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First Road Trip

by Amanda

July 13, 2003 (started on the 13, finished on the 14)

To those that might be interested (print off a copy and get comfortable please),

Just wanted to let you know how the last few days of my 30th year and the first day of my 31st year went. I headed out on my first big motorcycle ride with the goal of checking out the Oregon coast from north to south...goal accomplished with lots of smiles and miles.

I worked all night Thursday, slept three hours, packed my wonderful Tourmaster gear bags (thank you to Rich for the idea and Joe for the bags), and headed north to I30 where I white-knuckled it from St. Helens to Astoria due to heavy winds. I was able to keep cool by stopping to chug my ice water and wetted my neck kerchief (thank you Rich) as it was 91 degrees when I left Tigard, but at least 100 with all my gear including Joe Rocket jacket, leather gloves (thank Joe), leather pants (thank you Mom and Dad), boots, and full face helmet. I stopped to take advantage of frequent photo ops near water, bridges, flora/fauna....blah blah, and if no one was around to take the picture for me, I took it of the bike positioned strategically in front of the backdrop. I kept looking at the bike, admiring it, thinking how amazing it was that I was indeed riding it...sun gleaming off the red flaming tank and the chrome sparkling. Cruised on into Astoria (America's oldest west coast city) with a huge smile and tears in my eyes as I had reached my first destination, and the technical beginning of my Pacific Coastal Highway journey. I was so happy also because I had such a positive association with Astoria as I had spent my first summer after graduating from college working there as an Oregon State Police cadet (or piglet as we were affectionately called). I met, lived with, worked with, and laughed with my very dear friend who gave me many happy memories (thank you to Cari). Drove up to the Astoria Column and climbed the 166 steps to the best views in the city. Headed south to Cannon Beach where I carefully maneuvered the very windy road to Ecola Park and enjoyed more wonderful sunny views and photo ops before grabbing pizza at Pizza a Fetta and continuing south on 101. Stopped in Gleneden Beach, south of Lincoln City, to enjoy coffee and get a baby fix at my friend's house (thanks Cari) and headed off to Waldport after zipping in the liner of my jacket for warmth.

White knuckled the 40 miles to Waldport as I watched fog quickly roll in off the ocean like some horror movie. While my visibility was limited, I thought of my trooper friend's recent car accident on the job when another motorist skidded out of control on the slick highway and both cars were totaled. If you thought I rode slowly in full visibility conditions, you should drive behind me in low visibility conditions. Thankfully I'm not a drama queen or scared of the dark so I ended up arriving in Waldport at about 10pm, cold, safe and sound. Crashed at my friends and washed clothes (thanks Brady) before leaving around 11am on Friday for the southern Oregon border around 11am. I was jubilant upon realizing that I had ridden 267 miles in one day (my longest ride previously only 100 miles) and I have only been riding three months!

On Friday I enjoyed frequent stops at viewpoints, points of interest, and gas stations and received some travel advice from a Harley rider at a Florence cafe. He said that the best views were yet to come and to be careful of the high wind gusts that blew in off the ocean and could move bike and rider to another lane. I tried to focus on the more positive part of his message and grabbed lots of photos along the way. Stopped at Bullards Beach along the Coquille River to grab a shot of the Coquille River Light, Coos Bay. Loved Bandon, the smell of hay and grass, the rolling tree covered hills, the sun, the surf, and the nice group of Harley riders enjoying the views at Face/Table Rocks on a day trip from Medford (noting to myself how the women riders in the group were all passengers and that my bike was the prettiest). Continued south and stopped at numerous state parks including Cape Blanco at about 5pm. Cape Blanco is the westernmost tip of Oregon, has the oldest lighthouse in

Oregon, and has amazing panoramic views. The skyline was incredible with blue sky meeting white clouds which descended all the way to the blue ocean. Was pleased to meet a nice lady from Virginia who was so tickled with my ride that she took photos of me and my bike for herself, wished me a great beginning of my Saturn cycle (OK she was a bit of a hippie) and bid blessings onto me. I think the good karma worked because the trip was a safe and sound one.

Cold gray fog swooped down on me till I reached the golden sunshine of Gold Beach, where the Rogue River meets the sea! Amazing to look back from south side of the Rogue River Bridge to the north and see from where I had descended in the fog to sunlight. Drove into fog again and caught some cool photos of my bike in front of what would have been amazing ocean scenes, but were instead spooky fog-filled backdrops. It was eerie riding along the coast, smelling it and sensing it, but not seeing it. It was still beautiful in a unique biking experience. Had to cross over Oregon's highest bridge with visibility limited to about 50 yards in front of me and water droplets rolling down my windscreen (again I was at a snail's pace but motorists were patient with me). Passed through Brookings, the southernmost incorporated city on the Oregon coast, 5 miles north of the border.

Continued south to the Oregon-California border where I stopped for the most important photo op of my journey. Was feeling invigorated by my accomplishment of riding 363 miles from the northernmost coastal town to the southernmost tip on my own bike! Even though my shoulders and back burned with muscle fatigue and fog had rolled in again, I zipped in my jacket liner and rode the 19 miles to Crescent City, CA in Del Norte County. I knew it was meant for me to stop in Crescent City as the sun was shining and the weather was mild so after a few more photo ops at the oldest city north of San Fran in CA, I landed at the Anchor Beach Inn around 8pm. Enjoyed the best and biggest meal I had eaten in days at the Harbor View Grotto and watched cable TV (huge treat for me), read, and fell asleep to the sounds of the surf.

Left northbound after the fog lifted in town and stopped at one store where I found my sought-after trip souvenir jewelry (moonstone earrings and a pearl ring). I was made thankful that Oregon doesn't have the 7.5% sales tax CA has (or the 10%hotel tax) and I refused to fuel up in CA due to the 35 cents difference per gallon for gas! Felt refreshed after hard nights sleep and free continental breakfast. Wiped down the bike and scraped the crud off my leather pants. Weather was warm and the air smelled fantastic! Photo op at Battery Point Park in Crescent City where the lighthouse island was shrouded in fog and accessible by tourists only at low tide. Rode through Smith River, the Easter Lily capital of the world, and breathed deep the sweet smell of the flowers along the Redwoods Highway. Huge redwoods lined the beautiful highway, and I rode with a smile. Crossed back into my home state and enjoyed some of the stops I had missed on the way down south. Stopped in

Brookings/Harbor and enjoyed the sun and sights of families playing along the beach. The clear blue and white sky stretched out forever. An elderly lady who took my picture said to me, "You go girl," while another older couple told me of riding their Harley around New Mexico 50 years ago with none of the protection I wore. Stopped at the infamous Harris Beach State Park which was crowded with families, but no bikes as pretty as mine. Sky turned an ominous gray north of Brookings, but the temperature was still comfortable. Continued to Gold Beach where I captured a photo of my bike in front of the mouth of the Rogue emptying into the Pacific.

At about 4pm I stopped at Port Orford and met a local guy who rides a Honda Magna, and he gave me the best tip of the weekend by suggesting a fantastically beautiful ride up into the mountains in Langlois, 13 miles north of Port Orford. The roads were slick, but the curiosity and desire for more photos motivated me to check it out. He was right...green valleys plunged along the north side, the tremendous expanse of the ocean stretched to the west, hawks circled the skies above, cows dozed in the fields, flowers bloomed alongside the perfectly paved windy blacktop road, and the air was sweet and clean. When I turned off my bike I could only hear birds and wind, no cars, no people, no phones, no noise. Used the last of my third roll of film on those views. Enjoyed big meal of the day in Bandon and read the paper while visiting with nice family who suggested I take the back road to Coos Bay via Charleston on my way north. Again, a good tip from strangers, and the diversion onto

the Cape Arago Highway was green, hilly, windy, smooth, quiet and beautiful. As I took it all in, I again was deeply appreciative of the natural beauty in Oregon and my ability to enjoy it. The highway dropped me right into Coos Bay and North Bend, and I grabbed a photo of the Cape Arago Light Station. My last day as a 30 year old was wonderful indeed.

Rode 186 miles on Saturday and landed in Reedsport, as hotels in Florence were all booked up. Was lucky to find a clean room at a Best Western with much-needed hot tub. Even received a phone call from my parents at midnight singing me Happy Birthday (thank you mom and dad). Again another night living the good life...soaking, reading, watching country music TV on the cable, eating chips and salsa and candy and sleeping hard.

Hit the road Sunday after downing free continental breakfast and headed north. Hit up the overview at the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area for a photo op. Stopped in Florence for a root beer float and at the Darlingtonia Botanical Wayside where I checked out the infamous and rare cobra lily (a bug eating plant) on the way to Waldport where I stopped for photo op at Alsea Bridge halfway covered in blanket of fog and visited a friend from police academy (thanks for the birthday lunch Brady). Was ready for nap in the afternoon sun, but continued north to Gleneden Beach to visit trooper friend and get my baby fix (thanks again Cari, Chris and Kealy). Spend birthday evening relaxing, eating pizza, and candy before heading off to bed. Only 96 miles on the bike today, but I didn't want to push the ride home when I could be in good company at the coast and meander home Monday.

I had a fantastic journey...a better time than I ever imagined. I rode solo, and without a gun or cell phone, but was slow and careful, and didn't lack for anything in terms of gear/clothing/money. The only thing I really yearned for was a masseuse, as my upper back and shoulders are very sore, but the bike (and the stock seat) did not disappoint. This trip was amazing and beautiful and I will have the photos, the memories and the miles on my bike to remember it by.

Thanks for reading, goodnight.

*Amanda*

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Thank you, Amanda!


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