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Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Autumn Hiking - Inspired By SonjaM

Unfortunately there isn't any two-wheeled content in this blog post, but at least we got out and saw some fall color.

Inspired by SonjaM and Roland, and their many hiking adventures, we decided to drag our arses off the sofa on Sunday afternoon and go for a wee hike.  We grabbed our rain jackets and some water, hopped in the Fiat and set out.  We opted for the William L. Finley National Wildlife Refuge, which we've been to several times before. It is around 10 miles (16 km) south of Corvallis. No bicycles, jogging, or dogs allowed because of the wildlife, so this means less people.

As we were driving through the refuge heading east towards the Woodpecker Trail trailhead we saw a heard of Roosevelt Elk in a field to the south.  They were a fair ways away so the pictures didn't turn out great, but in the second one below you can see a large bull elk with a great rack in the center of the photo.

(A heard of Roosevelt Elk at Finley Wildlife Refuge)

(Check out the rack on the bull elk in the center)

(A bit of information on the Roosevelt Elk - photo taken at the information kiosk)

A little further up the road and we were at the Trail head.  The Woodpecker Trail is a 1.1 mile (1.77 km) loop.  Intertie Trail also intersects with the Woodpecker Loop to connect the Mill Hill Loop. We opted to wander down it and back before finishing the Woodpecker Trail.  It added an additional 1 mile (1.6 km) and different scenery too. If you are interested, a trail map can be found at this LINK.

One of the first bits of interest along the trail is the old growth oak trees.  This one has a viewing platform built around it.

(Old growth Oak tree)

(View of the valley looking south east - rain in the distance)

(Troubadour checking out the rainbow)

(A full rainbow against an ominous sky)

A little bit further up the trail and Troubadour stopped to take a picture of some white berries.  I have no idea what kind they are.  I took a picture of him taking the picture.

(Troubadour taking artsy pictures with his phone)

(Photo by Troubadour - the one he was taking in the picture above)

Several bridges and boardwalks are located along the trail to traverse seasonal creeks and boggy areas.

(One of the many bridges along the trails)

(Many different types of leaves falling to the ground)

(So many leaves covering the trails)

(Me hamming it up with a Big Leaf Maple leaf - as big as a fig leaf)

Once we were on the Intertie Trail the foliage began to change.  Things were more green and the ferns were large and lush.  The trail was bordered in little tiny green plants leading the way, so pretty in the sunlight

(Sunlight streaming through the trees)

(Follow the green path.......)

Along the Intertie trail we saw another large oak. This one is an Oregon White Oak.  

(Oregon White Oak - do you think they need the "Oregon" in the name?)

(Sunlight streaming through the trees - getting later in the afternoon)

With all of the rain and wet weather this time of year comes different types of mushrooms and fungus.  While we always have a few varieties in our yard, the more interesting ones can be found in a forest setting.

(Pretty red color on theses mushroom caps)

( A different variety - these were the size of portobellos)

Another view of the path strewn with leaves.  Not much color on the trees anymore, mostly on the ground, but still bright.

( A leaf strewn path through the woods)

(Not sure what type of plant this was, but the small thistle type blooms were really bright)

Along the way we also saw several bird varieties.  A Varied Thrush was the brightest, but we also saw a Steller's Jay and a Red Breasted Sapsucker.  The sapsucker is a woodpecker - we had to see at least one woodpecker on the Woodpecker Trail.  Unfortunately most were too far away to photograph.  The clearest picture I had was the one of the Varied Thrush below.

(Varied Thrush)

(Oak gall attached to a fallen leaf)

The photo above is of an oak gall.  According to the Oregon State University Website: "there are several cynipid gall wasps that make galls on oaks in the Pacific Northwest."  More info at this LINK.

It has been several years since we've seen oak galls.  Normally we see them on the Bald Hill Path near our house.

The oak gall photo was the last one I took of the day.  We returned to the car and headed home for dinner.  I had chili bubbling away in the crock pot/slow cooker.  A nice way to end a fall hike considering the temperature was only 44˚F (6.6˚C). 

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I haven't posted any pictures of Basil in a while so I thought I'd add two to the bottom of this post.  The first one is a typical Basil pose.  Giving you the "stink eye".  In this case it was aimed at Troubadour who was taking the picture.  The second picture is Basil relaxing in front of the living room window, basking in the filtered sunshine.  Belly up - a favorite position of his when sleeping.  He seems to sleep even more now - he is 12.5 years old.  Where did the time go?

(Basil - sitting on the back deck glaring at Troubadour)

(Basil doing what he does best - napping.  And he lets you rub his belly)

- Au Revoir

" .... I cannot endure to waste anything so precious as Autumnal sunshine by staying in the house.  So I have spent almost all the daylight hours in the open air." ~ Nathaniel Hawthorne, (10th October 1842)
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Wednesday, September 20, 2017

After Saturday Coffee Ride

Last Saturday on September 15th Troubadour and I rode our motorcycles to coffee.  A much needed series of rainstorms was forecast to begin on Sunday so we figured we'd best ride while the weather was perfect.

We left the house just after 9 am.  The temperature was a balmy 54˚F (12˚C).  I admit to having my grip heaters on low on the ride there. My hands were cold before I put my gloves on, it wasn't due to the air temperature.

Only six of us attended coffee, five on bikes.  Melissa would have ridden had her Triumph Daytona started.  I know, a Triumph that won't start....unheard of.  

We lingered at coffee with folks talking of a ride, but no one really wanting to lead one or plan one.  Slowly people left to do other things.  Troubadour and I were the last to leave and decided to take some back roads to Fort Hoskins for a picnic lunch/snacks.  Troubadour was thinking ahead and packed a bag of goodies before we left the house.

We didn't notice it too much heading to coffee but while we were sitting there enjoying our drinks the wind had blown wildfire smoke from the east into the valley.  It was getting pretty thick.  Once again this summer our air quality was rated as "unhealthy."

We arrived at Fort Hoskins and were pleasantly surprised that there was only one other car in the lot and no one at the picnic table shelter.  And, because we'd risen in elevation the smoke wasn't as thick.

(The bikes at Fort Hoskins)

(Our view from the picnic table - notice the smokey air and dry fields)
Notice the difference in the picture below.  Taken from the same spot back in October 2016, blogged about HERE.

(Same view taken October 2016)
We were enjoying the mild temperatures and slight breeze.  Some folks came and went as they checked out the old Commander's House seen in the photos above. Originally built at the Fort in 1857, it has been restored within the last few years.

We relaxed and enjoyed the peace and quiet for several hours.  It was nice to be able to sit outside and talk without the three barking dogs next door, construction noise from the houses being built behind us, or the other neighbor's cigarette smoke wafting through our yard on the breeze.  Made us wish for country living, but not the extended commute.

At one point we took the Oregon Atlas & Gazetteer out of Troubadour's saddlebag and pondered what route to take home.

We opted for the back way via Maxfield Creek to Airlie Rd, to Berry Creek Rd, Soap Creek/Tampico, Sulphur Springs, etc.   A twisty route, but not with any gravel since they paved Berry Creek.

We were clipping along Maxfield Creek at a pretty good pace.  I was enjoying the suspension of the Versys smoothing out the bumpy country road and tar snakes.  Just after a right hand turn I heard and felt a banging.  I said out loud to Troubadour on the radios, "something is not right, I am pulling over."  He was riding lead and I didn't want him to wonder where I'd gotten to.  I knew I couldn't have ridden over anything that would have stuck in a spoke so my thoughts turned to the center stand.

Troubadour turned around to help me see what was up.

We stopped about in the center of the screenshot below, where the long straight stretch is just to the right of the time estimate. It was only about 5 miles from the park.

(Fort Hoskins to Airlie road via Maxfield Creek)
Sure enough, I'd lost the spring off the center stand.  Having never owned a bike with a center stand before, this wasn't even something I'd thought about before Saturday.  The center stand was a Kawasaki part that we ordered at the time of purchase and that Troubadour installed for me.  He mention that he was surprised it had come off since he'd had a heck of time installing it as the spring was wound so tight.  He thought maybe it was so tight it pulled the hook straight allowing for it work its way out over the bumpy road.

Neither one of us had zip ties/cable ties/zap straps in our bags.  Trust me, we do now.  For some reason I was carrying around a broken helmet lock in my Givi tail bag.  A pin was broken in the lock mechanism, but the cable was still good and that is what Troubadour used to jury rig the center stand in place.

(Kawasaki Versys 300x center stand rigged to stay up)

(It looks close to the chain in the photos but had lots of room)
Troubadour decided he'd walk the road towards the corner to see if he could find the spring.  I didn't think he'd find it but he figured he'd give it a shot.  While he was searching I took the opportunity to take a few photos.

(The bikes on Maxfield Creek Rd)

(Close up of my Versys 300x - that really needs a bath)

(Lucy looking all shiny)

(Still a little smoke in the air)

(Troubadour is back there somewhere looking for the spring)
That was the last picture and last stop of the day.  We got back on the bikes and aimed for home, still using our originally planned route of back roads.  It was a nice leisurely ride and we arrived home just after 5 pm.  The cable held and Troubadour has since secured it with a zip tie until we can order a new spring.

Totals for the day:

60 miles ridden (96 km)
1 motorcycle part lost  (new spring from Kawasaki is only $10)
1 spare part used
1 deer spotted on the side of the road
1 spicy ginger chai latte drank by Trobairitz
2 cups of house coffee drank by Troubadour 
3 bananas, 2 apples, and 3 bottles of water consumed
Many hours spent enjoying each others company.

- Au Revoir

"Luck never gives; it only lends." - Swedish Proverb
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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Anniversary Dual Sport Ride

Last Thursday August 10th was our 21st wedding anniversary.  We both took the day off work to go for a motorcycle ride.  What better way to celebrate the day, than on two wheels with a picnic lunch.

The night before we were both looking at different maps trying to link together some gravel roads in the foothills west of Corvallis.  Troubadour and I left the house about 11 am and fueled the bikes in Philomath and headed west on Highway 20 then turned north on Kings Valley Highway.  We stopped at the Ritner Creek Covered Bridge for a quick break and to look at the maps again.

(DRZ 400 and the Versys 300x)

(Ritner Covered Bridge)

(Versys 300x, notice we've taken the Kawi stickers off the front fairings)

We went north a mile or so further before turning left onto a gravel road.  I haven't done a lot of gravel on the Versys but so far it is way better than the Gladius ever was off tarmac.

Unfortunately we couldn't get to where we wanted to go.  The forestry service is closing all of our back roads and gravel roads due to fire danger and the upcoming solar eclipse on Monday August 21st. We are in the path of totality and the State is expecting one million visitors for the event.  (Update - why we aren't leaving the house for the weekend and Monday-Tuesday next week - LINK)

We re-routed and ended up at Fort Hoskins where we took another short break, snacked on bananas and tried to determine what roads might be open.

From Fort Hoskins we took Hoskins Road, a 9 mile long gravel road, to link us to Mary's River Road and and the Summit Highway - another twisty bit of tarmac.    Luckily the loaded log trucks behaved themselves and stayed to their side of the narrow road.

(Fort Hoskins to Summit Highway - the blue route)
Once on the Summit Highway we were on one of the roads we drove while in the Fiat the weekend prior, which also had a stretch of gravel a few miles long.

We went to Moonshine Park to check out the camping section and thought we'd have our late lunch there.  Unfortunately it was $3 a vehicle to park and it was really busy and almost uncomfortable really.  

(Summit Highway to Moonshine Park)
We were hoping to go north, but once again the gravel road we wanted was closed, so we had to adapt our route and went southwest again instead.

We headed west through Logsden towards Siletz and found the Twin Bridges Memorial Park where we stopped for half an hour or more.

(Moonshine Park to Twin Bridges Memorial Park)

(Twin Bridges Memorial Park - Lincoln County)

(A picnic in the park - everything is nice and green in the coastal mountains)

(The bikes having a rest in the shade)

(Suzuki DRZ 400 and Kawasaki Versys 300)

(A nice little spot to rest on a sunny day)

From the park we did another 5 mile stretch of gravel on Sams Creek Road to connect with Highway 20.  At Highway 20 we turned east towards Eddyville and then took Highway 180 the long twisty way to Blodgett, which is back on Highway 20. We try to stay off the main highway as much as possible and prefer the twisty back roads that kind of parallel the highway in sections.

(Eddyville to Blodgett)
At Blodgett we took Highway 20 east to Corvallis (13 miles) and were back at the house by 5 pm. Our total for the day was 6 hours and 113 miles (181 km), a nice relaxing afternoon.  

Now the Versys really needs a bath, it is completely covered in road dust from following Troubadour over the gravel roads, but at least it was earned dirt and not from sitting in the garage.

I do wish I had of stopped a few times along the gravel roads and taken pictures to show you the conditions and scenery, but I know for next time.

It was a good day to be out on the bikes together.

- Au Revoir

" A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance, and tenacity.  The order varies for any given year." - Paul Sweeney
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Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Drift Creek Suspension Bridge

We've been experiencing quite a dry spell here in Oregon with no measurable rain in the valley in two months.  A far cry from the 50 inches of rain we experienced last winter.  We've seen average temperatures in the high 80's to low 90's and one heat wave where we saw temperatures soar to 109˚F (42.77˚C).  We haven't been doing too much in the way of riding.  A few forest fires have sprouted up around Oregon and combined with the smoke from the fires in Washington and British Columbia we've had air advisory warnings whenever the winds shift.

On Sunday August 6th we did decide to take the Fiat and heat northwest towards the coast for a little hike. We'd been reading about the Drift Creek Suspension Bridge and Drift Creek Falls for quite a while now and decided it might be time to check it out. They are located just east of Lincoln City in the coastal range, approximately 9 miles up a windy one-lane forestry road from the Drift Creek Covered Bridge which I blogged about back in June 2011 in this post ---> LINK.

The drive up was fine and we managed to find a place to park in the parking lot, not on the side of the road like some folks had to do.  The trail is 3 miles (4.8 km) round trip and an easy hike - trail map LINK.  Unfortunately, when it is an easy hike it is classified as family friendly and is busy.  A lot busier than we expected for 1:00 pm on a Sunday afternoon.  Note to self - only do moderate and difficult hikes on the weekends.

The trail is a winding path through the woods, 1.5 miles (2.4 km) downhill to the creek.  We stopped for a few pictures on the way down.

(Heading down the hill - nice easy trail)

(Nature was reclaiming some of the downed trees)

(We crossed a few small bridges)

(Which meant creek crossings - water level is low)

(Interesting stump of a decomposing redwood tree)

At the 1.25 mile marker you arrive at the suspension bridge. The suspension bridge was built in 1997, is 3 ft wide, and spans 240 feet (73 meters) across the canyon. More info about the building of the bridge HERE.

(Our first view of the bridge)

(Troubadour on a suspension bridge)

(Me on the bridge - photo by Troubadour)

(Looking over the edge at Drift Creek Falls - not a lot of water this time of year)

(The other end of the bridge)
Because of other hikers we couldn't linger on the bridge.  Once on the other side we walked towards the edge a little for a better view of the falls and the span of the bridge.

(Drift Creek Suspension Bridge)

(Drift Creek Falls and Suspension Bridge)

(Troubadour pondering the falls)

(Photo by Troubadour - he turned around and caught me with the camera)

(I figured I'd stop being cheeky and stand up)
From here it was a short 0.25 mile downhill walk to the creek.  Unfortunately we'd found the rest of the people bottle necked at the rocky shoreline.  We chose not to linger, but instead turned right around and started hiking back up towards the bridge as fast as we could to get out of the way.  We were surprised at how many people were heading down there.

It was a pretty easy hike on the way back up and we were actually catching up to people.  We stopped  at the bridge to wait for folks to cross and Troubadour ventured a little closer to the edge of the canyon for one last picture of the falls.

(Drift Creek Falls, Lincoln County, Oregon)
We made it back to the trail head in what felt like record time.  For some reason it didn't seem to take us as long going up the hill as it did going down.  Usually it is the other way around.

Once at the trail head we had a snack and decided to follow the one-lane forestry road 16 miles west to where it intersects with Highway 101 along the coast.  It was a beautiful road, perfect for motorcycles with a lot of gravel spur roads just begging to be explored (just not in a Fiat 500). We definitely need to go back on two wheels for closer examination of those gravel roads.

We took our time getting to the coast, and after a short half a mile of coastal traffic turned southeast on Highway 229, the Siletz Highway.  A nice twisty way to avoid the tourist traffic on Highway 101.  We hadn't been on this highway since July 2013 (blogged about it HERE) and had forgotten how much fun it could be.  At Siletz we turned east on Highway 410, the Logsden Road. More twisties and even a stretch of gravel made us wish we were on the bikes.  One more turn east onto Highway 180, the Summit Highway took us Blodgett, Highway 20 and home.

We arrived home just before 7 pm.  It was a nice relaxing day, although we decided we had more fun exploring the back roads than on the actual hike.

- Au Revoir

"There's sunshine in the heart of me, 
my blood sings in the breeze;
The mountains are a part of me,
I'm fellow to the trees." - Robert W. Service, "A Rolling Stone" (1912)
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