Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Andre Ride 2011b

Andre and the Oldbikerider
I am making a slight detour in the Zen and the Art ride to do the Andre ride.  This whole cross country ride started out as a way to come visit friends that had moved from my home town to this NorthWet community.  No, that is not a typo, motorcyclists (and others I suppose) call this region the Northwest.

Andre was born June 30th, the day I began this trip and is about as cute as babies get.  And I got to meet the mother's mom, who looks just like her - I was amazed!  I will be staying here for a few days to catch up with their lives and see if I can spoil a kid that young.  I think I'll have to wait a few years though. It is also time for an oil change and to get the rear tire I had sent her installed.

We left off last in the lobby of a motel that advertised WiFi but it didn't work, so I talked my way into 60 seconds of access in the lobby.  That was in Grangeville, Idaho.  I never heard of it either, but it was as far as my weary bones were taking me.  I usually enter a town and ride around checking it out before choosing a place and this motel was at the far west end and had a lot of bikes in the parking lot so I thought it was perfect.  Well, even I make mistakes.  After leaving this place in the morning I saw an ideal looking camping area not a half mile down the road!

So I leave Grangeville and make my way to the most remote area that Mr. Pirsig has taken me so fbar.  Following US-95south to Cambridge and picking up ID-71 northwest towards the border I am delighted to see a "Trucks longer than 55 feet not recommended" sign.  That usually means a narrow, twisty road.  US-95 was a great one as well. Seems they didn't hire the guy from Nebraska (can't say Kansas 'cause my wife is from there and will get upset) who knows how to lay out a straight road.  Didn't see one in my travels anyway.  No wonder I need new tires!

ID-71 is basically an access road for Idaho Power, they have two hyro dams up there, and for the recreational use crowd with boats, camping and I'd guess hunting in season.  There are virtually no services in the area except maybe bait shops and camping areas.  Wonderful roads and views.  I include a picture or two for you but it is hard to get much is such vast panoramas.

My camp dinner, PB and Bacon Burrito
When I got to Baker City, Oregon I had the pleasure of eating with Joe, Dorrell and John at the Coffee Corral.  They are three guys who have been meeting there for some time to solve all the problems of the world,  so I asked them to look at my maps and they gave me great suggestions.  If you guys are reading this I stayed at the Ochoco campground you suggested and I will be doing the Crater Lake circle as part of the ZAMM ride.  Thanks for the routing suggestions, I slept well up there even if it is close to the highway.
Getting warmed up at the campsite

It is these 'chance' encounters with real people living everyplace that makes these trips so much a part of my life.  I often say I am traveling to see friends I haven't met yet.  I didn't make that up, I heard it someplace, but it works for me.

Another example is Alex, who was also spending his first hours in Bozeman, Montana.  I chose a restaurant called the Garage (sound right for me?) and walked the 4 blocks from the motel. On the way I notice a sign out in front of an office building: Central Asia Institute.  Not CIA but CAI.  It is Saturday evening so no-one would be there tomorrow, but I was intrigued as I have visited and done some computer work in Central Asia.

When I arrived at The Garage they decided to close rather than serve me.  Really, it was 9pm and the place was calling it a day.  So I walked a block down the street to the Montana Ale Works, a microbrew kind of yuppie looking place - but wait, this is Montana.  Looks are deceiving!  This place was great, and really busy.  I didn't want to take up a whole table so I wandered up to the bar and asked if I could eat there instead of a table and the only seat was at the cash register.  They cleaned up a space and there I was.  Told the bar-keep what kind of beer I liked and told her to choose one.  I was great.  She told me a lot more about it than I understood, and the name was in German and contained the word 'shwartz' but I didn't get the rest of it.  I had some tuna sushi type tempura thing as I was feeling that real food was in order after living on my own camp fare and fast food for a couple of days.

So this guy, Alex, is on the next stool, and he is talking to the bar-keep like he was a regular.  I heard the words 'fund raising' and started to follow the conversation.  He had just finished dinner and was paying at the register when I arrived.  Anyway, he was finishing a beer and we started talking.  Turns out he had worked for a software firm that serves the non-profit community and had left that profession to follow up on the work that the Central Asia Institute is doing establishing girls schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan.  So now we have 3 or 4 things in common - fund raising (For Not Alone, remember them?), the war zone, the way to find real solutions for seemingly unsolvable issues - this is getting good.  Then he tells me he has just arrived in town - same as me.  And we agree that we have never been anyplace that had more congenial people.  It was not my sleeplessness - other people felt the same way.  NOTE: DO NOT MOVE TO MONTANA.  They want to keep it a secret.

Anyway I tell Alex that I just looked at the CAI office and he is freaking out.  So to celebrate we eat dessert - good pick again, excellent bread pudding.  So I blow three days food budget on one meal, it was worth it.  After dinner Alex follows me to that office building and is so excited to have found it.  I make a good surrogate for a phone book, eh?  You Bet!

Alex is also doing WWOOF.  You Google it, but I think that would be a cool thing to do one summer in Montana.  If you get something about dogs, it is a typo - try two W's as above.

This morning's breakfast at the Tastee Freeze in Prineville was no less entertaining.  I'll spare you the details, but you can see where I am going here.  Go out and talk to people you don't know, you might find you like them.

A passage from the book about yesterday's ride on US-95 following the Salmon River is about how I found the road:

"Back in the heat again and not far from Grangeville we see that the dry plateau that looked almost like prairie when we were out on it suddenly breaks away into an enormous canyon. I see our road will go down and down through what must be a hundred hairpin turns into a desert of broken land and crags. I tap Chris’s knee and point and as we round a turn where we see it all I hear him holler, "Wow!"

At the brink I shift down to third, then close the throttle. The engine drags, backfiring a little, and down we go.

By the time our cycle has reached the bottom of wherever it is we are, we have dropped thousands of feet. I look back over my shoulder and see antlike cars way back at the top. Now we must head forward across this baking desert to wherever the road leads.

A straight road in Oregon
The roads were like that for well over 100 miles in both Idaho and Oregon.  I actually stopped to take a photo of a straight road in Oregon when one finally appeared.

I want to include something from the book  hoping that Bob and son Chris encountered some rain, but they didn't record that. But I remember that I am no longer on the Zen route - I am on the Andre route.  He didn't come to Portland like I did today.  In fact, the rain started just after leaving the book's original route in Prineville, Oregon.

But this is not like rain I am used to in the East.  I actually think I was riding through a rain cloud.  And it did not stop raining, it just got brighter and the water was now coming up from tires of cars ahead of me instead of from above.  Then the road became dry and it was not raining.  But the temp never got above about 68 degrees.  Weird for me.  My hands were too cold to hold the baby when I came in, I had to take a shower to warm them up.

Lets wrap this up with some stats:  3650 miles so far.  In the 13 days of the trip so far (July 13th is when I am completing this) I have camped five nights, motels six times and homes of friends twice.  One of the motels was supposed to be a campground, but it was under water.

Lessons Learned: After all this pretty hot riding, 68 degrees is really cold, especially when raining.  I went to the store with Ben and was freezing in the store with long pants on.  I did see a local guy walking down the street with a down vest on and next to him a guy with shorts and a tee shirt.  Depends what you are used to, as always.


anilia said...

I like the road sign. Only 99 miles? Not 100?

Debbie C said...

Central Asia Institute is the organization that Greg Mortenson founded. He's the co-author of "Three Cups of Tea." You may have heard recently that some of the writing was "embellished," but he's accomplishing all sorts of good in a part of the world that desperately needs education.

OldBikeRider said...

Yes, Debbie, I knew about the allegations and chose not to make a point of them as we will likely never know the whole truth. As a person who committed part of my life to develop individuals to be leaders I am sure that many could say something detracting about my actions, but the deeds were done and 'Monday morning pundits' can say what they will. I would be willing to guess that the detractors have never made any conscious effort to help others that wasn't first and foremost self-serving.

OldBikeRider said...

Anilia, the people out here are really not into exaggeration. Likely there is a rule that signs can be used for a condition less than 100 miles or something like that. It happens that there is a town 100 miles from that sign, and that last mile is straight ;).