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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Day 1 533 km

The necessities of course...

Like a lot of adventures, this one started suddenly and fairly spontaneously.
Having an exciting weekend planned for Mission, I woke up Friday morning and decided instead to go to California. Mission can be done in the future, providing the opportunities are still available.

So, from Nanaimo I set out to catch the Black Ball. Funny that I decided to back track, but having played on the Toga ring the night before it all seemed very worthwhile. I had never been on the Coho before and having never made a reservation for anything except for a table at a Jazz club, I thought I would test luck on the May long weekend.

I arrived 90 minutes prior to the 1030 ferry and then waited in line for 20 minutes before they told me that because I did not have a reservation and it was the infamous weekend, there was little chance on getting on, but If I wanted to wait, I was welcome to and a full refund would be rewarded to me upon not going anywhere. I figured why not?
I went into the line that they put people that are not organized enough to make reservations and waited. I was lucky in the fact that there was only one other motorcycle without a reservation to compete with. On a black and white custom hand painted, hugely overloaded Honda was a delightful couple that almost immediately adopted me. I was told by Kitty that ... as a woman traveling alone on a motorcycle, I will inevitably almost never be alone. This turned out to be true.

After much disorganized chaos with customs along with many heated, cranky, anxious tourists, I was happy at the thought of leaving Canada. Alas they finally filled the boat...There were many angry folks who did not make it on, but Jonathan and Marnie, the couple on the painted Honda, and I were narrowly squeezed on.
After strapping my Ninja to the side of the hull. I went upstairs to enjoy the view and chat with Jonathan and Marnie about motorcycles and life.

Getting through customs on the other side was fairly swift. I thought I would have to take off my helmet, after all how can they see if I match my passport picture, but in the end it was not required. The gentleman at customs looked skeptically at me when I said I was traveling alone. I did have to declare my pepper spray which he agreed was a good idea, but useless against strung out crack addicts. Oh well...

Port Angeles was not quite what I pictured, but then neither were all the coastal towns that followed. The seaside towns reminded me of Ontario's remote towns, not prosperous but fairly comfortable.

We set out together Jonathan, Marnie and me for HWY 101.

I am grateful for having taken the ART course, not only because it saved my life last week on Fort street, and I am for the preservation my of my life, but also because I have a new approach to long sweeping turns, of which there are many in Washington. Not only are there many but they are all perfectly banked. Not once did I feel as though the road was trying to eject me. There was a heavy presence of Sheriffs along the way and plenty of warning from the oncoming traffic. Not a problem for me anyway as I was consistently at or under the speed limit, mostly due to the overloaded Honda I was traveling with.

We stopped plenty of times for various reasons. Marnie was a little anxious about those beautiful sweeping turns as Jonathan and I were delighting in them. Every once in a while we would pull over so Marnie could catch her breath. Plus there were so many good places to photograph. I was not in any hurry as I was supposed to be in Mission anyway, so every km was unplanned.

I thought it too bad I promised some people I would not camp because Washington is definitely a State to camp in. But on this trip I had promised to have four walls around me. Next time though, I am camping.

Astoria was the first place I felt truly charmed by. One has to pass over the most spectacular bridge that divides Washington from Oregon, to get there. The nice folks on the overloaded teetering Honda kept on going to Seaside and I settled into this very old likable town. That evening I went to have a look at my Ninja and oil the chain like the gentlemen at Adrenaline said I should. Good thing I did too because once again it needed tightening. Hence the torque wrench...

Day 2 632 km

Oregon is infamous for speeding tickets. Apparently that is how they keep their taxes low. I am not sure this is the case, but I made very sure I did not speed whatsoever. It did not take as much concentration as I thought.
My goal for the day was to get to Dune City to take a Quad out on the 100 foot tall dunes
There were so many motorcycles on the highway that day and a couple off, unfortunately. Actually, for having heard there would be an aggressive presence of police, it seemed that the only time I saw them, they were fishing motorcyclists out of ditches. It is an eerie feeling being out enjoying the weather and amazing views and curvy roads just to come around the corner and see the carcass of a twisted motorcycle. When I got to Florence it all became clear why there were more motorcycles than cars on the road. Florence was having its annual rhododendron festival and there were more than 1500 motorcycles parked and riding around. I actually had to pull over and turn my Ninja off to let her cool down because of the pure congestion of bikes in town. So far I had managed to travel alone and suddenly there were a bunch of folks that were interested in traveling with me. The guy at the Shell station said that Florence during rhododendron festival is wild at night and not a great place for a lone motorcycherist. I waited around long enough for there to be a clear path out of Florence and a compliant Ninja and left. I hadn’t after all gotten to the dunes yet.
Just outside of Florence are the Frontier dunes. I was told that I should check it out and on a quad. I rented a quad and headed out into the largest sand dunes I have ever seen. Now I have never driven a Quad and especially not on sand, but it did not take me long to figure out that if one stops, one should be pointing down hill or will not be able to get going again without getting off and pushing. This whole idea of riding around on dunes on a Quad appealed to me greatly. Unfortunately I had no idea what I was getting into. The pure disorientation that comes with being completely surrounded by sand and the sand blindness that almost immediately ensues is overwhelming. The steep cliffs are a bit of a hazard, but fun if you can spot them.
Finally reaching the point where I had the illusion that I was getting the hang of it, I rolled it and me down an steep invisible cliff. A very nice couple of fellows came over and inspected me to see if anything was broken and that my pupils were equally dilated and then flipped my quad right side up and off I went and little slower... and somewhat more timid.... Thanks to the Alpine Star boots I did not have a broken tib/fib but instead a mighty lump that turned into a fist sized bruise. I escaped with a mild concussion and my loss of consciousness was maybe a second or two.Yes, I had a helmet on. It hurt to bear weight on my left leg, but weight bearing on a motorcycle trip is not overly necessary anyway.
Getting a little bored with HWY 101 I thought I would mix it up a little and whenever I could turn right towards the ocean I did.There are signs along the coast that guide bicyclists on more interesting routes than cars, and those roads are the best. All of a sudden I had a curvier road and absolutely no traffic. I was traveling about 20 km slower, but it was some very sweet Ninjaing.
Since it took one day to get to Oregon, I thought that I would try to get to California in one day as well. I succeeded and finished my day in Crescent City.

Thank you to Mason for every single hip song ever played. Great coastal cruising tunes. :)

“Let's raise a glass of milk to the end of another day” - The Tragically Hip


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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yes... Still ongoing...

Day 3 667 km

I woke up to a beautiful hot sunny day, everything I pictured California to be. I had yet to see fog. Seems I lucked out on the coastal views as I was told it is usually foggy.
I went down to the shore and had breakfast, pecan pie that a waitress had given me as a gift the night before. I think she felt sorry for me as I looked a little rough covered in sand and bruises. I watched the sea lions tanning and flirting with each other and then I headed south, once again.

Highway 101 is either really interesting or really mundane with no in between. There is a scenic bypass which begins just south of Fortuna, called The Avenue of the Giants, that winds through a very old growth forest of redwoods and follows the Eel River. It is also shaded so offers respite from the unrelenting heat. It is a 31 mile hypnotic ride with the sun shooting strips of light onto the road through the trees. Although again I was traveling slower than if I was on the 101, it was tremendously more entertaining, both because of the immense surroundings and undulating curves of the road.

After the redwoods’ ride which essentially just lead back to 101, I wanted to get back to the coast, and the 101 drifts away from it periodically, so I took HWY 1. I had no idea what it was going to be like and was not disappointed in what I discovered. It was hairpin after hairpin and blind corners at almost every turn. I enjoyed the hairpins, but the blind corners took away a bit of the pleasure. Most of the oncoming vehicles stayed on their own lane, but I could not let my guard down for an instant in fear of being mangled by an RV. I eventually became dizzy. I was not sure if it was related to all the hairpins or my concussion from the previous day or perhaps a culmination. I took a few breaks to hydrate and find my balance. There was not a lot of traffic, but there was tons of construction and the surface of the road changed constantly from super smooth to gravel to grated pavement. Unlike Washington and Oregon, Hwy 1 was not cambered for the joy and ease of a motorcyclist. It was however an incredible experience.

I have to thank Dean Thompson for giving me an opportunity to see what my Ninja and I could achieve in combination. I think otherwise I would not have made it through the day. I spent 30% of my time in first gear, 60% in second, and 10% in third. Those of you that have little 250 Ninjas know that 1st gear is a really low gear.

Finally I was out on the coast again and it was cold. All the sweating I had done was about to make me really uncomfortable as I began to freeze. I was content that I had decided not to remove all my armor and be like so many that were sweltering and ripping down the highway in jeans and t-shirts. I preferred to be uncomfortable than have my skin debrided by pavement. And having already injured myself, I was under no illusions about the fragility of my body.

The coastal section of Hwy 1 is astounding. The only downfall is it is hard to appreciate the views when there is a tight corner every 70 ft. As many of us know.... we look where we want to go, so if we are looking at the beautiful jagged cliffs that is where we will find ourselves. I only lost concentration once on this coastal section and was immediately back in reality and found myself lucky to be shiny bug covered side up.
Eventually I got really tired and was too far in between any towns to feel very pleased. I was also concerned about my chain again. I decided that I would pull in to the next place that had a vacancy no matter what it cost. My mind and body needed a rest.

I passed a scrawny sign for Stillwater Cove Ranch and carried on for a km before I was able to turn around and come back to check it out. I was welcomed by a long up hill gravel driveway covered in screaming peacocks and at the very top upon the hill sat a charming character with a pure white beard and dressed like a farmer. I asked if I could stay and he asked if I had a tent...I did not. He said he would find room for me. He said his name was Jerry and his spunky little sheepdog was called Chip. I liked him immediately as he had a very kind face and was willing to take me in.
Although he was dressed like a farmer and looked like he had been transported from the 1930s, he was a very well spoken and well educated gentleman. He had a degree, Masters and PhD in Marine Biology and had actually taught Science at the ranch when it was a boys boarding school.
Now it is a haphazardly run but incredibly warm peaceful environment. Just what I needed to help my headache pass.

Day 4 1 km
This day was a day of rest and recuperation. I still had a headache from my crash and my Alpine Star boots, although they saved my bones from snapping, were constantly digging into my swollen bruised calf. I needed a day off my Ninja. I also needed to inspect the chain situation and decide what to do and where to go.
I started the day with Jerry at 0600 when we went out to the field to collect Bessie the cow for milking. We let the chickens and sheep out. He showed me Chip’s sheep herding talent, and talked about the farm and how it has evolved and may soon be passed on to Jerry's children that are slowly moving back.

In the afternoon I got a lift into the nearest town for food and money as I was really hungry and was beginning to run out of cash. Being on HWY 1 in a car just made me nauseous. It was nice in the fact that I got to look around, but I much prefer to be on a motorcycle. I just felt mine was not up to the task of traveling 30 miles and nor was I.

In the afternoon I looked at the chain and decided is was on its last link. I adjusted it the best I could while Jerry looked on with his very poor vision and in the end it was either too tight or way too loose depending on where the chain was rotated.

I accepted my situation and spent the rest of the afternoon visiting with a couple of tourists, sharing food and laughs over travel stories and the evening perched on a hill in a field in search of very precarious wifi which I actually managed to find.

My sleeping situation was remarkably comfortable even though I had a small cot in the corner of a room and was sharing the room with some delightful strangers. Somehow I managed to sleep deeply and soundly without worrying about how my trip out of there on a funky chain would unfold.


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Nadine, brilliant writing! You inspire me. Where are the pictures though?

I've also experienced chain issues as your describing. I then spend about 2-3 hours cleaning the chain, lube it, and it's ready to go. My stock chain currently has 15,000 miles on it and still going strong.

Keep it coming!

When it's January, and dark, and rainy. I try to remember these same sights. I remember them from 40 years ago. They are a treasure, R.

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Day 5 555 km

I woke up to the first day of fog and apparently the locals tell me it is called “long fog” as it stays for a long time. The fog coupled with continuous construction and a very angry chain that was audibly dysfunctional confirmed decision to head inland for a new chain and a change scenery. I took Hwy 1 to 16 to 101 to get to Santa Rosa, as cautiously as I possibly could. It was a very stressful ride wondering if my chain was going to fly off or snap or how much damage I was causing. After multiples attempts to adjust my chain the previous day, I conceded to the fact that it was completely done and I needed a new one. I pulled off the hwy for fuel and a guy on a BMW gave me directions to a Kawasaki dealer. I found my way there without much difficulty and explained my problem. The service rep said it would take 30 minutes and I would have a new chain. I requested that I be present for the installation of the chain and the mechanic agreed to the disgruntlement of the service rep. My old chain looked fairly mangled in comparison to the new one. Dan the mechanic confirmed my need for a new one and assured me I had not done any damage to the sprockets or engine. I was relieved.

While we talked about my Ninja, travels and places worth visiting in California, of which there are many, Dan suggested I go to Mt. Shasta. He was the second person in two days to suggest that, so I figured...why not go to Mt Shasta?

I had explored enough of the coast and had lost my desire to head further south. I wanted to explore some of the inland roads anyway as well as get a little time on Interstate 5 since I had heard many things about it. Dan said Mt. Shasta was a very ambitious trip to do in a day. I was not overly concerned about that because things were looking up for me; I was finally headache free and had a silent new chain. He volunteered to Map-quest the route for me and printed it out and sent me on my way. I memorized the instructions and had a very enjoyable time Ninjaing from one 4 lane Hwy to another until I finally got to Interstate 5. Although Interstate 5 was poker straight, it was refreshing to travel that fast for a change and not have to navigate blind hairpins. I stopped at a Wendy’s near Sacramento and got more fuel and went in for food as I was getting hungry and sleepy and falling asleep at 130 km an hour is something I wanted to avoid. It was a real truck stop, like something out of a movie, with a bunch of truckers sitting at separate tables having conversations across the restaurant...Giving directions, talking about guns and dangerous cities mixed with a dose of cursing here and there. It was entertaining in its own right. I was almost finished eating when two motorcycles pulled up and inspected my license plate. They came in and sat at a table close by and naturally we started talking. Turned out they were the co founders of the Dam Tour www.damtour.comhttp:// and heading home to Oregon with one dam stop left.

I was still a little afraid I would fall asleep on the I 5, and they were heading in the same direction, so we decided to go together. I was happy and they were glad to have me along.

Jim was riding a Road Star 1300 and Cheryl was on a FJR 1100. For me the I 5 had been straight partly due to it just being straight and partly due to the fact that work had been done on the highway and there was a 4 inch height difference between lanes which was interesting coming down off of but hazardous going up at at highway speed.
Jim seemed to have a knack for passing and the 4 inch difference between lanes was no longer an issue, so for the entire journey to Mt Shasta we dodged and weaved our way up I 5.

There was extreme congestion due to construction on the highway and my Ninja and I began to over heat, but fortunately,before long we were heading into the mountains and getting cold.

We were one exit away when Jim’s Road Star died. He coasted to the shoulder and Cheryl and I followed. Seems that his alarm wire had disconnected and that had caused the bike to stall and refuse to start again. He fixed it swiftly and in good humor and we went into Mt Shasta town for some food and a place to sleep. I was enjoying my new found friends as they were more experienced hard core riders than myself and really good company. We partook in the most wonderful Italian food and then got a room and slept very deeply.

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Day 6 905 km

We woke to a very clear chilly morning. The view of Mt Shasta was breathtaking and Cheryl insisted we get some pictures before heading to Crater Lake. Of course we had to stop at a dam on our journey there as Jim and Cheryl needed proof of visiting one of the dams on their dam tour list.

Back onto the I 5 we went. On this day however it was a little more crowded and we did not do as much dodging and weaving as the previous. There were transport trucks everywhere and they were slow moving because we were in the mountains either climbing or descending into corners.

Before I left for this trip, although not too much thought was put into the trip itself...I did think that this may be a somewhat dangerous endeavor. First of all, I was a woman traveling alone; secondly, I am fairly new to motorcycling. Despite the fact that I am an optimist, I recognized that spending so much time Ninjaing around on unfamiliar roads day after day could undoubtably lead to a close call. This day was the day...

Jim and Cheryl were ahead of me and it was my turn to pass the somewhat slow moving view obstructing transport truck. Never being one to dally beside humongous vehicles I geared down and started to pass, but just as I was exactly beside him, he turned on his signal and moved over. I could not brake and fall back as there was a car behind me, and I could not speed up because there was not enough space or time. There was a three foot shoulder covered in red gravel to be taken advantage of as well as a three foot tall guard rail dividing us from oncoming traffic. I took to the gravel remarkably smoothly, more my Ninja’s ability than mine and managed to scrape by; I was so lucky to be riding a nimble narrow Ninja. I tasted death on my tongue...that metallic flavor of fear that comes with near death experiences. I know I shall think of that every time I pass a transport truck for years to come.

We eventually turned off the I 5 at Medford onto Hwy 62 and began climbing to Crater Lake National Park. The further we ascended the more snow was around us. When we finally reached the top there was over 12 feet of snow on the side of the road, but it was not even very cold. The four other motorcyclists I met at Crater Lake were from Victoria; they had come to the States to see Crater Lake and do some camping before the long weekend.

Once again it was a crystal clear day to appreciate the view. Unfortunately, the ride around the rim of the lake was not open yet. It was still too early in the season and had not been cleared of snow.

Upon leaving Crater Lake we took Hwy 230 to Hwy 138 to Glide. There we took County Road 200 to Wilbur and then the I-5 to Hwy 30 to Clatskanie, where Jim and Cheryl invited me to be a guest on their farm.
Fortunately, nothing overly exciting happened to us on our 905 km journey to the llama farm except for maybe the sherif baiting me from his pick up truck. In the end, he apparently decided against giving me a speeding ticket.

That is the farthest I have ever traveled on my Ninja and was rather pleased that after so much time in the saddle, I was not incredibly sore. I was exhausted though and more than ready to head for home the next morning.

Day 7 363 km

I woke up on a llama farm and was greeted by breakfast and two very cheery people. Cheryl and Jim showed me around the farm and I prepared for my last leg of travel. I was happy to leave the states before Memorial day weekend and an innumerable number of RVs descended upon me.

My feet hit my pegs at 1030 in the morning and did not touch the ground until I arrived at the Black Ball in Port Angeles at 1500. I did not hit one red light nor did I need to get gas or take a rest.

I took hwy 30 back to I 5 and then onto hwy 101. The Northwest portion of 101 follows the Hood Canal and is very picturesque. Unfortunately. it was also covered in transport trucks.

I was the only motorcycle lined up to get onto the ferry and was rather happy that I was not surrounded by cranky tourists.
Eventually two guys from Seattle that were coming to Victoria for the regatta and to party and explore the island showed up just before we departed.

It was a rather rough float home and I was concerned for almost the whole trip about how well my Ninja was strapped to the hull and wedged with those ill fitting blocks. Somehow I had not dropped her and I really wanted to get home without having done so. I came close a couple of times...once when I forgot the kickstand was not down and once when I was aggressively loading my tail bag on.
Turned out I had done a decent job of securing her and made it off the boat.

Some people along the way were astounded that I was on this trip alone; others were surprised that my 250 was capable of such an endeavor.

In the end, I met some incredible people and made some new friends and gained the much needed experience I was looking for. I was just as excited to come home as I was to leave and I feel that that is a good way to end my tour.

Now here I am in the beautiful city of Victoria... Home again and very happy to be here, safe and sound.

It was a grand adventure and I know there are more to come; summer has not yet even begun.

Nadine Rippin

I'm enjoying hearing about you reaction to the scenery. Could you sometime, when your ready, tell us something about that luggage you have on the rear of you bike. Is there an aftermarket rack of some sort? Or just what is it? And how much 'stuff' you carry?

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
It is a Kappa Racer Tail bag and for supplies i had one pair of runners, one Macbook, one camera, chain lube, tools, one pair of jeans, one t shirt, undies and socks...my clear visor, pepper spray, a shammy for my visor. Yup I think that is it. oh yeah and a bathing suit. I packed loosely and made sure i had room for bottles of Gatorade and water and some food. I ended up using three bottles of water to cool my bike through the Interstate 5 construction zone. I did not pack much and that bag just keeps that shape even when it is empty. I love it for getting groceries. It cost me $129.00 Canadian.
I suspect I will use it until I break it...much like my Ninja.

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Nadine, that's awesome! By the way, are you single? :D I'm just kidding, but really, you're a very appealing lady. Keep it up, and take another trip so we can read some more of this good stuff!
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