Introduction: Bill’s Excellent Adventure

My Transportation

Hi everyone. Since so many people (about six of you) have shown interest in hearing about my trip, (specifically family and my biker friends), I decided to blog the trip as I go. I figure it beats mailing postcards.

To those of you that don’t fall into the “family” or “biker friends” category consider this the easy way out — it’s here if you want to follow along and comment, and if it bores you to tears, you don’t have to come to the site. All in all, I think it a fair deal for everyone: I don’t have to repeat myself, and you don’t have to look at my “vacation photos” unless you really are interested.

Details: I’m leaving Monday, May 1 on my 06 Kawasaki Vulcan 1500 Classic and heading north. I’ll hook up with my friend Pete Puccio from Microsoft on Saturday and we plan to cover at least part of the Cascade Loop.

Pete doesn’t have that much time off work, so after a few days, he’ll head back to Seattle and I’ll turn south and head down the Continental Divide. I’ll provide more on the itinerary in another post.

Comments and suggestions for places to see and stay are welcome.

Stay tuned for developments…

Medford, OR

It’s 6:15 and I’m in Medford, OR. I left around 10:30 this morning to miss some of the traffic created by our little “on-ramp collapse” in the East Bay. I’m going to find some dinner and then head on over to the coast to find a campsite before it gets dark. I’ll write up the day and post it first chance tomorrow. I’ll give you a preview however: This is a blast!

Day One: Monday, April 30, 2007

Ready to Leave

I packed up all the gear and headed out this morning. I decided that I’d rather see the Oregon coast this trip since I can arrange a three-day weekend to see Northern California much more easily. Going for distance would allow more time Tuesday and Wednesday to explore Oregon’s 101. I’m spending tonight in a campground in Grants Pass, OR. I know that 376 miles doesn’t seem like a lot, but when you have to stop every 140 miles for gasoline, the stops add up.

Mt. Shasta

The ride: It ranged from the early eighties when I left around 10:30 to the high nineties around Sacramento, and is a balmy 55 down here by the river now. As all of you in California know, I-5 is a seriously dull ride until you reach the Trinity Mountains. Just driving through them reminded me how much I’ve missed camping and hiking. Anyone want to plan a hiking trip up here one weekend in June?

I started the trip with my iPod, but ditched it after the first stop. The rest of the day I spent just enjoying the ride. Although the usual “to-do’s” did cross my mind, I was able to successfully set them aside and focus on just “being.” I’m looking for a sustainable rhythm to this excursion. Heck, after the last 18 months, I’m looking for a sustainable rhythm to life!

Dive Bar

This is the dive bar next to my campsite.

The campsite

Tomorrow I’ll be coving about half the distance, so I hope to have more opportunities to stop, take photos, and ponder this rhythm thing. Stay tuned…

Oh, and many of you are sending me great comments in email. Why not leave them on the blog for others to enjoy? Don’t worry, they’re all moderated. (more or less) 😉

Addendum: At 3 AM this morning it started to rain. I was prepared, so things only got a little damp. It did take a little longer to pack up this morning and find a cafe with internet access.

Day Two Route

The plan today is to take the highway from Hellgate Canyon along the Rogue river to 101 and then up the coast.

Day One: The Gear

For my fellow gearheads out there. I was pleasantly surprised at the way the 1500 handled fully loaded. I about half expected it to wallow like a drunken hippo in the high mountain passes. It was a little slower to respond than normal, but the balance was still solid and the cross winds were easily navigated. The more miles I put on this bike, the better I like it. As the trip continues, I’ll have more to say, but here is a list of the gear its first impression:

Saddlebags: Although they are wide, the hold a lot and don’t seem to affect the handling at speed.

Tankbag: I like the magnet tank bag — it seems sturdy enough. This model is intended for a sport bike, so it has a few quirks. It is nice to be able to carry all my valuables when I step away from the bike.

Driver backrest: At the end of the first day, I love the support it provides.

AirHawk Seat: This air cell seat, loaned to me by Jeff Meehan, is a real bum saver! Unlike previous daytrips where I needed to get off the bike every hour by the end of the day, today I only had to stop for fuel and bio-breaks.

Highway bars and foot pegs: The way these are set up I, have added about five different positions I can use to stretch out my legs.

Luggage Bag: Less than thrilled with this bag. Plastic D rings seem cheap (I’m afraid I’m going to cinch one of them down the bike and break it.) and it’s a royal pain to access the main compartment. It could also use a bigger sleeping bag roll.

Day Two: May 1, 2007

Day Two: May 1, 2007

Well, today got a little exciting. Not only did I take a pass that was much more suited to a dual-sport, I almost ran over two squirrels, a chipmunk, and a rather large rock in the road.

Suffice it to say that I highly recommend that you have a dual-sport before you attempt today’s extravaganza. In short, 80 miles took over three and half hours!

The road started out well enough. Early on, I ran across this very well landscaped area. The color was simply stunning.

This is a view from the mouth of Hellgate canyon where I started out.

There were some beautiful views


The Road
But the road wasn’t all it wasn’t all that impressive. In fact, it left much to be desired. I’d love to show you the more desperate spots, but I didn’t have the guts to stop the bike an take a picture. 😉

Bear Camp Pass
Here is a shot from the top of Bear Camp road. It was freezing cold. No one in his or her right mind would try this route this early in the season. That goes double for anyone on a street bike. And yes, I know what that says about me.

Dang Cold!
Fortunately, since Eric warned me that it had snowed nine inches in Colorado last week, I came prepared.

The road was rough to say the least. Wash outs that looked like they had been repaired by blind Irishmen (I’m Irish, I can say that.), not to mention squirrels, chipmunks, moose, and the inevitable logger.

Too Close to the Edge...
This section found the bike doing a Pirouette on the newly installed freeway bar. No harm done, but I should have entered this section in First instead of Second. Picking up a fully loaded 660lb bike is no picnic. Where is my wingman?

Even though it was overcast much of the day, the views were still worth the trip.

Moose herd

Loner Moose

The weather took another turn for the worse as I reached the coast, and with moose warnings galore, the and time running out for me to reach Seattle by Wednesday evening, I reluctantly turned inland on Hwy 38 to reach Eugene. Another two and a half hours in the rain found me there for a hot shower and a friendly pub with Stone IPA on tap! I figure things happen for a reason, and I was obviously intended to be here in Eugene tonight. The northern coast of OR will have to wait for another trip…

Wednesday should find me in Seattle by early afternoon.

Bob, warm up the scotch. I’m bringing the cigars…