Day 8 The Ride Home

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Luggage is packed and all are ready to ride at 8:00 am. Today’s plan is to visit Leo’s brother, Marlin, a builder, who has a very unique home on the Snake River. Yes, Leo does have as many siblings and relatives as he and Dean have bottles of wine, and thank goodness. Their hospitality and efforts on our behalf have been indispensable and are very much appreciated.

Marlin’s home is an artistic creation in an idyllic setting on the Snake River. Our visit takes in a wonderful tour of his home and a sharing of family history and interesting stories.

After our visit with Marlin, the group heads for I-84 and the inevitable end of the trip in a few short hours. We all have had a great deal of fun and a lot of laughs while sharing experiences that were not always of a joyful nature.

The weather is spectacular, and the temperature actually is reaching highs that were a distant memory. By the time the group reaches Umatilla, there is a mass strip session in a gas station parking lot as mounds of polar fleece are stuffed into saddle bags.

To digress a bit, our lunch stop, today, was in La Grande at Pizza Hut…… now not much has been said about George on this trip, and rightly so – he is soft spoken, friendly, always has a smile, competent and a model of moderation. George is also a soup eater reminiscent of a food taster in the royal courts of the middle ages. While the rest of the group has been eating fried and heavily carnivorous meals, George has been ordering a bowl of soup or a salad. Please notice that the words “has been” were used.

After the get together the day before at the Harley dealership, George has a big helping of sports bar food (must have been crossing all that desolate countryside in the morning), then at dinner (really just dessert) it is a milkshake, and final coup is lunch at Pizza Hut where he has the meat lovers pizza. The rest of the group feels guilty that they have not been a good influence on George. Luckily, we are able to get over the guilt, pack up “to go” boxes and head on to home in perfect weather. Other than a stop or two for gas or to stretch our legs, we do take in a scenic turn-out above Pendleton where the weather and vantage point conspire to create a magnificent view of eastern Oregon towards the Columbia River.

Our final push is into Washington on I-82 and then to state routes 240 and 243 to the Vantage bridge and highway to our respective homes. In ending the traveling part of the trip, it is fitting to relate something George shared with us in Riggins the first night. He called and told Linda, his wife, he saw a road sign that reminded him of her, it said, "Soft Shoulder." Now, that is good!