Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Idaho’ Category

I posted previously about our ride to Ely, Nev. and touring the “Loneliest Road” enroute to the Road Glide National Rally: HERE.

After a taste of authentic Americana on the Gold Rush–era highway that is part of the West’s last frontier, US Route 50, the group settled into base camp — the Carson Valley Inn & Casino.  We registered, set the A/C on high and searched through our bags of swag in preparation for the multi-day Road Glide National Rally (“Sharkweek XI”).

Lake Tahoe

The next morning was an abundance of gorgeous scenery and twisty roads in all directions around the ‘Jewel of the Sierra’ — the emerald clear waters and pine-forested slopes of Lake Tahoe.  We had plenty of time and decided to ride around the entire lake. We started for South Lake Tahoe, then headed northeast in a clockwise route for a tour of the lake. In this direction, you’re closer to the lake and won’t need to cross traffic when pulling over.

Mono Lake

From South Lake, we hopped on CA-89 North, then finally, onto HWY 28. The temperature was perfect in the high 70’s. The lake loop was a nice mix of sweeping turns and straightaways interspersed with views of the lake and mountains; and we appreciated the straight sections with incredibly blue water. The only downside was the amount of traffic in and around Lake Tahoe. Since the pandemic waned and California reopened the traffic and parking challenges seemed exceptionally poor on this trip.

Yosemite National Park Entrance Lineup

The next day was Yosemite National Park. From Minden, Nev. the farm scenery doesn’t abate until you are well past Gardnerville, but improves quickly as we headed south on US 395 toward Mono Lake. Topaz Lake covers the state line next to the highway as you cross into California.

The next real town is Bridgeport, with a population of 464 people and the Mono county seat.  It’s also where the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MWTC) is located and I recall from a previous ride in this area that some members of our posse shared a long night of refreshments with military personnel and a jukebox!

Continuing along US 395 we climb up and over several mountains.  It’s one of the more scenic places in the state and to the west is the Sierra Nevada range that forms a nearly impassable barrier to cross. At about 8000′ feet and on the way down there is a pull off spot called Mono Lake Vista Point which offers a great view of Mono Lake and the entire Mono basin (“Mono” means “beautiful” in Piute). The lake is twice as salty as the ocean, and the water is so alkaline that no fish can live in the water, but it is home to some plants and animals that are not found anywhere on Earth.

As you reach Lake’s south shore at Lee Vining, you’ll want to connect with Route 120, the turn-off for Yosemite National Park. The road starts at the Big Oak Flat entrance, elevation 4,872 feet and dramatically climbs above the Valley to an elevation of 9,945 feet above sea level with breathtaking views.

Yosemite National Park

It’s a great ride even if you don’t have reservations and go into the park. We knew that the National Park Service announced a day-use reservation system that was in place for the summer due to COVID-19 and staffing shortages that were creating operational hurdles.  There were hurdles all right.  Everyone’s dying to get into Yosemite!  We had reservations and thought we were special, but it took over an hour to get processed into the park.

Arriving at “Yosemite East” is the highest (9,945 feet above sea level) motorcycling pass in California. To be clear, there are five entrances into the Park, and the road to each of them offers unique sights. Our eastern gateway to Yosemite with the rock formations was awesome, followed by pristine alpine lakes, meadows awash with wild flowers and granite expanses.

Yosemite National Park

We rode through high-elevation — Tuolumne Meadows at 8,600 feet and at Olmsted Point, along the Tioga Road, which looks down on Yosemite Valley from the east — and from a very different angle. You might not immediately recognize Half Dome from this location, but it is one of the most prominent peaks you can see.

We finally arrived in the main area of Yosemite after seeing smooth granite domes and craggy peaks — “craggy” started to describe my demeanor after a couple hours of being patient in RV traffic and delays of rehabilitation on the road surface. There are no areas of solitude unless you explore the wilderness on foot and I’m not sure even then that a whole community of people wouldn’t be following you into the “wild” taking selfies!

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is a famous location, being the first land in the country set aside for public enjoyment by President Lincoln during the Civil War (which was the founding legislation for the National Park Service). And, far more people spend their time cavorting in and around Yosemite Valley than make the winding drive in/out on Hwy 120.

Back on the road after a pause in Yosemite’s Valley we could see a build-up of cumulus clouds and it wasn’t too long until we heard the rumble of thunder.  It’s generally known that if you hear a rumble of thunder, a thunderstorm is within 10 miles, but we were making great progress back out through the park and thought we’d likely “outrun” any storm by pressing on.

The “wet” arrived!

As we rode toward the east entrance there were flashes of lightning and before I could do any mathematical calculation of dividing the number of seconds by five to get an estimate of the distance, there was another flash, then another as the skies opened with a downpour of water mixed with hail!

“I want to be out riding in the rain,” said no one on a motorcycle!

The Posse

Doused with wetness, we pulled off the road and kept a wary eye on the lightning flashes across the sky while putting on rain gear. The temperature dropped more than ten degrees and the thunderstorm produced intense rainfall with more hail, which led to some localized flooding on the roadway. As we rode on the storm dissipated a bit, but never stopped delivering us the wet stuff.  Riding SR120 in the rain as it drops quickly in elevation to Lee Vining was a new experience and we needed a break and to get some fuel. Refueling at the local Chevron station set a new record for the cost to fill my Harley-Davidson at $5.899/gallon, but the mini-stop was worth it!

‘Glider’ Lineup

The thunderstorm followed us as the heavy rain and traffic created that white milky substance you often see on the roads as a result of fresh rain on oil-soaked roads. In Bridgeport, we stopped for a while under an abandoned gas station awning during another intense shower and when it let up a bit we rode in a misty rain soaked road straight through to the Carson Valley Inn & Casino. The late afternoon was much too wet and it was a welcome relief to arrive back in the high 80’s and dry out a bit.  Many ‘Gliders’ were caught in that storm and it was the talk of several groups during dinner.

The next day, Battle Born Harley-Davidson hosted a BBQ with refreshments for the 200+ riders that attended the Road Glide National Rally.  The group lined up the motorcycles for a “selfie” and proceeded to buy up the inventory of t-shirts.  We took a step back in time and visited the old west town that’s famous for 1859’s Comstock Lode silver ore discovery — Virginia City — and took in the sights, and culture.

In 2020, the RoadGlide.org (37,000+ members) became a non-profit and that evening was their annual raffle event which can generate significant donations for a good cause. It was reported that the group generated a new record of $3,200 and delivered a check for that amount to the Boys and Girls Club of Carson Valley.  Awesome, just straight up awesome!

Sharkweek XI Raffle

I also want to provide a huge shout-out to Butt Buffers seat cushions.  Given the high temperatures on this trip, I had been thinking about buying a seat cushion to improve air flow.  My Mustang leather seat got too sticky and sweaty on this trip. Fortunately, the Butt Buffers Pebble Polymer model that I won during the raffle offered up all of the benefits of a seat cushion with a super-comfortable ride, it also provided significant air-flow. It’s a really well made and great product, which I used for 500+ miles during my return trip home.  Many, many thanks to Peter for the donation to Sharkweek!

I departed for Oregon very early the next morning, needing to ride 580 miles.  It was perfect riding temperatures with cool, crisp air departing Minden. From Susanville I took CA-44 through Lassen National Forest.  I rode toward Old Station and then took CA-89 toward Mount Shasta.  I like riding this route. The road is good and traffic is moving quickly for a two-lane road and although some parts of it are burned down from forest fires, it has varied and interesting scenery.  I was all about miles today so, there was no time to tour Lassen Volcanic National Park.

On this road trip, there were a lot of hot miles and even more smiles. The things I like about SharkWeek are the people, seeing friends, meeting new friends, the rides, not talking about work, and the gorgeous scenery across Idaho, Nevada and California.

I hope everyone had blue skies and tailwinds for their ride home.

Road Glide National Rally 2022 (Sharkweek XII –  August 1-5, 2022)
Road Glide Org

Photos taken by author except Sharkweek logo and Road Glide line up courtesy of Ron Cushing a.k.a “Stray Mutt”

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

U.S. Route 50 — NV Hwy 50 — “The Loneliest Road in America”

I’m referring to U.S. Route 50, a black ribbon that stretches more than 3,000 miles across the country, from Ocean City, Maryland, to West Sacramento, California.

It’s called “The Loneliest Road in America” for a reason and when you enter Nevada at the Utah state line it travels across 500 miles of Great Basin Desert.

This was our early summer road trip along the historic Pony Express Trail en route to the Road Glide National Rally (aka: “Sharkweek“).

Pony Express Trail

The RoadGlide.org is a community dedicated to all Harley-Davidson Road Glide owners and enthusiasts.  It’s an awesome group of people that like to discuss performance, builds, accessories, mods, specs, troubleshooting, maintenance, and much more.

The like minded gather every year in a different location to experience the roads of the local area and celebrate the ‘Glider’ camaraderie. I was granted grandfather rights to the club having previously owned a Road Glide (aka: Brownshark), but they are a most welcoming group to any rider. Besides, that tradition of featuring a bonfire of anything other than Road Glides stacked, burned and melted together amid cheering crowds is long gone!

It had been eight years since I last attended a Sharkweek event. My first was in 2013 at St. George, Utah for number III, but this was number XI and on the west coast near beautiful Lake Tahoe in Minden, Nev.  The host hotel was the Carson Valley Inn & Casino.

Hotel Nevada – Ely, NV

But, I’ve gotten ahead of myself.

We departed a day prior of the now infamous June 26th heat dome that enveloped the Pacific Northwest, driving temperatures to extreme levels — in Salem, Ore., about half-hour southwest of Portland, it reached 117 degrees.  We’re unaccustomed to that type of oppressive summer heat, but the group headed east for Boise, Idaho anyway where temperatures were a bit cooler and only slightly above 100 degrees.  We headed to The Reef for dinner where the patio is great, the food is tasty, dual bars so the lines are short and there is always a good band playing. Stop in there if you ever have an opportunity.

The next day we rode out early en route to Twin Falls and were passed by just about everyone scooting along I-84 well in excess of the posted 80 MPH speed limit except for an occasional semi. We continued south on US-93 into Nevada where the temperatures continued their relentless rise, but when we finally stopped at Hotel Nevada in Ely, Nev., we were met with cooler weather.  Go figure!

Established in 1929, the Hotel Nevada became Ely’s premiere dining and lodging destination. It is an historic property with a lot of charm down to stars in the sidewalk to celebrate those who had stayed there from Jimmy Stewart to President Lyndon Johnson. We were worn down a bit from the heat so the fact that the room was small and the bathroom even smaller didn’t matter when ready to sleep.  The lobby is a casino which other than the clouds of cigarette smoke was not a big deal and we enjoyed the free breakfast in the lobby at the Denny’s restaurant before departing on the Gold Rush–era highway that is part of the West’s last frontier.

Nevada Highway 50 — America’s Loneliest Road

America’s Loneliest Highway — crosses by or through several communities, a handful of mountain ranges, a national park, and one reservoir, where wild horses roam free. There’s life, yes, but not something familiar for many. It’s a place where the lines between an ‘ol John Wayne Western movie and everyday life blur, and where ghost towns bleed into semi-living ones.

We had our official “survival guide” passport book and proceeded to collect stamps from the various businesses and which the governor of Nevada will supposedly sign if at least five businesses stamped our passports. The 287 mile-stretch of U.S. 50, running from Ely to Fernley, Nev., passes nine towns, two abandoned mining camps, a gas pump and the occasional coyote.

Sage Brush Ocean — Nevada Hwy 50

We passed a number of “Loneliest Road” signs along this black ribbon where the occasional business on the Route displayed a “I Survived Route 50” sign in a window covered with layers of dirt and grime. We rode through more than a dozen mountain ranges as we traversed the state, climbing up into the red rock heights, then dipping down into the patchy desert of the hot valley floor.

So this was it. I wondered, when first reading about Route 50, why a AAA official was so concerned about anyone traveling it and why Time Magazine wouldn’t recommend it. The journey does require a specific skill set: sitting for a very long time on a hot motorcycle saddle, knowing where the next gas station is amid the desert’s FM fuzz and more importantly, knowing how to be alone inside your head. Way inside being the operative word there in a vast “sagebrush ocean”.

The posse was adventurous, had too many Gatorade drinks and survived the Route 50 experience.  Not just tourists, but rugged participants that rode away with stamps and bragging rights of our achievement along with the real-deal memories.

We finally came to rest at base-camp in Minden, Nev., at the Carson Valley Inn & Casino and picked up our registration packet and incredibly nice bag of swag for the multi-day Road Glide National Rally (“Sharkweek XI”).

Next up is our rides in the area at Yosemite National Park via Tioga Road (Highway 120) and around Lake Tahoe before returning home through Lassen National Park.

Photos taken by the author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Concerns over ongoing restrictions forced the cancellation of the Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally planned for July 9-12th 2021.

Organizers came to the decision due to the State of Oregon’s restrictions, and having no line-of-sight to a method of safely hosting this event while still being in compliance with the state’s guidelines. “The show must go on” is in our DNA, we are now working through the ramifications of this unfortunate situation.

I’m of the viewpoint that organizers likely made the decision that hosting an event for a few thousand people with mandated indoor/outdoor occupancy limits and social distancing requirements was too risky due to enforcement and liability issues. Additionally, the pandemic’s adverse impact on manufacturers and industry vendors has led to significant supply delays and shortages, which adds even more risk for small businesses.

Maybe in 2022…

Images courtesy of Hells Canyon Motorcycle Rally.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Montana Border on Highway 200

Last month I posted about plans to ride through Glacier National Park.

I started making plans a couple of months prior to the ride looking for the slowest, curving roads with mountains and throwback motel stopping points to minimize pandemic exposure.

The reopening of Montana’s tourism amenities and services started in early June, which meant they were open a couple months prior to our arrival, with the exception of the Blackfeet Indian Reservation which was closed “until further notice.”  Canada also blocked all non-essential travel into the country so any mini-tour loop into BC or Alberta was off limits this trip.

It turns out that 2020 was a record-breaking year for the fact that there were NO forest fires during the days we visited the park to disrupt the spectacular views. There has been a fire in Glacier National Park almost every year of its existence with the exception of 1964 as the only year with no fires on record. Fires are a naturally recurring part of the forest lifecycle, but seeing Glacier with pristine clear air was an exceptional gift this time.

We traveled northeast crabwise across Washington state and spent a night in Sandpoint, on the northern tip of Idaho. It’s located on the magnificent 43-mile-long Lake Pend Oreille, surrounded by the Selkirk and Cabinet mountains. The next morning we traveled east on Highway 200 alongside the lake, then alongside the Clark Fork River.  We made a breakfast stop at a terrific family owned bakery in Clark Fork, called The Pantry.

Once we crossed over into Montana, we took a short detour to the remote end of Sanders County and traveled over the new $13.5 millon Heron Bridge.  It replaced a 95-year-old, one-lane bridge connecting Montana Highway 200 to the community of Heron. The original bridge had the ribbon cut on Nov. 23, 1952, but was originally fabricated in California and was already 32 years old when first installed across the river.  It had been deemed insufficient for growing traffic across the Pend Oreille River near Metaline Falls, Washington when it was moved and re-constructed at Heron.

“Sun Road” Glacier NP

After the bridge tour we rode north on Highway 56, Bull Lake Road, which is about 36 miles long and dead ends at Highway 2 just west of Libby. The landscape in the area is very diverse from low elevation timber and lakes to the outstanding peaks in the Cabinet Mountains and Scotchman Peak area.  We rode along the Kootenay River on Highway 2 to Kalispell then north on Highway 93.  We overnighted in Whitefish, MT a gateway to Glacier and a nice resort town. With a mixed array of shops, coffee houses and restaurants it reminded me of Jackson, WY charm.  There are plenty of places to enjoy a Going-to-the-Sun IPA with a great view of the mountains.

Glacier National Park, MT

The Blackfeet Indian Reservation closure created an impediment to traveling the Going-to-the-Sun road through the park and then looping back on Highway 2.

The road/gate entrance to the park was closed at St Mary. An optional route from Glacier north across the Canadian border to visit the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park was a barrier as well since the Canadian border was closed.

At any rate, we began at West Glacier for a slow out-and-back ride on the 50-mile-long road.  There were incredible views of glacial-carved valleys, jagged peaks and pristine wilderness. A benefit of the pandemic was those famous red busses which departed from Lake McDonald Lodge were shut down and not running on the roads this year.

The Going-to-the-Sun Road was the National Park Service’s first to cross the trans-continental divide. It’s a landscape impossible to adequately describe in words or capture in photos when riding into that ‘big sky’ that Montana is famous for.

The west tunnel–a 197-foot long tunnel features two arched openings that let you look out to Heaven’s Peak and the Upper McDonald Creek valley while behind the handlebars. The Alpine section–is a six percent climb between the Loop and 6,646-foot high Logan Pass. There’s a section of the road called The Weeping Wall. A waterfall cascades 100 feet down, over the rocks and onto part of the road and down the other side of a 4500 foot cliff drop-off.

The Posse

The views! The curves! It’s like a real life painting.

For all its scenic wonders, the “Sun Road” is not without a few negatives: overall, the roads were in good shape and well-maintained, but there were a couple of rehabilitation projects and construction delays can be a major buzz-kill with all the crowds. The speed limit is slow-to-stop with much of the ride quality depending on the crowds and RVs.

The end of our round trip ride took us back into touristy West Glacier, town. Afterward we headed back to a Whitefish pub (via a motel shuttle) to try out a flight of their whiskeys and celebrate the completion of a beautiful ride.

Glacier is a place to be savored and a place to come back to again and again. It was great to get a break from the relentless protest, COVID-19 media drum beat and to reconnect with the land by motorcycle.

Photos taken by the author. 

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

I’m talking about the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe who are the native people of Death Valley.

Death Valley

Destination: Death Valley

With multiple weeks of nice weather, our posse departed Portland, Oregon early morning on September 17th with a cold front and threat of rain and the occasional spit of rain drops in the face. We haplessly listened to the V-Twin’s drone on as we traveled east on Interstate 84 for 426 miles.

Long delay due to overturned semi on I-84

Long delay caused by an overturned Concrete semi on I-84

We arrived in Boise late afternoon which was hosting Oktoberfest in the Basque Block part of the vibrant downtown!  We enjoyed some island fare and refreshments on the rooftop tiki patio at The Reef.  Crowds gathered in the closed off streets for authentic German biers, food and of course the occasional chicken dance.  And in what has to be one of the best Idaho cover bands — Pilot Error — rocked the crowd most of the evening.  Here is a video of the band doing a Def Leppard cover with Derek Roy as lead vocal and the awesome Roger Witt – on lead guitar.

As the evening wore on it seemed filled with young college kids who were trying hard to “be” the club scene.  Like those videos produced by I’m Shmacked.

Idaho Basin

Snake River and Great Basin area

The next morning was a continuation east on the mind-numbing straight road of Interstate 84. However, we really clicked off the miles to Twin Falls doing the freeway speed limit which is now set at 80 mph!  We rolled along and were surprised by how many 18-wheelers tried to pass us.

As a side bar, you might recall that in the mid-1970s, Congress established a national maximum speed limit by withholding highway funds from states that maintained speed limits greater than 55 mph. Do you remember the “I can’t drive 55” days?  The requirement was loosened for rural interstates in 1987 and completely repealed in 1995. As of today, 41 states have speed limits of 70 mph or higher. Oregon state legislators who seem to know more than the average citizen about how to protect us from ourselves just recently increased some rural interstate speeds to 70 mph.  Texas is the fastest at 85 mph.

Idaho

In route to Ely, NV

But I’ve digressed.  This part of our arid motorcycle journey took us on the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway which runs through the Snake River Canyon. We rode through bright green irrigated fields, crossed the Snake River, saw a waterfall spilling from the top of a high bluff, and watched windmills turning in the stiff wind.  As we headed further south on U.S. Route 93 we split the Great Basin that covers most of Nevada and part of Utah. There were mountains to the East and West, and the traffic thinned to an occasional tractor-trailer hauling freight or cattle.

Our ride ended that day in Ely, Nevada, which was founded as a stagecoach stop along the Pony Express, and later became a booming copper mining town.

We parked the bikes and enjoyed a nice dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican Restaurant.

On the Lonliest Road

On Nevada’s Loneliest Road

The following day we were up early and continued our ride south on one of Nevada’s loneliest roads.  I’m not sure about you, but I find the Nevada desert to be immensely beautiful and awe-inspiring. Even though most of the roads are flat and straight, the scenery is grand and I always enjoy the ride.

Just a few miles south of Ely is a turnoff for the Ward Charcoal ovens.  We didn’t travel down the eight miles of gravel road, but there are beehive-shaped stone kilns built by Mormons around 1876 to produce fuel for the silver and lead smelters serving the mines on Ward Mountain.  As you look across the valley at the Big Basin National Park, there is the 13,000 foot Wheeler Peak standing off in the distant.

More Lonely Road...

More Lonely Road…

We traveled the mostly straight 240+ miles and finally rolled into North Las Vegas and could see the skyline of the famous Las Vegas strip.  Speaking of the city that never sleeps, our posse picked up a lot of traffic at the U.S. 93/I-15 interchange and were immediately greeted with a dude on a sport bike weaving in and out of lanes.  Then adding to the traffic drama he started to split lanes at full on freeway speeds.

I must have missed that part of the training about how motorcyclists should always make sudden moves in heavy traffic!  Most people who’ve had any experience driving in and around Vegas know that it can be a bit treacherous. Cages with locals that always seem to be in a hurry and cabbies are out in force all day and night driving fast and cutting across multiple lanes.  Add to that the tourists trying to navigate a new city on the freeways and it’s a perfect storm of distracted drivers.

After all the traffic hustle and bustle I was looking forward to parking the bike for awhile and relaxing around the pool for a day.  That evening we took on the “clickers” (i.e. porn panderers) who stand on every corner of the Strip and aggressively try to shove advertisements for adult entertainment in your face.

Selfie

Departing Las Vegas

Don’t take me wrong, Las Vegas has world-class restaurants, cool bars, amazing entertainment and great weather, but after a couple of days of breathing air freshener the casinos pump into their ventilation systems to mask the reeking of camels, cigarillos, cigars and those slot machines going ding-ding-ding… I’m ready for some fresh air and wind in the face!

We did have an opportunity to walk through the sprawling Harley-Davidson dealer across from the “Welcome to Las Vegas” sign.  We checked out the new Milwaukee Eight touring bikes and spent some time chatting with a knowledgeable sales person about the 2017 differences.


It wasn’t too long (about 48 hours) and Las Vegas was in our mirrors as we rode out into the desert on Hwy 160.  We departed the city early so that we could tour through Death Valley before it got too hot.  It was still in the high-70 degree range as we departed.  We increased altitude going through Red Rock Canyon National Park toward Pahrump as the desert landscape morphs from sandy, rocky terrain dotted with low brush and creosote bushes.  Big stratified rock formations and hills define the valleys in the distance, closing in on the road periodically before opening up to a wide expanse of flat desert floor. It’s a wonderland of muted color.
Rearward pic

Looking back on Hwy 190

We fueled up in Pahrump which is an interesting town.  Like in the rest of Nevada, gambling is legal in Pahrump, and there are several casinos to take advantage of that fact. But, unlike Las Vegas, the casinos in Pahrump are present but not dominant. They’re smaller and a little less intimidating.  There might be some wisdom in staying overnight in Pahrump instead of the hectic scene in Vegas. Certainly the traffic situation would be a lot less stressful.

At the Death Valley junction we turned west on Hwy 190 and headed for Furnace Creek where the Native American tribe known as the Death Valley Timbisha Shoshone Band of California are located.

Initially it was was quite comfortable, but as we descended into the valley it felt like someone was turning up an oven.  It was still early and the temps were in the high 80’s but by the time we stopped in Furnace Creek it was 100 degrees.  Surprisingly hot for the end of September, but the scenery is spectacular!

Death Valley

Death Valley – Timbisha Shoshone Tribe

It’s some of the best “landscape” on the planet that looks a bit like you’ve arrived on Mars. There’s nothing growing out there higher than your knee yet it will be forever etched in your memory as not just one of the greatest motorcycle rides ever but one of the most beautiful.  At one place in the park you can look down at one of the lowest points on earth at -280 feet in one direction and up to the highest point in the continental U.S. in another (Mt. Whitney, at 14,494).  It’s an amazing color contrast.

Existing Death Valley

Exiting Death Valley

We scurried on out of the national park and headed toward Mammoth Lakes on Hwy 395.  The first real town you come to is Lone Pine. In the early to mid 20th century, the area around Lone Pine, particularly the Alabama Hills, which lie between the highway and the Sierra range, was a popular setting for western movies.  Just west of town you’ll get another nice view of Mt. Whitney.

By the time we rode through the Inyo National Forest the desert heat had faded and we were getting hit with cooler air.  Much, much cooler as we gained altitude and it started to spit rain drops.  Not enough to soak the road or require rain gear, but enough to make it a bit uncomfortable.  Our ride on this day ended at Mammoth Lakes which is a ski and outdoor-sports town.

Heading up toward Mammoth Lakes

Heading up toward Mammoth Lakes

Surprisingly it rained most of the night, but the sky cleared up in the early morning and we departed Mammoth Lakes with the temperature only in the high 40’s.  A brisk start to our riding day as we continued north on Hwy 395 on the eastern side of the Sierra’s.  We rode around Mono Lake, and we climbed to another 8100-foot ridge, which offers a great view back to the Mono basin before starting back down past the turn-off for Bodie.

Mono Lake

Mono Lake

The last real town before your reach Nevada is Bridgeport.  We stopped at the Bridgeport Inn, for breakfast.  A nice place built in 1877 and about 23 miles from Mono Lake.  It’s a family run historic period Victorian hotel, old Irish pub, and fine dining restaurant.  After warming up a bit we continue our ride and crossed into Nevada about 50 miles after Bridgeport. Aptly named Topaz Lake covers the state line next to the highway as you cross.

We arrived in Reno for the start of Street Vibrations 2016. Downtown was rumbling with motorcycles of all shapes and sizes for the fall rally which marks the last big motorcycle rally of the season for the west. There was no shortage of vendors and having been to the event a number of times we repeated some of the events over a couple of days.

The Posse

The Destination: Timbisha Indian Country Posse

Part of the posse departed early Saturday morning and some headed out late morning to return back to Portland.  I’m not sure about you, but I don’t take many photos on the return trip from Reno as I’ve been on these roads a lot over the years and just focused on riding home vs. scenery.


In summary, we traveled over 2100 miles in 8 days with no mishaps, tickets or mechanical malfunctions. What more can you ask for?

 

Street Vibrations UPDATE:  There was some disappointing  news surrounding Street Vibrations which I learned of upon my return.  Jeffrey Sterling Duke, 57, of Georgetown, Calif. was shot to death on Interstate 80 near Truckee on Saturday night.  According to law enforcement he was semi-associated with the Vagos Motorcycle Club and his Facebook page noted that he was a Green Nation Supporter.

According to officials three motorcyclists rode up to the victim and fired multiple gunshots before taking off.  It’s not clear if this shooting is associated, but you might recall that five years ago this past weekend, members of the Vagos and Hells Angels Motorcycle Clubs exchanged gunfire during a deadly brawl on the floor of a casino in Sparks.

Randy Burke (Road Shows) applies some media “spin” and explains why the Street Vibrations Rally is not to be blamed for the shooting.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved (C) Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Screen Shot 2015-04-07 at 9.10.26 AMThe Pacific Northwest…bounded on one side by the pacific ocean and the other side is the mountainous Rocky’s.

It’s perfect for finding a two-lane crowd-free by-way and rolling past acres of lush forest.  Those acres can turn into meandering hours of riding the countryside on a motorcycle.   In fact, the Pacific Northwest HOG rally will be hosted in the picture-esq Northwest (Portland) in a couple of weeks where we will deliver the aesthetic vision of why we ride!

Welcoming the 1000’s of riders to the adventure will be hot and dry weather.  Not only will they encounter the best weather temps, but they will also have to deal with wildfires.  Yes, the west could be described as being on fire!

Wildfires In Oregon and Washington State

Wildfires In Oregon and Washington State

The fires across the region have forced evacuation, burned down structures and created breathing issues for some.  Twenty minutes outside the Portland metro area the air is thick with particulate and smoke permeates the sky for miles across the region.  In Washington state over a 1000 people have been evacuated in Chelan county.  The Warm Springs fire (Countyline 2 fire) in Oregon has exploded into the largest fire at 36K acres.  U.S. 26 is closed at Oregon 126.

According to NatGeo, on average more than 100K wildfires clear 4-5 million acres each year in the U.S.  In 2014, some 1.2 million acres burned in Oregon and Washington and sadly this year it’s looking like a repeat.

Wildfires In Canada, BC

Wildfires In Canada, BC

In scanning the reports I got to thinking about the last time I’ve taken a motorcycle trip during the summer that wasn’t marred with a wildfire.  Of course it depends on how many miles I’ve traveled, but in a typical week long ride during the summer I realized that it’s been a fair number of years where I didn’t pass near or through a burning wildfire during a ride.  I’ve had multiple trips to Sturgis.  Through Yellowstone Park, through Glacier National Park – both with fires on multiple trips.  There was U.S. Route 550 or the “million dollar highway” that had a San Jan National Forest fire.  There was Beartooth Highway (U.S. Hwy 212) and a lingering wildfire.  I’ve taken a couple extended trips up north to British Columbia Canada and the land of lumberjacks was on fire both times.  In most all cases we were not close enough to see flames, but dark smoke and particles filled the sky for many miles as we navigated across the country.

In Washington and Oregon there are now 31 major wildfires currently burning.  See the map.  In Canada BC, there are even more.

In addition to the economic woes that these fires cause it does makes one wonder whether motorcyclists should even consider traveling the west during the height of the summer fire season.

But, life is for living and I’m not talking about the thrill of a car ride snaking through the marquee Going-to-the-Sun-Road in Glacier.  It’s about feeling small in a very big world and how that is a great thing on a motorcycle.  So, I’ll continue to plan motorcycle trips to ride the west – wildfires and all!  Sure some of my photos will be filled with smoke obscuring the mountain views but, just know that I’ll have a big smile underneath that slightly wetted down dew rag covering my face!

Photos courtesy of the Oregonian and NWCC.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

IMG_3406The World’s Fair came to Spokane in 1974.  Forty years later the first tri-state Pacific Northwest HOG rally came to town and is now in the books!

Several of us rode up and took part in the event along with over 1600 other attendees plus a mix of locals and volunteers.

Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson hosted the PNW HOG Rally at its 11-acre complex. The rally had good music, food, refreshments and local vendors from the biking community.  At one point there were over a 1,000 motorcycles parked on the grass in front of Lone Wolf H-D to enjoy the festivities.

Lake Coeur d'Alene

Lake Coeur d’Alene

A few shout-outs from this blogger:

  • Thanks to Lone Wolf Harley-Davidson for being a great host.
  •  Kudos to J.T. Hasley (H.O.G. Events Manager) and Bob Klein (Harley-Davidson) for supporting.
  • Terrific job on the printed maps and rides that made it safe and fun.
  •  As a company sponsored riding club how can I not thank Harley-Davidson and Harley Owners Group for bringing it all together.
  •  Lastly, a sincere thanks to the many volunteers who made us all feel welcome and put in some long hot days to make the event a success.
Closing Dinner Celebration

Closing Dinner Celebration

A job well done!

A few of us stopped in at Cruisers on the state line where many roads lead there and one that goes right through the joint.  I’m not sure if my hearing will recover from either the band or the deafening loud pipes as folks motored through.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

The new Harley-Davidson™ Riding Academy

The new Harley-Davidson™ Riding Academy logo

Back in April, Harley-Davidson unveiled its new Riding Academy in the U.S., which is a program to help students take their first lessons in riding and they get to do it on a Harley-Davidson Street 500 motorcycle.

You might recall that the Harley-Davidson™  Riding Academy was previously called Rider’s Edge®.  In September 2012 the program celebrated a milestone of training 300,000 riders since starting in 2000.  At the time the Buell Blast, a motorcycle made by the Buell Motorcycle Company was used in the Rider’s Edge New Rider program.  In July 2009, prior to ceasing all motorcycle production, Buell ran an ad campaign stating that the Buell Blast would no longer appear in their line-up and the ad featured a Buell Blast being destroyed in an automobile crusher.

The new Harley-Davidson™ Riding Academy is a national rider training program and is likely to be hosted by Harley-Davidson dealerships across the country.

The old Rider's Edge® logo

The old Rider’s Edge® logo

It’s designed to get folks comfortable on a bike and give them the skills needed to ride with confidence.  The students are trained on the motorcycle that they will be riding and will also be taught the basics of rider safety. All the student needs to bring is the riding gear that consists of a long sleeves, jeans/pants, ankle length footwear, full gloves, eyewear and DOT standard helmet. The academy will provide a motorcycle and certified instructors from Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). The course features a minimum of 20 hours of classroom and range training with two instructors guiding 12 students at a time. The practice range is where students learn maneuvers such as turning, braking, going over obstacles and controlling skids.

Some thought the original Rider’s Edge Program was a pricey version of the MSF Basic Rider Course with four additional promotional/marketing hours added into the curriculum. Otherwise the curriculum of the two were nearly identical.  I have not been through the new Riding Academy, but would anticipate that it’s a Harley-Davidson branded version of the new 2014 MSF curriculum.

The motorcycle used in the new Harley-Davidson Riding Academy is the newly launched liquid-cooled Harley-Davidson Street 500.  I suspect the strategy of incorporating the Street 500 motorcycle is that students will want to keep riding after the class is over once they’ve learned on the motorcycle… maybe even consider a purchase.  The Street 500 is fitted with a vehicle protection kit that protects the motorcycle in case a student is not able to maintain balance and topples it. In addition, there is a first of its kind Power Limit Calibration system that is in place to restrict the bikes at low gear speeds allowing only the maximum speed needed for the course.  Or put another way, it modifies the fuel injection system and de-powers the bike.  If you’re looking for initial impressions of the bike for training check out this post HERE.

Once the training has been completed, the students will get an MSF Basic Rider Course completion card which may even exempt students from the state testing for a motorcycle endorsement, but this varies state to state. Harley states that this card may even help new riders in getting a discount on their motorcycle insurance.

TEAM OREGON Locations

TEAM OREGON Training Locations

But, what about the state of Oregon?

It looks like the Oregon Harley-Davidson dealers get somewhat of a pass on managing the new Riding Academy logistics since the only approved training is provided by TEAM OREGON.

If you’ve been riding awhile you’ll recall that Oregon was the first state to break away from MSF and Idaho soon followed.  There is 40-years of history, but in 2003, the last time MSF released a new curriculum, TEAM OREGON decided the new product didn’t meet the riders of Oregon needs.  However, MSF would not support continued use of the old product so, TEAM OREGON designed their own curriculum to meet the needs of Oregon riders.  The prevailing viewpoint was the California-based MSF “one-size-fits-all curriculum” didn’t address local issues – for example, Florida’s riding environment is much different from Washington State’s, which is unlike Wisconsin’s or New York’s.  MSF sued TEAM OREGON in 2006 over the curriculum they developed which the Oregon Department of Justice and Oregon State University tenaciously defended and in December 2008 the MSF agreed to abandon its lawsuit without any monetary settlement.  More details on the lawsuit are located HERE.

Independent of where you live in the Northwest, this blog has promoted safe motorcycle operation and suggested many times that riders be life-long learners.  Take a training class.

More information can be found at: TEAM OREGON – Basic (BRT) and Intermediate (IRT) courses are available statewide and meet Oregon’s mandatory training requirement.  Idaho STAR Motorcycle Safety Program;  Advanced Street SkillsPuget Sound Safety

Photos courtesy H-D and TEAM OREGON.  Shout-out to Pat Hahn (TEAM OREGON Communications and Outreach Manager) who was consulted for accuracy in the writing of this article.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Idaho Praraie

Somewhere in Idaho…

Five friends, 2200 miles, 15 fuel stops, and Ten Sleep Canyon – priceless!

Sure it’s a nod to MasterCard, but priceless experiences are better when shared and now that I’m back from some extended work travel that is my intent.

It was a sunny Saturday (August 24) and the leather-clad group rolled east like Pacific Northwest thunder to where more than 100,000 motorcycle enthusiasts were expected for the Harley-Davidson 110th Anniversary festivities in Milwaukee.  

Looking down on Jackson, WY

Looking down on Jackson, WY

The group had laid out a casual route plan, but embracing total spontaneity of the open road to see where ever the wind might take us wasn’t really in the cards for this trip.  We did eat when we got hungry, slept when we got tired and would drink refreshments when the bikes were parked at a motel for the night.

Three of us in this group had made a northern journey in 2008 for the 105th Anniversary (HERE), but on this trip we decided to take a more southern route.  That meant a lot more freeway travel and covering some very familiar road for at least the first 500 miles.

Pano of Grand Teton's

Pano of the Grand Teton’s

Boise, Idaho was like déjà vu all over again, (weren’t we just here?) and we must have been thinking about that Toby Keith song, I Love This Bar & Grill because we landed at the Reef restaurant again.  We met a couple Canadian float plane pilots at one of the pub stops and shared some interesting stories.

Grand Teton's

Grand Teton’s

The next morning we departed Boise after a McD’s power breakfast and headed toward Jackson, WY.   We initially planned to take Highway 20, through a desolate place known for the National Reactor Testing and then maybe a quick stop at Craters of the Moon National Monument.  Climbing down a lava tube sounded like fun, but it was another incredibly hot day.  Too hot to be walking around on black lava in motorcycle gear so we took the faster route and continued on I-84/I-15 to Idaho Falls.  

Heading toward Ten Sleep

On Hwy 26 riding toward Ten Sleep

From there we rode out on Highway 26 to Swan Valley then rode on Highway 31 (Pine Creek Rd) through the Targhee National Forest into Victor, ID where we picked up Highway 33/22 (Teton Pass Hwy).  This road took us through the western end of the Teton Pass and southern part of Teton Valley.  There were some great views!

We overnighted in Jackson, WY., which has a cowboy theme about the place.  Downtown has a daily gunfight and there are a lot of shops to spend $$ in if you like the tourist thing.  We had dinner at the Rendezvous Bistro which had outstanding food and to die for Meatloaf!  Strongly recommend the place if you’re in the area.

The next morning we headed out on Highway 191/89 and admired the majestic mountain view of the Grand Teton’s.  The park gets over 4M visitors each year, but the traffic on this day was light.  We stopped for a couple of photo ops, but continued on.  We were leaving the “high-country” and at Morlan, we took Highway 26 east and rode toward Riverton then on to Thermopolis.  There was a sign when we entered that said it was “the world’s largest hot spring” and is situated in a state park.  We stopped for lunch at a local dive that was having issues with the grill vent.  The entire place smelled like an open BBQ, but the burgers went down well.

Pano of Ten Sleep Canyon

Pano of Ten Sleep Canyon

We continued on to Ten Sleep Canyon.  Once a little known backwater, Ten Sleep is today a premier limestone climbing area in Wyoming.  

The Posse at Ten Sleep Canyon

The Posse at Ten Sleep Canyon

At Worland we rode out on Highway 16.  It’s called The Sweet 16 for being the easiest route to Yellowstone Park due to the gentle curves and lower grades.  This 92 mile corridor is a great ride and should be added to your bucket list.  From the town of Ten Sleep, US 16 leaves agricultural land and heads east along Ten Sleep Creek and through a spectacular canyon.  The canyon is filled with vivid colored limestone and dolomite rock walls and the cliffs take on a life of their own with shapes and faces.  The road continues into the Big Horn Mountains, which offers up lush grasslands, alpine meadows and glacier lakes.  The road crosses over the Powder River Pass at an elevation of 9,666 feet and then makes a steep descent (6-7%) into Buffalo.  There we rode on I-90 east and overnighted in Gillette. 

This riding day was truly a highlight of the road trip in my view and one that is most memorable.  It was filled with lots of mountain eye-candy, painted desert and Wyoming wonders.

The 110th Anniversary Homecoming – Part 2 (HERE).

Post Script:  I neglected to include a shout out to MC who couldn’t make this trip.  He and Sherry were excited to make the journey “home” and planned to ride out and join our group in Milwaukee.  Unfortunately MC was hit by a driver (HERE) who was trying to beat a red light while attending Shark Week III in St. George, Utah in early August.  We missed you MC and all of us are looking forward to future rides together!  You can follow MC’s recovery progress HERE or on his blog HERE.

Photos taken by author. 

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Fire near Goldendale, WA casts smoke on I-84

Fire near Goldendale, WA casts smoke on I-84

“The boot might have saved the foot… but, the helmet saved his life!”  said Dr. Clark, Dixie Region Medical Trauma Center.

But, let me go back to the beginning.

You haven’t heard from me for several days because I was on a ride to southern Utah for the annual Shark Week gathering.

Shark huh?

backward-picI’m not talking about the Discovery Channel event this week, but a semi-secret society of Shark Nose owners (a.k.a. Road Glide or ‘Glides’) that meet up on an annual basis and talk about the joy of wrenching and riding a ‘Glide’.  More importantly was the opportunity to ride through Zion National Park and see Bryce Canyon up close.  You know, those sorbet-colored, sandcastle-like spires and hoodoos that look like something straight out of a science fiction movie.

Mineral Hot Springs

Mineral Hot Springs

So we loaded up the iron steeds and rolled out of Portland early in route to St. George, Utah.  It seems that ‘Gliders’ like to awaken and ride off early.  Not me so much, but I conformed with the posse knowing that the previous 5-days had record heat and getting a lot of miles under our belt prior to the real oppressive heat would be a good thing.

We planned to take three days to cover the approximately 1100 miles to St. George.

On the first morning it was some good and quite riding with the gorge wind on our backs.  The first bit of change was due to a fire near Goldendale, WA., which blanketed I-84 and much of eastern Oregon with a thick blanket of smoke, but we rode on.  We did a quick ‘drive-by’ at the Oregon H.O.G. event in Pendleton, but it was largely winding down on Saturday (July 27th) so we continued heading east.

Downtown Boise, ID

Downtown Boise, ID

The first overnight stop was in Boise which seems to have a perpetual Basque street party anytime we arrive.  I didn’t see any Basque athletes, but supposedly they are famous for their feats of strength.  Something about dragging around a 1500 pound rock attached to a belt.  We did see some husky dudes that likely played on the college football team.  We ate dinner at the Reef Restaurant and enjoyed some refreshments in the Tiki Bar.

Snake River Panorama

Snake River Panorama

We rolled out early the next morning and were making good time on the interstate.  We crossed the Snake River at Twin Falls and headed south on Highway 93.  We decided to overnight in the small copper mining town of Ely, NV.  It’s located at the cross-road of highways U.S. 50 (“Loneliest Road In America”) and U.S. 93.  There is a newer La Quinta Inn that was quite nice and we ate dinner at the La Fiesta Mexican restaurant.  There was a group of riders coming in from Cali that all rode Screamin’ Eagle touring models.  It looked like a dealer convention and we chatted with them for a while and share some stories.

It's a long road...

Highway 93 Stretches Across the NV Desert

The next morning (Monday – July 29) we continued on U.S. 93 where the road stretches across the Nevada desert with very few services.  We had a light wind at our backs and I recall Molly Hatchet’s, “Flirtin’ With Disaster” sounding especially good.

I know, a third-rate boogie band.  But, it was different in the seventies.  It was overplayed to death back then, and the boomers know it by heart and get a nostalgic thrill every time we hear it today.  You see country records rarely had any presence north of the Mason-Dixon line, and southern rock bands dominated the airwaves, to the point where we got imitation acts, like Molly Hatchet, third generation stuff that was easily dismissible, except for the hits.  And that’s what the rednecks and the northerners had in common. This sound. It brought us together. Because it could not be denied. And it was always played by southerners. First, the Allman Brothers. Then Lynyrd Skynyrd. Then the Outlaws and Molly Hatchet.

But I’ve digressed.

Showers roll across the desert

Showers Roll Across The Desert

In the town of Panaca we took Highway 319/56.  The road continued to be flat and most straight with a few zig-zag’s across the irrigated farm land.  At the Beryl Junction, we made a brief stop at a John Deere farm implement business/gas station and then we rode south on Highway 18.  It was too long and the heat became oppressive as rode down into the valley.  Most of day we were at higher altitudes and it was comfortable, but about an hour outside St. George, Utah it felt like a furnace.

Arrived at Shark Week III

Arrived at Shark Week III

Off to our right I noticed that the afternoon sun was casting shadows on Snow Canyon State Park.  It’s a canyon about 15 minutes from St. George carved from red and white Navajo sandstone in the Red Mountains.  Finally we had arrived in St. George.   We checked into the Shark Week III event at the Lexington Hotel and after a day of desert heat we were badly in need of food, showers, air condition and some rest.  Mostly showers!

After showers and some dinner we thought about sitting outside with some chairs in the parking area, but it was too hot.  We did wander the parking area and chatted up the planned events with the other ‘Gliders’.  It’s a great  group of folks and was nice to meet some fellow ‘Gliders.’

The blog post continues HERE which provides more details on the Dr. Clark comment.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: