Girl Meets World on FZ-07 Motorcycle: Chapter 2, Part 10

Pacific Northwest for the win! From Oregon to Idaho to Washington.

Tiffani on FZ-07 at Mt. Rainier
Taking in the view of Mt. Rainier!Photo by Tiffani Burkett

About to cross the border into Canada on the way to Alaska on my FZ-07 , so I figure this is probably a good time for some stories, since who knows when or if I'll have service again! It's been an odd couple weeks, but I gotta say, Oregon and Washington and Idaho have not disappointed.

So, after a good night's sleep at Mount Hood listening to the Zig Zag River, my eye was fortunately feeling much, much better. (Maybe when Hollywood kept yelling at me to stop messing with it, he was onto something? MAYBE). We packed up and continued our trek east, before ultimately stopping at the small… uh "town" (I use that term loosely) of Mitchell, Oregon outside Painted Hills. We were both hot and parched and basically dying, so we pulled in, parked next to some adventure bikes along the main (read as: only) street, and while I went to get some water from the store, Hollywood ended up at a camper truck that apparently served craft beer and smoked wings. Because why wouldn't that exist?

This actually worked out pretty fantastically, as the two riders we parked next to were also getting beer at the truck, so naturally we had instant friends. They ended up being from Vancouver, Canada who were on holiday and decided to take off and explore the states for a couple weeks. After swapping stories, they told us about a free camp spot by Painted Hills called Priest Hole that not only lined a river, but the river was warm and great for swimming. We hadn’t travelled as far as we had planned that day yet, but it was impossible to say no to a swimming hole on a scorching day in the Oregon desert. We decided to call it a day and took a detour 10 miles down a gravel road to the camp spot. It was a little rough and loose getting in, but at this point I had an okay handle on gravel roads and it wasn’t too intimidating to get through.

River oasis
I’m pretty sure we just stumbled upon the definition of the word oasis.Photo by Tiffani Burkett

Well, until the drop in to the camp site that took you down a sharp turn into a steep, uneven, soft dirt hill that opened into a gravel pit. Oh Joy. I stared at the hill, not sure how I was going to get down it, for probably a good 5 minutes, before Hollywood, who had gone on ahead, came up to me already undressed and out of his gear and told me to quit being a wuss and figure it out, because he was going swimming. Tough love…

I inched my way down until the incline made it so my feet couldn’t touch the ground anymore, then committed to dropping in. Which, I’m glad I did, because the river was probably 75 degrees, clear, and beautiful. A nice old man who was also camping at the river mixed us some drinks as we floated around in the river (And told us about the much easier access road he used to get in with his hauler that we apparently missed. That’s about par for the course for my life, I’d say). You seriously meet the nicest people camping.

The next day, we packed up bright and early to try to beat the heat and headed to Boise to meet up with Hollywood’s cousin Heidi. They hadn’t seen each other in over 20 years, so it was cool to see him reunited with some more of his family as a result of this adventure. A couple days of great conversation and being pampered and spoiled, and it was back on the road to start making our way toward the border. You can’t head up too late in the season if you want to get to Alaska without being snowed on (though I'm used to that at this point. Thanks, Colorado!)

FZ-07 Hells Canyon
Fortunately this picture isn’t close enough to see how much I’m sweating in my gear right now, but Hell’s Canyon was way too neat to miss!Photo by Tiffani Burkett

We headed to Hell’s Canyon on the Idaho/Oregon border, which was every bit as hot as the name implies. I believe the sign on one of the shops stated it was a lovely 104 degrees, and it certainly wasn’t a dry heat. Almost felt like racing at Chuckwalla in the summer! But the canyon walls and rocks had an almost painting like quality as we weaved along the Snake River, so it was almost worth exhausting all three liters of water I had in my pack to get through it. We found a camp spot up along the canyon rim, where the trees and elevation staved off some of the heat, and called it a night before heading up toward Washington.

Now, Washington might be going on the list as one of the prettiest states to date. Which is actually saying something considering how amazing our country really is. We headed toward Rainier, stopping one night in Natches, then the next night near Packwood. Much to my surprise, there was ample free dispersed camping near Rainier even on a weekend in summer (Although the actual park campground was quite booked to capacity). We rode through the park, stopping what seemed like every 100 feet for pictures, since the views just got more and more over the top every step you went, and hiked down to some waterfalls. (Being from Los Angeles, seeing water still really, really excites me, haha.) We spent some time with some of the locals in Packwood as we went into town for breakfast. It’s always such an interesting contrast from what I’m used to meeting people who live in small, tight knit communities where everyone knows everyone, and they’re quick to be inviting and hospitable even to strangers. Not really what we get in the city.

Motorcycles in the Washington mountains
Can we take the FZ up there next?!Photo by Tiffani Burkett

From there, we took a quick detour to Mount Saint Helens, which ended up being probably the worst maintained and distorted paved road I’ve ever seen (I’m pretty sure the ravaged dirt trail into Usal Beach was smoother), but the views were worth the ride. Crazy to think that this volcano was active less than 40 years ago! I didn’t even realize we still actually had active volcanoes on the mainland. Afterwards, we made our way up to Seattle where I stopped to visit my little sister and her husband for a couple days and to get some care packages (It’s tough getting mail when you’re on the road all the time), then a quick pit stop for a new rear tire, and it was up to Canada. Hopefully The border officers let us through!

FZ-07 in Mt. Rainier park
This whole state is absolutely gorgeous!Photo by Tiffani Burkett