Written July 3rd, Malheur Nat Forest, 120 miles east of Bend , 100 miles w of Idaho and 180 miles s of Washington. 6.50 AM
Among a few other things, yesterday was about long straight roads through hi desert plains with views of the landscape for miles and one massive, totally uninhabited lake, called Goose, whose shoreline went on for ever and ever.
We started in Chester, where the fellas, though home late, were proud (as was I) that they refused a midnight boat ride across lake Almanor to another, ‘even more’ bitchin’ bar. Turns out our local campsite was also prime dog walking area so we had few bewildered witnesses to breaking camp. Had breakfast in Susanville and for the first time, pulled out the big maps and started to plot the route north through uncharted territory. Our only goal was Sand Point, ID by the fourth. Turns out 395, the same one that runs down the eastern Sierras of CA, extends north all the way, I think, to the border. Or at least close enough.
First adventure out of Susanville was 20 mile stretch of sand/dirt road that got us across some beautiful remote country to the main road. Yes I said 20 miles, even though it felt like 70 to me, but Gary corrected. Yes we made a point of getting 'off’ road motos, and yes Robert’s Jeep was theoretically made to go 'off’ road, but doing so is a different thing. Big and loaded on dirt loose and dusty, the bikes just wobble ever so slightly and ever so disconcertingly. The rule, says Gary, is to go as fast as you feel comfortable, and then about 10 mph faster, oh yeah, and to stand up so all the weight is as low on the bike as possible . It was awesome, but note I thought we went 2x farther than we did. Lots of puckering, thought no real sketchiness and some amazing things, like a stand off with a calf and cow, and the exact sign for our trip. And even took an action shot,.
On the trip north, among the few other vehicles we saw, was what turned out to be a lime green Triumph gran moto of some sort, that flew by us in a blur. Easy 3 digits of speed. We all noticed it and commented on the radio. 40 minutes later we pulled into Burns OR and there he was @ the gas station.
Bob Shafer was mid twenties, mid 5 foots, bald as cue ball with a smirky mustache. It indeed was a lime green Triumph. We got his first name from him and his last name from his army backpack, and determine to remember it after he told his destination. We asked, because it turns out gas stations to Gary and Robert is like Facebook with a red bull dispenser. I swear they’ve already talked to more strangers in two days than I have in a year. We’ve found where to eat, where to camp, what a fishing guide like person does for the BLM, and we met Bob. At the the question, Bob responded by sighting coordinates, You know, 'x degrees longitude by y degrees, latitude, and then waited eagerly for the follow up-
'What is at those coordinates?’ asks Gary.
'The location in the continental US that is the farthest distance from a McDonalds.’
'Huh’ was about all we could muster at the time, with a 'Cool’ and 'safe travels’.
But let me tell you, around the campfire last night, we dissected Bob- exploring everything that might be motivating such a lofty and whack-random goal. We talked his upbringing, current marital status, employment and of course political persuasion. Was this a protest? A fast-food nation statement against the man? Or does Bob just collect random notches on his belt? Though try as we might we couldn’t muster a guess as to what his next adventure might be. Here’s to Bob, whatever it is.
Sweet elderly Latino Grandmother at the diner
It’s All Down Hill From Here
Nun Fiction on dirt road
Size and vast emptiness of Goose Lake
40 mile side gust out of no-where at one single point
And of course, BOB.