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
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
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
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
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.