I've been looking forward to going back to Sturgis this year after Tony and I stopped by on our way West on the Corner To Corner trip last year. Almost every serious biker has to go to Sturgis at least once in their life, and I know a few who go back every year. It's officially the "Black Hills Motorcycle Rally" and this is the 69th annual one, but everyone calls it "Sturgis", after the host town in South Dakota. I actually reserved the hotel room last year since it tends to attract upwards of 500,000 bikers. However, with Tony and I splitting, I didn't have anyone to go with, until my friend Andre Cuesta stepped up and said he'd go. Andre rides a Harley as well, and is in both HOG and the Border Riders, the two clubs I ride with. Tony and I have ridden with him before and enjoyed it, and he's never been to Sturgis.
However, Andre is not known for being punctual -- and anyone who knows me knows that I am terribly punctual and get irritated at anyone who isn't. So at 6am this morning I get a call from him and he's panicked because he can't find his registration for his bike, then he falls down the stairs and hurts his foot, and he hasn't showered yet and will be leaving late. He says this as I'm sitting on the bike in the garage ready to go. We were supposed to meet at Ken's Truck stop in North Bend, WA, 35 miles East of Seattle at 8am. To his credit he said he'd be late -- 8:45. Well, 8:45 came and went, and no Andre. I was standing in the shadow of the "At the foot of the cross chapel", which was made from an old garden shed with a cross made of 4x4 lumber sitting next to the "pet" area across the parking lot from the truck stop. I guess God really is everywhere. I was tempted to go in and pray I didn't kill Andre for being late, but about then he rolled up.
So we headed east on I-90 and over Snoqualmie Pass and down towards Cle Elum where we exited and took the back roads along the Yakima River Canyon and across the Yakima Valley towards the Columbia River and into Oregon. It was hot -- like riding through a convection oven. Riding in Oregon is always a challenge -- as we are all too dumb to be able to pump our own gas and have to, by law, have an attendant do it. We had lunch in Pendleton where it was 102 degrees and rode south on US-395 up into the Blue Mountains where it was cool and nice and very pretty. This road is one of the least traveled and remote in Oregon -- I bet we passed only a dozen cars in nearly 100 miles. There are only a couple of near ghost towns between Pendleton and John Day too, so it made for a nice quiet ride.
About half way to John Day one crosses the 45th Parallel -- which is half way between the Equator and the North Pole. If we are to imagine the earth divided into four quarters, numbered 1 at the North Pole, and 4 at the South Pole, this would put me quadrant 2. If the Equator is the middle, which would be the south border of this quadrant, I would have to say that I just crossed the boundary into "Middle Earth". I suppose I should be watching for Hobbits then. Instead I had to watch for birds -- lots of them. I hit three of them on this trip! Quail I think -- sitting in the road and would try to outrun the bike. I'm not going to swerve to avoid a damn bird at 70mph.
We gased up in John Day, Oregon and headed East on US-20 towards Idaho. The Blue Mountains are very pretty and we even saw a few deer grazing. It's very sparsly populated and the next town was Vale some 112 miles down the road, and just before the Idaho line. I forgot we changed into Mountain Time here too, so we lost another hour (in addition to the one Andre lost already this morning). This means we were sitting in Vale at 9pm MDT, with still 75 miles to go to Boise. I texted my step-sister and said we'd not be getting in in time to see them, which was a dissapointment as I wanted to take the kids for a ride.
We hightailed it out of Vader heading due East, chasing my shaddow all the way into Idaho when the sun went down and we hit I-84 for a short hop into Nampa, some 25 miles from Boise where we pulled into a Holiday Inn Express for the night. Andre, who has never been on a long bike trip like this (he's barely got over a 1000 miles on his bike in 18 months) is a bit tuckered out. Me, this is old hat -- I guess I am developing an iron butt after all.