"I need to go to Camp Rilea."
"It's a little over a hundred and fifty miles one way."
"Is it worth the trip?"
"Yes. Need to troubleshoot a problem and touch base with a customer."
"I'm taking the bike."
"Have a nice ride."
Thus went the conversation between the boss and I. Which is how I found myself on the road to the Northern Oregon Coast. 330 some miles. Six and a half hours on the bike. An hour or so on the job. Not a bad work day. As it turned out, going the day before would have been a bit better weatherwise on the coast. Not that I'm complaining, mind you.
The ride over was fairly routine. I tend to take the direct route to someplace when I'm riding for work. Get done what I need to do. Explore and play afterwards. Yesterday was no different. Elvira and I hit the freeway to Portland and then headed West on the Sunset Highway. Elvira's thermometer indicated between 57 and 61 degrees ( F ) depending on how the morning sun hit the roadway. I had a sweatshirt on under the 'Stich. Coincidentally, the sweatshirt says Aerostich on it, too. It's perfect for cool mornings. Not too bulky, but of a dense material.
Somewhere about 1600 feet in altitude we crested the summit and headed down towards the coast. Sunshine gave way to that typical coastal fog and gloom. There was a hint of moisture against my face when I raised the visor. Just enough to be refreshing.
A bit after 10:30 AM saw us pulling into the entrance to the military reservation.
My first reaction was to copy a bit of dialog from a Tommy Lee Jones movie. U.S. Marshalls. He asks the guy ( who turns out to be the Bad Guy ) if he has a weapon. The guy says,
"Yeah, a big one. How about you?"
Tommy's reaction is what mine would have been.
"Are you sure you want to get cute with me, Kid?"
I'm sure the guard wouldn't have appreciated it so I squelched the impulse.
I've carried concealed for so long I don't even think about it anymore. What was the penalty for carrying onto a military base? Actually, why should it matter? It's not like there's not already a bunch of guns here, you know? Except maybe they want to be the only ones that have them.
I told the guard about the pistol. Also that I had no cannons or explosives. Like that would make the pistol less of a threat in comparison. The guard asked me for my CCL. Satisfied, he gave it back to me and waved me on past.
After leaving Rilea, I braved Highway 101 and headed up to Astoria. All the North-South traffic has to use this stretch. At least to my knowledge. There's a new Home Depot just South of Warrenton. Now there's more activity right across the Highway. Robinson Construction is building a Costco. Yikes!
I had a stop to make at Tongue Point Job Corps. We had done some warranty work there early in the year. As you may have guessed, I kind of like messing with people's minds. The trouble is that there's a lot of unarmed opponents when playing Mind Games. Anyway, I decided to go do a quick check on things.
The building involved is the mess hall. I arrived in the middle of the lunch hour. The place was hopping with kids. Standing near the door and watching the line of kids come in was this woman. I'd had a bad experience with her on my previous trip. Let's just say she was pretty demanding with a less than pleasant personality. I still had the riding gear on with the coat unzipped. As I walked by her, I saw no spark of recognition in her eyes. I guess I was a peon not worth remembering. I put up with stuff in the line of work that I won't personally. Today I owed her nothing. As she looked at me, she asked,
"Can I help you?"
I gave her the cold, hard, stare that cops work so hard on.
That was it. No explanation. I just let it hang there between us. She didn't know what to say. I could see her mind going a mile a minute. Does she call whatever security they might have? Does she personally challenge me? As I passed by her I could almost hear a couple of sputters. In the end, she did nothing but watch me go by and out the far end of the building. I sort of expected to be stopped at the gate on my way out, but the guard that had let me in just waved as I left.
Lunch happened in a Safeway parking lot. Both Elvira and I got a bit of fuel. I find that when I'm on the bike, I don't like to let too much take me away from riding. Like lunch breaks in a restaurant. The weather was still gray, but it was nice to look out at the Columbia River for a bit.
As I was standing there sipping coffee, a guy in a beat up old car drove by. He'd pulled out of the fuel station. There was a black point and shoot camera sticking out the window. As he drove by he snapped a photo of Elvira and I. Weird. I had an impulse to run him down and see what he was up to, but let it go.
Now that business was done, I headed down the coast towards Tillamook. Thirty miles North of there, the road heads up high onto a bluff. The fog was so thick it was actually a heavy drizzle. Everything was wet as if it were raining. Spray was coming up from traffic. That lasted a few miles and then things dried out again. It's around 75 miles to Tillamook from Astoria. It was one of the most frustrating rides of my life. The highway was packed with motorhomes, trucks, or head-up-the-ass drivers. Two hours of my life passed by stuck in traffic with little place to pass. Not that passing helped. I'd go by somebody to find myself trapped two minutes later. Where's that tank when you need it? The only relief was in Rockaway Beach. Not from traffic, but from boredom. Just shoot me now, will you? This was a major mistake.
I was standing up on the pegs for most of the stretch through the town. The speed limit is 30 mph. Nobody could have gotten a speeding ticket if they tried. A Rockaway cop pulled out of a side street and followed me. I stayed up on the pegs for a bit longer. My butt and knees were feeling the strain of so much slow riding. Technically, if a cop really wanted to be a hero about it, I could be cited for reckless riding. Like a stunter, you know. I guess the cop decided a real stunter wouldn't be in a hi-viz 'Stich and left me alone. I was almost sorry he did.
Finally, I got to Hebo. Highway 22 heads inland here. Along a river. Which means tight twisties. A pain in a car, paradise on a sleek, sporty, bike. Did I mention that the FJR has a real sporty side? Slow traffic was easily dispatched. Pegs were scraped. Good humor was restored. God, have I really turned into "that kind of rider"?
Once inland, the mercury climbed from 66 to around 90 degrees. Just hot enough to make a cold beer taste good when I arrived home a bit after 5. Drinking a toast to a great work day, to be sure! Yes, I know how lucky I am.
Miles and smiles,