​​​BamaRider
Day 12
June 15th, 2003
Lakeview, Oregon



I was able to sleep in just a little bit this morning.  I estimate 400 miles or so to the Idaho Mountains, and a 7:30am-8:00am departure window was all I needed.

I slept good, and packing went quick.  I jotted the routes down and slid it in the Aerostich sleeve pocket.  I opened the door, and took a few short steps and started loading the ST.  I love ground floor rooms.  The morning is once again perfect.  Clear, cool and sunny.

I went to check out, and found out why Lakeview is such a dead resort town. Jose told me Goose Lake is alkali.  I'm not sure what that means, but it has something to do with not being able to drink out of it.  I thought back to my ride coming in by the lake, and realized there was an absence of birds, fisherman or anything else.  
Just Lakeview's luck.  Nothing like being located on the shores of a lake in the high desert, filled with water no one can drink.

The motel is located right on US 395 so I took a right out of the parking lot, and went back through the business district.  The place was dead on this Sunday morning, and it concerned me.  Pre ride analysis told me 395 north out of Lakeview is a lonely stretch, and not likely to have gas anywhere before Riley, 75 miles at least.  I was below half, and after running the numbers, felt like it might be too close to chance.  I searched for a station in town but failed to find any open.  

I saw a local bank with a ATM, so stopped for a few extra bucks.  

I was resigning myself to the fact I may have to shoot for Riley.  I could do it  with gas to spare if I backed off 85mph to 55, but what fun would that be?  I was on the north side of town, out of the city limits, when I found a open 66.  I  had to pay cash because they had no pay at punch feature.  I got stuck in line behind a joker in a old baseball cap, charging a pack of cigs, drink and chips, to his Visa.  His total was 4 dollars and something.  Are you kidding me?  He held up 3 folks while a slow modem dialed up for approval.  I felt like handing him a 5 to just to get him out of the way.  I figured he was between paydays.  He'll be paying for that stuff the next 2 years.
Topped off with gas and money, I set out for Idaho.  Today, will be some of the best riding this Long Rider has ever put down.  I have all day to do 400 miles, the weather is perfect, and the highways and scenery will be some of the best in the country.  Is this heaven?

US 395 cuts a swath through the Harney Basin, a little known area in what is called the High Desert.  
I stopped to read a geological marker on the Albert Rim.  It says something about this being a active fault line.  I hope today is not the day it decides to cut up.  ("cut up"- southern slang for making mischief).

This is a great little ride.  The highway is all mine, and the road follows the banks of Lake Albert.  Another lake with NO trees around it, so I guess it's Alkali too.  On my right tall cliffs tower over me, blocking the warm rays of the eastern sun.  In the shadows its downright cool.  Funny, you never notice such things in a car, but on a bike your heightened awareness catches everything.

I pulled up my left arm to check something on my notes, and my map pocket is GONE!  DAMN.  I looked back to my mirrors, but nothing was there.  Did it fall off?  It never has before, the velcro held it down tight.  Where is it?  I think about about going back to look for it, but decide not to, no telling how far I would have to go.  Perhaps I left it in the room?  That pocket was very convenient, I will sorely miss it.  First the tip over in Az, then the detour in the Lassen, next the close call, and now the missing pocket.  All these obstacles being thrown at me.

A south bound BMW RT approaches in the distance, I can tell by the PIAA lights mounted under the headlight, and the gray color.  His loaded bike tells me he is far from home.  He gives a great low wave.  A few miles later I met a yellow dual purpose BMW, also with a touring load.  Are they riding together?  He must of stopped for a pic and his partner kept going, and now he is hammering down to catch up.

A rest area can be seen in the distance and I decide to take it.  Why not?  I'm in no hurry.  I was reading a few wall charts about the local plants when 2 more BMWs motored by, southbound.  What the hell?  A few minutes later a LT did the same.  Must be a local club out for ride, but all the bikes were loaded down.

I was about to leave, when 2 northbound Gold Wings pulled in.  I found out they were on their way home to Montana.  I spoke with the riders about how beautiful Montana is, and about touring in general.  About that time 3 BMWs entered the area, I remember one was a K bike, early 90s model.  They told me they were returning home to California, after attending a rally sponsored by the Oregon BMW club.  Then Kieran Kobell, riding an Electra Glide came in for a break.  He was also southbound, but not a rally attendee.  For a rest area in the middle of nowhere, it sure was busy.
​A busy rest area in the middle of nowhere.  
I had a nice conversation with Kieran.  He also retired young, a former federal agent with the DEA.  He packed up and moved to Montana with his pension and says he's living the high life.  He was on a trip and really didn't know where he was going, but it was somewhere in California.  

Soon it was time for everyone to get back on the road.  I asked Keiran to look for my map pocket on his way south.  

For the fun of it brothers, get your atlas out before you read any further. I will make a pause here.  
Find US 395 in east Oregon, and follow it north from California.  Halfway between the afore mentioned rest area and US 20, you will see a dot on the map called  called "Wagontire."  Picture in your mind what might be there.  

I stopped smack in the middle of the road to take my picture.  No one in this part of the world worries about traffic.  I saw a man taking out the trash from the store as I was about to snap it, he looked curious as to why I would want a pic of Wagontire, a lone out post in the High Desert of East Oregon.  Isolated and forgotten, I have no idea for its existence.  Perhaps it was put on a map to spike the curiosity of some far away Long Rider, who had his atlas out one night planning a trip, and came across the name and wondered what it must be like.  

On a cold December night, I sat in my warm study, looking over routes for this  epic ride to distant lands, and did just that.  I gazed out my window at the colored lights blinking on the house across the street, and dreamed about Wagontire. (my blinds are almost always open, I can't stand not being able to see outside)
On that winters night I stared through the reflections of a nearing Christmas, and contemplated what the weather be like the day I pass through Wagontire.  Will it be cool? Rainy? Cloudy?  Maybe it will be warm and sunny, but if the weather is adverse, will I return to this moment, and wish I was back in my comfortable study?  

With the ST idling, I looked over the area and thought, I made it to Wagontire, and found my answers, while I remembered that night in Alabama.  Only on a motorcycle would a guy spend time thinking about a place such as Wagontire.

Here is what Wagontire, Oregon looks like-

​Wagontire, Oregon
That's it brothers, the entire town can fit in one frame. 

US 395 delivers me to Riley, and US 20.  At 10:05 local time, I turned east on US 20 to begin the ride back home to Alabama.   My direction will be east or south the next 2000 miles.  I always make a note when I turn for home in the middle of a long tour.  Its kind of comforting to know you are homeward bound.
U.S. 395 and U.S. 20.  It was here I made a right turn east, 
and headed for home.  10:05 am. PCT.

I did not go far, before I saw a interesting local gas station and stopped in for no other reason than to see what was going on.  A sign hung on the door reading if you needed gas after hours call the attached phone number.  But only for a fill up.

I went in and spoke to the clerk/owner.

The store was long, and looked unorganized.  For instance the bread was in the canned goods, and the 2 drink boxes were on opposite ends. Curious.

A middle aged lady with glasses, salt and pepper hair, and wearing a white sweater asked-

"so you stopped just to see what was going on?'

"yeah"

"you don't know a soul in Oregon, and you just stopped here because you wanted to see what WE were doin?"
I chuckled a bit and said, "well, yeah"

We had a spiffy conversation and at the end of it she thought me worthy enough to sign the guest book.  After that, I went outside and sat on a bench and enjoyed my snack.

With my map pocket vamose, I had to get the atlas out to check routes, towns and distances.  Annoying.  I was tempted to call the brothers at Aerostich to FedEx another, but I had NO address to give them, so didn't.

US 20 East parallels the Melheur River.  It bends and twists with the river and I lean the ST in the curves.  The highway follows the valley between the hills, and the riding is excellent.  I ran into more traffic then I am use to, and it aggravated me.  I surely picked some good routes today.
​U.S. 20 and the Melheur River, both winding their way among 
the East Oregon hills.

Even though I was not tired, a nice spot next to the banks of the river appeared, so I pulled off.  I walked to a big rock and took a seat, and spent some quality time with myself as I watched the water flow by.

For some reason I was in the mood for fast food, so when I discovered a McDonald's in Ontario I whipped it in.  I ordered a double cheeseburger, and read the local paper.  After that I called my wife.  It was Sunday, which means free minutes.  No roaming and or long distance charges are a blessing for Long Riders.  My new phone charger was working excellent.  It feels good not to have worry about a dead phone anymore.

It was well after 1 pm when I finished lunch.  I've been assing around all day and loving it.  I jumped on I-84 east and took off for Boise.

While riding through Boise I was struck at how clean and prosperous this little city is.  Boise seems like a great place to live.  Good schools, low taxes, and crime is not a big problem.  Yes, I was impressed with Boise, but it gets awful cold here in winter.  

I saw a lot of new houses going up in the Boise suburbs.  I hear a lot of cops and firefighters from the LA area retire early and take their pensions to Boise.  I bet not just municipal workers know about Idaho.  Escaping the madness of LA, and the totally out of control state of California is something a lot of folks are doing.

At last I was on SR 21 north and moving up in elevation.  The Sawtooth  Mountain Range has been calling me for a year, and now I'm here.  

As soon as I turned off on 21 a state trooper appears up ahead.  I know from back home, the latest technology is 360 radar.  I assume Idaho is able to afford the latest when it comes to revenue snaring.  I'm stuck behind him for almost 10 miles.

SR 21 proves to be another wise choice.  Awesome views and good elevation, but a lot of traffic on this Sunday afternoon.  I wave at a countless stream of southbound bikers.  I make sure to wave at every Harley, I ain't forgot California.  

I was thirsty and low on gas so stopped to fix both at a Chevron in Idaho City.  I also picked up a can of spaghetti for supper.  A rider on a sport bike was having a conversation with a cruiser guy not far from where I was sitting.  The cruiser guy left, so he came over to chat with me.  

"from Alabama I see"

"yeah, on my way home from California"

"I left California (where else) for Boise several years ago, best move I ever made"

"oh really"

"yeah lots of nice looking women in Boise, well be careful, a Harley rider went down about 10 miles north of here, ok but tore his bike up good"

"thanks for the tip about Boise and the downed rider"

A lot of federal campgrounds dot 21 so I was not worried about where I going to sleep. 

Traffic thinned out after Idaho City.  I stayed safe, as I rode the twisty mountain road.  Breathtaking scenery and riding was everywhere.  I stopped for pics and to soak in what a great day this has been, despite my map pocket.
High in the Sawtooth Mountains, near Lowman, Idaho
I came to the curve where the Harley went down.  The bike was on the shoulder with extensive damage, at least 4k worth.  A Boise County deputy was still on the scene doing the paperwork.  I didn't see the rider.

Up into the Sawtooths the ST and I climbed.  The riding was excellent, the road surface was good, and I enjoyed being alone in the mountains.

Lowman, Idaho was a closed down wood yard, a depressed motel, and a small school.  I rode past it, and saw a federal campground that looked promising.  I went in and cruised the campsites.  I found a excellent spot near the river and unpacked, then I went back to the campground host site.  He said he doesn't take money, and instructed me to place my money back at the entrance.  They had a box there.  No free loading tonight.  I anted up my 10 bucks for the crème de la crème of campsites.

Brothers, if you ever come this way, look for the Mountain View Campground and go to site 9.  I set up camp on the banks of a pristine, fast moving mountain river.  It was very quiet and peaceful.  I looked across the water at mountain bluffs, and green grass.  This was the kind of place you never want to leave.  The finest campsite I've ever had the pleasure of.  Idaho is beautiful place.

Take a look at the picture below, and tell me I'm not spoiled.
​A peaceful campsite in the Sawtooths
I finished the day with 410 pleasant, unencumbered miles.  

Still thirsty I jumped on the ST and went back into Lowman looking for something to drink.  The hotel was long empty, but I saw a drink machine at the old wood yard, and went over there.  No dice, it had been out of service for years.  I gave up and rode north till till I got lucky.  I found a cafe and went inside.

Several patrons were sitting at the bar, they were all local.  An attractive lady stands behind the bar and I asked-

"y'all got anything to drink?"

"ohhhhhhhhh a southern accent" 

"yeah is that bad?"

"no you just don't hear it around here, where ya from?"

"Alabama"

"I'm from Florida, near Sarasota"

"so what's a Florida girl doin in cold ass Idaho?"

"husband brought me here"

She told me they bought the cafe a few years ago and to excuse the remodeling.  I bought 3 cans of cherry cokes still in the plastic ring and said-

"how much I owe ya m'am?

" 1.45, where ya stayin?"  As she rang me up.

"federal campground south of here"

"eat supper with  us?"

"love to but already have plans, perhaps breakfast in the morning? What time ya open?"

"7am"

"see ya then"

Back at the campground, I warmed up my spaghetti and feasted.  The sun was going down, so I went to the waters edge to sponge off and to wash my air.  I was wearing shorts and planned on wading in to my waist.  I never got that far.  My ankles were as far as I could go.  The coldest water I've ever sampled.  It was like ice.  I sponged off and bent over to wash my hair.  I was turning blue.  I don't know what I was thinking.  For some reason I thought all water was warm in June, like in Alabama or Texas.  I skipped shaving. 

 I used a bungee strap and secured the Cokes to a big tree root, and submerged them in the river to keep them cool.

I dried off and zipped back to the camp table.  In the fading light, accompanied by the soft sound of water flowing over rocks, I worked on my journal.  Crickets were beginning to come to life and fireflys darted up and down.  I felt like I was a million miles away from anyone as I relieved my day. 

I got out my TV but changed my mind.  Who needs it in a spot like this?  The news of today will just have to wait.  I doubt if I could locked a signal anyway.  I opened my phone, and found one of the few times I had no signal. 

It was dark and getting cool.  I squared away my stuff in the vestibule, and got in my tent.  My bed and sleeping pad felt good.  I made a my usual TV stand, got out my DVD player, and watched Antwone Fisher. Pretty good movie.

When the movie was over, I rolled over and just listened to the outdoors.  Cascading water, crickets and wind is all I could hear.  A good day, and looking forward to more tomorrow.  I drifted off to sleep about 11pm, and slept the best of the trip.

Footnote-  Kieran emailed a few days after my return, informing me that despite his best efforts he failed to find my map pocket.  I thanked him for trying.