North to Alaska

Day 29


The last money shot.


It wasn’t supposed to be today – it was supposed to be tomorrow.


But, I was on the road early this morning – chasing route 97 south – avoiding the coastal cities – and into Oregon before I knew it.  Traveling was easy and beautiful – Washington and Oregon have so many faces – forested mountains – and barren desserts – the Columbia River – and, of course Crater Lake.


A good part of the day was spent riding through heavy smoke from the Oregon fires.  I couldn’t see the fires themselves – they were just beyond the ridge to the west, but the wind was blowing out of the west – carrying the smoke across my path.


I spoke with a ranger at Crater Lake – and he told me that it was a good thing I didn’t come yesterday – because the smoke was so thick that – standing on the rim – you couldn’t even see the lake.


The visitor center was covered up with tourists – the same as it was last year when I visited here, but this time I took a different route into the park – as was presented with a whole different view of this spectacular place. 


Since I was ahead of schedule by nearly three hours, I decided to press on for the last money shot – Lava Beds National Monument in California.  I say the last money shot, because getting the passport stamp at Lava Beds – gave me a California stamp – and that was the last piece to the completion of the Iron Butt Association National Parks Tour Gold.  It is my 62nd park in the 28th state – and completes the requirement of having at least one stamp from Maine, Florida, Alaska, and California.


It was a quiet celebration, alone as usual, at the Black Bear Diner – catfish, green beans and bacon – and the quiet realization that tomorrow I turn left – toward home.


And it is time.  I love America – and I will, once again, get the chance to see her breadth – from California to Connecticut.  That is an awesome opportunity – and I am so fortunate to have been able to do this journey three years in a row.  Yet, somehow, I long for a trip around my favorite ride at home – I call it the two reservoirs ride – about 50 miles – a cup of coffee half way through – and then home to sleep in my own bed once again.


But until then, I’ll turn the Valkyrie east – and she’ll bring me home once again – as she always does – injured though she might be.


So to you and Iowa Sioux and Bear, Labrador, Carlisle, PA – I say goodnight from the Alturas, CA.



 Index, Day, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 thru 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32&33 34