Day five was all about two-lane blacktop, national forests, and mountains. We took no interstate highways. We also took all day to cross Oregon, from Ontario to Portland—and that was just fine.
We were on US 26, which passes through several national forests while going over and around the mountains, three ranges worth—the Blue Mountains, the New Cascades, and the Western or Old Cascades—before descending into the Willamette Valley. It’s a road filled with twisties and sweepers, but not many towns, and even fewer gas stations, so fuel stops were critical. Oregon is not a self-service “pump your own” state, but stations, at their discretion, will allow motorcyclists to fill their own tanks.
My favorite part of the day was our lunch stop in Mitchell, a small (and I mean small) mountain community with a really crappy gas station—only 87 octane gas, plus diesel—and a charming little cafe, where I had one of the tastiest burgers I’ve eaten in a very long time. I was fatigued from chasing my son through the mountains (he likes to zip through the twisties, whereas I prefer to cruise at a relaxed pace), so I did not object to taking our sweet time in Mitchell. It’s a friendly little place where everybody talks to one another, locals and travelers alike.
Between the mountains and forests, the scenery was simply incredible. I would like to have stopped more, to take photos, but our trip took all day as it was. And besides, I wasn’t leading.
We were hoping to see Mt. Hood, but it was up in a cloud. A rain cloud. A malicious rain cloud. Yes, as is often the case in the Pacific Northwest, it was raining over the Old Cascades and the Willamette Valley, where Portland is located. We knew this in advance, so we pulled off and donned our rain gear in bright sunshine. Moments later, we were in the drink. Conditions ranged from a slow, steady rain to a driving torrent.
It took us over two hours to get through the Old Cascades and across Portland to our hotel in Lake Oswego. My son John had done an admirable job of leading us safely to our destination.
We have now come well over 2,000 miles. After touring Portland and the surrounding area for a few days, we will begin the journey home, minus my son.