"Half our life is spent trying to find something to do
with the time we have rushed through life trying to save.
"
- Will Rogers

TODAYíS ROUTE:
Long Beach, WA to Portland, OR: US-101 South to Ilwaco, across Astoria Bridge to Astoria, South to Fort Clatsop, East on US-30 through Westport to Rainier to Longview, South on I-5 to Vancouver, East on US-14 through Stevenson to Hood Bridge to Hood River, West on I-84 to Columbia River Highway West back to I-84 to Portland. (
MAP)

THE DETAILS:
Itís raining in the morning in Long Beach. I havenít ridden in the rain in over two weeks, and Iím kind of looking forward to it in a strange way. But by the time I get on the road, itís only a light mist. The streets of this summer beach town are deserted. The main strip is lined with penny arcades, innumerable motel rooms and loads of kite stores. Actually there are four very nice kite stores and the World Kite Museum and Hall of Fame.

The Astoria Bridge takes me across the Columbia River over to Oregon. Dead seagulls line the roadway on the bridge, smashed by cars and trucks. A live one sails along the railing besides me and itís making me nervous. Go away bird. Go fly somewhere else. I'm still very freaked out from my fowl incident yesterday.

By November of 1805, Lewis and Clark had reached the Pacific, having canoed down the Snake and Columbia Rivers. On December 8th, the 33-member expedition crew began to build Fort Clatsop where they would spend the winter before returning back east. A replica of the fort stands here now, centered in a lush spruce and hemlock forest. Down a short trail, a canoe landing on the Netul River (now called Lewis and Clark River) marks the site where the expedition came ashore.

It took Lewis and Clark, 542 days to reach the Pacific from their starting point at the mouth of the Missouri River near St. Louis. It took me 38 days to get here from St. Louis, and I took the long way around. Iíve reached my halfway point and, in a way, everything now is pointing me back towards home. Iím feeling kind of sad that my trip is over as much as it has begun. I donít want it to end. But Iíve traveled for 50 days on the road, and I feel great about that. I love being out here and I canít wait to see what Iím going to see next. Itís been a great journey and an amazing experience.

My next stamp and stop are at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, about an hourís ride towards Portland, along the Columbia. Another reconstructed site, the fort was a key fur trading post and served as headquarters for the Hudson Bay Company. But Iím more interested in riding up the river towards the Columbia River Gorge. I swing up the Washington side of the gorge and then cross the river at Hood Bridge, with Mt. Hood rising in the distance. Back towards Portland, I pick up the Historic Columbia River Highway. Construction of this road began in 1913 and only a few miles of it remain accessible today. The road winds along the base of the gorge, passing the dramatic 620-foot Multnomah Falls, among others. Then the highway winds upward and reaches Vista House, an enchanting stone building perched atop a 733-foot high point overlooking the river.

My destination for the night is the home of Scott Talley, a Millbrook School classmate. Scott has been out west ever since we graduated from high school and heís been in Portland for about five years now. He graduated from law school and is getting ready to take the Bar Exam. But his real project right now is rebuilding the house he just bought. During our senior year at Millbrook, Scott was the student body president, and he used his spare time to restore and renovate a vintage log cabin located on the schoolís wooded property. So now heís got another building project, but this one is a little more complex than the cabin.

Toms Royal, another classmate and Portland resident, joins us for dinner and the eveningís festivities. Itís great to see these guys after all these years. We celebrate my 50 days with a steak barbecue and a night on the town. Scott canít believe that I told him three months ago I would be here today, and here I am. Heís ridden his BMW motorcycle across the country and down to Central America a few times, and he knows the pitfalls that can waylay a motorcyclist. So Toms and Scott make a point of trying to delay my departure tomorrow. Itís just like weíre back in high school again. We head over to Sassyís Bar and Grill home of "Great Food and Beautiful Views", but weíre more interested in the views than the food, and the place has no windows. After a few dollars and a few hours later we visit the Triple Nickel Pub where Scott was a regular when he was still in school. Iím not even sure what time it is when we get back to Scottís house, but I do know that itís going to be a very late start tomorrow.

THE DAILY TAKE:
Miles Today: 259.7
Total Miles: 15,379
Time on Motorcycle: 4 Hours 57 Minutes
Average Speed: 52.5 MPH
States Visited today: 2 (WA, OR)
Total States Visited: 31
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 4
NPS Stamp totals: 115 Stamps, 28 States
Weather: Cloudy and Misty
Average Mileage per day for the past 50 days: 307.58

SEEN ON THE ROAD:
"Jumping To Conclusions Can Be Bad Exercise" Ė sign on Super 8 Motel in Long Beach, Washington.

THINGS IíVE LEARNED (with apologies to Esquire Magazine):
Always put the side-stand down before you get off the motorcycle.
Don't ever put an apple turnover in your helmet for holding purposes.
If it looks like rain, and you think it might rain, and The Weather Channel says it might rain, IT WILL RAIN.
If it is going to rain, put on your rain gear before you get on the bike.
Look for a level place to park.
Avoid AT&T Wireless like the plague.
If you are going to launder your riding jacket and pants, make sure the laundry machine is free before you spend all that time pulling out the protective inserts.
There is always some extra toothpaste left in the tube.
In general, it is best to put your helmet visor down while moving.
Related to that, if you've left your visor up and you think you feel an insect crawling in your ear, there is an insect in your ear.
No matter how many times you clean your motorcycle it will get dirty again.
It always takes longer than you think.
Pack lightly.
Cheap Gas Kills.
Eventually, your luck will run out.
Don't wave to Hells Angels; it's a waste of time.
Bison always have the right of way. Always.
If you see a road sign that says "Open Range" or "Watch for Animals" or "Free Ranging Animals", heed the sign.
"The World's Best Donut" is the worldís best donut.
There is no such thing as having too much underwear.
The customer service people at AT&T Wireless used to work for Hitler.
Always keep your toothpaste stored in a plastic bag inside your toiletry kit.
If cows are lying down, it doesnít necessarily mean it may rain, but it might snow.
The cable television systems at Motel 6 don't have The Weather Channel.
Wind Chill has real meaning when it's 30 degrees and you're riding a motorcycle.
Camping and contact lenses don't go well together.
Fast food restaurants have lousy food but the best bathrooms.
Gas Stations that charge for compressed air are hurting their customer base.
The smoking section has the best seats and views.
I may never find out what Missouri wants to show me, but I don't really care.
If you use AT&T Wireless you are a masochist.
A little planning will get you far.
A lot of planning will get you farther.

 


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