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Monday, September 24, 2012

Oyster Run 2012

Larry and I left the house about 7:15 AM to begin our journey to the Oyster Run in Anacortes.  The sun rising over Mt. Baker was a beautiful bright yellow and red due to the haze from the fires in Eastern Washington.  We met Dave, Brenda, Bob, and Patty at Sehome Starbucks and were ready to ride by 8:00 AM. 

We rode south on the back roads around Lake Samish, down old highway 99 also known as the Old Pacific Highway, through Alger, and wound our way on country roads to highway 20.  Slowly we were joined on the journey west by hundreds of other bikers.  It only took about an hour to arrive in Anacortes and the parking lots leading into town were full of bikers stopping for coffee, donuts, and fast food restaurants.  The main shopping district in town is blocked off to all traffic except bikes and a full crew of volunteers directed bikes to park on both sides of the street and down the middle of the street leaving a narrow lane in both directions for bikes to come and go.

We parked about four blocks from the start of the Oyster Run and looking west it was fairly empty.  We stowed our helmets and gear and were ready to explore the booths, check out the bikes, people watch, and snap a few photos.  The Christian Motorcycle Association was passing out cards with tiny beaded angels to use as bookmarks and Brenda and I each received one.

We ran into Rodney after the first block and he was with a Christian biker group shining shoes so we waited while Dave got his boots all pretty.   We checked out t-shirts, patches, gloves, played a roulette/spinner game from Silver Reef Casino and Larry and I both won ten dollar coupons good for any of the games at the Casino.  I found a really cute pair of black suede UGG style boots, but these had rhinestone cowgirl belts and buckles around each ankle.  I asked for a business card and found out they are from Lynden so I think I will call next week and go see about a pair of boots to call my own.

During the course of the day we saw Pam & Pat Ferry, Mike Lucas, Kathy & Brian Christie with one of their grandsons, Katie Marrs from Skagit, Joan & Rick White, Peter Day, Glen & Martha Hutchings Barbie Jackson, Angie Haynes, and on the way out of town we saw Darren & Audrey and Kathy & John Worthington just arriving in town.  Who am I missing…I am sure I missed a name…sorry…so much to see and remember, we missed you Dave and Dawn.

The Seattle Cossacks Motorcycle Stunt and Drill Team was scheduled to perform at 11:00 AM.  We finished the last few blocks and walked back up to the side street that was blocked off for the performance.  The Cossacks ride vintage Harley’s from the 30’s and 40’s and have been performing for over seventy years.  Russian cavalry members are called Cossacks and known all over the world for their masterful horsemanship, and bikes were often called "Iron Horses" in those days, and that is how the name "Seattle Cossacks" was coined.  They ride, they climb, they do stunts, drills, and acrobatic maneuvers and the crowd loves it by cheering and clapping.  They have even been featured on America’s Got Talent.   Today there were three prospective riders participating with the group.

We headed back up the street to find lunch.  Bob and Patty went in one direction, Dave and Larry headed for fish and chips, and Brenda and I took off for the Greek Gyro sandwiches.  They were so good but they were so messy.  I had chicken with salsa and it was worth the wait.  Sandwiches and cold drinks in hand we began to wandered back down the street to meet the guys when we ran into Monica & Dennis Erickson (Monica had Dennis corralled in the beer garden so she wouldn’t lose him--poor Dennis). 

I took a lot of photos of two and three wheel bikes, Harley’s, Hondas, custom, and a rat trike.  We even saw a Harley trike conversion with two wheels in the front like a Can Am but that is all there was in common with a Can AM.  This looked like drawings I saw of the Harley-Davidson patents for a trike that never made it to production, except Northwest Harley-Davidson posted a photo from the dealer show this year of such a proto type.    Every color bike you could image was in Anacortes.

We came, we saw, and now it was time to leave.  The crowds had grown and the now the sidewalks were crowded with people spilling into the streets and the whole street was filled with parked bikes and yet waves of new bikers were still arriving. 

It was painless to get out of town this year with only slightly longer than normal stop times at the lights leading us away from thousand of bikers not ready to give it up.  We turned off highway 20 heading towards Chuckanut Drive.

Right before we reached Edison we came to a “T” junction.  Heading north on Bayview Edison Rd. you stop to turn left, or a turn to the right that you must yield to traffic coming from Samish Island has the right of way, the traffic coming west on Bayview Edison Rd. must yield if they are turning left.  In the real world this is how it works, unless you are riding Japanese sport bikes and think you are indestructible and can do anything you want.  A group of about twelve or fifteen bikes decided not to slow for the 90 degree left turn or come to a complete stop because a car was coming east on Samish Island Rd.   The first seven or eight bikes in the group crossed the road into our single right turn lane, passing us to the left.  If it had not been a wide lane the consequences could have had a very different outlook.  The remaining Japanese bikers stopped and waited for an on-coming car--not to take the turn the legal way but to turn into our lane after we passed.  I guess getting to the destination any way you want is their only mindset instead of safety.

Dave and Brenda stopped in Fairhaven for gelato, Bob and Patty headed home to another engagement, and we rode through Bellingham and took the back way home.   We were home by three thirty with plenty of time for a cup of coffee and to read the Sunday paper—Larry decided that lawn mowing would wait another day.

Thank you Dave, Brenda, Bob, and Patty for a wonderful day spent riding with friends.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

9:30 AM is the starting time and where else would we start a ride from than Starbucks?  The weather forecast is forty-eight degrees with fog.  Looks like I’ll still be wearing the heated vest even if I don’t plug it in.  Only a few geese in the fields as we head out and no fog, unlike last weekend when there were hundreds of Canadian geese in the fields and the fog hung near the tree tops. 

There are eight bikes and fourteen riders as we took the scenic route down Chuckanut Drive heading south and west.  Past the Longhorn saloon in Edison and our usual stop at the Shell station at the intersection at highway 20.  We wound our way to Anacortes and took a road around the Tesoro refinery next to Padilla bay.  We had never been on this road before and later learned that several in our group had not ridden it either.

We drove into Anacortes, headed towards the ferry and turned off to circle back in a southerly route towards Deception Pass.  Now we were turned around heading north and east, dropping off the main highway to take back roads around Simik Bay heading west towards La Conner.  Conway was our second stop of the morning before heading south to Stanwood, Warm Beach, past Lake Goodwin to the Roadhouse restaurant for lunch.  The trees lining some of the roadways arched over the road forming a beautiful green canopy allowing only filtered sunlight through the leaves.

Cold iced drinks and a range of burgers, salads, and sandwiches had us all feeling satisfied and ready to ride.  After all it had been three and a half hours since we left Starbucks and the breakfast we consumed before leaving home and the coffee had worn off.  The table always gets a bit (only a bit) quieter when food arrives.
Our destination was Sound Harley Davidson to check out the new bikes, clothes, and accessories.  When we walked into the store we were greeted by one of the employees and she asked how we were.  I said, “Great it only took us three hours to get here,” and she laughed and said “great ride.”  After shopping, it was time to peel off some layers as we headed east to Arlington to gas up the bikes and then north up highway 9 towards home.  The afternoon sun felt wonderful seeping through our jackets, the trike was rocking to Jerry Lee Lewis singing Great Balls of Fire; the twists and turns in the road is what riding is all about, and the friends you are riding with.

As we approached the turnoff to Lake Whatcom three bikes peeled off for a quicker route to their homes.  A quick stop at the Acme Store and the remaining group continued north and west.  Two more bikes left us at Smith road and one more at Hannigan Road.  We followed Dave and Lorie back into Ferndale and then turned off to follow our detour home and avoid the very rough and bumpy stretch of Mountain View Road.
Thanks Dave and Lorie for the invitation and planning and thank you to our friends who made this an enjoyable day, Bill, Marla, Dave, Dawn, Rick, Marina, Dave, Rita, Maynard, and Kirsten.

Larry & Billie

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

If you don’t have something nice to say about “the Motor Company” don’t say anything at all.

It’s 6:20 AM and I am standing in Starbucks waiting for my wake up cup.  Three guys are sitting in leather club chairs like they are thrones talking about motorcycles.  Starbucks looks to be one or two helpers short so there is a waiting line to get our orders.  I can’t help but overhear these three guys and their conversation, one who rides a Harley because it is parked outside next to my vehicle and the other two just being guys so that makes them motorcycle experts.  I am laughing to myself as they are talking like experts about speed records and parts until I hear one of the non riders talking about friends who ride Harley’s and they  have to carry around a book showing all the Harley repair shops because they always break down.   Enough…I couldn’t take it anymore.  I turned around and said that book was a map showing Harley dealerships not repair shops and Harleys don’t always break down.  Larry said I should have told them it was a map to show us how to get to a Harley shop to buy a new t-shirt.  Well the Harley guy looked a little ashamed and didn’t say a word, one guy kept totally quiet, and the other guy tried to explain that Harley’s used to always break down.  No I was not done, as I proceeded to tell him that they did not always break down and that Larry and I have owned three Harley’s.  They looked a little surprised because I was dressed for a board meeting not riding and a woman was telling three guys who thought they knew motorcycles they were wrong.  My order was ready and I took my coffee and left smiling.  If you don’t have something nice to say about “the Motor Company” don’t say anything at all.

Friday, September 14, 2012

2,034 miles, 8 days, 2 countries, 2 provinces, 3 states 4 bikes, 8 friends, priceless memories

July 21st Bellingham to Clinton BC
We (Dave, Lorie, Dave, Dawn, Bill, Marla, Larry, and me) headed out from Starbucks on Bakerview at 8:00 AM.  We were suited up for rain because the clouds were hanging low over Whatcom and the weather prediction all the way to Whistler BC was rain.  We took Northwest and angled over to the Guide heading to the Lynden crossing.  A few quick questions and we were on our way.

Getting through the Vancouver traffic snarls, road improvements, drivers who think only they have the right of way, and large foreign objects in the middle of our lane was probably the most stressful part of the trip today.  But then Vancouver traffic is always like this.

The Sea to Sky highway is beautiful and we stopped for gas before we arrived in Whistler and then gazed in amazement at all the new condominiums, and houses that have been built since we last passed through Whistler right before the  2010 Winter Olympics.

We stopped in Pemberton at The Pony for lunch before climbing up and over the mountain to Lillooet.  A stop at the bottom of the mountain to remove the last of the rain gear and as many other layers as we could take off.  We started out in the high fifties when we left this morning with rain and now it is around eighty-two degrees. 
We are only one hundred kilometers or about sixty miles to Clinton where we are staying for the night.  We have been as far as the turn off to Cache Creek but have never gone farther north.  A new road, a new experience, a new memory.

Riding the canyon road far above the river you look out to the dry and parched high desert hills ahead.  A few twist and turns and we are down in the valley with small farms stretching out on either side of us.  Horses meander by small streams in the lush green fields while herds of white cattle stand in fields on the opposite side of the road.  Small vineyards are beginning to sprout up in the rich farmlands. 

We pass old log homes, barns, lean-tos, and outbuildings in various states of decay and disrepair.  Occasionally we would see one of these barns with a coat of paint that while maybe several years old, shows that someone is still using it and trying to preserve a part of history.

We checked into the Cariboo Lodge Resort and the owner Darla had a full crew to welcome us and chat.  With the bikes unloaded and settled into our rooms it was time to socialize.  We were on the second floor and had tables and chairs so we could sit around, relax, tell stories, and laugh. 

Clinton was originally known as 47 Mile House before being renamed Clinton in 1863 when the Cariboo Wagon Road was completed and only had a population of about six hundred.  The Cariboo Lodge was built on top of the original lodge and is constructed of spruce logs and even has a western saloon.

The lodge had a restaurant so we didn’t have to ride someplace else for dinner.  The waitress was one of the ladies who helped check us in and she was vibrant and fun.  She kept up with our jokes, dinner orders, and everything else in-between and the smile never left her face.  The patrons behind us even joined in several times.

Back at the ranch we sat on the balcony talking and laughing.  We have ridden with this group many times and it is always a pleasure whether it is a day ride or a multiple day ride just to be with them.  No drama, no worries, just friends who care about you, and with whom you enjoy spending time.

July 22nd Clinton BC to Prince George BC
We were on our way before 8:00 AM.  We only have to travel about 250 miles today.  No gas stations open in Clinton on a Sunday morning so we went north to 70 Mile House to get gas which was only about thirty miles.  The good part was they were open, but the bad part was they only had regular gas and our bikes run on premium.  Dave and Bill had enough till we got to 100 Mile House but Dave and Larry each put a couple of gallons in so we were not running on empty.

We stopped for breakfast in 100 Mile House which got its name because it was 100 miles from Lillooet.  The original name of the town was Bridge Creek House.  The area has a population of about 20,000. 

We stopped at Smitty’s for breakfast with lots of laughter and then topped off our tanks with premium with a higher grade.  Back on the road… You could say it is a pretty straight shot because there were not a lot of noticeable twist and turns in the road and every few miles there were passing lanes.  The roads are fairly well maintained and lots of improvements in the works to add more lanes in some areas and more passing lanes in lots of areas.

A few eagles, three deer, and one possible fox sighting was the total animal count for the day.  Well, we also saw a few cows and lots of horses.

Farmland stretched out on either side of us, farmers bailing hay and some fields looked like they had been planted a second time.  Fields were dotted with round hay bales and open sided barns were filled.  We passed several large lakes and small communities but the wide open spaces with farms and forest land is almost more than you can comprehend when everyone is talking about how populated the world is.

More homesteads, barns, and out buildings built with logs lay abandoned and replaced by newer houses built from the early nineteen hundreds to the current date.  Split rail fences lined some of the old farms and numerous cattle chutes stood deserted.
A couple of stops to stretch our legs and we pulled into Prince George around three o’clock.  We headed to the local Harley dealer and it normally would have been closed on Sunday but a HOG group from Vancouver BC had arranged for the store to be open for their arrival.  A little shopping and we headed to our hotel.

Prince George is the largest city in northern British Columbia and was named in honor of King George III.  Logging and lumber mills are still the primary employers.
Mischief…we don’t look for it, it just sort of comes our way. All the girls are people watchers, not stalkers, we just watch people to see who they are and what they are doing. We laughed about the guy whose car broke down and hired some local guys who work on machinery for the logging industry to hammer, pound and bang away at this guy’s SUV trying to fix it.  They met at an ATM and I can’t imagine hiring anyone who looked like they did--no recommendations, no real shop, they just arrived at the motel with some tools and spent hours hammering away at fixing the bearing on his vehicle.

Ok, we went to dinner, laughed way too much and thought we would just go back to our rooms, socialize a little more and call it a night.  That was the plan.  The guys sort of were talking guy stuff and the girls were still just laughing and joking innocently enough.

 A car pulls into the parking lot, a woman gets out, low cut top, high heels, lace tights, short black skirt, (a lady of the night)  and proceeds up the stairs to the room of the out of town guy who had his car worked on by the sort of odd repairmen.  The door is open, she goes in unannounced but expected, about five minutes later the door is locked the curtains closed and we can’t believe there is a prostitute in our motel.
A few minutes later a pickup truck with two guys pulls into the parking lot taking up two spaces and this is what gets us to look at them because it seems all the trucks in the lots think they need two spaces.  The motor is running, and they just sit there.  We begin to think they are with the hooker when they don’t get out or leave.  Well they finally roll down the window; say something we can’t understand, get out of the truck and go into Wendy’s which is right across from the motel.  More speculation on our part and super sleuth detective Dawn decides to investigate.  She walks over to the motel entrance driveway and can see the two guys in Wendy’s having a cold drink watching the motel.  One of the guys is looking up at the room where we all firmly believe a transaction and exchange of money has taken place for sex.   Are these the pimps, the husband, the boyfriend, the brother who worked on the guy’s car…we don’t know, but they seem interested in the room.  About twenty-five minutes after she went in the room the two guys finally come out of Wendy’s and leave slowly.
About this time our husbands are thinking it’s getting late and time to head to our rooms so they come to check on us.  We told them our story and they sort of looked at us like we had been reading one too many novels or watching one too many police shows on television.  Well the innuendos rang out from the guys and a little singing with the girls saying shhhhhh and laughing.  Thirty-five minutes after the hooker went into the room, she left.  Lorie timed her. Then the guys believed us.

Speechless is what it came down to.  How could you ever imagine that we would stay in a motel and we would watch a hooker do business in front of us?  What happened in Prince George BC is public knowledge…the names were not changed because we don’t know who they are, but these are the facts, nothing but the facts, this is our story and we are sticking to it.

Night, night, 5:45 AM is wake up and we need to be in full rain gear, breakfast finished and on the road by 8:00 AM.  It is not a long day by miles, about two hundred and fifty miles, but rain, thunder, and lightening is predicted.

July 23, 2012 Prince George BC to Jasper National Park, Alberta
Bill said there was a sixty percent chance of rain today and it rained all but about fifteen minutes of the two hundred and fifty or so miles we rode from Prince George to Jasper, Alberta on the Trans-Canada Highway #16 also known as the Yellowhead Highway.  It misted, sprinkled, rained, poured, and dumped on us all day.

In those early morning hours you could see the heavy fog clinging to the side of the mountains.  Occasionally it would dip low into the valley and we would ride through this veil of mist.  There was never a clear hole in the clouds ahead; instead it was a grey cold day, all day.

The roads were pretty good with only an occasional rough spot and lots of passing lanes.  The traffic itself was not bad until we neared Jasper and then most of it was going east.  We did see our first moose running parallel to the road on the opposite side of the road from us.  What a magnificent sight. 
We were pretty much enveloped in a forest for the first one hundred and twenty-five miles.  It is almost unimaginable to think of this much land that is uninhabited except for an occasional farm or provincial park.  Of course this meant there were no towns for gas or breaks. 

When we finally arrived at a rest stop, I think McBride, we did stop for a short break and to add more layers, tuck existing  layers in, and try to find whatever else we had packed that might keep us warm and dry.

Back on the road our trip was interspersed with small clearings that farmers had carved out enough forest land to grown hay.  Occasionally a few horses could be seen huddled together in a field.  The rest of the day was forest and farms until we reached Jasper and then everything just seemed to change to canyons and rivers. 

A very slow moving train that must have been over a hundred cars moved westward between the road and the river.  To the west of Jasper, we crossed into the province of Alberta.  The main highway between Canada runs through Jasper National Park so you have to pay to go through it.  Dave and Lorie were the lead bike and paid for everyone so we wouldn’t have to stop for each bike.  When we pulled into for a pit stop a few minutes later the train had crossed to the other side of the road and the engineer blew his whistle and waved to us as he went by.  The thunder clapped overhead and it was time to ride.  Several minutes later we saw our first elk grazing under the tree branches on both sides of the road as we arrived in Jasper.

We drove from one end of town to the other and the street was filled with clothing stores, restaurants, and souvenirs shops.   We found our hotel and began pulling of layers of gear and clothing.  Water had managed to seep into and under rain gear, soaking shirts, pants, shoes, and socks and under the protective covers for our nylon bags strapped to our tour packs.  The hotel had a laundry so some items went straight to the dryer; other items were placed over the heaters in the bedrooms to dry.  My boots stayed dry but others were not as lucky, including Larry.  My helmet is another story and not sure how the whole lining became wet when I was wearing my hood from the rain gear.  It acted like a big wick which made for a fuzzy head of hair.
Everyone brewed a pot of coffee in their rooms to try and get warm and some of us had to go to the office for more coffee and towels.  Hot showers felt great and dry clothes even better.

Rather than ride to dinner or walk we found a local pizza place that also had sandwiches and salads so we ordered in.  Good idea!  Marla took our orders and called it in.   And still the rain is coming down.

It was a quiet evening visiting with our friends, watching a little television, and resting.  The funny thing is last night and tonight both the television had all three of the major Seattle channels so we could catch up on everything that was going on at home.
The plan is to have breakfast at the hotel at 7:00 AM and be on the road by8:00 AM. 

July 24th Jasper BC to Lake Louise BC and Radium Hot Springs BC
Food, dry clothes and we are ready to ride.  We were on the road by 8:00 AM.  The skies are grey and we are dressed for rain.  Going south we hope to leave the cooler weather and rain behind sometime today.

The pass through the mountains is beautiful.  We stopped at Sunwapta Falls to take pictures and had a short break.  It has been a steady light shower but nothing like yesterday.

We are pretty much following the valley floor next to the river.  You can see high the water marks when the spring floods come from melting snow.  The Canadian Rockies are breath taking and Larry said it was like riding through the North Cascades on steroids.  We stopped at the Columbia Ice Fields to take a break and admire the amazing scenery.  Marla fed crackers to a Canadian blue jay which sat on Bill’s windshield waiting to be fed.  We had our first mountain goat sighting.  Dawn spotted three teeny tiny white dots up on the mountainside that if you watched would slowly move.  We made one more stop at Crossing Café and motel for a break.

We stopped at Lake Louise for gas, food, and sightseeing.  Not as many tourists as I thought we might find considering the parking lot was full.  The lake is beautiful with its green ice cold glacier water and up high you can see the glacier that the water comes from.  Sometime after we left Lake Louise we crossed back into British Columbia.
Around every bend you think this must be it, but the road just keeps going past more amazing mountains, cliffs, and rock formations.  We began to see lots of deer alongside the road as we moved farther south. 

We arrived in Radium Hot Springs about 3:30 PM and checked into our motel.  We walked down to a German restaurant for dinner and it was early to bed for an early departure tomorrow morning.

Radium Hot springs is a small town of about eight hundred people in east Kootenay BC.  It is named for the hot spring in Kootenay National Park.  There are radioactive elements but they are insignificant.  We did not, however, decide to join the several hundred other people in dipping our toes in the hot springs.

July 25th Radium Hot Springs BC to Columbia Falls Montana USA
The sun is shining and while there is a little fog surrounding the valley, there is no rain in the forecast.  We filled our tanks and looked across the street to see seven male Big Horn Sheep having an early morning meal of plants and leaves on the center median.  They looked calm, not afraid of people, and no fear of vehicles. 

We crossed back into Alberta and passed Frank’s Slide near Crowsnest Pass.  Turtle Mountain collapsed April 29, 1903 and in one hundred seconds, rock, wind, and dust blew through this little valley killing seventy to ninety people.  This was one of the largest landslides in Canadian history and the deadliest.  The slide area looks almost exactly as it did the day it happened.  To see half a mountain side gone, spread out across the valley floor with boulders as big as semi trucks is truly remarkable.
We passed many lakes and streams, crossed the Columbia River, Kootenai River, saw deer, and cattle in the farmlands.  The forested lands gave way to farm land that changed into dry land covered in sage brush.

The border crossing was quick at Chief Mountain  and we drove through open range land and slowed for cattle that couldn’t decide, when they heard our loud pipes, if they wanted to cross the road or just stand and stare at us. We stopped at St. Mary’s on the east of Glacier National Park for lunch.   A half hour wait at the small restaurant (they make homemade pie) was more than we wanted to wait, so we grabbed lunchables and rode on.  There are only a few restaurants and gas stations for miles in either direction and this is a popular rest stop and accounts for the large crowds at any time of the day.
We entered Glacier National Park on the east side riding the “Going-to-the Sun” to the top of mountain.  Clear blue skies with white fluffy clouds that Montana is so famous for filled the horizon.  We stopped at the top of the mountain and saw big horn sheep, mountain goats, and ground squirrels. 

Glacier National Park is over one million acres and borders Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada.  The two parks are known as the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park and was designated as the world’s first International Peace Park in nineteen thirty-two.

We were on the mountain side going east to west towards Columbia Falls where we would be staying for the night.  A long stretch of the road was one lane and long lines of cars, trucks and motorcycles were led through by a pilot car as we crossed the Continental Divide at Logan Pass.

We checked into our motel for the night, the guys washed the bikes, we found ice, soda, chairs, glasses, and settled in to socialize.  We ordered pizza, salad, wings, and sat out in a little covered barbeque area behind our rooms to eat dinner. 

July 26 Columbia Falls Montana to Sandpoint Idaho
A beautiful sunny day and I am starting the day out without having to layer on or plug in the heated gear.  From Columbia Falls we went south along Flathead Lake to Elmo where we went west and south to Hot Springs Montana which is about half way between Kalispell and Missoula in the Cabinet Mountains.   After a brief stop for cold drinks and Dave J. tried to peek into the wizard’s room and got caught, we were back on the road again.

We stopped in Thompson Falls Montana for lunch at Minnie’s Café.  Great service, good food, and we had the whole back room to ourselves or maybe they wanted to keep us bad bikers away from the regular customers…haha.  This is a cute little town with businesses on one side and the railway on the other side of the street.

We got stopped somewhere before Sandpoint Idaho for road construction.  We had about a fifteen to twenty minute wait before a pilot car led us out of the construction zone.  We headed northwest to our destination and our route took us next to lakes and rivers, slowly leaving the farmland behind and climbing into forest. 

We arrived in Sandpoint Idaho in time for a quick rest before we gathered to as Larry likes to say “laugh and splash”.  We choose McDonalds for dinner rather than ride and it was only about a hundred yards away from the motel.  Something for everyone, salads, chicken, burgers, mocha frappes, and ice cream in waffle cones.  What a way to end the day

7-27 Sandpoint to Omak
Continental breakfast in the motel and we were ready to go.  It is going to be another warm day.  We heard before we left that Republic had winds over one hundred miles an hour the week before.  Downed power lines meant power outages and we weren’t sure what to expect on the roads.   Republic has been our go-to Fourth of July get away for several years.  We broke from tradition this year, instead just passing through on our week long ride.

The roads are less traveled in this part of the state, mostly locals and vacationers.  I missed the sign saying we had crossed into Washington State but the landscape didn’t scream, leaving Idaho, entering Washington.  In fact it looked a lot like the mountains of Montana and lower British Columbia and Alberta we rode through. 

We stopped at Beaver Lodge Resort and Campground located at Tiger Pass in the Colville National Forest for a break.  It sits next to Lake Gillette and Lorie said it is one of four interconnected lakes of Little Pend Oreille Lakes chain.   
We stopped for gas in Colville and continued on toward Republic.  We ran into road construction in several places but were lucky enough not to have to wait in the heat today.

 We continued on past Kettle Falls, over Sherman Pass, and began our descent into the valley to Republic.  We began to see trees snapped in two or completely uprooted.  Several trees were downed and laying on top of outbuildings.  Road crews had been through and cleared the road leaving chain sawed remnants beside the road.  The closer we got to town the more devastation of the forest we saw. 

We stopped at Sportsman Roost for lunch.  Our waitress said the town had been without power for about a day and a half but some places lost power for five days.  Right before we finished and left the restaurant a tree crew came in for lunch.  They were from Seattle and had come to help clear trees so power could be restored.  
We rode to Tonasket for a pit stop, shade, cold drinks, ice cream and then finished the final leg of our trip today in Omak.    Did I mention it’s hot, really hot?  Checked in we had air conditioned rooms, time for showers, and naps before dinner.  We walked across the parking lot to the Koala Street Grill for dinner.  This is our last night together.  We stood around the parking lot after dinner talking, laughing, watching the wind pick up, and finally blowing tumbleweeds across the road which was our sign to call it a night.

7-28 Omak to home
We had continental breakfast in the motel and then we mounted up and headed home.  We stopped in Twisp for gas and then breezed through Winthrop.  Heading up the mountain we could feel the cold air and were thankful we had layered up for the trip home.  There is still snow on the sides of the roadway and we pulled off at Rainy Pass for a rest stop.  Next stop Marblemount for gas and drinks.  We have decided to stop at Bob’s Burger and Brew in Burlington for lunch.  It’s been eight days since we pulled out of Bellingham and the time has gone quickly.

We can’t wait for the next adventure and we are genuinely thankful for true friends to ride with.  A special thank you to Dave M. for planning, arranging accommodations, details, and making this trip a success.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Standing on a Hurricane

Hurricanes very rarely hit the west coast of the United States--that is, until this group of friends head out on a ride.

Hurricane definition:  a storm with violent winds with a wind force exceeding 74 mph.  Well that about sums up our group of friends.  We ride, we ride Harleys, and therefore we are a force to be reckoned with, at least to ourselves.  And yes, we do sometimes go faster than 74 mph.

Three bikes and six riders, Dave, Lorie, Dave, Dawn, Larry, and I left Sehome Starbuck at a little after 8:00 AM on Saturday morning headed to the ferry for Port Angeles.  We all made reservations online so we were assured of getting on the 10:15 ferry and being first in line.  While waiting at the ferry we saw friends John and Kathy.  They were not riding today but it was good to visit with old friends.

It was a short ferry ride and we had time for coffee and laughter before heading back to the bikes and disembarking.  We stopped just before we left town to gas up the bikes and meet up with Darren and Audrey.

The sun was shining and the temperature was rising, except when we rode closer to the shore and then we could feel that cool breeze again.  This is why you ride with heated gear.  A flick of the button and it is on or off.

We stopped for lunch in Port Angeles before riding up to Hurricane Ridge.  The seventeen mile road to the top is a gradual climb, full of gentle twists and turns, three tunnels, great views if you are on the back of the bike, but the driver must keep his eyes on the road…right, Larry?

The view is striking at approximately fifty-two hundred feet above sea level.  You can look out to the Olympic Mountain tops, Mount Olympus, Mount Constance, Mount Anderson, Mount Deception, and others I cannot remember, turning slowly to look to the Strait of San Juan De Fuca, Canada,  and back around in a full three-hundred and sixty degree view.  We wandered into the visitor’s center to look at the displays, out onto the deck to view the mountains, and then wander up a trail to just take in the magnificent and majestic views surrounding us, at what feels like the top of the world. 

We headed down the mountain and back to our home for the evening.  Showered, rested, and ready to relax before dinner, we gathered poolside for laughter and stories.  We were having dinner just around the corner from the motel so it was kickstands down and as Larry likes to say, time to“laugh and splash.”
Time!  It is always the question, what time to leave so we know when to be ready.  Of course with this group ready to ride at 8:00 AM means we are ready by 7:30 AM.  No one likes to be late so we are notorious for being ready early.  Of course this is a good thing.

We were on the road by eight thirty for Port Townsend to see if we could get an earlier ferry and possibly meet Bill and Marla for an afternoon ride home.  We stopped at the Water Street Creperie for coffee and hot chocolate before heading for home.  Darren and Audrey headed south and we were able to just barely make the next ferry headed east to Coupeville (last vehicles on the ferry, the very end, no more room on the ferry).   Lorie called Marla to let her know what ferry we were on and Marla gave us a weather report of rain at home so she and Bill were going to stay put at home.  We headed to the Farmhouse restaurant just west of Burlington for breakfast or lunch depending on who was ordering.

There was still no rain in sight so we ventured up Chuckanut Drive for the ride home.  We slowly split off the group, each of us heading for home.  This was another great weekend riding with friends, and for most of us, our first trip to Hurricane Ridge.

The panoramic photo is from Wikipedia. 

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