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Sunday, May 15, 2011

Looking for the elusive Orca

Rob and Kaye sent an email out Friday asking if anyone wanted to join them Saturday to ride to San Juan Island in search of the elusive Orcas.  I looked at Larry and said we are in, send an email.  With all the rain we have had, I am not missing a chance to ride if we have a clear day, even if it is overcast, just as long as it doesn’t rain.

 Life holds challenges between prior obligations, work, and family, so you never know who is going to show up if a reply to all on the email is not clicked or if you are still trying to determine if you have time and decide to wait until the morning of the ride to decide.

 The alarm went off Saturday morning and Larry looked outside.  Clear skies and the sun was starting to peak out, at least in our neck of the county.  It looked a little iffy to the east and south, but looking to the west we could see blue skies and that meant a good day for a ride.  We tried to tip toe around the house as not to wake a sleeping baby (never wake a sleeping baby) and his mother.  We were just about ready to back out of the garage with the motor off when mom and the little guy appeared in the doorway to wave good-bye to us.  Although our grandson is still not sure it is us under the black leather and helmets, he waved.

 We arrived at Sehome Starbucks and no one was there.  OTOH!  Maybe everyone looked east and not west.  A few minutes later Rob and Kaye pulled in.  One of our friends was under the weather, a new boat took precedence over riding today for another, and one had a “blood sucking appointment.” Riding on Friday, work, family, so it was to be just the four of us today.  When you ride with friends it is not about how many people you ride with, but that you are riding with friends.  Dawn said it best this week in a Facebook post:  FRIENDS -
F.R.I.E.N.D.S: (F)ight for you. (R)espect you. (I)nvolve you. (E)ncourage you. (N)eed you. (D)eserve you. (S)ave you.

 Rob was leading our adventure today, so we took the direct route down the freeway to Anacortes.  Good choice because this gave us time to stop at a great little donut place called the Donut House.  Kaye and Rob have been there before and with the food concession not opening on the ferry until almost arrival time at Friday Harbor, this seemed like the perfect solution for a morning snack.  Ha ha!  This little donut shop has a huge selection and how do you pick just one?  Finally I knew I wanted a maple twist or as Kaye latter called it a puzzle as you tried to pull it apart to eat it.  Larry had the same thing only covered in chocolate.  This was not going to be a good start for the diet today, but was definitely going to be a wonderful treat.

 Only a few more miles to the ferry and a fairly short line and then this is where riding a motorcycle has advantages, you get to go to the front of the line and board first.  We had about a fifteen to twenty minute wait before boarding and shortly after, we went upstairs to finding seating before the ferry departed.

San Juan Island was discovered by the Spanish explorer Francisco de Eliza and a year later discovered by the Europeans.  San Juan and Orcas Islands were named for Francisco, and Haro Strait is named for one of his officers.  San Juan Island covers 172 square miles.
First we rode out to Cattle Point, past the lighthouse and stopped at an old Navy radio compass station near the lighthouse that was built in the 1920’s on the southern tip of the island.  This former compass station is now used as a picnic area.  Hudson’s Bay Company established a farm, Belle Vue Farm in 1853 and unloaded cattle on a dock built near the point.  The lighthouse is a thirty-four octagonal concrete tower erected in 1935 used as an important navigation guide to vessels entering the Haro Strait and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.  It is closed to the public but can be viewed after a short hike from the Compass station.
Back on the bikes we took False Bay Drive for a scenic ride past summer houses, B&B’s, and pastures with cattle, horses, and a few donkeys standing in a paddock next to the road.  Back out on the main road we headed to Lime Kiln Pt. State Park which was named for the lime kilns built in the 1960’s.  It is built at Dead Man’s Bay overlooking the Haro Strait.  It has a thirty-eight food octagonal concrete base and is a duplicate of Seattle’s Alki Point Lighthouse.  This was the last major lighthouse established in Washington State.
On the west side of the island is where the “Pig War” of 1859-1872 changed the boundaries between the United States and the British Empire.  The shooting of a pig--also called the Pig Episode, the Pig and Potato War, the San Juan Boundary Dispute, or the Northwestern Boundary Dispute-- was the only casualty of the bloodless war.  American Camp was located near Cattle Point Lighthouse and English Camp was located near Roche Harbor.

It began when a pig owned by Hudson’s Bay Co. ambled onto an American farmer’s garden and the farmer protected his property by shooting the pig.  George E. Picket (of Pickett’s Charge fame) was sent to defend the American citizens and from there it escalated into reinforcements for both sides.  .  This dispute was decided by Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany awarding the archipelago (an expanse of water with many scattered islands) to the United States.  One small pig led to one large international confrontation. 
Now it was on to Roche Harbor for lunch at The Madrona Bar and Grill.  A new entrance down to the marina winds along the hillside to prevent tourists from driving through the residential lined road that visitors previously used.  It was 56 degrees when we went through Anacortes this morning and not one drop of rain.  I don’t know what the temperature was at lunchtime but it was warm enough to sit on the deck for lunch and view the boats and yachts filling the harbor.    Good food, good conversation with Kaye and Rob relaxing and agreeing it was a great day for a ride.  Rob in I both ordered the Cheese burger in Paradise that came with cute little bar umbrellas decorating them.  Larry had the lamb burger and Kaye had the flame grilled basil chicken.  We wandered around the harbor, took photos of the gardens, and then mounted up, heading for the ferry.  Luck was on our side and we waited only minutes after arriving to board the 2:00 PM ferry back to Anacortes.

The elusive whale sighting is still just that--elusive.  We did see foxes that ran right across the road in front of us, deer that didn’t seem to mind the loud pipes, an eagle that flew down the highway toward us and passed just about 20 feet above our bikes as we rode down a tree covered canopy.  There were donkeys, llamas, and even a camel leaning casually up against the fence.  But no whale and that’s okay because I am sure we will return on another excursion.

Rain?  Okay we had a few drops just before we approached Chuckanut Drive and it did continue to rain all the way home.  We waved good-bye to Rob and Kaye in Fairhaven as they turned towards home and we still had about ten miles to go before we arrived home.

Thank you Rob and Kaye for an enjoyable day spent riding with friends.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Thankful for sunshine...

John Denver’s song, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy” was the perfect tune that kept running through my mind as we rode with friends on Sunday. 

 Coffee and motorcycles are synonymous with riding.  So what better place to meet up for a ride,  Starbucks at Sehome, be there and ready to ride at 10:00 AM.  We gassed up the trike and thought we were doing well on time but when we pulled in, you guessed it, we were almost the last ones to arrive.  Not quite, but almost.

 Our group rode out Samish Way, around Lake Padden, and the west side of Lake Samish, across the freeway to Alger, down Parson Creek Road to Prairie Road and then highway 9.  We took a short break in Sedro-Woolley before turning onto highway 20 then headed to Concrete.  Overhead we could see first one and then a second jet streaking across the clear blue sky heading east over the Cascade Mountains leaving a white trail to mark their passing.

 Concrete Washington:  early settlers came to the Baker River in 1871 called the first settlement Minnehaha.  In 1890 the town was platted and a post office was started and the name Baker was adopted.  The east side of the river was named “Cement City” and sprang up around the Washington Portland Cement Company.  The Superior Portland Cement Company was built in Baker and the two towns merged in 1909 and settled on the name Concrete.  Most of the original wooden buildings lining Main Street built prior to 1921 were destroyed by fires.  After the fires, most commercial buildings were built with concrete.  The Baker Street Grill is one of three of the oldest wooden buildings still standing and is a popular place to stop for lunch among motorcycle riders.  The Henry Thompson Bridge was once the longest single span cement bridge in the world and is listed on the Washington State and National Historic Register. 

 Eagles In Flight is a local Concrete motorcycle shop owned by Rob Tygret and although we didn’t stop today, we did wave as we rode by noting the parking lot was full of bikes and it will be a destination stop on a future ride.  Riding on towards Rockport, we turned onto highway 530 for the last leg of our morning trip on the way to our lunch stop at The Glacier Peak Café in Darrington.  It was a picture perfect day for photos of Whitehorse Mountain as we pulled into the café parking lot.  We laughed that each time we come to Darrington we take a new picture of the mountain so we have to label them by year to tell the difference.  Everyone had their cameras out snapping away and Brenda said we looked like paparazzi and then coined a new word for us “Harleyrazzi”.

Lunch was relaxing; the talk fast and furious up and down the table, the food was good and filling.  Standing in the parking lot with  our gear on, zipped up, plugged in, the sun shining down on us, we were ready to ride.  Our next stop was Arlington and then south on highway 9 again to Marysville for a stop at Sound H-D.   It’s always fun to check out the new bikes and clothes, even if you are just window shopping.  Rob, Kaye, Dave, and Brenda left the group heading up the freeway for a stop at Skagit H-D before they headed home.  The rest of us weren’t ready to give up the day just yet, so we headed east across the freeway and took the back road past Lake Goodwin on our way to Stanwood and then north on the Pioneer highway to Conway.  We crossed over the freeway again for a quick gas stop and then headed east on highway 534 till we hit highway 9 again heading north this time. 

 The twist and turns on the road were like a waltz on two wheels, or in our case three wheels, as we zigged and zagged as we wound our way to our last stop at the Acme store.   When we pulled in Angie Williamson and Rick and Joan White were out front waving to us.  There were hellos, hugs, and smiles all around as we visited with old friends.  We admired Angie and Rick’s new bikes and shared our riding adventures of the day.

 It was one of those days when you could feel the sun on your face and soak up the warmth, willing it to stay and the rain that was forecast for the coming week to go away and stay away.

 The group split up at Smith Road with one group heading back to town and the other group heading towards Ferndale.  It was a great day with friends.  Thanks Dave, Lorie, Dave, Brenda, Dave, Dawn, Bill, Marla, Rick, Marina, Rob, and Kaye.  Thanks to Angie, Rick, and Joan for being the “lagniappe” (the little something extra or unexpected) at the end of the day. 

 Our grandson was not happy that papa and grandma were leathered up and leaving him behind again this morning but when we arrived home he was waiting to greet us; however, not excitedly until we removed our helmets and he could verify it really was papa and grandma, and then he could hardly wait for us to dismount and pick him up.  Then he decided he needed to sit on the bike.  An H-D rider in the making.
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