Sunday, July 31, 2011

Sunday Ride to Buena Vista Ferry - Bicycling

A busy weekend and Ron and I only have Sunday for ourselves. As always, lots of options on how to spend the day. The tough part is deciding on an activity and sticking to it. Bicycling won the day.
Nursery stock?
We haven't investigated the brand-spanking new Buena Vista Ferry, so that will be the destination of choice. We set out from Albany toward Jefferson then swing around to Ankeny Wildlife Refuge. It's a perfect day for riding. We'll see a lot of other bicyclists on the road, and a few motorcyclists as well. In the fields farmers are preparing and harvesting grass seed.
Combines lined up on a field
 We stop at the pond (lake, wetlands?) in the refuge. One look over the bank confirms nothing wet left here. Quite different from winter.
Ankeny Wildlife Refuge
Same scene, Jan 2010
 The new ferry is lovely to see up close. Everything is fresh and newly painted, like a shiney new toy at Christmas. I've noticed a couple of changes. Reading the Ferry sign just off the freeway I see the new operating hours, open 7 days a week except Thanksgiving and Christimas. Really? Open year round? Cool! The other change as of August 5th, a $1 charge for bicyclists...sounds fair to me.
Buena Vista Ferry

View from the ferry. I love how the engines sound. I love being on the water.
Another change, I see boaters are no longer allowed to use the ferry ramp as a boat launch.
I'm checking out the ramps, to see if I can conquer them. I want to take Sam on a ferry ride.
We take a short break at Buena Vista park, munch on some trail mix, and watch the boaters out fishing on the water. Very peaceful here beside the river.
Buena Vista Ferry from the park
Little flowers in the park
Our return route is along Buena Vista Road to North Albany where we cross over the Willamette River into downtown Albany. A quick trip through town then back to the car where we drive to our hard earned reward!
Luckiamute Landing
My other two wheels
Willamette River along Riverside Drive
Jump? :)
Willamette River from the bridge
For Sale in Albany
A well earned treat

Monday, July 25, 2011

Going to the Sun - Homeward bound

Thursday
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.

Friday
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.

Saturday
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. :)
Stonehenge
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
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!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Going to the Sun - Day Four

Today is the day. Going to the Sun Highway is OPEN.
I'm not fond of riding in traffic. I'm not fond of crowds. In fact I can get down right claustrophobic if I get too hemmed in by the hoards. There will be traffic and crowds, but none of that matters today. The plows have done their job and the pass is open. It was recommended to us to take Highway 2 over the mountains and ride Going to the Sun from east to west.

Highway 2
Dom and Martha waiting on construction, cameras in hand.
Bobskoot. I don't know why, but I really like this photo of Bob.
Rolling once more.
Requisite sign photos. See? We're here. These prove it!
We ride to Two Medicine Lake, which is one of the loveliest spots in the park.

Two Medicine Lake
Along the highway heading towards our destination ride.
Everywhere you look is fantastic scenery.
I'm pretty sure Bob is not fond of my habit of shooting photos while riding. I've tried to be a little discreet about it, but I throw discretion out the window today. Before the day is through I will be waving my arm around shooting images to the front, the sides and over my shoulder. Most are poorly composed, but somehow that is part of their charm.
Going to the Sun
Just some mountain
Ron and Kari
Snow near Logan Pass
The view from the "parking lot"
 
To say the road was crowded is an understatement. You can see the line up of cars all along the road on the distant ridge. I would recommend not visiting on opening day, but somehow being a part of the latest (or second latest) opening day ever is kind of cool. There will be no stopping except for construction. Photo ops are based on where you are in the line up.
Mountain Goats, Momma and kid.
The kid came right down to the cars.
Weeping Wall
Dom was drifting ever closer to the waterfalls. It's a good thing Martha has a camera with her in the sidecar, otherwise I think a shower would have been forth coming. 
More scenery on the fly
Tunnel
It wasn't long after this that Ron left us to make a run to Kalispell in search of a new rear tire. He thought he had enough tread to make it through the tour, but it was not to be. Leland Honda in Kalispell had a tire and got it on his bike that evening. Thanks Leland Honda! Great service. 

Riding Going to the Sun Highway has been the highlight of my time riding. I can't think of a ride I've enjoyed more. Yeah, it was crowded and slow, but I'm ready to go back and try it again...maybe not on the opening day! I'd like to try it by bicycle too, when the construction is wrapped up.