Gypsy Sister’s Run – Keiller Gowans Memorial – June 2023

Back in the fall of 2019, our GWRRA District Ride Coordinator, Keiller Gowans, was working on a 4 day run down to Sisters, Oregon and back.  He spent countless hours designing a route that would encompass many of the twistiest roads he could find in Washington and Oregon.  He even drove the routes himself in his pickup truck several times to make sure all was good.  We had over 50 riders registered for the event scheduled to take place in the spring of 2020.  Well, COVID hit and closed the border so it was postponed for a while.  Unfortunately, Keiller was taken from us way too early in 2021, but the ride plans never died.

Move forward to the winter of 2022/2023.  GWRRA had folded and we brought our chapter along for a new ride with the Eagle Wings Motorcycle Association (EWMA).  Plans were made to do the Sisters run as a memorial ride in honour of Keiller.  I had a copy of his original GPX file and shared it with the organizer, Dan Fortin, our new chapter director.  The ride was advertised and 40 members signed up for it.  It was going to be a great 4 days of riding for everyone.

Here is my story. 

We divided up all the participants into 4 groups – one with faster riders, two with medium paced riders and another with latecomers….

Giselle and I teamed up with Doug and Cathy Wilkins and their friend Clay Schatz.  Jim and Janet Cross and Patrick Frampton rounded out the group.  We all agreed to meet across the border in Blaine early in the morning as the first day was going to be a long one.  Not many pictures were taken, except where we stopped for fuel or lunch.

Day one took us from Blaine, Washington, down some backroads and onto highway 9 to Sedro Wooley.  Some of the groups were going to stop there for breakfast.  We passed through and headed out along the South Skagit Highway as far as the bridge over the Sauk River south of Rockport connecting us to Highway 530.  We connected back up with Highway 20 at Rockport and continued east to Marblemount, our first fuel stop of the day.  From there, we rode through the Cascade mountains to our next fuel stop at Pateros, on the Columbia River and then a lunch break at the Wells Dam rest area.

After a nice picnic, we continued south along the river to Chelan and then along Lake Chelan to Highway 971 – a beautifully twisty stretch of highway up and over the mountain and back down to the Columbia River.  We took Highway 97 down to Wenatchee and headed west towards Cashmere on Highway 2.  After Cashmere, we headed towards Leavenworth and the intersection of Highway 97 south.  Heading south on 97 is another twisty section of mountainous highway taking us into Ellensburg.

After a fuel stop in Ellensburg, we caught Interstate 90 East and exited on to Canyon Road – Highway 821.  This is another beautifully twisty road that winds along the Yakima River Canyon and exits at Selah, Washington, which was our first overnight stop.

Day two of our ride took us from Selah down to our southern destination of Sisters, Oregon.  Our route took us along Highway 97 down to Goldendale, Washington, then west on Highway 142.  This was a beautiful stretch of highway through some hilly farmland and into another canyon following the Klickitat River.  Mt Adams was in view to the west along much of this stretch.

Highway 142 comes out at Lyle, on the banks of the Columbia River and Highway 14.  From there we headed east on 14 to The Dalles where we fueled up.  After crossing over the Columbia River into Oregon, we caught the historic Columbia River Highway 30 heading west along the river.  This is another twisty section of road with some beautiful scenery that any motorcyclist should not miss when in the area.  We stopped at an overlook about halfway along for a break.

Highway 30 ends at Hood River, Oregon.  From here we took Highway 35 towards Mount Hood.  The views were spectacular all along the way.  We turned south on Highway 26 heading towards Sisters.  After a fuel stop, we had a lunch break at the Skyline Snowpark.  We were supposed to continue on Oregon Skyline Forest road NF-42, but it was closed to allow cleanup from wildfires the year before.

After lunch we headed back down Highway 26 to Sisters.  We just beat a rainstorm when we got to the motel.  A dinner was planned at the Sister’s Saloon that evening.  A great time was had by all.

The next morning we headed west towards the Oregon coast and Seaside.  We headed out of Sisters on Highway 242 towards Mount Washington.  We entered a volcanic lava flow area with a lot of twists and turns before connecting up with Highway 126 going north to Highway 20 west.  A ton more twisties through the mountains brought us to Sweet Home and then Lebanon for our first fuel stop.

After fueling up in Lebanon, we headed west on Highway 20 to Corvallis.  Just past Corvallis, we took Highway 34 south and west towards the coast.  There was a sign saying the road was closed but we saw other motorcycle groups heading that way, so went along.  The road was another beautiful twisty, scenic route along the Alsea River.  We hit a road closure about 30 miles in and had to turn around and head back towards Highway 20.  We stopped alongside the Alsea River at Mill Park for a nice lunch break before heading back the way we came.

Once back on Highway 20 we continued west to the Oregon coast at Newport, then north up the coast Highway 101 to Seaside.  It was a wet, foggy day and we did not take any photos.  We arrived in Seaside in time for a nice dinner at a Mexican restaurant we found just up the street from our motel.

The following day saw much of the group weary and tired of riding and many chose to just head home on the quickest route possible.  We opted to take Highway 101 up to Aberdeen, Washington, then over to Olympia and up I5 to Blaine and home.  Others opted to continue the run up Highway 101 to Port Townsend where they took a ferry to Whidbey Island and up Highway 20 to Burlington and then I5 back to Blaine.

The ride was considered a complete success with everybody making it home without incident.  I am sure EWMA Chapter BC-A will conduct more of these types of rides in the future.