Sunday, August 12, 2007

Never Pass a Gas Station

Day 2 - Weed, CA to Arlington, OR

The day started normally enough, with the sun rising over Mt. Shasta. I was topped off and on the road by nine, but a few miles up the road toward Crater Lake I came up on a very serious accident involving a large pickup with travel trailer and small car. No emergency vehicles had arrived yet, but there were several people tending to the scene and marshalling cars through the wreckage. As I crept through there appeared to be only one injury, but all the vehicles were absolutely finished. This left me with a sense of impending doom as I continued north. Every couple of minutes I was passed by another emergency vehicle heading in the opposite direction for the accident.

Aside from that, the morning was beautiful. Scenery and weather were both ideal. Mt. Shasta was on my right for many miles, then in my rearview mirror, and more and more snow was revealed as more of the north face came into view. The sky was blue and cloudless and the temperature was in the high 60s. Perfect riding weather.

Not knowing the gasoline situation in Crater Lake National Park, I stopped at a gas station to top off a few miles outside of the park. Just as I pulled up the electricity went off and there was no way to pump fuel. I chatted with the proprietor for a few minutes (an old Norton rider) then headed on up to the park. He told me there was a station just inside the entrance, so I was not concerned.

When I got to the park, I proudly bought my “old guy” lifetime park pass, but had to pay cash because the electricity was out at the entrance. I went to the general store and gas station inside the entrance and was greeted by the same lack of wattage. I hung around a few minutes weighing my options when someone radioed in that the outage was due to a fire about 30 miles south of the park. The expanse of the outage was unknown, but a clerk told me there was a station on the other side of the park, a few miles out of my way, but the best bet for getting fuel before I ran out.

After taking a few pictures of the amazingly blue lake, I proceeded to the next gas station, thinking I might be sitting there until electricity returned to the area. Not to worry, there was indeed electricity there and when I told the weather-worn old proprietor about the Crater Lake problem he laughed. His electricity came from the other direction, but he has his own generator because of the many power outages during the severe winters, with “twenty feet of snow.”

Crater Lake, Oregon

Proceeding north from the park the scenery was nice but remarkable only in the series of large pyramid-shaped mountains way off to the west. Not long past Bend, I stopped at Redmond for some fuel and a coffee float to energize me for the final leg. I was feeling pretty tired from two long days of riding, so decided to skip the camping and go to a motel.

The scenery north of Redmond was less exciting, save for the constant presence of the majestic mountains to the west. About 50 miles or so from the Columbia River I passed through an area that is no doubt very windy as a rule, and this afternoon is was extremely windy. There was a large wind farm just east of the road, but all the windmills were feathered because the wind was too severe. And it was another crosswind, much more severe that the one I experienced yesterday. This was a two-lane road, so there was no way I could escape the turbulence of trucks and RVs passing me in the opposite direction. It was the worst crosswind I have ever experienced, and would have stopped if I thought there was any chance of the wind abating before dark.

The last 10 miles descending to the Columbia River provided some of the best scenery I’ve seen so far. It was about 2 hours before sunset, so the sun was low and modified the colors somewhat. The fields in the foothills were golden (real golden, not the brown we see in Caleefornia). The gold of the freshly harvested wheat flowed into light greens, punctuated with dark green trees. The next level of color was bright blue, with the purple of Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams off in the distance. Next was the grey of the massive amounts of smoke blowing north from a large wildfire not far from Redmond. Then another layer of blue, then a white strip of stratus clouds. It was fantastic, but I couldn’t figure out a way to capture it with a camera. Views like this are why we ride.

At the river I stopped for one more topoff before heading east to the motel. I noticed that one mudflap was missing from the trailer, presumably from the severe wind I had just ridden through. At the motel, as I was unpacking the bike, I noticed an extremely bald spot on that tire, down to the cord, so I imagine that the mudflap was somehow blown into the tire and locked it up long enough to create a sever flat spot, but not long enough to blow the tire.

From the Village Inn at Arlington

The nearest tire shop is 50 miles away. If the existing tire can make it that far, and if they have such small tires, I might still make it to Missoula tomorrow. Or….

Today’s mileage was 418.

1 comment:

Karen said...

These photos are fantastic!!!!

Keep 'em coming :)