I think the thing I hear most often when I'm traveling by motorcycle is: You're riding alone? Most of the time the answer is yes. This time I shared the first day's ride and then camped with a friend. It was only a 2 day adventure but I covered 433 miles with plenty of stories and a bunch of gear to review because of it!
Setting out from Portland I went north and met up with my friend Shannon in a little town called Scappoose, OR. From there we drove out to Astoria, which is where the mighty Columbia River meets up with the Pacific Ocean. Stopped for a couple of pics of some of the boats and US Coast Guard Cutters:
From there we turned south and made our way down the Oregon Coast following highway 101. It was gorgeous and had the Go Pro that was mounted to the right side of my handlebars been working, I'd have snapped some incredible footage for you. It was also sunny and mild with hardly any wind, which hardly ever happens…
There were a few technical difficulties. I was working with a lot of new equipment all at once – which in hindsight probably wasn't the best way to go about this. Still, what's done is done. I accidentally left my Go Pro on the night before we left then set out thinking it was all charged up and ready to go. Come to find out an hour into my ride, just when I was about to hit the 101 coast, the battery crapped out and the charger was buried in my bag. Lesson #1 🙂 Guess I'll have to try again another day.
The bike rode really well. It took some time and forethought to pack it out correctly, distributing the weight as evenly as I could and yet leaving the essentials accessible during the trip: tire gauge, air compressor, snacks and drinks, etc.
This is what my bike looked like before:
And after (my Harley is on the left, Shannon's BMW is on the right):
I expected a fully loaded bike to handle differently, but it really didn't. I only felt the extra weight in the curves and low speed turns, but even that was minimal, so that made me really happy. The other thing that made me really happy was the fact that I literally carried everything I needed on my bike. It's an incredible feeling, knowing you're self sufficient in that way.
The pic of both our bikes above was taken about half way down the Oregon Coast. The views as we ate our snacks and stretched our legs blew me away:
Of course, the PNW coast has long had my heart. Now you can see why.
Another two hours or so south and we stopped for lunch in Newport, Oregon at a place called Nana's Irish Pub. Highly recommend this place if you're ever in the area. It's a section of Newport called Nye Beach and it's a great little getaway spot for a weekend, with shops and restaurants all steps from a beautiful beach and the cliffs the Oregon Coast is famous for.
After lunch it was only about 40 more miles to our campground at Tillicum Beach. Our campsite was literally steps from the steps that led down to the beach. I snapped this about 15 feet from my tent:
As I mentioned before this was a dry run and over the course of two short days I gathered a whole list of things I will do differently next time. I'll try to break up the gear posts separately so those of you who want to see those specifically can link to them. They will be relatively short reviews so no worries about getting bogged down with a bunch of tech heavy jargon. I'm just your average Joe who wants their gear to be functional and efficient.
**On that note however, I will say that I am incredibly thankful that I spent the extra money to buy gear that was lightweight, well-rated and super easy to use. It made setting up camp like this take literally 15 minutes.**
We stripped out of our leathers and heavy gear, stowed it all away and took a beautiful walk on the beach
then headed back to camp for a nap in my hammock.
Day 2: We split off from one another early. It was actually Shannon's birthday, so she needed to get home and I wanted to take a different route back. I decided to wind my way through the Suislaw National Forest and ended up finding a sign for one of the covered bridges on my list. It was a nine mile detour off an already remote forest road with no cell service, and I passed it then quickly turned around, thinking “when am I going to be on this road again with no agenda and nothing but time?”
So I took it.
Nine miles deep into the woods on pristinely paved, gently curved roads where I rarely saw another vehicle. It was motorcycle heaven. This is my first attempt at Go Pro footage so please excuse the quality, and also you might want to mute the sound 🙂
I found the covered bridge:
I stopped at a great little cabin / restaurant in Alsea called Deb's Cafe – it was my kind of place – and the tuna melt was fabulous!
From there I continued north and east crossing over the Willamette River and into Silver Falls State Park off of highway 214. It was beautiful there.
Unfortunately, I also got stranded there for several hours because I
LOST MY KEYS!
That's right. It was hot and I was progressively stripping down layers of leather and under layers to keep myself from heat stroke. Finally I was in a tank top and jeans but wearing my leather jacket so I took it off and carried it so I could explore the grounds and see the falls. I went to two different view points, as well as the cafe and the bathroom before heading back to take a rest under the tree where my bike was parked. It was right after this pic
that I decided to get back on the bike to leave. I donned what was left of my gear, put on my helmet and went to start it up. Only it started alarming as if I was trying to steal the bike! The keys have to be within 5 feet of the bike for it to start, so basically on your person, which is why I always put them in the pocket of my leather.
Unfortunately the zipper was down 🙁
The alarm was making so much noise that all the other people were starting to stare, wondering why I was trying to steal a really cool Harley. I got off the bike and retraced my steps. Twice. Then realized that while I was away from the bike whoever DID pick up those keys could just get on my bike and drive it away. The offices were closed for the day. There was no cell service anywhere in the park and I couldn't even call AAA.
I figured worst case scenario I could pull off my camping gear and walk to the campgrounds and get a site for the night and deal with it the next day if I had to when everything would be open again, but that would mean leaving my bike in an empty parking lot overnight with someone else possibly having my keys. It took two hours, no small amount of panic and a park ranger on an old crackly radio after everything had closed for the day to retrieve those keys, which thankfully some beautiful soul had in fact, turned in.
The rest of the ride back to civilization and a hot shower was relatively uneventful, but that's ok. That was enough excitement for one trip!
So I guess the moral of the story is, never leave your fly open… I mean, zipper… down. I'll be heading to the Harley dealer for a spare key to carry somewhere on the bike before my next overnight!