Before the sun went down, I got my first glimpse of Mt. Shasta. I'd been down this road before, but it was snowing at the time, so I never got to see the majestic peak. The interstate circles around it, so on a clear day, its view and that of the smaller volcanoes of the area are spectacular. And how awesome is it that the second town over the border from Oregon is called Weed?
So the funny part is that my room, that would have slept two (or four if doubled up), cost roughly what a campsite had cost the night before. I woke refreshed, and hit the road. Despite being a day behind my original schedule, I had a lazy day planned: lunch in Eugene with a friend I'd met over the internet, dinner with a family in Vancouver, Washington, (just over the border from Portland) that I'd also gotten to know electronically, then a night with an old friend in Portland, where I'd staked out a full-on mattress for the night.
It occurred to me on that long slog up the middle of Oregon on I-5 that while I was mostly independent on this trip, traveling alone for long stretches, it's not like I was spending this time alone. On a trip with friends you mostly don't talk between gas stops, and have to coordinate movements with a number of other individuals. On the other hand, on my trip I was able to socialize with a number of friends, maintaining almost complete freedom between stops taking what roads I wanted when I wanted to. It was turning into one of the more satisfying trips I'd ever taken. In the past I'd only either ridden alone or with a group, not this odd and fun hybrid.
I was hanging with friends old and new that I wouldn't have had a chance to see otherwise-asphalt by day, reunions by night. They were happy and awed by the fact that I rode so far to come to their house and community. Usually on a long trip, tensions start to surface between the travelers, but on this trip with only myself as a constant companion, there was none of that (in case you can't tell, I love me some "me time"). I listen to my music as loud as I want without having to hit pause to let some bozo ask, "Is this where we turn left?" New people happily greeting you day after day is a nice feeling, and they are happy that you're safe and curious about your adventures.
I'm not saying this is the only way to go, but it's one that I think people should try out a little more often.
After a day in Oregon visiting Andy (Editor of MC Cruiser), I was off to Auburn, Washinton, to the house of Jeff Earle, organizer of the vintage bike ride I was destined to do that following weekend. Again, I just hastily pounded miles on the superslab, but both Oregon and Washington are blessed with beautiful rolling topography that makes even high-speed travel a joy. I arrived Thursday night, and like everywhere else on this trip, half the fun was visiting friends. Seattle itself is a cool town to roll around. It's very bike friendly with a lot of real enthusiasts, so I stopped by some shops to check out what they'd been building of late. Matt Adams of Redsoul took me for a ride with one of his custom choppers, and fed me Hawaiian food until I thought I'd burst. Huff Motorsports proprietor Steve Huff was running around busy as hell with his new location but had time to show me his balls. Ceramic bearings, that is.
Though it was far from my focus this trip, the big ride was just a day away. It would be a snowy, mountain-pass opening with a horde of vintage iron rumbling alongside. I couldn't wait.