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