Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Day Ride to Tillamook

Obviously Oregon has not received the memo that Autumn has indeed arrived.  After a day or two of rain our weather returned to brilliant sunshine and highs in the 80's.  

Saturday morning we rode our motorcycles to coffee and thought of taking a jaunt afterwards since the weather was so nice.  There were 11 people at coffee and the place was quite loud. We felt drained after leaving around noon and decided against a longer ride.  We rode home and relaxed on the patio and puttered in the yard for the rest of the day and made plans for riding on Sunday instead.

Sunday dawned just as nice and the forecast high was 88˚F (31˚C), perfect for riding.

The plan was to ride to Tillamook to the Air Museum.  We'd passed it numerous times on our travels, but never stopped by.  I read on the Roadside America website that the Tillamook Air Museum is actually in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest freestanding wooden structure in the world.  I was intrigued.

The hangar is 1072 feet long, 296 feet wide, and 192 feet tall.  The doors are each 120 feet tall.  For the metrically inclined that is  326.7 meters high, 90.2 meters wide, and 58.52 meters tall. 

Click this LINK for a google map our of route described below.

We set off just after 10 am with a liter of water, a few apples, and granola bars for lunch.  We headed East and fueled up in Philomath then headed North on Kings Valley Highway.  No GPS for us, just my memory of reading the map and Brad's intuition to get us through Dallas on the truck route.  North of Dallas we turned east on Highway 22, then North on Highway 18 to Hebo.  At Hebo, Highway 18 joins Highway 101, where we turned North to Tillamook.

On Highway 101, a few miles South of Tillamook, is the little hamlet of Beaver.  We decided to pull over for a wee break because we were following 4 school buses and a few other vehicles going quite a bit under the speed limit.  The school buses refused to use the pull out lanes and let the faster traffic pass.  So rest a few minutes we did.

Beaver is very small and we stopped in the parking lot of the Mercantile.

Which is right across the road from the Fox Grocery Store and Firearms dealer.  Troubadour wondered if there was a 3-day waiting period to buy groceries or just a background check.

(Close up of store sign)
We rested for about 15 minutes giving traffic enough time to disperse, then headed north again.  

You could tell we were getting close to Tillamook. For the most part all we could smell was derriere dairy air.  Tillamook is pretty much the dairy farm capitol of Oregon.  Nothing like getting that smell trapped in your full face helmet for miles.

The Air Museum is located just south of Tillamook.  It is one of 17 air hangars commissioned in 1942 to house K-class blimps for anti-submarine patrol on the coasts of America. Two were built at NAST (Naval Air Station Tillamook)  Hangar A & Hangar B.  Hangar A burned to the ground in 1992, but Hangar B is still standing.

According to their website:  "Stationed at NAS Tillamook was Squadron ZP-33 with a compliment of eight K-ships.  The K-ships were 252 feet long and filled with 425,000 cubic feet of helium. With a range of 2,000 miles and an ability to stay aloft for three days, they were well suited for coast patrol and convoy escort.  NAST was decommissioned in 1948."

The hangar appears massive from the outside.  We stopped prior to getting there to take a few pictures from a distance.

The letters on the roof of the hangar are each 100 ft tall and 20 ft wide.

We arrived, parked the bikes, stowed the helmets, and headed inside.

We paid the entry fee of $9 each and were informed it was a self-guided tour.  Alrighty, proceed.

We were a little surprised that it did not appear as big from the inside as it did from the outside. One third of it was taken up with lumber storage, the middle third with RV (recreational vehicle) storage and the last third was the museum.

(Looking at a portion of the wooden trusses)

(Middle third RV storage, lumber at the far end)
Maybe that is why it looked smaller.  The lighting was rather odd, but they did have one of the large doors open to let some natural light in.  Of course that was bright enough you could only take pictures in one direction.

We wandered and visited the helium room first.  It housed a General Electric motor which powered two Chicago Pneumatic Compressors used to remove impure helium from the blimps and pump it into a 60 foot spherical tank outside the hangar.

They had several training cockpits that visitors were allowed to sit in and experience.  Since Troubadour was wearing his flight suit Aerostich he partook.

(Troubadour in an F-8J Crusader cockpit trainer)

(That's a lot of buttons)

(Clearer picture of controls - photo by Troubadour)

(OH-58 Jet Ranger Helicopter cockpit trainer)
There weren't a lot of planes on display, but we did manage a few pictures.

(Ling-Temco-Vought A-7 Corsair II - click name for more info)

(Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-17/Lim6 - click name for more info)
(originally built in Poland in 1961)

(Benson B-8M Gyrocopter, sold as war surplus)

(Kaman HTK-1, Trainer/utility Helicopter built between 1951-1953)

(Early Ford Tri-Motor seat taken from the site of a crashed plane in the
Wasatch Mountains north of Salt Lake City, Utah in the early 1930's)

They had a few rooms of memorabilia and also had videos playing.  One of the display cases held this little book and it got my attention. Nothing screams safety like cartoons.

(US Army Air Force Flying Safety Manual)
I thought this sign was cool too.

(Cow Evacuation Route)
Just outside of the hangar is an Erickson Air Crane, aka Aero Spacelines Mini-Guppy, One ugly plane.    For more information and better pictures click ---> LINK.  The link will tell you that: "this plane was originally delivered to Pan American Airways in 1949 as a Boeing 377 Stratocruiser (prior to conversion), which flew until 1960 when it was returned to Boeing and and sold to Aero Spacelines in 1963."

We were allowed to walk into the plane at our own risk.  It is un-restored and the metal flooring/bottom of the plane felt a little soft unstable to me.  I tiptoed across it whereas Troubadour wasn't scared at all.

(Looking towards the cockpit)

(Looking from cockpit back towards the tail)

(The end of the hangar - Troubadour in the picture for scale)
We walked back inside, wandered through the gift shop, then headed outside to have our lunch. We found a shady spot across the street and relaxed and I took a few pictures of the exterior of the hangar and our bikes.

I couldn't resist taking pictures of the rusty roof and sides of the hangar.

(Front half of the hangar)

(Middle section)

(Back half of the hangar)

We suited back up and headed South on 101.  Fuelled up at the Shell station in Beaver where a rumpled looking man sporting a mullet asked me if my bike was a Kawasaki KLR650.  I pointed down at my tank and said, "This?".  He nodded and I replied "It's a Suzuki."  He looked perplexed and got in his green Kia Rio.  I could hear Brad in my helmet over the Senas telling me not to engage the locals, lol.  

We turned East and took a back country road up into the hills. Blaine Road turns into Forest service road 85.  We took it as far as the information Kiosk at Bible Creek Rd.  We stopped for a minute to change our face shields from tinted to clear since we were in the hills and the trees were casting shadows on the corners making it really difficult to see.

(We turn right at the intersection, it gives you an idea of the shadows)

(Just finished changing my visor - photo by Troubadour)
We went South on Bible Creek Rd.  A narrow twisty road that for the only time that day made me wish I was on a different bike on a cloudy day.  Tight 15 mph corners with blinding sunshine turning into darkness.  I had to slow down enough so that I didn't overshoot the corner I couldn't see and end up going over a cliff.  Of course this was a forest service road so the bumps and frost heaves were sending my tush out of the seat on several corners as well.  I was thinking to myself - just get me down off this mountain.

We probably should have stopped in Dallas on the way home and changed our visors back to tinted as the sun glared at us from the west, but we were both tired and just wanted to get home. The temperature in the valley had also reached the predicted 88˚F (31˚C) so we were quite warm as well.  I think was our longest ride all summer.  We left just after 10 am and arrived home at 5:30 pm.  We covered approximately 200 miles (321.8 km).

For a full map of our route from the museum home to Corvallis click LINK.   If I could figure out how to embed the map, I would.  I welcome tips and tricks on how to do that on an iMac.

Bikes were put away, sweaty gear was stripped off, and beer and hard cider were consumed in the shade of our back deck as we reminisced about our day.

Good times.

- Au Revoir

"....I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.  So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air." - Nathaniel Hawthorne, 10th October 1842

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Rain, Glorious Rain - And Other Bits

(Interweb photo)
We are finally receiving rain in Oregon.  According to the news reports last night, our last day of measurable rain was back in July when we received a mere 2/10 of a inch. Not much at all.  It has now been raining all night and the air smells fresh.

Of course it's raining and the Off Highway Vehicle areas are once again open to motorcycles - our vacation is over.  Last week we were on vacation and originally planned to play in the dirt.  Those plans were foiled when the OHV areas were closed.  Our plan B was to go explore the Oregon Caves National Monument located in Cave Junction, Oregon located off Highway 199.  A nice bit of twisty road that runs between Grass Pants Grants Pass, Oregon to Crescent City, California. Those plans were foiled as well when a new forest fire burst forth between Cave Junction and Grants Pass.  

We opted to stay close to home and have a "staycation".  Mountain bikes were walked ridden, and mountains were hiked.  We even managed to squeeze in a visit with our new nephew Max and my brother and sister-in-law.

Here are some tales and photos from those adventures.


On Thursday September 11th, Troubadour thought it was a good day for riding the bicycles.  I agreed. We hadn't really ridden them since our ride around Dorena Lake.  A new mountain bike trail had opened at Alsea Falls, about 25 miles from the house.  We loaded the bikes onto the car and headed out.

From the trailhead it was a 3 mile incline up a forest service road to the beginning of the bike trails.  A 1,000 ft in elevation gain.

(Alsea Falls Trailhead)
We walked a portion of the road.  I was just recovering from a chest cold and the incline was not helping my breathing.

(Waiting to start the Highballer)
We made it to the top and started the Highballer trail.  It was labelled a blue/intermediate trail.  If that is intermediate, I never want to see a black/difficult trail.

(Photo by Troubadour)
I like to joke and say I took my bike out for a walk that day.  I did ride parts of the Highballer, but it was a little extreme for my hybrid bike and I walked down most of it, stopping periodically for pictures or when I dropped the bike and fell over.  Yes, leave it to me to fall over when walking the bike downhill.

The following three pictures are some of the switchbacks from the Highballer.  All three photos by Troubadour.

On one particularly high banked switchbacks the bike started to slide and I gave it a hearty shove in frustration.  Bad words might have been said.  Unfortunately it popped the front brake clip and bent it a little.  Troubadour came to the rescue and fixed it for me.

A little bit of fun on the way down was spotting the two gnomes.  Of course I had to stop for pictures.

(Gnome One and a bit of trail)

(Close up of Gnome One)

(Troubadour and Gnome Two)

(Close up of Gnome Two)

(A bit of the trail - very dry hard packed dirt)
At the bottom of the Highballer is the start of the Springboard trail.  

(Looking back at the end/bottom of the Highballer)

(Start of the Springboard)
The Springboard is a nice green/beginner trail that was wonderful and made the grueling walk down the Highballer almost fade away.  Hardly any pedaling, just a smooth roller coaster of ups and downs.  At the crest of one whoop-dee-doo my left pedal clipped a tree root and broke off a reflector.  I had to laugh.  I've only had the bike since June and it now looks like I've ridden it hard for years.

We were having so much fun we didn't stop for any pictures until we came to this little wooden boardwalk.

The Springboard ended and I believe we took a bit of the Dutchman trail back towards the car.  A rapid and smooth descent.  We came to a small bridge and stopped for a look.

(Wasn't much water in the creek)
By the time we got back to the car, the bike and I were both covered in a red dust from the trail. My white running shoes will never be the same.  Maybe I should go for a walk in the rain.


Two days later on Saturday the 13th we decided to go for a hike up Mary's Peak.  The highest peak in the coastal range.  For some reason I thought we would drive the 20 miles or so to the observation point parking lot off of Highway 34 and hike the 1-2 mile meadow loop to the lookout.

Troubadour had other ideas.  A map we'd purchased several weeks ago showed a trailhead off Woods Creek Road in Philomath.  From there you could hike up the north ridge of the mountain to the parking lot.  Sure, sounds like fun.

Now, when I say hike up the side of a mountain, I literally mean switchbacks cut into the side of a mountain. There was a 2,000 ft elevation gain in the 4.5 mile walk up.  

It was a long walk that took 2 hours.  We walked through second growth forests away from the ferns and chirping birds to areas with no undergrowth and no other wildlife.  We only saw 6 other people the entire way up.

(Hiking the North Ridge of Mary's Peak)

(Troubadour found a walking stick for part of the way up)
One mile from the parking lot up top, where the trail splits, is a wooden bench.  We took a wee break.

(One more mile to go)
We emerged at the parking lot to the 3770 ft elevation sign.  

We'd made it.  It felt odd to be in the parking lot without the motorcycles.  We relaxed for half an hour, ate Cliff bars for energy, and waited for the ice cubes in the camelbak to thaw in the sunshine so we'd have sufficient water for the hike back down.

We took in the hazy views of the valley.  The valley was quite smoky for a week or two because of the forest fires around the State.

The return trip down didn't quite take 2 hours. It was harder on the legs than the walk up.  At one point Troubadour found us both sturdy sticks to ease the descent.  He'd left his previous one beside the trail before reaching the top.

At one point walking down, we stopped in our tracks.  Troubadour noticed something we'd missed on the way up.  A partial piece of log stuck in a tree.  A lot of trees were uprooted during the storms of last year and the weight of the snow, but this was the first one we'd see with large pieces lodged in another tree on the way down.

(With me for size reference)
It was 6:30 pm by the time we reached the car and we were the last ones to leave for the day. Walking through the shady trees gave the appearance of it being later than it was.  Once out of the woods we returned to sunshine.


My brother's family lives on the Oregon Coast, south of us.  They only live 2.5 hours away but we don't see each other often.  We decided to meet on Sunday in Florence for lunch and then head to the beach.  We had every intention of riding the motorcycles down there, but after the 9 miles of hiking the previous day our knees wouldn't take it.  So, we took the trusty Subaru and the kites along with us.

After lunch at the Bridgewater we headed north to Heceta Beach to relax.  It was a beautiful day at the coast. Brilliant sunshine, 70 degrees, and no wind.  So rare to be at the coast with no wind.  Not even enough to fly the parafoil kite.

We visited with T&T and played with little Max (6 months old) until late afternoon/early evening and headed home.  All pictures blatantly stolen from Mrs T's facebook page.

(Me, Mrs T, and little Max)

(Me, Mr. T, and little Max)

(Little Maximilian wouldn't look at the camera on the beach so I had to rob another pic)

*     *     *     *

Last Monday we found out about Bobskoot and that set the tone for the next few days.  We didn't do much beyond shake our heads and do some yard work.

Saturday came and we did ride to coffee.  Ta-da - I still remembered how.

Monday the 22nd, it was back to work.

I got a great surprise yesterday when I found out that Pat, aka Scooterchick and her hubby Chris, aka Scootard were coming through on their way south.  I had the pleasure of their company for lunch at Laughing Planet.    Of course, I didn't have my camera with me, but luckily they did and I have shamelessly stolen the following two pics from Pat's blog.  They get full credit for both pics though.

(Selfie from Pat's phone)

(Pat took a picture of Chris and I with her camera)
Thank you again to you both for going out of your way to meet up.  I am hoping you'll be able to stop by on your return trip and let Troubadour and I take you out for lunch or dinner.

And this weekend we get to visit with RichardM.  Hooray for blogger meet ups.

- Au Revoir

Magnificent Autumn! He comes not like a pilgrim, clad in russet weeds. He comes not like a hermit, clad in gray. But he comes like a warrior, with the stain of blood upon his brazen mail. His crimson scarf is rent.... The wind.... wafts to us the odor of forest leaves, that hang wilted on the dripping branches, or drop into the stream. Their gorgeous tints are gone, as if the autumnal rains had washed them out. Orange, yellow, and scarlet, all are changed to one melancholy russet hue.... There is a melancholy and continual roar in the tops of the tall pines.... It is the funeral anthem of the dying year." ~ Henry Wadsworth Longfellow