2011 Memorial Day Ride Postmortem

Well, it’s a wrap. 2944 fantastic miles in 13 days.

Here’s the map:

In summary, Jeff and I compiled a few of our favorites from this trip:


  • Best Meal: Jake’s in Portland – Horseradish Encrusted Salmon (Jeff says it may be the best piece of salmon he’s had in his life.)
  • Best Day Riding: Day 9 – Baker City to Bend, OR
  • Most Memorable Experience: Day 3: Ely, NV – From the ER room to the old western saloons to the shuffleboard. The place is stuck in a time warp!
  • Best Hotel: The bungalow at MacMinimian Brother’s Old St. Francis School.
  • Missing Gear: The phone charger on the BMW that didn’t work even after paying to have it fixed before we left.


  • Best Meal: Dinner in Madison Camp Yellowstone on Day 7. Jeff invented the steak with caramelized onion potatoes & french onion dip.
  • Best Day Riding: Day 9 – Baker City to Bend, OR
  • Most Memoriable experience: Buffalo joining us for breakfast on Day 8 in Yellowstone.
  • Best Hotel: Hotel Nevada in Ely. For the same reasons as Jeff: the place was in a time warp.
  • Missing Gear: A better camp seat. Mine malfunctioned on day one.

As always, its hard to tell what the real impact of such a trip will be. But I’m relaxed, in a creative state of mind, and ready to get back to work.

Until the next time that I’m back out on the highway…

Day 13: Grants Pass, OR to Concord, CA

Sometime last night I left the hammock and crawled into the tent. A good thing as it was drizzling rain by daylight.

Although we had planned on an early start, packing up in the rain is not high on either of our lists of things we can’t wait to do, so we slept until around 10 when it had quit raining. We packed everything up wet and then stopped at the resturant next to Riverside Inn Resort for lunch. One of the best lunches that I had on the trip. They cooked the salmon perfectly! Which I could remember the  name.

By noon it was hammer down. And I mean hammer down. If you haven’t ridden I5 between Medford and Shasta Lake, it is just packed with great riding. I even manged to mostly keep up with Jeff.

We pretty much just stopped for gas, until we reached Fairfield where we would split up. We chose the Blue Frog Grill for the traditional last meal and only photo of the two of us on the journey.

To a great day, a great ride, and a great friend. Until next time…

Today’s Ride: 377 Miles

Day 12: Portland, OR to Grants Pass, OR

I woke up inexplicably this morning at 5 am. Well perhaps not inexplicably, it was clearly trash day in Portland.

The only rooms when we booked the hotel were cowboy style: one bathroom at the end of the hall for the whole floor. Not particularly my cup of tea, although both the room and the bath were well appointed and clean. Regardless, I prefer a hot shower, so got with it lest the hot water heater was small. Then I read until about 8 and then went down to feed the meters so we wouldn’t get a ticket before we had to check out at 11 am. Jeff had already beat me to it.

He wasn’t in his room, so I packed and snuck in a nap till 10 when he called to see if I was still alive. Breakfast at Kenny & Zuke’s Deli landed me a Reuben sandwich with a couple of fried eggs on it. I really just wanted the sandwich, but they were still serving breakfast. Turned out to be delicious!

A quick stop at Powell’s Bookstore was enough for me to commit to coming back when I have more time on my hands. What a place. I need a few days to explore it.

Time to turn south. And really the only way south, is I5.

Only stopping for gas, we got to Grant’s Pass a little before 4 PM, and decided to eat out before locating our campground. Dinner was at some “Bear” restaurant which was all-in-all unremarkable.  Overdone stuffed chicken with an underdone bacon wrap. We should have ordered the steak.

A quick stop at the grocery to get set for the night and then we made our way to Schroeder County Park since they allow tents to rent their powered campsites. I paid and Jeff went in to find a site. The campground was almost entirely empty, and proving that great minds think alike, he picked the exact site that I chose on my first night out on the 2007 trip.

We pitched the tents, strung the hammock, and then settled in to drink some beer, work on the blog and review the trip.

I relaxed in the hammock and watched the last of the coals burn down till I fell asleep. It’s a good way to spend the last night out.

Today’s Ride: 251 miles


Day 11: Bend, OR to Portland, OR

Today started off much like yesterday, overcasts and looking like more serious rain. Portland isn’t that far, so we hung-out in the bungalow, drank coffee, read the paper, and caught up on a few calls. A quick stop at a mexican place in town for lunch, and we were off.

We were spared the rain and Hwy 26 remained the same as yesterday: smooth, well banked, and mostly free of traffic. That is until Navigator here missed the turn off to I 84 which would have jetted us right into Portland. That was about the time the sun decided to show up and so we spent the next hour in stop and go traffic wearing out our clutches. For those of you unfamilar, Hwy 26 turns into a city street with stoplights at every intersection.

By the time we got to the McMenamin’s Crystal Hotel, I was happy to see parking right in front of their Zeus Cafe.

Not only that, there were outside tables in the shade, so we promptly ordered a brew and camped out there for the next few hours. I had pinged my friends at dmg and Nancy brought her girls over for some icecream since she couldn’t join us for dinner. Brad arrived shortly after they left (Kathi was kind enough to give him a hall pass and stay home with the kiddos) and then we were off to dinner at Jake’s Famous Crawfish.  Keith played a softball double header and showed up just in time to be served dinner. Brad and Jeff both had great things to say about their salmon. Jeff allows as it might have been the best fish he’s ever had a restaurant.  Keith and I both agreed that the steaks were excellent as well. It’s worth going.

Great friends and great conversation make the time go by quickly. I’d say we went to bed at a reasonable hour, but I’d be lying. We were having too much fun.

Today’s Ride: 163 Miles

Day 10: Baker City, OR to Bend, OR

Unfortunately our stay at the Geiser Grand was not up to par. The staff was friendly and the hotel itself was wonderful. The service however just didn’t make the grade. From the bellhop dropping Jeff’s helmet on the street and leaving it there for another guest to turn into the front desk, to dinner taking well over an hour to prepare – and then arriving overcooked, it was just disappointing.

Since I had intended to be back in the office by today, there were a couple of assignments waiting for me. I worked from 5:30 to 11:00 this morning in their Library and then we checked out for what turned out to be the best ride of the trip.

Some days it’s about being out, some days it’s about the scenery, some days it’s about the stops. Today it was all about the road. Today was probably the coldest day we have had, and by far the rainiest – and it didn’t make one bit of difference. Highway 26 is just amazing for bike riding.

Lots of 35 and 40 MPH curves that are smooth and banked just right. Practically no one else on the road at all. Even an overloaded cruiser had no trouble taking them at half again the posted limit in the rain. Without dragging boards.

Halfway there, just after the Rattlesnake Creek cut through, it opened up into giant sweepers. This road just begs for a sport-tourer. The scenery was spectacular as well, but with the sodden conditions and the road beckoning, I only stopped a couple of times for photos.

Having ridden Jeff’s BMW 1150 RT for an hour or so a couple of days ago, I knew he needed to let it run and waived him on ahead as I again had to circle back for gas. This 4.5 gallon tank is not the most brilliant idea Kawasaki has ever had.

He beat me to Bend by 45 minutes. That’s what happens when you have a bike that will take sweepers at 130 MPH. Couldn’t wipe the smile off either one of our faces for the rest of the evening. If I hadn’t already planned for a dinner with friends in Portland, I would have lobbied for retracing today’s ride tomorrow.


Jeff has been telling me about the McMenamin’s for years. Since at least 2005. So, when in Bend…

We got their last available bungalow and what a treat it was. Right next to the bar with three giant fire pits. A total 1940’s 800 sq ft home. Felt like I was back at my grandparent’s place in Arkansas. Great brew pub on the premise too – after today’s ride, we were in heaven.

Dinner at Pine Tavern, one of Jeff’s favorite places in Bend was also on the agenda. They had the deck closed be cause it was too cold, but we got to set next to it along the river. My steak was great, his chicken was cold and overcooked. (It was also free in the end.) We both still recommend it highly.

On the way back to McMenamin’s, we stopped by the Deschutes brewery to sample their wares. Very much worth the trip.

Topped the evening off by smoking a cigar around the fire pit outside the bungalow with one a Hogshead Whiskey from the McMenamin’s Edgefield Distillery. All in all, today is going to be a hard day to beat.

Today’s Ride: 233 Miles