Day 8 . My. St. Helen's

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Aug 23, 2009

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Day 8 - Prospect Oregon - Mt. St. Helen's ...    

I know some of you have noticed that we were a day behind in keeping this page up to date ... the wireless connection in Prospect was terrible and we couldn't keep a connection long enough to upload a picture.

We are trying to catch up!

As you can see from the map, Prospect is about 40 miles south of Crater lake in Oregon and we felt like we were getting behind in the mileage so we decided to make a run for Mt. St. Helens in one day.  We didn't book a room for the evening an decided to wing it partly because we had no idea how far we were going to get before needing to stop. 

The first part of the drive in the morning was great ... sunny, not too hot, no traffic ...

Highway 97 is part of the Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway that extends from Canada down through the western US ... the portions of the highway that we were on earlier in the trip were gorgeous but today's drive was quite hectic ... a lot of traffic and not too much in the way of scenery for the most part.  We were looking forward to getting off the 97 and on to the 26 highway where we figured things would improve ... well they didn't really ... the traffic got worse if anything.

This was making for a long day ... we needed to get across I-84 and on to some back roads to escape the traffic.  We stopped at a place called Government Camp for a rest and some water and decided to ask about our route with some other people that were at the little cafe ... when we asked, the man and woman we were talking to basically told us that the only way to Mt. St. Helens was to continue on the 26 to I-84 then I-5 all the way up ...

This was not what we wanted to hear because we are avoiding the interstate highways like the plague especially I-5 ... it's great if you need to be somewhere in a hurry in a car but not our idea of a relaxing motorcycle trip.

I had planned this whole trip out on the GPS software and what we were hearing was not adding up so the guys asked if I wanted to look at his road atlas ... which I did of course.    I was pleasantly surprise to find out that what I had planned was right and even though the people had been travelling around that area for years and years, they never knew you could get to I-84 through the back roads to Hood River.

Here is where the day turned around ... Highway 35 was fantastic all the way through the ski areas and campgrounds and this did a lot to improve the bike karma.

We made it to Hood River ... what a beautiful place ... huge lake, people fishing and water skiing ... hot and sunny.

I did make a mistake because I thought we had to go about 12 miles on the I-84 west before getting on the recommened back roads north ... once we got there I realized that I hadn't zoomed in far enough and we were supposed to cross the lake at Hood River ... off at the next exit and back we went.

I cost 50 cents to cross the toll bridge at Hood River and then we were on our way again ... one thing that I have to note is that the entire bridge was grating ... driving a loaded bike across this while squirming around was an experience believe me!

While I was trying to figure out the best roads for motorcycling I read about the Woods Creek Road and the ride to Wind Ridge at Mt. St. Helens ... the reviews were right!  Back country paced roads where the trees literally created a canopy over them ...

The climb to Windy Ridge was a great ride as well although the road was is rough shape in places ... you also had to take your time and not get too agressive in the turns becasue if you were motoring along and hit some of the loose gravel that was in the turns, you could shoot yourself off the side of the active volcano ... not a good thing!

We learned that there are two access roads to Mt. St. Helens ... one on the east to Windy Ridge where we went and one to the west at Johnson's Canyon ... there isn't much at windy ridge except scenery and a few story boards that explain the erruption in 1980.  At Jonson's Canyon there is a huge interpretic center that shows movies etc ... maybe next trip.

You can see in the picture that when the side blew off the mountain all of the ash blanketed everything, killing it ...  the dead trees are still sticking up everywhere.

Once we finished viewing the sites we had to backtrack down the mountain and try to find some place to stay for the night.  We made it to Randall just after supper and had a coffee and a bowl of soup at a diner and found out there was a motel in Morton about a 20 minute drive west.

We got to Morton, checked in at the hote, and headed to the Mixican resaurant that was just across the parking lot ... now I'm not one for Mexican food but the fajitas were pretty good ... I got to get one of those cast iron skillets!

This was about a 1200 km day ... and our rear ends were feeling it by the time we got off the beast!

more to follow ... hope you enjoy the pictures

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