Memorial Day Weekend Central Oregon Ride


Day One

With minimal planning, three motorcyclists took to the roads south and east from Portland, Oregon. I, being the leader and veteran rider of the group, formed a loose plan to head out toward Prineville to do a loop that was marked as a scenic motorcycle route in an Oregon motorcycle route map I have. All three of us are fair weather riders, the two boys have only been riding for two or three years, and none of us ride on a daily basis. Having done this type of motorcycle trip before I knew how fatiguing it can be, especially riding bikes like mine, an NT650 Honda Hawk GT. My bike has very short legs of a little over 100 miles, and even though I put the stock clip-ons back on it, raising the bars a good 4 inches, I am still leaned forward just enough to add to my fatigue. The boys, Kevin and Juan, ride a Ninja 250, and a Moto Guzzi respectively, Juan’s Guzzi being the most suited bike for the journey. With all this in mind I planned to keep saddle time to less than six hours per day, for our two and half day trip.

Our first day started slow with waking up around ten, after staying up to late playing card games with Juan, whom we hadn’t seen in months. After last minute packing, chain lubing, and steal cut oats we were ready to hit the road by noon. We headed south on 224, a route Kevin and I are pretty familiar with up to Ripplebrook ranger station as this is our back yard ride. Once past Ripplebrook the road became less familiar and the traffic died considerably. I had been this way once before and remembered once section that made my heart beat faster, my anticipation for this section grew the further we went, and luckily my memory served that the section begins just after an uphill and under the swath of power lines slicing through he trees. WEEE, just as I remembered it, super fun curves swooping downhill through forest. I must add that my bike felt great and I was on fire!


Gas Station at Detroit Lake

Emerging from the trees we reached civilization again at Detroit Lake, where we gas up and look for lunch. At this point we discuss where to go next. I suggest a straight shot to Bend, as I’d like to get there in time for dinner, and we will have to find a place to stay. As soon as we reach the northern limit of Bend I pull over so we can figure out where to stay. A few phone calls to the motels we see in our vicinity with no luck, all booked. After a few more calls, we find one that sounds good and the price is right, by the time we ride over there, about 6 minutes, the one room with two beds is gone. Disappointment in tow we rush back to another place to try to grab a room.

Sitting in line at the reception desk, we managed to grab a room at Bend Inn & Suites. At $179 for the night it was no bargain, but we were glad to have a place to rest for a bit before looking for dinner. Those of you that know me know that eating out is always a challenge for me. I spent at least 20 minutes Googling and looking at menus before I decided we should go to Yumm Cafe. It is cheap, easy, quick, and I know they are allergen safe as I have eaten at one before. Let me tell you brown rice and veggies never tasted so good.

Day Two


Breakfast at Mothers Cafe Bend

I hardly slept, after finally passing out around midnight, some drunks came back to the motel loud and reving their large truck as they tried and tried to back it into a parking spot. Our paper thin door and window did little to shield us from all this racket. Next, around six in the morning, the kids next door woke up and started bouncing off the walls. I might have snagged five hours of sleep.

Once everyone was up, we quickly packed up and headed to breakfast, again at a place of my choosing. This time, I took a chance on a local place that appeared to be in line with my needs: Mother’s Cafe; which, on their website, appears to be a full service breakfast restaurant, but in person it was a trumped up juice and coffee shop counter service with a breakfast and lunch menu printed on the wall. Unfortunately, their oatmeal is pre-made and I could not get it without the added fake milk, chia seeds, and other junk I don’t need, so I settled for a bowl of quinoa and roasted veggies. By the way, they mix their quiona with rice, a practice I have never seen before and was surprised it was not mentioned on the menu, my restaurant rating dropped a rank due to this. With everyone sufficiently sated, we saddled up to head northeast toward Prineville.

Even with the sun and blue sky over head the morning air remained brisk and chilly at 60 mph. Following Powelle Butte Road to Highway 126, we got our first view of the mountains from the east side, several snow-capped mountains lined the horizon to the west of us. I don’t know if I had ever seen so many all in one view. The landscape had changed dramatically from yesterday’s lush forest, to an open expanse of dry valley floor dotted with agriculture. One of these agricultural fields shared its morning spray with us as the sprinklers washed both lanes with a jet high enough to dapple a semi. As the water evaporated from my jeans (ah hum – yes jeans but I wear knee guards under them, pants are on my list) cooling my legs even more to the crisp morning air requiring a pit stop to put on another layer. With two thermals, a T-shirt, and my lined leather jacket on we continued east on 126.

On the swooping down hill approach to Prineville is a left turn toward an overlook situated on the apex of a large right curve in the road, as I pulled into the left turn lane I thought to myself this seems like an awfully dangerous turn to welcome tourists with, then noticed the crystals of Auto glass covering the end of the lane and stopped before reaching and wait for a large gap. We all three safely made it across while avoiding the glass to enjoy a view of the Ochoco National Forest we were heading into.

I being the party leader and navigator was slightly aware that Prineville was our last good sized town before heading into the large loop we had planned. The maps I carried show Paulina as the true last town before heading off onto forest roads and our last chance for gas. Knowing this we didn’t see much need for delay in Prineville and continued on our trip out 380.

Once on 380 all sites and sounds of a town quickly disappeared, within minutes we were facing nothing but rolling hills, low pines and dry looking earth. We eventually reached large sweeping curves that lead down into a valley, these lovely curves lifted spirits and speeds. Once in to this small valley, the landscape turned greener, with bushes and grass lining the small Eagle Creek that mingled back and forth on either side of the highway. At this point we were really out there, going minutes and miles without seeing a house or rarely a driveway. When we did see a driveway it would be marked with signs or gateways proclaiming the name of the ranch. The beautiful landscape and easy relaxed curves of the road allow the mind to wonder, wondering what it would be like to live out here? How quiet it must be, the only noise being this trio of roaring motorcycles racing down the one lazy vain connecting this land to civilization, reminding the handful of residence that it is the holiday weekend that invited these invaders.


Vista above Prineville looking out toward the Ochoco National Forest

Jolting me from my day dreams, the Post Market and Post Office cuddles the right side of the road with a long gravel shoulder, wrist up to shut the throttle I debate if a stop is warranted.  Reaching the far end of the gravel shoulder is quickly signal and break before turning onto the rocks. We loop back to park in front and swap surprise for the empty landscape we have entered. This cute old fashioned shop offered all sorts of souvenirs, and even home made lunch. At this point I realize that the boys don’t have lunch, I have packed my own being fully aware that these zip codes would have nothing to offer me in calories, so I suggest perhaps they would like to make this the lunch stop. Both agree to press on and they will grab something in Paulina, which is the next blip on the map. I already begin to have my doubts about what Paulina might offer judging by the size of Post and the lack of anything else on this highway, but the boys will eat anything so they have no worries.

Paulina’s main drag sneakily appeared on the right side of the road and dropped down below the level of the Highway. As we slowed on the upper road looking down at the few pale colored buildings that mostly looked like industrial sheds and warehouses I began to realize that Paulina might not have much to offer us. Another road connecting on the right lead us to the business loop of Paulina. As our bikes leaned right, there it stood, the sole business, the Paulina General Store, Post Office and attached Saloon. This quaint western style facade welcomed us with the hopes of lunch. Each of us took a turn looking through the dusty products spaciously placed on the shelves. For our nourishment the store offered, canned good like chili, corn, peas, beans, or soup. It also boasted an entire half isle to potato and tortilla chips, as well as individual packages of cookies. The refrigerated section offered a large store of Bud, Coors, and the like, but also for the discerning drinker it even had one six pack of Angry Orchard and even an IPA. The store did not offer any fresh products what so ever, no milk, no cheese, no fruits or veggies. Everything contained in the store had a very long expiration date. Standing around debating what to do out front of the store I decided to sit and eat my lunch at the picnic table across the street. the boys joined me and Juan pulled out a package of cookies from the night before. We debated about what to do for lunch, either buy some snacks and keep going to try to make it to dinner time, or divert to John Day.

Sitting at that picnic table with the sprinkler watering a patch of green weeds next to us, and three dogs roaming around the table chasing each other and following a young boy around the sense of this place started to sink in. Lazy and relaxed the residents watched us new comers, a man and woman came out of the store to sit on the bench in front, another elderly man peaked out his side door at us. We enjoyed the sun, the quiet and our little respite from speed and wind. We decided to continue to the loop. I knew from mapping that this would be the point that directions became a bit more important and from past experience forest roads might not have the best signage, so I checked my map and written directions.

Hawk and Ninja Parking Fossible Beds.jpg

Motorcycle Parking at the John Day Fossil Beds Overlook.

We took off east knowing there would be a left turn not far from town that we had to take. I blew past a left turn barely reading the sign, then realized “wait was that it?” stopped, U-turned to go back and re-read the sign. Nothing on the sign said what road it was, only listing three campsites that lay down the road. None of those campsites were listed on my map, or were named anything close to what I had written. So hand signal in the air we U-turned again to keep going east, it must be the next left turn.

The road got more exciting with HUGE high speed sweeper pulled us in the the next one and the next one. Before I knew it we have gone quit a few miles and had not seen another left turn. Finally I pull over again and check maps, try to get GPS without luck. Kevin receives a blip on his phone and says we are between Suplee and Izee, quite a ways past that left turn we needed to take. Conferring with the troops we decided to press on as the road was quite enjoyable. So our next destination would be John Day, which again we would find by following our next left turn, just after Izee on the map. Of course since we blew through Suplee with out any notice I figured that Izee might be just as well hidden and would just keep an eye for any let turn. Slowing down and every intersection to check if it was paved or not, we continued on. What a great road this was, lots of curves, hils, trees and fields, just about something for everyone. Stopping one more time to reach agreement on direction after passing a road on the right we all agreed that the left bend in the road at that intersection must have been out left turn. We were correct, and reached Highway 395 without any other missed turns.

Leaning through the curves south of Canyon City, I began to remember the area from a previous trip through here and anticipated reaching town and a nice break. Having not gotten much sleep, I felt tired, sore, and very ready for a break. We did one pass through the town to check out our food options, again not much, but at least there were choices. The boys decided on the Squeeze-In Restaurant & Deck mostly for the deck, which we made ourselves at home on, taking our boots off and piling our gear on the next table. Our waitress was friendly and talkative, eager to please and looking forward to her own vacation which would start at the end of her shift. I assembled a salad with refried beans from other items on the menu, knowing I’d be taking a chance on who knows what might be in the beans, and expecting iceberg lettuce. While it was by no means the best salad and beans I had ever eaten it sure did hit the spot and was a good start to recharging my batteries.

At this point we debated long about what to do next. We had intended to head home this day, but we were still five hours from home and it was already after four in the afternoon, I knew I was to tired to try to press all the way home. Being in the middle of nowhere, we carefully checked for places to stay on various different routes, with no luck. This lunch stop turned into almost two hours of eating, chatting and debating what to do. Not wanting to find ourselves stranded with no place to stay we decided to head back through Prineville to Redmond on a more direct route and get a hotel there.


All three bikes at the John Day Fossil Beds Overlook.

As we began to suit up and head out Juan and I agreed to swap bikes for a bit to give my aching shoulders a rest, provided I could reach the ground on his bike, which I did on toes due to the wider girth of the seat and engine. We agreed to stop again in Dayville and check in with each other. Always wanting to check out other bikes this swap helped me over come fatigue. I have owned my bike almost the entire time I have been riding and have only regularly ridden a couple of other bikes. I test road plenty, but you don’t really get to know a bike very well with an around the block test ride, so I am always open to learning a new bike on real roads.  At first I couldn’t seem to get the hulk moving, ease the clutch, died, ease, died. What the heck! Juan said that it needs to warm up, that it doesn’t like being cold and requires a more lengthy warm up time to get it going. I was surprised that after riding it for hours it would have cooled this fast. So I put the kickstand down and waited longer. Try this again and of course this time she popped down in to first gear when my toe pressed, where as before I was in second and not first. Juan later told me that he had been having clutch issues and tightened the cable and all was better. The first thing I noticed sitting on the bike reving the engine was the way the momentum of the engine moved the bike. I felt like there was a mythological beast spinning around in it’s cage under my seat.  As I eased the clutch this time and the bike began to move the engine again swayed under me. Juan had mentioned something about counter balancing the engine, but that it was only balanced at higher RPMs, but to actually feel it like this was very strange. True as he’d said, the engine wobble mellowed out as we hit higher speeds and then I started to settle in and learn this bikes handling.


Bug Guts

Moving from my Hawk to the Moto Guzzi eased my body a little bit, though I still felt a bit of burning on the front of my shoulders from reaching forward for the bars. The Guzzi offered a more upright seating position with pegs further from the seat, thus my ankles could relax giving my knees less bend as well. Sitting on the bike, the suspension was quite a bit stiffer than that of my Hawk, and I think my 125lbs hardly compressed it at all, leading to stiffer feeling, which didn’t give me confidence in corners. As for the power of this V7, I was surprisingly unimpressed, it was there when I wrenched on it, but didn’t have the same aggressive pull I’m used to that heats my blood and pumps adrenaline. It also required quite a bit more input on the bars to make it lean, I found myself consciously counter steering to make turns. I felt like I had to press twice as much to get a deeper lean angle.  We road through the town of Dayville, and as we slowed, the beast under my seat became restless, it actually started to make the bike swerve. I found it rather disturbing, but hey I guess all bike have their quirks, and I sure won’t forget that feeling of the lower weight of the bike pulling around below me. While it was fun to swap bikes, and a much needed posture break, I didn’t feel like I would be replacing my Hawk with A V7 Classic anytime um…..ever. We pulled off at a vista just past Dayville to take in the view and exchange experience on each others bikes.

Once back on my bike I felt the familiar aggressive power band, the easy, quick, dive in to leans, and my smooth suspension and felt ready to take one what lay ahead. Luckily I swapped back to my bike just in time, oh the next section of roads hit me like a dream. No more fatigue, I was primed to take these bends full lean, which I did leaving the boys behind, gapping them on every turn. We rode into a canyon of high red and brown cliffs with a stream next to the road. This short section of cliffs and curves was followed by a small valley of fields which lead us into forested area where the shaded temperatures reminded me that I’d like to get to a hotel sooner than later. Heading through Ochoco National Forest on Highway 26 this was the first and only time we entered the National Forest that the bulk of our trip was supposed to explore. The traffic on this stretch increased and pushed on passing only when there was a passing lane, but for the most part traffic was moving very quickly and passing didn’t seem important. However, we did catch up with a truck towing a trailer that slowed a long line of cars. Once we reached a long straight with the dotted line I quickly passed leaving enough space for the boys to pass as well. We found ourselves with a tail; onc of the other cars decided they needed to keep up with us. Being the lead rider, it didn’t press on me as much as on Juan, who was in the back, I did; however, notice it and picked up the pace a bit to give us more space. We had experienced this a couple times before but only for short stretches, either previous time we pulled off at a vista or lost them in curves. This guy wouldn’t give up. When we finally reached Prineville I pulled off at the first motel I saw and we all agreed that car behind us was annoying, and we were glad to be off the road and at a motel, which hopefully had a room for us.


Juan Stretching

Luckily they had a room and it was cheaper than the night before. The room was quite spacious and even had a table in it. The Motel also had a hot tub and pool which Juan eagerly wanted to partake of. After booking the room we decided to go looking for swim wear. The receptionist at the motel suggested a store that was two buildings down from us, we hopped on our bikes and went straight there, unfortunately they were already closed. Upon realizing where we were and the likely look of some things in this town being closed by 7pm on a Sunday night we zipped over to Rite-Aid one of the few stores still open, and bought boxers for three and a T-shirt for me. We had hoped to soak before dinner but again afraid dinner might not be available in a couple of hours we headed to dinner straight away. I suggested a Mexican place, since I could at least get rice and beans there. We went to Mazatlan Mexican, a large fully decorated abode which boasts fabulous archways and over the top Mexican style interior and deep booths easily seating three plus motorcycle gear. To my surprise, they actually had vegetables on the menu. Even better, they had an entire vegetarian section! I ordered the veggie burrito in a bowl rather than wrapped, no gluten this way, and even though it was drenched in oil and salt I felt like I had struck gold. The portion sizes were ginormous, Kevin and I could have easily split one burrito since we both struggled to conquer more than half of what lay on our plates. Ah, nothing like greasy Mexican to pacify the weary traveler.

As we sat talking munching chips we realized how many hours we had ridden that day, almost 10 hours. Juan conceded that this must have been why he dropped his bike in the parking lot out back before coming into the restaurant. I watched it in slow motion, he was swinging around to park in the perpendicular spot next to the one Kevin and I were in, and pulled a little bit to much front break, started to lean to the right, and almost had it, there was a pause when I thought he saved it, and then he gave out and over he and his bike went. Kevin and I ran over helping get his bike up. His bike appeared to be ok, though he wasn’t sure about the bars being straight anymore. Most likely a bruise on his leg, and a war story to tell from our trip. Clearly we needed to stop in Prineville and we were all glad we hadn’t continued on to Redmond.

Bikesinfront of Ochoco Forest sign.jpg

Honda Hawk and Ninja 250 in front of the Ochoco National Forest Sign

Back to the motel for a dip in the hot tub, which I felt wasn’t hot enough, but sat in it with the guys for a few minutes with the jets on the soles of my feet. I need to get some inserts for my Motorcycle boots, they don’t have much padding. I quickly went back to the room for a nice HOT shower and promptly passed out.


Day Three

When the sun started streaming through the cracks in our curtains, I was up and ready for another day, I had slept much better this night with ear plugs in and a much quieter motel. Made some oatmeal for Kevin and I, the last of my food stores for the trip, Juan helped himself to the provided breakfast downstairs. We unanimously agreed to ride straight back to Portland. A boring and chilled ride up highway 26 toward Mount Hood, where we encountered the worst of the Memorial Day traffic for the trip. At our last gas stop, Juan decided he was going to just keep going all the way to Seattle rather than stay over another night. Another hour of stop and go traffic and we waved goodbye just before Kevin and I exited the highway toward home.

After all the riding I could feel all the sore areas of my body and decided it was the ideal time to go sit on the (just received) lowered Triumph Tiger XCX they had at Latus Motorcycles. Long story short, yea, OK, I need a bike that is more suited to trips like this one and the Tiger felt pretty good. Perhaps someday this artist’s salary will get me onto a new bike.

Each time I have taken my Hawk on a road trip I am reminded that it is not built for this type of riding. It is best suited to city commutes and twisty roads close to home. The short legs of only about 120 miles, they cramped position and lack of cargo space all ad up to not being good at road trips. So let the shopping begin. Of course I will never sell my Hawk the love runs to deep.

Award Winning Motorcycle Paintings

Desmo Details - oil on wood

Desmo Details – oil on wood

This month has been a busy one. I am in two shows, one in Laguna Beach and the other right here in the Portland Area. The show here at home included two of my motorcycle oil paintings. The show is a juried annual group show called BAM! or Beaverton Arts Mix. It is housed at the Beaverton City Library in a large convection room.

I volunteered to help hang the show and met a couple of other artist that I am hoping to keep in touch with as well as getting to see the art as it arrived. To create enough wall space for all the art we had to assemble metal grid walls in the middle of the room. The finished set up flowed well and proved ample enough space to showcase all the art.

After a long couple of days traveling to Laguna Beach for my art show there, and a day on the range teaching new motorcyclists to ride for Team-Oregon, I dragged myself tired and weary out to Beaverton for the opening. As soon as I walked in the energy of the room woke me. There were lots of people mingling and enjoying the art. I hadn’t had time to make any expectation about the turn out but was quite pleased with it. I started working my way clockwise around the room looking for my work. Down one side and then U-turn back toward the start and there they were, together.

Award Winning oil painting

So nice to be appreciated.

I hadn’t been aware of or expected there to be awards for this show, and lucky me, I actually won Honorable Mention, displayed by a big red ribbon under my painting Desmo Details.

I stayed close to my paintings for the next hour and every person that looked at my work pointed and moved closer, taking in the extreme details and realism. It made me feel really great to see strangers and possibly not motorcyclists appreciating my skill.

New Tire Ride Around Hood

Vista House Motorcycle Parking

Kevin’s Ninja 250 and my Hawk GT enjoying the view.

Finally after waiting and saving all summer I had cash to buy a new front tire. To celebrate and have a mandatory break in the tire ride, Kevin and I decided on a trip out to Multnomah Falls. We started with breakfast, taking the back roads to get to McMenamins Edgefield in Troutdale, to try their Black Rabbit Restaurant for brunch. We had never been to the restaurant and were quite curious to try it out since it appears to be a step above the other McMenamins establishments. The restaurant is located a few paces inside the main entrance to the lodge at Edgefield; this being a weekday we strolled right up to the hostess and got a booth immediately. The dining room walls are covered with fanciful murals done in a story book illustration style with bright colors and narrative feel.

Before departing the house, we inspected the menu of a couple restaurants to decide where to go and had pretty much already decided what we wanted, thus ordering came easily. Of course, being me, I had to ask for modifications. I wanted the veggie scramble without cheese, lactose does not agree with me, and the waiter complied and even said he would ask the chef to cook it in oil rather than butter, which I was quite surprised, and pleased, about. One of the main menu items that drew us to this restaurant over our other choices was the gluten free pancakes. I asked if they were dairy free and to my extreme delight they were! Thus, I had to have a GF pancake with my veggie scramble instead of toast. Kevin ordered the three egg omelet with bacon, sweet onions, and Gruyère.

When our food arrived, the sights and smells brought smiles to our faces, and the gigantic size of the GF pancake was astonishing! The pancake was indeed the highlight of my meal, light, fluffy, and guaranteed not to cause crippling gluten headaches. Kevin’s meal elevated our restaurant rating much higher than expected. I even had to try a bite of his omelet due to his enthusiasm over the dish. The onions were perfectly caramelized giving the omelet an unexpected sweetness. I’m not a huge fan of omelets, but this one could be the only one I might consider ordering.

It's Gorgious!

It’s Gorgeous!

After breakfast we hopped on our bikes and headed east on the Historic Columbia River Highway. Having a brand new front tire immediately improved my confidence with my front end, and thus my vigor for going on a long ride. The new ease with which my Hawk dove into turns made me hungry for twisties. The Historic Columbia River Highway is an excellent road, except for the low speed limits, and often corner clogging tourists creeping along at 30 mph. Once we reached the Vista House, I shared my hunger for more lean angle and we discussed possible add-ons to our journey. We had intended to head out to Multnomah Falls as a warm-up, and then cruise back south and take Highway 224 out to the Ripple Brook Ranger Station, which is our back yard ride, but on this perfect weather day with a thin layer of clouds and temperatures not threatening more than 78 degrees, we gave into my desire for speed and our curiosity for exploring the forest roads. We decided to continue east to Hood River and loop around Mount Hood to the south to then hit the unknown in the Mt. Hood National Forest roads to wind our way back to Highway 224.

I had been out to Hood River on a motorcycle before and knew that Interstate 84 is quite a snooze as with most any interstate, but I hoped that on the back side of Hood we might find some excitement, so east we went.

Just as we were leaving town I saw this Hawk and couldn't help parking next to it to snap a couple photos and compare mods.

Just as we were heading out of town I saw this Hawk GT and couldn’t help parking next to it to snap a couple photos and compare mods.

Once we arrived in Hood River, we required beverages and bathrooms. We circled a few blocks, pulling over several times to decide where to go. I said, “let’s just go to the Full Sail Brewery,” since I had been before, and it is off the main drag and might give us better parking options. It seems as if this was a popular stop for motorcycles as there were already three parking spaces packed with bikes scattered along the front of the building. Neither of us had any interest in food yet, or alcoholic beverages, so we ended up with only water and a nice rest. We took this opportunity to do the last of our mapping since we figured there would be no cell service out in the woods.

After my escapade with this patriotic Hawk GT, which was the same year as mine, we headed south on Highway 35. I had never been on this road on a motorcycle before so didn’t know if it would be a fun one or not. The views along this stretch were wonderful, but the road didn’t feed my need to scuff up the edges of my front tire. After about 37 miles of open highway with very little traffic and lots to look at we approached the turn off for Meadows ski resort and at about this point the curves appeared. The first couple were wide sweepers that we took at high speed swooping into them.

Motorcycles on Mount Hood

White River Canyon Parking Area

We stopped for a photo opportunity at the White River Canyon turn out, which gave us an awesome view of the mountain. From here we planned our escape from this volcano and into the woods of the National Forest.

We had ridden on the west side of the forest and knew that the roads are narrow, often have blind corners, and are not well marked. We also knew there were sections that turn from asphalt to dirt and wanted to avoid those. From previous Google Satellite searches, I knew that there was a paved road from Timothy Lake to High Rocks, the latter being our favorite ride-to spot for a couple hour jaunt. We successfully found a route that didn’t require us to go quite as far south as Timothy Lake.

Not much more than this screen shot to guide us.

Not much more than a few  screen shots to guide us.

After an initial wrong turn off of Highway 26, we found Oregon Skyline Road and followed it until we reached the first intersection and turned right. This short section doesn’t appear to have a name or label on Google Maps. This road ended in a “T” at Forest Road 2660, where we turned left. Shortly after this turn we reached an intersection with Abbott Road, or NF-58, which is the road that connects to High Rocks and our more familiar turf. Keeping our speeds low on these bumpy, windy roads,the sun began its decent toward the horizon, casting long tree shadows across the road.

After several miles of densely tree lined, narrow, bumpy, crater stricken roads, we reached the tell tale intersection of four roads that we always pass through on our way to High Rocks.

Being this close to High Rocks we had to stop by to view Mt. Hood and finish out ride with one last photo opportunity. Our day had started with the idea of a quick trip to Multnomah Falls and then other errands, and ended up taking us on a long journey expending several more hours than planned. Of course the best part of our trip had yet to come, they stretch between Ripple Brook Ranger station and Estacada.

Pulled off into the dirt turn out

Pulled off into the dirt turn out

This day evolved into a much needed and well deserved tour for us around the mountain that we look at everyday. While the roads weren’t the most challenging, the vistas did inspire. I still need to get back out there to scuff up the furthest edges of my front tire. For our next day trip I hope to loop Mt. Saint Helens.

MotoPainter’s Quail Gathering 2014

Okay, I know this is pretty late, but I figure it’s better late than never. Besides, now I can remind you of what you missed and encourage you to come next year. S-works

A large circle of white peaked tents surrounds a cropped grass field nestled between the hills of Carmel Valley.  California sun floods the sky, lifting temperatures and producing a warm smell of flowers and oak trees. I step out of my bug caked truck Friday promptly at noon, eager to begin my weekend at Quail. Kevin, Althea, and I stroll over to the tent in the vendor parking area to check in. We are immediately offered a golf cart with a large cargo area complete with driver to escort us to my set up location. Two trips in the electric box with wheels, brimming with paintings, lights, and walls, and we are ready to start assembling my mobile gallery.

Turkey Sandwich at Edgar's

As we set up walls and lights, bikes rolled onto the field to take their places. The peace and quiet of this golf resort is clear as the only disturbances are voices from sound checks and the occasional motorcycle firing up. We slated the whole afternoon for booth perfecting, thus we take our time organizing and double checking. Once the walls were in place and lighting set up, we required sustenance, and rather than hopping back in the car to search the vicinity we walk across the grass to the Quail Clubhouse and enjoy a table on the patio of the restaurant, Edgar’s, overlooking the field. Kevin orders a turkey sandwich, and I, as I most often have to do, created my own meal: a salad and grilled veggies on the side. Not knowing what to expect, surprise lights our faces as the waiter places our plates. I certainly recommend at least one meal at Edgar’s while you visit the lodge. Our plates are artfully presented, and the vivid colors tell us the story of their brief trip from the farm. After finishing our last delicious bites, we discover that our waiter has disappeared. Both Kevin and I take our turn in the restroom and still no check, Kevin goes in the patio door to look for our man. The warm sun and lazy feel of the day has apparently infected our waiter. As Kevin figures out the tip, and grumbles about sales tax, (it is lovely not to have any in Oregon) we both agree the price is fair for the quality of food we received.

Althea NappingWalking back to my booth, we find ourselves side tracked looking at some of the new arrivals. Pointing and heads turning we make our way back to the booth to dig into deciding where which painting will hang where. Althea, having seen me hang paintings many times before in many locations, settles down under a folding table for a nap. I sneakily snap a couple photos of Althea snoozing, and in the distance see someone waving to me. At first I think, who do I know here? Then I see the red Ducati parked on the street and the vintage leather jacket of red, black, and white, and realize it is my friend Rich. Rich offers a hand with hanging and we quickly get all the paintings in place. This one here, no wait over here, and that one over there. We maneuver each painting so that it receives ample visibility and Tetris like placement.  Final touches are setting up the small table in one corner for my laptop and brochures, and tada, a completely respectable artist’s booth lays before us.

Back in the truck we wind our way out of Carmel Valley heading to my Mom’s house where we are staying and where Althea will stay during the show. Tired from the sun and the heat, us Oregonians aren’t used to seeing that blazing day star, we’d like nothing more than to get an early night. However, Patrick, my good friend and sales consultant for this show, is flying into San Jose late Friday evening. Thus we arrive at my Mom’s and only have time for a quick dinner before we have to get back in the car and drive the hour to the airport. Quail Booth Photo

We enter the loop road of the airport and prepare for curbside pickup. I see Patrick coming down an escalator just as we are approaching the doors, I roll down the window and yell to him. Once we are back in the car and ready to hit the road Patrick pleas for a food stop, and he’d like to go to In-N-Out. Being from California originally, I don’t see what the big deal is, also being the admitted food snob that I am I also don’t understand why In-N-Out has such a draw to out-of-staters. I try to explain that it is just a fast food joint akin to Burgerville in Oregon. Patrick being the hungry person, I relent and agree to let him try it for himself, so we stop at In-N-Out. All three of us enter the establishment and as we stand around waiting for Patrick’s to-go order we notice the high volume of high school kids occupying all the seats. When Patrick finally receives his meal we escape the adolescent dinner room and get back in the car. Thoroughly exhausted from too much driving, and sun and heat we finally get to bed around midnight, only to have to get up in six and a half short hours.

Triumphs at Quail

First thing on show morning, an excellent breakfast with fresh made watermelon, kale, orange juice accompanied by Mom-cooked eggs and potatoes. As we arrive at the show, I try to coordinate with my friend Mark, who is so kindly bringing his beautiful bike to display in my booth. Not sure where we are supposed to go to pick up our vendor tickets, we walk back and forth to every entrance. Finally I am able to get everyone’s tickets, as well as getting Mark’s motorcycle in. His wonderful little bike appears in one of my favorite paintings, “Vintage Ducati”. It is a large gray-scale oil painting that unfortunately was not at this show due to the show it is in at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame extending for another year.

The grassy driving range begins to fill with people. Looking across the lawn I can see that the number of bikes has tripled since yesterday. Torn between looking at bikes and duty to my booth, I try to keep my trips from the booth short and not long distance. This unfortunately limited my ability to see all the bikes at the show, but what I saw was exciting. My heart starts racing as I look through the lens, click, click, I’m eager to get them all. My booth goes between waves of people, it fills and then it empties out. Many brochures are handed out, and compliments and amazement fill the air. I enjoy the compliments, but want to get back out on the field to look at bikes. The day progresses too quickly, and before I know it, I haven’t taken more than a handful of photos. As the announcer starts the award ceremony I use this opportunity to walk among the bikes. So many colors and flavors. There are bike manufacturers there I’ve never even heard of. Many of my favorites are here, and some that I look forward to painting. I found two bikes that will most likely find their way onto my canvas in the future. Here are some of my favorites.

Over all, the show was one of the best I’ve attended. It is geared toward sport, history and future of motorcycling. I couldn’t recommend a better show to attend.





This is an Introduction

I’ll start this section with a house warming, or rather a studio warming.

Setting up in my new space

Setting up in my new space

Today, I am settling in to my new studio and this is the first day that I have started a painting in this room. It was conceived, prepped, and primed here. I sit back on my metal folding chair and look across the three or four feet to my easel where an outline of orange Prismacolor pencil stares back at me. The sun’s sneaky descent behind the western tree line paints pinks and purples across the northern clouds I see out my studio window. Rush hour has passed, and the steady hum of engines and tires fades between so that I can clearly hear the bouncing of a basket ball at the court across the street. Occasionally, a child yells to another and the ball bounces with more force.

I have two easels set up waiting for my attention. Here they are opposite each other, unlike my last studio where they nestled side by side. I have yet to decide if this will help or hinder my production. Lighting has proved challenging with this arrangement, as I now require two areas of light. The even natural light from the north window slides across both canvases equally, but my large easel receives a bit of western light in the evenings. I prefer not to rely on natural lighting, as it can change dramatically through out the seasons here in Portland, and I can’t be disturbed by the sun’s fickle moods and changing sleep schedule. Perfect lighting is still a work in progress for this space. Hours asking Google to solve my lighting issues have narrowed the field slightly, and my home owner boyfriend’s desire for LED bulbs adds complication to the mix. “Let there be light” will be my number one studio task for the year.

Need to organize a bit more, and there are still several more boxes of supplies and art coming.

Need to organize a bit more, and there are still several more boxes of supplies and art coming.

The room itself contains less square footage than my last, a fact that is a constant thorn in my side. We’ve even taken the closet doors off in an attempt to mitigate my self imposed claustrophobia. My struggle over size echos my pride in and dedication to my craft. In my apartment after only a month I ceded the master bedroom to art and contented myself to house my bed in the tiny second bedroom. After so many years of studio ruling the throne of my home, it feels like a major demotion to loose the foothold of master. The only practical issue with the diminished space is a difficulty working large scale, the glass ceiling has been lowered. An intangible controversy I have with the lack of space is confinement of my mind, I don’t have room for other projects or random creative outlets. It does not feel like a laboratory or workshop, but more of an incubator. Perhaps it will keep me focused, or perhaps I will go mad running arms flailing from my studio into the wide open air of landscape painting. While I don’t see this happening soon, I do think this compacted studio will only encourage me to work harder so that I may someday surpass it. Echoes of my studio in my Oakland apartment breeze through my mind.  It was more of a large pantry than a bedroom, yet on my days off I sat in there baking in the southwestern sun producing large paintings that hardly fit the wall behind them.

This studio and I have a long way to go together so I better get used to it. Change is inevitable and it’s best to learn to live with it because if you fight it, it will only slow you down.

Brushes in my new studio

Brushes in my new studio

Moto Tulip Investigations

Oil on wood

Perseverance – Oil on Wood 8″ x8″

An orange glow filled the bedroom as I abandoned slumber; accompanying this clandestine light, I spied the even tone of a solid blue sky. The perfect day to accomplish my quest of creating a route for my first organized ride.
Recent inspiration solidified an idea to blend my long standing and fresh muses, motorcycles and tulips. The later being a recent obsession but no less quenchable. Shameless plug of my other blog, Guenevere’s Garden, where you can view my tulip paintings. The discovery of the tulip ride in Seattle, which I plan to attend, sparked my excitement for the merger. Being the avid Tulip enthusiast that I am, I thought of our two local tulip fields outside of Portland and wondered if Portland could have it’s own Tulips Ride.

Cut out this tiny back road

Cut out this tiny back road

The birth of this idea spread like a virus in my mind, conjuring new friends and riding buddies who also share my twin passions. The perfect weather day to test my route sparked this morning’s motivation so off Kevin and I rode. Since I now live in Happy Valley, the natural beginning to this ride is in SE Portland. I haven’t chosen the exact location yet, I am hoping to find just the right coffee/breakfast provider in this area. My best idea so far is Bob’s Red Mill, but since I haven’t eaten there yet, I’ll have to test that too. We started our test ride at New Seasons after returning a DVD from the previous night. From there we headed further southeast trying to add volume to the trip. The tulip field I have in mind is only a short hop from Portland and thus my ride needed a little more girth and, of course, the obligatory back roads. Our venture wound us past crops, forests and back to the flat valley where tulips flock. At one point we stopped to enjoy the stellar day and clear skies, Mount Hood posted bright white to the east, crystal clear, and from this vantage in the valley we could also see Mt. St. Helens and Mt. Adams. On second view of Mt. St. Helens, I noticed another white mound behind and to the right, glorious clear atmosphere revealed Mt. Rainier to my surprise and astonishment! If only I could be so lucky to get a day such as this one for the date of my event, fingers crossed.

Even trying to add extra miles by taking an out of the way tour didn’t give us two hours of riding. So, OK perhaps my ride will be more of a social ride with time spent at the tulip field, or perhaps we can add another stop after the tulip field for lunch somewhere else, it is still a work in progress. The date is set no matter the route though, tulips have a short season of one month only, so I have to work fast to make this happen. Come ride with me and enjoy tulips and food along the way Sunday, April 20th, yes I know it’s Easter, so perhaps I am also bringing a bit of my Bay Area heritage and starting an Easter ride in Portland as well.

Planning a ride to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Field for April 2014

Planning a ride to the Wooden Shoe Tulip Field for April 2014

Central California Winter Motorcycle Ride

Mike, Guenevere, and Kevin in Carmel Valley

Mike, Guenevere, and Kevin in Carmel Valley

As the sun brightened the sky on this crisp January dawn, we rose with adventure on our minds. Kevin and I dressed and ate our usual oatmeal breakfast, eager to head out on two wheels. He, astride his Kawasaki Ninja 250, and I, on top of my sexy Honda Hawk NT650, left the house heading to Joyrides of Monterey. Joyrides is a very cool company offering rentals of classic Ducati motorcycles. The plan was to meet up with Rich and Mike (of Joyrides) for a 2 -3 hour ride in Monterey County. Greetings and a quick tour of the shop lead way to the commencement of our journey. Joyrides is located in Ryan Ranch off of Highway 68 near the Monterey Airport and from there we headed east on Highway 68 to Los Laureles grade. Having grown up in Monterey, I am familiar with this twisty 6 mile hop from 68 to Carmel Valley and was eager to lean into it. On this sunny Saturday it did not disappoint. The only thing holding me back were my guides, Mike and Rich, in front of me. Understandably they were taking it slow to gauge our experience levels (I had mentioned to them that Kevin was a new rider). While I raced on the heels of our leaders, Kevin took it easy, while staying in sight. At the bottom of the grade we turned left to head southeast on Carmel Valley Road. After we passed through Carmel Valley Village, the roads became less familiar to me, as I hadn’t been this way in many years and never on a motorcycle. The warm familiar smell of the Valley filled my nose as we swooped past oak trees and dry grass; ancient memories filled my mind of past trips down this road. One stark detail that kept my mind on the road was the poor quality of the asphalt, perhaps Kevin and I are spoiled by being Oregon riders, because since riding together we hadn’t come across any roads that showed this much wear. While the geometry of the road was excellent, and my favorite type of riding, the patchwork of different colors and textures in the surface kept this motorcyclist on her toes. I thought in my helmet that Kevin was really getting to see how changes in road surface feel on a bike, and how this was great experience for him.

Joyrides Monterey

Hanging at Joyrides before our ride.

We stopped at the end of the valley around where the road morphs from East Carmel Valley Road into Arroyo Seco Road. This brief stretch allowed Rich to conduct some on the fly maintenance, as his brake fluid had been leaking out of his master cylinder. A quick round of tape for the rim and over the cap and off we rode. From this point on the trip became unfamiliar to me. I had been this far out the valley only once or twice before. We continued to twist around the rolling hills until taking Elm Avenue to the right down the hill leading to a small one lane bridge over a river bed. After the bridge, Elm Avenue lead us through dry, barren looking, grape vineyards. A ninety degree turn onto Central Avenue took us closer to Hwy 101 and eventually we jumped on heading south. We took the first exit, Jolon Road, and stopped at the gas station for a pit stop. Drinking water and trudging around in my boots, I was able to stretch out my legs and back, my bike keeps me hugged and leaning over the tank ready for action. Kevin asked Mike how much further and his answer of ‘half way’ made me realize the intention to go all the way to Paso Robles, which I had heard them mention the evening before, but I sure didn’t think we could get there and back in 2 – 3 hours. Kevin seemed game to keep going, so how could I refuse. I also knew that Kevin didn’t know how much further it was to our lunch stop.

Back on the road heading south down Jolon the speeds increase as the curves lengthened. The landscape, an ever changing shade of brown, became spotted with oaks trees and the occasional driveway leading to a large ranch. We passed deer foraging, birds fleeing our exhaust noise, and horse corals. Eventually, we came to a four way intersection where we turned right, taking out path ever more southward. This turn onto Interlake Road took us parallel along the south side of the San Antonio Reservoir and connected us to Nacimiento Lake Drive, where we took a right again, climbing back to back 180 degree curves over looking Nacimiento Dam and then down along the dam itself. With this view and our slow cruise across, it became painfully clear how in need of rain California truly was. The sides of the hills shone a cleared beige where the water used to cover the earth, keeping grass and shrubs away. Cars parked near the water line sat well under the previous water level. Not long after passing the dam, the road changed its name to Godfey Road, and funneled us on to 24th Street in Paso Robles. Again following our leaders, we turned right onto Spring Street and made our way to City Park. Mike and Rich already having a lunch spot in mind took us to Artisan on 12th Street across from the park.

The restaurant, dressed in dark earth tones, had large half circle leather like booths large enough to accommodate four motorcyclists with helmets and jackets. The environment was upscale, and I had high hopes for the menu. I’ll have to confess here that I am a bit of a foodie elitist, and I have some dietary restrictions which usually require me to create my own meal at most restaurants. Artisan’s menu, lengthy as it was, boasted many meat-centric dishes, as well as hand made pizzas, none of which I can eat, or even have interest in. After my recent travel to Seattle, I figured I’d ask if they had any gluten free options or substitutions, I had some amazing GF pizzas up north. Alas, the waitress informed me they didn’t not offer anything specifically for the gluten intolerant. I chose my items carefully ordering the persimmon salad and asked if it was possible to get a side of quinoa, since I noticed it coming with a different dish. The Chef agreed to do a side of quinoa, though they informed me the kitchen was out of persimmons, and asked if dried figs would suffice. I begrudgingly agreed.

Our lunch conversation ventured away from motorcycles and on to food due to my ordering of an unusual side dish. We covered favorite food, on which the boys all agreed ketchup, ice cream, and mac and cheese are in the top five. By the end of lunch, I had everyone try a bite of the excellent quinoa, which was flavored with what the waitress named Herbs De Province.  Upon further inquiry, the main ingredient in that spice medley was Tyme. It was fabulous, definitely my favorite side of quinoa I’ve had yet (okay, yes, I do frequently order quinoa as a side). After an excellent lunch, we walked back out into the warm winter sun and prepared to head home. Our lunch being quite late, I’m guessing it was around 3PM when we left, Kevin and I were eager to head back. Neither of us had packed clothes for the smaller temperatures of night.

Protecting from the wind with more layers.

Protecting from the wind with more layers.

The very dry looking vineyards

The very dry looking vineyards

Back on the road, with the goal of home in mind, we picked up the pace. A quick stop to fill my tank, as my bike has fairly short legs of about 120 miles, was the only thing in our way. We went back up the side roads that brought us here while taking a quick stop on the side of Central among the vineyards to attire ourselves for the dropping temperature, as well as the strong head wind. Lucky for me, Mike had an extra long-sleeve shirt he lent me and it helped tremendously. We backtracked up to the small one-lane bridge, where we turned right to head north on Arroyo Secca Road rather than going back through the valley. This took us up to Fort Romie Road, later turning into River Road and running along the east side of the hills, but west of Highway 101. Once on this stretch, the hills protected us from the chilling wind and my tendency toward shivers eased. We stayed on River Road to Highway 68, where it becomes Reservation Road. Stopping in Marina for pit stop, and to part ways with Mike and Rich, Kevin and I hurriedly straddled our bikes and raced for my Mom’s house.

Having put Kevin to the test, his first all day ride and lots of curves to navigate, I feel safe saying he is turning into an excellent rider, I am very eager to get him out there some more. Of course, on our return to Portland, we discovered the cooler temperatures not to our liking after the 67 degree day we enjoyed in Monterey Country, a few days later the temperature went even higher! Alas, now winter has hit Portland heavily, at least 8″ of snow, freezing rain, and now finally the forecast predicts rain for the foreseeable future. I apologize for the delay in posting this ride, but due to The One Motorcycle Show, I became super busy trying to finish paintings in time.