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.