I was all set to meet up with Kelley Baker today, at 1:30. I even mapped out the route and nearly memorized it! Kelley toured through Lewisburg a couple of times over the years. When he was in town, he’d stop in the bookstore. So I figured I’d return the favor now that I was in his neck of the woods.
Around one o’clock, I hopped on the scooter, started it up, got to the end of the parking lot and it died. I tried to start it again, but nothing. The starter motor just turned over and over. I figured that I was going to run the battery down, so I pushed it back to where it was in front of Ashley’s front door and figured I’d have to get a tow.
I was lamenting not having a vintage Vespa. I could probably fix that. If a two-stroke scooter won’t start, you can usually get it running without too much hassle (then keeping it running becomes the task). But I had a modern, four stroke and had no idea what to do.
So I figured, “check the sparkplug.” And I did. And that was the problem.
Somehow or another, the sparkplug wire came detached from the boot. I looked at it and the wire seems to attach to the boot via a threaded screw, almost like a wood screw. This seems like a dumb set up to me.
So I screwed it back in, still unsure how it worked its way out (maybe when I ran over that tarp?). It started right up and I rode to meet Kelley.
We hung out at a coffee and tea cafe and talked for something like three hours. It was pretty cool to see him again. We caught up on our lives and swapped travel stories – he has more than I do.
That evening, Ashley and I planned to go to something called “Last Thursday,” it’s basically an art walk mixed with street fair. Anyone is allowed to sell whatever on the street and many of the shops have artists in them, showing their work.
While much of the atmosphere was “whoooaaaaaaa look at ME, I’m SO weird, MAN!!!!” There was more than enough sincerity there to make it very worth while.
Most of the art wasn’t to my liking, but almost all of it was cheap – the best kind! Most of it was very DIY and again, I dig that.
There was one piece (pictured on the left) that I really dug. But the artist wanted $175 for it. This wasn’t really the place to be selling the over-priced stuff. And I didn’t really have the $175 to throw at it. But I really really dug it. If it were $100, I would have bought it.
I also rediscovered sidewalk chalk while being here.
The first night I was here, one of the cafes wrote “The Waffle Window is Open!” on the sidewalk, with arrows directing all where to find it. My first thought was “what if there really isn’t a waffle window and it’s just arrows leading people to no where?” That would be a very fun thing.
Sidewalk chalk is also good for leaving little messages to the world around you. Tonight we saw, “Nothing says arrest me like a 2am cartwheel.”
Words to live by, folks. Careful out there!
There were other chunks of art that I wanted and I really wish I would have known about this, because I would have sent my books out here and tried to sell a few. I also have another idea that I’m keeping to myself.
I tried to encourage Ashley to sell her paintings and jewelery here, because she’s really good and for some reason never tries to get her work out there. Hopefully next Last Thursday, she will.
We got home late and basically crashed out. Tomorrow, I leave for Seattle. But I’m sad to be leaving Portland. I really feel at home in this town. Like a lot.
Mile today: 7
Miles total: 7436
ps – While I didn’t pick anything up at Last Thursday, I did become the new owner of Boy with Duck. I found another one and it’s mine! I feel very lucky.
You know what I did today? Not much at all. Some folks would take the time to explore Portland. See what’s here. Me, I just needed a day where I didn’t do anything.
Tomorrow I’ll explore some. But today, I just did laundry and ate some strawberries.
I emailed some scooter shops and worked out more logistics for the Cannonball. I went from being really hyped up about it to nearly not doing it. I’m still planning on it though, no worries.
When Ashley and Kevin got home, we grabbed some pizza – a few pizza shops in Portland have vegan cheese. West Coast pizza never ever even comes close to east coast pizza, but it wasn’t bad.
And then we hit Powell’s Bookstore. It’s the largest independent bookstore in the universe. It takes up a whole freaking city block! It’s amazing. I could have bought a million things, but bought three small comics.
Except it didn’t start so early. Which is good. Gave me some time to get situated. I love getting situated. Maybe I’m a nester.
Our plans today were to hit an island where we could pick strawberries and visit Corazzo, the makers of my jacket.
While getting things ready to leave, I noted that Portland had one very big mark against it – no vegan doughnuts. Ashley then suggested Voodoo Doughnuts might have vegan ones. We looked it up and lo! They do!
Let’s do that first!
We drove down (she drove) and parked in Chinatown. We had trouble working the little electronic parking meter thing, but figured it out somehow. Each have slightly different instructions. This one had one set of instructions and then they decided to change them after installing the machines. So now there are amended instructions. Nothing made sense.
But Chinatown seemed nice. We parked right next to an all-vegetarian Chinese place. There are so many places to eat here, I bet.
We walked around downtown a bit. I had my first Portland celebrity siting! While walking down some street, I saw the girl who works for Herbivore Clothing and Magazine. It’s the gal in the top, left picture (and throughout the page). She passed and I thought, “I know her! But how?” I figured it was scooter-related. But no. It was vegan-related. Woo!
I want this shirt, by the way. I might stop by the Herbivore Store today and get it.
We found our way to Voodoo Doughnuts, our first stop! The place was eclectic inside. And the vegan doughnuts were in a little basket.
I picked out a glazed and chocolate frosted. Just like I used to get at Dunkin Donuts before I went vegetarian 15 or 16 years ago. ((I went veg when I was 17, in a couple of years I’ll be able to say that I’ve been veg for most of my life – pretty neat!))
The counter gal bagged them up and I couldn’t wait to get outside to inhale them.
They use a banana-based eggless recipe. Sometimes that can go horribly wrong, making your whatevers taste only like super-sweet bananas.
So with a tinge of apprehension – this was an extremely important moment in my life – I bit into the chocolate frosted one.
Hm. Good… not bad… some banana… but mostly… AMAZING! I’m eating a VEGAN DOUGHNUT! I basically freaked out inside. And maybe a little on the outside.
The glazed was equally amazing. I basically want to live there. It’s a shame that all their doughnuts aren’t vegan, but hey, at least there’s a nice selection of vegan ones.
But now was time for Strawberry pickin’ on some island that I redubbed Strawberry Island. We got a little lost, but eventually found our way there.
We grabbed two empty U-Pick boxes and went to pickin’. At first, it was difficult to find anything. But after we figured out a system and found a good place for good berries, we were in!
Oregon strawberries are different than Pennsylvania or California strawberries. First, these were no-spray. No icky chemicals to “wash off”. And they are red the whole way through. Yeah, they’re smaller, but they’re sweeter and basically nature’s perfect food.
The picking place also had a ton of other fruit and vegetables in a little store/barn thing over yonder. It was run by a guy who was amazingly enthusiastic about his produce, which is all grown on-site. He was thrilled with is dill, and ecstatic over his cucumbers! And don’t even get him started on his watermelons!
Our next stop was Corazzo, so we picked up some sweet corn and headed over. Corazzo is a scooter apparel company who makes riding gear (mostly). Chad and… .. I forget his name – I’m SO bad with names, I apologize ((Seriously, I’m horrible with names. I had to struggled to remember “Chad.” It wasn’t easy and Ashley had to help)), who co-run the place, hung out and talked while their lil puppy played with what must have been the most awesome red plastic lid EVER!
These guys are great and I can’t say enough nice things about them. Especially because: “Corazzo is proud to manufacture our garments and accessories in North America (Canada, California and Oregon), sourcing our raw materials from companies that manufacture in the US, wherever possible.” They asked if I needed anything and really, I didn’t, but maybe a pair of gloves (do you have ANY idea how hard it is to find vegan riding gloves?) and new armor for my jacket. Chad offered a bag, but I declined. It was a nice bag too. This company is run by scooterists for scooterists. And it’s very for scooterists.
It takes quite a lot for a company to impress me. But since this company has great stuff, great practices and is amazingly giving, I have to approve of their existence.
Now, if only their winter gloves were vegan so I could stop using ski gloves! And if they made pants!
My riding pants are black and weirdly, nothing goes with them. Even my black jacket clashes. I don’t quite understand how nothing can go with black. I think it’s the shape. Who knows. I’ll be getting a new jacket soonishly and definitely Corazzo’s lap apron. I bet my dad would dig this. He’s riding a Bajaj Chetak now. Ha! Scootering is addictive!
Chad also told us of a scooter meet-up at a bar called Plan B. It was at nine. So Ashley and I drove to her place, made some food and I “fixed” her router that was being super-cranky.
Suddenly it was around nine, so we headed to Plan B. Plan B is a bar that has a great VEGetariAN dishes. In Portland, in order to serve liquor, you must also serve hot food.
We got there, finding the place by looking for a bunch of scooters out front. No problem. There were about 20 there and I saw a mod walking up the street on crutches, still sporting the jacket, tie and hat. This must be the place.
Everyone was out back, on a patio (really an old parking lot with picnic tables – this place was pretty punk rock). Chad motioned us over, introduced us and we ended up talking with him, a gal, another guy and the mod fellow (remember, really amazingly bad with names, sorry!). I ordered some vegan chili, Corazzo paid for it… THANKS! I feel weird when people do this, but who is going to argue with vegan chili?
The DJ spun the soundtrack to my high school years. Metallica, Dead Kennedys, various other stuff that brought me back to a time in Todd Fogel’s basement where I had my first couple bands and countless nights of being young. Thanks, Mr. DJ!
Around 11:30, things wound down and we were beat (and the last ones there).
While drying off after showering at the Oregon Trail Motel in Baker City, Oregon, I start to seriously wonder where I was. It’s almost like I had amnesia. This is the first time it’s happened to me on the trip.
“Where am I?”
A list of states went through my head.
The reason that I questioned was the in New Mexico, it’s so dry that you hardly have to use a towel. You can just stand there, wait five minutes and you’re done. This was happening now in whatever state it was.
My first guess was Utah. But that wouldn’t make sense. Idaho? Yes. Yes, Idaho. I was in Wyoming and now I’m in Idaho.
I paused for a moment and remembered that I crossed into Oregon yesterday. Problem solved. This was going to be a weird day.
I rode through town, taking a few pictures, fueled up and was on my way. The scenery coming into Baker was full of sage brush. It was the same as I left, but it gave way to rocky cliffs and tall formations. I thought to myself, “Wow, Nevada is really beautiful!”
Content in that I rode on for about 30 seconds until I thought again, “Where am I?”
Ok, good. Oregon. Oregon looks awesome.
The scenery quickly changed on Oregon Route 7 and I was in a pine forest. They were pretty tall and thin like the pine tree on their license plate. I began to seriously contemplate taking on an event like the Cannonball Run. I worked out the logistics in my head the best I could. I wondered how I would fair against other, seasoned scooterists.
After over seventhousand miles on the road since April 31, I still think of myself as a novice. I guess it’s a good thing. I’m cautious and don’t get cocky.
I thought about riding for charity, but maybe more on that later. I’m still not 100% convinced that I’ll do it, but it’s close. At this point, if I decided not to do it, it would be a let down.
Moving on, I came across a Narrow Gauge Railroad. Since it was 7:30 on a Monday morning, it wasn’t open, but I took a few pictures and wished that I could check it out. I think I really dig narrow gauge railroads. Maybe not more than regular gauge though. Oh, this was the Sumpter Valley Narrow Gauge Railroad.
I rode on, keeping a left eye on the tiny tracks to see how far it went, how much was left and how long the grade extends. Yes, all that with only one eye!
My mind was still mushing around the Cannonball Run idea. How differently would I ride? What would I take? Maybe I wasn’t such a novice. Maybe I could make a pretty good and wellish-informed decision about this. Who knew?
I saw a rest area up ahead and pulled over. Mostly because I was cold.
At the rest area, I found a small take-out contain of styrofoam placed on the ground with writing on it. It was a weird, rambling message about appreciating life and that you may never see snow on the mountains again. Alright. Then it told you to check inside. This could end badly. But I lifted the lid anyway.
Nothing but gravel. And I think it was gravel from the parking lot.
Maybe there was something super awesome that I missed by a couple of days! Maybe.
I placed a few Scoot 66 postcards in it and was on my way.
My next stop along the road was amazing cool. The town of John Day gave me Kam Wah Chung.
Kam Wah Chung was the name of the Chinese store in the town of John Day, Oregon. It was established during a gold rush by Ing Hay (known also as “Doc Hay”) and Lung On (known as “Leon”), Chinese immigrants from Kwangtung.
This store and apothecary served the huge Chinese population (numbering around 3,000) for many years. Ing Hay wanted it to be turned into a Museum after he died. One day he broke his hip, went to a nursing home and the place was forgotten. In 1967, someone redisocovered it and they restored it to how it was.
You have to be on a tour to go into it, so I got on a tour and got to go inside. Sadly, they don’t allow photography. You can see a few pictures of it here, though. It’s a great story that I don’t really have time to relate. Not that you’ll ever be in John Day, Oregon, but if you are, go here. It’s pretty great.
But now I was running a little behind. I wanted to get to Portland around 5:30. At this rate, it wouldn’t be till 7:30. The last thing I wanted was to try to find Ashley’s place in the dark.
The pace would have to be hurried a bit. But things like the town of Mitchell stopped me. Mitchell is small, but is very picturesque in all the ways I like. I nearly buzzed by the town on the US 26 bypass. Thankfully, I could see the town through the trees and turned around.
I wouldn’t be able to do this on the Cannonball. But how could I stop myself. I would have to become a cold-blooded, ruthless riding machine of a scooterist. If I have one weakness in this event, it’s historical markers and ghost towns.
Originally I had planned on taking a few “back roads” to get to Portland. But with the stop in John Day, I had to stick with US 26 for the duration.
It was still a really pretty road. I saw Mt. Jefferson and rode right next to Mt. Hood. It got really cold and cloudy. I thought it was going to snow. Luckily for me, it was a bit too “warm” for that. Not having another Flagstaff experience was ok with me.
I pulled into Portland around five and rode around following my directions to Ashley’s house. I pulled over to give her a call because I was a bit confused. I picked up my phone and then saw her Jeep drive by. I stuffed the phone in my pocket and took off after her.
Half a block later, I was in her parking lot. Awesome!
I unloaded the scooter and we went out to eat at a vegetarian Thai place. Normally I don’t care for Thai food, but I think I like it now. But not the peanut chunks. No.
After we ate (and a bit before) we walked around the Hawthorn area of Portland. Nice place. I think I could really dig it here.
We got back around 8 and with Kevin, watched a pretty nifty movie staring Brandon Fraiser, Buffy and Kevin Bacon. Something about “Air.” It was kind of a gangster/sci-fi movie with a tiny twist at the end. Not perfect, but fun.
And now I’m in their spare-room/Ashley’s studio.
I’m secretly moving in.
They’ll never notice me.
So as you know, I survived the night. I’m still cleaning dust out of things, including my eyes. Not a lot of fun. But that’s how it goes.
I shook the dust out of my jacket and thought, “I can see by outfit that I am a cowboy!” You know, the Smothers Brothers version of “Streets of Laredo.” I can’t find a clip of it or the song or anything, but the lyrics are:
As I walked out on the streets of Laredo,
As I walked out in Laredo one day,
I spied a young cowboy all wrapped in white linen
Wrapped in white linen as cold as the clay.
I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy;
I see by your outfit you are a cowboy, too;
We see by our outfits that we are both cowboys.
If you get an outfit, you can be a cowboy, too.
And a giggle started my day. Here‘s a video of someone else doing their version.
As you might know, I follow a set of directions taped to the headset of the scooter. I don’t just wander around aimlessly. Today’s instructions were made in quite the haste, but I thought they would be right.
The first part of the trip had me going on the Old Oregon Trail. I thought that was odd, since the Oregon Trail was about 10 miles away from where I said it would be. But I tried to follow it anyway.
My mistake was that I didn’t read anything correctly. Googlemaps said that I should turn left onto Old Oregon Trail Highway. I thought (for some reason) that that was the Oregon Trail. It wasn’t. It was Old US 30, here known as “Old Oregon Trail Highway.”
So I followed Old US 30 for about 10 miles thinking that it would connect with I-84. It does not. Looking at the map again, I could have wiggled my way around, followed an old dirt road (which seemed to have been Old, Old Route 30) and have been ok, but I didn’t want to risk it.
I turned around and went back ten miles and took the interstate to where I knew Old US 30 was. It lasted for five miles, but it was nice to be on an old road again. But back to the interstate with me!
However, not for long. While riding the mind-numbing I-84, I spied a sign about the Oregon Trail. Anything is better than this, so I hopped off the super slab and followed the little brown signs down a road and then up a dirt road (yeah, dirt) to a hill.
On the way to the top of the hill, I saw an Oregon Trail marker. And next to the marker was the freaking Oregon Trail! This is a first! The trail, which you could plainly see, was marked! They never do this. They never say “hey, here’s the trail, right HERE!” They always allude in some lofty way that the trail passed near this place that’s close to the newer highway.
But here it was, the trail. Wagon wheel ruts and all!
Was I impressed? Oh certainly I was.
You could see the trail to the horizon in either direction, it was pretty cool. You’re also allowed to follow it however long it goes (or until a sign tells you that you can’t go any farther).
The trail passed over this hill, Bonneville Point. Here is where Mr. Bonneville, while exploring, climbed this hill, saw some trees in the distance and shouted “BOISE!” which means “forest” in French (Bonneville was French).
And if you look to the west, you can certainly see Boise… the city. Not the forest. The forest is gone. Boise replaced BOISE. Sad, really.
Upon returning to the scooter, I met a couple who was checking out this Bonneville place. They asked me about the scooter and the trip. They asked the normal questions, but also some other good ones like “how long will the engine last.” I had no real idea, but figured it could basically go on forever with rebuilds. I really enjoy meeting people. I realize that I spend most of my time alone and have that cowboy thing going on, but I do enjoy talking to folks. I just wish I’d ask more questions about them. I’ll work on that.
This view, however, was spectacular. It overlooked the wide open prairie of Idaho and brought the song “Chant of the Wanderer” into my head.
I rode away and through Boise without giving Boise much thought. I was heading up Idaho Route 55. I had no real idea what it was or where it went. All I knew was that it lead to US 95, which led to some other road which led to another road that took me to Baker City, Oregon, my stop for the night.
I also knew that this was a very zigzaggy way to get there, but I really didn’t care. I didn’t want to resort to the interstate.
Anyway, Route 55 really didn’t impress me at first. It was a busy road that was near a river and so what. But then, all of a sudden, it narrows, the traffic drops off a bit and suddenly there area twists and turns and some amazingly beautiful scenes. Again, Idaho impressed me!
I followed this road for quite a few miles. The going was slow, but very worth it. When a car would come up behind me, I’d pull over, letting it pass so that I wouldn’t be rushed.
Route 55 is Idaho’s answer to California Route 1. It was that great. I was in a thick pine forest, next to white water and old rail road tracks. If you like, you could camp in any of the dozen or so National Forest Campgrounds along the route. Way to go, Idaho!
But, like Route 1, it climbed out of the pines and away from the water and took me to rolling golden hills and a few towns.
The towns were all pretty nice, but I wasn’t feeling in much of a town mood. I wanted to get back to the pines and nature, which is sort of weird for me.
Route 55 ends in the town of New Meadows. From there, I took US 95 South. I was heading north on 55, but now it’s time for the zag, so I headed south.
US 95 was alright, but nothing to really get me going. Actually, at this point, I got pretty fatigued and developed a headache. This is the first time Idaho did such a thing to me. But to get where I had to be, I had to take 95.
Finally, my turn off of 95 was here! Cambridge, Idaho, a weird little run down town that I probably should have explored more, gave me Idaho Route 17 North and that last 30 or so miles of this fair state. Route 95 took me south, Route 17 was taking me north. Another zig-zag.
And what a way to end! Route 71 was nearly as amazing as Route 55.
It gave me curves and views that popped my eyes out. Steep hills rose up on either side of the road as 71 twisted through the Snake River valley that led into Hell’s Canyon. The Snake River in Wyoming was fun to ride along side and the same is true for Idaho. The Snake runs for over 1,000 miles and I bet nearly all of those miles are amazing.
I was getting close to Oxbow and the border of Oregon. It was weird, the whole day, especially riding up 55, I kept thinking that I was in Oregon. I guess Idaho was so pretty that it fooled me!
Crossing into Oregon, I also crossed into the Pacific Time Zone. So, all you eastern friends, I’m once again three hours behind you, ok?
Idaho 71 turned into Oregon 86. This would take me into Baker City, first heading south, then west.
It was a pretty road, but most country than wilderness. That’s alright though. It reminded me of Pennsylvania but with snow peaked mountains on the horizon.
There were some turns and a few hills, but nothing really caught my eye. I was feeling fatigued again, my back was hurting as was my bottom. I wanted today to end and I couldn’t get to Baker City fast enough.
But that’s when I saw “Hole-In-the-Wall Interpretive Site 1/4 mile.” I really didn’t feel like stopping for anything, but I very reluctantly pulled over.
Now, one thing that I almost always notice about a road is whether it’s older or newer. If it’s newer, as this one was, I figure that there much be an older alignment around here somewhere. There was indeed.
Usually, the Department of Transportation wants to replace a road with a bigger one. They build the bigger one and then mother nature reclaims the older one.
In this case, DoT didn’t really want to build a new road. But mother nature seriously wanted to reclaim one.
It was 1984 when a huge landslide covered Oregon Route 86 on the north side of the Powder River. It wasn’t just a few rocks, but the whole side of a mountain just plopped itself down on the road and damming the river. It cut off hundreds of folks from the rest of the world and created quiet a drainage problem since the Power River was completely stopped up.
A new road, the one that I was on, was made a couple of years later. I took a few pictures and noticed that you could still see the old road on the west side of the slide. I figured that you could get to both sides, wouldn’t that be cool if I weren’t so exhausted?
Well, as it turns out, I wasn’t too exhausted for this. How many times do you get to see a landslide up close? Not too many!
I remembered seeing a road not too far back, so I turned around and followed it. It was clearly Old 86 and soon I saw “Road Closed” signs and knew I was getting close.
The road was all chewed up from construction equipment used to dig a new path for the river. And up ahead was the eastern side of the slide.
I took a few pictures that really fail to capture how huge this thing was. I guess it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but it was a cool way to finish out the day.
I tried to get to the western side of the slide, but there was no access to it by car (or scooter). So, feeling even more tired, but happy that I stayed long enough to check things out, I moved on, heading finally into Baker City.
This town is pretty nice. Oddly laid out. It’s a small town with quite a bit of business for its location. I was too beat to take any pictures, but I’ll grab some on my way out.
My home for the night is the Oregon Trail Motel on US Route 30. I can’t seem to get away from this road.
Tomorrow is Portland!
Here are my pics (check them out, the landslide stuff is pretty amazing, as is Route 55).
Miles today: 364
Miles total: 7,093 (wow)
Oh, and listen to this song. It’s one of the song-poems… but just … WEIRD (even for them).
[audio:dish.mp3|titles=Gretchens New Dish]