Sandy, Oregon

Preface: It’s taken a while to do this update,  apologies for those tentatively waiting on hearing what comes next.  I am writing this retrospectively upon my stay in Sandy, I’m currently somewhere in British Columbian, but I’ll write about that in a separate blog post. Please accept my apologies again, I have since lost all my photographs and videos on my hard drive. Photos I have to show are what I have left on my phone and on social media. 

From Silverton,  I took an idle 72 miles round the mountain to visit Telluride, technically in a straight line is about 11 miles away,  however,  snow,  elevation and well: The Rockies, I had to ride around.  The folk from Silverton told me how horrible it is,  from way back when these two neighbouring towns were historically mining towns.  For some reason,  Telluride was favoured as a ski resort.  Now home to rich and the stuck up. It was an interesting contrast. To see how two very close by towns with similar things to offer with similar histories have taken different directions.

Severe Weather Warning

From there,  I headed to Moab,  Utah,  and with intentions of spending a few days taking in the national parks and some activities like parachuting.  The first night out,  I camped in a forest 20 miles south of Moab, where I had an awful night in the hammock.  As soon as sun set,  the wind picked up and given to the weather conditions earlier that day, I did not secure the fly sheet “securely” (for gale force winds), I had about 3 hours total of sleep despite spending about 11 hours laying down fighting a gale.  Driven by guilt of not wanting to waste the day,  I packed up rode into town had a lazy breakfast,  and then rode into Arches National Park,  it was great but also midday,  I was irritable.  I rode a little way around but soon realized that how I was feeling was not conducing to enjoyment, and decided to come back again.

I headed back into town and I booked myself into a bunkhouse (Lazy Lizards) and unpacked.  After a shower,  a meal and a few chats about what to see,  I decided to go and grab a time-lapse of Delicate Arch at sunset.  The 40 miles ride and 3-5 mile hike really took it out of me but I steamed on and managed.  The steaming back however, became a point of huge irritation,  people walking back at the speed of a funeral march, then the 20 miles drive out of the park nearly made me homicidal,  it was almost as bad as British drivers in the rain on the motorway… American drivers and bends in the dark is worse than pulling teeth.  Again,  I was sleep deprived and irritated.

The following morning with great intentions,  I woke up wanting to do skydiving.  After breakfast the weather had changed to heavy heavy gusts, which I know would mean no jumping; not perturbed,  I defaulted to Plan B, the White Rim Trail,  and particularly the Potash Ponds outside the park (that you can see from space).  After spending a while asking around for directions and routes the weather now was hammering with rain.  By which point, I was advised that the trails were quite tricky in the rain and I’d not make the most of the views.  I checked the weather forecast and it was predicted rain for the following 3 days.  Totally bummed. Do I sit still for another 3-4 days or do I move on? I decided I’d come back another time and headed north to Nephi.

Disaster!

Heading to Nephi in heavy rain, I decided to take the fastest route there (freeway), seconds after entering the freeway, I felt a sudden slap on my thigh; I parted my leg while looking down to see what hit me, just in time to see my phone tumbling on the asphalt at 65mph. Disaster! I was now incommunicado, I had no means to navigate to my hosts house, I had no means to contact my host and that was just the start of it. The story goes on for a fair while suffice to say I was phoneless! Well, to return to the story; I managed with the wonders of technology (aka: laptop, Wi-Fi and burger king) to both communicate with Charles (Dr DualSport) my host, and navigate myself to his house.  Several soggy hours later, I made it alive, although, everything on me wet, spirit crushed and exhausted. The following morning Charles and I set about repairing the damaged luggage (coincidently, entering the freeway wasn’t just detrimental to my phone, my left side bag snagged in the chain causing grazing damage to my dry bag). Charles used to drive a truck and happened to have a tarp repair kit, so cutting up small sections of rubber cloth and gluing it on was in order.

Freezing

We set about drying out some of my things before taking a ride up Mt. Nebo. Charles insisted that I ride his BMW GS650 “to see if I liked it“. Distracted by the German engineering; if I had thought about it a little better, the clue was in the name: “Mount Nebo”… I would have worn something a little warmer. Before I knew it we were riding in a blizzard at nearly 9,000 feet. Me on a foreign bike, wearing just a pair of summer gloves and combats was a little under dressed. We returned to warm up at Charles house before he kindly rode with me to meet Damon (MrDuhfactor) at American Fork. There we changed my tyres, which by this point were hexagon shaped. I spent a handful of days in Salt Lake City ordering up parts, sending broken parts back (namely SoloShot2) and trying desperately to repair/replace my phone and just relax. I spent a day with Tyler (MrRojoNeck) riding the nearby trails and had a blast!

A photo posted by Neil's in…. (@neilsnaps) on

More Freeway 🙁

From Salt Lake City, I headed toward the Bonneville salt flats. Again, I left in heavy rain, still no phone and no GPS solution, and with the uncertainty of fuel stops on the gravel trails, diverse weather and general disheartenment, I hit the freeway. Yes, it was dreaded! 140 miles in near straight line driving. As to make matters worse, my big dream of riding the salt flats got killed by seeing deep (1-2 feet deep) ruts where others had tried before (lots of rain remember). I tried walking out on them but it was sketchy.

Pushing on, I stopped in Wendover, (Nevada) for food,  but it just existence killed me a little, middle of the desert, casinos, motels, fast food joints and little else. I scrammed back onto the freeway made another 30 miles west, before pulling off on a nondescript exit, took a gravel road a short way, exited that into the dirt out of sight and hung my hammock in some trees, and was asleep in no time.

THUNDERING HORN!

At 11pm probably two hours after I fell asleep the most almighty thundering horn went off right beside me and an earth shaking roar remained for about 10 minutes. It worked out the freight train line ran parallel to the freeway, and I’d positioned myself as far from the freeway as I could not realizing, I was just putting myself closer to the track.  The fright made me loose at least 2 of my 37 lives!

The following morning, and a couple of night trains later, I woke up in drizzly misery, it was one of those days where you wonder what the heck are you doing: sleeping by a motorway in a barren landscape, in the rain getting scared out of your skin by freight trains, knowing you aren’t going to see much that day.

I did the only thing I could: get back on the freeway, do more boring motorway miles and hope to get it over with. Stopping at a pit stop on the way, I had seen that from Willemucca, I could cut about 100 miles of motorway travel off and snip a corner off my long route to see Fly Geyser.

A photo posted by Neil’s in…. (@neilsnaps) on

I took the road less travelled (except for large lorries going to the mines), it was a fair graded gravel road, nothing to see but desert, trucks and the odd grading machinery making the road smooth again. For once in Nevada I felt like I was making progress, 50-60mph now felt like lighting speed, I was near euphoric with how much fun it felt to fly down this gravel. The weather at this point was dry but plenty of evidence of the rain I had been in; slick puddles that were like slurry sometimes the whole width of the road, but fun all the same! As I continued, it got brighter and warmer.

FLASH FLOOD

Suddenly, the road I was riding which had been flat, dipped and to my amazement: there was a turbulent chocolate milk river cutting my road off. It was a little more than just a river crossing, as in the time I watched it, various shrubs as desert plant life got dragged downstream. At this point I’d probably covered 80 miles from Willemucca, where I last refuelled. I had 30 miles remaining the other side. At the risk of not making it all the way back to Willemucca (questionable fuel tank range), I did the stupid thing and crossed the flash flood. I first waded across to get a feel of the current, depth of the water and the grip of the ground. It wasn’t great, but it was doable alone! I unloaded each bag, walked each item across before wheeling the bike over. The ground conditions under were changing ever time I went across, I was terrified of being left half and half but still managed to get the tripod and camera out and film it!

Burning Grandma

Dramas aside, I made it just fine! I continued into Gerlach which was an empty sleepy town, bought fuel and then started looking for somewhere to hang the hammock. The surrounding desert didn’t really support that kind vegetation, however on the horizon in the direction I was heading, I saw a tree line, I made my way there both exhausted, soaking and desperate in need of a break. As I got to the tree line I found myself with a bunch of RV camper vans, with dirt bikes, quads and ATVs, I asked one of the crowd if I could camp near them, not knowing what I was getting into! They welcomed me in, open arms and offered me food, just in time for the skies to open and dump some more rain on us. After I was fed, I got to hear all about their story. It worked out the folk there were the early ones, later that week there would be more to join them, moreover, I was in at the location where they hold Burning Man. This family celebrate an event every year, called: Burning Grandma, they conduct a 25 mile poker race (don’t ask me the rules, but basically they have to find cards set out at set check points around a circuit, first one back with qualifying cards win).  I had a lovely time chatting with them around the fire. It was here, I found out that Fly Geyser was a privately owned sham, much like the Four Corners I previously experienced, so I discounted it from my visit list.

Crater Lake

I set off the next day to get to Crater Lake, Oregon. It was another long day in the saddle. Honestly, not much to report there. The weather faired sunny most of the day but as I pushed on I was getting colder and colder, yet the skies were bluer than ever. I just about made it to Crater Lake before dark, and suddenly I understood why it was so cold as I pulled into the national park, snow drifts were either side of me. I was only wearing a t-shirt under my jacket, cargo pants, wet boots from the flash flood crossing the day before and a set of summer gloves. My jaw was almost chattering.

That night, I heard my first bear. Heavy steps roamed around me as I lay there in my hammock, as it sniffed the ground and then up at me, I lay there accepting my fate, there was nothing I could do without startling it, so I laid still and limber until it’s curiosity died. Interesting time indeed!

The following morning was pathetic, it was freezing rain, not snow, just slush. I hoped that the weather would pass as I extended my breakfast in the park restaurant. Eventually, I bit the bullet and headed out in the heavy ice rain and fog. The Crater Lake, I’m sure is spectacular, but like so many other things so far on this trip, it wasn’t happening! I rode the trail around the lake on my way north, and stopped to have a look, I peered over the edge of the lake saw not a lot. I was grumpy, cold, wet and morale down, I pushed on.

Sandy, Oregon

More hard miles driven and finally I was in good hands with Ryan (NessedUpProductions),  It worked out that Ryan’s friends (and now my friends) Ben and Kelcy were off to Hawaii the day after I arrived, and so I took great pleasure in taking an extended stay in Sandy. I spent 10 days in Sandy, Oregon. Finally, able to get my phone working and waiting on replacement parts, fixing my bike and seeing the sights.

I went hiking to Ramona Falls, under Mt. Hood, it was staggering and I was so not used to walking such long distances. I went down town Portland, and saw and tried a few local things like Ryan’s mini-moto circuit.  Although my highlight was simply great to be given a house to house-sit.

I met Mark Gunnison one of the days, he met Tyler (eveRide from St. Geoge, Utah) last year and took him flying.  He had been in touch and it was so nice of him to invite me over for a day of jollies! We started the day dirt biking, then he took me for lunch and ended the day flying his plane over to see the Pacific! Keep in mind I’ve never been this far west, ever and that was my first encounter of the Pacific Ocean!   It was a fabulous day, very heart felt.

 

Video Update

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