Monday, June 9th: We head out from Lake Tahoe around noon
picking a course directly north through the Sierra Valley and scenic farming areas. Our
destination was Lassen Volcanic National Park, but due to the late season snow falls this
year the road through the park and the campsites were closed. We drove to the entrance
anyway and tried to get a peek at the volcanos summit. It was indeed very cold and
there were still many snow banks on the roadside.
Plan B was to drive east, down out of the mountains and into Red Bluff, off interstate
5. When we arrived we were tired and ready for a hotel room with a good bed and cable TV
-- also, we needed to work on an outline for a seminar we will give at the National Rally,
and email it from a room with phone-line. We found an economical room right off the
highway and began to unpack the bikes. Just then, two men on a DR650 turn up and say they
recognize us. It turned out to be Englishman (and resident of Dubai, UAE) Bob West
(Ushuaia to Alaska) and his friend Graham Wadsworth (riding a XR400). Bob had recognized
us from the Horizons website and happened to spot us as we drove past Dennys
where they were having dinner. While in the parking lot, another fellow (Chris) walked up
and said, "I knew it, I knew it! I knew you were in the area, and was hoping to run
into you -- Hello Erin and Chris!" Graham got a kick out of our "fame", and
kept touching us saying, "I have to touch you, you're famous."
Tuesday, June 10th: We hit it off with Bob and Graham so well that we all decided to
travel up to Oregon together to the BMW rally in John Day. They were at the end of their
trip and still had a few weeks time to kill before returning to England.
A few locals in Red Bluff suggested we take route 36 westward toward the coast, for the
scenery and the uncluttered winding roads. The recommendation was a great one as we
thoroughly enjoyed the trip. But, as we neared the coast the fog settled in and we were
soon stopping to change into our warmer waterproof gear. Just before hitting highway 101
we entered a state park which had the magnificent redwood trees so famous in this area.
We stopped in the town of Eureka in the late afternoon and had a cup of tea in a
Wendys to warm ourselves. It was getting too late to make the run up to the Redwood
National Park and then find accommodation for the night. So, we decided to get hotel rooms
here and get some rest for an early departure the next day.
Wednesday, June 11th: Just after breakfast we set off up the coast. The highway here
runs right along the coast but unfortunately we couldnt see a thing for the fog. It
didnt inhibit the view however of the mighty redwoods and the lovely elk relaxing in
the meadows all around the national park. At the visitors center in the park a kindly
ranger pointed out a very scenic dirt road that we could take on our way north where we
could wind our way around the big trees for an even more dramatic experience.
As we headed northeast out of the park the weather began to clear and also warm up just
a bit. We had hoped to make it all the way to Crater Lake National Park in southern Oregon
but found ourselves just short by sunset. About 20 miles south of the park there are
several national forest campgrounds and a small hotel for the guys. We camped here for the
night and cooked steaks on the BBQ for Bob and Graham.
The next morning Bob and Graham brought the eggs and we cooked a quick breakfast and
shot off to see the lake and get to the rally at John Day. The lake was spectacular and
while there we ran into two other bikers, Dana and Paul who are both German but now living
in southern California. As we approached, Paul said, "oh my gosh, I can't believe
it's you guys. Hello Chris, hello Erin!" Graham was enjoying our fluke encounters
with fame, and kept touching us :-) Paul was heading to Alaska while Dana was on her own
ride to the northeast before returning to LA. We only stayed long enough to take a few
photos and make the rest of the ride around the crater and then on to John Day.
The scenery in Oregon is strikingly different from what I had expected. There were
smaller mountains covered in pine forest interspersed with high desert valleys with
reddish brown cliffs and yellow-green grassy farmland. It is scenic in its own right and
very rustic. We pulled into John Day late in the afternoon and were immediately greeted
with storefront marquis saying Welcome BMW Riders! Even McDonalds got into the act.
John Day is a relatively large town in this area with a population of almost (but not
quite) 2,000 people. Everyone was happy to see us including the supermarket stock boys
where we stocked up on supplies for the weekend. It seemed that the whole town wanted to
pitch in and make all us visitors welcome. A local womens club contributed with the
floral arrangements on the tables in the dining area and the students of the nearby
Humboldt Elementary School made handcrafted place mats and party favors for one of our
While we went on to the rally site, Bob and Graham found their hotel and checked in.
The BMW Oregon club members warmly greeted us at the fairgrounds site and gave us the
schedule for the weekend. The camping sections were segregated between the "quiet
section" and the "loud crowd." We didnt really care where we camped
we just needed two good trees to set up our hammocks. Well, this turned out to be in the
loud crowd section. Loud crowd didnt live up to its name though and we were in the
most peaceful section of the rally site for all 3 days! Turned out most of the rally-goers
considered themselves quiet and packed into the quiet section near the front.
The rally was a big success with lots of interesting bikes to look at, seminars, a fun
off-road GS ride up to a fire lookout tower, two great dinners, entertaining music and a
huge assortment of door prizes. The awards ceremony on the last evening proved to be a big
surprise. Chris had (unknown to me!) entered me in the Long Distance Female BMW Rider
category, which I won. With 3,200 miles from Phoenix, Arizona (where we registered for the
rally) to John Day, Oregon. I won a lovely etched plaque with the rally logo on it.