Friday, October 23, 2009

A Glimpse of Roseburg

I left the house yesterday morning at "0-dark-thirty", actually 6:12. The destination was Roseburg, about 170 miles south of Portland on I-5. The temperature on the guage throughout the trip volleyed between 48 and 52 degrees. And if one word could describe the morning ride it would be foggy.

This section of I-5 runs through the heart of the Willamette (pronounced Will-AM-ette) Valley which is Oregon's agricultural center. On both sides of the highway farmland stretches to the Cascades on the east and the coastal range on the west. The Willamette River meanders through the valley from Portland to Eugene, 100 miles south.

Whenever I head south, my first stop for a break is Albany, Irondad's home town. The McDonald's along I-5 is a good spot to check for messages, stretch the legs, and get coffee.

Southbound out of Albany is about a 40 mile shot to Eugene which is the next big city and the southern end of the valley. From Albany to Eugene both sides of the road are speckled with various sized herds of sheep grazing on large acre farmland. Yesterday I only saw occasional glimpses of sheep close to the road. The other noticeable wildlife are Hawks which perch themselves on the fence posts next to the highway. One day I'm going to stop and snap some shots of these predators.

My first stop in Roseburg is the community college at the north end of town. I got there about 9:45. One thing I've always notice about this campus, it's very quiet and you don't see many students. In fact, in the picture above it looks like the wild turkeys outnumber the students and cars. I'll bet there aren't many college campuses that have wild turkeys roaming around.

That's it, I'm never eating turkey again.
Roseburg is nestled in a forested area known as the 100 valleys of the Umpqua (Ump-kwa). The timber industry has always been the key to its financial growth, but that shifted in the last couple of decades to more tourism and retirees making their home there. The reason for this shift is the fact that there is a lot to do and see in and around Roseburg. It's only 70 miles to the coast, 80 miles to Diamond Lake in the Cascades, and a little further beyond and to the south is Crater Lake. Wildlife Safari is about 5 miles south which has 600 acres of drive-through wildlife. Probably not such a good idea on a bike. In addition, wineries are plentiful in the rolling valleys west of town.

If you like fly fishing or any other fresh water fishing, Roseburg is the place to live or visit. This is the South Fork of the Umpqua River which runs through the city.

This is a view of the North Umpqua River at the Winchester Dam. In the structure on the lower left is a fish ladder with a viewing area to watch fish as they make their way upstream. It's pretty cool to watch, so if you're passing by on I-5, it's right off the freeway at exit 129. I managed to get one half-way decent shot below. They swim up to the glass pretty quickly.

 In case you're an avid fisherman, the picture below shows the fish count at the dam.

About 12 miles west of town the two rivers meet and head west to the ocean. Further east up the North Umpqua is some of the finest steelhead fishing in the world. As a side note, the main contact I see at the college rides a motorcycle and he says the country roads all around the city are very nice for group or solo riding.
The only downside of the trip was seeing more businesses in the downtown area with signs like this. Hopefully this trend will turn around.

After all the work and play I decided to treat myself to a Dairy Queen Blizzard before the ride home.

As I was leaving I spotted this rig in the corner of the parking lot.  Looks like someone had some fun. I guess we should add off roading to the list of things to do in Roseburg.

It was a little over a 360 mile trip. I got home after dark. It was a nice ride and a good day from a business standpoint too.

The promised post on Northwest Portland will be coming up very shortly and will feature a popular breakfast spot you won't want to miss.


  1. Mike, nice post. In your line of business you must start a lot at 0 dark thirty. I am more used to daylight starts, but with the change in season have been adjusting to riding in the dark, but it's not my preference. I am looking forward to your breakfast spot recommendation!

  2. Lance,

    Actually I don't usually head off when it's dark; it's only when I head south. I agree, this is the time of year for adjusting. Towards the end of summer I was looking forward to the fall. Now I kind of miss summer (not 90+) for the riding opportunities.

    Thanks again for reading this and your comment.

  3. Nice ride report and photos. I enjoyed reading it. It did have me wondering what it would be like to ride through a wildlife park. I sure it would have the potential to go bad quick though. Looking forward to reading more ride reports.

  4. Danny,

    Thanks for your encouragement. I was just thinking this morning about whether anyone is reading these posts.

  5. Mike:

    More of us read and check in more than you may know. It's just that sometimes we don't offer a comment right away. Also on the weekends I don't check into the computer much, I usually go from Friday night right to Sunday night (missing Saturday).

    We keep missing Roseburg as it is along the I-5 corridor which we mostly avoid. We are more familiar with Hwy 101, 97, 31 and 395.

    Thank you for your pictures

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin

  6. Bob,

    Thanks for your timely comment. I'm still learning the world of blogging.

    Your weekend schedule of trying to not use the computer much sounds good. And your choice of roads are much more scenic than I-5, especially 101.

  7. Mike:

    I really like Hwy 395, esp just south of Pendleton, and the area around Lake Abert. We drove all the way down to Lakeview then took Hwy 31 (Oregon Outback Scenic Byway) into Bend. You have beautiful roads down there. Shaniko to Fossil, and the John Day area are also superb.

    I get computer overload during the week so I try to get away from it during the weekend. There are better things to do, like riding or gathering blog material.

    bobskoot: wet coast scootin