There is something about having a good hotel breakfast. I’ve been staying at hotels with the “continental” breakfast which is fruit and stale pastries, neither of which are great morning choices for the two wheelin diabetic. This place had the full spread including the South Beach preferred bacon and eggs!
Today was going to be the longest day on the entire trip, 425 miles. I could skip Crater Lake National Park and the Willamette Highway, but that would only drop me to 380 miles on the 5 freeway. I was thinking I should have pushed it to Eugene, but I remember the last time I was there it just was a strange sort of place. Eugene was 70 miles south of Salem. I’m thinking the chain was starting to act up and I could not get the rear axle nut off so I swung into Ramsey White to get the chain looked at. The chain was on the loose side but since the bike has a lot of travel and it’s heavily loaded we left it as is. Now was the decision point: take the slab (freeway in motorcycle jargon) or the road less traveled by. Since I’m here I didn’t want to pass up the opportunity, even if it means a bit of vitamin I (Advil), later on.
Highway 58, the Willamette Scenic Highway, crosses over the Cascades and drops you into the central valley of Oregon. The route does not disappoint either. It’s very lightly traveled. I spoke with Dan, a buddy of mine in San Jose, who warned me of the long straight stretch in Oakridge. Oregon loves to write tickets, especially here. The town is tiny, the speed limit is 30 and there are cops hiding everywhere. Every state has one. This is Oregon’s. Every fiber in my body did not want to spend a cent in that speedtrap town, but I needed gas. Since I can’t operate a gas pump in Oregon and Bubba needs to sit there and chat with his buddy filling his 100 gallon truck it’s a 10 minute wait to get gas. Once out of town the road peaks near Diamond Pass. On the back side of the pass the road straightens out as it heads into the valley.
I meet Highway 97 in Chemult. I’m missing that GPS as I have no maps (but mapping software on my laptop). I think I missed the exit for Crater Lake and don’t really want to back track. It’s super sunny so I can’t really read the screen at all. Some things you’re just meant to do and others you’re not. I guess this is one of those ones you’re not. I push south and in a few miles I see the exit! I pay the $5 toll to get in (bikes are half price) and head up to the top of the park.
Crater Lake is a caldera filled with water. A really long time ago Crater Lake was a volcano. That volcano exploded and left a giant hole in the mountain, like an upside down cone. The lake filled with water and became the landmark we know today. There is a road that runs around the rim of the caldera that is just cool. The lake is jet blue and looks cold, as it actually is. The lake stays in the 30’s all year.
After Crater Lake, it’s time to get to California. I’m halfway done with the ride and it’s 4pm. Yep it’s a familiar story with me. The rest of the ride is two lane road in the middle of nowhere and it’s all 55. Low speed limits, middle of nowhere, lots of cops…. grrr… this place is starting to grate on me. I get gas just north of the California border and I actually pump my own gas in Oregon. I guess they care less near the border.
The road quality goes to pot (pun intended), and I’m back home again. Problem is it’s 400 miles to get home.
I hit the freeway in Weed at 6:30. I’d like to make Redding at the base of the mountains, but it’s another 70 miles. As a creature of habit, I hit the local Taco Bell in town. I’ve ordered the same thing at all these Taco Bells, #8 with soft chicken tacos. No one has rung them up the same way!
After dinner, I’m feeling a lot better and think it’s best to get to Redding. I ask the other guy in the restaurant how the road is (he looks like a trucker) and all reports look good. It’s funny if you ask a biker, trucker, or a car driver about the road, you get very different answers. Bikers talk about pavement, turns, and scenery. Truckers talk about traffic, weigh stations, and hills. Car drivers just tell you how far the next burg is. The road is fast and a downhill decent of about 3000 feet. There is a ton of truck traffic through the pass and I can’t get there soon enough.
Upon arrival in Redding I see the first Holiday Inn. I had a preference for the LaQuinta Inn but I could not see how to get to it. Not willing to go around the block again. It was the Holiday Inn. I don’t know why I asked her what the room rate was because in truth I’d probably would have taken it as I was exhausted.
Morning calls real early the next morning….