Dear Oregon, I Love You

Wild Camping in Oregon

What an amazing couple of days it’s been. The state of Oregon is one of the most beautiful places I’ve been to.

First off, the bike’s indicators are all sorted (thanks go to Diego in Portland for pointing me in the direction of a good bike shop). I was worried it would be some tricky electrical fault, but it was only a failed rear indicator that was causing the odd effect with the front indicators – a simple $20 fix and the bike was made safe for more adventuring.

The next point-of-interest on my map was Crater Lake (Oregon) so a day of quality riding lay in store. Lots of riding… and then some more…. and some more. I thought I’d make it there in an afternoon without a problem, but no. Oh well. Wild camping in Oregon is really easy – it’s an enormous place and there aren’t many people. Some of the animal noises I heard in the night were unfamiliar though:

Howlng… That’s coyotes, right?

Grunting… Which wild animal grunts?

Sunday morning I broke camp and carried on heading for the marker on my map. Before I saw any signs of civilisation I spotted some hawks, four dear, one vulture (feasting on a tasty-looking roadkill) and…

A freaking BALD EAGLE!

I arrived at a town called Paulina (near the centre of Oregon) and found a general store. Being cold to-the-bone and not having had breakfast yet, this place was an oasis. The building was straight out of a ‘western’ and there was petrol, coffee, stamps (I had to post my mum’s birthday card), cigarettes and… a map of Oregon.

I was hundreds of miles off course. Oops 🙂

Crater Lake is actually in south WEST Oregon, not south EAST Oregon!

Hey ho.

The chap in the general store set me on the right path through the high desert – ranch country. What a sight. Straight out of the wild west, just like in the movies.

From Paulina down a desert road to Riley, southards to a place called Christmas Valley (it was in the desert and I don’t remember it being in a valley) and then west to the town of Silver Lake. Christmas Valley had an odd ‘feel’ to it, but all the road names were happy-sounding names like ‘Showman Rd.’ and ‘Tinsel Ln.’ 🙂

It had been a long day with breathtaking vistas but dusk was drawing near and I wasn’t where I wanted to be. To camp or to push on? That was the question.

Crater Lake

Crater Lake didn’t seem too far away so I figured I could just camp by the lake. That would be nice – right?

I don’t really have the vocabulary to describe the ascent towards and subsequent revealing of the lake. Perhaps if I had read more poetry when younger then I could give it a shot. Safe to say, when I got to the top of the road and looked down onto the lake, I let out an almighty expletive and went all-over tingly.

The sight of Crater Lake at sunset, moon reflecting off its dead calm waters and sunset-coloured sister valcanoes in the distance, was utterly overwhelming. It felt like a cheap move to even try to photograph it.

Definitely the most amazing sight I have ever seen. We are lucky to live on such a beautiful planet.

Some other stuff happened after that – I camped in a forest where bears lare known to ive, made a roaring camp fire, etc. Who cares though, after seeing that lake.

That was yesterday – a truly great day.

Oregon is now, sadly, behind me and I’m camped just by the road called “Avenue of the Giants” in northern California. It’s pretty nice here – like a magical woodland. The trees really are giant, and they really are red (reddish, anyway).

San Francisco is the next big waypoint – one that I’m really looking forward to. Whether I just do the highway to get there tomorrow, or split it over two days to take in some mountain roads, I’m not yet sure. However, if the next few days can even come close to the previous few days, I’ll have to take a few days of rest to bring myself back down to earth.

How do I make a living out of riding a motorbike around the world… all the time? If you know the answer, please let me know…

Answers on a postcard.

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