Reader Ride: Klamath Falls Trip

Text: Chris Brotherton • Photography: Chris Brotherton

I could hear the alarm growing louder the more I gained consciousness. I could see the sunlight peeking through the blinds letting me know that it was time to get up and get this ride started. A stiff cup of coffee and a shower finished, I was loading my gear on my bike and warming it up.

My grandfather lives in Klamath Falls, a five-hour ride away, and although I love visiting him, I have made the trip so many times that it's hard to find anything interesting along the way anymore. That is what I set out to do this time, seek something different to stop and explore along the way. I wasn't keeping a schedule and I didn't know where my stops would be, I was just going.

I kissed my family goodbye and headed out the driveway, only stopping for gas before I left Corvallis behind. Interstate 5, the "fast" route to Hwy 58 through the mountains, is my normal approach. Today, however, I was going to take the more scenic route: Hwy 99. It runs parallel to I-5, but has much less traffic to watch out for while riding, offering more opportunities to soak up the scenery.

As I headed along the old state route, I could feel the morning blossoming around me: warm and hitting 75 degrees before 9:00. The trip along this section passed quickly through a corridor of earthy smells - the wildflowers, the freshly turned soil in the fields and the occasional whiff of ripe blackberries. Before I knew it, I was in Junction City, where two different parts of 99 merge into one road. From Junction City, it is only 20 miles to my turnoff and the mountains.

But I was going to have to stop and get some more caffeine first. There are a couple of convenience stores at the south end of Eugene, just before the turn that takes me east. The first store didn't look like it offered much, so I stopped at the second one and got a pleasant surprise.

The greenest gas station/store I've ever seen, it has solar panels to help power the store and the pumps; and bio-diesel and bio-ethanol is sold right next to the regular gas. The top of the building has a "living roof," with flowers and other plants growing all over it for insulation, keeping the place cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. It was nice and cool inside.

(End of preview text.)

For the complete touring article, including facts & information, map(s), and GPS files, please purchase the March/April 2009 back issue.