Monday, February 18, 2008

Tree-Hugger, day 3, mile 1,025, Home again.

Once again the weather gods smiled upon me for my push homeward today. I left Ashland, OR at 9:00am this morning to a sunny 51 degree day. Of course, getting great riding weather has its cost. As I rode north on I-5 I encountered cold fog coming through the Siskiyou Mountain range about 10 miles out of Ashland. The temperature dropped rapidly to 37 degrees, so I endured an hour or so of numb hands and toes again until I got above Roseburg, OR. After I finally outran the fog, the sun was shining brightly and the temperatures were climbing nicely the farther north I went. I rolled back into Beaverton, OR at 3:30pm to a lovely 60 degree day.

My Tree-Hugger trip was another fun impromptu romp on the Beemer to stretch our legs and prepare us for the 5k-mile trip in May/June. Once again, my motorcycle inspired complete confidence in me, and assured me its up to the big trip in the Spring. I'm already getting excited.

Expect plenty more ride posts here as the weather improves over the next few months.

Tree-Hugger, day 2, mile 706, Ashland, Oregon.

The joys of riding this trip just keep getting better and better. Today I enjoyed sunny, Springlike temperatures, rode one of the best motorcycling routes on the west coast, and stopped for the night in the hippest town in southern Oregon.

I departed Brookings, OR this morning to a very chilly and very foggy ride south down Hwy. 101 into California. I pushed into the Redwood Forest about 10:00am, still very damp and foggy.

While winding my way down through the Redwoods, I was beginning to believe my visit would be a washout due to poor visibility. Then, a break! As I climbed a hill on Hwy. 101 the fog cleared and I was bathed in warm sunshine and surrounded by the giant trees in all of their splendor.

Of course, now that I could see the big trees, I felt obligated to stop and visit one.

This is as far south as I had planned to go on this trip, so I decided to try an alternate route to head northward to Oregon again rather than retracing my routed down to here. I chose to ride a little farther south to Arcata, CA, and ride Hwy. 299 to Redding, CA, then take Interstate 5 northward and home.

California Hwy. 299 winds through the Shasta-Trinity National Forest, with some of the most beautiful scenery on the west coast. Hwy. 299 stretches 138 miles between Arcata and Redding, CA. The roads are some of the best I had ever ridden, with long, wide, curves, near perfect pavement, and lots of pull-offs along the road to stop and gawk as I frequently did.

Nearing the end of my ride through Hwy. 299, I noticed I was feeling a bit warm under my riding suit and glanced down at the thermometer on my instrument gauge. 71 degrees! The last 20 miles or so of riding Hwy. 299 were the most rewarding with some wonderfully wide, twisty turns to exercise the Beemer in carving the turns. The motorcycle handled the tight turns spendidly, and nimbly reacted to the slightest of weight shifts from me.

I rolled into Redding, CA at roughly 3:00pm to 74 degree temperatures, and noticed many of the residents suffering permanent Spring Fever wearing shorts, t-shirts, and flip-flops. Yes, I'm very jealous. From Redding, I turned northward on Interstate 5 to get across the Oregon border again before sundown.

I stopped briefly just south of the Oregon border to take a snapshot of Mount Shasta. Mount Shasta is a 14,000 ft. dormant volcanoe in the Cascade Mountain range. While attending college in southern Oregon, I would frequently ski, climb, or camp on Mount Shasta because of its close proximity.

I pushed across the Oregon border again at roughly 5:00pm, and decided to overnight in the beautiful little town of Ashland, Oregon. Ashland is home to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and Southern Oregon University. A very hip little town with a great alt-culture vibe, and the Shakespeare plays are world-class, (I used to attend these regularly also during my college days).

From here, I head back up Interstate 5 to Beaverton Monday morning. Then back to work Tuesday.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Tree-Hugger, day 1, mile 363, Brookings, Oregon.

One well-guarded secret we Pacific Northwesterners keep to ourselves is phenonmenom known as the 'February Fakeout'. Typically, every year around February we get a short break in the rainy, cold winter weather with a few days of sunshine and temperatures in the upper 50's, (a heat wave for us this time of year). The February Fakeout is always amusing to us because most people are lulled into believing Spring has returned, only to be disappointed by the return of the rain and cold temperatures. I've been following the weather forecasts for the past week or so, and learned that this weekend we could expect three contiguous rain-free days and temperatures nearing the 60's. I immediately started planning another motorcycle ride to capitalize on the nice weather. I chose to ride a 1,000-mile trip through Oregon and down into the Redwood Forest of Northern California over three days to visit the giant Redwoods I saw briefly during my trip down to Baja, Mexico last December.

I departed Beaverton, OR this morning at 8:00am to a frosty, foggy highway heading westward toward the Oregon Coast with the intent of following coastal route Hwy. 101 all the way down into the Redwoods.

I crossed over the coastal mountain range west of Beaverton to see lots of snow still on the highway.

After enduring an hour or so of numb fingers and toes, I rolled into Tillamook, OR about 10am with the temperature climbing up to a tolerable 45 degrees. That early in the morning, the coast was still a bit overcast, but the sun was starting to break through the cloud cover, so I was hopeful I'd have a sunnier, warmer day to ride. I was rewarded...

The farther south I rode on Hwy. 101, the sunnier and warmer it did get! By mid-afternoon I was bathed in full sunshine and 55-degree temperature. Needless to say, I was tooling along Hwy. 101 with a very large grin on my face which I'm sure was even obvious under the full-face helmet.

After a few pit stops and necessary refuelings, (both the motorcycle, and myself as seen below), I took advantage of the favorable weather to burn up a lot of miles down the Oregon coast.

Many of us Pacific Northwesterners take this for granted, but most of us forget how nice it is to live in a region of the US where you can always find green plantlife, even in the dead of Winter. I can't remember any time when my trips through the Oregon coast weren't beautiful.

I made it as far as Brookings, OR on the California border today. Tomorrow, I cross into California and down into the Redwoods to see those gigantic trees again! More posts coming...