautiful, laid back or wistful. Other times busy and full of information, but it was always honest and never greedy. We shared the same space, if only fleetingly, and each understood the other. The end of a days ride was approaching and a small breeze kicked up. A slight change in temperature and the sky turned a cobalt blue. As I pulled in for the night, my head was full of the sights, sounds, and smells of the days ride. I thought of the people met and miles covered, in a similar yet different order and circumstance than yesterday. I was already looking forward to the next morning as a flush of satisfaction washed over me and a wayworn but pleased sense of accomplishment made it all fit into place.

1000 Miles

It was cooler than yesterday and harmless white puffy clouds salted a blue sky. I was riding in from the north and had what felt like a gentle tail wind. It was unusually quiet in my helmet and the comforting drone of the motor gave confidence to the approach. Like a glider coming in, the last mile of curves were smooth and graceful.   I landed in the middle of Riggins alongside the Salmon River and promptly donated an hour to the Mountain Time Zone.

This was only the second day out of a thousand mile ride. Already, a dozen different worlds had rolled underneath my wheels. I passed in and out of them effortlessly like some seasoned time traveler.  Through urban traffic, rolling hills, mountain passes and amber waves of grain, I was but a transient guest in each situation and soon rambled on to the next.

The river and Hwy 95 part ways at the south side of town, after having followed it since White Bird Pass. I gave a farewell nod to the waterway, its rafters and the vibrant little town and moved on, straddling the curvy spine of the 7 Devils Mountains. I finished up that day 110 miles later entering the Paddock Valley where the Weiser and Snake Rivers meld, then nudge the Oregon border.

During these 1000 miles, on different days on different roads, I saw birch trees going by like a white picket fence. I saw people towing their hobbies smiling and relaxed because they were close to their destinations. I felt the temperatures swing from chilly to hot, and saw crops near harvest. I smelled the diesel and creosote leftovers lingering above tracks still warm and shiny from a recent train. And so I rode, one mile by one, town to town, county to county line, some names known and some, until now, unacquainted.

I was passing Lupines and Prickly Pear Cactus east of Prineville. The blacktop was steaming from a two minute downpour that I had apparently just missed. Their blossoms were still wet and glistened like desert gems. The air was still moist too, and the Vintage motor absorbed it in and purred of pleasure and satisfaction. That rain cloud had wandered off and was far in the distance and inconsequential.

Just before the foothills I stopped for gas, breathed in and assessed the whole situation.  Several days and several hundred miles had not jaded my appreciation for this ride. Last winter I was anticipating these panoramic views and the wind in my face. I was athirst to saddle up, eager to ride, and anxious to call the highway my home. Now, familiar roads like old friends greeted me. The Vintage had quickly forgiven the months of inattention and cooperated with my every request. New sights around every corner were just waiting to be introduced, and I was the only person in the world to meet them at that particular point in time.

By the last day out and the odometer nearing the 1000 mile mark, the line between anticipation and realization had long since blurred. There was no need to try and separate them anyway. Lonesome roads, endless skies, the smell of the forest and the sound of the breeze were all things that combined to make up this road trip. The stuff of dreams, envisioned way back when the sky was gray and drizzly, and this journey was just a gleam in my eye.

Many Rivers to Cross

It was high noon when I reached the north side of the Astoria Bridge. The old girl was getting a make-over and smelled of paint and turpentine. A flock of supervisory seagulls drifted above. I crossed the Columbia and spiraled down to street level Astoria then pointed my front  tire towards Tillamook.

It was still a week before the national rally in John Day, but I had a full agenda ahead of me prior to, then following that event involving Grand Tour checkpoints and other towns riding a large, crooked, counter clockwise circle covering Oregon’s four corners. Astoria was corner 1 and there were barely any bugs on my windshield or whisker shadow on my face.

This was the 4th summer with the Vintage and the ride kept getting better and better. Leaning into and powering out of the coastal corners, it was clear what this machine was made for. Sometimes entering a small patch of fog that hadn’t yet or wouldn’t ever burn off, I’d feel a power surge when the motor smiled and breathed in that slightly moist air.  The ocean on my right stretched out as far as the eye could reach. Beyond that were sea-faring tales that I couldn’t imagine. Ahead of me, the road was unwinding like a story told in real time.

The next few days, my wheels kept on turning. Past the Holsteins and Jerseys of Tillamook, the tourists of Lincoln City, and the dunes near Reedsport. There, I turned and rode east over the coast range on OR38. A beautiful and meandering road following the Umpqua River past one blink burgs with names like Murphys Camp and Green Acres. Ordinary people calmly and smoothly going about their business  – like the water flow next to them.

Nearing the I-5 corridor it was getting quite congested, and hot too. The Vintage was running like a champ, but I could tell it wanted some more elbow room. I quickly checked off a Grand Tour site in Sutherlin then looked for a back road outta town. Barely showing on a map was Flournoy Valley Road turning into Reston Road, then meeting up nicely with OR42 at another one of those tiny settlements –Tenmile. We headed west again back over the coast range ending up at Bandon Beach just in time for the sunset.

A cup of hot coffee the next morning was enough to get me warmed up and down the road to Brookings for breakfast –Corner 2. It wasn’t long before I was across the border and catching whiffs more and more frequently of the Eucalyptus groves of Del Norte County.

I passed through some redwoods and swung back up into Oregon on 199 along the Smith River. Rafters, fly fisherman, and bathers all enjoying the summer sun, as was I, weaving and watching it go by from above.

Summer in southern Oregon can get real hot real fast, but I avoided it  by climbing quickly from the Rogue River valley where the temps cooled just as fast, and nearing Crater Lake, snow was still alongside the road. Continuing east then north on OR97 I saw an unassuming line on the map referred to as the Silver Lake Hwy cutting across to OR31 not far from Summer Lake – another checkpoint.  A very peaceful, seemingly deserted road, it’s elevated above marshland filled with cattails, lillypads, grasses and some ponderosa pine trees. Cranes, eagles and pelicans were above. This part of the state is always full of surprises.

OR140 out of Lakeview the road climbed again, almost imperceptibly except for passing a ski area at Buzzards Gap about 6100 feet. The Vintage never questioned and was with me however and wherever I wanted to go. I Dipped down into Humbolt county Nevada before going north again on OR201 to Fields – Corner number 3. OK, not technically a corner, McDermitt would have been truer..but I had a rally to get to!

From there it was north to the rally to enjoy the two days of festivities. Sunday morning I packed up again, turned north and crossing the John Day River, I was on my way. By early afternoon I was watching the Wallowa mountains diminishing in my mirror as I rode north on OR 3 out of Enterprise, heading toward corner 4 and beyond.

There’s a bridge over the Grand Ronde River, just north of the border where OR 3 turns to WA129. A pull- off and a small café sits lazily on its bank. It’s at the bottom of a 15 mile set of sweepers and hairpins. North or south, up or down, it’s an exhilarating road and there is always a set or two of bikers there with grins and stories.

Later, I’m following the Clearwater River right into Clarkston when it disappears into the Snake without fanfare. Just as the next day, only hours from home now, the Snake itself merges with the Columbia and loses its maiden name forever…

Have a Nice Day

“Have a nice day” the cop said disingenuously and almost with a sneer.

I could see myself in his glasses as I looked at him, and took my copy of the ticket.. I could also see  my mouth start to open , but then close. This was a minor issue that I didn’t need to get worked up over. The ride I’d had today far out-shadowed any small minded attitude that wouldn’t be swayed.

Just that very morning I’d left traffic congestion, stop lights and hundreds of miles way behind me. The more time and miles in the saddle, the more relaxed I get. We were one, the Vintage and me, over the pass and into drier climes of the east-side  Riding along I chuckled to myself as I thought aloud, “even if I were a kidnap victim, bound, gagged and tied up in the trunk of a Town Car,  I would still know that change in the very air when the evergreens turn to sagebrush.”  Naturally, my senses were much less constrained than that, and crossing over back and forth several times this summer, the second summer with the Vintage, I could feel it starting to get broken in and freer too. We were having a nice day.

A small cloud of dust followed then settled behind my rear tire as I pulled into an oasis of a town in Central East Oregon. Except for the old gas pumps out front, the GasStationPostOfficeFeedstoreSaloon and local card players hangout hall, could have been straight out of a western movie. I might have just interrupted a royal flush, but more likely gave the proprietor a chance to get up and stretch. The woman, wearing cowboy boots, a snap-shirt and blue jeans with a belt buckle the size of a dinner plate saying something about rodeo championships, nodded, said “howdy”, and handed me the pump.

We talked about the roads, we talked about the weather. We talked about the freedom of the saddle and the river near by. When my tank was full, I’d made a friend. It seems so easy and natural on the road.  As my left boot kicked it into first, she said,  “have a nice day” with enthusiasm and with smiling eyes…

Cruising along late one afternoon on a roundabout way to the John Day rally, the bike suddenly died. Coasting to a stop, I assessed my predicament. Just ahead, at the top of a hill, was a sweeper I had just been mentally calculating.  To the rear –well, it’s mighty beautiful country out here when you’re on top of the world and riding the wind, but indeed a daunting view when suddenly and unexpectedly becalmed. I think the last sign of civilization was about 20 miles back. Telephone poles got smaller and smaller in my mirror and disappeared into the horizon. A Jack rabbit loped by, seemingly unconcerned.

Just as I tried, eliminated and had failed with all the usual things, a county sheriff pulled up. “Sure ‘nuff,  I’m dead in the water here and certainly do appreciate you calling a tow truck for me.” 30 minutes later John, owner/operator of “Budget Towing” pulls up. I’m tired, hot and mad that this is probably the end of the road for me this leg of the journey, but then I put things in perspective, and realized the last time I needed a Tow truck I’d been in a wreck. We found the first, then the second, and finally the third and last motel in town with a vacancy. I got a square deal from John. We shook hands. “Have a nice day” he said with unusual compassion.

5:59PM  checked into the motel and just as a fluke, decided to call Moto International. On the 2nd ring Micha answered. I was a little taken aback expecting to leave some pitiful message and try again in the morning after sleeping on the situation.

“Listen” he says, “I think I know what happened.” He went on to explain the, by now, infamous fuel line off-the-pump-inside-the tank syndrome, and what I needed to do to fix it. I was getting a more sinking feeling by the sentence, but he ended it with “I know you can do this”

So I did it. By dark the tank was off and the secret panel opened up and the errant hose was revealed by flashlight. That was all I could do until morning when NAPA opened up and I could get a couple of “real” hose clamps.

It had been a long day, almost ending with a bad day, but thanks to Micha answering that phone 1 minute before closing…something I probably wouldn’t have done…well….I  had a nice day.

I buttoned everything up the next morning and the Vintage fired up on the first crank as if to say,  “I’m rarin’ to go – lets ride!”

And ride we did. Another 1,900 miles over the next 5 days on that leg, and some 1,800 more four weeks later. All the miles I covered this summer were a pure joy.. Literally covering the 4 corners of both Washington and Oregon and many points in between. More passes than I can remember. Snoqualamie, Tombstone, El Dorado, and Santiam to name  a few. The John Day Rally, Brandes campout, and Humbug were scattered in between visits to Grand Tour checkpoints. Beautiful days on the road. A full moon in a day time sky, hawks were abundant and the air was sweet. I tasted the farmland going by…alfalfa fields, sweet onions, peppermint and potatoes. Freshly tilled soil sometimes gave way to harsher caked desert earth in the blink of eye or a county line passed. Road kill out here, while not pleasant, seemed appropriate. The miles and the white lines went flying by, as did the summer.

Now, it’s time to move on again. I’ve stayed long enough, I’ve many miles to cover before sundown.

Have a nice day.