Saturday, August 29, 2009
We drove as far as we could and slept at a rest area along with other RVs and many semis. Classy. The next morning, Aug 11, we drove to Crater National Park and toured the deepest lake in the country (over 1,900 feet) on the motorcycle. It was a little chillier than expected (still some snow visible) so we did the loop quickly and moved on. On to the Umpua Trail! This trail is a 79-mile adventure. Most of the sections are open to bikes, but due to fires, we had to be careful when planning our adventure. They didn’t make it incredibly easy to do because the trail is divided between 3 different ranger districts, which don’t communicate with each other. To check on a section of trail, you had to call the correct station and hope that the operator had the info you needed. There. That’s my gripe about the Umpqua. This trail was freakin’ awesome! We did a short section when we arrived, just to test it out, called Lemolo. It was a 6+ mile out and back from camp. It was fast and fun with plently of excitement along the way. Now, Eric and I were really excited. We decided to link up 5 sections amounting to 33 miles of sweet single track. To start, we headed out on the Dread and Terror section, a 14.7 mile “most difficult” section that toured water falls, ledges, scenic river views and springs flowing down the trail. It was much more challenging than the portion we had ridden the night before, but definitely worth it. I was a little concerned with how long it took us to ride just the first section. The next section was only 3.5 miles called Hot Springs (named appropriately so, but we didn’t partake). This section had a little climbing, which translated to a little fun swooping decents on smooth single track. Deer Leap followed, 9+ mile section, which had a ton of climbing and by now I was pretty spent. I was dreading downhill because I knew that it likely would be followed with another climb. That’s how spent I was. I had a little hysterical moment, but managed to pull it back together to finish the long, very long, fast, fun, decent. Now only 2 sections left! I was considering taking the road down, but that turned out to require climbing out of the dip we were currently in, so we continued with the Jesse Wright section. The length of this portion is controversial as we discovered that every sign had it labeled differently. This was probably the lamest section we rode (probably not that lame, by now I was in a riding coma). This section spit us out on the road. I didn’t even consider taking the trail any further and just made a run for the motorhome. Eric reluctantly followed. We camped right along the river near Horseshoe Bend in a sweet little campsite. I confessed that I wasn’t interested in riding in the morning, so Eric planned to hit the few remaining sections not engulfed by fire alone. I drove the motorhome to meet him after each sections to make sure he was still kicking, made lunch, and finally got some well needed rest and relaxation. If you have never ridden the Umpqua Trail, you better get your booty up to no-where Oregon and ride it. It is truly a magnificent trail with more views than the Grand Canyon and fewer people than waterfall sightings. We left the Umpqua and headed to the Newberry Crater National Monument for a 20-mile loop around Paulina and East Lakes. We killed ourselves on the first climb, which was brutal punishment considering the well graded Umpqua we had just left. Once at the top, however, we found the rim to be an entertaining journey up and down various landscapes. Nothing too tricky and nothing too spectacular either. The views were okay. I guess we were just a little spoiled by now.
On Aug 15, we hit Bend, OR. I had some work to do to get ready for a conference I am attending in New York City, which required hanging out with my computer and getting online. Because Eric doesn’t want to hang out while I fussed with Powerpoint, I left him at the Swampy Lake SnoPark for a ride on Bend’s extensive trail network. And now comes the story of how I almost got stuck with the motorhome, trailer and no place to turn around. I haven’t been driving the motorhome all that often. It turns out, I make a much better navigator. All I had to do today was make two simple turns to pick Eric up at the trailhead. Unfortunately I missed the first one, which left me in search of a place to turn around the Chateau. I chose the Meadow Picnic Area. As soon as I made the turn, I realized I had made a big mistake. The picnic area was about 1.5 miles down a gravel, washboardy road. I was sure there would be a nice area with picnic tables, a bathroom, and a parking area where I could flip her back. I crawled down the road, blasting the tunes, with my window rolled down. Panic didn’t set in until I reached the actual parking lot which had room for exactly 6 cars and no place to turn around a motorhome, let alone a motorhome towing a trailer. I called Eric and told him he may need to reroute his bike trip to hit the picnic area instead of the trailhead because I was not about to try backing a trailer out a gravel, washboardy road for 1.5 miles. Besides, it had taken me so long to get back there, I was going to be late already. Cars were honking at me because I was blocking everything. Ughh. I pulled off as best I could, got out, and went for a walk. The gravel road continued back a ways and I didn’t want to keep going if there wasn’t a place to turn back easily. I was releaved to find a small dirt loop down by the river that had some awfully large potholes and a rough edge, but it was doable. I hopped back in the RV and made my go at it. I am pretty sure there was a bit of scraping involved, but I now had a slightly annoyed audience and I was ready to be out of the jam. I mean, what’s a girl to do? I crawled back to the main road and found Eric at the trailhead. We had a fantastic second half of the day riding mostly downhill. It was a blast! Eric was especially excited because he rode over 40 miles in one day (with 2 shuttles, cheater.) With 4 miles to go, Eric’s seat bolt failed him. He didn’t crash, but did have to ride those last few miles without a seat, only a post (ouch!) to remind him not to sit.
On Sunday, the 16th, we planned a giant loop that contained a portion that is closed most of the year for elk calving. It opened on Aug 15 (lucky us!!!). We started with a bomber downhill on the Southfork trail to the Tumalo Falls. Very pretty! Then we began our climb. At first, there were a lot of hikers out clearly just checking out the falls and a few other bikers. It was steep to start, so we didn’t mind stepping off to let hikers pass by. Then we were grunting along and then crawling along and then stopping for a refuel. It was quite the climb, continuing far up into alpine meadows. Here we came out of the forest to see a beautiful creek, interesting plants and the sun beaming down. I though that once we hit the Flagline trail, it would be all down, but again I was mistaken. More climbing. The downhill, as it turns out, was well worth all the effort. There were gentle corners and meandering trail all way back to the motorhome. For dinner, we went gourmet and BBQed lamb burgers with goat cheese, roasted red bell peppers, tomatoes, lettuce, and cucumber. Mmmm mmm mmmmmmmmm. We had such a pleasant day, we decided to take a similar route the next day, in reverse. We only had a small section of overlap, but had just as much fun. The end was a bit tiresome. All the trail junctions were clearly marked except for one, which we missed and ended up on a technical trail with super steep and long hills. It would have been okay if they were to get someone, but they weren’t. As soon as you made it up the hill, you were shooting back down to where you were before. It was a cruel joke at the end of a 30+ mile day. In all, we covered 97 miles of trail in Bend. It was time to move on, but I am pretty sure if we had more time we could find at least that much more new trail. We drove to the McKenzie River and camped.
In the morning, we shuttled the motorcycle to the end of a 24-mile river ride. We thought it sounded quite similar to the Umpqua, which you know we loved. We hopped on our bikes by 11 (was hoping for 10) and got started. There were some extremely fascinating aspects of this ride. To start, we rode over lava bed. It plays a bit of a mind game with you because the obstacles aren’t that big, but crashing would tear you to pieces. I walked much of the lava. We came to Clear Lake (not very original, but undeniably true!) to find the most beautiful clear blue water on earth, maybe even heaven. It was just amazing. I imagined dolphins jumping, but of course there weren’t. Next, the river disappeared underground. That’s pretty awesome. Then it reappears from “the great blue hole” about five extremely hot miles later. The hole was calm and it seemed unbelievable that the water could be reentering without any turbulance what so ever. The only evidence that it wasn’t just an ordinary lake was the river flowing away from the hole. It was all very interesting. The hole was followed up with another lava section. It was hard to look ahead when you were still dealing with the obstacle at hand, but we managed well and with only a couple little mishaps. The rest of the ride flew by with numerous creek crossings on wooden bridges, some modest ups and downs, mostly just cranking along. The last 8 miles boarder the section of river we were considering rafting the next day. Although we tried to scout, the trail weaved away from the river making it pretty impossible. What we could tell was that the water was moving swiftly and traveling alone could be a dangerous mistake. We camped at the put in to see if we could find some other fellow rafters that wouldn’t mind us tagging along, but it wasn’t until the next morning that we found some. Eric and I tried scouting from the road, however, the trees were so dense we couldn’t make out water from rock. We were trying to figure out if we should even do the river (I was leaning towards no) when a Subaru passed us with a giant blue boat straddeling the car from windshield to backhatch. We jumped back in the motorhome and raced back to the put in to see if we could catch these fellow whitewater fanatics before they pushed off. Eric parked the motorhome and ran up to the put in while I started frantically pulling out gear. I lifted out our 45-pound raft all by myself (very proud moment) and began unrolling it for inflation. My heart nearly stopped when I saw the most lovely nest made out of our Mexican blanket, a mama mouse, and 4-5 little babies all warmly curled up waiting for their moment to invade the motorhome, I’m sure. Eric was jogging back just in time for my freak out. We didn’t name these guys because they crossed the line with us by chewing up our home furnishings. I will save you the details of the next few minutes and start again with meeting our new friends, Rich and Harold. It was clear that these two had been on a few rivers before and had rafted the McKenzie the day before too. This was nice because they already had an idea about which lines would work and which log jams would kill you. Eric and I made sure to get hung up right away to make sure they would keep good track of us the rest of the float. Ha! Everything we saw from the shore was true. The water was moving very quickly. There were rocks that required tedious maneuvers and there were very few (if any) places to pull over and scout the next rapid. We forgot our camera and water (rookies!), but had a great day on the water. After wrapping up the rafting gear, we had plenty of time to find a camping site on the way to Portland. Somehow, we still managed to wait until nearly dark to get settled in. We had one more trail that we were considering riding. The only problem was, it was so short. It was 4.2 miles out and back for a total of 8.4 miles. This may sound like a decent ride, but it only had 200 vertical feet of climbing. Given the short distance and the modest aerobic level, we decided not to go through the effort of putting all our bike stuff together. It sounds lame, but we are getting a little worn out. We decided to take our time driving to Portland. We met up with Eric’s folks for a late lunch before heading to Josh and Jodi’s place for a visit. Eric immediately remembers why he hates driving in big cities . . . . traffic. No surprise there. It was amazing how many close calls we witnessed in just a short time on the freeway. Our blood pressures were both steadily rising. It was stressful! We arrived at Josh’s and parked the beast on the road taking up the majority of the neighborhood’s parking. Not to worry, we wouldn’t be staying too long. Eric and Josh talked about house and car stuff while I enjoyed a hot, luxurious, shower. I finalized some details on my poster for my conference and then relaxed on couch. Eric and I had to pick Lisa up at the airport early the next morning, so we opted to stay in the motorhome at Walmart instead of at Josh and Jodi’s sweet crib.
Lisa called at 5 in the morning to make sure we knew she was boarding the plane. Great! We slept another 2 hours and met her around 7:30. We were all going to travel together in the Chateau to the Meyer Family Campout. First things first, we pulled over in one of the airport hotels so that Lisa could try and talk with her recently deployed husband via Skype. Eric and I took a walk around the transit platform. Soon we were off again, but not for long. Eric thought it would be fun to dump the RV so that Lisa could share in that experience. Siblings. Later, we stopped for McDonalds breakfast and then again at the pharmacy. It took about 5 hours to get to the campout that was only 2 hours out of Portland. We arrived in Ocean Park in time to head back down to Long Beach for the Washington State International Kite Festival!!!