Monday, July 25, 2011

Going to the Sun - Homeward bound

Our return from Montana would take us a little farther south, toward Missoula, then westward into Idaho, Washington and Oregon. From Missoula we head up Lolo Pass. This is a pretty road with nice curves and speed limit designed more for sight-seeing than brisk riding. (50 mph - Really?)
The sign I couldn't stop for.
In my defense, I wasn't going all that fast, but the iconic sign snuck up on me, and I only dive into gravel at low speeds after getting a good look at the surface. Ron and Bob capture the sign pic while I wait up ahead at the next gravel patch. We take breaks here and there as needed. At one particular section I was all but falling asleep on the bike and opted to pull over. Apparently everyone else was feeling the same sleepy call to take a break. Everyone was happy to stop this time.
This guy loved having his photo taken - posed for ever.
Swinging bridge that leads to a hiking trail
Lolo Pass
One more stop...
Our stop for the night was the Konkolville Motel in Orofino. If you ever have need of lodging in this area, this is the place to go. Inexpensive, but nice and clean. Family owned and a known jewel among motorcycle and classic car enthusiasts. You can order a steak dinner with baked potato and salad. They set you up with a BBQ and you can BBQ it yourself, or I think they will also do it for you, if preferred. No exaggeration here: these steaks are HUGE! And very good. We met some other riders to share a meal and good discussions on all things motorcycle.

The next day we set out for John Day, and a goal of riding a couple of great motorcycle roads.The first is the Spiral Highway in Clarkston Washington. Consider this road a public access track with elevation. Only about 10 miles long (go back and do it again!). This is some of the funnest riding to be had. Nice views from the top.
Spiral Highway
After a short break and refuel. we head down Highway 129 (becomes hwy 3), Rattlesnake Grade. This road has scenic straight stretches on each end, with a nice curvy descent in to the canyon, to the Grand Ronde River and back up again. We cross back into Oregon along this route.
Cool looking barn, but not as cool as the one we didn't stop for
Bobskoot riding Rattlesnake Grade
Today is a long riding day, with a chunk of I-84 slab before taking Highway 7 towards John Day, our stop for the night. I guess I didn't get the memo on topography in this area. I didn't realize it was so mountainous.

Our final "real" riding day will take us back into Stevenson Washington where we'll spend one more night and see Bob off on his way towards Canada and home.I'm kind of jazzed about today. I've always wanted to see Picture Gorge. (Been there as a kid, but don't remember it.) We'll ride down highway 26 to hwy. 19, ride through picture Gorge then take hwy 207/206 into Condon for lunch.
Picture Gorge
Outside of Condon we run into a small storm that will chase us most of the day. The upside - dramatic skies for some nice photography
Photograph courtesy of Bob Leong
Today is a short ride day, so we take the time to run up to Goldendale and ride back through Klickitat Canyon. This will be Ron's 'fun' road...a run it, turn around, and do it again, kind of road. Bye Hon, see ya at the end. :)
Klickitat River
We didn't stop for any pics until near the end where we stopped at this narrow gorge with nice views. We were close to the Columbia River now, and a short ride to our destination for the night.We've been very fortunate with regards to weather. This will not be so for the return trip home.

Sunday we wake to the pitter patter of rain falling on the satellite dish just outside our room. The ride south will be wet. I will find out later that Bobskoot's ride north will be just as wet. Basically it dumped record amounts of rain all the way home. I can't complain. The rain (for the most part) held off with only a sprinkling here and there during our week. I'd say that's pretty good.

All in all this has been a spectacular journey. One I'll always remember fondly. We threw it together relatively quickly, and it came together without a hitch. That Going to the Sun highway opened on the last day we would be in the area, after plowing and unbelievable amount of snow is icing on the cake!


  1. Good record of your ride home Kari.

    I liked the storm picture best.


    Redleg's Rides

    Colorado Motorcycle Travel Examiner

  2. I can imagine you blasting by road signs, just being in the zen of riding ;-)
    +1 for the cloudy storm pic, very dramatic.

  3. Great ride report Kari. Beautiful photos.

    It looks as though you really got to ride some great roads. How many miles did you put on Sam that week?

  4. Next 99 Miles, How cool is that!

  5. Bluekat:

    My only wish was that a week should have more than 7 days. It was a great week with good friends.

    Riding the Wet Coast

  6. What's not to like about the storm picture! That said, I'm partial to the photo of the fence post.

    Glad the ride went off without a hitch and great memories were made. Speaking of memories, or more specifically a memory that wasn't: Picture Gorge. You took a picture. You mentioned you always wanted to go through it. So, was it a simple check off the list, or was it more?

    Thanks for sharing this trip. I much appreciated the photos and your words.

  7. Best shot is the one with the 3 bikes parked on a curve with the beautiful landscape in the background. Beautiful sky shot too. Idaho, Montana, Oregon and even Washington are treasures.

  8. Thanks Dom
    When we were riding I was hoping we'd stop for some photos of the storm, because the windmills and the skies looked so dramatic.

  9. Hi Sonja,
    Zen riding. Very apt description. :)

  10. Thanks Trobairitz,
    Funny you should ask about the mileage. I set one of the trip meters to track the mileage. Ron kept asking me how many miles, and I kept forgetting to look. Well, guess what? I never checked.

    Luckily Ron checked his. He did around 2300, and I did about 200 less than that. I'm so bad about recording these important things... "Hi I'm Kari, I'm on some road somewhere having to much fun to pay attention to signs, mileage...I need to work on that!

  11. Hi cpa,
    Yep, Iconic sign, and I zoomed right past... :)

  12. Hi Bob,
    I agree about longer weeks...during vacations that is ;)
    Work week, not so much.

  13. Hi Keith,
    I like the fence post too. I like to capture little snippets like that.

    Funny thing about Picture Gorge When I spotted it down the road I got really excited to finally see it. Didn't realize how much I wanted to. We stopped and got some photos (including the fence post), then as we rode through I shot images as I rode. Only thing is the camera battery had died and I didn't know it. When I looked at the pics later, no Picture Gorge! I was really disappointed about that. It's really beautiful territory. The road intersects with another highway with one road traveling down one canyon, and the other road going down another canyon. Gorgeous! Fortunately it's only a day's ride away from where we live, so I fully plan to return this summer for another photo op!

  14. Hi George,
    I love the rugged landscape of Eastern Oregon, and all the open space. It was a long way down over that rail by the bikes. We watched another sport bike wind it's way along the road below. Me thinks he was moving a bit faster than us! :)

  15. Absolutely wonderful images! Yes, the storm. Yes the fence post. Yes to all of them!

    I'm glad the trip was great!

    Is that one of the Stonehenges that was built to determine sound waves? I read about that recently.

  16. Wow, you guys did do a lot of miles. Looks like you made it home just in time. Glad you didn't get hit by any rocks, check out this news article.

  17. Thanks Beemergirl
    Hmm, I haven't heard anything about Stonehenge and sound waves. This one is also a war memorial, but I don't know it's history. I'll have to investigate now.

  18. Hi Trobairitz,
    Thanks for the link - Wow! I can believe it though. Steep sided slopes and plenty of overhangs. Ron has a picture of a sign warning about rocks. I'm glad all we saw come down was a baby mountain goat.

  19. You are no longer a grasshopper, it seems. The Master declares you a full fledged motorcyclist. Congratulations. You have jumped far.