We thought today would be all about interstate riding, but that was only half the day and less than half the story.

Instead of droning on cruise control in (relatively) straight lines for nine hours, we instead spent the first half of the day on some incredible motorcycling roads. Frankly, the Oregon mountain passes from Pendleton to John Day (that’s a town) offered well-maintained roads with countless sweeping turns through canyons and forests for 120 miles of two-wheel bliss.

We saw no police officers on this route, meaning Clive and Dale’s plan of putting me in the lead as cop bait failed again. There were very few cars. We did, however, see hundreds of other motorcycles and there were two oddities about this:

  • At least 90% of them were BMW’s
  • They were all coming towards us — in other words, on the other side of the road and thus, out of our way

This struck us as curious, so tonight I googled a bit and found this online:

Aha! We were watching the Chief Joseph Rally of the BMW Riders of Oregon, which was based in John Day, solving both riddles.

I plead guilty for not taking many pictures today. I was frankly having too much fun to stop, so I only snapped pics at gas and meal stops. The first of these steps was in Mount Vernon, Oregon, which if you think about it, really belongs in Washington. We did not buy any quilts.

We thought the fun was over after this memorable stretch of road, but were delighted to find the next 115 miles to Nyssa, Oregon were nearly as good.

Along the way, we stopped in the very interesting town of Vale, Oregon, which phonetically sounds like it belongs in Colorado. I checked Yelp and even in this little burg, I found a restaurant that had terrific reviews: Chabelitas Taqueria, which — in addition to the Yelp ratings, enjoys a perfect 5 star Google rating, albeit with just 25 people weighing in.

The ratings are well-deserved. As is often the case with Mexican restaurants, the quality of the food is inversely correlated to the quality of the interior design. The place is rustic and you pay at the register when you go. But wow — those taco’s. Delicious, soft shell, corn tortillas and perfectly prepared. As Clive said, “The cilantro really makes it,” and he was right. It was fantastic.

As we walked back to the bikes, Clive looked at this building and said, “Vale’s got a real termite problem, I guess.”

Since this is a motorcycling blog, no entry would be relevant without a gratuitous shot of the bikes and (in this case) two of the three riders. So, here are Dale and Clive, to whom I must credit with never seeming to tire of my incessant photo-shooting:

From Vale, we made a dash to the Interstate and quickly crossed into Idaho (old state slogan: “Famous Potatoes.” New state slogan: “Great Potatoes. Tasty Destinations.” I am not making that up).

We discovered two wonderful things among the potatoes and destinations: An 80 MPH speed limit on the Interstate, which made for a fast pace and a cooler ride, as well as this t-shirt:

In case you’re curious, this is the ride summary from my GPS app:

We are almost done with this ride, which all of us have described as the best motorcycle trip we’ve ever experienced. I’ll reflect a little on it at the end, but I’m sad it’s nearly over while very excited to see my wonderful wife soon. As an added bonus, I will get to spend several hours with our son, Blaine, before I fly back from Denver to Atlanta (I’m shipping the bike).

Somewhat ironically, while I’m with Blaine in Colorado, Penny will be with our other son, Austin, who flew to Atlanta from Chicago. He made a spur-of-the-moment special trip to be with her because she had to put down one of our cats earlier this week and was really upset about it. We have great kids.

We expect to make it to Grand Junction, CO tomorrow and I will provide another update from there before wrapping this up early next week. Thanks for reading and more soon.