From Utah to Nevada & back to Oregon
June 2014
Part Three: Back on the Bike
Read part 1 and part 2 first.

DAY EIGHT (Sunday)

Time to get back on the KLR.

I was so glad that I had gotten on and off Stefan's Africa Twin a few times the day before - it loosened up my legs, and prepared me mentally for getting on my own motorcycle. I really wasn't scared about riding - as in just going down a road. I was scared about sharp turns and having to go over 65 on any interstate and having to make any sudden decisions and having to stop awkwardly. I told Stefan: no sharp turns, absolutely no switchbacks or hairpin turns, and possibly, no dirt - I just needed to see how I felt about that. What if all my previous accident-free riding really had just been good luck, if I'm actually a really horrible motorcycle rider?

As I said earlier, we had decided to skip Canyonlands National Park and Navajo Nation's Monument Valley Park. I hated giving those visits up, but my injury had eaten up too much time, and I wasn't sure how I was going to be for the rest of the trip, in terms of energy and clarity. I was ready to enjoy what we could, and I did NOT want to have to ride 400 miles in a day to get back to our home in Oregon.

me at Goblin ValleyWe drove out of the parking lot of the Virginian, going North on 191 out of Moab, heading to I-70. We had to be on the road for only about 10 miles, and I was ready to go whatever slow speed I wanted - I knew it wouldn't be busy. We took the exit for state road 24 and followed the signs south to Goblin Valley, a Utah State Park. I was THRILLED to learn that, unlike Oregon State Parks, Utah doesn't overcharge motorcyclists: whereas a van with 10 people will pay half the price of two motorcycle riders that enter an Oregon State Park, Utah has different, discounted pricing for motorcyclists. WELL DONE, UTAH!

I had never been to Goblin Valley, and I really wanted to go, mostly because of the movie Galaxy Quest - I wanted to say, at least a dozen times, "Alan Rickman was here!" And I did. Actually, what I said even more was "This place is so cool! Look at that!" I couldn't believe how magical it is! I wish we had camped there one night, so we could have done an entire day hike in the area. As it was, because of our delay in Moab, we feared taking too much time there - what if I needed to get home earlier? So we could spend only a couple of hours there. But whilst we were there, I was in heaven! But while there, in my enthusiasm at being at such a wonderful place and finally being on vacation again, I pulled my left calf muscle again, making it just as bad as the day of the accident: I felt it pop, and was surprised I couldn't hear it as well.

Me in my Afghanistan t-shirt at Goblin ValleyAfter walking and crawling through goblins, and walking up the steps back to the parking lot, I got into a conversation with a woman going into the valley. She was with her grandson, who had thought there would be ACTUAL goblins in the park, and had been terrified until he saw it was "just rocks." I told her he would love Galaxy Quest, that it was a family friendly movie. She thanked me for the rec and then said, "When were you in Afghanistan?" I realized I was wearing my UN Volunteers Afghanistan shirt, and explained that I had been working for the United Nations, seconded to an Afghan government ministry, where I helped with communications issues for six months in 2007. And she said, "Oh, that's so interesting. Thank you for your service." And my jaw dropped. I said, "Wow. I... I'm... uh... no one has ever said that to me. I wasn't in the military, I was an aid worker." And she said, "Well, you should still be thanked for your service. I certainly appreciate it." And it was all I could do not to dissolve into a mass of weeping flesh right then and there.

We headed on, stopping for lunch at Blondie’s Eatery & Gift, where I have never seen a restaurant staff work harder. Then we went for gas at Hollow Mountain gas station Hanksville, and as I waited at the counter to pay, I was horrified at the conversation between a cop, a worker and a customer, talking about how the USA "needs to get back into Iraq" and "stop looking weak" and "this would never have happened back in the 1980s" and "I hear that Haliburton is hiring people again at six figures to go" and blah blah blah. It was all I could do not to turn around and say, "You want to the USA back in Iraq? YOU GO. Go. Pack your damn bags and go enlist. If you aren't willing to go, don't you dare stand here so casually and talk about sending Americans to their deaths for a religious civil war. Haliburton executives, including Dick Chaney, are millionaires and billionaires by the blood of American troops - clearly they need more money." They made me want to vomit. Oh, and this would never have happened in the 1980s? Suicide bombers killed 241 American servicemen in Beruit in 1983, making this incident the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States Marine Corps since World War II's Battle of Iwo Jima, the deadliest single-day death toll for the United States military since the first day of the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, and the deadliest single attack on Americans overseas since World War II. That was under Ronald Reagan. Who also hosted the Taliban in the White House. Bite me, dudes.

IMG_0387We road on to Capitol Reef National Park, and were shocked to find that there were still camp sites available IN the park at Fruita campground! I know it was Sunday, and still quite early, but still, I was surprised! I was so happy! We had plenty of time after unloading the bike to head out to the scenic drive, which is the only part of the park that charges (thanks to our annual pass, we didn't have to pay anything). I went on the back of Stefan's motorcycle - I was feeling so out of it suddenly, zapped of all energy, and very fuzzy. Any other time, I could have done this ride on my own bike, no problem - but not today.  I realized as soon as we arrived at Capitol Reef that I had overdone it hugely in Goblin Valley - I had been so unbelievably happy to be there, at long last, and to be back to having a vacation, but I way over extended myself. As we turned into the most narrow part of the canyon, Stefan slowed down, raised his visor and said, "Welcome to Petra." Geesh, he was so right - it looked EXACTLY like Petra, Jordan! Just as we came onto the dirt, we passed three street motorcyclists coming the other direction - we could only see their eyes, but I could tell they were LOVING IT. I love seeing happy people. We got to the end of the drive and stopped for a while, all by ourselves, to take in the scenery. Then got back on the bike and returned to the camp site.

As we were just about to throw something together for dinner, the camp host came by to announce that there was a ranger presentation at 8:45, about 15 minutes from now. RANGER PRESENTATION?!? Jayne is crazy about Ranger presentations. Silly. Giddy. 9-year-old Jayne comes out and stays the entire time. Before the camp host left, she asked what happened to me. Stefan piped up with "It wasn't me!", because, of course, domestic violence jokes are always HILARIOUS, and she replied, "I know it wasn't you, because if it had been you, you would look worse than she does!" Domestic violence jokes: always hilarious. We packed up some water and carrots, watched a heard of deer waltz through the camp site, and we headed off to the amphitheater.

The Ranger presentation was, of course, awesome sauce, and I was ridiculous. The presentation was on the predators and prey of Capitol Reef. The ranger started giving away stickers to people that gave the right answer to her questions, and I became obsessed with getting a sticker. Why? Were they especially AMAZING stickers? No. Because I WANT A STICKER FROM A RANGER BECAUSE I AM A 9-YEAR-OLD GIRL. I forget what answer I shouted out to get my sticker. Actually, I got a few stickers.

Most disturbing about the presentation was the photos of the cougar, in broad daylight, that had stalked and killed a deer as a camper looked on, taking photos of the deer. There was a warning on the bathroom that there was a cougar (mountain lion) in the area. So I spent every trip from the bathroom that night making myself look tall and not at all limping because I just knew that damn cougar was watching me.

Also that evening, we met two guys on motorcycles also camping; one was on an older KLR with very bald tires (they were scary looking) and the other was on a vintage Honda Silver Wing. We so rarely meet other motorcycle campers - we pass so many ADV riders when we travel, but we seem to never end up getting gas or camping in the same place.

DAY NINE (Monday)

We packed up and headed to look at the petroglyphs nearer the entrance - I just cannot get enough of them - and to see the visitor's center. And I realized that I was really going to miss Capitol Reef National Park, that I would really loved to have stayed two nights there and really explored it more. I love it more than Arches National Park. It's so beautiful to me. I can't explain it. It's special.

We were now headed to Bryce Canyon on state road 12, and I was feeling quite good. The landscape suddenly changed, from desert to green pastures. I found it gorgeous and refreshing. At first, I was loving the ride. But then came the wind, and the severe drop offs. The wind was getting to me - it required a great deal of concentration to not get blown into oncoming traffic or a wall of rock on one side and a drop off on the other. I would have been okay if I could have gone, say, 35 miles an hour, but the speed limit was more than that, and the oh-so-heavy Harley-Davidsons and cars and trucks behind me were super annoyed. What should have been a very pleasant ride was, instead, super stressful.

We stopped at Anasazi State Park Museum, on the site of an Ancestral Puebloan (Anasazi) village that was likely occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1200, and one of the largest communities west of the Colorado River (I had no idea they were so far North!). The museum isn't all that great - it's not bad, but it's not especially memorable - but please do consider paying the entrance fee and having a look at this and the outside remains and reconstruction - it's for such a great cause, and it's just as an important part of our history as anything in, say, DC. It also does an outstanding job of presenting both the scientific, verifiable history of the Ancestral Puebloans and the tribe's own oral history. That's a very delicate, difficult balancing act.

Onward we rode, getting to see a rebel cow that had fled a cattle roundup - which we had thankfully missed ourselves (been there, done that). We stopped for lunch at Hell's Backbone Grill - I'm not sure how I saw the sign in the middle of nowhere, but I did. It was JUST what I needed. Can you believe I found a place in the middle of nowhere that follows Buddhist principles, with a commitment to sustainability, environmental ethics, and social and community responsibility, that serves organic, locally produced, regionally and seasonally appropriate cuisine, and grows many of its own vegetables and fruits organically?!? It's on the grounds of Boulder Mountain Lodge, which is where I'm going to in my mind when I'm in times of stress, and which I'm going to for reals once I win the lottery. I have only one complaint about our lunch of oh-so-delicious smoked trout quesadilla: we needed a BIT more. Maybe a salad as well? It was delicious, but we needed more (not just wanted - needed).

IMG_0420We continued on, with the road, 12, getting more windy, and with more drop offs. Had I not had my motorcycle mishap, I would have been much better at handling it, but the wind was just too much, combined with the treacherous drop offs. We stopped for gas, I think in Cannonville, surrounded by Harley-Davidson riders, most of whom had gotten stuck behind me at various times - me going the speed limit. I was completely intimidated. But I also strongly suspected they weren't USA citizens: they were totally geared out in Harley-Davidson bling, something people from the USA don't usually do. One of the women finally walked over and asked, in German, if Stefan was German. Turns out they were all French or Swiss. A pickup truck was following them with their luggage. They were on the trip of their lives, and I was happy for them - but hoped they understood that a KLR is not a Harley, and does not at all handle the wind well.

IMG_0426We pushed on to Bryce Canyon National Park, and shock of shocks, were able AGAIN to camp INSIDE the park. That's just not at all an easy thing to do without a reservation! We got a great campsite overlooking another loop. While Stefan was off getting beer, I set up camp, washed our underwear (no, it was NOT the first time on the trip I did that, but since there's a picture at right....)and asked the camp host (a volunteer!), who was passing by in the usual golf cart, if he would remove the melon that someone had left in the fire pit - I know that the critters were loving the free buffet, but I have a strict do-not-feed-the-wildlife-policy because, well, wildlife that gets fed by humans gets killed when the feeding leads to aggression and humans freak out. If you truly love wildlife, you schlep your waste water to the bathroom or waste-water disposal grate and you don't throw your leftover food in the fire pit.

Later, the camp host came whizzing by on a Segway, and I was highly amused. I was also highly-amused by the camper that brought his parrot. And the deaf campers - I forgot all of the sign language I learned, except for the alphabet, but it was all I could do to look away and not eavesdrop (watching people signing is SUPER RUDE).

Stefan returned from his beer run, he said, "Would you like to hear some good news?" I couldn't imagine what he was going to say. The news: The USA beat Ghana in the World Cup. My three "WAHOO!!!"s were heard throughout the campgrounds of Bryce Canyon. Oh how I wish I had seen that game!!!

In the middle of that night, I had to got to the bathroom, which was quite a schlep, but worth it (running water!). And I looked up and there was a stunning, perfectly clear, moonless night. Breath taking.

DAY TEN (Tuesday)

IMG_0450We packed up, and I decided I didn't want to ride my own motorcycle through Bryce Canyon. I love being one of the few female bikers around, I really do. But I was still super road-shy - I didn't want to deal with complicated curves or parking or wind. We parked my bike in overflow parking across from the visitor's center. The Bryce Canyon newsletter suggested going all the way to the end of the Canyon Road, and then stopping at viewpoints only on the way back, so that's what we did, and it was SO right. There were oh-so-few people parked at any of the view points, until we got near the entrance. The views were lovely and fascinating - but I think Capitol Reef is even more beautiful. I have no idea why. We met some Harley-Davidson riders from Puerto Rico - SO friendly, and one guy asked Stefan all sorts of questions about his travels, like which country to tour first by motorcycle (I said France or Germany).

We retrieved my bike from overflow parking and headed out towards Great Basin. I was very relaxed and feeling great. I was expecting a beautiful, calm ride. But it's not what we got at all. The winds started soon after we left the park on US Highway 89, and it kept getting worse. I was going 5, then 10, then 20 miles under the speed limit, fighting not just to stay in the middle of my lane, but to stay on the road at all. There was the constant wind, but then there were the gusts, that slammed into me again and again. A guy in a pickup truck with a Utah license plate 967 WVU almost ran me off the road, passing me and cutting in front of me by mere inches. We stopped in Panguitch, so Stefan could get a tool to put a new headlight on my bike - not sure when mine had burned out - and a few miles out of town, the SAME pick up truck passed me and tried again to run me off the road. The wind was getting worse. And then up ahead, there was a massive dust storm. We turned off on to state road 20, and the wind got worse, if you can believe it. I was breathing hard, gripping the bike hard because, otherwise, it would slip out of my grasp in the wind, and every muscle was tight. We were approaching Interstate 15, which we needed to take for 15 miles, and just before we got to the entrance, there was a state garage on the side of the road, with equipment and gravel. There was no one there. I pulled into the parking lot, got off my bike, sat down on the ground and completely lost it. I was done. I sobbed. I cried over my wreck, over the pain I was still in, over this horrible, horrible ride, over my poor motorcycle riding abilities, over moving back to the USA, and on and on. Oh how I cried. If someone had driven up and said, "I'll give you $5 for that bike," I would have said SOLD.

Stefan stood several feet away from me. He didn't know what to do. I have no memory what was said, if anything. We got back on the bikes at last, and got onto the Interstate. The wind didn't relent. I drove on the shoulder, at just 35 miles an hour, struggling not to get blown off the shoulder entirely. There was a policeman in the center of the highway, looking for speeders, and I fully expected him to pull me over. He didn't. We took the exit for Beaver, then went west on 21 through Minersville to Milford. I stopped as soon as we were in the town proper. The only hotel we saw in town was long closed up. Stefan stopped at a gas station up ahead while I stayed on the side of the road and was told there was a nice hotel on the other side of town, so that's where we went. Took a while to find it (follow the signs to Ely). Thankfully, the Oak Tree Inn had a room and was, indeed, a really nice hotel. As I was parking, a Harley Davidson rider pulled up along side me and said, "Yeah, we've had it too with this wind. It's just too much. And it's snowing on the pass up ahead. We're done for the day." And I almost started to cry again. I needed what I was going through to be validated by large, burly motorcycle riders.

We unloaded our things from the bike and carried such into the room, saying very little. I laid down on the bed, clicked on the TV, and there was Buffy. There was a marathon. I watched three episodes without speaking. Stefan stayed outside and smoked a lot - I scared him.

Later, we went for dinner in the diner out front of the hotel (which is also the hotel office). It wasn't great, but the mere fact that there was a hotel and diner in the middle of no where, made me love it and I hope it stays in business forever and ever. It should be called the Oasis Diner. We also found out that the wind gusts we dealt with were over 50 miles / 80 km an hour.

I was slowly recovering. But I told Stefan that if the wind was as bad tomorrow morning, I was staying - and I would stay until it died down, whether that was a week or a month. I was done. My confidence was shattered.

DAY ELEVEN (Wednesday)

Lucky for us both, the wind had died down substantially by the next morning. I had biscuits and gravy at the diner for breakfast. My sense of humor was starting to come back: I couldn't believe that, when we got up and walked to the diner, the Harley guys were polishing their bikes, and after breakfast, after packing, and as we finally headed out, those Harley guys were still polishing their bikes. We headed out on 21, the Ely highway, and there was wind, but it was tolerable. And there was no snow. The ride was beautiful. I missed the "Welcome to Nevada" sign, but not the signs to Great Basin. Had it not been for the wind, we totally could have made it there the day before from Bryce Canyon, no problem. We parked our bikes at the Lehman Caves Visitor Center, which we thought was the main visitor's center, and I rode on the back of Stefan's bike up the 12 mile Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive. I knew I couldn't do that road, not in my present emotional state, not only because of the trauma the day before, but also because of my wreck. Once on top, we walked the .4 mile loop hike - I was so disappointed not to be up to a hike to the Bristle Cone Pines. But it was way too cold to camp at Great Basin - day time was fine, but night time would have been below freezing.

All of the tours for the Lehman Caves were booked, so we lunched, watched our Harley friends ride up the Wheeler Peak Scenic Drive, and then we headed out. We headed out of the park, turned left, and then saw the real Great Basin Visitor's Center. I stopped, and the oh-so-helpful front desk staff person checked on the wind conditions for us. I'd really like to go back to Great Basin and camp - it's a park best enjoyed at night, most definitely, per the amazing star gazing. But July or August would be better - in June, at night, it's just too cold in a tent.

We were got onto US Highway 50, headed west, through Ely, to Eureka. There were SO many motorcyclists going in the opposite direction. I was stunned at how different Ely looked - it's grown tremendously since I was there last. We passed a motorcyclist coming the other direction, completely loaded down with more things than I thought could fit on a motorcycle - wish I could have gotten a photo. We road on and stopped in Eureka, Nevada, and I told Stefan, "This is what Ely looked like 20 years ago." Eureka has kept its Wild West charm. I would LOVE to have gotten into the historic Eureka Opera House. Just as we were about to pull out onto the road after shopping from groceries, two guys approached us - they had seen our bikes back at Great Basin, and we had seen theirs, but we had not seen each other. One of the guys was thrilled by the stickers on my bike boxes - he lives in Arizona, and said he's surrounded by right wingers that would freak out over such. I told him I really, really enjoy freaking people out, as long as they aren't armed.

IMG_0516IMG_0525We headed out of Eureka, and took state road 278 North. We had one simple goal: to find a camp site as remote and charming as the one we found North of Austin, Nevada on our 2012 up through Nevada. This time, we hadn't asked for a referal in the nearest town - we were determined to do it on our own. And, would you believe it? We did it! We kept looking for brown wooden signs with white writing - the sure sign of BLM land. And we found the sign at left. It's the entrance to the Roberts Creek Mountain Habitat Management Area, around 30 miles on 287 from 50. We headed down the dirt road (take the left) and after just a mile, on the left, found a huge open space where hunters had camped previously. It was completely isolated from the main road. It was everything we wanted! We set up camp quickly, knowing that it would get cold as soon as the sun went down. We on put the warm clothes we brought, and our motorcycle jackets, and I realized Stefan had not brought long underwear bottoms. I insisted he wear mine, and I would wear my light summer hiking pants, stuffing them into the winter socks I had brought for just such an evening. Plus, I had bought my Cocoon CoolMax MummyLiner, makes my sleeping bag several degrees warmer.

The beer that night was Angel Creek Amber Ale from Ruby Mountain brewing company in Nevada, and I must say, it was DELICIOUS. Well done!

Later, we found out that the dry creek bed near us was, in fact, Henderson Creek.

As we stood outside, waiting for it to get dark, rabbits came out of the brush to check us out and to eat tender young plants growing everywhere. They seemed not to be very afraid of us. When it got dark enough, Stefan pulled out our Celestron SkyScout Personal Planetarium, which we hadn't used even once on the trip so far. He hooked up a portable speaker he brought, and we spent the next hour shivering while the device told us what stars we were looking at. It was one of the most special evenings of our trip. The sound of the coyotes at one point just made it all the more wonderful ("Coyotes love astronomy!"). It was soooo cold - but we just couldn't stop pointing that SkyScout at things.

Before bed, we locked absolutely everything up in the motorcycle boxes, to remove any temptation from critters to get into anything. There was some shivering in the night but, for the most part, it was a good night's sleep. I could not be happier that I brought that dang sleep sack - no way I could have made it without it.

For future reference, here's a list of BLM campgrounds in Nevada. You won't see Roberts Creek Mountain Habitat Management Area, as it isn't an official camp site. But it's public land and you ARE allowed to camp there.

DAY TWELVE (Thursday)

I cooked a big scrambled egg breakfast, and we then packed up the camp as quickly as possible, to avoid the heat and to get to a restroom for morning business. I walked around with my bike pants down around my knees during the final parts of packing - geesh but it was hot. We headed out back down the dirt road, and when we got to the intersection to enter 278, I balked - that sharp left turn required immediately upon entering the road from uphill - and there was no shoulder to absorb a mistake - looked terrifying. Damn you, Shafer Switchbacks! But I did it.

We traveled North and after a few miles, stopped at the Garden Valley rest stop, on the left. This was probably the 12th pit toilet we'd used on this trip, and once again, it was in fabulous condition. I just cannot believe how nice pit toilets in the USA are now. Maybe you have to have been to a developing country, or used the latrine at my great-grandmother's in Reed, Kentucky back in the 70s, to appreciate the quality of the modern pit / vault toilet.

We had lunch in Carlin, Nevada, passing a house of prostitution and a methed up prostitute along the way. We ate at a Mexican restaurant, and the workers were surprised at how into the World Cup we were - and then fascinated that Stefan was from Germany and that we'd been there for the World Cup in 2006. We all agreed the team to fear this year is the Netherlands. Carlin depressed me even more than Price, Utah.

The next 100+ miles were on Interstate 80 and, of course, Zephuros remained furious at me, determined to push me off the road. He even used a dirt devil at one point to try. Geesh, those things were EVERYWHERE. Just EVERYWHERE. And they were huge - they were tornadoes. There's nothing enjoyable about this kind of riding. Nothing. It's just work. It's just toil. I can't believe I have been so lucky since buying my KLR in 2011 as to not encounter this kind of wind until now, because if I had encountered it early on - ifand  my first motorcycle trip had this much wind - I would have given up motorcycling. I'm not even kidding. Any trauma I encountered on my wreck on Shafer Switchbacks was completely replaced by the trauma of riding three days in the wind.

It was hot - and getting hotter. We got off the freeway at Minnewucca, and headed North on 95, then West on 140, all of which we did in 2012 - and we passed a few ADV riders on the way - but at Denio Junction, we turned left, continuing on 140 instead of 292 and into Oregon. Stefan had seen Sheldon National Wildlife Refuge on the map, and thought it might be worth checking out - perhaps it even had camping. He hadn't looked it up on the Internet beforehand, so we knew nothing about it. The landscape had immediately changed once we made the turn at Denio Junction - huge boulders everywhere, and a green valley. I needed a stop, and saw a place along the road with an info board. It turned out to be a camping map of the wildlife refuge. IMG_0544We decided we'd aim for Big Spring Reservoir - we were worried about mosquitoes, but I was looking forward to dipping my feet in that water. We turned onto the dirt road at the sign for such - it's a super easy dirt road - and camped at a site near the pit toilet, which was covered in bird nests. But there was no water. None. I pretended there was water when I walked out into the dry lake bed, which was marginally amusing. There was a feral horse out on the dried lake bed, somewhat interested in us at first but then it completely ignored us. We were fairly certain we'd have the whole place to ourselves, and we were right, other than the antelopes far out on the horizon just before sunset. A front was moving in, and we suspected we might get rain, so we put on the rain fly, which also helps warm up the tent. After supper, I laid down for what I thought would be for just a few minutes - and awoke in the middle of the night, needing to pee.


In the wee hours of the morning, I needed to pee again, and I got to see four feral horses out on the dried lake bed as a result. But by the time we broke camp, they were all gone. We headed out back onto the main road, headed North and West, and I started wondering: at Denio Junction, there had been a sign that said vehicles of a certain length were NOT allowed on the road. But the road had been quite easy - flat, easy curves. What was up? I found out what was up, when warning signs started to appear about severe downgrades. And then the "final warning" sign. The hill above it didn't look bad at all, but once you go over that hill, you see that the rest of the highway goes down down down, cut into the rim's side, there's NO guardrails, there's NO shoulders, and the drop offs into Guano Valley are of a thousand feet or more. Speed limit: 25 mph. No choice - no where to turn around. Down the road I went, downshifting to probably second and praying to gods I don't believe in. Midway down, I realized my back brake was all but gone, so I had to use my front brake. I went to some special place in my mind to get through the ride. I never looked behind me - I didn't care if there was a long line of cars, I would do this downhill run at my own pace, and if that was at a crawl, so be it.

Here's more positive report of someone else taking 140, with excellent photos. And here's a review of the road from a motorcyclist.

Once we were down the mountain at last, after a few miles, I found a place to stop and compose myself. Thank whomever there had been no wind and traffic. I told Stefan about my brakes, and I don't think he believed me - now they were working again.

IMG_0571We pushed on to Adel, Oregon - rhymes with Hey-Dell. A woman working there had to use a screw driver in order to get us gas. She's from Washington state, and was working at the gas station / restaurant for the summer. She will have enough stories by the end of summer to write a book or a screenplay. We went inside to the store there, had a couple of muffins and a cold drink, and had a great chat with another couple that stopped - she was riding a Triumph Tiger, and gave me the best pep talk ever about motorcycle accidents (she's had two) and wind and going as slow as you need to. It was exactly what I needed. I wasn't myself. I'm a better rider than this. It may shock you to know that I'd like to do this whole ride again on 142. I'd like to do it when I'm not completely traumatized by wind and a motorcycle accident. I'd like to do it when I could actually enjoy the ride. I think that's possible.

We road from Adel to Paisley, encountering a road full of what I thought was moths, but were actually more like grasshoppers, along the way. I could see sea birds above the road, obviously having a feast, but what I didn't know is that as bad as the bugs were when I drove through, I whipped them up so that Stefan was covered in them! When we got to Paisley and stopped for lunch, his bike was COVERED - they even got into his map cover on his tank! We saw some Harley riders heading in that direction - no proper helmets with any visors whatsoever - and we laughed and laughed. We ate at Pioneer Saloon & Restaurant, which has a sign proclaiming "breakfast served all day." YES! I had a massive veggie omelet, and I swear, it's the best omelet I've had in YEARS. For entertainment, I listened to a woman at the next table talk enthusiastically about a lecture she'd just attended by Temple Grandin.

We headed out and discovered we were on the Oregon Outback Scenic Byway. We had no idea such existed. Unfortunately, we didn't know until we got back home that the area has lots of petroglyphs, many within easy walking distance of the highway. It just gives us another reason to go back to the area. Even the rest areas are nice - Summer Lake Rest Area has shade, grass, trees, and pit toilets. It was a gorgeous ride until just before La Pine. And then... not such a great ride. La Pine is a sad town, and US Highway 97 from there through Bend is not that scenic - and packed with traffic. We turned onto US Highway 20, through Sisters, and then headed onto the Santium Pass (there was no freakin' way I was doing McKenzie Pass). I talked myself through the turns, and my back brake held out this time. But I know I have a ways to go in order to be the rider I was.

We have camped twice previously at the Olallie campground, in the Willamette National Forest, and if we could get a lower loop site at that camp ground, I would have been fine camping there again, but we didn't remember that the campground was on 126, which we weren't on. We continued on US Highway 20 and saw Lost Prairie Group Campground and pulled over. We were confused at first - if it's a group campground, may we camp there? We drove in, picked a camp site, and I walked back to the information board to pay. It took a while to figure out: the campground is available for everyone, it's just a campground where groups can reserve it in advance. But if you show up, and there's no reservation for that night, you can camp there, no problem. It's a terrific camp site: two sets of bathrooms, and camp sites #3 and #4 are isolated from the rest of the sites, there's fire pits, the picnic tables are sturdy, and the nearby river drowns out the sound of the highway traffic. It was the perfect place to spend out last night out.

When I came back from the info board, Stefan was talking to someone - he turned out to be German, camping with his family in an RV - typisch deutsch.

DAY THIRTEEN, (Saturday)

We road through Sweet Home - another not-so-scenic town - and continued on US Highway 20 through Lebanon, and stopped for a mediocre lunch in Albany at a Thai restaurant. We jumped on I-5 and were home at 3 p.m. almost right on the dot. And I fell immediately into the I'm-so-happy-to-be-home-but-I-don't-want-vacation-to-be-over funk. My garden looked... sad. I'm not sure the person I paid to water it every day really watered it every day. Gray Max the Cat was delighted to see me. And I was oh-so-delighted to see my bed. I had two frozen pizzas in the freezer, ready for our return - the last thing I wanted to do when I got home was go to the grocery.

2989 miles / 4810.329 kilometres. Stefan thought about driving around town for a bit, to get us up over 3000.

I burned my nose on the last days of the trip - sun burn through my new helmet - but I didn't think it was very bad at all. Then, Monday night, this bump on my nose that I've had for years started bleeding. So I got to discuss that with a doctor here at home as well as the bump on my head, the contusion on my leg and my pulled left calf muscle. Apparently, nothing is of concern. The bump on my head is expected to last into August.

Here's about 85 photos from the trip. Stefan will have MANY more soon.

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