The trouble with travelling in the US is that there simply isn’t computers to use everywhere… at least not for a dollar or two an hour like you can find in any other country. But here I am, sitting at a computer! Yesterday I finally left for my trip, later than planned due to laziness, wanting to miss the massive rain storms and a bit more laziness. It wasn’t a big deal and while I do have places to be and people to meet I wasn’t about to push for a long day in torrential rain. Unfortunately that meant that I somehow ran into more than my share of traffic. Probably due to the weather there were a number of big accidents and lots of stop and go.
I ran into my first issue just outside my hometown of Puyallup. I suppose if you’re going to run into trouble anywhere it should be outside your hometown as you know all the back roads that exist. The one I took brought me past a small cafe in downtown that my friend Colin and I ate at after the Puyallup Fair a bit more than a year ago. It made me realize that it was that night that I called on Bob the motorcycle. Sort of crazy to think that I’m heading out on this long solo trip and it wasn’t much more then a year ago I hadn’t so much as sat on a motorcycle!
Oddly or fortunately I managed to stay mostly rain free for the entire day. The horrible rain storms predicted didn’t get to me at all which was both good and bad because it meant that I was horribly overdressed and way too warm. I’ve come to the conclusion that just a minor chill is perfect for riding, keeps you awake and alert.
Wasn’t sure how far I’d get but made it to Salem and learned one of my first lessons of the trip. If you’re just putting the miles under your belt do not look for a motel or hotel in town. They will be overpriced, often not near a grocery or small gas station market, not necessarily near any food and hard to find. Stick to the places just off the side of the freeway. Most will have everything you need within walking distance, especially important if you’ve put the riding gear (and thus the motorcycle) to bed for the evening.
This morning I attempted to wake up early but after yet another poor night of sleep I decided that I needed one more hour and had the weirdest dreams about snow. Prophetic (see hail below)? Not quite but I do wonder about my trip back up in 3 weeks. It could be interesting at 4k feet…
Today I did a number of miles, the straightest, dullest miles ever (well, OK, there are others in other states but really) are from Portland to Eugene but that would change later in my day. Bob was acting up but after putting some gas treatment and supreme gas in him he decided not to stutter at high speeds anymore. Bad gas or just need to adjust the carbs? Don’t really know but I’m very glad that worked as passing semi’s on twisty, windy uphill mountain passes is unnerving enough without the bike losing power sporadically on you.
I stopped in Medford, Oregon today for a horrible lunch and a new tax free camera. Opted for a little Canon with a real viewfinder so I can actually have an idea of what I’m shooting when it’s sunny outside. It’s probably not perfect but surely better than what I had and better than the iPhone I suppose.
From there headed over what turns out to be my first mountain pass. How I didn’t manage to get over I-90 this year I don’t know but the Siskiyou mountains definitely gave me a taste of proper mountain pass. I was really wishing I had something other than the Gripster tires as cornering wasn’t all that fun when the tire wobbles on you… again, when passing semi trucks!
Fortunately the day stayed dry until the very end. At about 16 miles to Redding the skies open up and started pouring, first rain and then hail, accompanied by regular lightning. I was really, really glad I was so close to my final destination as I was starting to worry about lightning… it was honestly very close and getting closer as I came into the Redding city limits. “Great, I’m going to die being struck by lightning. Go figure”. Clearly that didn’t happen, but it was close.
Another little side note for travellers everywhere. Pay attention to those billboards. As I came into town I noticed one for the nice hotel I’m staying at and was able to quote the price on it to get myself a deal here. It’s pretty decent, certainly as compared to last night. And with the massive thunder and lightning going on right now just outside this window I’m sure glad I didn’t tough it out and camp. Now let’s see if I can get myself out of bed tomorrow morning!
And with that idea the goal for tomorrow may be all of California. If so it means a very early morning and somehow getting past the massive cramping neck and shoulder pain that I’ve been having today. Colin and friends will be somewhere around San Diego tomorrow night and I’d like to either get there or get close. All that said if I don’t sleep better tonight then there’s little chance of that happening. 665 miles is doable, but only if I can a) stay out of crappy rush hour traffic in the San Fran and LA areas and b) get up bloody early and ride like the wind all day. I guess we’ll see. A few pictures on the way.