Thursday, May 27, 2010


For the past two months I’ve been planning motorcycle trips in Oregon to follow up on my last year’s trip logging geocaches in each county in Idaho. This one is called “Counting the Counties in Oregon”. I had planned on at least two 4 or 5 day trips to cover the state. However, I haven’t been able to find dry weather forecasts for anywhere near that many days in succession. Not being the most patient person in the world I decided to make a shorter trip which would cut off one day of one of the longer ones I had planned. Finally it looked like a forecast of two days of not too great a chance of rain so I left a little before 7:00 am Monday heading west.

The first half day was in Washington and I logged a few caches along the way to get a head start on next year’s adventure which will be the Washington counties. The temperature was in the low 40’s and my hands got a little cold but I stopped in Pomeroy (about 30 miles out) to get a cache and warm my hands. I kept to the back roads as much as possible but a good portion of Interstate was unavoidable which is not much fun on a motorcycle.

Finally, just after mid day at Biggs Junction I turned southeast on highway 206 toward the little town of Wasco, OR. Now I was on a great little country road with curves, hills and virtually no traffic. The first cache was at a beautiful little cemetery which required a short hike. Continuing on toward Condon I found “The Windmills of Sherman County”. Fortunately they were mostly stationary which suited me just fine.

At Condon two ladies helped me look for a cache right by the Chamber of Commerce office in the middle of town but we were unsuccessful. Although Condon is a very small town it can boast two Nobel laureates, Linus Pauling for chemistry and peace and William P. Murphy for medicine. Needing a Gilliam County cache and not finding it in Condon necessitated a side trip 10 miles to the east. The first of two caches there was “Rock Creek Cache” and I didn’t find it either. It was in a canyon which made getting an accurate GPS reading difficult. I pulled out of the canyon and wound my way up to the top and then hiked out in the desert-like country and found “Switch Back View”. That was a load off my mind! Although this side trip cost me some time it was a fun road so I didn’t much mind.

After returning to Condon I continued south on highway 19 to the little of Fossil where I was again unsuccessful in finding a cache that was supposed to be in the park. Keeping on 19 I continued south to Service Creek where I turned east toward Spray following the John Day River. I picked up a couple of caches along the way. One near Bear Hollow campground was a particularly nice one which required a little hike up a hill. The road along the river is absolutely beautiful. The terrain is a bit unusual with sagebrush mixed in with Ponderosa pines. Coming down one hill into a little canyon I came across a badger scurrying along the side of road at the base of a cliff. Although there are plenty of badgers around it’s fairly unusual to see one. At Spray I turned north on highway 207 toward Heppner. This road is a motorcyclists’ paradise. Beautiful forest scenery with hills and many many curves rated at 25 to 45 mph with almost no traffic. I had a blast!

I logged my last cache of the day at 8:15 just outside Heppner where I had planned to spend the night. I had ridden 440 miles but the caches had taken me much longer than I figured. There is just one motel in Heppner and although I didn’t have a reservation I had called the night before and they guaranteed me a room. This was a very old motel but it had been fixed up nicely although not modernized. Strangely, my room had a south seas motif. Everyone I met in Heppner was very friendly and accommodating. There are only a couple of places to eat in town and the pizza place had closed hours earlier. It was about 9:00 before I got to the Stables which is a bowling alley/restaurant. Although they were closing the lady there let me in and fixed me a delicious chicken salad. I slept well but awoke early, as usual.

I just had granola bars and milk for breakfast in my room and was on the road again a little before 7:00. I headed northwest on highway 74 to the little town of Lexington where I found a cache in a little park in the middle of town. From there I continued north to Interstate 84 picking up one more cache at a historical point of interest which told about the Oregon Trail and some travails the travelers had in that area which was now more open prairie farm country.

After getting to the Interstate I retraced my route from the day before but I picked up 3 or 4 more caches along the way to provide breaks. I particularly enjoyed one in Prescott in a nice little part where I took my morning break. I arrived home about noon having traveled only 215 miles that morning. It was a great trip and I’m glad to have the Oregon challenge begun. M/W

1 comment:

Hallie said...

1) The way my monitor was tilted I saw the first photo as a silhouette of a carved bear. Imagine my surprise when I zoomed in and saw my dad!
2) That motel room is special.
3) You need to eat food.