Welcome to the Phunny Pharm
Oregon is a favorite destination for a variety of reasons and, I think for most, the dramatic scenery along the 363 miles of its coastal Highway 101 is probably what first comes to mind. The long list of other things that could draw a rider to the quirky state that encourages tree hugging and living a life less common might include things like their famous lighthouses, incredible art deco bridges, great seafood, craft beers and Tillamook cheese, though the little signs along the road offering jerky in every conceivable form of flesh to include salmon, elk and venison are their own enticements. My reasons for riding around the 33rd state of the union are much more personal: to visit friends.
I like to take my time cruising the craggy Oregon coastline to enjoy the aforementioned scenery, bridges, lighthouses and tasty treats (yes, I’ve tried the jerky and it is incredible) before I cut inland a bit to arrive at the warm and welcoming door of a little house that’s nestled up against a hillside. The affectionately-dubbed “Phunny Pharm” is separated by the Dolan clan’s own private stretch of river that bisects their 40-acre tree-covered farm. Shared with a variety of farm animals who are considered part of a family, each contributes to the well-being of all the residents. The aptly-name “pharm” is quite the menagerie of personable characters and everybody has a name, unless they’re destined to be food, of course; then they’re just animals. There’s Bacchus and Pan, the goats, Goldie the ewe and Sturgis the donkey along with several other domestic beasts that roam the acreage. Pets like Sally the dog, Luna, Bubby and Basho the cats, as well as a variety of venomous reptiles, to include a spitting cobra that pretty much freaks me out, round out the colorful critters who all live in the house. Then there’s my own favorite resident, Simone.
Simone, the 9-foot-long alligator, lives in a fenced-off section of the backyard in her own heated pool. She spends the chilly winters lazily hibernating at the bottom of the pond but when the weather warms up she casually crawls to shore to sunbathe and dine on whole chickens. When logging trucks rumble past the property or a V-twin rolls into the driveway, she rears up out of her pond and roars in response to having her personal bathtub turned into a vibrating Jacuzzi. She has a full head of amazingly big teeth and it’s quite the thrilling sight.
Human residents include Sue Bee, a THUNDER PRESS contributor, and her hubby Eric. Sue’s brother lives in his own domicile just down the hill. It’s always a joy to swing by for a visit with the Dolans and to hang out with the tame and not-so-tame critters that peacefully cohabitate on the rambling ranch. The tribe exists mostly off the grid, growing and raising their own food and living a very vibrant but peaceful life. They’re both very active in the local biker scene and the art community since Sue Bee’s an accomplished artist. Her paintings are displayed at a local eatery and she occasionally teaches art classes. Eric is always busy with one bike project or another and in between the day-to-day, he spends a lot of time chopping firewood to sustain their cold and occasionally snow-blanketed winters.
Married since 1987, this biking couple has lived a version of farm life for decades. Their first land purchase in Oroville, California, came after Eric sold his 1966 Shovelhead to pay for the property. A close friend couldn’t handle the thought of Eric being without wheels so he gave him a bike until the couple could afford to pay the loan. In 1996, after their only child Sasha was born, the family moved to Oregon where they built a nice homestead, then sold that to acquire the rural life they now enjoy. Through it all, they’ve never been long without a motorcycle. Eric currently pilots a 2004 Road King and is in the process of building himself another Shovelhead. He’s also hip-deep in a project to revive a 1947 H-D Servi-Car for his brother-in-law. They keep involved with local runs and are friends with owners of the town’s independent bike shop. Most years they take a trip back to Sturgis to participate in the bacchanal life during the rally and I usually catch up with them somewhere along the road, but a stay at their magic castle is always the highlight of my travels.
From their place I mosey along the narrow back roads towards Portland to visit more riding friends and this year the antique-based Motorcycle Cannonball is planning to end their biennial historic run in the city. Consequentially, the route I’ve traditionally taken will be run backwards as I mosey towards the southwest this fall. That is, providing the weather holds out, which I hope it does because a trip to Oregon’s backwoods just wouldn’t be the same without Simone’s guttural roar as greeting. Or a package of salmon jerky.