Beth Dixon: Day Seven

 Friday, Sept. 23

Up about 7am. Who knows why. Made some coffee and grabbed a donut from the "help yourself" box in the hotel lobby. Ate it while talking to the manager, then played with Chancy for a while. Nice dog. Borrowed some old cleaning rags to wipe the majority of the squashed bugs off my leathers. Yuck. Decided I had plenty of time to stop at the Pendleton Woolen Mills and take a tour. Called for directions. Not sure how the person who answered ever made it to work. I was less than 5 minutes away, and I got a "you can't get here from there" response. Sheesh. Back to the lobby. The hotel manager gave me directions so easy I didn't even bother to write them down.

Found the mill easily. Next tour started in 15 minutes, so I looked around the store. Big mistake. Lots of really nice blankets. The tour was interesting. More involved that I thought. Lots of prep work before the wool is even ready to weave into a blanket. The jacquard looms were weaving Native American blankets, and some of the patterns I recognized. After the tour, I asked the folks in the store if they could ship a blanket for me. "Of course," they can. Damn. Guess I have no excuse not to buy one. I've wanted a Chief Joseph blanket from Pendleton for a long time, but just couldn't justify the cost. This was my vacation and I should do something nice for myself. Besides, I'm always cold so there is no such thing as too many blankets.

Back at the hotel, I packed up the Slut and checked out. Hit the road (figuratively speaking) at 10:30am. I took 11 North to 204 East into Elgin, then onto 82 East past Enterprise and into Joseph. Most all of this was nice sweep-y sort of two lane road with passing zones.

I followed the main road through Joseph to Wallowa Lake State Park. Very pretty place. I'd been told the marina there had sandwiches and cold drinks. They'd closed early for the season due to the lower-than-normal water level. Oh well. I was hungry but I wouldn't starve anytime soon. I spent some time walking through the park, threw a pine cone at a squirrel, refolded my map. Talked to a BMW rider who thought I was nuts to tour on a Ducati. He was headed for some rally near Walla Walla. Stopped at the Chief Joseph monument on my way back into Joseph. Was very creative, almost Noemi-like, parking in the loose-dirt-and-rock, steeply sloped turnout. Barely made it out of there without further casualty to bodywork.

I followed the road back to Enterprise then took 3 North which turned into 129 as I crossed into Washington.  Mostly rolling hills of dead grasses and clumps of trees near water. Sort of central valley California-ish. And then I saw a small herd of buffalo. Now, when I see critters I usually talk to them. I moooooooo at cows, and neigh at horses and baaa at sheep and goats. Sometimes I even bark at dogs that try to chase the bike. But, what sort of noise does a buffalo make? I thought about that one for many a mile. Still has me stumped.

Bill had told me what a blast Rattlesnake Grade is. I was looking forward to it. Lots of very tight twisties. Most corners marked at 20 or 25mph. And the scenery is gorgeous, what with a sheer cliff on one side and a steep drop-off (often no guard rail) on the other. It probably would have been a lot of fun, but there was gravel in almost every corner. Some corners added dirt and rocks up to the size of tennis balls. Shit! I kept telling myself to relax my upper body and, somehow, made it through without sliding off a cliff. It seemed to take damn near forever, though.

Coming into Asotin the road again becomes a 25mph-marked- corner road. But this time the pavement was great! Nice smooth asphalt, and properly banked. I really had fun there. Almost turned around and did it again, uphill this time, but I thought that would make me late getting into Bill's place.

Into Lewiston, ID to gas up the bike. I wasn't impressed. It seemed a dirty, sort of run-down place to me. Onto 195 towards Pullman. Pretty flat, farmland sort of stuff. I passed a herd of llamas. I don't know what sort of noise llamas make either, but I do know they spit. I mock-spit in their general direction and called it good.

I misread Bill's directions and missed the turnoff into Pullman. Took a while before I could find a place to turn around. Then a went right on by the right into his neighborhood. Sigh. I must be getting tired. Since I was into beautiful, downtown Pullman anyway, I topped up the gas tank. Backtracked and this time successfully found Bill's place. Bill, Guy Pace and Chris Spindler were waiting for me in the driveway. They'd heard me coming. I was only a hour and a half late.

I unloaded the bike and took stuff inside. Bill was kind enough to back her into the driveway for me. While I was busy taking a shower and getting laundry done, Bill and Chris destroyed my carefully collected bug specimens. Now I wouldn't attract yellow jackets every time I stopped for a roadside break. Chris was talked into a test ride on The Slut. Hee hee hee. Bill described a 20 mile loop that included some of everything. Vic Swan showed up and we talked in the driveway. Chris returned. He had that rip-the-top-of-your-head-off grin on his face. He babbled something about going into a corner marked at 35mph at 80mph and how easy it was. He spent the rest of the evening telling us all why he couldn't buy a Ducati. He's toast. :-)

Bill really does make lima bean and banana pizza, and it really is much better than one would expect. I ate until I was stuffed. Then had a beer. Desert was very tasty watermelon. Do NOT allow Bill to play funny songs if you're trying to eat watermelon. Trust me. After dinner we sat around talking about bikes, rides, cats, the Rocky Horror Picture Show, and who knows what else.

Next: Shortest riding mileage day and the Loughery's Housewarming/Garage Christening.

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