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Monday, September 27, 2010

Oyster Mountain Cascade Loop Ride...Bellingham, Lake Chelan, Winthrop, and home

The last multi day ride of Mt. Baker HOG’s riding season. Bill Rodgers was the road captain, planning, arranging, and leading the ride with Larry Marrs as the sweep. This ride was designed to signify that our summer riding season is coming to a close and to go against the grain and ride east when most bikers would be heading west to the Oyster Run. When we were riding home on Sunday, everyone else was scattering in the opposite direction.

The Oyster Run is fun, but trying to ride your bike in between 5,000 to 20,000 other bikers in a two lane town, where parking is at a premium, and getting home can take anywhere from two to four hours; going east to warmer weather and less crowded roads seemed like the best of all possible ideas. Besides the forecast was for rain on this side of the mountains and we were looking for those last few rays of golden sunshine.

Of course where else would you meet up than Sehome Starbucks for coffee and conversation between friends? This is the way to start the day off right. Bill and Marla, Dave and Dawn, Dave and Lorie, Jay Schoening, Tim Tussing, Luann Rogers, Sheila Bayne, Larry Brown, and Larry and me.

We mounted up and headed down the highway at 8:30 AM, celebrating fall and being able to ride a few more miles enjoying the scenic fall colors in the Cascade Mountains before the snows begin to fall and the pass closes for the winter….Yipee!!! Yes we did have our heated gear on to start the day.

We headed down the freeway to Burlington and then turned off towards Sedro Woolley and highway 9. After we a quick stop at the roundabout we continued south past Big Lake. The smell of dark dank musty trees lining the two lane road signals that fall is here and in another few weeks these same roads will be covered in wet slippery leaves leaving the trees almost bare.

We passed through Monroe, Sultan, Start Up, Gold Bar, Index, Baring, Skykomish, and Wellington on our way to Leavenworth. The shrubs hugging the steep hillsides were in full fall splendor ranging from russet reds to brilliant oranges and the tree leaves glistened from the palest yellows to burnt umber. We stopped at Nason Creek rest stop to stretch our legs, get a cup of coffee and a cookie before the last few miles into Leavenworth for a gas stop and lunch. At least that was the plan. When we pulled into Leavenworth we found the road blocked and a detour set up. We gassed up the bikes and found out there was a parade in town. We turned off highway 2 and followed Icicle Road to E. Leavenworth road until we met up at highway 2 again. Not wanting to get caught in the traffic and confusion we headed west to Cashmere where we stopped at Barney’s for lunch. It was only a little farther and the food was good. Even the best thought out and double checked plans (Bill called on Friday to confirm our lunch reservation and no one mentioned a parade) can require a change of plans. It’s the adventure of where the road takes you that makes riding a Harley so enjoyable.

We arrived in Chelan in time to still see the last of the hydro planes races finishing around 3:00 PM. We checked in and everyone found their rooms and a little quiet time before meeting up before dinner for appetizers (pepper jack cheese, crackers, buffalo meat sticks, and peanuts). Yes, even bikers like the finer things in life.

We had dinner plans for 7:00 PM at the Tin Lilly just a few short blocks down the hill from our motel so we decided to walk down. We had to wait on the covered patio for an hour before we moved from the big tables with bar chairs to the dinner tables with regular chairs--six feet away--before we got a menu and our server took our order. Now all was not lost during this time because we laughed and joked and just enjoyed being in each other’s company which is what the end of the day, kick stands down, is all about. Relaxing. Dinner arrived and all I can say is Dave M. ordered the “Dude” for dinner. I was reminded what goes on in Lake Chelan, stays in Lake Chelan by Jay more than once, so I had to put my pen and notebook away and my lips are sealed. You really need to go on one of these multi day rides and experience life on the road with your HOG family. These are the memories you treasure and talk about.

That short walk downhill to dinner required us to walk uphill after dinner and it wasn’t two blocks it was more like 4 blocks. Never fear though because Marla used one of the Lake Chelan orange street crossing flags to make sure we were safe. She perfected this so well that she again used the crossing flags the next morning to help us across the street for breakfast at the Apple Cup.

We were packed up and ready to ride out at 9:00 AM Sunday morning. The roads were quiet as we headed towards Twisp. Church parking lots were filling up with cars, a few fly fishers were on the river, and the rest of the world must have slept in. Winthrop was just starting to look busy as we quickly moved through town headed straight for Diablo Overlook. The clouds and fog hung around the high peaks and down in the valleys as we rode through the pass. It was peaceful and serene. The waterfalls next to the road and those that could be seen cascading down the steep mountain peaks were full due to the heavy overnight rains. We had a few intermittent big rain drops and an occasional mist fall on us, but nothing that required pulling over for raingear.

A short break at Diablo and the next stop would be Marblemount for gas. Fuel for the bikes and snacks and drinks for the body and we were ready to head home on the final leg. Closer to home, we did find a bit more moisture in the air but still nothing that required stopping to put on our rain gear. To the West it looked grey and wet but to the north it looked slightly better where we were going.

We again slowly broke off, waved, and honked, as we each headed for our final destination…home…a hot shower, hot coffee, fireplace, the Sunday paper, and football.

Thank you Bill for a great ride. You are an excellent road captain and I look forward to many more rides with you.

So what is a mountain oyster? Rocky Mountain oysters are also known as prairie oysters or calf fries, and are considered to be a North American culinary delicacy (to some) and are said to resemble a raw sea oyster. The testicles of young bulls (or sheep) are removed to discourage aggressive behavior and promote growth. They are usually served as novelty appetizers in western steakhouses and Montana hosts a testicle festival every year. They are almost always sliced and deep fried and it is said that they have a slight liver like flavor.

No one on this trip looked on the menu for or consumed any rocky mountain oysters, so no cattle or sheep were harmed or faced unnecessary cruelty on our part. If you are brave enough, and I am not, here is a recipe to try out.

Rocky Mountain Oysters
2 pounds calf or sheep testicles
2 cups beer
2 eggs, beaten
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
¼ cup yellow cornmea1
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Vegetable oil**
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper

With a very sharp knife, split the tough skin-like muscle that surrounds each testicle. Remove the skin (you can remove the skin easily if the testicles are frozen, then peel while thawing). Slice each testicle into approximately 1/4- to 1/2-inch-thick ovals. Place slices in a large pan or bowl with enough beer to cover them; cover and let sit 2 hours.

In a shallow bowl, combine eggs, flour, cornmeal, salt, and pepper sauce.

Remove testicles from beer; drain and dredge thoroughly in the flour mixture. In a large, deep pot, with the pan half filled with oil, heat to 375 degrees F. Deep fry 3 minutes or until golden brown. The mountain oysters will rise to the surface when done. Drain on paper towels.

Serve warm with hot pepper sauce for dipping.

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