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Tuesday, June 7, 2011

A weekend ride to see the laser light show at Grand Coulee Dam

So we are all sitting at dinner whining just a little because of all the rain and the fact that we can’t ride.  Someone mentioned that the forecast for Saturday was sun and someone else said Sunday was also forecast for sun.  Two whole days!  What day should we ride?  Lorie mentioned that Dave was ready for a longer ride and they were thinking about riding to Grand Coulee Dam to see the laser light show.  Everyone perked up at the mention of a two day ride in the sunshine.  By the time we got home Lorie had sent out an email with the name of the inn they were staying at and the route Dave was planning.
First thing Friday morning I made our reservations and Larry emailed Dave and Lorie that we would be at Sehome Starbucks by 7:30 AM Saturday morning and ready to ride.  Dave, Dawn, Bill and Marla were also in.  Dave and Brenda couldn’t ride because IBDave was on call for work this weekend, Rob and Kaye couldn’t board the dogs, and Rick and Marina were already on a mini vacation, Gary is still looking to purchase a new bike and is currently without a ride, and Martha and Glenn couldn’t go because of previous plans.
Larry gassed up the bike and washed it.  We checked to make sure we had all the basics loaded for the riding season, hand sanitizer (Gold Bond alcohol free), Ibuprofen, Starbucks instant coffee, 5 hour drinks, aloe vera cream (great for bee stings), crystal light single serve packets, band aids, snacks, etc.  Larry dropped the dog off at the kennel and Kelly was left in charge of taking care of the cat who thinks she is queen.
Saturday morning was cool but the sun was shining.  I layered my heated liner under my leather coat because the ride down the freeway would probably be cool and Stevens pass would definitely be cool.  That’s okay because warm sunshine was waiting for us on the other side of the mountains. 
We took I-5 to Everett and then highway 20 to Monroe for a quick stop, Sultan, Start Up, Gold Bar, Index, Baring, Skykomish, Wellington, a break at Nason Creek, Leavenworth, and a lunch break in Cashmere.  Cashmere was first named Mission after the early missionaries.  In 1903 the town was renamed Kashmire and in 1904 renamed Cashmere to appear more American.  We stopped at Barney’s for lunch which has good food and good service.  After eating, laughing, and relaxing we were ready to ride.
We took highway 2 over to highway 97 and back onto highway 2.  We passed through Waterville, the Douglas county seat, which officially became a town in 1890 when Washington became the 42nd state of the union.  Next we passed through Douglas which was named after Stephen A. Douglas an American statesman.  We stopped sort of in the middle of nowhere at a gas station/mini mart/liquor store/motel/bait shop for a rest stop and cold drink.  The road stretches out in front of you with nothing but newly plowed and planted fields on either side dotted with huge volcanic rocks sticking out of the earth and smaller rock mounds where the farmland has been cleared.  An occasional lone farmhouse tucked back from the road and partially obscured by a wind block of trees stands like a sentinel watching over the fields.  Now we were back on the road to Coulee Dam and riding alongside Banks Lake.  There were lots of boats on the lake and fishermen sprinkled along the shores. We quickly passed through Electric City and into Grand Coulee to the Columbia River Inn where we were staying for the night.
Checked in, we had time for showers and a quick nap before a pre-dinner social time outside and chatting with other bikers who were also staying at the inn.  We walked several blocks down from the inn on a tree lined street with their branches arching over the road, over the bridge and up the hill to the restaurant for dinner (which was not particularly good) but there aren’t a lot of choices in a small town.
Grand Coulee Dam began construction in 1935, was completed in 1942, and is the largest concrete dam in North America.  Roosevelt Lake which formed when the dam was built is named for Franklin Delano Roosevelt who approved building the dam.  The visitor’s center is right across the street from the inn where we were staying and the show starts at 10:00 PM every night beginning Memorial Day weekend.  We walked over about fifteen minutes before the show was to begin and found some available seating in the bleachers.  The laser light show lasted about a half hour telling the story of the Columbia River basin from past to present.  Towards the end of the show they played America by Neil Diamond to a fast and spectacular finish.  It was a great finale to a wonderful day riding with friends.
On the road by 8:00 AM Sunday morning we rode back to Electric City to have breakfast at the Pepper Jack Bar & Grill.  Some chose the breakfast buffet which had a wide selection and the rest of us who weren’t quite that hungry, ordered off the menu.  The waitress was really friendly and ready to match wits with Dave M. 
We stopped at Crown Point Overlook State Park as we left town and had the most amazing view of the dam and the surrounding area.  The circular structure is a huge sun dial and when the sun shines through the hole in the center of the roof, the light beam falls on one of twelve roof support columns which correspond to twelve hours of the face of a clock.  It was built in the 1940’s by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp). 
The hills are still green from an abundance of rain this year and other than a few ducks and an occasional deer we didn’t see any other wildlife on this stretch of the road.  Bridgeport, Brewster, Pateros for a quick break, Methow (you have to have eagle eyes to see a marmet sunning himself on a rock beside the road), Twisp for gas, Winthrop, Diablo overlook for a quick break, and onto Marblemount.   We had lunch at the Marblemount Diner with good service and generous portions.  Just ask Larry about ordering the pork loin cutlet. 
Back on the road we went straight through to Burlington where we stopped for a quick break and a chance to say our farewells before we took the freeway and headed home.  Some of us had a Starbucks coffee from the mini mart and Bill finally was persuaded that if he was going to get anything to drink it would be from the mini mart and not the coffee stand next to it.  Marla was emphatic.  Bill settled for a bottle of tea from the store.  Good choice Bill.
First one bike, then another pulled off the freeway at their exit, until only Larry and I were left riding down the freeway heading for Ferndale.  Larry honked and I waved good-bye to the others as they peeled off and I can hardly wait to do it all over again.
Five hundred and fifty-five miles enjoying the company of good friends, sunshine, and memories. Thanks Dave and Lorie for inviting us on your spur of the moment week-end getaway. 

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