Friday, June 19, 2009

Favorite dealership closed its doors

I purchased my Suzuki V-Strom from Action Motorsports in Fairview, Oregon back in February of 2007 and have been going to them ever since for parts, accessories, and especially service. Their service department always did a great job at a fair price.

When dropping off some new tires yesterday to have installed on my 'Strom the owner informed me they had closed their doors. There were three semi-trailers in the parking lot to haul away the bikes. The owner told me he and his partner hoped to open up a service shop soon.

I've been a loyal customer and have spent quite a bit of money on accessories, parts, and service with Action Motorsports since I bought my bike back in Feb. 2007. The nearest factory-authorized dealership is another 30 minutes away from my home, which is very inconvenient.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adventure lost

My brother was killed Sunday afternoon. He was working as an arborist, helping clear some douglas fir on some residential property. He had fallen several trees already and when the last one fell it landed on one of the other stumps and kicked back, striking him in the side of the head and breaking his neck, killing him almost instantly. He would have turned 50 in September.

My BrotherMy brother was the one that taught me a sense of adventure. Being 10 years older than me, he was my gateway to many things growing up that I never would have experienced otherwise. My first backpacking trip was with Greg. His time served in the Army with the Special Forces is what inspired me to sky dive. He taught me that enduring hardship in the outdoors was a matter of mind over matter. "If you don't mind, it don't matter."

I could listen to Greg tell me of the many adventures he's had in his life over and over again, for hours at a time. He lived a very full life and not all of it was positive, but through it all my brother always had a smile on his face even if it was hiding a grimace of pain underneath.

We had our fair share of adventures together, too, and Greg always looked out for me. At a Halloween party in 1988 I was trying to talk a drunk guy out of his car keys when he sucker-punched me, shattering my nose. Before I even realized I had been hit Greg had the much taller man down on the pavement giving him what-for. Without hesitation.

My brother was fearless. I've never seen him afraid of anything or anyone. He wasn't reckless or cocky about his own immortality, but he lived his life unburdened by fear. Although I've always been the cautious, responsible one of the family, some of his fearlessness and sense of adventure rubbed off on me.

One of Greg's defining characteristics, however, was his unwillingness to give up. No matter what the circumstance or challenge, he had the grit to get him through it. My brother has been through some hard times in his life and been in several life-threatening situations. He had the fortitude to get through all of them.

"If you don't mind, it don't matter."

Although I got my inspiration to ride motorcycles elsewhere, the willingness to set out on two-wheeled adventures and enjoy the ride unburdened by fear came from my older brother.

Thank you, Greg. I'm gonna miss ya, bro, more than you can ever imagine.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Can I turn 40 again next month?

Despite the old and run-down nature of the Westward Ho Motel in Bend, I managed to sleep adequately well. I couldn't wait to get out of there the next morning, however. I rode to the north end of town and grabbed a bite of corned beef hash and eggs at Shari's -- across from The Riverhouse where I should have stayed to begin with -- then continued over to Prineville where I gassed up the bike.

I followed Highway 26 east to Mitchell before heading north to Fossil. I often stop in Fossil for a BLT but wasn't overly hungry so I continued back west toward Antelope. I was hoping to buy a bottle of water and have a short break in Antelope but their only store/diner was closed despite the sandwich board sign out front advertising the fact that they now sold bottled water.

8 miles up the road I stopped at the only remaining establishment open in Shaniko,

[caption id="attachment_437" align="alignnone" width="420" caption="Shaniko, Oregon"]Shaniko, Oregon[/caption]

an ice cream shop that also sold a few other items. I got a nuked corn dog and ice water for $1.50, gave the old lady working there a $5 bill and said, "Keep the change." After chatting with the old man sitting on the front porch for a bit I continued north on Highway 97 to Biggs where I gassed up and chugged a frappuccino. Once across the Columbia River I made my way to my sister's ranch halfway between Goldendale and Bickleton, at the end of a rough and bumpy dirt and gravel road. My bike was covered in dust and dead bugs and I've never seen anything more beautiful.

My sister and her husband and I stayed up to around 10pm chatting then headed to bed. I slept well and was up by 6:30 am the next morning. My Dad and his wife arrived from their home in Hermiston around 8:30 am and we visisted until noon, had a quick lunch, then I mounted back up and headed back down the dusty trail, homebound.

I had to change into and out of my cold/wet weather clothes three different times on the way home. The weather was tumultuous and fickle, hot and muggy one minute then cool and rainy the next. I made it home safely, however, without getting overly wet and despite the nearly bald tire on the back.

My trip was a huge success. I logged over 2,500 miles in 9 riding days (12 days total, with a three-day stay in San Francisco). It made me want to turn 40 again next month. And next year. And the year after that.

Monday, June 8, 2009

News Flash: Crater Lake Still There

Using advanced satellite technology and on-the-ground reconnaissance, scientists have confirmed that Crater Lake remains in it's current location. "Yep," said USGS Senior Geologist Stan Goodman, "it's still there."

There were no breakfast options within walking distance of my hotel so I had to resort to McDonalds for morning calories. Their mochas aren't that bad but I'm sure they taste the way they do because of a dozen different lab-grown ingredients only a savant biochemist could pronounce. It's only in me for about 24 hours anyway, so what do I care?

The road up to Crater Lake from Grants Pass is scenic enough but too straight for my tastes and crawling with ADL members. My butt gets sore when I ride in a straight line. When I stopped at the national park entrance the mosquitoes were swarming my face looking for a quick meal. Blood-suckers! There's still quite a lot of snow at the Rim Village but I managed to get up to the edge and take a look at the lake.

[caption id="attachment_430" align="alignright" width="479" caption="Yep, it's still there"]Yep, it's still there[/caption]

After grabbing a quick snack and some souvenirs for family, I descended the eastern slope and made my way to La Pine for a cobb salad and second mocha of the day at the Red Rooster Cafe. They have a sign on the mens room door that says, "This door to remain closed at all times / By order of the Management." Funny.  They actually decorate the lower-half of the walls of their cafe with chicken wire.

Not wanting to get to Bend at noon, I headed back west to take the Cascade Lakes loop. I stopped at a small lake-side campground and posed my bike for a picture with the lake and Mt. Bachelor in the background.

[caption id="attachment_431" align="alignright" width="480" caption="Damn, that's a sexy bike!"]Damn, that's a sexy bike![/caption]

As I was getting closer to Bend I noticed that once again I was getting to my destination way too early. So I stopped at a small scenic overlook and chilled for a while. Wanting to goof off a little I posed my camera on a tiny tripod and used the timer to take this photo of myself and the bike (that's actually how I take all my own pictures on trips).

[caption id="attachment_432" align="alignnone" width="420" caption="Tripods and timers are handy"]Tripods and timers are handy[/caption]

Once I got into Bend I used my GPS to find my way across town to the Westward Ho Motel. It's old and kind of a dive but it's clean and super cheap. Tomorrow I continue heading north to visit my sister at her horse ranch outside of Goldendale, Washington. Of course, I'll be taking the twisty way there.

Update: The Westward Ho Motel in Bend is "Cheap, and not even worth it." It's a truly classic example of 'you get what you pay for.' I paid $32.80 for my room and that should tell you something. I won't be coming back.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Living in the wild, wild west

The purpose of yesterday's ride was to get as much of Highway 36 under my wheels as possible. I rode east from Fortuna inland all the way to Red Bluff, then backtracked halfway and cut north on Highway 3 to Weaverville where I stayed the night.

On the way back, about 10 miles east of the junction with Highways 3 and 36, the road is high elevation, narrow, and very curvy with lots of nearly shear drop-offs on one side and solid rock cliffs on the other. During one hairpin turn I scraped my foot peg, which isn't necessarily a dangerous situation by itself -- it was probably the sixth time on this trip -- but it jolted my brain out of the zone and distracted me for several minutes.

Less than a half-mile later, the road curved to the left. It was a decreasing-radius turn, where it actually gets tighter as you get into it, and I hadn't burned off enough speed beforehand. Normally you want to brake before the turn and not during. As the turn's radius decreased I found myself drifting to the outside of the turn toward the narrow 6" gravel shoulder and the drop off to my potential doom many hundreds of feet down beyond that.

I did my best to brake, which stands my bike upright slightly, and the front tire went into the gravel. Insert cliche about my life flashing before my eyes here. I had a brief second of tank-slapping (it's a motorcycle phrase, look it up; it's not good) and miraculously got back off the 6" of gravel and back onto the pavement. I was literally inches away from falling to my probable death.

Needless to say I had to pull over soon after to clear my head.

I could have easily died or suffered severe injury, and my bike (and I) would have fallen for quite a while before hitting the bottom of the canyon below.

Motorcycling is an inherently dangerous activity, but so is driving a car. [Statistically, I'm twice as likely to die as a pedestrian than I am as a motorcyclist.] I survived the incident and learned several things from the experience.

If I scrape a peg or something else happens that breaks my concentration, I need to slow down or pull over until I can regain my focus. My bike is very capable of taking some seriously tight turns and when I found the turn's radius decreasing I should have been more assertive and attacked into the turn, but because I was fearing another peg scraping, I slacked up and that is what sent me wide.

Normally riding near long drop offs and other hazards doesn't phase me at all. I'm aware of the scenery around me as I ride but I don't focus on it. I focus on the road. I'm also normally aware of my state of mind; when I'm in the zone I'm not afraid to push my bike's limits a bit more than normal, and when I'm not in the zone I back off and ease up on the throttle.

It was a growth experience, and as the latin saying 'Ad astra per aspera' goes, ("to the stars through difficulties") through adversity we grow.

I made it to Weaverville safely and checked into the Weaverville Hotel.

[caption id="attachment_426" align="alignright" width="460" caption="Weaverville Hotel"]Weaverville Hotel[/caption]

It was built in the late 1800's and looks like something you'd see in a western movie. The hosts are super nice and really made sure I was comfortable. Shortly after getting unpacked I went next door to the New York Saloon for a cold beer. When I asked the bar lady what she had on tap, she said, "Coors Light and Bud."

(Anyone that knows me is well aware of my views on those brands of libations. "People that drink Coors Light don't really like the taste of beer, they just like to pee a lot.")

I asked if she had any micro-brews, and she pointed behind me at a Sierra Nevada sign hanging on the rough-cut wall. "I can't pronounce it, but we have that." She couldn't pronounce 'Sierra Nevada'? WTF? The beer was cold and she even asked if I wanted a glass, however, so she gets points for effort.

Dinner was at the La Grange Cafe across the street. I had a glass of local gevurtztraminer that was a bit too sweet so I switched to a reisling from the same winery -- much better. It went very well with my hazelnut-encrusted halibut. Mesha was a great waitress, too. She gets her name from the biblical character, Meshak. Her brother is named Shadrak. Her father was apparently disappointed she wasn't a boy and made her name more feminine by taking off the trailing "K". It was a fantastic meal in a very quaint and wonderful little town.

I slept well and had an early breakfast at the Nugget, where I dined the previous Sunday on my way south, then headed west on 299 before cutting north on Highway 96.

96 follows the Klamath River and is very scenic; I highly recommend the route. When I got to Happy Camp I located the only gas station in town, a card-lock self-service station that offered a single pump available to the general public. There was a half-dozen guys on sport bikes filling up when I pulled in. One guy asked, "Where ya headed?"

"Grants Pass, the twisty way," I said.

"Us, too!" he said.

I let them zoom ahead of me after we were all fueled up, knowing they'd just have to pass me as soon as we got out of town.

Cave Junction came along soon enough and I pulled over at the Dairy Queen for a chicken sandwich for lunch. It was noon and I knew I'd be arriving at my motel in Grants Pass way too early. That happens to me a lot on my trips because I get started too early in the morning.

As predicted, my room wasn't ready when I got to the Super 8 in Grants Pass so I asked my GPS to tell me where the nearest park was so I could find a shady spot and take a nap. An hour later I was checked into my room.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Heading back north

[caption id="attachment_416" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Steve and Tara"]Steve and Tara[/caption]

I met a schoolmate, Tara, that lives in San Francisco for dinner and a trip through the California Academy of Sciences. (No, my gut isn't really that big as you see in the picture; I was leaning back against the railing.) We ate at one of her favorite restaurants, Park Chow and ate dead fish -- mahi mahi and halibut -- then went over to the museum to see alive fish swimming around, including an enormous giant sea bass.

[caption id="attachment_417" align="alignnone" width="380" caption="Steve and giant sea bass"]Steve and giant sea bass[/caption]

We then stayed up until midnight catching up on the last 20 years of our lives.

Despite a late night, I was up shortly after 6 am and got everything packed. I grabbed a quick breakfast at the Olympic Flame Cafe next door, then checked out of the hotel. When I went into the parking garage to get my bike, I discovered it was surrounded by exotic sports cars: Ferarris and Lamborghinis and Others, Oh My!

[caption id="attachment_418" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="More than two dozen exotic cars"]More than two dozen exotic cars[/caption]

I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge by 8 am and headed back up Highway 1, the same way I came down.

[caption id="attachment_419" align="alignright" width="320" caption="Just north of San Francisco, Hwy 1"]Just north of San Francisco, Hwy 1[/caption]

I made it to Fortuna without any problems, although I had to dodge what looked like a gray fox but was probably just a young, skinny coyote as well as two female turkeys. It misted a little bit the last 20 miles of 1 but the precipitation was nothing substantial.

I checked into the Super 8 in Fortuna at 3:30 pm and got two loads of laundry started in their coin-operated machines. Dinner was at the Eel River Brewery next door. I ordered blackened salmon but it was super greasy and salty so they made a second attempt. That version was grilled and less salty but was over cooked. The 'works' baked potato and amber ale were good, however.

Tomorrow I head due east on 36 to Red Bluff, then will backtrack to Weaverville for the night.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Culture and sophistication

I walked over to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, or SFMOMA as the banners all over town call it, and got a healthy dose of culture and sophistication. One of the things I find convenient about modern art museums is you can tell very quickly what you like, and more often than not, what you don't like. Modern art can be very 'odd'.

Some of it kicks ass, though. I did get to see a Picasso, some Jackson Polluck, and a couple Diego Rivera paintings, one of which I really like.

[caption id="attachment_408" align="alignnone" width="472" caption=""The flower carrier" by Diego Rivera"]"The flower carrier" by Diego Rivera[/caption]

Modern art sculpture seems to be where people truly get off the merry-go-round before it has come to a complete stop. They had a large off-white bean bag with a gaping hole in the top, kind of like a stocky donut. Look down into the hole and it's got a pile of brown fabric bundled up inside giving you the impression you just looked into a giant albino's rectum. Another 'sculpture' was a stack of three cardboard fruit boxes, like you'd see piled up behind a grocery store.

I hope that artist didn't get paid for his work.

One abstract painting caught my eye, and I'm not sure why. Perhaps because it's got a sense of humor without being too far over the edge. It also has a subtle sense of depth that I appreciate.

[caption id="attachment_409" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="Three people"]Three people[/caption]

The part of the experience that was the most enjoyable was watching all the unique and interesting people, both inside the museum and outside walking the busy sidewalks of the city.

[caption id="attachment_410" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="The Art of Appreciating Art"]The Art of Appreciating Art[/caption]

When glancing out an upstairs window of the museum, I was lucky enough to find Waldo on the rooftop of an adjacent building. I never knew he had a career in HVAC.

[caption id="attachment_411" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="I finally found Waldo!"]I finally found Waldo![/caption]

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Fisherman's What?

'What's a wharf?'

More pics...

[caption id="attachment_403" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="Fisherman's Wharf"]Fisherman's Wharf[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_404" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="Boats at the wharf"]Boats at the wharf[/caption]

A Taste of San Francisco

Wednesday June 3rd - San Francisco

Today was spent on foot. Union Square, the Financial district, Chinatown, Fisherman's Wharf. I had my first trolley ride, too. Two of them, actually. I saw a homeless guy pushing a vacuum cleaner down the sidewalk and wondered how often he changes the bag. Food included a French chicken sandwich and some of the best Indian food I've ever eaten. Without going into menial details I'll simply post a series of pictures instead.

[caption id="attachment_394" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Statue in Union Square"]Statue in Union Square[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_395" align="alignnone" width="240" caption="Hobart Building"]Hobart Building[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_396" align="alignnone" width="240" caption="Dual towers"]Dual towers[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_397" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="50 bikes all in a row"]50 bikes all in a row[/caption]

[caption id="attachment_398" align="alignnone" width="360" caption="Chinatown"]Chinatown[/caption]

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

In a California State of Mind

Tuesday June 2nd 7:19 PM - San Francisco, CA

I just finished an amazing dinner at the Cafe Grande here in San Francisco. Don't let the pedantic name fool you. The restaurant is gourmet and 'all that and more.' Chardonnay, escargot, and day boat scallops followed by tarte tartin apples (that's French for 'Good lord, that's good!'). Today was an amazing exerience. And it was all California.

It started overcast and misty in Fortuna. I slept well, which is always a bonus and not to be expected when on the road. Breakfast #1 was the 'one-notch-above-vending-machine' continental offering courtesy of Super 8. Enough to kill the growlings in my stomach until I can get something decent down the road. It was misting a bit as I headed south on 101. Traffic was light and I made good time getting to Leggett, where I veered west onto Highway 1.

It's amazing how you can see a route on the map and have no idea what it's actually like. Highway 1 has got to be the curviest, snakiest, twistiest little road this side of a spastic snake's tail after one too many espressos. I don't think I got out of second gear more than twice for over an hour. Heaven on two wheels. But wait, it gets better.

The clouds dissipated and the sun came out without being overly warm, a luxury if you're decked out in protective motorcycle gear. The road stayed twisty and the scenery kept up the awesome pace mile after mile. I noticed a tree with flaky bark and wilty leaves, like a very tall willow, that smells amazing. Like sage or thyme or something. They're everywhere. And redwoods, too. Lots of huge, massive, tall redwoods. Northern California has the market cornered on great trees, or at the very least giving every other state a serious run for their money.

Breakfast #2 was at Perko's (WTF?) in Fort Bragg. One waitress was so obnoxiously loud and fast I'd swear an oath in court she was wacked out on WAY too much meth. The other had so many piercings in her left ear she'll eventually start walking with a limp from the extra weight. The belgian waffle with two eggs (on top, thank you very much!) and bacon -- plus coffee, of course! -- was pretty good, though, so I didn't complain.

For the most part my way south on 1 was better mile after mile. The Oregon coast is well regarded, but I'd put my money on the northern California coast for overal aesthetic beauty. Plus it's not marred by clear cuts like the Oregon Coast. The towns are more quaint and the air smells better. Must be the herb trees. Whatever they are.

Then things got twisty. And fast. The road gets very narrow and follows every curve of the landscape, alternating between mere feet above the beach to a thousand feet up steep cliffs above the water line. The turns come fast-paced one after the other and they're tight, oh Lord they're tight! The first gear kind and with your ass-end nearly in front of you.

[caption id="attachment_389" align="alignnone" width="640" caption="Taking a break"]Taking a break[/caption]

Then the buzz kill came along in the form of two vehicles completely unaware of the "pull over when you're ass is slow" law that most other Californians honor. After nearly two dozen miles of that many cars or more piled up behind these Lifetime Members of the Anti-Destination League, they finally pulled off into a resort and the rest of us took off in earnest.

First in line was a Ford Mustang, then myself, followed by a silver Porsche 911 Carrera. The Mustang was outclassed and he knew it because I was on his tail with every twist and turn. He pulled over after about a mile and let the Kraut and I get by. Then the race was on. In the rare stretches without turns the Porsche caught up to me but I gained ground in the tight turns. I scraped my pegs twice which isn't easy on a bike as tall as mine.

[caption id="attachment_390" align="alignnone" width="641" caption="Central California Coast"]Central California Coast[/caption]

We went through a couple of small towns with 25 or 30 mph speed limits and that allowed him to catch up. For whatever reason, perhaps the challenge, I allowed him to pass by pulling over onto one of the numerous turn-outs. He zoomed past and I pulled back on the throttle to catch up. His acceleration far exceeded my bike's but I could carve up the turns with an edge.

Soon I was right on his tail again. This kept up for several miles, with the cliffs getting steeper down to the crashing waves below and the road seemingly getting narrower with every mile. Eventually he pulled off on a side road and I continued on a much safer and more sensible pace. Maybe someday I'll get a sport bike, something more appropriate for my riding style. Or maybe not. I like remaining alive.

[caption id="attachment_391" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="Highway 1 north of San Francisco"]Highway 1 north of San Francisco[/caption]

The last stretch of 1 before reaching San Francisco is very tight and technical and not for the faint of heart. My clutch hand was beginning to get tired so I focused on solid yet safe technique. Soon I was in the city and feeling the need to strip down to warmer-weather gear. I pulled into an alley between two buildings and stripped down to my skivvies, getting a very interesting stare from a lady in a Honda taking a short-cut through the alley, then changed into my riding jeans and switched into lighter gloves. More comfortable, I got onto 101 and was soon turning a corner to see the Golden Gate bridge. I was blown away by how massive it is.

I had put a $5 bill in my chest pocket, easy to reach and ready for the toll. Somewhere my research got mixed up -- they required $6 -- so I had to pull my gloves off and dig my wallet out of my front pants pocket which is not an easy task when sitting on a bike. Once through the toll-booth I found myself in busy city traffic. It was urban warfare and everyone was out to get me! "Clowns to the left of me / Joker's to the right / Here I am stuck in the middle with you!"

My handy GPS guided me true, thank God! I never would have found my way otherwise. I ran a red light, though, as prophesied by several dreams I had a while back. The lights in San Francisco are on the corners of intersections and aren't very easy to see with the massive amount of visual pollution bombarding the senses. I pulled over in front of a hotel and asked the doorman where my hotel was. He said, "Right here, sir!" Wunderbar! I shut off the bike and unloaded my luggage onto his brass cart. Once I checked in, the desk clerk assured me my luggage would be deposited safely in my room while I looped around the block and parked my bike in the secured parking garage.

After getting showered and settled, I took care of a few phone calls and e-mails (it never ends for an IT guy, unfortunately) I headed downstairs to dinner. Tomorrow? Who the hell knows! I'm playing things totally by ear, which as anyone who knows me can tell you is completely out of my nature. Things have gone swimmingly so far, here's hoping that continues!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Trip Day 3: Twisted Bliss

Monday June 1st, 3:47 PM - Fortuna, CA

It rained during the night but the skies had cleared by the time I got up at 6:30 AM. I drank the protein shake and ate the pear I had purchased at the grocery store the night before, packed the bike, and headed out. I was on the road by 7:30, an hour ahead of normal.

My route took me south on state route 3, and just past Yreka the road gained elevation. I passed through a few small towns like Fort Jones, Etna, and Callahan. I rolled through a high valley filled with cow pastures and the scent of the previous night's rainfall.

[caption id="attachment_383" align="alignright" width="320" caption="Valley fog"]Valley fog[/caption]

Low clouds hovered above the valley floor, too timid to rise but reluctant to float away. Then I began to climb.

I had never heard of the Scott Mountains before today but I became very enamored with what I saw. They are rugged and appear unspoiled. In very little time I had reached 5,200 feet elevation and noticed the Pacific Crest Trail crossed the pass. The fun had only begun, however.

The descent down the south slope was steep, narrow, and rugged. The road surface was in great shape and the lane lines were bright and clean, but the turns were very tight and the steep drop-offs threatened to distract me from this very technical ride.

[caption id="attachment_384" align="alignnone" width="480" caption="Scott Mountains"]Scott Mountains[/caption]

The red snow markers spaced closely along the roadside and the short, tight turns reminded me of a slalom ski course. Anyone who downhill skis could appreciate the experience.

The creek rushing down the gulley to my right was the headwaters of the Trinity River. After several challenging miles down the mountain, the turns eased up into 35-40 mph postings instead of the earnest 15-25 mph turns behind me. I often double the posted turn speed but during this stretch when they said a turn was 25 mph they meant it.

By the time I got to Weaverville I was ready for fuel, both in my bike and my stomach. When riding through the small town I located the Weaverville Hotel, another night's stay on my return route north back toward home. After breakfast at the Golden Nugget cafe, I continued south a few short miles to the junction with hwy 299 and 3 and was immediately halted by road construction. I had to wait nearly 15 minutes before I could proceed.

Two trucks were in front of me. One pulled off onto a side road and I soon passed the other, and for good reason. The stretch of hwy 3 between Weaverville and Hayfork has an incredible run of 25-30 mph turns that are well-banked and fast. My bike was never in the vertical for more than a few seconds before leaning back into another near-peg scraping turn. Because of my space toward the front of the construction waiting line, I knew I wouldn't have any slow cars to contend with.

The road climbed and dropped several times, twisting and turning the whole way. By the time I reached Hayfork, I was feeling alive in a way that's difficult to describe. My riding skills are gradually improving and I'm noticing greater feel for the bike and how it handles. I was amazed I never scraped my pegs.

After Hayfork I left hwy 3 and got onto hwy 36 westbound. The turns got faster, with a nice mix of big sweepers and plenty of tighter turns to keep the excitement going. I had to pass a few people, several of whom pulled over to let me by, before I noticed a sign saying it was the law that slow motorists have to pull over. In Oregon you don't have to pull over unless you have 6 or more cars backed up behind you!

I stopped for a break in Dinsmore before continuing on to Fortuna. I fueled up the bike then located the Super 8. Strangely enough, my GPS doesn't think the city of Fortuna exists, despite its population of nearly 11,000 people. Susie at the front desk was very friendly and helpful, offering a rag to wipe down my bike as well as a tip that the brewpub next door grants a 10% discount if I show them my room key.