Portland To Oceanside: Get The Chowder
One great way to realize, acknowledge and validate a long distance motorcycle trip is to find it's halfway point and, upon arrival, honor it. Portland, a coastal(ish) town that's as far west as we intend to travel, proves to be the perfect location for such an exhale. The next two days being designated as an intermission, what better way to rest than by riding to, say ... Oceanside?
“We want to ride our motorcycles to the Pacific. A breath of fresh sea air would be the final validating stamp that we have indeed reached the Oregon coast.”
Day eight finds us in the hospitable confines of my friends Steve and Aubrey. Being a weekday, they bid us a fond farewell on their way to work and trustingly leave us in charge of their dwelling. Robin and I take our time getting up before getting ready.
We want to ride our motorcycles to the Pacific. A breath of fresh sea air would be the final validating stamp that we have indeed reached the Oregon coast. We decide to leave most of our luggage behind, running the motorbikes unhampered to the beach town of Oceanside via Oregon Highway 6 (The Wilson River Highway). First thing's first, however. It's time for breakfast.
Not wanting to deplete our gracious hosts of their own stores and desiring to partake of the local flavor we turn to the almighty internet for a solution. A quick Yelping points to Jim and Patty's Coffee. Upon arrival we're greeted with an unexpected line at this seemingly innocuous bakery in a strip mall. Once in queue we see why. The menu is chalked full of all things delectable.
I can't resist the temptation of their signature item, the Pig Newton. That's breakfast sausage inside a homemade cheddar and chive buttermilk biscuit. Robin engulfs the Mr. Natural, proclaiming it to be health conscious regardless of being prepared on the very same uber-cardiac biscuit.
Fueled and ready to ride, we point west for the last time this trip. Away from the busy streets of Portland's western suburbs we find ourselves on Oregon 6, heading over the feet of the Cascade Mountains into the Tillamook forest. Greeted by farms and vineyards on the sunny eastern slopes, we climb and twist through the coniferous forests one might expect when thinking of Oregon.
The road is amazing. It's not as tight as the day prior (up the middle of the state) but with corners enough to keep you busy and vistas aplenty to make you grin. This is the only road that heads over the hills to that part of the coast so there's a bit of traffic.
We see several motorcycles along the way from cruisers to crotch rockets. Occasionally we're stuck behind a slow vehicle and with limited passing opportunities this might be bothersome. Whenever traffic feels heavy, we pull into one of the many scenic overlooks and enjoy the view.
As we're descending down the western slopes we come to an imposed full halt. At the front of it all, a fireman informs us that there's been an accident and that a motorcyclist was involved. We see police and other emergency personnel peering over the cliffside and fear the worst.
The fireman informs us that the guy low sided on a Triumph and walked away with a sprained wrist. What the police were looking at is beyond me but this serves as a reminder to remember we're on a busy highway and to stay within our maneuvering limits. Safety is key.
Once we pass through Tillamook, a cheese town, we meet flat grass lands that eventually give way to a beautiful rocky coast and refreshing sea breeze. Just before Oceanside we find ourselves behind a rider wearing full gear on his new KTM Duke. On arrival, we pull up behind him and chat a bit. It's reassuring to know friends are easily made in new places via the bonds of motorcycling.
Settling down for lunch at Roseanna's Café, the two of us enjoy some amazing chowder and Pacific snapper while staring out at the water. From here you can see the large boulders that form Three Arch Rocks National Wildlife Refuge. You might recognize these from "The Goonies" movie.
Having seen the water we decide to head back as the day is wearing on. The traffic is far too heavy for spirited riding and we see a line of cars stretch from the bottom of the hills. Robin and I are taking it easy, enjoying the views but getting sleepy from the afternoon sun.
We stop at Lee's Camp Store, the only thing on the entire highway aside from state campground services. We find friendly people and, more importantly, caffeine to get us back safely. We time our departure to divide traffic waves, providing some fun between blocks of congestion.
Once in Beaverton we pack up, make sure to leave our gracious host's home in good stead and head back onto the spaghetti monster that is Portland's highway system. Our next stop is Vancouver, WA where we'll be staying with my friends Alastair and Kristen. Passing through the unexpectedly large Washington City Park, a city park that looks like a national forest, I lament the short time we've had here. I'll take it as incentive to come back and spend at least a few days.
Having survived the hectic and nonsensical Portland outer belts, we cross the Columbia one final time before meeting up with our evening's hosts. We're treated to the local Red Robin with hearty food and cold beer. Fed and watered we head back to their place to turn in. Al and Robin retire early. Kristin and I stay up for a while and catch up.
Ready for more? Day Nine: Vancouver to Seattle
What's Your Favorite Sport Touring Motorcycle Route From Portland To Oceanside?
We're only familiar with Oregon Highway 6. Are there other interesting roads that connect the two? What do you like about them and why? Your input is invited. Leave a comment!