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June 9, 2012

NXNW Motorcycle Trip - Day 5: 'The Lost River, The Oregon Trail, & Goodale's Cutoff'

I am alive and well and resting peacefully on the banks of the Silvies River in Burns, Oregon.

Date: Saturday June 9th, 2012

Motorcycle Odometer
Morning Odometer Reading: 24,115.3
Evening Odometer Reading: 25,566.8
Miles traveled: 451.5 miles

So this was a big day mileage wise. I'm totally wiped. No Wifi internet access. Sucks.

Got up this morning an left the hotel early.  Usually, I sleep in but for whatever reason, I got out of there fairly early.

No real plan, of course.  Just loosely to follow US Highway 20 west out of Idaho Falls.  It's not really the way back to San Francisco, but I doubt that anyone that's followed me so far is suffering from any delusions that I'm really trying to drive the bike to San Francisco.  Idaho isn't even between Colorado and California.

So I follow US 20 West.  It doesn't look pretty up ahead.  Lots of scattered thunderstorms.  I check the weather forecast with my iPhone.  It shows nasty thunderstorms in Boise, so I decide to head there.

Now, it's not like I have proper rain gear.  I have some battered Frog Toggs I bought last summer, that are basically beaten to threads.  Plus, my mom gave me a thin set of rain gear at Christmas.  So I have that also.  But, when you're driving into a monsoon, it's not comforting to know that everything you're wearing costs less than $100.

I pass a guy on a BMW GSA 1200 headed the other way.  He's probably laughing at me.  Has all of his super-cool matching raingear on.  Like anyone with a brain would have.

At Goodale's Cutoff, I stop and seriously ponder turning back.  A smart person would.  Just take US 26 back Southeast, hit the interstate, and drive to San Francisco. 

But not me.  I believe that, once you start turning back, you'll always turn back.  I'm not out here because I wanted to be safe, secure, and comfortable.  I'm here because I wanted an adventure and I decide to drive right into the heart of the storm.

Now, I should mention that it's freezing.  By freezing, I mean it's 48 degrees F, with 100 percent humidity, and a 75 mile per hour headwind.  So, I'm getting blown all over the road.  It's freezing cold.  And will be raining on me very soon.

I put all of my expensive gear inside the Givi case to protect it from the rain and I just sey "oh what the hell lets go for it" and I drive towards the heart of the monsoon that's coalescing before me.

One thing I notice is that it's fairly arid here.  Both side of the road a basically sage brush, which means that this area doesn't see a lot of moisture.  Sure enough, I notice that it's only raining on the mountains, and not on the fields.  Basically, the road weaves between the mountains, and also between the thunderstorms.  

It looks like I may not even get wet! Yippee!!

I've done some calculations.  At 40 mph, with a 4.7 gallon tank, I should be able to go about 180 miles on a tank of gas.  I decide to push it a little.  So, I pass a gas station 44 miles after I've filled up and I decide to keep going.  

The land around me gets greener and greener and eventually, it starts to rain on me.  Predictable, really, since the place is so green now.  I should have guessed.  

So, it's raining on me pretty good.  Hits my throat somehow while I'm driving, so I just lean over the handlebars as low as I can. Try to touch my helmet to the speedometer.  The winds are blowing me around pretty good.  And it's raining on me.  I'm cold.  Very cold.  My hands are so cold I think I may get frostbite.  I'd love to get out of this weather.  How much further do I have to go?  My immediate goal is to get to Mountain Home.  Then, past that, I'd like to make it to Boise, possibly, before dark.

The bike hits reserve at 128 miles and I go into a panic.  I'm not going to make it to my intended gas stop at Mountain Home, Idaho.  The bike cuts out completely. Kaput.  I roll down the pass, but then stop when the ground levels out.  Now that the bike has died, it quit raining for whatever reason.  And since I'm not moving, I'm actually much warmer.  So, I'm glad that I'm not wet and freezing any more.  But it sucks that I'm not mobile any more, obviously.

It's not good to be stranded out in the middle of nowhere.  In this case, I was fairly close to the town of Mountain Home.  A matter of miles.  But I didn't feel like walking, so I called a tow truck to bring me some gas and he did.  He ran me out about 2-3 gallons of gas and dumped it in the tank.  Charged me $40 and drove away.  It was well worth it, IMHO.  Beats the hell out of walking.

So then, I take off again...and gas up in Mountain Home.  As it turns out, I was only about 5 miles from the interstate.  Brilliant.  I feel like that idiot that died in Into The Wild.  He was about a mile from a ranger station and never knew it.

Gas up and take off on the interstate.  I decide that I'll go ahead and try to pick up Bend Oregon and Crater Lake on this trip.  So, to do it, I'm going to have to make some serious mileage today.  I decide to hit Boise.  At Boise, I decide to go to Ontario, Oregon.  At Ontario, I decide to go for broke and get to Burns, Oregon.

I gas up at Ontario, and then decide that the reason I ran out of gas was due to the headwinds making my gas mileage so bad.  I decide to push it again on the gasoline and see if I can't run out of gas twice in one day.  

To make it into Burns will be about 130 miles, right about the same distance I ran out of gas earlier today (some people never learn).

By the time I get to Drinkwater Pass, I begin to realize that I'm going to run out of gas twice in one day, something I've never done before.  Maybe I should get a larger gas tank.  Or a larger bike.  Or a larger brain.

I find a gas station in the middle of nowhere, but it's closed of course.  So I keep plodding along and somehow, I coast into town on fumes and decide I've had enough adventure for one day.

Posted by Rob Kiser on June 9, 2012 at 11:21 PM


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