June 19, 2016
We left Twin Falls early Thursday morning and drove straight through to John Day Oregon, about a seven hour drive including a lunch stop at a roadside cafe just inside the Oregon line. The homemade vegetable soup hit the spot.
John Day was one of our main targeted destinations for this road tour. It was the weekend of the Oregon State BMW Riders annual rally weekend. We have ridden here for this event many times, staying in motels along the way but always tenting at the rally. This time was very different for us, being in the motel and without our bikes. Seeing all the bikes made me long to get back to my bike and ride.
John Day is a small city in central eastern Oregon. Over the years at the rally we have enjoyed perfect weather, very hot weather and cold rainy weather… sometimes all in the same weekend, this is Oregon, after all. This year it was the latter; rain showers, occasionally sun showing through., cloudy and cold. We missed the camaraderie of tenting in the crowd but sure did appreciate our warm, dry hotel room.
The event draws about eight hundred BMW and other compatible brand riders from all over this country and Canada, mostly all serious riders. The days are filled with rider sessions, everything from riding safety to technical sessions, legal sessions (variations among state motorcycle laws,) and foreign group tour opportunities. There are several group rides of varying lengths and difficulty.
Each ride is preceded by a riders meeting discussing the route and stops.
Reminiscing… “I remember these!!
Friday morning we picked up our friend, Gerald, and drove about sixty miles to one of my favorite destinations, the John Day Fossil Bed Center in Kimberly, Oregon.
This is a NFS run center with a wonderful free exhibit of the region’s fossil history of the last sixty-four million years. We see many fossil exhibits along our trips but this one does the best job of leaving us with a sense of the times and conditions. It is arranged in about six different eras from sixty-five million years ago to fourteen million years ago. Each era is illustrated with text, fossils and, even more helpfully, carefully done murals of the creatures and their environments.
That afternoon, back at the rally there was a steady stream of arriving riders. Fortunately for them it was not raining while they set up tents. By evening the three tent areas and the RV area were almost filled.
Saturday dawned with a hard rain falling. Typical of the type riders in this group thirty of them headed off at seven-thirty on a sixty mile ride to a “Cowboy Breakfast” on a ranch east of the fairgrounds. Gerald was one of those hardy riders. His report as I recall it: “Sixty miles each way in driving rain trying to keep up with the leader. Parked in three inches of mud. We were served Scrambled eggs and two small pancakes. We ate sitting on bales or ate standing up. It was an adventure to remember.”
BMW riders weren’t the only hardy (or nutty) group there. There was a local rodeo going on in the rain in the arena next door.
John Day is a small town. The Oregon BMW event has been going on there for many years and always helps raise funds for local charity and school groups… they put on the meals and run the saloon.
An indication of our integration into the community, the Second Grade class make several hundred placemats for our Saturday night dinner.
By eight o’clock Sunday the campground was almost clear and there was a stream of riders headed off in every direction. We headed for Olympia and stopped along the way for breakfast with one group headed west.
Onward to Olympia…