Monday, July 29, 2013

Wandering the Cowboy Country of the Western U.S. - Chapter 3: The Mountain Hideaway.

The culminating Chapter, of the journey from Chapter 1, and Chapter 2.

I love Mountain hideaways. They are amazing not only for hiding out from the Zombie Apocalypse, but pretty much for hiding away from almost everything including all those worries, chores, stresses and the busy-bee activities of your day to day life. It's the perfect hideaway from the Zombie that one becomes in real day to day life! 

Stanley is one such hideaway, I have come here twice now and have loved it both times. Although, this time the weather was starkly different from last, but it just added a different element to the appeal of this place. This morning the sunrise was greeted by moody skies, still lingering after last night's storm. The previous evening, I had enjoyed hearing the moo'ing of the cows right up to sunset. They had moved on this morning or had been herded back to where ever they rest for the night. 

If the weather had been nicer last evening, you would have found me lounging on those hammocks,  or the swing, drinking some wine or beer, maybe reading a book, before a dip in the hot tub or a massage in the Tipi. Something to look forward to the next time I am here. 

Although, the next time I might also be tempted to camp along the shores of Red Fish Lake. I haven't quite worked my way up (or down) to camping yet. I enjoy my creature comforts and a nice comfortable bed with warm sheets and a private bath with a hot shower. Can't beat that after the end of a long day, I have done the Iron Butt Motel (picnic table or in the corner of the gas station) a couple of times before, but that was more an endurance rally ritual than anything else. When one tours, why not tour in comfort? :)

Red Fish Lake is such a pretty lake, it doesn't quite rival Jenny Lake in the Tetons or Crater Lake for that matter, but it is still one of the prettiest lakes I have seen. 

The water is pure and cystal clear. Goes to show that you don't have to live in Enviro-Nazi Kalifornia to be able to take care of or preserve nature's beauty.

It was well past mid morning when I left Stanley, and once again, I had a long ways to go before I would stop for the night and it was a long slog through the Idaho mountains. A lot of fun in the beginning on Hwy 21 till I reached Lowman, but then the heat had started to hammer down on me as I started to descend on Banks Lowman Road and then Hwy 55 into Horseshoe Bend. A sprinkling of construction stops along both roads didn't add much to the fun either. So, once I would start to move again, I would get back in the stop for nothing mode. I veered away from Hwy 55 onto Hwy 52 into Emmett and then to Ontario, Oregon to catch Hwy 20. 

Hwy 20 west of Vale has some great sweepers and the fun continues almost all the way to Burns. Not much in terms of scenery here, pretty much just high desert, yet for quite a while, you run right beside this river, the name of which escapes me. Mostly just bald and barren canyons. There is also no one here for hundreds of miles, and you can really wind up your bike..

It was after a fuel up in Burns, that I first noticed signs of upcoming trouble with the bike. Hesitation and surging as I would get on the throttle and sometimes even when cruising along, at the time I was attributing it to bad or dirty gas in Burns. 
At Burns I had decided to head to Bend instead of running late through the evening into Mt. Shasta. I didn't think it was wise to be approaching the forest rodent infested country around Mt. Shasta when I was already a little tired from a long hot day and because those forest rodents only get more active as dusk approaches. I hate deer! Haha!

On Hwy 20, about 10-15 miles away from Bend, in the hills East of there, you can clearly see Mt. Hood which is another 100 miles North West of Bend. You can also see Mt. Adam further north and even the Three Sisters, but my camera didn't have the reach to touch Mt. Adams from this distance, and the Three Sisters just did not have the altitude to be impressive from here. 

The picture makes it appear so much closer, the work of the zoom lens..

Bend wasn't too exciting. I found a decent hotel to rest for the night and then found a cute little pub with some great Beer, for some strange reason, this pub was having a family night and there were kids running around. Hmm, I guess Portland isn't the only place which is weird..
Anyhow, that was the extent of the excitement in Bend. A good night's sleep is what took it's place. 

The next morning, as I rode out south, I had another inkling of some  gremlin messing around under the gas tank. I stalled at the turn in to the ramp for Hwy 97. At this point I just figured I was a doofus and had stalled my bike, and as it started right back up again, I pushed anymore thoughts about it out of my mind. I shouldn't have, but the symptoms were so rare at this point, I was still sticking to my dirty gas theory. As it would turn out, I would park the bike for a couple weeks when I got home, being too busy at work, when I would finally take it out I will discover, it was actually the TPS (Throttle Position Sensor), which has finally decided to die on me as I write this, rendering the bike dangerous to ride and hence threatening to jeopardize my August trip back to Montana. Crikey!!!

Back to the trip, I once again took the Cascade Lakes detour from Hwy 97, I love this road which bypasses about half of heavily enforced and boring Hwy 97 between Bend and Klamath Falls. You also pass right next to the South Sister mountain and Broken Top, pictured below as I approached them. Mt. Bachelor is behind me at this point.

Then you round the bend and you look back and you take in Mt. Bachelor to one side .. 

.. and the South Sister to the other side, and the river of passion flowing in between them.. I guess South Sister is the luck(ier) one.. :)

I didn't have far to ride today. Bend to Mt. Shasta is less than half a day or riding, so I was taking it easy. Cascade Lakes Highway provides many a scenic vista, some of which I posted here, but many others I decided not to. Something about this highway cutting through a forest of dead trees which had been scalded in the not too distant past by a forest fire, caught my eye and the shutter flew.. 

I was finally at my favorite Mountain Hideaway, and it's not just any mountain but one of the most impressive volcanoes on the continent, wrapped in mystery and legend - take your pick: The spirit of a great Indian Chief who took residence inside Mt. Shasta and fought the evil lord of the underworld who resided at Mt. Mazama (now Crater Lake) by launching smoke and fire from atop (probably referring to volcanic eruptions at both mountains), or would you prefer an advanced civilization which lives deep within the mountain from the lost continent of Lemuria, or a lost village filled with gold and mummies, supposedly discovered by a man named JC Brown. Who was then supposed to lead an expedition from Stockton, CA to loot these treasures, but who mysteriously disappeared the day the expedition was to set out, never to be seen again. Like I said, take your pick! :) 

I, however, was in not in Shasta to look for treasure or adventure. I was in Shasta to hide away from the world and celebrate Independence Day and there is no better place to celebrate it than here. Whenever I visit here, I feel the most free and liberated and relaxed than anyplace else. For me it is the perfect Mountain Hideaway, made even more so by my loving and gracious hosts. My American Family - Aunt Corinne, Uncle Rick, Cousin Russ (who was out helping a friend this weekend), Becky, Floyd, Gladys, we were missing my American Dad (Brian), who couldn't make it and neither could Jan who had been too busy slaving away being a modern day Florence Nightingale. Not to forget the boisterous gang of puppies who have the run of the place. 

This below is Raleigh (pronounced Rawley). He is bottom of the pack and gets bossed around by all the other dogs. He doesn't care much as long as he gets something good to eat! 

Only the pretty boys were posing for me. This below is Jasper. He 'thinks' he is Top Dawg. He should know better and Corinne frequently reminds him he is not..
All the other dogs are female and they weren't interested in posing for a picture..

Corinne always lays out quite the spread for July 4th. Tri-Tip and Grilled Chicken, Green Salad, fresh bread, baked at home that morning and some finger licking good home made Peach Cobbler. Brian, you totally missed out man!! Brian, Floyd and I consider ourselves to be Corinne's favorite taste testers. If she would make it, we would polish our plates clean!!

The next day Corinne and I took a little drive into the countryside. We had both been wanting to visit the lavender farms in the area. It was a good thing she drove as well, we had about a mile and half of a somewhat steep hill climb on a rough 'soft sand' dirt road to get here. I would have still made it up here and back on my heavy motorcycle, but I probably wouldn't have had much fun doing it. 

The view from the farms is incredible and very well worth the minor inconvenience of that dirt road. Here is my Aunt Corinne enjoying the fragrance of row after row of lavenders as they point the way to Mt. Shasta.

Another picture of Aunt Corinne, if you look in the background carefully, you can see Lake Shastina in the distance at the foot of the mountains. You also see the thriving farmlands of Siskiyou County in the background, a community which has been recovering after the timber industry was shut down by the EPA (Employment Prevention Agency), which has now turned it's attention to targeting and removing all the dams in the area, once again threatening the productive farmlands of this county. Food grows, where water flows .. but who cares about feeding those pesky troublesome humans, right? :)

The maze at the lavender farms. It was fun walking this maze, pretty easy to figure out really, but still! :)

A couple other views of my favorite mountain -  Mt. Shasta as seen from the lavender farms. I loved the fountain on their property. 

The water in the fountain had this beautiful shade of Turquoise. I think they coated the base of the troughs with something to make it appear so. It looked great and I thought it served as a great foreground to Mt. Shasta. 

We weren't the only one's enjoying the lavenders. The bees were busy being busy-bees! Not all bees are honey bees, but these most certainly looked like they were, but may have been bumble bees. Such a pretty little bug. Good to see them thriving on the farms. 

Yet another view of Mt. Shasta from Corinne's. (I never tire of this mountain, I sometimes like to sit and stare at the mountain for long periods of time. This mountain, can and has shown fiery ferocity before, but it still has magical powers to slow down time, and to soothe and relax you as it lays dormant. 

After a couple great days of stay here, my mountain vacation was coming to an end, I was headed towards Sacramento and the IBR checkpoint which was coming to Sacramento, otherwise I would have definitely spent another couple of days here - My favorite mountain hideaway! :)

I took one last parting picture, my hoping and wanting to return here soon, always wells up and springs like this fountain. 

Thank you for reading! :)


  1. Awesome trip report. I love all the photos. So colorful and crisp.

    And even a little thrown in of Oregon, (my home State). I am glad you avoided Highway 97 as much as you could. So boring.......

    Thanks again for sharing your trip report and all of the photos.

    1. Thank you! Always appreciate your taking the time to stop by and your thoughtful comments! :)

  2. Again, nicely done. I have a commitment in Seattle the latter half of this month. You've convinced me to route myself up 97 - with a possible detour using the Cascade Lake Hwy - rather than simply blasting up I-5. I suspect the return will find me on the Oregon Coast.

    Great photos. Always interesting how a view of Mt Shasta makes me feel as if I'm being welcomed home.

    Thanks for the inspiration...

    - D

    1. Depending on how much time you have, there are a lot of fun alternatives to I-5 whilst staying inland. Cascade Lakes Hwy is one, and so is Aufderheide National Scenic Byway although the latter is much more remote and technical.

      I also like NF-46 (Breitenbush) out of Detroit Lake to Timothy Lake, or catch Hwy 224, whic his fun until you drop down into the madness of the Portland area..

      Have a good time in Seattle, I will be watching your blog for your explorations! :)


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