We have survived our Columbia River Gorge Harley-Davidson motorcycle excursion. I feel as if I have been strung up between two wild horses pulling in opposite directions… The Harley Road King is a BIG bike – much bigger than I’m used to, so lifting, leaning, and every other maneuvering technique takes just that much more effort. The middle of my back and my wrists are where I feel it the most. Of course, I’ve never actually been on a bike for 12 hours before. Maybe I should practice more often.
I will say that riding this bike has been eye opening.
I did not realize that Harleys were so sophisticated. I thought they were just big, loud, shiny, expensive American-made motorcycles. However, the Road King we rode came with a sophisticated computer-controlled fuel injected [no choke on this hog] engine which ran as smooth as any Japanese bike would – except it came with that distinctive Harley rumble. It also came with an anti-theft system which would lock the bike down to prevent theft. The bike’s handling capabilities were astonishing – especially for low speed maneuvers. I was able to move the bike around easier even than my dad’s Honda Shadow Saber. All in all, it was a smooth, solid [yes, you could still feel the weight of the bike], fun ride – one I’m glad to have experienced.
We rode from Portland on I-84 and Hwy 30 [the historic highway] through the Columbia River Gorge for over 120 miles. The old road was very windey – at one point we had a minor steering miscalculation in a hairpin turn. Luckily, we were the only vehicle for miles. At some point on this trip, the terrain turns from lush Pacific Northwest rain forest to arid high desert. We stopped in Biggs to refuel only to find that the entire town, with its 4 gas stations, was suffering from a complete blackout. This meant no fuel. So, we crossed over to the Washington side where we patronized a small gas station whose proprietor was overwhelmed at the massive influx of customers to his lonely Texaco station. While there, we met another biker who recently purchased the bike I really want: a BMW K1200RS.
Once on the Washington side of the river, we headed back toward Portland/Vancouver on Hwy 14 – which is a very nice road. Attempting to stop at one winery, we were turned away because of a concert on their grounds. So, we stopped at another right down the road: Cascade Cliffs. We tasted a few wines, bought a couple of bottles, packed the saddle bags and headed back – we were gone much longer than we anticipated [which is probably why I feel like I’ve been used for pavement] and then we got back to Portland around 9:30pm for dinner.
Now: That’s a long day.
We are eagerly anticipating our Harley-Davidson ride this coming Friday. We’ve reserved a Road King for the day and intend to hit the Columbia River Gorge and ride the old highway. This is apparently a very scenic route which winds its way through the valley. The cool thing is that we get to use our new helmets and jackets [Laura has a new jacket, I have my usual one – which is still fairly new, I suppose].
We opted on this coming Friday when we found out that Portland was having record heat days this last week – on Friday, it hit 103. Quite warm. So, we decided to postpone the ride until the next week. It will still be in the mid-80s, but that’s much more tolerable for a day’s ride. This will be my first ride of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle – my finances hope I don’t really like it…
We have new motorcycle helmets. After waiting a while, our patience has paid off. Not only did we wait until we came to Oregon where we did not have to pay sales tax, but we also do not have to pay shipping like we would have with an on-line order [which was so far the cheapest price we had seen]. The woman at the store also took 20% off the price of the helmets so that it was even cheaper than what a ‘discount’ web price would have been. Now, I have an obnoxiously bright blue HJC AC-11 Zeek helmet and Laura has a light silver Shoei RF-1000 which is their top of the line, super-light helmet. Her helmet is actually a step or two ‘better’ than mine in that it is lighter but still provides the same amount of cranial protection. The HJC is just as safe, but quite a bit heavier [as are all other helmets even when advertising super light composite materials]. Mine was cheaper and I felt that saving a little money would be worth a mild neck fatigue. Laura’s neck, however, is much more sensitive so she rates the lighter helmet. We both made compromises on our helmets, though. She got the lighter one, but got no fancy paint job – just plain silver. Of course, I wanted the radical paint so I would be more visible… especially since it totally clashes with my dad’s bike…
We also got her a new riding jacket with ‘body armor’ padding. It’s bright [seen coming for miles] white and silver mesh for summer riding with a removable vest liner for a little warmth. She’ll be comfortable in all but the coolest Texas riding weather [which, as y’all Texans know, ain’t all that cool…].
Well, yes, but not mine. Laura will be coming with me next week as I work in Portland. She will be on vacation. I will be working. But, even though I will be separated from her during the day, I will be able to spend time with her every day – that’s something I’m not normally able to do. My job is such that I’m usually away – and I don’t like it anymore.
Does anyone know of a job I can do mostly from home? That would be nice… if I could concentrate…
I have a new phone. It’s a Nokia 6200. It’s quite cool – color screen, Tri-band GSM, EDGE/GPRS data service. Of course, I can’t quite figure out how to connect my laptop over that “high-speed” connection. [I say: “high-speed” because it’s only relative. Previously, I could dial up with my mobile phone at 9.6kbps. Now, it’s supposed to be around 40kbps. Much better, but still not “fast”.] Unfortunately, everything I try does not seem to work. I’m on the phone with Cingular right now to figure this out… Of course, I’ve been transferred 5 times already and no one seems to know where to send me.
After discussing this with a technician, it seems there is proprietary software for this function that I need to obtain – plus a data cable [even though the phone comes with a nice infrared port]. The things I go through…
I have decided that one of the best trade-offs of my job is the fact that I get to leave Hot Humid Houston behind for a while and experience summer as those in the Northern climes do. It was a whopping 80 degrees here yesterday – sweltering hot for Portland. Of course, I’m just trying to find the good in what I’m forced to do: I really don’t want to travel this much anymore. Having a loving wife keeps me wanting to go home.