Lacey, WA to Kamiah, ID
In the most anti-climactic starts ever, at 9:00 PDT, I departed my house. Starting mileage was 5355. My in-laws and best friend Chris had come over to see me off and at 9:00 on the nose, I rolled out of my driveway on the way to my first bonus location LD Comfort, in Hoquiam, WA. On the way, I was able to knock out a the ‘M’ in MERA and the highway 101 sign, since it contained a ’10.’
Using the information from BaseCamp, I'd created a script to follow for the rally that contained each bonus location, estimated gas stop, and estimated stop for the night along with my expected arrival time for each. I also left a space for me to write in actual arrival time and odometer mileage. This level of documentation wasn’t necessary required for this rally since I was using the SPOT tracker, however I did it for a couple of reasons. First, I wanted to be able to judge if I was ahead/behind of my planned route; Second, on the off chance I screwed up something with a bonus location, it might give me enough evidence to prove I was there; Lastly, I just wanted the info for posterity’s sake.
I arrived at LD Comfort 5 minutes before schedule, having picked up the MERA 'M' and a highway sign with a '10' on the way. After securing the bike and electronics, I ran in and talked to the receptionist who lead me into the back where I got my picture taken in front of the huge American flag in their factory. I thanked them for their great products, which would go a long way into helping me finish this rally. I was hoping to see and meet Mario, but I didn't think it would be a wise idea to wait around.
With the first "real" bonus location out of the way, I was able to settle down a bit as I headed east on Highway 12 towards I-5. As I approached I-5, I could see traffic very heavy. Not good. As I got closer, I saw that traffic was not moving at all and the State Patrol had the exit closed off. I continued straight over the freeway and headed towards WA-537 which parallels the freeway, sort of. The next exit was about 5 to 6 miles south on I-5, so I continued on WA-537 to Centralia where I was able to get back onto a vacant I-5. I learned later all lanes were blocked by an accident about a half mile south of the US-12 on ramp. All and all, the detour cost me about 20 minutes, so it could have been significantly worse. I felt very lucky that I knew this area well and was able to divert to back roads very easily.
After stopping for gas near Vancouver, WA , I continued south to four bonuses in the general area of Portland. The first was Bonus 178 – Union Station. After that, I headed on surface streets to locations 74 – B-17 Restaurant, 63 – Huey Dust Off Memorial and 75 - The Canby Ferry. The latter is a small vehicle ferry that crosses the Willamette River between Canby and Wilsonville. It’s actually an electric boat that gets its power from an overhead line. I was the only passenger on the very short ride.
From here, the plan was to head for bonus 126 – Pine Hollow Lake. On the way, I hit some of the only traffic I would have on the whole trip. It was about 1500 and people were starting to get off work. Luckily, I was quickly out of the traffic and finally headed east. It was around here that I noticed it was REALLY hot, especially for the northwest. 105 degrees! I was expecting hot weather on this trip, but not here.
From my planning, I knew the latitude and longitude given for the Pine Hollow Lake bonus were likely in the wrong location, as the actually lake was clearly about 10 miles northwest of the waypoint. I also knew it was likely on a dirt road, which turned out to be the case. I didn't have any issue until I made the last turn towards the indicated location. I was slowly accelerating after the turn when the rear end kicked out to the right. This caused my right hand to be forced down on the throttle, exacerbating the problem. I was able to get my foot down to stabilize things a little and got my hand off the throttle which brought the back end back in line with the front end. Luckily I had enough speed that I didn't dump it, but I'm quite frankly amazed that I didn't. Shortly after, I arrived at the non-existent lake, took a few minutes to let my adrenalin level decrease a bit, and called the Rally Master to tell him I was here, but the lake was not. Rally Master Steve, as he would be each time I called him, was understanding and indicated that I would get the points.
The worst thing about this bonus was that my GPS had routed me 3 miles on dirt roads, when I really could have gone on a paved road for most of it, then turned down a dirt road for half a mile. Screw you Garmin!
Back on the pavement, I headed for I-84 and Oregon’s stupid 65 mile per hour speed limits and non-self service gas stations. These two things make me hate traveling through Oregon. I usually make it a point to not get gas in Oregon, but there was no way around it for this trip. I was able to verify reports I’d read online that they will let you pump your own gas if you are on a motorcycle. This is nice for me, as getting the GS filled with gas is, shall we say, a challenge. I had to get gas three times in Oregon on this trip, and each time the gas monkey let me pump it myself, which was a pleasant surprise.
My next planned stop was on the side of the freeway to pick up the ‘A’ in Arlington, OR. From there, the plan was to head straight for Orofino, OR for the start of Lolo Pass. However, traveling into Waitsburg, WA, I screeched to a halt and turned around. Did I just see... a camel in that field?? Yes, yes I did. Boom! Wild Animal bonus achieved!
As I was passing through Waitsburg I saw a cop on the side of the road, but decided not to stop since it was getting dark. After another gas stop in Waitsburg, the sun was down and my anxiety level was kicked up a notch as a good chunk of my attention was now devoted to looking for deer.
I had made the decision to get hotel reservations for the first night. This is a subject that seems to have lots of opinions. Some people swear they've never had trouble finding a room and don't like to be tied into either having to stretch to reach somewhere or stopping before they're ready. At least for the first night, I knew I didn't want to be dealing with Lolo Pass after dark, so I made reservations at the Clearwater 12 motel in Kamiah, ID.
However, before I stopped for the night, I would have to make a quick stop in Orofino to document the start of Lolo Pass for the bonus. Thanks to Google Street View, I'd determined there wasn't much of a shoulder near the "Entering Orofino" sign, so I'd planned to go to the post office. After a quick stop at the post office, it was back on deer patrol and resuming my duties as bug executioner.
I rolled into the Kamiah after midnight and I was definitely ready to stop. This motel was very motorcyle friendly, and i quickly off loaded the bike and put the cover on.
Indicated mileage: 678