July 21st, Marblemount, WA,Stop: July 26th, San
Distance: 2701 km (1679 miles), Total Distance: 16558
We were definately south bound as the miles disappeared
behind us, and we saw vulcanos and sand dunes on our way to California.
"I'm Nils from Trondhjem"
The 120 year old Loghouse Inn in Marblemount had five rooms,
numbered 1, 2, 3, 6, 7 and 8. Number four and five were sacrificed
at one stage to make room for a sofa and a few chairs in a communal.
The house had sagged in all corners and our little red carpeted
room was just big enough to fit a bed in it. We shared bath with
the rest of the rooms, which was fine with us since we seemed
to be the only guests. Downstairs we had a chicken dinner before
going around a couple of corners into the Middle Cabin lounge
- the center of the little town's nightlife. It was Thursday and
about twelve-thirteen people were seated around the bar. As always
in a little village bar, the locals turned at stared curious at
us. As we waited by the bar to get service an older man smiled
at us and asked us where about we were from.
When Bente said Norway he jumped out of his bar stool and said,
"Jeg er Nils fra
The clouds seemed to come from the mountain itself as we
approached Mount Rainier.
Trondheim"- "I'm Nils from Trondheim". The woman
next to him quickly added that he was 86 years old and definitely
a Norwegian. Nils by now had his arm around me and gave me one
friendly slap on the shoulder after the other, coming closer for
every slap so I had to back slowly away from the bar. He was dead
drunk and spoke a few more Norwegian words, heavily accented and
made more unclear by his age and the number of drinks he had had
during the night.
Paps they called him around the bar, and when the
news about the couple from Nils' mother country spread around,
every single one turned around and smiled, the one drunker than
the other. Nils' last name was originally Bakken, but he later
changed it to something we couldn't interpret, and his family
was huge, he said. He didn't make it to the family reunion back
in Norway two years ago, and had actually never made it back.
But his brother was, according to Nils, the sole survivor when
250 men from the Secret Service was slaughtered by the Nazis in
Norway in the early days of the second world war. "Sole survivor,
oh my god", I said. "Well, yeah he got lucky",
Nils replied and quickly changed the subject.
A few hours into the next day we left Seattle with new tyres.
For some reason we believed it was cool and so dressed up in riding
pants again - I even put them on top of my regular pants. It was
a stupid mistake, since we got about 500 meter before the infamous
Seattle traffic jammed and left us frying in the afternoon sun.
We fried for an hour before we stopped and dressed more according
to the weather again. Going south east we saw Mount Rainier south
of us with its snow capped peak shining in the sun light. We chose
the eastern loop road and went to the lookout point for a quick
snack. The road up were nice and twisty and I had a lovely time
throwing the 480 kg - including rider and passenger - two wheeled
tank from side to side, braking in the new tyres with style. The
peak was hidden in a cloud by the time we got to the top, so we
quickly headed further south towards Mount St. Helens.
Fog and more fog
The devastated areas of Mount St. Helens looked mystical
in the fog.
Early the next morning we looked out the window to see heavy
clouds in every direction, which was quite a surprise after a
week with near perfect weather. The closer we got to Mount St.
Helens the thicker the fog grew as well, which made our hopes
of seeing the volcanic disaster area diminish. St. Helens was
a huge mountain until May 18th 1980, when one of the most powerful
volcanic eruptions in modern times blew off the top of the mountain,
creating a earth slide that changed the surrounding landscape
for ever. The ashes could be seen thousands of miles away, and
for the closest towns and villages the outburst was a tragedy.
Today the mountain is open on the northern side, the direction
the powerful blast took. It lay flat huge areas of forest, and
looking at aerial pictures taken just after the eruption the areas
look just like grass that had been flattened.
As we rode further up towards the lookout on the eastern side,
the fog packed us totally in. We were doing 30-40 km/h while we
went through the devastation area, where trees cut of halfway
up the trunk and burned were barely visible in the fog, creating
a scene reminiscent of the days after the blast when a similar
fog covered the landscape. It was an almost mystical scene, but
also disappointing. At the cafe not far from the end of the road,
we stopped to warm up our by now frozen bodies.
The cars at the far end of the little parking lot were hard to
distinguish through the saturated air. We laughed and drank coffee.
What else could we do. A postcard in the gift shop was split in
three photos, labeled before, during and after,
one taken before the eruption where the snow capped peaks of the
mountain pointed towards the sky, then one of the actual eruption
where an atomic bomb like mushroom cloud grew up from the peak,
and last one of the collapsed and hollow mountain after the eruption
at subsided. We wanted to add another picture to the series; one
of the fog saying; now. The mountain was gone, just like
that. We drank more coffee, dressed up heavily for the cold ride
back down and left. On our way south we stopped at one of the
visitor centers and did the next best thing; saw a video about
the mountain's dramatic history.
On our way to Crater Lake with West Hovland we found some
excellent back country with nobody but the two Tigers on
A Norwegian in Oregon
West Hovland, Tiger owner with Norwegian blood in his veins,
had been warned about our arrival in Eugene, Oregon a few days
in advance. He received us with a nice barbecue dinner, and for
the next hours we enjoyed the company of him and his girlfriend
Cynthia. On Sunday we dressed up for a ride with West to Crater
Lake in south east Oregon. When I pushed Rocinante out of the
garage, I thought it felt heavier than usual and had to put some
effort in moving the bike on flat ground. Looking closer we saw
the rear tyre had gone flat, and even closer investigation revealed
a 30 millimeter screw nicely entered in the rubber and further
into the tube.
I had never in my ten years with bikes had a flat, something
I was almost embarrassed to tell West, who was an earlier professional
dirt bike racer, eager road racer for some years before he tried
trial and whatever two wheeled motor sport that existed. But I
had patched bicycle tyres from time to time in my youth, and the
principle was the same. We agreed that West would be the teacher
who sat back watching and commenting on our progress, while Bente
and myself did the job using only our own tools. I was actually
a little grateful for the puncture, as it gave us the opportunity
to practice in controlled environment with an expert watching.
The job was done in an hour, but could have been done in half
the time if we were in a hurry. We simply removed the back wheel,
stood on the tyre to realease it off the rim, got the edge over
the rim with the tyre levers, pulled out the tube and patched
it, then pushed it back in and reversed the process. It was less
work than I had imagined, and after two more weeks the tube holds
the air just as new.
The ride up to Crater Lake was nice, and West selected a few
narrow and low traffic back roads that led through
A huge lake of bright blue water makes up the Crater Lake,
a scenery well worth visiting.
mountains and forest valleys. At Crater Lake patches of snow
were spread out along the rim of the caldera, where a fairly big
lake had been created eons ago after the last big outburst from
the now extinct volcano. We rode around the caldera and stopped
for a photo session every now and then, had a snack and a coffee
at the visitor center, and then headed back home along a slightly
different loop that also took us through a few miles of graveled
Coming down the twisties towards the interstate south of Eugene
we saw a makeshift sign on the roadside warning us about an accident
ahead. Several cars and trucks from the forest service were parked
along the road and uniformed people were searching along the rail
for something. By the rail just behind the uniforms stood a Harley
Davidson with broken fairing and ripped apart side bags but otherwise
fairly unscathed from what we could see. Next to the bike, lying
on the ground was something that first looked like an animal,
but as we got closer we saw that it was a body bag on a stretcher
with blood floating under it. I felt the hair raise on my arms
as both of us realized that there was a guy actually lying there
dead. There were two helmets by the bike and since there was no
ambulance on the scene we figured they probably had taken the
survivor of the two to the hospital.
It looked like a solo accident, and could well have been caused
by one of the countless deer in the area crossing the road, or
it could just be bad judgment coming around the sharp corners
with the sun in the face. We will never know but it was a sad
sight and a strong reminder to how vulnerable we are.
Early the next morning we left West's place and headed to his
local Triumph dealer to get a extra tube for the back wheel. We
had an extra for the front, but since they didn't have the rear
tube in Norway before we left, we had simply forgotten all about
it until we had a flat and realized that it is a good spare to
carry. West rode along with us to the dealer and we stayed there
a couple of hours, taking advantage of the fax machine they had
to get sent new insurance binder for Rocinante - we were extending
our stay in the States with a month. We also fixed the horns on
the bike, which hadn't been working for a few weeks, and I learned
that there's actually an adjustment screw on every motorcycle
horn - just a little movement on it and my ears got the full close
up scream, deafening me for a while. Why hasn't anybody told me
these things before....
Playing in the dunes
Riding the ATV on the sand dunes was like riding in the
snowy Norwegian mountains at Easter time, and it was just
a whole lot of fun.
We headed for the coast and after a slow day we stopped in Reedsport
for the night, packed out and went to find an ATV hire shop. The
ATV - All Terrain Vehicle - is a motorcycle with four wheels.
The throttle is on the right thumb, it has forward, neutral and
reverse gears, rear brake and front brake like a regular motorcycle
and wide supports for the feet. Along the Oregon coast there are
about 45 miles, or 72 kilometers, of sand dunes, long, high and
forever moving dunes created by millions of years of eroding mountains
in the north west.
Certain areas are open to motorized vehicles and as a result,
lots of hire shops have popped up offering the ATV for about 35
dollars per hour. We rented each our vehicle in Winchester Bay,
a 125 cc for Bente and a 250 cc for me. Now, I have to digress
a little here. Why is it that each time I read about couples travelling
together on two bikes, the guy has the bigger engine. I have mused
over this many times when reading peoples accounts from travels
together, and now I found that it was quite natural for Bente
to have a smaller engine when we finally had each our toy. It
was her own choice. Her biking experience was rather rusty and
she wanted a small easy to handle ATV. Not so with me, who asked
for the biggest most powerful they had. I had seen ATVs up to
600 cc and that's what I wanted. They gave me the 250 and said
that since it was my first time, that was the biggest they dared
give me. Then they drove us and the ATVs down to the start point
and said good-bye after a little security drill and a few warnings
of what not to do.
I twisted the throttle and headed for the first dune, climbed
easy to the top and turned to see how Bente was doing. She came
up to me with fright in her eyes, shouting, "I have no control
at all, I just don't like this". I smiled at her and asked
her to look at me and do what I did. We drove off and over the
next fifteen minutes I really got the hang of the technique. Bente's
expression was gradually changing as well towards a big grin,
although not at all comparable to my smile which would have gone
all the way around my head if it could. I could not remember the
last time I had the same kind of fun. I could do whatever I wanted
with the bike without flipping it around. If I stood up, all I
had to do was keep full throttle when I went into turns and just
lean way over into the turn.
The sand dunes were sloped nicely on the northern sides while
they dropped suddenly on the south side of the dunes. This meant
that we both had to be careful on the first half of our trip when
we were constantly going south and didn't see the sudden drops
before they were right in front of us. After a little while we
got better to foresee them and when we turned around to head back
to the base, I could take advantage of them. I would go as close
to the steep drop as possible and plough and jump over the top,
going up and down into the dunes for half an hour, ignoring the
wet and cold fog that ruined the views around us and soaked our
pants. When we got back the family that run the shop were waiting
for us with a dinner initiation for the next day. We smiled and
accepted the unexpected invitation, but later found that it just
wouldn't fit in with our plans.
Dirt roads on the Lost Coast
Incredible dimensions on the Redwood trees.
Bente had read an article in National Geographic about The Lost
Coast, a stretch of relatively untouched coastal land in northern
California, and we set out to explore it after a night in Eureka.
When we entered the state of California, our 19th state so far,
we got pulled over with every other vehicle on the road and asked
if we carried any fruit or vegetables. I gave of a puzzled smile,
remembered the apple we had in the top box and said that we didn't.
If any Oregon based fruit disease hits the south western crops,
then I guess we're to blame - although we threw the rest of the
apple in a proper waste bin.
We rode through the Redwood areas and as we pulled of the main
road towards Petrolia, we were amazed at how big these trees were.
More than ninety percent of the giant trees had been taken out
of the woods over the last hundreds of years, leaving only a relatively
small and by now protected forest. The average height were about
100 meters and the trunk was very wide and easy to distinguish.
Far from the famous drive-thru-trees we found a hollow trunk were
we could fit Rocinante into. As we got closer to the coast, the
trees disappeared and gave way to an open and hilly landscape
The road was what
Because the highway goes inland from the stretch of coastline
in Northern California, and because the roads are narrow
and bumpy, most people stay away from it and hence the name
- The Lost Coast.
most four wheelers would call lousy, which contributed to keeping
most tourists away from the area. We stopped in Petrolia for a
coffee and a soft drink, a little town which got its name for
being the first place in the States to drill for oil. The well
was long gone but the name stayed put. Outside the general store
a bearded, toothless man in his forties with ragged clothes and
rough skin came over to compliment the bike. He bought a beer
and a muffin and sat down for a chat.
Back in the seventies he had moved out here from the southern
part of the state to get away from people. Today he made his money
from growing pot or marijuana and working as a carpenter. The
police were busting in on him at times trying to nail him, but
he was now awaiting his medical which would entitle him to use
marijuana for health purposes - which is legal in California,
and thereby get rid of the police. His smile indicated that he
wasn't really in a medical need of the drug, but I'm sure he needed
it anyway. He told us the whole area was full of people hiding
their crops in the woods and making a income of the drug trade.
After Petrolia we searched and found the narrow and winding dirt
road that led us southwards towards Shelter Cove, the most developed
village along The Lost Coast. We rode through a wonderful rain
forest on a road that twisted its way in and out of ravines, over
small streams and out towards the ocean. The temperature was perfect
for this kind of riding, which for the most part of the ride was
done in first and second gear. The dirt was fairly dry and firm
and we had no problems making progress and made it to Shelter
Cove in no time. The place was more developed than we had imagined
and we quickly left after a lunch at the camping ground cafe,
where one of the owners told us how the place had changed over
the last ten years.
Now we were trying to find the continuation of the dirt road
we came in on, which should have led us further south through
the rain forest all the way to Highway 1. We missed it though
and by the time we realized how wrong we were, it was to late
to turn back. It was both good and bad. On one side I complained
to Bente about missing the rest of such a nice road, but on the
other side it was getting late in the day and we wanted to get
some mileage done before finding a motel for the night. We
A fun and sometimes lightly challenging dirt road on the
Lost Coast. Crossing small streams can be fun.
entered the famous Highway 1 that leaves Highway 101 to run as
a coastal alternative to the interior road. It runs all the way
to Los Angeles and people had told us about the road all through
The first part was incredibly twisty, and for the first time
in the entire 15000 km so far on the trip, we scraped the aluminum
boxes. In a tight right turn the box hit the asphalt and told
me to straighten the bike up at once. We were going in and out,
sometimes almost in circles before turning the other way and dive
into another hair pin turn. It was a truly great piece of motorcycle
When we came to the coast the road straightened out again for
a little while, but every few miles the road would dive into a
ravine, going inland for a little while to work its way out to
the ocean again through a series of switch-backs. I thoroughly
enjoyed it, but it was getting late and we were by now riding
in the sunset. As beautiful as it was to see the sun go down in
the Pacific Ocean, we had to go inland to find a hotel for the
night. Along the coastal highway all we could find were resorts
and expensive bed and breakfast hotels. Long into the night we
rode inland towards Santa Rosa, stopping in the small towns we
came across, but each time moving on away from expensive hotels.
When we finally arrived in Santa Rosa we were exhausted after
more than 14 hours on the road and ended up paying 55 dollars
for a room, which was way over our budget and simply far too much
to pay for nine hours stay.
When I pulled into the motel driveway I recognized a infamous
sound from Rocinante's left side - the alternator rattle was back
for the third time on the trip. I was tired and this only got
me frustrated to the point where I snapped at anything Bente said
to me. The mood hang in there for the rest of the night, so we
watched TV in silence while I was considering how to solve the
problem once and for all. The epoxy repair job I did together
with Clif Brown in Seattle had lasted about 2500 km, which by
one of my never ending useless calculations would mean maybe twenty
more repairs along the way to make it last through the trip. I
moved away from the TV and wrote an e-mail to the Norwegian Triumph
distributor, asking them as my sponsor to help me out replacing
the whole alternator if the spline inside was worn down as well
as the drive plate. Holiday ruled back home though, but I got
an answer within a week. They kindly promised send me a new unit,
and if all goes as I hope we will have it before leaving the States.
The next morning we headed back to the coast through the network
of country roads that criss cross the area between highways 1
and 101. When we believed we had hit number 1 again, we joked
and laughed at how straight the road was, not to mention; Where
was the coast. It's all in the PR - all we saw were long straight
stretches of country road ahead of us, and we couldn't even smell
the ocean. We soon forgot about it because we had a long discussion
about how to solve the alternator problem, and other topics were
mixed in there as well. After about an hour we saw a sign that
said "Welcome to Petaluma".
I stopped and realized we had missed the coastal highway all
together, and without our knowledge we had turned inland again.
Backtracking our route of the morning proved that we had been
about five miles from the coast when we made a wrong turn and
headed back. We smiled and shook our heads at ourselves, turned
around and tried again. And finally we found the coast - it's
such a short coast line anyway - and continued south towards San
Francisco. Another trillion twisties later - the last part of
Highway 1 is almost a copy of the first part - we entered the
Golden Gate bridge, drowned in warm sunshine, and then San Francisco
- the most liberal city in the Western Hemisphere.
We are still in the city, courtesy of a friendly host, enjoying
the nightlife, the sights, the hills and fixing - read improving
the bike. More about that later.
Sometimes the ATV got stuck.
It was all part of the fun though.
Getting dusty on the Lost
A shaved alpaca looks a bit
funny, don't you think.
This was basically all that
proved we were in Norway again.
Welcome to San Francisco,
the Golden Gate bridge seen from the south.[Large