Saturday, June 15, 2013

Jun 13, 2013 – Day 03 Riding in Hail 101

In the morning I awoke refreshed and I was happy to see it wasn’t raining, a welcome change from the first two days. Peeking out my window I was treated to a typical Motel 6 view…

Motel 6’s idea of amenities is limited to coffee which you have to go get at the office. I opted for two trips and on the second one the manager popped out of the woodwork, probably as a way to let me know their security camera had noted my earlier score. Maybe one coffee is the limit? Anyway I was hungry and decided the leftovers from yesterday’s lunch would be appropriate fare… ice cold onion rings with calamari. Mmmm…road food at its best.

While enjoying my repast I turned on the TV and watched a rerun of Pawn Stars, then switched to the National Weather Channel to see what was going on. Wrong…. 

Boy the weather was totally in the crapper everywhere I looked. The entire eastern seaboard, the mid-west, the southern states; all were experiencing extreme storms of every nature. 

To make matters worse Colorado was fighting a record forest fire covering thousands of acres. 

I watched the whole mess for a half hour and decided this was too much, it was time to head home and see what happens in a couple of weeks. The last thing I needed was to spend 2 or 3 weeks riding around in the middle of record lightning storms, floods, fires, been there, done that already.

At least this morning there wasn't any rain so I packed up in reasonable comfort. Just to be on the safe side I elected to wear my rain gear, mainly because the view to the west showed miles of storm clouds. Call me a skeptic.

Anyway having decided to bunch it for now I turned south, pausing in a few miles to explore the little town of Stanfield [which I’d never heard of.] I’m amazed at how many places there are in Oregon that I’ve never heard of, towns a lot like the one we live in but way off the grid. Complete with wooden Indians… Notice the sunshine? That's because I'm wearing rain gear.

After leaving Stanfield the thought of riding I-84 all the way back to Portland, then I-5 south was too much, very depressing so I continued a bit further east thinking I might ride south to Jordon Valley which I’ve visited before. I dialed in the new route and headed east towards Pendleton where I stopped for a short break to call home and check in. Linda said the weather in Bandon was awful at the moment, same as I’d experienced on the north coast which was further depressing. I mean, what the heck’s with all this dismal weather everywhere?

Anyway Instead of pushing south I recalled the ride through Fossil I’d taken last summer on Red Dog and figured that would be just as interesting so I turned around and headed back. Sometimes I wander around like a rat in a maze…

This new route would take me south on Highway 74 through Cecil, Ione, Heppner, cool places like that. The road’s twisty and fun to ride and you seldom encounter other traffic. The sky remained overcast and it was fairly cold but still the riding was pleasant. 

Energy generating windmills are present wherever there’s a decent wind factor and this morning they were in full operation. I recently read a report on these guys and it seems they can overheat and catch fire. The photos I saw on the Internet looked really frightening and I wondered who pays for them when they go postal? Surely not us taxpayers. 

The constant wind that's required to drive the windmills made riding a bit touchy in places but I soon cleared the area and could relax a bit instead of fighting the buffeting effects. 

I arrived in Fossil a little after one o’clock and stopped for lunch at the same little cafe as last time. There's a new gal who runs the place and she has the best small-town type of personality you could ask for. Hamburgers are the old-fashioned kind so I had one for lunch just to get my fat-fix. Considering what I’d had for breakfast I figured my body was pretty well-oiled for the ride home.

While eating I’d looked out the cafe's window at Red Girl and noticed the windshield was sporting what appeared to be big drops of water. There’d been a few brief showers coming down 74 but this looked different. Outside I started to put my jacket and helmet on when the skies opened up again, this time with a vengeance. I hopped back up on the cafe's porch to get out of the downpour, probably to the amusement of the cafe people.

Much as I’d liked to wait it out the dark sky told me it wasn’t likely to stop any time soon so I rode off taking the ultra twisty Highway 218 through Antelope and Shaniko. It was on this leg of the trip where I encountered hail, really heavy stuff, so much to the point I had to stop and put on my Knox Cold Killer hood. While I was doing this the rain and hail were so intense I started laughing, it was like being in some weird sit-com. I must have hurried too much because my helmet’s face shield got pulverized with hail and water and I had to take it all off again to dry the inside off, otherwise the fog would never clear.

What a hellish ride this was turning into, the heavy rain would continue to plague me all the way through Bend and into Springfield. Once there I hopped onto I-5 heading south but soon realized I was too tired to make it home so I stopped at Creswell for the night. At least the rain quit for awhile and I found a nice older motel to stay in. There was a decent restaurant next door where I blew my dieting efforts and scarfed up a huge breakfast for dinner.

Finished with that I figured updating the blog could wait until I got home so I went directly to bed. I'm not even sure if there was Internet access in my room. Now that's tired!


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