8-10-04 Bend, Oregon to Fall River Mills, California
The aircraft dealer at the Bend Airport turned out to be a
Lancair builder, so I didn’t follow through. My father may have had the wrong town in Oregon.
around trying to get out of Bend. Bend
has circular intersections (traffic wheels?).
I became confused and went north instead of south. I had to turn into another series of circles to head back the right way.
The Cascade Lakes Highway/ Cascade Scenic Byway scenic
route wasn't, but it beat riding with the traffic on the 97. I did not get the
views I’d hoped for. There was one good overlook of the South Sister (of the Three Sisters volcanoes), but no pullout.
I stopped at
the Mt. Bachelor ski area hoping for ride to the top, so I could claim the mountain the easy way. The lifts
didn’t open until 11 AM. I went back to the road.
scenic byway rejoined the 97, which was still a 55 mph road. I bumped
my speed up to 65 mph to avoid being flattened from behind.
miles on Cascade Scenic Byway and 60 miles on 97, I looked for a lunch spot. There was an Indian Casino in the middle of the woods, offering a buffet.
Casino was small. The buffet, $8.00. There was a limited selection of good food.
It was not crowded, with twenty or thirty
people repetitively punching slot machines.
A short time later, I crossed the
California border and reached the perimeter of the Lava Beds National
Monument. The beds were deposited through the actions of one
large volcano, according to the ranger at the field station. The
lava fields overlaid a large caldera. She gave me directions
for a couple of good motorcycle roads into and out of the monument.
It took a few false turns, but I eventually arrived at the heart of the monument.
The ranger told me that the only
external sign of volcanic activity in the park was a hole in the
labeled on some maps as “Hot Spot”. Supposedly, hot dogs can be cooked in the heat emanating from the hole.
I drove to
a trail leading to a lookout on top of a cinder cone, Schonchin Butte. Dropping off my riding gear, I hiked up
the trail through the heat to the top in
about a half-hour.
The building at the top turned out to be both a view station and a fire
observatory. There was a fire spotter stationed in the
building. The building had a bed, a work
table with a map and sextant, a stool at the table, and a map on the
wall. The spotter explained that if he saw smoke, he plotted
the radius on the map and radioed it
in. An adjacent fire station cross-referenced his plot with
their plot to fix the location of the fire.
about storms in general and about lightning specifically, since he
was stationed on a high
point. He said they told him that in the event of a storm to sit on the stool, and he pointed out that each leg
of the stool was stuck in
a glass insulator of the type used on old-style power lines. The
bed was fitted likewise. I asked about the bed, and he said it
case a storm forced him into an overnight stay.
I noted the
heavy grounding cables running from the roof to the ground; he noted that they had recently discovered a few fire
stations where the cables were incorrectly installed.
His duty in
the post was for 2 days each week. He
didn’t like it. He said that he preferred to be on the
ground, fighting fires.
rarely received visitors. He told me, "Today is like Christmas." He had talked to a couple I had passed on their way down, plus me. I signed
my name in the registry peak log: one of three entries for the day.
recommended visiting Valentine’s Cave before exiting the park.
My next stop was to the visitor’s center, which sat amidst a whole slew of lava tubes.
I passed on those, figuring that Valentine's would be representative.
Cave was located at a turn off into a parking area a few miles away
from the visitors center.
There were only 2 or 3 other cars. I pulled
out the small penlight I carried in my tank bag. Flashlights were
available, but only at the visitors center. I wrongly assumed
flashlights would be available at each cave.
penlight was inadequate. I could either light up the top of the
cave to keep my head from knocking the ceiling, or I could light up the path for my
feet to avoid tripping over rocks. I stumbled around on the uneven floor, and after
following a group into the cave for a distance, turned back.
There were long moments of uneasiness as I stumbled around in the darkness, but after a
few minutes, I saw light reflecting from the entrance to the cave.
I took a few more pictures and climbed out.
I drove out
of the park and misread my turn. Lost, I reached
a small town with a gas pump. They
wanted a premium for each gallon of gasoline, much higher than the
going rate. I declined to pump, so I bought cold drink instead and
received directions on how to find my way back to a main road.
The main road turned out to be the 39 – 229 to
Fall River Mills, a town recommended for an overnight stay.
I had an easy ride
uphill into a forest and then a downgrade with views to a valley.
bottom of the hill, a sign was posted that said “Construction – 10 miles”.
It was the
most jacked-up, disorganized botch I’d run into. The roadway was entirely gone, and what was left was an extended run
of loose dirt, mud, and gravel. I was behind a semi. The semi could only go 5 mph, so at one
point, I stopped so I could get enough distance to up my speed for stability. I ate a lot of dust.
I no sooner
cleared the first construction zone that I ran into a second flagger. Again, there was a long wait. The pilot car finally brought the opposing traffic by, turned around, and
led us through. I couldn’t see why this section of road was shut down. Both of the original lanes were intact.
repaving project I encountered earlier, one side of the road was removed and
repaved, and then the other side. There was always
one paved side to ride, except for short stretches on the Dawson and the
Dempster. I guess California had to be different.
ended in the town of Fall River Mills.
I took the second motel I saw. I
was done for the day, and wanted to give the bike a chance to cool down. It had been in the high range (but not redlined)
for 20 miles. I stopped at 7:30 PM.
Reno was about 2 hours a way.
My helmet visor was loosening, and I would try to make it
to Reno tomorrow and have my wife meet me with the helmet's written