Rod's Four Corners Tour of 2008 travel blog

Lake Tahoe, CA

Crater Lake, OR

It was getting cold when I pulled off the road for the night. In the morning, there was frost everywhere, including the bike. I dressed warmly and packed up the bike. It was clear and sunny.

I clicked on the heated grips and liner and headed off toward Lake Tahoe. I had neglected to download the Nevada map to the GPS last night so I did not know exactly how far away it was. The highway climbed higher and higher and peaked around 5,000 feet at the summit. It was even colder and I cranked up the electric liner and grips a notch. The high alpine forests have a certain aroma. I experienced that in Mammoth yesterday and again today in Lake Tahoe. It is hard to describe but it just smells clean and crisp to me, especially when it is cold.

Soon I was riding through South Lake Tahoe. The Nevada side had lots of gambling places including a huge Harrah’s. There are routes around either side of the lake. I chose to go via the California side. The town reminded me very much of Banff or Jasper or Whistler with lots of chalets and motels. The difference was that there were lots of lakefront homes as well. I was a little pressed for time so I stopped quickly and took some photos.

The road out of Lake Tahoe was very nice with lots of curves and ups and downs. I was hoping for another viewpoint to take some pictures but it didn’t happen. There was also lots of road construction which slowed things up from time to time. It was a good motorcycle road that soon led to a multiple lane highway heading for Sacramento. The traffic congested but did not slow down. Eventually I turned north to I-5.

The weather was still clear and warming. There were lots of trucks monopolizing both lanes and sometimes it took a long time to pass the clusters of traffic. I don’t understand why some drivers insist on staying in the passing lane. There are signs everywhere saying “Keep Right Unless Passing” or “Slower Traffic Keep Right” but it certainly does not apply to them.

I took Aussie Karen’s advice to move toward Crater Lake. It was much further away than I had expected. Along the way there were several logging trucks with large cedar logs that smelled wonderful. Oregon may be the first contender for the dead skunk award. They don’t have as many, but get extra points for density. There were several of the flattened critters in a very short length of highway. Further on down the road in the oncoming lane, a large truck with two trailers whizzed by. It carried the unmistakable pungent scent of onions. There had to be several thousand onions on board. That was followed by another truck and then several more. It almost brought a tear to my eye. I was really glad to not be following those trucks.

A long while later I was closer to Crater Lake. Along the way there were hundreds if not thousands of very thick cob webs floating about. The bike hit a few and I wondered what they were. When I looked around I could see them floating in the air and near the road. They were attached to the hydro lines, telephone lines, fences – they were everywhere.

I made the turn in to Crater Lake Park and the bike lost power. The engine was running but nothing happened when I throttled on. I coasted to a very good place to pull over and park. A quick look showed that the drive chain had fallen off the rear sprocket. I got to work quickly to put it back on and adjust the chain slack again. I have never seen a chain degrade this quickly before. The adjustment is now as far as it can go and it is still loose. I sprayed lots of lubricant on the chain and rode on to the entrance gate. It was closer to continue than return the way I came.

I paid the half price (two-wheel) entrance fee and entered the park. It is a truly beautiful forest and had the same aroma as the other high altitude areas. Seven miles later I was at the first viewpoint. The road in was wet in places and it was cold. There was snow on the peaks and in the ditches. I was concerned about icy sections on the road. I did not spend much time taking pictures. The lake is very pretty and lived up to the pictures I had seen. The colour of the water is a very deep blue. I was hoping to see it earlier in the day with the sun overhead but some clouds had rolled in and looked a little threatening.

I decided to ride very conservatively to preserve what little life remained in the chain. Strong acceleration is a safety feature of motorcycles. It can get you out of a spot in a hurry if necessary. It is also a great fun feature of large displacement bikes. It was difficult for me to ride, using the throttle as gingerly as possible. I was regretting some aggressive highway entries earlier in the day. I had to keep thinking of the towing or walking alternative.

I slowly made it to Eugene, Oregon in the cold and dark. The chain seems fine but is stretched to its limit. I could stay here and either get some links removed or have a new chain and sprockets installed. My preference is to have the work done at my home dealer. I called a friend for an opinion but can’t reach him. I will have a closer inspection in the morning.

The weather forecast is clearing towards Vancouver, depending on whose web site you choose. In any case, the call is for light rain at worst. I have been incredibly fortunate with the weather on this trip, having only one bad episode in Florida. At least it was warm rain.

I was really looking forward to spending my last night in a motel, away from my family and home. I can hardly wait to sleep in my own bed. That may not happen now. Tomorrow will tell.

I am hoping to hit corner 4 tomorrow. I am finally listed on the web site as “On the Road” with two completed corners. I will stop to get the necessary documentation and pick up a package before crossing into Canada.

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