Saturday, June 18, 2011

Rain, Drain and Glide

Almost Home. No, we have not turned around due to some trip-ending mishap. "Almost Home" is the name of the restaurant in Salem, Oregon, where we ate supper last night. Having enjoyed down home, friendly service and substantial servings of mostly home cooking, we decided we could not go wrong if we had breakfast there this morning. We were not disappointed, and had our fill before hitting the road at about 8:30 AM.

The unfortunate part was that by the time we left it was spitting rain resulting in everyone getting bundled into raingear. From bright orange Helly Hansen to the muted tones of Harley-Davidson slickers, the impermeable layer kept the rain out but the moisture in, leaving us feeling "moist" in any event.

Fleeing down the I-5 freeway we sought sunnier conditions to the south. As we passed through the small town of "Drain", I thought, "how appropriate". While the precipitation played with my emotion for the first part of the morning, it did have the good sense to allow us a time of respite to dry off during our gas stop/coffee break in Roseburg, Oregon. Everyone ordered "Dutch Bros." quadruple shot Americano coffees, perhaps hoping to add some animation to the otherwise gray day. While waiting for the espresso machine to make the seemingly endless number of shots required, we were "entertained" by one of the locals at the nearby service station where we had just gassed up. He provided a live demonstration of some his colorful, but limited, vocabulary that seemed somewhat unsuited to the offense he had suffered (the gas jockey could not seem to get his vehicle fully fueled). However, the combination of laughing at the scene that played out, downing a large cup of hot coffee into a cold bladder and wearing layers of raingear and motorcycle outerwear meant that the mandatory last-minute "pit stop" became a longer than usual challenge, especially if one was in a hurry.

Turning east on Highway 138 we began to climb into the cloud cover, which obligingly opened for us, greeting us with more and heavier rain. It is not rain itself that causes problems for motorcycles, but the wetness of the road. A biker's thoughts while traveling in the rainy conditions are not about how soaked he may be getting, but about the surface of the road he is traveling on. The tar strips that cover the cracks in the road and even the painted centerlines can become very slick (see Steve’s blog for proof). As I slowed down to go through one of the small towns we passed, its name reminded me of the fact that at any given time there is only a very small portion of motorcycle tire gripping for a split second as it travels over the road surface. The name of the town; Glide, Oregon.
After climbing up to snow level at 5925 feet above sea level (our one planned stop, Crater Lake, was snowed in and inaccessible), we descended into Diamond Lake Junction for a late lunch at the only place to be found. Clearly, Arlene was the personality that permeated every part of the place. If a little heavy, she was certainly lighthearted, joking about the fact there were no calorie notations on any of her menu items.

Half an hour up the road, now Highway 97 South, we pulled into Klamath Falls, Oregon, and found a motel that provided a welcome pool and hot tub that took the chill off the rain-soaked day. 450 kms today.  As the evening darkness set in, blue skies broke through the clouds foretelling of better weather tomorrow as we enter California.

No comments:

Post a Comment