Posted by: fergy1008 | May 27, 2011

Bend Bound

Yesterday, Angela and I got back from a great weekend in Bend,OR.  The weather was way better than we’d hope for and some of the roads were just awesome. On Friday, we both took off work early in order to get a headstart on weekend traffic. I surprised Angela by already being home when she arrived and we went straight to work getting last minute things in order and loading up the bike.  We left town at 1:49pm…11 minutes early! It was an absolutely gorgeous afternoon – probably the best we’ve had this year – and we were thrilled to be out riding in it. We decided to take a straight-forward route down, traveling I-5 nearly to Vancouver, before veering off onto I-205 to 84 then onto 26. We did make a slight detour into Boring, Oregon just because we found the name amusing.

In Madras we moved from 26 to 97 which we took all the way to our hotel.  Discussing what our dinner options might be once we arrived, Angela suggested we pick up Subway to go. As we entered Bend we swung by one of their shops and, boy, were we glad we did. After checking into the hotel and lugging in all our stuff, we ate, then Steve decided he needed to lay his head down to rest and, well…we both ended up falling right to sleep. Lesson learned on this trip – if taking off after work, stop and eat before we arrive so we can just relax when we get to the hotel. That way there’s no need to gear back up and try to find a place to eat.  The next morning, the day of the Rapture-that-wasn’t, we slept in a bit, grabbed a light breakfast from the complimentary breakfast bar downstairs then headed south on 97 to The Harvest Depot restaurant in La Pine for a GT stamp. This GT stop was a short 45 minutes down the road, which made for a nice easy ride. The Harvest Depot turned out to be a great breakfast spot – good coffee, large portions and friendly staff. I even got myself a souvenir – one of their coffee mugs that was reasonably priced at a mere $3.

On the way back, instead of traveling straight back up 97, we picked a side route that was longer, but more interesting, taking Burgess Rd. west 11 miles or so to meet up with S. Century Dr. (Co. Hwy 42) which brought us east again about 16 miles.  Here we met back up with 97, just about 10 miles from where we’d left it. The trip took almost an hour and a half instead of 45 minutes, but the views were better, the traffic was almost non-existent, and we didn’t have to travel the same route twice. At least not entirely. I’ll travel main highways when needed but finding those off-the-beaten-path roads is what motorcycling is all about. We returned to our room, rested and freshened up, checked to see if the Rapture had begun (not yet), then headed off to our next destination, the Bend Pro-Caliber for a DamTour event including a guided dam ride.  At the store we mingled with other DT riders, checked out the ’12 Gold Wing (review – eh.) and introduced a couple in the store to the world of DamTour and “C”, who manages it.

We also took advantage of the stores DT promotional sale and bought some Plexis, the cleaner I use for the bike, for a killer price. Angela also found a Gold Wing t-shirt and sweatshirt to buy, the first Gold Wing gear we’ve seen anywhere.  Just after finishing our purchases, I won a $25 ProCaliber gift card in their raffle drawing! Of all the luck! But it doesn’t expire and we’ll likely be back at their Longview location in October for the DT awards banquet…I’m sure I can find something there to spend it on.  We also won a pair of Suzuki t-shirts with Angela’s raffle ticket but they didn’t have the right sizes so they ended up trading them for Gold Wing t’s!  After the raffle prizes were given out, Dan Hollingsworth gave us a brief description of the route he would lead us on to the day’s dams and off we went. The first dam, North Unit, was only a couple miles away, located right in Bend off a main road.

The 10 or so bikes all parked in a small pullout, took our pictures.

Not a great looking dam but a dam none the less

After a brief stop with this dam we then headed out for our next snag, Ochoco Dam, 6 miles east of Prineville. Dan led us through some beautiful roads, with awesome mesa landscapes. And the weather was great! The morning had been overcast with a couple of showers but the afternoon was sunny with great cloud formations.  We arrived safely at the dam where we took more pictures, and mingled with our fellow riders.

Us at Ochoco Dam

The Ochoco Dam is forming

A self portrait

Some of the beautiful Mesa's along the way to Ochoco Dam

Some of the cloud formations of the day...simply beautiful

It was late in the afternoon at this point and both of us were getting pretty hungry. We asked about someplace nearby to eat and Dan, who had lived in Prineville for several years, directed us to Brothers Diner, owned by a couple of Vietnam Vets.  He told us to head through town and look for the big flag…those turned out to be perfect instructions.

Steve's Grilled Turkey Club

The apple pie never stood a chance

We had a great meal, splitting their grilled club, a salad, and a complimentary bowl of popcorn. Oh, and some apple pie ala mode. The apple pie, not usually a favorite of mine, was delicious and I gave a thumbs-up on this diner’s version.

With full bellies we headed back toward Bend taking a different route back. We chose some roads that took us off the main highway as much as possible. Steve remembered a highway leading back to Bend that we had taken last year which meanders through the countryside eventually taking us into town. We arrived back in town with the sun just heading for the hills. We took one last side trip up to the top of Pilot Butte. This old cinder cone had been clouded over the previous day but, as luck would have it, when we arrived in the early evening the weather god’s smiled on us and awarded us a 360 degree view of Bend and the many mountains ringing it in the distance.  After taking a couple 50 pictures or so, we finally headed back to the hotel.

HDR image from Steve's iPhone

Most of our rides take us from one place to another, so it was great to have a weekend where we stayed for more than a night and were able to really explore the area. We settled in for the evening, confirming that we had not been Left Behind but rather that there had been some sort of Rapture-date mix-up. After a short nap, we walked across the parking lot to the Shell station for some late night munchies then turned in for the night. I don’t know what it is about road trips but I always want something sweet before bedtime.

Sleeping in again in the morning (such luxury!) we repeated the previous day by having a light meal downstairs then heading back to the room to pack before leaving for yet another GT and dam snag. As we left the hotel, Angela remembered seeing on Google Earth a series of round-a-bouts featuring artwork in a nearby neighborhood. We decided to check it out and found ourselves in a pretty neat area that seems all new. Though it’s new construction they’ve done it with some style and great planning. The neighborhood incorporates houses, condo’s, apartments, retail and grocery without looking like big, blah boxes or cookie-cutter houses in multiple shades of tan. The area had lots of little eateries and well-styled building with lots of people out enjoying them. We rode to the last round-a-bout, circled it and headed back down the road. We stopped at another in-town dam (not on the tour) took a few pictures and caught sight of a police officer having a moment at the Veterans memorial across the street. With this touching image in mind, as well as the beautiful views of the river from the Veterans bridge, we headed out of town.

Water Control In Bend

Bend is a wonderful town and seems like a great place to live. It’s still too big for my liking but it has a good feel to it with tons of areas to ride and things to do. After saying goodbye to Bend we headed up 20 towards Sisters, OR. The town turned out to be far different than we expected – bigger and in better shape than we thought it would be.

We continued through Sisters on 20/126 North then West until the two roads separated near Santiam Junction. This was a fascinating ride as we left the city, went through small towns, passed open flat woods then ascended to wintery scenes and stark landscapes only to descend back down to lush trees and a winding river.

Definitely different than our wood in Washington

A mere 20 minutes from the warm woods in previous picture

On our way to Vida Cafe we rounded a corner to see this wonderful covered bridge. Neither of us had ever seen a covered bridge before and this one sure didn’t disappoint. It straddled the river and was painted a very striking white. Not wanting this opportunity to pass us by, I turned on the road and crossed the bridge just to say I had been through one. This experience, along with the whole day thus far, made our ventures so memorable.

As seen rounding the corner

What a beautiful sight

We continued on 126, riding it South then West into Vida, planning to stop for lunch and check another GT place off our list. Along the way we ran across the Carmen Hydroelectric Project and I pulled in treating us to our first real view of the McKenzie river. The area was quiet so we stopped for a few pictures. The water escaping from the bottom of the small dam provided a swirling effect producing some wonderful colored water and we loved it.

So beautiful

We continued to catch glimpses of the river the entire way as we headed for the Vida Café, making the ride fabulous. It’s now my favorite river in our travels, so far.

Traveling down the road a bit further awarded us our next GT snag, The Vida Café, in Vida, Oregon.  The Vida Café, is a tiny little place, with seating for about 25. We arrived during a rush and grabbed a table just as people left it, not even waiting for it to be bussed. The food is truly made to order so it takes awhile but they keep the coffee coming and they stamped our GT passport books in the meantime.  I had a burger with really good fries, Angela had a standard breakfast with eggs, bacon, hashbrowns and toast. The eggs were done perfect, they gave 4 strips of bacon instead of the often standard three, and she loved the buttery goodness of the hashbrowns.

Angela's eggs cooked to perfection and great bacon

Steve's Smitty burger

While we were waiting for our food I noticed a sign on the wall listing the specials including homemade apple crisp. I love a good apple crisp but a good one is hard to come by in the Northwest. I asked the waitress if they had any, and she said a couple. She asked if I wanted it before my meal – since I was an adult and could do that if I wanted – but I told her no, after would be fine. Boy, am I glad I had her hold one. It was the best apple crisp I’ve had in years. Angela’s only had apple crisp a couple of times, but she agreed that it was outstanding. We cleaned the bowl, paid our bill, signed the guest register and headed west on 126. apple crisp worth of Steve's praise

Here's to you Mom...she made an outstanding apple crisp

I would have licked the bowl if I could

In Leaburg we came across another dam, this one with it’s outlet gushing down right next to the road. It’s quite shocking if you don’t know it’s there but impressive whether you know it’s coming or not.  It flows down the hillside, under the road and then shoots out on the other side. We circled back just to take more pictures.

In Springfield we turned South again, onto 222 to snag our 5th Oregon dam, Fall Creek. Seeing the dam from a distance, we took Winberry Creek Rd, passed the top of the dam, pulled into the Winberry Day Use Area in Fall Creek Reservoir State Park and found we had the place all to ourselves.  We strolled along the grass next to the water, took our dam pictures, and watched a hawk plunge into the water for a fish (came up empty). We then hung out on the dock, viewing the lake with no one in sight, and with only the sound of the wind. It’s a rarity that one finds themselves in such quietness and beauty where you can enjoy it without other people around, especially in a public park. We eventually pulled ourselves away, looping through more of the park and taking more dam shots from another location.

Our bike was the only vehicle in the parking lot....very cool indeed

We then returned to the bike for the last big leg home. Avoiding I-5 for a little longer, we took 222 to Mercola Road which we followed North through Mohawk and Mable to 228, taking that into Sweet Home. From Sweet Home we took 20 North to Lebanon where we stopped to split a meal at McDonald’s and call Mom to feed the dog since we obviously were not going to be home in time. Even though it was after 5 and we had originally planned to be home by 7, neither of us was stressed about it. We’d had such a wonderful weekend we didn’t want it to end.  As we prepared to leave McDonald’s I told Angela we were going to stop every hour or so to stretch, and just kind of hopscotch our way home. Highway 20 eventually turned west and met up with the dreaded I-5. But this trip along I-5 wasn’t that bad, mainly because it wasn’t raining and because we’d had such a wonderful trip thus far. It also helped that I had finally fixed a problem with our music player so we now had hours and hours of music and podcasts. We listened to a little bit of Stuff You Should Know and then rode the rest of the way home with KISWs “The Men’s Room” distracting us from the boredom of I-5. Before we knew it we were crossing the Columbia into Washington. A couple of rest stops later, we were pulling into our driveway and the 200+ miles of I-5 driving had melted by. Angela thanked me, as always, for driving and getting us home safe. 435 miles today, 938 for the weekend! We unloaded the bike and, though it was after 10 when we arrived home, we still actually had the energy to do a little unpacking and watch a little tv before turning in for the night. It was a great weekend and we’re inspired to have a few more of those two-nights-in-one-place experiences. For now, we have some down time. A friends wedding is keeping us in town next weekend, but it will also give me a chance to get the wiring for my new Piaa lights run, as well as a cord so Angela can control the iPod from her seat in back. It’ll also give us a chance to prep for our next two weekends which are big ones – each will be over 1,000 miles.

As we travel more and more on our wonderful motorcycle, coming home after our great excursions seems less depressing because we know in short order we’ll be somewhere else we’ve never been before. It’s always nice to see the animals again. Sometimes I wish I could take Rock with us but that just isn’t possible. Our adventures also make work more tolerable. We both have good jobs that we like, but on those days when, well, things just aren’t going so well, we look at some of the pictures we’ve printed of our trips and trudge through those days. We are both looking forward to seeing so much of this country on two wheels. It’s hard to explain but at times when you are on the road and the bike is humming along and the breeze is just right and the smells of the countryside are entering your senses, it seems as if we are in a transcended state where nothing on earth other than this one moment matters. In a short 2 weeks we’ll be on the road, hopefully, for more of these special moments.

I’ve included some pictures that really don’t fit anywhere else in the article but we liked and thought should be shared. We certainly hope anyone reading this post enjoys it. We put a lot of work into explaining our trip so you can live the experience with us. Hope you enjoy!

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