Red Dog and Me

This is an on-going dialog between me and a certain motor scooter, namely a 2009 Piaggio MP3 500 that came to live with me in October of 2009. I've named the scooter Red Dog and as yet have not determined its gender. In the past when I've named boats, bikes, and other like characters I've thought of them as feminine due to their behavior characteristics. Red Dog I'm not so sure about...we'll see. Update: OK, Red Dog's a girl...with an attitude

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Central OR Inferno Day 01 – Aug 04 Bandon to Seaside

After months of non-activity I decided it was time for a tour on Red Dog. Other bikes and scooters have been getting in the way and the poor old scoot has been living in the dark under cover. With a break in my schedule August seemed like a good time to blow out of Dodge and I loaded up my gear and readied myself to set out. We’re having a record setting heat wave nationally but the Pacific NW hasn't been nearly as bad. Still we’re seeing temps that are reaching well over 100 degrees so I’m anticipating some really hot riding.

There was a bit of indecision as to whether to camp or motel it and without a destination firmly in mind I decided to pass on camping; finding a sleazy motel is often easier than finding a decent camp site. With that in mind I loaded up a pair of Ortlieb’s waterproof throw-over panniers with clothes and set out.

Note: Some of you who’ve followed Red Dog’s progress may recall the one-wheeled Uni-go trailer? It was a cool item for sure but a friend made me an offer I couldn’t refuse and since I hadn’t used it all that much it’s gone to live in another state. Hence the introduction of the Ortlieb panniers, lighter weight and I can carry almost as much stuff.

Ortlieb’s panniers are not very pretty but they’re totally waterproof which for touring is a big deal. Unless you like your undies soggy that is.

I managed to get a fairly early start, all loaded up and forgetting nothing off I go peddling as fast as I can…

I always like to stop at the truck scales south of town to see how fat my outfit is. Today I’m fat. Maybe it’s Red Dog? Yeah, that’s it, it’s Red Dog.

I am not fat!

The views along our coast are marvelous, the tourists thick as fleas on a dog in August and resulting traffic slow as expected. This was the sort of environment where a scooter excels, no shifting required resulting in an easy ride.

My first stop was a quick swing through Bullard’s Beach State Park just north of Bandon. It’s a popular place complete with a lighthouse and one of the best campgrounds you’ll find anywhere.

Here’s our very own lighthouse in its historic white livery. When it was repainted a few years ago the original white was discovered underneath layers of the more recent reddish brick color. Quite a row resulted among long-time locals who wanted to keep it painted red as opposed to the preservationists who insisted on accuracy. Damn good thing it wasn’t chartreuse… 

The shoreline near the lighthouse offers miles of lightly populated beach to explore, often uncrowded. This is likely due to our location; we’re a fair distance from major cities.  

Riding north through Coos Bay; then onto North Bend where the historic bridge takes you over the bay. The speed limit on the bridge is a mere 35 mph so travelers have lots of time to enjoy the view. Here’s the bridge from a different perspective than the usual calendar shot:

I explored the small road that leads underneath the bridge’s ramp. It’s beautiful down there, complete with a drive through a park; one I’d never seen before.

I met a guy riding his bicycle down there. He had a hard time understanding how Red Dog’s front end functions; a not altogether unusual thing. Since I was wearing my earplugs he had to do a lot of yelling and hand waving at me. I think maybe he was a bit mental so I moved on.

Just north of Reedsport another picturesque bridge crosses the bay. This view is looking south and you can see the small commercial development to the east of the bridge. A museum and some nice restaurants are located there; it's well worth a visit.

Pretty architecture

Florence was my next pause, time for coffee at one of my favorite places. You’ll see a lot of bikers there during the summer; it’s a really friendly community and the old town area has been nicely preserved. 

One of my favorite hangouts, good coffee and great cookies is the Siuslaw River Coffee Roasters place. The building has some interesting history and inside you'll find a lot of original fixtures still in place. They also have an outside patio overlooking the river; it's a great place for your morning coffee or lunch. 

Interesting bit of history

Coastal fog is ever-present in some areas. 

In years gone by lighthouses up and down the Pacific Coast were often the only means of off-shore navigation. Just mentioning that makes me wonder how you could explain that to kids busy with their smart phones? Nope, no GPS no smart phones, just maps and bad ones at that. Really. I’m not making that up; they really didn't have GPS back then…OK, I’m making it all up.

Cook’s Chasm is an interesting stop; it offers a unique bit of local history and photo ops for tourists.  Sea life is abundant nearby and people always comment on how nice it would be to live here. Maybe that’s why Florence has always been at the top of best places to live lists. 

Eventually I turned eastward following the road inland a ways. With no special agenda I like to see what comes up just meandering. Pacific City was ahead and I couldn't recall if I'd ever been there or not. It's supposedly a great fishing place and "Home of the Dory Fleet." I think dories are those boats that are pointed on both ends but I couldn't swear to it. Google it if you need to know.

So there I was, poking along at a snail's pace when I came upon an interesting stand of bushes right alongside the highway...

This looks like a good place for a rest break
Park the scooter...
Look both ways...dive into the bushes

After touring Pacific City I ride on to Clover Dale where I see bovines wandering around. Some of the older buildings are interesting, probably won't be around too much longer so take photos while you can. 

Besides visiting small out-of-the-way villages I had enough time to include a tour of the Naval Aviation Museum in Tillamook. I think admission was around ten bucks, a little less for old geezers. They nearly yawned when I mentioned I was a former Navy Airdale. In fact they did yawn. How rude. Zzzzzzz….zzzzzzz I'd been to the big museum in McMinnville where the Spruce Goose lives but never to this smaller one so it was a must see. Besides, I like blimps. Naturally there aren't any but you can fantasize.

Tillamook’s Naval Air Station blimp fleet was most active during WWII. After that it remained active for years, finally becoming a museum for USN Aviation history. I’m not sure but I seem to recall at one time the blimp barn was used as a hang glider training center. Students were to jump off the end of the barn as part of their training. No way Jose` sez I.

Map of all the old blimp terminals in the USA

Old military aircraft – many still operable – are stored inside the blimp barn. Most are owned privately and are flown for shows, etc.

Those old bomber guys were all art lovers. Class tells doesn't it?
The museum tour is self-guided or at least it was that day.

There were a lot of great aircraft to see 
More cool graphics...those bomber guys!
This reminds me of those "Wet Paint" signs

Check out the camels on this fighter’s fuselage. That’s a lot of kills. 

A lot of the display aircraft had been moved outside to make room for an upcoming hot rod show. Most of the regulars were on hand but I was told a number of them had been flown to other fields during the event.

This bad boy was far and away the biggest of the bunch. I might have gone inside but they nail you another three bucks for it and I was having an attack of the cheap. So I’m frugal, so what?


And that was that, a nice entertaining break for a walk down memory lane. Once done with the tour I rode north to Seaside where I popped for a hugely overpriced motel room. It was so expensive I must have gone into shock as I can’t recall what I had for dinner.  Tomorrow would be a change in direction.

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