A 4-8 day trip experiencing the best scenery, roads, food and beer Oregon has to offer!
Meet Point: Saturday, JULY 27th 800am @ Truck Border Chevron 1350 H Street, Blaine, WA.
Saturday July 27th Day 1 – 650kms – Blaine WA to Pacific City WA
By 830am half of us were rolling towards Coupeville for the Port Townsend ferry. The other half were leaving at different times and routes. We took a detour off the I5 to head through Chuckanut drive. A good start to what will sure be a great week of fun roads and great people. We lucked out and made the 1115am ferry sailing. Once off the ferry our GPS’s decided to route us through a more boring route (not the 101). I didn’t catch it and I couldn’t correct it until we missed most of the 101. GPS units/apps are great to have but they don’t like motorcycling roads so you really have to make sure you have the right route set. The route the GPS set us on put us on a faster road but what a detour! It put us behind schedule at least 45min. We had lunch in Elma and met up with everyone there. It was about 230pm and we still had quite a bit to go. Half the group decided to take a different, slightly longer route. My group headed on the originally planned route and it worked out pretty good. The section in Willappa Wildlife National Refuge (hwy 101) was excellent, the type of road you film a sports car commercial on. This was our first exciting road of the day. The next notable road was the Astoria Bridge, it’s massive. As we neared our destination the best road was coming up; Necanicum Hwy 53 detours east of the 101 and avoids Cannon Beach. This is a very worthy road of any sporty motorcyclist. There is some erosion but a spirited pace is just fine. It is also excellent for late 80s rusted out VW golfs. We came upon a local driving this road and he decided to keep up with us through the corners. He obviously knew the road well and his rusted out car. He was using both sides of the road (including the shoulders) to keep up with us. While I could pull away from him he was far more confident in the corners. Railing around a 25mph corner that I cannot see through is not worth it. Shane and Pete were behind the VW and we were howling at the irony of the situation. We were chatting through our Sena headsets and they confirmed that the back rear tire (left or right) was leaving the ground. Once the road was finished we gave the guy a thumbs up and it was a short distance to Pacific City. We checked in at 730pm and were at the Pelican Pub soon after. All 16 of us were there and the Pub certainly had theirs hands full of loud, happy motorcyclists.
Sunday July 28th Day 2 – 330kms – Pacific City Day Ride
We were all staying at the Shorepine Rental houses in Pacific City and they were a good choice. We’re all in a full house with full amenities and garage space. That couldn’t be better for 16 motorcyclists spread out over three houses. By 8am we were having breakfast at the Pelican Pub and the service was pretty slow and it didn’t help that we were ready to get the day started. We took a group photo and off we went. Right at the first corner we had another GPS delay as someone (who remain nameless!) else with a GPS went left and most of us went right. It is just what happens when we get multiple GPSs in a large group. No big deal as they were not far behind us. The first great road of the day was Hwy 22. This was road was filled with 35mph corners under a tree canopy, a perfect start to the day. Not too technical and smooth. We ventured onto Lower Nestucca River Road which was fantastic. The road did transition to a rougher surface but our next road was coming up. Old Bald Mountain Road was a good detour we remembered from last year. However, I remember it being smoother… This was the first unmarked road of the trip. No centerline and no warning signs. We all had to be alert and for anyone not used to this type of road it can be quite challenging. We pushed through to McMinnville where we had a quick lunch. This is where we split up the groups. Some headed to the Evergreen Museum to see the Spruce Goose and the rest headed back to Pacific City. I headed directly back as I wanted to hike the giant dune of Pacific City with my woman. There is a fantastic hiking area with stunning scenery which makes the slog up a giant sand dune worth it. This is what makes the Oregon Coast so stunning. At the top of the sand dune we had a rest and took in the scenery. I wonder just how high up we are. At the top a beer would have been perfect so we ran down the sand dune which took all of about a minute. Back at the house we cracked some beers and made plans for dinner. We decided to bring pizzas back to the houses from Doryland. The evening was filled with more laughs and bicycle races around the area.
Monday July 29th Day 3 – 420kms – Pacific City Day Ride
After another slow breakfast at the Pelican Pub we headed south to Siletz. The road to Siletz has been on my ‘to ride’ list for quite some time. It did not disappoint! The surface, curves, and mild elevation changes made it extremely exhilarating. My other buddy on a Ninja 1000, Frank was having a great time. Well into the road a nice surprise of gravel in the center of the lane both gave us some excitement as our back tires hit it. Just enough to feel the back end of the bike become ‘weightless’ and to slow down. There were several corners with some gravel so we eased off and took a break at the next gas station. Everyone tagged up and we carried on south through to hwy 20 which was uneventful. At Philomath we gas’ed up and headed east along Alsea Hwy. I have a great memory of Alsea Hwy since it has some of the steepest banked turns I’ve ever ridden outside a track. The only thing unfortunate about is it’s short. We rode about half of Alsea Hwy before heading south to South Fork Rd. This is another road that has no centerline but it has a great surface. The increased danger of these roads is the oncoming traffic but thanks to Sena Headsets this wasn’t a problem. Jon was ahead of me calling out the corners just like a rally car co pilot would do. This made the road a lot more fun to ride, I could use the entire road without the fear of what is around the corner. This was a little surprising to the riders behind me as they did not know I was getting the corners called out. The road was a little intense for some and it was past lunch time. Most of the riders headed back to Philomath for lunch. Jon, Stuart, Mike, and I headed back through South Fork road and Alsea hwy. We arrived back in Philomath for lunch at La Rockita. The owners of the restaurant were thrilled to have us there and we were quite happy to be there. This was not your typical tex mex american style mexican food. This was the good stuff! When we were done the owners wanted a picture of us and all our bikes. As we rode back home we had more road to explore! We came back the same way but we took a twistier road to Siletz. It was a little rougher but still a great road. Heading North of Siletz was fantastic as the morning was. This time I switched bikes with Jon so he was riding my Ninja 1000 and I was on his 5th gen VFR. I love a V4 engine but the heft of a late 90s bike was present. The tech in the new bikes of today is so very different. Jon had a great time on the Ninja 1000 and is now considering it as a replacement. As we slowed down to get back on the 101 to Pacific City, we passed a cop on the side of the road. He got to watch all of us go by doing nothing wrong. Except for the last rider of the group as she got pulled over and was given a ‘warning’. Back at Pacific City we were all a little tired and decided for another dinner at the Pelican Pub. More laughs, great beer, and food. The rest of evening was spent at the houses chillaxin’. These are the days motorcyclists live for!
Tuesday July 30th Day 4 – Pacific City OR to Oakridge OR
This morning the group split. Six riders headed home and 9 carried on. After some goodbyes we headed off to Oakridge. As we left I was feeling a little brain tired from the focused, aggressive roads. Going home didn’t seem like a bad idea… We’ll see how I feel later on. The first half of the day we were mainly on straight roads as we needed to get past the I5 and into the Willamette National Forest area. We rode straight roads right to Lebanon where we ended up at a great thai place for lunch. After lunch we headed east along hwy 20 where we were treated to uphill, high speed sweepers. A right turn brought us south along hwy 126 which was uneventful but some volcanic rock made for clues to what was ahead of us. At the end of this road we were on the doorstep of Old Mackenzie highway, one of the top 10 roads in my mind. Old Mackenzie hwy is only open a few months a year as it is too much work to keep clear in the winter. Roads closed for the winter usually have a great surface to ride on. This is exactly true for this road. It starts out relatively easy then throws you into some of the tightest, most technical corners a street road can throw you in. For added difficulty oncoming traffic and occasional gravel keep it exciting. I had Jon ahead of me calling out any potential hazards which made it even more enjoyable. This road does not disappoint and at the top you are rewards with amazing scenery of an old lava field. A quick break and a decision to turn back had us on our way back down. There was a gas stop before Aufderheide drive that would be perfect for a break and fuel. We headed south along Aufderheide drive and we all had big smiles on our faces. This is another unmarked, undivided road with a great surface. We spread out and enjoyed each corner on our own. Further down the road I turned on the Sena headsets and warned a few riders about a tight, decreasing radius turn that caught me last year. Even with the warning it still surprises me. As we neared the end of the road we saw the dreaded ‘Road Closed’ sign. Now anytime I defy this sign I learn the hard way. I still haven’t learned and further down we went. Every corner becomes stressful as you expect there to be an un-passable cliff. We came upon a road crew that was working on the road and they let us pass. All we had to do was ride along twenty feet of soft dirt. Not bad! Bullet dodged! After that we were at Oakridge.
We stayed the night at the Bluewolf motel which was cheap and decent. I highly recommend this place to any motorcycle rider. A few stayed at the Best Western next door. Most of the town of Oakridge is closed or shutdown which is too bad. Alot of these small towns seem to be on tough times as not very much is open. We went to really the only place for dinner which was a pizza pub down the street. We put in our order and sat down in the bar that was buried in the back. This bar was stuck in time from what the 80s or early 90s. Wood everything, rusty chainsaws on the wall, drag racer models, and Jeopardy on cutting edge CRT technology. At the bar I asked for my usual motorcycle drink, wild turkey and cola. The barkeep pulled it off the shelf and just free poured it into the glass filling most of it. As if it were just a garnish, a splash of cola on the top. Cost? less than $5. THIS is my kind of place. We all raised our glasses to a great day and I was quickly reminded on why motorcycle touring rocks; Great, random places. Our food came out soon after and my $4 pizza was probably one of the best I’ve had in a long time. Shane and Jon ordered Fried chicken that took 20 minutes to make and it was worth the wait. This place was an absolute find. How can it get any better? Well it can! Shane found another room off to the side that was hosting old lady bingo night complete with the old school bubbling bingo ball machine. We weren’t in the 80s and 90s anymore, this had to be the 70s. The room was clearly a storeroom made into a makeshift black market bingo games house. I ordered up my third wild turkey and cola, threw my $4 entrance fee for bingo, and prepared to do battle with the blue hairs. Jon, Nicola, and Pete came to my side and together we seemed unstoppable. Smash cut to 30min later we were leaving the Black Market Bingo Night with our tails between our legs. These old ladies made short work of us. We left the Pizza Pub with a boozy glow, full bellies, and laughs for all about $20 all in. Good value? hell yes. Since Mark and Ray were staying at the Best Western they invited us over to their outdoor pool and hottub. We were sure the Best Western would not mind use of their facilities. Who is going to tell a bunch of hardcore, white collared, sport bikers to hit the bricks? The hot tub was perfect to soothe the riding joints and muscles and made for a rock solid sleep. What a fantastic day.
Wednesday July 31st Day 5 – Oakridge OR to Grants Pass OR
Today we were on our way to Crater Lake. After a makeshift breakfast at the grocery store and espresso drive thru we started off with some sweepers along hwy 58. When we reached the 97 (the straightest road known to man) we stopped for gas and headed up to Crater Lake. As we neared we got our first visuals of the forest fire smoke. It looked pretty thick which meant that Crater Lake would have poor visibility. Sure enough as we reached the rim you could barely see the other side. This is the second time this has happened. What can you do? We took some pictures and carried on. We soon learned that we were headed to even more forest fires and it appeared that that southern Oregon was covered in a blanket of smoke. We should have turned around and found another route but why would something as trivial as forest fire smoke turn us around when a road closed sign doesn’t stop us? Tiller Trail hwy was excellent I was beginning to feel forest fire smoke. Lunch was in Canyonville where it seemed to clear up. We were still heading south and Upper Cow Creek Rd would take us to Grants Pass. This road was alright but it we were tired and the forest fire smoke was getting to us. This felt like a long road and the smoke was heavy. We were done and the last ten miles was uncomfortable. It took us a few tries to find a place to stay but it was worth it. It felt great to get off the bikes, out of the gear, quick shower and immediately into the salt water pool.
After a good cleanse in the salt water pool (so much better than chlorine) we walked down the street to find some metal clamps for Jon’s bike as his is side case rack was coming apart. It was a good walk in the surreal glow of the smoke filtered sun. We saw a thai place for dinner and it was forgettable, the Laughing Clam looked like a good spot for drinks in we went. Another great place, pouring strong drinks for cheap. It was Mark, Jon, Shane and I laughing it up. We are still surprised and the strength of the drinks and being near the bar we watched every drink get poured with an generous amount of booze. Going out for a drink back at home is now ruined forever. Back at the hotel it was time for another swim as we didn’t want to pass up another opportunity in the salt water pool. Swimming in Salt water has several health benefits such as detoxifying the skin, reduces inflammation in joints and muscles, stimulates blood circulation, and the minerals present in the water keep your nervous system healthy. Why aren’t all pools salt water? I slept very well that night.
Thursday August 1st Day 6 – Grants Pass OR to Bend OR
After watching the Forest Fire coverage on the news it looked like we going to miss out on the first two roads of the day. We would try for Cow Creek Road but it was not looking good. Before we left we had breakfast at a coffee cafe while a devoted bible reader held up a large sign with “Jesus Said”. Everywhere is different! Stuart bought dust masks to help with the smokey air, so I put one on to see if it would make a difference. The masks were a good idea but since we were turned away from Cow Creek Road we headed north up the I5 away from the smoke. The I5 is not something I want to include in any of my trips but there was no getting around it. We made it to Sutherlin and found a route that might get us around the I5. The alternate route worked! It wasn’t amazing but it had some good corners and got us far enough north. We had lunch in Creswell and headed East to Bend. Before we embarked on Old Mackenzie Hwy we fuelled up in Rainbow and helped out a motorist with a nail in their tire. Between all out tire patch kits we pulled the nail and patched it up. Some good karma for the rest of the trip! Old Mackenzie hwy was great but it was wet. Even though it was wet the Michelin Pilot Power 3s felt great, the confidence they give you in the wet inspires a speedy riding pace. On the other side we cleared right up and it was quite warm. We arrived at Bend Riverside Motel which is a decent placed price for Bend. I decided on a quick hot tub to warm up. The after ride hot tubs are perfect post ride, I think it is a mix of the zero gravity and warm water that just resets everything. Last year we couldn’t go to Deschutes Brewery because it was too busy but this year I am going to wait it out. Deschutes Brewery is a major family zone which I find strange since it is a Brewery. After a 40min wait we were in and we were the only table of guys amongst the rest of the families. They had three IPAs on tap that they don’t bottle so I ordered those and they did not disappoint. What was also worth mentioning was the Peanut Chocolate Square. You can never go wrong with Peanut Butter and Chocolate and the Deschutes chefs made it even better. As we were walking back Kevin, Di, and Sara arrived from Portland. They arrived late and were looking for food. Before I joined them I had to book tomorrows night as it was a weekend. This proved to be frustrating. All the places I called had a two night minimum or they were full. I threw my hands up and headed to where Kevin, Sara and Di were. Kevin knew a good place in Chehahlis so I called them immediately and booked eight rooms for all of us. Kevin knows his places so I am sure this is a good one. After a couple of more drinks it was off to bed.
Friday August 2nd Day 7 – Bend OR to Chehalis WA
We will take a more direct route to spend some time in Mt St Helens and Windy Ridge Pass.
The started out at Thump Coffee. I remember being here on my way down to California in 2008. This had the best cup of coffee of the trip. A little limited on the breakfast options but everyone enjoyed it. Stuart was giving us a hard time since we violated the PM fillup rule but since we were on sport touring bikes we knew we could still outlast Stuarts super sport. We’ll have the last laugh! We were on the road by 845am and they were straight roads. It was nice and warm but as soon as we closed in on the Mt Hood area the just fogged in and I was quite chilly. We stopped for Gas as we needed and I was sure to point it out that we made it. It was kind of close. It cleared up on the other side of the mountains and we enjoyed some nice high speed sweepers. As we rolled into Hood River we stumbled upon a great place for lunch. It was a kite boarding area with a few food trucks and a coffee shop. We had the choice of fresh salmon, thai food, and sandwiches. After checking the weather it looked like we were headed back into the clouds which is unfortunate since we were going to be stopping at Mt St Helens. We headed north and had a great ride through the corners but there was some serious erosion to keep us sharp. We encountered wet roads but no rain, as we headed up Windy Ridge to the viewing point for Mt St Helens it looked like we would get wet. We lucked out (again) has dry roads and great corners. At the top Mt St Helens was really not visible. Damn clouds! As we headed down the road to Randle was going to be a chore. It has the ALOT of erosion and frost heaves. The entire stretch is cumbersome and you spend it trying to pick the smoothest line. At Randle we took a break and made our way to Chehalis. There was a cop ahead of us and he basically escorted us right into Chehalis. What a boring ride! At the Relax Inn the owner checked us in and gave us some clothes and a hose to wash our bikes. How nice. Right next door there was a restaurant with a rib eye steak special so that was dinner. This was a great place for our last meal of the trip. It was followed up by another three rounds of drinks and yes they were strong and cheap! At 930pm we were finished and Kevin, Di, Sara, and Mark rolled in. Quite late but there late departure gave them a nice view of Mt St Helens. They went off for a later dinner and I went to bed.
Saturday August 3rd Day 8 – Chehalis WA to HOME
Time to head home. After a quick breakfast and a coffee we headed for the Port Townsend through highway 12, the 108 and the 101. This was an excellent way to avoid the I5 and the frustrating part of hwy 9. If you can time the ferry right I’d take this route every time I head south. We had a quick stop at the Ridge Motorsports Park just so Shane and Jon could have a look. They were working on the track, which we assumed they were making it better! We made it to the Ferry with plenty of time to spare and we made an earlier sailing. After the quick ferry ride it was a two ride to the border. We took Chuckanut Dr back and then jumped onto the I5. As with any cross border trip I picked up a bottle of rum to bring back.