Gather 2006 Trip Report

by Catfish

Joanne had scheduled the last two weeks of August off as vacation for our annual Gather trip.  We planned to spent most of the trip exploring as many of the little Oregon forest roads as possible.  I got some new CDs for the iPod: AFI, Angels & Airwaves, K.T. Tunstall, & Los Lonely Boys. Mmmm...

Monday, August 21 - Packed too many clothes, got away late, did my secret scouting mission for the Cardinal (Gilman Rd.=Heaven, more later...), and arrived at Joanne's brother's place in Redding about o-dark-thirty. Freeways SUCK, but you do make better time when you're running late. Jumped in the pool with a view and had some dinner. Ahhhhh...

Joanne had arrived earlier on a borrowed F650GS Dakar. It had just had a head gasket & head replaced in the shop. The dealer *claimed* everything was fixed and it was ready for a two-week trip. It had a bad-looking chain, didn't like to start when cold, and just didn't sound quite right at low rpms. Lower-end knocky-kinda sounds. She said the coolant over-temp light came on & added ~16oz of water to the radiator to get to Redding. Hmmm...

Tuesday - I had an 8:00AM appointment with Rick Mayer <> in Anderson for an adjustment to the seat he made for my Caponord a few years ago. I've lost a little weight in the last couple of years, and had acquired a cracked <OUCH!> tailbone. Took Placer Rd & Cloverdale Rd for some cool-morning twisties; Yum-YUM!

Pulled into the driveway and I hardly recognized the place. He's built a new shop & office building in front of their home. He had two assistants working with him on the seats and another in the office on the phone. Looks like business is good!  It took a few adjustments and test rides, but by noon I had a seat that really felt GREAT again! 

Got back to Redding a little late for us to ride the backroads to Selma, Oregon as planned, so we jumped in the pool with a view again.  Ahhh...  Walked to Papa Murphy's and got a pizza for dinner. Vacation is HARD!

Wednesday, we headed up I5 past Lake Shasta and turned east on Gilman Road. This is a FINE piece of twisty heaven with no traffic.  The pavement ends after 16 miles as the road becomes FS27 or Fenders Ferry Road. This was a good gravel road across several ridges and valleys. Good dual-sport route. Joanne commented that she liked the 650GS better on the gravel than the KLR650s.

At a highway construction zone on Hwy-89, she said it was not running very good and surged pretty badly. We swapped bikes so I could experience what she was talking about. OHMYGAWD!

The chain was BADLY stretched in a couple of places and was making a LOUD CLANK as these spots started over the countershaft sprocket on each revolution. These noises faded with speed, but the rising vibration at speed was very disconcerting. The chain was TOAST and needed to be replaced immediately.

The motor ran poorly at low to mid rpms, but felted OK if you revved it out in each gear. A lot of the surging was the un-evenly stretched chain. Stopped at McCloud on 89 and Joanne started calling moto dealers. The only one with a 520 chain was back down I5 to Redding. So...

We got the chain just before closing, but the service dept. was not interested in an emergency chain replacement job or loaning us a chain breaker in the parking lot. Grrr... She bought a cheap chain breaker. Stopped at a grocery store for food & back to the pool with a view again. Ahhh... Once the sun set, Joanne fixed some dinner while I tackled the chain replacement. Dinner was GREAT and the new chain was on.

Thursday - as we packed, Joanne called the BMW dealer to report the continued water usage and the new chain it needed.  Headed towards the Gather one more time... Got to Crescent Lake mid-afternoon and set up our tents on the ridge next to the lake. Visitin' commenced as I found the cider. Mmmm... cider with hugs & kisses from beautiful women, my favorite!

Rhonda saved the marinated steaks we missed for dinner with them the night before.  So, after everyone else's dinner was cooked, we bribed the grillmaster & snuck the steaks on the grill.  Oh-MY, her steaks are to DIE for!  THANKS Rhonda!!!

Friday started with a nice breakfast & visitin'.  Then Rick's bbq lessons, Carl's pot-o-beans lunch (Mmmm...), more visitin', and helping prepare dinner.  Jocelyn, Shasta, Steve, and their crew did a WONDERFUL job! I was proud to help.  Shasta's cayenne-cashew baklava was QUITE the surprise!

Joanne, Flash, Shank, & a host of others brain-stormed the F650 issues. She headed to Oakridge for an extended-tip spark plug. Apparently BMW doesn't spec an extended-tip plug, but ALL of the F650 owners know to substitute. Shame all the BMW dealers haven't figured this out yet. She said it ran WAY BETTER, but still needed water by the end of the day. Many scratching heads tried to figure out WHERE the water was going. Not obvious. Yet.

Saturday started slowly after breakfast, but we took BlackBear out for a ride about 11. SSJoanne, myself with BB, and Chris Cork on his Cagiva Grand Canyon. Chris had a video camera setup and was going to film our crossing of FS19. I was not as smooth with BB on the back as he would have liked on the way up. I made a better effort to do so on the return trip. It was FUN! The F650GS needed more water.

Dinner, awards, & dessert were GREAT! Andrea, you ARE our Dessert Server of Choice(tm) <Yum-YUM!!!>, but watch out for Molly! She's a QUICK learner! Visited with many more folks, but not nearly everyone. Sorry if I missed you.

Sunday - As with most mornings, nature called early so I hiked down to the 2nd day-use beach while watching for the sun to get through the trees. Packing & breaking camp seemed to take forever. I brought too many clothes! Got everything loaded & parked up by the pavilion. Many hugs & good-byes with everyone else still there.

Another GREAT Gather! THANKS Gooz and everyone involved!

We rode to Oakridge and stopped at Manning's Cafe for a late breakfast. They bake fresh bread daily & make the BEST thick french toast with it. And BIG sausage patties. Joanne had two GIANT pancakes; 1 buckwheat & 1 blueberry. :-)

Up FS19 again, but stopped at the sign for a picture;
<>.  WOW, the Caponord felt much lighter without a BlackBear on the back! What a GREAT road! With our late getaway from Oakridge, we skipped 242 and continued up 126, 20, & 22 to Forest Road 11, the Quartzville Back Country Bypass.
<>.  One of the fires was just east Hwy-22 from our turn. You could see the helicopters & smoke just over the trees.

Quartzville Rd (FS11) was a wonderful little (1 lane with turnouts) twisty paved forest road that turns into sweepers with gorgeous views as we decended to the lakes. Took many little backroads into Scio for an evening with Judy Singer & her Mom.

Don Singer (former S.F.Northstars President) had left earlier in the afternoon to drive a load to California, so we missed him. Judy fixed a delicous quiche with dessert & everything! Mom fixed some of her home-made granola for breakfast with plenty of fresh berries. WOW, that was GREAT!!! THANKS Judy & Mom!

Monday, we stopped by the Napa store on the way out of town & looked into a new radiator cap for the F650. They had a few that would fit, but the BMW must run a MUCH higher pressure cap, as its spring tension was noticeably stronger that any of the possible replacements. We passed & topped off the radiator water.

Took backroads to Mill City & on to Detroit. Next came HEAVEN; Forest roads 46, 42, 57 past Timothy Lake (gravel), 58, Abbot Rd, & 42 again to Hwy-26. See
<>.  At Mt. Hood, we rode up to the Timberline Lodge for lunch. NICE lodge & views. Wish I had remembered to get the camera OUT of the tankbag. Food was a bit over-priced, but surprisingly good.

Back to Hwy-26 and on to Zigzag. Next was FR18 (Lolo Pass Rd.) across the back of Mt. Hood. Ahhhh... As we dropped down the north side past the gravel section, we noticed FR16 climbing back up towards the east AND it was paved! She twisted my arm. EXCELLENT little forest road with incredible views & curves! Highly recommended!

Dropped to the gorge with evening traffic, crossed the river at Cascade Locks, and headed to Martin & Carol's for the evening. Had the F650 over-temp light come on again while I was test riding it, so we stopped and added more water. Rolled into Vancouver about dusk and parked in the garage next to the MARIGOLD seat!  OHMYGAWD, what a FEAST they prepared for dinner!  Stayed up late talking about everything, and enjoying their wonderful hospitality & poodles. THANKS Martin & Carol!

Tuesday, we had planned to go play on Mt. St. Helens for the day withOUT luggage, while Mark M. offered to ferry our luggage to his & Roger's place for Tuesday night. :-) As we checked out the F650 that morning, we discovered that the oil level in the oil tank had risen above the sight glass from a day or two earlier. Uh-Oh. With a bright flashlight, the oil in the tank looked like brown gravy with a foamy cappuccino topping.  It was NOW obvious where the water was going.

Questioning how this motor had survived the 1500 miles of this trip so far, we decided to do an oil & filter change. Mark arrived and led us to the BMW dealer. The service guy looked at the contents of the oil tank and said this motor has SERIOUS problems. Joanne explained its recent history and he said good luck with YOUR dealer. He agreed about an oil change at this point in the trip. Bought a filter & then off to Mark & Roger's place. Joanne started tearing the F650 apart, while Mark showed me the WiFi-enabled backyard office. WOW!!! Krypto showed me HIS favorite spot too!

Returning to the garage, we found SSJoanne wrestling with the oil drain plug. It wouldn't budge. The open-end wrench & 12-point sockets were not finding enough corners left to bite. I clamped a vise-grip on the best set of flats, and then put a LARGE crescent wrench on the side of vice-grips. The vice-grips were twisting & about to break as I released tension. Hmmm... This is NOT good!

Joanne called our favorite BMW dealer's service manager, described today's issues, and asked what HE thought we should do with this bike. He said to keep adding water as necessary and ride it straight home. We frowned, and she put the F650 back together. Then we surfed the web, discussed trip options, and pampered Krypto. Joanne called Mauro and told him she was heading home on I-5 tomorrow & that he should be prepared to drive the van north if she doesn't make it all the way.

Roger came home with GREAT Thai food and we pigged out. :-) Talked about software, UIs, and GPSs. Geek Central! Mark showed me MANY backroads to go play on.

Wednesday morning I awoke to the sound of Joanne starting the F650 in the driveway. I waved out the window and my traveling partner was gone. :-( Had some breakfast while looking at online weather forecasts & radar. Packed up everything, and said good bye to Mark, Roger, & Krypto. THANKS for the help & hospitality! Headed towards Hwys 210, 219, 8, 6, Timber Rd, & 47 to Clatskanie.

All the way through Forest Grove, it was dark & cloudy to the northwest and clear to the south. By the time I got to Hwy 6 it was sprinklin'. About the town of Timber, it was raining HARD and I was suppose to ride another 50 miles north before heading towards the coast. Hmmm... Plan B!

Turned around and headed towards the clear sky to the south. :-) Back to Forest Grove & down 47 to Carlton. Took the Nestucca River Byway to Blaine & Beaver. Nice twisty backroads! The hard-packed gravel section looked like it had been recently rolled smooth and was slightly moist from an earlier rain. Amazing traction!

At Beaver I looked at the maps & back-tracked to Blaine & then south to Willamina. About half way south I came to a major intersection that my Oregon map didn't show. Stopped & looked at the Gazetteer and the signs. The left was Bald Mtn Rd and it supposed to climb past Sheridan Peak. I LIKE diversions!

On the way to the peak, I spotted an OHV staging area and stopped to look for info. Talked to 2 riders getting ready to go ride when a ranger drove up. He reminded everyone that they MUST have 2.5 gallons of water & a shovel to DRIVE into this area. Said they don't try to enforce the rules with motorcycle riders, but all trucks and cars withOUT either can be ticketed! What a bunch of sheep-control freaks! Beautiful area to dirt ride, but the use rules are a BIT over the top!  Took a picture at the peak & headed on down to Willamina. GREAT set of empty, curvaceous forest roads!!!

Took 22, 223, & 20 to Philomath for gas & picked up some lunch snacks for Mary's Peak. Hwy-34 & Mary's Peak Rd. Ahhh... :-)

I had Mary all to myself with GREAT views & lunch! Called Joanne's cell & left a wish-you-were-here message. About this time a small truck drove up with an ATV in the back. I watched as they (middle-aged couple) unloaded it & then walked over to enjoy the view. The guy told me that his mom had just died the day before, and her last wish was to have her ashes scattered to the wind from the top of Mary's Peak.

They were making a scouting run with the ATV to see if he will be able to ferry the old relatives (one at a time on the back of the ATV) up to the actual summit from the parking lot for the services in a few days. He said he knew it was illegal, but hoped I'd understand. I smiled & waved as they rode the ATV around the boulders and barriers & up the hiking trail to the summit. Good thing there weren't any sheep-control freaks around!

Continued down Hwy-34 to Alsea & then south to Little Lobster Creek Rd., & Lobster Valley Rd. HEY! Wizzzz... That sign at that intersection was too small to read at this brisk pace. It *couldn't* be FR 35 to Deadwood yet?!? Nahhhhh! WOW, fun roads! At the Tee at FR32 I realized the last intersection WAS 35. OOPS! The map shows 32 also going down to Hwy 36 near Swisshome. I'll take IT instead!  Nice road!  Until I reached the ROAD CLOSED sign with the 4-ft sunken grade behind it. CRAP!

The Gazetteer showed a couple of dirty forest roads/trails going from 32 to 35. I tried FR3259. A few miles down this trail I realized there are NO fresh tracks, anywhere. It looks like I'm the first one through this year! The water bars were small, until I got to the last intersection about 2 miles from 35. There was a 4-FOOT mount of dirt & rocks blocking the trail. CRAP!

All the way back 3259, 32, & Lobster Valley Rd to FR35. FR35 to Deadwood was a narrow, twisty piece of heaven through a lush rain forest!  :-)

At Hwy-36 I went south to 126, east to Vaughn Rd, to Territorial Rd to I5. Got into Steve & Christy's place on Elkhead Rd. (east of Yoncalla) about 9:30PM.  442 miles.  That seat adjustment last week was working GREAT!!!

Thursday morning I hiked up the ridge of their property to enjoy the view.  Found a message on my cell from Joanne; the F650 make it 750 miles to home with only one radiator re-fill! AMAZING!  I spent the day visitin' with Steve & Christy, and getting his AOL software working on his new hand-me-down computer. Steve gave me a cool-looking route to try the next morning on the way out. THANKS for everything Steve & Christy!

Friday morning I took Elkhead Rd to Scotts Valley Rd, to London Hill Rd, & London Rd to Cottage Grove. :-) Next was Shoreview Dr. past Dorena Lake. Then came Sharp Creek Rd, Martin Creek Rd, and several BLM roads that took me up along a ridge with great views & twisties. I followed this last road until I came down to Hwy-138 just east of Idleyld Park. GREAT set of roads, Steve!

Took 138 to I-5 south & down to Riddle. Next was Cow Creek Rd, Dutch Henry Rd, and several BLM roads down to Galice. Checked the signs to Agness & Gold Beach, and the main paved road is FINALLY OPEN again! The roads to Agness & back were excellent twisty fun, but you did have to see & dodge the many sunken grades! Just a bit technical.  Back at Galice, I took FR25 (Briggs Valley Rd) past Onion Mtn and down to Selma.  Its another one of these Oregon gems with 20 miles of twisty pavement + 6 miles of improved gravel + 20 miles of paved heaven at the other end. :-)

Got into Selma & out to Joel & Margee's ranch on Deer Creek Rd. Visited with Joel who was resting after his Wednesday eye surgery. Margee got home from work later.

Saturday, we went into Cave Junction for breakfast & to count quarters at the Brown Barn Launderette. WOW, what a PILE of quarters!!! Afterwards, as Margee was planning some errands to run, Joel suggested a little rock crawlin' & shootin' up the canyon. :-) We did some shooting at an old washing machine & refrigerator at the end of some jeep trail. Joel is a good shot to be BLIND in one eye! 

Next came a boulder garden to play in. <>  His Toyota rock crawler was impressive.  The exoskeleton is about 2/3 complete.   Next we climbed several trails to get near the top of this ridge we could see. It got VERY steep until we were blocked by a downed tree. Looked like we were only 100 feet from the top, but this was as far as we were getting today. Too steep here to turn the truck around, so I spotted for Joel as he had to back down to a better spot. BIG FUN Joel!

Sunday, I took FR25 to Galice, and then to Agness & Gold Beach. LOTS of folks camped along the lower river. It was COLD and very foggy at the ocean. Rode down to Hunter Creek Rd and was disappointed that the pavement only lasted 4 miles. Continued out to Wildhorse Lookout Road, and then down Pistol River Road back to the Ocean. BURRrr!!! Did the Carpenterville loop, and then back up to Gold Beach, Agness, Galice, & Selma the way I came. :-)

Monday I gave Margee a BIG hug as she left for work, and took Joel out for breakfast. THANKS Joel & Margee for everything! Packed up and head east on Deer Creek Rd over the mountain to Williams. More twisty heaven! :-) Next was 238 to Jacksonville & backroads to Gold Hill.

234 to 62, and then Butte Falls Rd and Butt Falls-Prospect Rd. to Prospect. Ahhh... Back down to Butte Falls and east to 140. Took Westside Rd north past Klamath Lake to 62 to Chiloquin. Took Sprague River Rd to Drews Rd to Godowa Springs Rd north of Beatty.

This was the back way Bret & Barbara had mentioned to get *near* their place when I thought we'd be stopping by LAST week! Then came some exploring on many dirt roads & cell-phone calls to Barbara before I stumbled on the RIGHT gate to their property. Barbara led me in on her QUAD!

YIKES! Middle of friggin' NoWhere!  No utilities whatsoever.  Off grid and 100% solar powered.  Only Verizon wireless & sat phones work there.  They have satellite Internet access.  She walked over and pushed the corner of the large solar array on its pedestal to point it towards the sun. 50 miles to Klamath Falls for the nearest large grocery store.  This would be a bit rustic for Sherry, but Barbara really likes their 27-acre valley. Sparse trees in this high-desert forest. She said it doesn't rain here, only snow that lingers a while.  She WANTS the 20 acres north and the 20 acres south of theirs also. Bret was up at John Day driving a water truck for the fire-fighting crews.

Barbara & I hadn't seen each other in 2-3 years, so we had a bit to catch up on. It was crazy listening to her story of the night last February that they tried to drive up & move in.  Both pulling enclosed cargo trailers behind pickups through the snow. Apparently they got both trucks stuck on the last snow-covered dirt road to the property, and spent the night right there! Definitely an adventure!

Tuesday morning I hiked, packed, & waited for the temperature to climb above 40. THANKS Barbara!  Time to go home.  Took 140, 97 back to California and the freeways home.

Nice trip. 3100 miles puts the Caponord just over 50,000.  Max & Kate were excited to see me ride into the garage.  I got excited when Sherry got home from work!  ;-)

Catfish ...
Mike Chaplin
Concord, CA


Gilman Road (paved to yellow dot) and Fenders Ferry Road between I-5 and Hwy-299.

Forest Road 19 - Aufderheide - Beth's Favorite Road

Squidicus Sandbagerus in her native habitat


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