Day 9
In the Cascade Mountains
Near Crater Lake, Oregon

It was another cool night in the mountains, but I was warm and cozy in my tent.  It's rising on a cool morning I hate.  

The forest was quiet and the few RVs were still asleep, as we broke camp.

Today is another short day.  I am really proud with myself for the manner I planned this trip, and how well it's playing out.  I planned the portion of the trip from Montana to San Francisco to be short 350 mile days.  This allows us a chance to be a part of the places we ride through.  We can ride back roads and see things, and not worry about getting there.   It's  been nice, and I like this pace much better then that of last years west coast tour.

Today we land in California.  Eureka to be exact.  Not all that far, but almost 200 of it will be on SR 96, the twisty and scenic Klamath River Road.  It will take several hours to digest that highway.

The pace will pick up for the trip back east, but for now I want to enjoy this string of easy saddle days.

We exit the forest on SR 62.  A shady, scenic road.  The trees are very tall here, and the sunlight only manages to reach a few spots.

I notice a deer far ahead, at the left of highway.   A cage is approaching, and the deer bolts across.  I see it flash across the cars headlights into the forest on the opposite side.  Dennis told me later he never saw it.

SR 62 is another scenic ride.  Not very twisty, but a nice ride through the forest.

In Medford we find a Apple restaurant and go in for a long break.  We read the paper and Dennis catches up on the latest World Cup news.  I'm not a breakfast eater, and neither is Dennis, but today we have all kinds of time.
I find early mornings to be my most productive time in the saddle.  I feel best in the mornings, my butt is rested, and the traffic is usually thinner, and the weather cooler.  On a 6-700 mile day, these hours are important.  If I am going for that kind of mileage, I will do 300 miles before lunch.  It is harder to keep pace in the afternoons, I find myself needing more breaks, from 1-4, after which I get my second wind, and do fine.  Miles lost by loitering in the mornings, and not getting a early start, are almost impossible to make up.  For me, doing the bulk of my miles when I feel best, gives me more flexibility in the afternoons.  Putting up camp in the dark is a hassle.

On days I put my stand down a lot in the mornings, I either find myself riding into the night, or falling short of my goals.  Know what kind of day you have before you, and ride accordingly.

We order a light breakfast of toast and juice.  

Time to jump on the slab for the short ride to the Hotel California.  I-15 transports us south right past a Oregon State Trooper, sitting in the median for all to see. I don't know how I missed him.  I come by him at 80+, in the 65 mph speed challenged state of Oregon.  His light bar fires off.  Damn, my luck just ran out.  I see a sign the California State Line is 1 mile ahead.  Maybe I will reach the inspection station and check in the Hotel California, before he nabs me.  Don't know if it would make any difference, but I can't see them parting traffic to let him pass to go after me.  I keep an eye on my mirrors, and fall in line at the inspection station.  They wave me through and I escape.  Perhaps he never came after me, or he figured I was too close to California to be worth the trouble.  Talk about 9 lives.

Quickly the SR 96 exit arrives and we take it, and take advantage of the rest area there.   

Now the real riding begins.  I have been waiting months to ride this famous highway, and I am not disappointed.  The Klamath is every bit as good as they say.  When they cut this road they had ME in mind.  "Y'all don't forget Guy wants this road to be curvy, smooth, scenic, challenging, and loooooong, so go out there and get going!"

​Up, over, and through the Klamath Valley we go.
If you want to read more about this fabulous road click here www.pashnit.com and look for the SR 96 link.
Brothers, this road has to be ridden to be believed.  It banks and twists along the Klamath for 190 miles.  I find myself leaning and "curving" so many turns I go on automatic.  THE ZONE has arrived.  I move up on the tank, for a more aggressive riding position.  Tight hairpins come at me- no problem.  A series of esses comes next, and I mow them down with ease.  I ride better in the twisties, when I have someone to follow, so Dennis takes the point.  I look past the front tire of his bike to the line needed to take.  There is NO traffic.  

Left, right, up and over the hills, then down we go.  I have to be vigilant as Dennis does not use much brake.  I enter a right hand switchback dragging the back brake, I find the exit point, and roll more throttle on.  This goes on for a hour, and we have not had to pass a single car, and have only met a few north bound vehicles. 
The last time I rode this hard was on a crotch rocket.  I am riding at 75% and do not dare go any more.  I am a long way from home, and wrecking my bike unfathomable. 

I pass several good photo ops, because I want to stay in the zone.

Soon, I just plain grow tired.  I back off, get up straight in the saddle and start taking in the scenery.  The Klamath is so long you don't feel like you have to sport ride the whole thing.  Slow down if you want, plenty of miles ahead to lean.
​Construction on the Klamath.  CALTRANS and Dennis in a showdown.
The zone leaves me and I come back down.  We stop and take some pics, and rest up.  We still have a long way to go.

Dennis Ryan is as good a rider as I have seen.  He has fun and keeps himself on the safe side. Yes, we can ride faster and lean lower, but that reduces your safety margin and I don't like that.

I notice my gas gauge is on the low side. A station appears, and a sign reads next services in 50 miles.  No problem.  All I need to know is how far is it to the next town, when I have that info, I can tell if I need to stop now or not.  We keep going and a few miles later my light comes on.

I ride the 40 miles into Happy Camp with it glowing at me.

We find the gas pumps at Happy Camp.  A 24 hour card only pump.  Common in the west.  I pull to the pump and notice the price.  A stunning 1.97 per gallon for 87.  When I left home, gas stood at 1.21 for 87.  The farther west I go on this trip, the more expensive.  You have to be careful.  They call 85 regular, to low for a ST.  Back home, the ST gets a diet of 93.5 for 1.40, but here I can't find anything higher then 91.

What kind of vehicle runs on 85??

At least they don't have a law requiring a attendant pump your gas like they do in Oregon.
It costs me 12 bucks and some change to fill the ST.  The most I've ever paid for a fill up. 
With gas tanks full of precious gems, we continue south under blue skies and bright sun.

I mix in periods of sporty riding, with easy.
​The Klamath River as seen from SR 96.
Near Willow Oak I meet a 18 wheeler coming out of a right hander, all over my lane.  It's a Pepsi truck.  What in the world is a 18 wheeler doing on THIS road?  Don't they a smaller truck for local deliveries?  I move to the edge and he gets by.  Good thing I wasn't riding fast.

Lara's in Hoopa hosts us for lunch.  I had a very tasty burger and fries.  I love hamburgers, just call me Wimpy.

  "I would gladly pay you Thursday for a hamburger today."

While waiting for our burgers a waitress reports for duty and bops out-

"I'm burning up!!  SO HOT OUTSIDE!  Burning up!  I hate summer"

It was 85 degrees with 8% humidity.

At Willow Creek we take SR 299 east to Eureka.  More great riding. 
The ride will be ending early today, and I will get to run for the first time since Kansas.

The Klamath River Road will go on the favorite list.

I see a sign for the Motel 6 and exit.  Only problem, its the Arcata Motel 6 and not Eureka.  Ooops.

Dennis brings us to the correct Motel and we check in.  We unload the bikes and relax.  I change into running clothes and run 3 miles down to the marina and back.  The cool coastal weather agrees with me.

It felt good to run again.

When I get back to the room Dennis informs me he spoke with brother Don.  He's a hour away and has Richard Follen, and VJ with him.  Fellow STers and brother riders from the ST BBS.  YEAH!! going to be a blast tonight!
A short while later, they arrive and we have a big reunion.  We slap backs and shake hands.  Brother Don scolds us for not having the beer iced down-

"well damn, how come you guys ain't got any beer??"

"I don't drink, its Dennis' fault"

"HE knows the first guys in buys the beer"

"I guess HE forgot"

I meet brother VJ for the first time.  A unique individual.  I never met a quiet, but extroverted guy before.  He's first to go on that list.

Don complains they had a long ride in from the Bay Area.  He said-

"I went through a town, and 2 hours later, I came back to it"

Don suggest we take a cab to supper, and I agree. I don't really feel like gearing up again, and a cab ride will give us a chance to be together.

While waiting for VJ out in the parking lot I called my fire station back home.  I don't know what shift is working, heck I can't even tell you what day of the week it is.  On a trip, days of the week have no meaning. 

Who cares if its Monday or Friday, everyday if fun!

The phone rings and one of the jr men answers.  My shift is on duty so I timed it right-

"hey what's goin on?"

"Not much Loo, but I got something to tell ya"

"oh yeah? what?"

"well we ate tacos last shift"

"damnit y'all KNOW better then to have tacos when I'm off! Y'all are not allowed to do tacos when I'm on leave"

"I tried to stop em but Brian said it would be ok"

"oh he did?  That joker is gonna pay"

"just kiddin"

"good, have I missed any good fires?"

"nah been real quiet, we miss ya though"

"yeah, I know y'all do"

I hate it when I miss taco night, or a good fire.

The cab pulls up and takes us to the Samoa.  A fine old fashioned restaurant that came highly recommended.
The cab is a van, and since I'm from Alabama, I get the shotgun seat.

Along the way, the driver asks-

"where ya from?"


He gave me a look and quipped "really?"

The Samoa is a old lumberjack place.  Big and open. There is no menu.  "This is what were cooking and you get all you can eat."

Our waitress tells me they have another waitress from Alabama working here.  I said, "well send her over here"
 A few minutes a cute girl strolls over and asks-

"You're from Alabama?"

"yesssssssssss baby, and where in Alabama are YOU from?"

"Demopolis" A small town in west central Alabama.

Her name is Leah, spending the summer in the Hotel California.  Her boyfriend and her took off last May for high adventure. She's going to school at Auburn, but I won't hold it against her.  We speak for a long time.

"I bet you're driving the guys wild out here with that accent"

"yeah my boyfriend gets pissed at all the attention I get."

VJ says he failed to understand a single word of our conversation.

We had a great time at the Samoa.  One of the highlights of the trip.  I feel so comfortable around these guys and they're so much fun.  It is worth every mile of the 4,000 I rode to get here to have this night.

On the way back, the guys stop for beer.  I waited in the van with the driver.  Boys will be boys.

Back at the motel we stand around the bikes and speak about old times and motorcycles of course.

VJ has a 2001 just like mine.  He has a accent and I have a accent, so we spend time learning how the other speaks.

Don asks why I don't drink and I say, "never developed a taste for it, and I find beer the most unpleasant of all."
The impromptu party breaks up a short while later, and I go upstairs to bed.  It was a fun, fun tonight, and I look forward to more of the same tomorrow. 

The next day will find us in the Giant Redwoods, and riding the Pacific Coast Highway.