Archive for the “Washington” Category
We had a wonderful three weeks in Canada seeing friends and family. Of course, there’s never enough time to see everyone or do everything that we’d like to do while we’re there, but we did the best we could and enjoyed ourselves immensely. Of course, my major regrets were that I couldn’t have sushi or the lovely microbrewed beer as I’m pregnant again, but I’ll just have to wait until next visit.
The first week we spent time with my family and recovered from jetlag – Sprocket did better than we did, especially me – jetlag in the first trimester is not a lot of fun. Sprocket had fun meeting and playing with his cousins. He and my niece G are only 9 months apart – last time we were home that was an eternity, now they play well together, well, as well as kids close to two can. My grandmother was also visiting from California so she could meet Sprocket and the newest grandkid, my nephew S. We also fit some visits with friends and their kids – everyone is multiplying! The next week we were down to Seattle to see my sister for a few days, and try and fit in mad shopping and visits with friends there. Another sister even surprised us with a visit and was finally able to meet her nephew – it was lovely to see them too. Then, in a three-ferry day, we went from Seattle over to the Olympic peninsula and then to Victoria before driving up-Island to my parents’ place on Gabriola, where the annual family reunion was in full swing. We stayed a few days after the reunion and just relaxed – it’s such a beautiful place to be, especially in the summer. Finally back to Langley to fit in a few more visits and shopping before we flew back here.
Most of the photos that I took are just family and friends, so not much interest for this travel-oriented blog. I will throw in one video of Sprocket on Gabriola – just because he’s such a daredevil:
It made us all extremely nervous the entire time, since he seemed to have little understanding of the dangers of the edge. Well at least until he fell off twice, which luckily enough just scared him enough without any injury.
I was quite sad to leave, for a number of reasons. Perhaps the most surprising one was how much I enjoyed the friendliness of Canadians and Americans. Just the ease with which we chat with strangers is something that I miss a lot here, and it’s not just the language, either. When DutchBoy first moved to Vancouver we went to the SuperValu together and I was chatting with the cashier – as we left, DutchBoy asked, “Do you know her?” and was quite surprised when I said no. Now my Dutch is to the point where I can chat fairly easily, but it’s just not done here. Of course, it was nice to know exactly what to do again too, to have things come naturally, without thinking what’s done here and what’s not and how things are said or what have you, to fit in without trying. I also enjoyed the restaurants (choice! cheap! yummy!), and found myself a bit overwhelmed by the supermarkets and stores – they’re so huge and have so much. I’ve gotten used to the size of the stores here.
But of course, the hardest part was leaving my friends and family again, especially my family, and especially my nephews and niece. As I was saying goodbye to them for the last time, my nephew J asked me when we’d see each other again. I said it would be quite a long time. He asked brightly, “Thursday?” I said, “Well, longer than that.” “Monday?” It brought tears to my eyes, also when both J and G said they’d miss me and DutchBoy and Sprocket. I do wish the cousins could see each other more.
No Comments »
A weekend with a zero percent chance of precipitation and no social plans seemed a perfect time to introduce DutchBoy to the joys of motorcycle touring before our trip to California. And to really test it we should also ride in the heat, which made a trip through the Okanagan make perfect sense. The plan was to ride to Oroville over the Hope-Princeton on Saturday, spend the night, and return through Winthrop, which is the number 1 Destination Highway in Washington. Of course, things don’t always go as planned.
We went out to my stepfather’s gallery opening on Friday night and spent the night there since it was on the way. In the morning we lazed around and didn’t get on the road until late, which meant taking the straight Highway 1 to Hope. Stopped for gas and lunch before heading up to Manning.
There seems to be no good answer to how to ride with a newbie through the twisties that doesn’t push him to go faster than he ought. I know when I was the slowest, I hated being in front because I felt guilty about holding up the faster people behind me, so that pushed me to ride to my limit or a bit beyond. Me riding in front and trying to modulate my speed to his is also difficult because it’s hard to accurately judge what level he should be at – is he feeling pressured or restricted by the speed I choose? In the end we went with me in front, riding at my pace through the twisties and slowing down in the straights, since I knew that was what I preferred when I was slower than my companions, and this seems to work for DutchBoy as well. I got his promise that he would ride to his level, not mine, and though I trusted that he meant it, I still worried each time until I saw him again because I knew from my own experience that it’s easy to get over-confident when just starting out.
At Manning we took the old side road to the view point and found serious amateur astronomers there with big telescopes. They let us look at the sun and pointed out the flares the size of several Earth’s along the edge of the otherwise unexciting red ball. They were planning to spend the night up there looking at the stars during the new moon. We took the obligatory pictures.
Back down to the road and along the nicely twisty highway to Princeton (not this bit though).
Down the mountain into Princeton the climate changes from coastal forest to interior forest to desert sagebrush with all the attending smells. Then wending alongside the Similkameen River to Keremeos.
In Keremeos we decide – the direct route to Osoyoos or scenic twisty backroad goodness? It wasn’t much of a decision and off to the side roads we go. One wrong turn took us past the Radio Observatory (visitors welcome every day 10-5).
Although the route got a little more off-route than we planned, but that’s never a bad thing and we were repaid in lovely scenery and some wonderfully winding deserted roads.
Made it across the border and into the campground with just enough light to set up the tent. Then we went foraging in the local convenience store for a most nutritious dinner.
We ate dinner by the lake and I tried to take pictures of its fading loveliness.
Then to bed around midnight.
We woke up on time for us, which is about 9:30 on a weekend. We’re not morning people. We cleansed off the sweat of the day before by going for a swim in the still-somewhat-chilly-until-you’re-in-them waters of the Lake Osoyoos. The water felt sweet and cool and amazing – so much better than a pool or even the ocean. It felt like swimming in silk.
There was no one around the water, which surprised me – I remembered it being full of families splashing about and picnicking, but I guess June is still too early. But it still brought back the lazy days we used to spend with our stepmother playing in the water and eating on the shore, back when summer meant two months of idyllic idleness. I remember the summers in Oroville as long days of lazing around, playing in water of the lakes and the river, eating cherries and apricots from the trees, going for walks on the waterline with the family, including the dogs, dancing in thunderstorms, sleeping in the tree house and watching the shooting stars. The childhood that no one has any more.
After the swim we went back to the tent to make coffee/tea and eat a bit. We felt lazy, and wanted to while away the whole day instead of heading home. The campground was still and quiet, the main sounds the muted sounds of grass cutting and the thwick-thwick-thwick-swish of the sprinklers. Most of the campers sat and chatted in their groups, the partiers were mutedly packing up. The day was hot and there was nary a cloud in the sky– we heard later that it reached 40 in the Okanagan. We basked and resisted movement for as long as we could.
In the bathroom the woman at the neighbouring sink mentioned that she had said to her husband when we rode by “I think she’s on a bigger bike than he is!” confirming for me both that people can tell I’m a girl when I’m all covered up and that people are making that connection and it’s making them think a bit. It’s kind of fun to mess with people’s perceptions of how things ought to be between the sexes, and I’m very glad DutchBoy really doesn’t care – I’d hate for him to think he needed to be on a bigger bike just because he’s the guy, regardless of his newbie status. I love the fact that he does what he thinks makes sense without giving a rat’s ass about “gender roles” – the sense of security in who he is makes him seem stronger to me than those who need to hide behind what “ought” to be.
We packed up and got out of there just at one. After a quick brunch gathered from Prince’s, Oroville’s home-grown department store, which hasn’t changed appreciably in 20 years, and a quick conversation with a cruiser rider in a beanie and wife beater who said “well, I have all the leathers and stuff, it’s just too hot” while we melted but felt superior, we headed up for a quick detour to the ghost town of Molson.
The road up to Molson is straight up twisty fun, flipping the bike from side to side, leaning to speed around corners of an eroded hillside of baked brown and sage green as we climb up into the dry back country. I quickly lost DutchBoy, but slowed in the straights until I could see him again behind, with the familiar tendrils of worry creeping in each time until I did.
We played in the Molson for a little while.
Before we came down, during an aborted attempt to go to the museum, I heard DutchBoy’s bike suddenly making an odd mechanical sound. I resolved to check into it at the bottom, and we headed down the same way we came.
We were stuck behind cars for some of the fun bits, but for the last, twistiest fun bit, we escaped them. Again, I quickly outpaced DutchBoy, but started to get a sinking feeling in my gut when I couldn’t see him shortly behind me when the road straightened. I stopped and waited. I really got worried when a car came down next – the car stopped to tell me he was OK, but didn’t say anything about going down, so I wondered if he’d just stopped to adjust something. When the next car came to tell me he was OK, I started to worry more and headed back up. Sure enough, there he was, looking dusty but otherwise fine. I pulled around. The bike looked dusty, but fine on the left side, and it was a left hand corner, so what had happened?
After I parked I saw the rash and broken turn signal on the right side. It turns out that he’d taken a bad line through the corner, ended up off the road on the gravel, tried to get back on the road but failed, made the conscious conclusion that he was going down and had pushed the bike away from him and fallen. Having played goal in field hockey, he knew how to fall, so was entirely unhurt except for a skinned area on his forearm not even the size of a loonie from an encounter with the handlebars. Wearing all the gear even in the heat had certainly been a good thing.
Looking at the damage to the bike we could see that we wouldn’t be riding home. The handlebars were askew. However, it was rideable and we were out of cell phone range, so we cleaned the gravel out of the bike and DutchBoy limped it down with me following.
Riding behind DutchBoy it became clear what had been making the noise earlier – the chain was loose and slapping against itself. I was almost glad there was something wrong with the bike other than the chain because I feel like I ought to know how to fix a chain, even though I’ve only really ridden belt drive machines (my time on the Ninja being very short before I managed to crash it twice).
We got to the gas station in Oroville and confirmed that there wasn’t a bike mechanic in town. Looking at the Destinations Highway map we saw the nearest Kawi dealer in Westbank and a plan started to form. We would limp it across the border and then call BCAA (our local CAA/AAA) and get towed to Westbank, which unlike Vancouver, was within the 160 km allowed with our package. I have relatives there, so we would be able to leave our camping gear there and then I would double DutchBoy back so we could both make work Monday morning.
But before that, damned if I was going to come to Oroville and not take a look around. So, I loaded a still slightly shocked DutchBoy on the back and took him on the abbreviated tour of the high school and my dad’s old house. Not much about the town seemed changed, but the house had been improved and gentrified with a nice manicured garden out front and an attached garage. I was happy to see that the tree house had been refurbished and hoped children still slept there to watch the stars. But two other important places had been destroyed – the graveyard had lost its border of tall shade-giving trees and with them it’s sense of peace and welcome and the water line had been completely dismantled. Progress?
After our quick tour we limped across the border, found a gas station to wait in and called BCAA and my relatives in Westbank and put the plan in play.
An hour or so later DutchBoy and the Ninjette were loaded on a flat bed truck and heading to Westbank where I was to meet them.
Of course, after a while slogging it out with cars addicted to the speed limit along Highway 97, I couldn’t resist taking the call of the side roads and had a lovely spin along the route we’d come down the night before.
After I turned back onto Highway 97 I thought I saw something go flying out the back, but looked behind in the mirrors and saw nothing missing. An optical illusion I thought. I rode mostly patiently through the congestion and lights of Penticton back onto the highway and opened her up, only to glance in the mirrors and see the dismaying sight of my top box lid opening and closing in the breeze. Pulled over, realized I’d left it open with the key in it in Osoyoos and was relieved that I was only missing my sarong and one flip flop. Minor losses, but I felt so stupid that I had to go ride back through Penticton and back, just in case I could find them and salvage my self-respect. But no joy. My sarong and flip flop had joined that mystifying roadside debris that always seems to tell a sad but unknown story.
Now worried that I wasn’t going to be able to catch the tow truck I raced into Westbank and found that they had just arrived at the shop, which was enclosed behind a locked fence. The BCAA driver arranged to store the bike at the BCAA shop and tow it over in the morning and then dropped DutchBoy at my relatives. We had juice and conversation and rearranged belongings, and by the time we got on the road it was just after 10 pm, and we were facing a four-hour ride through the mountains to get home.
Luckily the road we were taking is new and has our modern disregard for things like geography built in. It starts out after Westbank in a slope up that seems to take forever and goes straight up the side of the mountain range – 24 km of incline I found later, at least parts of it 6%. We passed almost everyone on the way up, but by the end I was maxing out the throttle to maintain 130 kmh. At the top we seemed to draw even with the surrounding peaks and could still see the dull red of sunset over the next range. I couldn’t help but start humming “I’m on top of the world, looking down on creation” as I kept a close eye out for deer. The light wasn’t quite gone – it was more of a warm velvet with a hint of purple than a full black.
Back down the hill into Merritt and into the town to find gas just at 11 pm, making it on time for the SuperSave gas, PowerBar and energy drink, but not their bathrooms. Further into town through the flying sawdust and machinery noises of the sawmill, working at night to reduce the risk of fire to the 7-Eleven to watch the locals walk by, including the woman staggering home and calling out insults to all and sundry.
Back on the road and up and over the Coquihalla toll road, getting passed by speeding truckers and fighting tiredness until I plugged in my vest at the tollbooth, which seemed to get me over the wall and into endurance mode. Now no hint of light in the skies except the stars – the new moon the astronomers cherished.
Felt relieved to get down into Hope and civilization, where it’s harder to fall asleep without noticing. Stopped again to stretch and pee and made it home somewhat after two, crashing into bed until the alarm went off at 7 to send us to work again. I drove in, coffee in hand.
Map of the trip:
No Comments »
Things broken on this trip:
One contact lens (ripped)
One tank bag zipper (map compartment)
One camera door (CF card)
One record for no “roadside chats” on a bike
Two friendships (at least I thought they were)
Friday morning, Canada Day, awake at 7 am, despite having gotten to bed at 1:40 the previous night fully exhausted after a full week at work, barely dragging the clean laundry into the apartment before collapsing on an unmade bed. Excited about trip to Mt. Rainier that I’ve planned out for me and Tackle and BCRider and his wife – spend a few minutes reading over the DH guide and making notes on my photocopied maps about tricky routings. Then up to pack, finding all my camping gear, stove, throwing in some tea for Tackle and BCRider along with my coffee, sewing connecting zipper on my jacket, taking care of cats, bemoaning that I didn’t finish cleaning the night before and that I don’t have time now (musing how much easier it was when I was coupled and we could pick up each other’s slack), slurping back a cup of coffee and a protein drink, no time for a shower. Get gear on – damn, sewed the zipper on wrong, do it again – damn, damn, damn, I’m late, again. I hate it and know it’s a problem – why can’t I get it together? but it’s done now – just make the best of it. Get on bike and hope for time dilation, knowing it’s impossible. Do my best. Get there 15 minutes late. Look around the weigh station. No bikes in sight. Pull out my phone. No calls. No “you were late so we left – hope to see you on the road – we’re going this way”. Nothing.
Disbelief and fury. And hurt. They’ve left me. My company over two days is apparently not worth 15 minutes of their precious riding time or even a phone call. How could they do that? What kind of people do things like that, potentially ruining another’s weekend, apparently unconcerned by it? That’s not normal.
What am I going to do now? Go back home? That tastes flat and I know I’d be bitter the whole time. Go for a different ride? Where? I decide to see if I can catch them at the border, unsure if I can even talk to them or what I would say – how can I possibly deal with people who would abandon me over 15 minutes on a two day trip, when riding together is all about compromises and taking into account others’ quirks and foibles (gas stop frequency, what roads, riding speeds, stopping, not stopping, where to stop – all compromises)? How can I be nice after that? Do I even want to spend time with people like that? I’m beginning to think they didn’t really want to ride with me and seized the chance to get out. On the way to the border I decide that I’m not going to allow them to ruin my weekend and I’m going anyway – heck, I’m self-sufficient, I have all my own gear. Screw ‘em. I try sneaking in on 0 Ave again, only to be foiled by others with similar thoughts. Wait too long (wishing I could be an asshole like the guy on the Harley and just head for the front of the line). In the end am relieved not to see them.
Cross the border (“Why Mt. Rainier?” “There are some nice roads there” “ OK, go ahead”). Fairly empty roads ruined by continued fuming and one sided mental conversations. Continued irritation by one contact. Stop in Sedro Wooley to clean it and eat a protein bar. Just past Sedro Wooley it’s getting worse – stop and try to make it better. Finally notice it’s torn. It’s my last pair so I just throw them out and take out my glasses. Luckily I brought both pairs this time. Start to enjoy the ride, trying to chill the anger and hurt. Stop for gas in Granite Falls – the gas station lady effuses over seeing a woman riding, and alone. I tell her what happened. She can’t believe people would do that – tells me they’re not worth it. I concur. Go back out and see them go by – wonder if they’ll see my bike – they don’t. Make no effort to catch them.
Ride on, enjoying the open roads with few cars that aren’t instantly passed. Glad I took the time to look at the DH because I find several roads that aren’t on the regular map. All good, until I miss one. Starting to get irritable. Decide just to book it to Eunumclaw and eat there. Except that 169, the direct route there, is full of traffic (ah-hah, end of work day) until almost the end (including a slight delay looking at someone who apparently crashed on a maxi-scoot – looks fine though). Get more and more irritable – I’ve made my old mistake of waiting too long to eat. In Eunumclaw, looking for a Burger King, hear a honk behind me, there they are. All the hurt and anger and irritability wells up – I only see a McDs so I pull in – they pull in behind me. “Perfect timing” says BCRider. “I’m really angry at you and I have to go eat now” says I and I storm into the restaurant, knowing that without immediate food things would be really bad. I get my fishburger, apple pie and coffee, scarf the first two while noticing my shaking hands and go back outside. Tackle has parked on the other side of the lot, BCRider next to me. His wife and Tackle are doing the bathroom thing. “Well, what now?” I say after it becomes obvious that he’s not going to say anything as he’s gearing up. He says, “I’m having a nice ride’. Me, “Well, you weren’t the one left behind.” Him, basically, “Stop blaming others”. Me, surprised by this, “Did I blame others for me being late? Cell phones work” and go through possible call. They continue to get ready to go – Tackle and wife not looking at me. He repeats – “Don’t blame others. You were late!” with increasing emphasis, like this cardinal sin of mine justifies everything. In the end, I say “Fine then, nice knowing you and have a nice life” or something like that and call that out to Tackle as well. “You too,” she replies as they ride off.
I stand there shocked and fuming, crying in frustration and anger, hands shaking as I get back on my bike. I can’t believe it. All along I’d been trying to deny that this was the end to what I’d thought were good riding friendships, that somehow, someway it could be made better, that it wouldn’t have to hurt. But it did.
I rode off, first the wrong way, and then back the other way. Stopped to check the map again, and the map compartment zipper broke. Got a couple of safety pins and put it together and kept going. Stopped for gas again by a couple with my bike. Then headed into Mt. Ranier. Mind was still not clear, but getting there. Passed all the traffic, in front, speeding some, turned a corner and saw a cop coming the other way. Slowed right down, but lights whirled on and he pulled a uey. I pulled over “S**t, what was the speed limit.”
Take my helmet off to look less threatening but wait to get anything else. Cop comes up, “How was your day” “Kinda crappy”. He smiles a little. I continue, “I lost two friends” and tell him what happened, short form, crying a little. He’s sympathetic, looks at my ID and registration, and tells me to slow down, and gets back in his car. No ticket. Phew. I ride off, at the speed limit.
As I get into Mt. Ranier Park, it starts coming back, that summer I worked there and the things we did. I remember coming off the mountain to party on the 4th of July, almost being 21. I chat with the woman at who takes my entrance fee, saying I used to work there. As I go up the twisty road I remember coming up there in my first car, a ’72 bug, brand new to me, and the first standard I’d really driven. I remember it being dark and the ever present danger of deer. I remember coming down to hike at the waterfall, and jumping off a rock and spraining my foot.
Going up the mountain, I remember that I’m alone and can start stopping and taking pictures.
I get to the top, via the loop, and park. I walk into the lodge with mixed feelings, remembering. It feels different – the summer I worked there the snow was still 12 feet high when I left, so I’ve never seen it green. But the lodge is pretty much the same as it was 14 years previously. I peek inside the restaurant, again seeing little change. The girls at the reception desk ask if they can help, and I say no, just looking – I worked here 14 years ago. They ask if I liked it, and I say, “Well, it was the only job I ever quit.” They laugh, and say things haven’t changed much.
I look around a bit more, then go back outside. I look at the view, remembering tourists videoing fog, and this all covered with snow.
I take some pictures of the lodge, especially the outside of the restaurant.
I then walk over to look at the outside of the building where the staff live.
It’s funny – I mostly remember the guy I was seeing while I was there and I wonder what ever became of him and if he ever got over his problems. I remember going down to his place and all that happened there, but nothing about who I was rooming with. I wander around a bit more, remembering.
I then get back on my bike and head off in a new direction. I’ve never been over this side of the mountain. And it’s wonderful. There is little to no traffic, and the clouds are starting to dissapate, falling prey to the altitude. They won’t make it over the mountain. Most of my bad feelings are also dissapating, though they won’t completely leave me for the rest of the trip and I’ll be hit with mental arguments and anger at some points.
I stop several times to take pictures of the road and of the backside of Ranier’s famous crown, but mostly enjoy the winding road down.
Coming out of the park it’s almost dark. I consider the first campground, but it’s fairly full. I get to the next one with just enough light to set up my tent, and then eat tuna, cheese and crackers and have some tea. I fall asleep quickly.
I wake up in the morning to beautiful sunshine. I eat breakfast and clean up, before getting on the road.
It’s a marvelous morning and I’m enjoying myself as I got back on the road. The weather was perfect, the scenery stunning. I started out listening to my mp3 player, but it skipped too much and then the battery died. I resolved to buy a new one, small, flash drive, with a replaceable battery.
With the help of the DH I took some scenic long-cuts.
Selah, fairly typical Western American small town
Started to head north along 821 to Ellensburg
Had lunch in a Taco Bell with some sort of high school team, one wearing a shirt that said “It’s a GREAT day to be a cougar!” which cracked me up, since she’s probably unaware of the Canadian meaning of cougar. Once the rush was over, the manager took on the role of maître de, coming around with wipes and mints.
Coming out of Ellensburg the wind was horrendous and scary, pushing me this way and that and gusting across that flat plain. I took 97 north, with everyone else travelling on the holiday weekend. But I was the only one who took the route over the mountain, maintained as a historical highway. In a car, without room to dodge it might have been scary, and it certainly wasn’t a place for speed, but it was gorgeous and deserted. As I went to take the first pictures I found that my camera door was busted and needed to be held shut. Unfortunately, it turned out to be fixable with a piece of tape (I want a new camera).
I kept heading north towards Winthrop, taking a detour out Lake Chelan.
Crossing the plain, it was again windy and unpleasant, but not quite as bad as before. I stopped in Winthrop to find they were hosting the GoldWing Rides of America meetup, and there were older, soft couples in matching t-shirts everywhere. I had an ice cream and coffee and remembered coming here before, once with my father and sisters to eat lunch and get our photo taken in old time duds, and once with my ex, having dinner and camping out in the midst of a blues festival.
I then got back on the road for the last stretch of scenic goodness. It was a gorgeous ride with little traffic.
I took the back road we’d found before (now, with road work!) and then into Burlington and up I5 to home. It had been a long two days, but I’d quite enjoyed them nonetheless. I remembered that I like riding alone sometimes too.
No Comments »
Tackle and I had been looking forward to the May Long Weekend for months. We’d planned a 3 day trip to the Olympic Peninsula and Oregon Coast, and had 3 or 4 other people interested in coming along. But, as it grew nearer, it became apparent that the weather was going to be wet. Very wet. So, at the last minute, and faced with desertion by every other interested person, we decided to cancel and just go for a long ride on Saturday, the only day that looked to be good. Late on Friday night, we decided to go south, and head for Winthrop, to see how far we’d get.
We headed for the border, to find at least a 50 minute wait, so we scooted along farmland along the border and cut in the line at Sumas. After finding gas for Tackle, we headed on the road. We found that staying on Hwy 9 from Huntington is definitely inferior to the other route along 547 and 542 – more crowded and less twisty. Shortly after the two routes merged and we passed all the traffic, we noticed two other bikers behind us. They stayed nicely back, passing when we did, but not attempting to come up past us. When I pulled over in Sedro Wooley to talk to Tackle, she told me that they were BCRider and Allison, two of those who had planned on coming on our weekend trip. They were heading off on a three day trip to try and evade the rain in Eastern WA. We hurried to catch up to them, and decided to ride together for a bit.
I found us the South Slocan Highway, a route that avoided the towns along the north side of the river. I enjoyed the route, which swept nicely along the river through farmland and forest, but Tackle, with her lowered suspension, hated it because the pavement was bad – Penny is not bothered as much by this as a pure sportbike.
We then headed up into the Cascades, letting BCRider take the lead – I quickly found myself being pushed a wee bit beyond my limits as we twisted our way up into the mountains, but slowed down when I needed to and caught up later. Tackle and I turned back at the Diablo Dam overlook.
We ate lunch at the Buffalo Bar, or some such, in Marblemount. Not recommended – the food was edible, but that’s about it. We then decided to take the road unknown and head south along 530 for a bit before looping north and returning home. That was nice – deserted and mostly sweeping curves through the forest and farms.
The rain hit right about at the southernmost point, just spitting at us a bit. We took the scenic route back up along Route 9. That route is worth doing, but we were getting tired and there was traffic that was hard to pass. Despite that, and despite the increasing rain, we decided to head up on 11 (Chuckanut Drive) rather than the I5. The stretch of 11 before Chuckanut is straight and boring, but the Chuckanut was nice, as always, even if I was too tired to really appreciate it.
Finally got on the I5 at Bellingham and headed home in the rain. By the time I got home, I was fairly wet from the waist down as water came in at the fly and the bottom of my pants don’t fasten. Also, my boots leak. But the moisture was definitely worth a great ride, 598 km in all. Tackle and I ride well together, with similar speeds, views on stopping and eating and all the important things, and hopefully we’ll get to do a bunch more long rides this summer.
Unexpected but welcome companions
Me and tackle
Me and tackle from the other side
Where Swedes go after death…
1 Comment »
Tackle and I spotted a weekend that neither of had commitments on and planned a 2.5 day trip to the Olympic Peninsula. Perhaps planned is too strong a word. We picked out an end point and got some general ideas together, but we didn’t do things like arrange hotels or figure out mileage or anything like that. We invited Hot Rod and Tab to come along, making it quite the diverse collection of bikes – me on Penny, Tackle on her “well-loved” 600cc Honda Hurricane, Hot Rod on her (extremely loud) 500cc Buell Blast and Tab on her 250cc Suzuki Marauder.
I had just gone to Victoria to present at a conference for two days – had flown via float plane (which was a new fun experience, especially sitting up with the pilot on the way back), parking Penny in an enclosure at the lot. It had been fun to arrive at the parking lot in my gear, strip out of it, and emerge fully decked out in my suit and heels – the valets couldn’t figure out where I’d come from at first. So, I got off the plane, rode home, threw some stuff together for the trip and got out the door. We ended up leaving at about 5:30, crossed the border at Peace Arch (don’t believe wait signs), and took the Chuckanut Drive route down to Whidby Island. I was leading, and missed the turn for the interesting way, so ended up on a road that could not have been any straighter. That was OK, though, ’cause I really, really had to go, and barely made it to the gas station without crashing.
Rode down Whidby as the sun set, getting a truly amazing view of sunset over islands and water as we crossed the second bridge. We just made the last ferry and almost got in trouble – I led us into the exit area and lined us up, without thinking that perhaps we’d need to pay before we got on – I guess I’d gotten used to European ferries like that where you pay on the ferry or there’s someone walking around. Hot Rod made it back to the toll booth to pay before they had decided what to do with us, so it all worked out.
Got over to Port Townsend and tried to find a hotel. The cheap ones were full, and we almost went for a room at a generic place outside of town, but in the end, decided to explore further. By doing so, we found a really cool character hotel with a suite with a kitchen for the same price as the generic place. It was in the middle of town, which turned out to be a character-type place filled with old buildings. Asked the slowly garrulous hotel lady for restaurant info and were directed to a pub/restaurant (The Taphouse if I recall correctly) where the food was quite good, as was the local microbrewed beer. Tackle especially fell in love with the idea of getting her burger medium rare. Tackle and Tab then went to bed and Hot Rod and I explored the local scene.
As it turned out, the slowness of the hotel lady was quite normal for the town, as all the locals seemed to be missing a few synaptic connections, some more than others (one might suspect some recreational greenery). But the beer was good, and we had a good, if weird, time chatting, slowly, with the locals.
The next morning, after breakfast prepared by Tackle, we headed out on the road. At first I was leading, but then Tackle and Hot Rod got impatient and sped by me, so I sped up to keep up with them. We had fun zipping along the roads, and then through the buildup of Port Angeles. When we stopped to regroup, we saw the group of um, Harley riders, who we would keep remeeting the rest of the day – one of the women’s beanie helmets proclaimed “Straddle the Leader”. They were careful riders actually, and kept to quite a tight formation, and actually let us by and waved to us the rest of the times we saw them.
From Port Angeles to Neah Bay, the road was mostly heaven. Hot Road and Tackle lost us quickly as I worked on still getting past my residual fear of corners. But the corners were cambered perfectly and the road was fairly recently paved, and the scenery was typical Pacific Northwest Beautiful, and the weather was sunny but not hot, so the ride was sheer Nirvana. Well until we hit the Reservation, where the roads went to crap, and we got stuck behind some other bikers, including one obese couple on a cruiser. But that part was short.
Riding back we tried the other route, turning at Sappho to take 101 back to Port Angeles. It was OK, but not as nice as the coastal route, and the part by the lake suffered from very bad paving.
In Port Angeles we decided what to do next. We were way ahead of where we thought we’d be by that point. We investigated taking the ferry over to Vancouver Island, but nothing until the next morning. We then found a decent Mexican restaurant (Las Casitas at First and Eunice), and ate and debated what to do next. The weather was blowing up, so we vetoed the Hurricane Ridge idea. We tried to find a room in town, but there was some music festival on, and we couldn’t. So we decided to head for Port Townsend and try to make the next ferry.
Well, by not exactly observing the speed limit (and having a nice ride with some random WA bikers who stayed with us until we turned off for Port Townsend), we managed to make it just before the sailing. On the ferry, we tried to call places on Whidby to find a place to stay, but the expense and the lack of road for the next day made us decide to just press on for home that night, as it was only 2.5 hours past the ferry. We also mirthfully observed the folding armrests and drinkholders for the passengers on the Goldwings in front of us.
On the way home, we got separated from Tab, which caused some consternation on all sides, but we all got home safely. I think we slept especially soundly that night – a 12 hour day of riding with one meal will do that. The trip also did wonders for my riding confidence, ironing out some of my lingering fear and raising my limits.
Oh, and practicalities: each of us spent about $100 US and the trip was about 850 km.
Map of trip
Waiting at the border – Peace Arch wait time N/A my arse
Crossing the border with Hot Rod
photo by tackle_me_2
Tab at the border
Tackle at the border
photo by Hot Rod
Hot Rod and Tab on the Port Townsend Ferry
photo by tackle_me_2
Me and funny lady on the ferry
photo by tackle_me_2
All of us on the ferry
photo by Hot Rod
Apparently the eagle’s name is Fred – and he sits there all summer – kinda fitting for Port Townsend, really
The Waterstreet Hotel we stayed at. This town is cool…all victorian buildings.
photo by tackle_me_2
The bikes in front of the hotel.
photo by tackle_me_2
View from back of hotel
Tip of Port Townsend
Great staircase in hotel
Sweet suite actually
Eating brekky – thanks tackle!
Hot Rod’s visor cleaning service
A wee break
Photo by Hot Rod
TM2 being a Badass…
photo by Hot Rod
Tired badasses on ferry back
Tackle pole dancing at gas station in Blaine
No Comments »