Beth Dixon: Day Five

Frank Hilliard
by Frank Hilliard

Wednesday, Sept. 21

Spent some time on the phone talking to Godfrey and the fine folks at State Farm. Finally had The Slut loaded up and left the hotel about 10:15am. Took 5 North to 58 East.

58 East is a nice road. At first, it's rather flat. Smaller roads join up from both sides, making traffic more of a mess than it should be for such a rural area. I got stuck behind a flatbed semi with a nice fresh load of baled straw. It was definitely bedding material, rather than food stuffs, for hoofed critters. I know. It was flying all around me -- a huge "cloud" of the shit.

beth dixon day five
The truck was spewing little bits off every bale into the air. Crap. I made sure the faceshield on my helmet was shut all the way. I tried to shut the vents on my helmet, but can never remember which way is open and which is shut. I knew if I got any of this dry, scratchy shit in my eyes my contact lenses would protest for the remainder of the day. What to do, what to do? Suddenly the "speedo" on a certain FZR400 race bike came to my mind. Clear as a bell, just like looking at a photograph. The speedo had been covered in white duct tape with "TUCK!!!" written in big letters across the middle. Sounded like one hell of an idea to me. I scooted my butt back on the saddle and literally layed on the tank. It worked! If you can get low enough those little windscreens work just ducky (yes, pun intended). I never got any of that shit into my eyes, but later I found bits of straw sticking into the vents under the headlight, in various crannies of frame and engine, and inside the top of my boots. As soon as I got to a place where it was possible (notice I did not say smart, just possible) I passed the truck. Then 58 East became a "nice road."

I rode the sweepers along the Willamette River with a grin on my face. Passed by Lowell Dam. I like this sort of roadside scenery. Leafed trees and needled trees and bushes and grasses and rocks and river. It was another nice, warm, sunny day. Not so hot it was uncomfortable to ride in black leathers, and it was definitely cooler in the shade and along water, but hot enough so I wasn't too cold (which happens often).

I pulled into Oakridge and stopped at the Texaco to top up the gas tank. I parked under the tree in the corner and walked to the Dairy Queen a couple of buildings down for some lunch. Small children looked at me strangely -- I was "dressed funny." I also took a turn through a Native American gallery. Saw some nice things and some interesting things, but nothing I liked well enough to carry with me for the rest of the trip. I checked my route with the guy at the Texaco and heard the story of how he used to ride a '59 Panhead. I backtracked on 58, going west this time. After leaving town, the first road to the right is labeled "airport." The second right is Oakridge-Westfir Road. _That's_ the road. Just after making the right onto it, there is US Forest Service sign marking "Ferrin Forest." Followed the road. Went straight past a side road with a large metal bridge, and straight past another side road with a covered bridge. Then through a small town (Westfir, I assume) and straight through a stop sign. From this point, there is nothing but a great two-lane for about 60 miles. This is one of my all-time most favorite rides.

USFS Road 19, past Cougar Reservoir. It's a two-lane with good pavement but little shoulder. It follows a river, and often has small bridges over streams. There is nothing along this road but campsites and the like. There is little traffic and there are numerous places for a bike to pass easily. The entire length is highlighted by a dotted-yellow centerline. The road dips and twists through great, leafy trees for mile after mile. The tightest corner is signed for 20mph. Many corners are signed between 25mph and 40mph. Any sign over 30mph can be basically ignored unless you've got floorboards that give you clearance problems. I remembered the road being slower and tighter. Either my mind is going (likely) or my riding has improved since last year (not nearly as likely).

I stopped beside a stream or two and shut the bike off. Must have spent a good 20 minutes near Cascade Creek just listening to the water tumbling over rocks. One day, I'm going to stop somewhere along this road and never come out again. If this place was closer to the ocean, I'd be tempted to move. Ocean is a necessity, though, as it's pretty hard to scuba in a 6-inch deep stream.

About 15 miles south of the junction with Hwy. 126, there is a large, gravel turnout on the right side. There are a couple of port-a-potties here, and usually a few cars. Across the road is a hot spring. It seems quite popular. From this turnout is a good view of Cougar Reservoir. Kept following the road and eventually, after another turnout/scenic vista point or two, met up with Hwy 126.

I took 126 east to Hwy 20 west. 20 is a decent road. The area is very pretty, and it's a nice winding two-lane. But the road surface sucks. Lots of potholes and rough pavement. And, of course, road construction. I took 20 all the way to I-5 and headed north. I followed 5 to 205 and found the Goldings without looking at my directions. I think that means I've been there too often. Martin said he'd heard "a proper motorcycle" coming from a block or two away. Though Martin had been kind enough to create a space in the garage for The Slut, I elected to park on the street. I wasn't sure I could get the bike _down_ the driveway the next morning without doing bodywork damage.

I spent a very enjoyable evening. As usual, I was fed wonderful food. I won't tell you all the details and make you jealous. Maybe one day I'll actually learn how to cook for myself. In the meantime, Martin is a great guy to have as a friend. We emptied a bottle of 1991

Stevenot Reserve Zinfandel -- the wine made famous at Sheep Ranch. I, never one to pass up an ideal chance to tell a good story, provided some details.

After purchasing six bottles of wine for dinner, they returned to Sheep Ranch and the remainder of the euro-moto crowd there gathered. All six bottles of wine disappeared during and shortly after a dinner of venison and lasagne. Then Jim forgot how to play poker. And BaaBaa was seen dancing on the bar. And the rest of the evening is rather fuzzy. The next day, Tom, Ed and I stopped at the winery for a case of that stuff.] I played with the birderang, referred to the cats as Chew Toy and Doggie Dinner, discussed recipes involving turnips and yogurt and filled in some details to the "Beth endo'd an Alfa Sedan" story. All in all, a great evening.

Next: Thursday -- I reluctantly leave the Goldings and head east along the Columbia River.

beth dixon day five
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