Beth Dixon: Day Six

Frank Hilliard
by Frank Hilliard

Thursday, Sept. 22

Left the Gracious Goldings' place at about 10:30. Took 205 South to 14 East. 14 East follows the north side of the Columbia River Gorge. I'd done this trip along the south side on the superslab a couple of times. This road always looked like much more fun.

Nice, winding two-lane through trees and bushes and grass and ferns. I like ferns. Don't have them in this area of Calif., just too damn dry. And lots of historical markers. I like historical markers. It only takes a minute to pull up alongside and read one, and I have a better feeling and appreciation for the area I'm in when I know something about it.

Traffic was reasonable, though I got stuck with more road construction. The weather was perfect -- warm and sunny.

After the initial bits of medium-tight stuff, the road opens into higher speed sweepers. Fun! After the Tunnel from Hell episode last year, I always approach tunnels with a bit of caution. I'm never sure if I'm going to be able to see once I get into the tunnel. I make it standard practice to open my faceshield, pull my sunglasses down my nose so I can look over the tops of them, then shut my faceshield again. It makes me feel like a granny, but it _is_ nice to be able to see where one is going! The tunnels along 14 are all short and straight, so I had no problem.

Hit another bit of road construction. Interesting. The "road" was down to one lane while construction crews were working on what used to be a bridge. A temporary bridge had been tossed together consisting of I-beam supports overlayed with wooden planks. The planks weren't fastened to the supports. Watching the semi a few vehicles in front of me make these boards jump was rather unnerving! The Slut made it across without a wobble, though. Trusty bitch.

By this time, I'd reached the dry side. Blah. I much prefer the wet side. I stopped at the 97 turn off to gas up and grab some lunch. It had gotten rather warm (into the 80s) and a cold drink was much appreciated.

Since the scenery was mostly flat, brown-dead grasses, I elected to take 97 South to 84 East. 84 East is the same superslab along the south side of the gorge that I'd traveled last year, but14 had gotten boring. I kept a sharp eye out for Oregon Highway Patrol cars and wicked it up. At the Blalock Canyon Exit, the odometer rolled 1F (or 11111 miles for those of you who aren't computer geeks).

I stopped at the rest area near Boardman for a break. It was early afternoon so I had some time. Drank lots of water, then called Bill Johns from the payphone. Told him if his invitation to crash was still open I'd be by on Friday. He had me grab a map and went over all sorts of nice roads leading to his place. I guess I was still invited. :-)

Back out onto 84 East and roll on the throttle. Hard. Hee, I like that part! I arrived in Pendleton about 3:30. While filling the gas tank at the Chevron, I noticed a billboard for the Traveler's Inn. "Hot tub" were the words that caught my eye. The place was right downtown, on the right. Easy to find. I was one of the first to check in. The manager was a really nice guy who used to ride a Suzuki. And he had a great dog named Chancy. Gotta like it -- a hot tub and a dog.

I unloaded the bike and headed for the hot tub. A nice soak and a shower later, it was nap time. I woke up hungry. I walked a block to the mini-mart and found Full Sail Golden Ale. I like this place. Ordered a pizza to be delivered and ate like a pig. Very good pizza. Very good beer. Dozed off while waiting for the late news weather report.

Next: I spend too much money at the Pendleton Woolen Mills and decend on Pullman.

Frank Hilliard
Frank Hilliard

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