We have no big rides planned for this year. But that doesn't mean we won't be putting
on the miles. We have signed up for some of the Rose City Motorcycle Club's runs,
including the Grand Tour. We have done it several times before. It consists of
hitting checkpoints scattered across Oregon and beyond and getting a stamp in the
tour book they send you. You have from April first to the end of September to get
as many as you can. At the end of October they have a dinner and you get tickets
in the pot depending on the number of checkpoints you collected. Then at the drawing,
the more checkpoints, the more chance of winning a prize. And they have some nice
ones! It takes 10 checkpoints to get one ticket; but then each additional checkpoint
is another ticket until you get all 15 Oregon checkpoints. Then there are additional
bonus checkpoints that are worth two tickets each, but these checkpoints are NOT
in Oregon. They are not even close to Oregon. They are typically around a thousand
miles (1.600 km) from the club's home base in Portland, Oregon. This year the four
bonus checkpoints will take a minimum of 3,000 miles (4.800 km) to collect, making
a loop through Southern California, Las Vegas and eastern Utah. We have done all
the checkpoints a couple of times but we will only be trying for the Oregon 15 this
year. We should be able to get all of them by doing several three-day trips. Going
back to work puts a crimp in long distance plans. Oh well, there is always next
Besides the Grand Tour there are numerous one-day poker runs to go on. I plan to
do the Rose City "Oregon 250" and "Oregon 500". The number is the mileage of the
run. Also I plan on other poker runs by GWRRA chapters and other clubs.
Check back now and then and you might find details of a new ride we have taken. These
pages will be updated irregularly.
This starts with the Polar Bear Run, of course!
The weather was very good for January first. The sun was out and the temperature
was predicted to reach 40 F (4.5 C) although it was below freezing at the start. We
had our Gerbings electric jackets and gloves and were fine. That is until Kathy's
right glove quit working. She rode most of the route with her hand tucked in between
The Polar Bear Run has three different routes. They all lead from the same start
to the same finish. And these are the same every year. The differences lie in the rides. Of
the three the Baby Bear is the shortest (30 miles-50 km), the Papa Bear the longest
(110 miles-175 km) and the Mama Bear in between. These distances are approximate
and, like the route, will vary every year.
This year we forgot to bring the camera. So we only have pictures of the start that
I took with my phone's camera. It is much too difficult to use when riding so this
is all you get!
There were several hundred bikes this year because of the good weather. And we even
had a "Polar Bear" show up too.
At the end of January we took a ride along the Oregon side to the mouth of the Columbia
River for lunch. Our weather is still holding good. We are having a lot more sun
than we normally get here in the Pacific Northwet! The mornings are cool and there
is some ground fog in the valleys but nothing to make a ride miserable or dangerous.
This is a Saturday and we are heading to Astoria to have lunch at one of our favorite
places, The Wet Dog Cafe. They have a long list of great burgers. On the list is
one called the "Puppies". It is two smaller burgers done in any of the styles that
the regular size burgers come in. We cannot eat a whole burger and fries each so
this makes a great way to share. A pair of Puppies and the accompanying fries are
just right for us.
The road is fine and dry. The curves are not exciting but enough to make this a
good ride. We get to Astoria, and the cafe, and find that in the year since we were
last here they have dropped the "Puppies" from their menu. The smaller burger is
still there but only as a single. So we order a full size burger and cut it in half. It
accomplishes the same thing and we don't need two orders of French Fries.
As Astoria is at the mouth of the Columbia River we have to take the bridge across
to come back on the Washington side of the river.
This is a high bridge to let ship traffic upriver to the ports. The ports on the
Columbia ship the most grain to the Orient of any port in the world. Most all the
grain going from the US to Japan, Korea and China goes out the Columbia. The grain
comes from the eastern halves of Washington and Oregon, mostly wheat, and the Great
Plains of the Midwest, mostly corn.
The access ramp on the Oregon side is a pigtail that climbs quickly.
The bridge then drops to water level and runs across a large mud flat for 4 miles
to the Washington side. This is a straight shot with usually a fairly strong side
wind. But today there is no wind. This is a very strange winter. While the East
Coast, particularly New England, is setting records for cold and snow, we are doing
the opposite. We are having the warmest winter on record.
The Washington side is the better side for motorcycles. The road has more scenery
and more curves. It also takes longer and this means less traffic.
We have views of Mt. St. Helens in the distance. The river is quiet with little
ship traffic today.
The winter sun is low in the sky even though the afternoon is still young.
The run to Astoria is a great lunch run. It takes 2-3 hours each way and has some
very good roads. There is time to stop along the way if one so desires to visit
shops or ice cream stands. One sees various wildlife both on land (deer/elk/eagles)
and in the river (sea lions). The total ride is about 200 miles with very little
freeway, and the freeway can be avoided if one desires to.
On the first Saturday in March we went to our GWRRA chapter meeting for breakfast. We
have made plans and reservations for a camping trip on the Oregon beach. Last year,
before our big East Coast trip, we had seen a news article about a beach that supposedly
had lots of agates. I had set the location as a point of interest (POI) in my GPS
for future use. So we took our trailer to the breakfast meeting with plans to continue
to the beach afterwards.
At the meeting we have the usual stuff, food, talk, information, visitors, more talk,
more information and general good fun. Because the weather is again very good our
ride coordinator has planned a ride about 80 miles (130 km) to the town of Albany,
Oregon and its carousel museum. It is straight south on the freeway, but of course
there are other options.
Three bikes, including us, take part in the ride. We take our time, stopping for
more coffee and a butt break before arriving in Albany. We are along because we
had heard about this museum and it is right on the route to our beach reservation. Our
ride coordinator, without even knowing, has planned this perfectly for us.
It is an all volunteer project to rebuild a 1909 carousel with all new animals and
decorations. The working parts were donated but the rest of it is being painstakingly
built by many, many volunteers. The parts that cost real money are paid for by donations
from the public and supporting organizations.
The inside has a gift shop and display area, but the interesting part is the large
workshop in the back. And they let you wander at will through the whole place. The
1909 workings were donated by Bill Dentzel, grandson of the founder of the Dentzel
Carousel Corporation. The museum spent several years refurbishing the working gears
and parts and have been working on the animals even longer.
The workshop is full of parts and pieces of animals and their carvers. Each animal
has a workstation with a full-size full-color drawing of it on the nearby wall.
When done there will be 63 animals of various sizes, 52 on the ride, 6 spares and
5 seasonal animals.
After a couple hours there we headed for the beach and the others headed back north. We
set up camp at the state park among a stand of tall Spruce trees. We are a quarter
mile from the beach and Kathy goes to take a look. For dinner we go into town and
found an Irish Pub where we had really good food.
On the way back to camp we pulled into a scenic viewpoint and watched the sun set. It
has been a good day, especially when you consider that it is still winter.
The next morning Kathy is anxious to go look for the agates. So she heads to the
beach and I pack up the camp. When I have finished I head to the beach and find
her wandering in the distance with her head down scanning the sand.
When I walk over to her she says that it is a lousy beach. Not only no agates, there
are very few rocks at all. Two years ago we had much better luck at a different
beach. Next time we'll go back there.
Then it was time to go home and we headed out taking a different route back to the
bridge across the Columbia River at I-5. The Columbia River makes traffic up and
down the west coast bunch up at Portland, Oregon to cross on one of two bridges. And
every working day rush hour and every Sunday evening the jam-up is fierce. Sometimes
we even get a wreck which will bring things to a complete halt, instead of just stop-and-go.
We had crossed southbound on one bridge and now are using the other. Either way
the traffic is heavy. We make it home safely and had a good weekend. That's what
The next rides will be in the springas we are running out of winter.