With the morning heat already reaching 85 degrees, the cool mountain air was refreshing. I motioned to Robin that I wanted to get off the main highway and take a detour through the Klickitat Valley. Beautiful twisties wind along the gorgeous Klickitat River, definitely one of my favorites in Washington. We were in high desert country and the weather was perfect.
We stopped around noon at the local fishing hole. It was divine. We had the whole place to ourselves. This was serious backcountry. We had not seen one person on the whole ride in. The noon sun was hot and once we got off our bikes we both started to bake. Robin and I walked over to some trees and starting stripping off all our leathers. The river was amazing. A nice shallow stream with a gentle current that held us in place if we lodged our buttocks between the stones just right. This was what it was all about. A good ride and a refreshing dip with your best friend.
The next leg of the journey was to finish the Klickitat and get back on the main highway along the Washington side of the Columbia River and cross over a bridge into Hood River, Oregon. Easier said than done. From past experience, I knew this could be hellish. Seriously. The Gorge blows hard. This is the place for world-class windsurfing and the place is, well…windy! Not just a little breeze, were talking knock-you-off-your-motorcycle kind of wind. Deep breath.
As we left the warm belly of the Klickitat desert and descended into the Columbia Gorge, we both began to feel it. The wind. It was late afternoon. Best windsurfing, worst riding. We smiled nervously at each other and took off down the highway. The wind was literally taking our breath away. Even with the 800-some-odd pounds of my Valkyrie, I was getting jerked around the road. Robin was doing no better. We were approaching a bridge so I went ahead. To make matters worse, this bridge was one of those metal mesh bridges. The wind hits you sideways forcing you to lean hard into it, literally hanging off your bike. Instinctively, I sped up. My tire was wobbling, my arms were shaking and I could barely breathe, but man! I was doing it! I couldnt even look in my mirror to see how Robin was doing. I needed to concentrate. A tollbooth was coming up ahead yeah, right! I was not about to stop. The tollbooth guy gave us a thumbs-up as we blasted by his station.
The rush of adrenaline was crazy. When I stopped at the next stop sign I could barely hold up my bike. I looked over at Robin. Her face was flushed and she was smiling from ear to ear. My God, that was nuts. We were nuts. I told her I had a friend in town who owned a small brewing shop and boy, did we deserve a drink. Eds shop, Herbs, specialized in brew packs for wine and beer and had a great selection of cigars and tobacco. Ed was thrilled to see us. He offered us some of his homemade apricot beer and told us to relax on the bench out front of his shop. Well, two days later we were still sitting on Eds bench, sipping apricot beer, meeting the locals, writing in our books and smiling like Cheshire cats.
Robin and I had decided one thing. Our road trip would have no fixed agenda. We would go wherever the wind took us. Well, it had definitely taken us to this little town and we were loving the hospitality of Hood River. We both slept like logs in our tent by night and daydreamed on Eds bench by day. But like all good things, the end was nearing. The road was calling. By day three, the bench seemed a little harder and our motorcycles looked back at us with pouty little engines. It was time to hit the road.
One of the jokes on the trip was the packing of Robins bike. It took me five minutes to pack my Valkyrie. It took Robin more than an hour to pack her Magna. No kidding. In her defense, she had no backrest or any touring accessories to help her pack and she had a lot to pack. This suited me fine since I slept later than her and it gave her some nice quiet time first thing in the morning and enabled me to wake up slowly. Plus, there wasnt the pressure of me impatiently breathing down her neck. Robin and I were groovin on this trip. Our daily schedules flowed beautifully together and we never once got into an argument. How could we? We were on our road trip and the Ents continued to share their magic.
We rode aggressively and ended up down in southern Oregon. We both showered and crashed hard in a cheap motel. The ride down had been amazing. I love riding through upper desert. You can haul ass and the expanse around you is breathtaking with the vast skyline, fields full of sage and the orange glow of high desert country. Beautiful, plus you can see for miles.
In part 3 read about the girls adventures with Chuck, a thunderstorm, a fire, and their silent goodbyes.