Portland to Lewiston (June 28 & 29th)

Many plans were bandied about between Al and I via text message. I wanted to show him some of the sights in Oregon (Hot springs! Waterfalls!), but we ended up simply not having enough time. He needed to book it to Lewiston, Idaho to do some bike repairs. I decided to come with, and surprisingly, so did Oz.

We fought our way out of Portland traffic, heading eastward along the I-84. I told Al the wrong name for the falls on the highway, so he took a different turn off than we did. Oops. He enjoyed a nice, winding road and we briefly appreciated Multnomah Falls before continuing on.

We met up with Al at a little day use area, and he and Oz chatted a bit. He seemed to dig Oz’s upholstery job.

We headed eastward, and decided to find a place to camp in the woods near Mount Hood. As we headed for a grocery store to acquire food and libations for the evening, we noticed that my headlight kept cutting out. Suspecting a loose wire or a bad ground, we removed the seat and found the connection to the positive terminal fairly loose, so we tightened it up. Problem solved!

It quickly turned dark as we traveled along the 35 and I was happy that my headlight was working correctly. Eventually we found a good spot to camp, and Oz had a bit of difficulty navigating the Ninja along the dirt road. Definitely not the machine for the job. I pitched the tent while Oz and Al made a fire. Some fine folks from the next camp over gave us some of their extra wood, so we were nice and toasty.

We listened to music, drank, and ate an abomination we created, “mac and cheese burritos”.

Eventually we grew tired and called it a night.

The next morning, I woke Al up with impromptu photography! I don’t think he was as amused as I was.

I filtered some water from the nearby river. Hooray self-sufficiency! Somebody had taken the time to stack dozens of rocks on top of each other. Strange.

As we were packing up, the folks who gave us their firewood came over to chat. They had these ridiculous tiny poofball dogs. It’s amazing to think that this creature evolved from wolves.

Oz decided that even though a rodent had gotten into the tortillas overnight, he was going to eat one anyways. Afterwards, I noticed some poop in the bag and pointed it out. Gross. Oz seemed to regret his breakfast decision, and we threw the rest away. Al’s speakers ran out of power and I attempted to charge them with my battery pack, only to be greeted with the stench of fried electronics and the plastic switch literally melting off. I quickly pried the batteries out of the enclosure, but the damage was done, the battery pack finished. I’d need to get a replacement when we got back into town.

We packed up and rolled out. Al chose the course, and we sped merrily along. South along the 35, then eventually east again. I don’t really remember what roads we were on, but the drop from the forest into the dry flat expanse of eastern Oregon was quite sudden. We stuck to smaller roads, and for the most part I kept my own pace. I stopped here and there to take photos.

The road slithered into a canyon and followed a river for a time, it was quite fun! I kept a sharp eye out for wildlife, but thankfully none appeared. Eventually Oz and I popped around a corner to see Al’s KLR parked off to the side, and we stopped to take a break, cool down a bit, and appreciate the churning river below.

Al had important paperwork to attend to in Grass Valley, so we hustled along. Oz and I ate a mediocre lunch at a small diner there, and I struck up conversation with a couple on beemers who were also out riding this fine day. This welding shop across the street looked interesting, and it surprised me to see that despite its decrepit exterior, it was still in active use.

We fueled up and headed north up the 97, crossing the Columbia river and continuing eastward on the 14, on the Washington side of the border. We stopped to take some photos of the scenery and dam. Al took a photo of me taking a photo of him. It’s ride reports all the way down!

We watched a mother deer attempt to convince her faun to hop a barbed wire fence near the road. As we went to leave, Al stopped suddenly and went back to the parking area, scanning and searching the gravel. Apparently his footpeg had fallen off, and he would have to ride without it until we could get a replacement bolt. For the next several hours, it was extremely amusing to watch him ride without a good place to rest his foot. Leaning over to one side, flailing around, foot extended. He must have confused the hell out of oncoming traffic. I was sad to have no way to take photos while in motion.

We chased our shadows through the late afternoon, ending up in Kennewick. Al got a new bolt for his footpeg. We got some drinks at a fast food restaurant and cooled down.

The sun set, and as twilight took over, Oz and I ran into a very bored cop.

We both got speeding tickets. $140 each for going 10mph over the speed limit. I found this ironic, given how much we’d been speeding on other parts of the day, that I’d end up with a ticket for something I would classify as fairly normal behavior. For whatever reason, the cop didn’t seem to care that Oz didn’t have registration for his bike. He did gave me a funny look when I asked to take pictures, but hey, what can I say? Gotta be thorough! This was my first-ever speeding ticket. I like his expression in this picture:

Mood thoroughly harshed, we toddled along at the speed limit through the early evening. It was here that I noticed my headlight was cutting in and out briefly, though only for a split second, enough to make me wonder if I was imagining things. Hmmm. We met up with Al again further down the road in a convenience store parking lot. He’d struck up a conversation with a local guy from the nearby fireworks stand.  We were informed that we shouldn’t bother trying to fight the speeding ticket, because Garfield county has a surplus of cops and a significant lack of crime.  They always show up. He grinned a little and said that the motto is, “Garfield County: Arrive on vacation, leave on probation.” Charming.

After watching a very special customer slam into the back of a parked truck while attempting to back out of a nearby parking space, I was eager to get on the road. Why do we always end up riding at night? We weren’t far from Lewiston, and Al was on a time limit, so we kept going. My headlight was getting discernibly worse, blinking out for a few seconds at a time, and while going through one town, it blipped out completely. Railing on the horn, trying to signal my distress, somehow the light came back on. Okay? I’ll take what I can get…

We made it to a gas station around 11 pm, and I explained my predicament. The light would not come back on, and furthermore, the bike wouldn’t start. Fantastic. I was at a bit of a loss, I knew it was something electrical, but I had no idea what. Luckily Al has a long and storied history of jury rigging things back together, and spotted the problem immediately. The electrical connection that we’d tightened the previous day had melted off. Awesome. In less than 10 minutes, he had twisted the wire around the terminal and it was good to go. Thanks, Al!

Even though it was ridiculously late, Al rode with us for another 20 miles or so and helped us find a good place to camp for the night. We ended up at a boat launch that explicitly said no overnight camping, but we wagered that it would be poorly enforced, as it was out of the way. Al took off sometime around 2 am, he had a long night ahead of him, still needing to do some wrenching in Lewiston!

Bye Al! You are awesome, and it was great to ride with you! We’ll meet again soon.

We set up the tent and passed the hell out.

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