Ride to Madras
May 4, 2019

I have a tiny little motorcycle, a Honda Rebel 250. Most motorcyclist consider these starter bikes for women and children. They were in production for over 30 years, so they must have done something right. Anyhow, I've decided to try to visit all 36 county courthouses in Oregon, and this weekend, I decided to visit my mother in the county I grew up in, Jefferson.

Jefferson county was carved from Crook county in 1914 and Madras was named County Seat over Culver, which is a disgusting little town and our primary rival. When I was a child, I read the town of Madras had originally had a name very similar to another name in the area which caused problems with the postmasters. It was decided to name the town after a quantity of Madras cloth in the laical general store. Nowadays, they say the town was named after a city in India. Yeah, sort of.

Oregonians live in a shockingly beautiful state. Oceans to valleys to mountains to plains. I was raveling on Highway 22, over the Cascade mountain range. Where I line is about 500ft above sea level. Hwy 22 summits at ~4800ft. That's Mt Washington in the background - the core of an extinct volcano that had the exterior scrubbed off by a glacier in the last ice age.

Sisters is the first town on the 'other side' of the mountains. It is a tourist town, mandated by law that every storefront is of a "western theme." The Jewel is a startlingly good jewelry store and Keely has several pieces from it. (I did not go in.)

It is 160.5 miles from the gas station in Salem to the gas station in Madras. My motorcycle needs to switch to Reserve at 150 miles (amazingly consistent - because it is a small horse power bike, I typically run it at full throttle. If I'm just commuting to work or doing distance trips, it needs to switch to reserve at roughly 150 miles.)

I grew up in Madras, kindergarten through highschool. I rolled into town, scored some gas, and went looking for the courthouse of my youth. I couldn't find it. I had to settle for this, the original courthouse, built in 1917, and now serving as law offices.

Mom said there was a new place to eat in town, the Madras Brewing Co. (food was great, service was sh*t, but it was a Friday night and it was packed) It's pretty neat the trestle is being used as an icon now. When I was a kid, 10 or 12 years old, my friend, Westley (RIP) and I were dicking around there on the upper right side and some younger kids down below started throwing rocks at us (stupid kids - who attacks from the low ground?) They hid behind one of the uprights and had us at a standoff. I found some discarded beer bottles and threw them into the struts of the upright, raining broken glass upon the kids. They screamed and cried and ran away. Great memories.

I asked Mom where the courthouse was and she said they'd torn it down in 2016 because it was in a flood plain. Madras is in the 'dry shadow' behind the Cascade mountain range and gets only 9" of rain a year. Some years, it gets 120" and it floods. This barren lot is where the courthouse once stood.

This is the new courthouse. Yeah, it looks OK, but my little Rocinante looks better.

While I was there, my mom and I went to the funeral for a family friend, the mother of the girl I took to my senior prom. Interesting note, she went on to graduate from West Point and is now married to a 2-star general and has beautiful kids. Know what that makes me? The bullet dodged.

That's the Middle Sister in the background. I've lived in a couple other places but I didn't want to stay there. I've visited a couple places I like as much as Oregon and one place (Normandy region of France) I'd rather live than Oregon. This is a beautiful place. Read about it. Watch movies that feature it. Come visit and spend your money -then go home.