After being told of the difficulties with Sam’s tracks for the last 100 miles, we decided to try GPSKevin’s easy route for the final day. Little did we know that, as far as navigation was concerned, this day would still become the most difficult day of the entire trip. It started out with beautiful twisty paved roads that made us think it would be easier than we thought. That all changed once we hit the dirt. As we got deeper and deeper into the forest we started hitting roadblock after roadblock. This section is heavily logged, which creates numerous changes in the roads, their condition, and what roads are open to motorized traffic. Navigation was a nightmare since GPSKevin’s tracks take you through places that have been overgrown for years and are completely impassable. When looking at a map, there is simply no way to know which roads are passable. We spent several hours trying to find our way west with no luck. We ended up with only 1 feasible route that could lead us out of the forest and unanimously decided to take it. Luckily, it was completely clear and got us to a paved road that we followed to a small town nearby where we took a break before heading to Port Orford. Our Sena intercoms lit up with yells and screams as the Pacific Ocean came into view. The best feeling of the entire trip was from seeing the Pacific Ocean and knowing that we had completed the journey. We had a fantastic dinner and stayed around to watch the fireworks since it was the 4th of July! We couldn’t have asked for a better end to the trip!
A broken ignition switch messed our morning up. Chris started the 690 and went to fill up with gas before we left. Once we were all ready to go, he went to start the bike and got nothing. The tools came out and the bike came apart in-order to figure out what the problem was. We eventually traced the main problem to the ignition switch, although, there seemed to be another issue which we didn’t have the time to figure out. Luckily, we did have a spare bike so we could continue our journey. As one would expect, Chris was less than enthused to trailer his bike ride a different machine. The first part of our ride took us through Oregon’s beautiful forests that often reminded us of the east coast. Soon enough, we began running into down trees. They pretty quickly became more and more frequent, and eventually we came up on a completely blocked road. Luckily, there was a very short way around the carnage that put us right back on track. The rest of the day was much like the first part of the day, but we knew the next day was going to be much more challenging. A fellow TAT rider, who we met several states earlier and stayed in contact with, warned us of trail blocks for the final leg of the TAT.
Richard and I woke up early and started the day helping setup and inflate the hot air ballon named “Obsession”. The owner and pilot, Ingrid, educated us on all aspects of what it takes to setup and operate a hot air balloon. It was really a special experience from an incredible pilot and her family. Even with the hot air balloon experience, we were able to get on the trail fairly early. The ride for most of the morning was wide and fast. As the day progressed the road surface began to change from white sand, to red clay, to black sand and back again. One of the sections of white sand was easily one of the most enjoyable sections of the entire trail. It was full of whoops and small jumps with lots of twists and turns that were fast and sweeping. We had an absolute blast riding through this section! We ended up in Crescent, Oregon at the Mohawk Restaurant. This place is a sight to behold. It is full of incredibly odd items that someone collected over what would seem to be a great length of time… the pictures speak for themselves. Since we were so close to the 4th of July, all of the hotels were booked up. We had to ride another 25 miles into another town just to find a place to stay.
After several days without Chris, he finally caught back up with us after trying to ride the TAT from where he left the group. Needless to say, he was completely exhausted to which we would find out more about later in the day. Our first day in Oregon had us back together as a group of 4. The ride was less scenic than what we had become accustomed to in Colorado and Idaho, although it was still a great ride. It didn’t take long for Chris’s exhaustion to catch up while we were riding. He kept getting slower and slower and wasn’t responding through our headsets. Finally, he pulled over and had to stay behind in order to catch up on sleep on the side of the trail. The 3 of us kept moving to our next destination. We rolled into Prineville, Oregon and stuck up a conversation with a hot air balloon pilot that was flying the next day in a nearby park. She invited us to the event and to assist in setting up the ballon. Richard and I gladly accepted!
We gained back another group member since Ron caught back up with us after riding to Idaho with Richard and the support trailer. This day started with riding similar to the day before, but quickly changed with several roadblocks through out the day. The first major road block was a backhoe loading a semi with dirt. The only way around was to drop down the fairly steep hill to the left and climb back up the other side. We all managed the detour with ease and even surprised a woman operating a dump truck who wondered where we came from. It didn’t take long before we encountered gates across the road where we would have to stop to open and close them as we passed through. There is one part of the trail in this section that doesn’t look like a trail at all. We missed the turn onto the trail because it didn’t even look like a road. I imagine most of the traffic this section sees is from TAT riders. Once in the National Forest we were led to a dead end due to trees completely blocking the trail. We had to detour around this part which added about an hour to our ride. Once around the trees, we were greeted with fantastic riding with incredible mountain views and even a herd of Elk crossing the road. Without a doubt, this was an adventurous day that left us exhausted but incredibly satisfied.
We had to crack open the Adventure Medical Kit for the first time this morning. Lynn crushed his toes between a rock and his bike the day before when we went around the first washout. Luckily this was the only time we needed anything from the med kit. Featherville is a unique little place in a rather remote part of Idaho. It is listed as a gas stop on Sam’s maps, but as you can see, the gas pump is not exactly what we’re used to. First thing in the morning, we had to knock on the camper door of the man who sells the gas. I believe we paid $28 for 4 gallons of gas. We rode along a river for most of the day and couldn’t have asked for much better riding. Once you make it through the brutality of Oklahoma, everyday on the TAT is full of unique, exciting, and beautiful riding. Idaho proved to be one of the most scenic states on the TAT. Another section of the trail was blocked off at a bridge; the bridge had concrete barriers at each end. We managed to squeeze through and continue on our course. We ended our day with a view of the location where they hold Idaho’s biggest motorcycle event, a hill climbing competition called the Big Nasty.
Lynn and I spent the morning enjoying the beautiful countryside of Idaho as we headed into Sawtooth National Forest. This was easily one of the most beautiful sections of the trip. The landscape was so perfect it felt like something out of a movie. The ride through Antelope Pass left us speechless. The photographs will never come close to doing any of this section justice. It is truly a spectacular place to ride. Once we came down from Antelope Pass, we started heading towards our destination for the day… Featherville. After several “road closed” signs we came across what we thought was the reason for the signs. We easily found a way through the washed out road and continued towards Featherville with less than 15 miles to go. It didn’t take long until we found out the real reason for the “road closed” signs. The road was completely taken over by the river and was in a permanent stated of closure. There was no getting around it and we were left with the only option being a 75 mile detour, most of which was on paved highway. Eventually we rolled into Featherville in time to get a good dinner at the local diner and crash for the night at the Feather River Motel.
I started day 27 with hunting down a new rear tire. Luckily, Greer’s Hardware store had a fantastic selection of motorcycle parts and accessories. I changed my tire in the hotel parking lot. We got back on the road a couple of hours later than normal. The final section of Utah is full of beautiful farmland set within endless rolling hills. At one point, we came up on a group of farmers herding cattle. Not long after, Chris started having clutch issues. After lunch in American Falls, he decided to stop riding and take his bike to Rekluse headquarters to get it fixed. The ride from American Falls to Arco is a desolate one! The terrain is unforgiving and I believe it would be un-passable if it was wet. I crashed for the first time breaking my windscreen off; not a half mile later, I crashed into an unmarked fence across the trail. Needless to say, I was ready to make it to Arco for the night. Once in Arco we were greeted by a group of Goldwing riders and a gentleman who ended up buying us dinner that night.
We started our day leaving from the Border Inn and heading back into the deserts of Utah. This day would be one of the most surreal and peaceful days we experienced. The ridding was everything we had come to expect for most of the day, but we had moments out in the desert that were incredibly peaceful. Every spot we found to take a break was void of human sounds outside of our own. The wind blowing through the desert grass was all we could hear. As we rolled over the top of one of the hills we could see the Boneville Salt Flats off in the distance. I cut my engine at the top of the hill and coasted several miles down the hill and enjoyed the quiet and stunning landscape as I approached such an iconic place. It was a slice of time that I will never forget. Once we found the salt flats, we took a little detour and stretched our legs on the flats. We couldn’t have asked for a better surprise and we wasted no time enjoying ourselves. Not long after racing around the slat flats, I got a rather large puncture in my rear tire and had to ride all they way to town (another 50 miles) on a flat. Luckily, I was running Tubliss and was able to make it with relative ease.
The morning temperature was pretty cool and the mountains had us in the shade for most of the morning. We relished any sliver of sunlight that could reach us. I would stop every-so-often to get pictures of the guys riding and at one stop I look down and realize I missed getting a flat by inches. A screw went right through the middle of one of my tread blocks. If there is one thing about the TAT, it is that most of the trail is incredibly peaceful. You are often away from the business of human life and can enjoy the places you visit without the distraction of other people. Utah is a beautiful state with spectacular riding. Chris and I got a little spirited with our riding at one point and hit a corner with a little too much speed. Chris laid his bike down, but didn’t damage or hurt anything. It wasn’t long before we got our first glimpse of the salt flats. We were so excited to see the salt flats and had a blast riding around on the incredibly sticky surface. It was a long hard day of riding but we eventually made it to the Border Inn at the border of Utah and Nevada. It is the only place around for miles.