Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two Battleships

Woke late in Lake View, Oregon
Trying to time it for "Coffee and rolls in the lobby"
As there was no coffee available in the room.
(Hey, I am roughing it out here okay?!)

But still, it was 5:30 and rather than wait for the "7:00 AM" treats.
I hit the dispensing machine and bought a diet coke.
At 6:30 I was on my way
The air was cool, but I had layers on.

I was on a stretch of US 395 that was so desolate...
It was so desolate that I saw two cars, one truck,
One unidentifiable road kill, two jackrabbits and one cotton tail
On maybe a 70 mile stretch.

It was stunning country though, with high desert and prairies surrounded by distant mountains, the sweet smell of sagebrush (yup, there is always some of that out here) and a highway in
excellent condition.

At one point I saw two majestic
ridgelines... they made me think of the prows of two giant World War I era battleships, moored to the prairie forever. (photo right)

I was looking for coffee, breakfast and gas and didn't come across it for 90 miles.

Not far past Alkali Flat (nothing there but a BLM building)... at Wagontire, Oregon, I saw it.
A little restaurant with a couple of gas pumps in front of it and the ramshackle remnants of what was once a motel.

I pulled up to the pumps. One was gas and one was diesel. The one with gas only had one selection, "87" octane. Everything else was taped over. There was a piece of large masking tape on it that said, "$4.00". I was really low and knew I was 30-50 miles from the next possible pit stop so I decided to go for it. A lady came out and unlocked the pump and I put about three gallons in the HOG. I apologized to her (the HOG that is) profusely because she is accustomed to nothing but premium.

I then followed the lady into her little restaurant and she fixed me one of most bodacious breakfasts you can imagine. The coffee was just right and the ham was over a half inch thick. It covered half the breakfast plate... biggest individual portion of ham I have ever seen. The eggs, "over medium" were cooked perfectly and there was a large portion of hash browns... all of that accompanied by a couple of slices of sourdough toast and a small jar of homemade strawberry jelly. I just couldn't quite knock off all that ham but I tried. She asked me how my eggs were, can you imagine? I told here they were perfect and there and then decided to commemorate it all in this blog. Her name is Cheryl and she lives out there in the middle of nowhere. Stop in sometime!

I went another 300 miles or so beyond Wagontire today,
On highway 395 North.
Through country that reminded me of US Highway 50,
"The Lonliest Highway in America".
Through other country that reminded me of the Black Hills.

I straightened out hundreds of "twisties" along the way,
curves with 35, 40 and 45 miles an hour marked for speed limits.
I would come in high, throw the inside of the handlebars at the pavement, tilt my head to the center line and whip around them, dropping inside and accelerating out wide to the center, typically at 20 over or more.
Sometimes there were enough in a row that I could set up a rhythm...
It was very similar to the back and forth motion used by a slalom skier.
When you do this, you are conscious of how your feet hang off the floorboards.
Often, it will be the bottom of your foot that touches pavement rather than the outside edge of the chrome floorboard... in either case, they are telling you to back off the throttle a little. Or else.

It's good here. Now. In the room.
Cooled down and looking forward to tomorrow's ride.


Annie K said...

Wow, Tom. Thank you for a great post. I laughed when you apologized to your "hog." Breakfast, life, and the road sounds good. It's actually been a long time since I've been on a bike (as a passenger, never a driver), and your description brings back the memories of leaning into the turns. My husband used to race motocross (a long time ago), so he showed me no mercy on the curves, but I got used to the feel, and loved it. An empty road with fantastic scenery is the perfect ride. The only thing better (for me) is a hike in the mountains, trusting my own two feet to set up a rhythm and traverse the switchbacks.

TomC said...

Thanks Annie! To paraphrase Jack Nicholson, "You make me want to be a better..." writer.

Stalled for a couple of days here in Spokane where I have been visiting an old friend and catching a couple of son Tyler's tour shows. His bands pull out today for Bellingham, Washington then head East to Rapid City, and the Sturgis area with shows along the way. So I get to see them again next week while in Sturgis! More to come.

Thanks again Annie.