Thursday, January 7, 2010

Getting to Portland

Leaving whatever diner that was where I ate two pounds of hamburger, I headed west out of Lewiston with about 45 minutes of daylight left. Not far outside of civilization, I headed across a bridge and saw a parking lot down to the right hand side. It looked to be parking for a general recreation area and was lined with large boulders to prevent people from taking their cars under the bridge itself, but . . . bikes don't have that limitation.

The traffic was light and didn't bother me, and although at one point I thought I'd been discovered and the police were going to hassle me, it turned out it was just a bunch of people coming in to have a bonfire off under one of the other bridges out of frame. Far enough away and quiet enough that it didn't bother me, and the night was overall uneventful.

The next morning I kept heading west, into drier and more aired countryside. It was warm, too; at least 85 degrees for most of the day, and I was still in my neon-yellow touring suit. It wasn't too bad, but stopping at all was pretty hot, and I had to have all the vents open as well as the sleeves open to get enough air to stay comfortable.

Upon pulling into some small town just inside of Oregon, I followed some signs to a visitor info center.

Usually these things are positioned conveniently on the highway within easy site and access of visitors, but this one wasn't. I had to follow a bunch of signs way off the beaten path to find it, located on the river in a semi-industrial area. I guess I wasn't the only one who thought it was a strange location.

My main objective there was to ask their opinions on what the most interesting roads going to Portland were going to be, as well as refilling my water bottles. After looking at some of their atlases and getting their opinions on routes, I was on my way down the river.

The easiest way to get to Portland would have been to stick to I-84, it was a direct route. But . . . well, me and interstates don't mix. Luckily there was a slightly better option. I-84 runs along the south side of the river, with frequent enough towns and gas stations and the like. But on the north side of the river is Rt 14, the Lewis & Clark Highway, which passes though much less developed and more rugged areas. Sure, there wasn't gas for 160 miles, but it was a way better option then the super-slab.

And while on it, I could look across the river at all the suckers on the interstate and feel superior.


While their road was dull and boring, mine often looked like this.

And had tunnels! What more excuse does one need for wanton application of throttle?

Even though it's called a lake on all the maps, most of them are formed by a hydro dam a few hours down the road.

At some point, wanting to stretch my legs, I followed some little sign advertising a historical locomotive parked in some tiny po-dunk town down by the river.

This is something else that your brain has issues with the scale of in pictures. Each of those wheels is taller then I am, and I'm six foot flat.

Big 'ol thing.

Heading out of the little town, I saw something else that poked at my wanderlust; an open boxcar.

It's always tempting just to jump in and see where you end up. It's weird, even riding on the best form of transport ever invented, I'm still pulled towards other adventures. Ah well. Next summer.

I pushed on down Rt 14, eventually getting into wine country.

And a mountain. No idea what it is, but it sure is pointy.

Anyway, at one point I had to cross over the river, to get to the scenic drive that the lady at the tourist info center had recommended to me. This was accomplished via a toll bridge, and although I thought I was being clever and funny by stopping at the toll booth, reaching down to pick up the dropped coins and trying to pay the toll lady with them, she didn't appreciate my effort. She gave me some kinda BS about how those coins were already the property of the city (by what, laying on the pavement?), and made me pay the toll with my own actual money. Bitch.

This valley had a constant, un-relenting wind out of the west, and out in the harbor, there were hundreds of people taking advantage of it.

I had to put up with interstate for a few miles, but at least everything was getting green again.

The lady at the info place earlier in the day had recommended that as I got closer to Portland, I should take the Historic Columbia River highway.


Oh, that is a lovely sign to see


There was a lot of traffic, preventing me from riding as . . . enthusiastically as I would have liked, but holy shit was it pretty. Wiggling through the forest before darting out to the cliffs to overlook the river



The road spits you out into some semi-residential farmland, very pretty area. Saw this for sale, too.

Hello pretty thing!

I think the seller was asking ~$25k for it. It was very shiny.

Retiring to the interstate for the last bit into Portland, I quickly ran into traffic, a huge backup that went as far as I could see. A major annoyance for anyone in a car, but to someone on a motorcycle . . . *split split split*

I happily puttered between the lanes of traffic, grinning at the occasional annoyed honk from some jealous twat in a car, and even passing a few other guys on bikes who were evidently a bit more respectful of traffic laws then I was . . . and promptly splitting right past a squad car.


Even though lane splitting is legal in almost every other country in the world, for some perplexing reason it remains illegal in the USA and Canada, with the exception of in California, where it is expressly legal. And while how strict the enforcement is varies by . . . well, by officer, doing something as blatant as splitting right by a cop isn't the smartest of moves.

I swore at myself for not seeing him in advance, flipped up my helmet, and merged into the lane to my right. I glanced over my shoulder to look at the officer, fully expecting him to light me up and tell me to pull over . . . but all I saw was his outstretched arm wagging a finger at me.

Phew! I waved in apology/thanks, and proceeded to not lane split for . . . at least ten minutes. Traffic laws don't apply to me! :D


  1. Great photos. You hit two of the most beautiful parts of the northwest: The Blue Mountains in SE Washington/W. Idaho/W. Oregon and the Columbia Gorge.

    If you come back, you'll have to take in the Cascades and the Olympic Penninsula (Rain Forest). Both are as, or more, awesome.