Sometimes, when picking a destination to go, it is not always a landmark, a park, or some landscape view that takes your breath away. No, sometimes when picking a destination, it ends up being for food.
That is exactly how March 6th played out.
Saturday morning I awoke originally planning a few things. First off, I needed to give the XT a run down. Oil, Air Filter, Check other important bolts, lube and adjust chain, etc.
I also wanted to finally get some time to build the rear rack for the XT.
So I got out of bed, and Mom had started making Pancakes and Bacon. What a wonderful way to start a Saturday morning.
I ate, grabbed my keys and headed into town to pick up some oil at the Wal-Mart.
While there, I picked up some other odds and ends, and made my way home.
As I was heading back to the shop, I took in the morning’s blue sky’s. It was absolutely beautiful out. A bit on the chilly side, but that is to be expected in early March.
I made it home, and warmed up the bike. I rode down to the shop and proceeded to drain the oil, while taking the time to prepare my Race Bike for the gentleman who would be coming by on Sunday Evening to take a look at it.
The whole time, while I was doing this, I kept looking outside, and how nice it was. As I was finishing up the oil, I made the decision to just worry about the rack another time. It was too nice out, and when you are handed days like this, this early in the year, you take the opportunity to just utilize them.
So with that, I decided that I would head back over on to the Washington side for some Lunch in Goldendale at Sodbusters, one of my favorite places to grab a burger (and my vote for best burger in Washington).
Instead of your typical straight to Goldendale, via the series of highways offered to you, I opted for another route. One I have taken in sections throughout the years, but decided to piece together for today’s ride.
Starting out from Hood River, I jumped on the Old Dalles Road. An old dirt road that cross’s over the mountains, instead of following against the Gorge at lower elevations. I have, over the years used this road before. Specifically to bypass a gridlock of traffic.
The road is your typical maintained dirt road. Lots of pot holes, single lane with turnouts before sharp corners, and in the longer straights.
And like with a lot of old roads, it has a very limited amount of traffic (if any).
The road goes up the mountain side from the valley floor, eventually changing names to Elder Road at the top. We still consider the whole Road “Old Dalles Road”, but over the years, names change.
What is impressive of this route, is the views. It hugs the contours of the mountains along the Gorge, granting you breathtaking views of the Columbia River, and Mt. Adams. You come in and out of the tree’s often greeted with a new spectacular view.
Eventually, the road drops into some more thicker forest cover, and you pass over a small bridge over a stream.
The view here, just like the rest of the ride, is just relaxing. I parked the bike for a good 10 minutes just watching the stream flow under the bridge, listening to the birds give way to their mid morning song mixed in with the gurgling of the stream as it creeps over the rocks and passes on down the mountain.
My concentration was eventually broken by the sound of a running engine heading my direction, and eventually passed. The interruption in the natural sounds gave me time to regroup my thoughts on my destination, and I decided to head on out.
I continued along the road, eventually running into where it turns into “Husky Road”, and continued down into Moiser.
Husky actually continues itself up into the mountains, and I plan on exploring it a bit more this coming weekend, as I have never followed it before.
As I dropped down into Moiser, I turned East on State Road to follow it over 7-mile summit to drop into The Dalles, one of my favorite alternate routes to and from The Dalles that I have enjoyed several times, over several years while working in The Dalles.
I made the decision, that although I had plenty of fuel to make it to Goldendale, and back using direct routes, I should probably top off my tank, just so I wouldn’t have to later on if I decided to take an alternate route home. So stopping at the Chevron before crossing the bridge, I topped off the tank, took a quick breather, and headed on across to the Washington Side.
Once in Washington, I headed East on 14 for a very short mile and turned North on to Dalles Mountain Road.
This is another one of those “old” dirt roads that go over the mountains directly instead of taking the lower, more manageable routes of today’s highway system. What makes this road worth taking, is the views.
You eventually climb up the sides of the Gorge, looking down on to the Columbia River, back at Mt. Hood in Oregon, and as you crest over the ridge, you get greeted with one of the most spectacular views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier where O’Brien Road meets with Dalles Mountain Road.
What makes this location unique, is not only can you see the 3 above mountains from it, but on a clear, crisp morning, you can even see Mt. Bachelor, as well as another Mountain off into the Southern Distance. It is, possibly one of the greatest locations in the Northwest because of this. A sight you would typically only see from an airplane.
I took it all in, before deciding to cut off on O’Brien Road.
O’Brien is not a road you really want to take in anything but a 4×4 with decent ground clearance, or a bike with decent tires.
It is a single lane, unimproved dirt road that does not get any maintenance that I am aware of. It is heavily rutted in area’s, and the natural springs that flow into the lower parts of it, create extremely slippery mud holes in the clay. When turning on to the road you are greeted with a sign that states “Road Impassable When Wet”. That in itself makes it worth taking though if you meet the above criteria.
Making my way down the mountain without any unexpected events, I eventually headed West on the Centerville Highway towards Highway 97 to follow into Goldendale. A short time later, I had finally made it to my destination.
I have, for several years been a patron of Sod Busters. In fact, I used to eat there regularly when I was working on a network project for a local bank in Goldendale. I spent a good amount of time enjoying their fresh French Dip, Fish and Chip’s, and other lunch menu items, as well as their amazing breakfasts.
The truth is about Sod Busters. I don’t know if you can go wrong with anything on the menu. It is one of those small town Cafe’s that you want to go to, and give yourself a reason to stop at every time you pass through the area.
But even though they have an excellent menu of items of worthy canidacy to eat, I came today for one item, and one item only. That is the Mt. Adams Burger.
If you go to Sod Busters, and you love burgers, you must get this masterpiece of a burger.
First you start off with a half pound of fresh, lean ground beef cooked to order.
Following on top of that patty of meat, they then add a fresh fried farm egg, then layered with a slice of fresh cured ham, and 2 large strips of thick cut, real smoked bacon cut in half covering the ham before the rest of your fixings go on top.
All of this is complimented with a pile of fries.
The only way you could get any more fresh than this, is to ask the butcher himself.
So after satisfying my carnivorousness urge of chomping down on grilled flesh, I began to plan my route home.
Originally, I had planned to just take 142 back along the river and head down to Lyle.
Another route was to just head to Glenwood and down like the day before.
After some though, and planning of how much daylight I had left, and with how beautiful of a day it was, I decided I would instead first make my way East a bit on the Bickleton Highway.
So with that, I headed East.
The Bickleton Highway for the most part is uneventful. It goes in a straight line from Goldendale for awhile, eventually dropping on down into some amazing canyons.
The road is in very good shape, and it makes a wonderful road to take no matter what kind of bike you ride. There is usually something for everyone. It is just having to deal with the miles of straight, before the short miles of wonderful curved roads.
After spending some time heading East, and knowing I had passed most of the more scenic area’s, I decided to turn around and head back towards home.
Now, because I still had some daylight left, and I didn’t want to go straight home, especially on Highway 14 or I-84, I came up with the rest of my route on the way back towards Goldendale.
I decided, to retrace some of my tracks from the day before, and because I had time, I decided to do something I had been meaning to do for a few years in fact.
Several years ago, I had pulled off of the Glenwood Highway into a turn out with some friends. While standing around, re-hydrating ourselves on that hot August day, we stumbled on to a wonderful site. There at the cliff side, was a wonderful little waterfall.
For the last several years, I have tried to retrace my steps. But their are an amazing amount of turn offs along that stretch. I knew the general area, but not narrow enough to guess which one it was.
I had mentioned to Gus the day prior, that I would love to just be able to spend an afternoon going in and out of each of those turn out’s until I was able to find it.
So, with plenty of daylight left, I set forth to find that waterfall.
I turned into every turn out imaginable, even stopping at a part along the way just to break the routine of turn outs. Eventually, just as I was about to call it a day, as the daylight was finally starting to slip, and I had told my mother I would be back in time for dinner (Gotta love being back home), my patience was rewarded.
It is a very relaxing spot, close to the main road (Closer than I had thought to be honest), and if it wasn’t for the slipping light, I could have spent more time there.
With my destinations now completed for the day, I continued on my way into Glenwood, turning on BZ Glenwood Road, passing a group of sport bikers (who I later found out are from a forum I moderate), and finally dropping back down into the Gorge to pay my “Welcome to Hood River” tax at the toll both crossing the bridge into Oregon.
I pulled in to the driveway to the house just as the final glint of sun kissed the treetops, before finally disappearing to the night time sky.