Days 13 to 16: The first big push. 20th to 23rd August.

From the redwoods we just wanted to cover distance to claw back some chance of sticking to our schedule. So we had a number of big travelling days. This was the first 4, and I’ll just give a brief rundown of the high points.

The night among the redwoods was our last in California. Another hour up the coast at a town called Crescent City we turned inland, crossed into Oregon and followed this gorgeous river valley for a while, spoilt only by… you guessed it, far too many huge RV’s crawling along.  The temperature rose again to stupid levels and we started to ride through towns with “thank you firefighters” signs and the like. And the sky turned smokey. It was pretty clear the fires weren’t too far away. Other than a few emergency vehicles we didn’t really see anything of them.

We stopped somewhere mid afternoon for a break from the heat at some random Mcdonalds for a thickshake and then pushed onto Medford for a cheap hotel.  The sky that night was orange and the moon a nasty red. It was an ominous sign. This was also the day that Lisa’s hire car finally died leaving her stranded in Crescent City for 2 days waiting for a replacement.

We were warned the next morning that there was nothing much to see of Crater Lake through the smoke, but we rode up anyway just for the brilliant road. They were right. Nothing to see. A couple of photos to prove it and then move on.

This turned out to be our longest and hardest push so far. The ride from Crater Lake to a town called Bend was long, straight, boring and very windy. It was horrible. We had a late lunch in Bend and as it was a little after 3pm decided to stop there for the night, only to discover that it’s a ski town and the prices are completely ridiculous.  We settled on a ride of 2 ¼ hours to the Oregon/Washington border called The Dalles. It was flat, achy windy ride that had us arriving around 6pm completely exhausted. That day we had ridden almost 500 kms, most of it in a gusty dry cross wind. A motel for the night was the only option.

Next morning we rode over the Columbia River and into Washington State. An amazing water way and deep valley that was so impressive we stopped and played with the drone.  I’ve attached the vid below.  The haze is smoke from the fires which was to get much worse.  That night we camped in a small town called Yakima. Lisa called us to advise the hire company had delivered a new car up from San Francisco and she was belting down the interstate to catch up.

From Yakima we took highway 2 up through Washington State, heading for Spokane for their camping store so we could buy a new coffee maker cause some gumby left a part behind in Manchester.  As the day wore on it became more and more smokey until we were riding in a gloomy haze with features appearing out of nowhere as we approached.  The world was cut off to us and I couldn’t help thinking this could easily be post apocalypse. It was really that bad.  We stopped for lunch at Billy Bobs Burger Bar, or something like that, which surprisingly wasn’t quite a heart attack on a plate.

Spokane turned out to be a rather large city and we needed to escape, so working on some local knowledge from some days back we headed for a place called Coeur d’Alene about 40 minutes up the road.  It turned out to be a lake surrounded by resorts, but at the very far end a couple of campgrounds. The first was a shocker, even before considering all the RV’s, but the second was simply gorgeous.  So with Lisa quickly catching up, we put in an order for that nights dinner and drinks, which she picked up shortly before rejoining us.

We met a number of lovely people who came and introduced themselves when they saw the bikes. Janelle especially continues to be a huge hit because it seems, very few women actually ride here.

Our big push to Yellowstone continued for a few more days, but Coeur d’Alene is a lovely spot to leave off this story for now.

A well deserved hotel in Medford, Oregon.
Crater Lake. Yes really
Wizard Island in Crater Lake