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The ride to Canyonville is a tapestry of logged out forests and still living giants, marching motionless through the pine needle darkness. We catch glimpses of fern gardens and luxurious shaded groves of towering trees as we round switchbacks and hairpins. All of it endangered by the massive logging trucks and cutting machines that sit waiting for their operators to bring them to life in pursuit of some goal more lofty than mere forest.

I am keeping Samantha close because we lost each other this morning. I spent the better part of a dreary hour peering over into the ravine until she finally rode back my way. Reunited, we agreed to stay closer despite the dust.

After following a river drainage out if the forest we came to a rare paved road. It was a joy to ride that strip of tar, like a smooth ribbon through the rutted canyon until we reached the little store in Tiller.

We signed in with all the other Trans America Trail riders that come through. Less than 200 in the book this year, an off year it seems. I suspect we may be the last of the season. Flipping back there were busier years with hundreds of riders. We had coffee and bought some 87 octane ethanol gas before heading off again.

That evening we detoured a bit to Canyonville. We chatted with a man who spotted a large black widow climbing Samantha’s back tire. I moved her to more appropriate habitat. We stopped by the car wash and gently sprayed a months worth of dust off the motorcycles. Then we stopped for food at an all American burger joint, flags flying, where truck drivers and high school students shared bottles of ketchup over cheese burgers and rough cut fries.

We found a cheap motel, flipped on the TV and finished out a great day of riding watching bad television in our climate controlled room. It’s odd, anytime we’re in a motel I long for the wilds just outside. At the end of a long day of riding I long for an easy check in and a big bed. It really just comes down to being tired and having to set up camp. Other times it’s late and cold and outside seems foreboding. In the end I always regret our choices to wimp out and crawl into a motel. In the end I think it’s a question of balance. You need both. Hot showers and big beds are nice after a day’s riding but campfires, our cozy tent and morning coffee in the wilds are so much better.

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