Back from the Cascades!

Vagabiker and I decided to take off towards the Cascade mountains for the long weekend after our initial plans to go dual-sporting in the Peninsula were ruined because of rain. The Cascades go from north to south through the center of Washington state and the weather to the east of the mountain range is usually warmer and drier because the mountains block the rain.

We were intending to leave around 10:00AM but we over-estimated and ended up leaving at a shocking 2:00PM. We both had issues on our bikes that we had to fix before we hit the road. Bad bikers fixing stuff right before a long ride! It’s a good thing nobody else was waiting on us. My Gerbing electric vest wasn’t getting charged from the XT. I couldn’t take the fuse out to see if it had blown, so I swapped it with the one on the SV and it worked. And Sterling’s GPS wasn’t getting charged from his mount anymore. He was unable to fix this and gave up and decided to reply on my GPS and mount. Fortunately we both use Zumos, so we decided to swap after one of them lost charge. It wasn’t ideal but it was the best we could do at such short notice.

We hit the road and headed north. We had plotted our route the previous night, which would roughly take us towards Sultan, then the Ben Howard Road towards Skykomish, on to Steven’s Pass, then off-road on a forest service road towards Lake Wenatchee, and finally another trail towards Lake Chelan, where we would stop for the night.

Day 1 - P1050278

Unfortunately we had such a late start that we made it to Skykomish at 4:30PM. By the time we went over the pass and reached the first forest service road, we found that it was completely blocked by snow. Bummer! It had also been steadily raining and we were cold from going over the pass and reaching 4000+ feet elevation. We decided to continue riding US-2 to Lake Wenatchee and find a campground so that we could set up camp and relax and eat a good meal while it was still light out.

This turned out to be a good plan. We found a really good campsite at Nason Creek campground – the first place we looked. Being back in nature with the familiar camping smells was so fantastic. :) We set up camp and Sterling went out to gather wood while I started fixing our dinner of shrimp pasta. We ate by the fire and then went for a long walk. We didn’t find Lake Wenatchee but we did end up in this woody forested area mottled with pretty flowers. As the light started to fail, we returned to camp and hung out around the fire, sipping wine and scotch.

Day 1 - P1030472

Day 2, we set out on the trail to Lake Chelan. We started on Chumstick Highway before getting on to the first FS road. It was a smooth, easy ride, even for a n00b like me, with lots of pretty views. There were a few spots that made me go *gulp* because of the height and drop-off, but I made it through them. Sterling was a fantastic guide and he kept a good pace that I could keep up with. At times he would take off into the distance, but I knew he would wait for me at the intersections so I kept my pace and went slow. I was probably excruciatingly slow but I wanted to finish the ride more than I wanted to go fast, and riding on dirt is still so unusual for me that I have to completely focus on it and take my time getting used to the feel of the bike on gravel, rocks and mud.

Day 2 - P1050291

Day 2 - P1050294

Day 2 - P1050298

Day 2 - P1030511

Day 2 - P1030500


Memorial Day weekend plans…

Vagabiker and I are trying to figure out what we’re going to do for the Memorial Day weekend. We’ve been riding down to Eugene, OR for the past two years for the unofficial BMW “Spring Forward” party (incidentally, that’s where we first met). This year we can either continue the tradition (which would be nice as we’ll get to see many familiar faces whom we haven’t seen in a while) or we can try something totally different.

We are toying with the idea of going dual-sporting on the Peninsula and try out a few rides from the Sound Rider Guide to Dual Sport Rides in Western Washington. This time we have the GPS files, so that we don’t get hopelessly lost and turned around. Motorcycling and camping – can’t believe it’s only a week away!



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Riding to Poulsbo…

This past weekend was lovely and quite unexpectedly so. I was planning on going up to Victoria, but changed my plans when I realized that I was riding up to Whistler the next weekend. I decided instead to go with Vagabiker to the “Fall Down” party in Poulsbo held every year by the sales manager of Southsound BMW. Since this meant going over to the Kitsap Peninsula, I figured I might as well make a day of it and bring the XT to go off-road.

Late Friday evening out meant waking up late Saturday morning and we still needed to get packed and ready for camping that night. We also tried to make a GPS route of the route we wanted to take between Lake Cushman and Quilcene. This meant getting a late start on our ride. One of the ferries to Bremerton wasn’t working so we were forced to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island and ride south towards Bremerton. For some reason this took forever. It was raining a lot at the start of the trip and I was a little wary about being rained on and miserable for the rest of the day. Once we got past Belfair though, the rain let up. The road between Belfair and Union was twisty and brilliant. We reached the start of the trail almost at 4PM. I guess we should have checked road conditions because quite a few roads dead ended and led to nowhere and we were unable to find a path that led north. Bummer!

It was brilliant getting to practice riding offroad though. After the initial few roads and hiccups, I even started standing on the footpegs and riding quite comfortably that way. My biggest fear was not being able to react or brake in time, but I think that that will come with practice.

After about an hour of trying to find the route and failing, we got back on 101 and decided to just follow it up north along the Hood Canal and then turn east at the tip across the Hood Canal Bridge to Poulsbo. It had started to get dark by then and the fog made everything look spooky and mysterious. I found myself wondering how it was that I was having way more fun throwing around my 250cc dirt bike around the corners compared to my 650cc sportsbike. :)

We reached Poulsbo at around 8PM and decided to stop at a grocery store to pick something up for the party. We had intended to just go eat dinner at the party, but by this time we were so tired and hungry that we made our way to the downtown area (which was very charming!) and went to a European restaurant that he had been to before. Tizzley’s was great if a bit expensive. He got Jaegershnitzel and I got Swedish meatballs, both of which were very good. Mmm… good food at the end of a good ride, and the night was just beginning.

By the time we got to the party, it was already underway. We set up camp in the dark and headed over to the main area. There were many new faces and a few old friends whom I was happy to see. Whiskey and beer seemed to be the order of the night, but the beer was all gone and we didn’t want to drink whiskey all night, so we ended up drinking the wine we had brought. :P After many good conversations and cuddling by the fire, the night ended with a block of an old Volkswagen engine case made of magnesium getting ignited in the fire. Amid shouts of – “Don’t look at it! Don’t breathe the fumes!”, we headed away from the fire and retired to the tent for a very sound night’s sleep.

The next morning I had a change to actually see where we were. Camping in a field full of motorcyclists is quite something and I don’t think I’ll ever get tired of it. We lingered over breakfast and coffee and more conversation before saying our goodbyes.

It was a brilliant day out and we decided to ride north to Port Townsend and catch the ferry to Langley and then to Mukilteo before heading back to Seattle. As it turns out, we weren’t able to do quite this because we didn’t plan enough with the ferry schedules, and ended up riding back to the Bainbridge Island ferry, but we did get some good riding in. And hanging around Port Townsend is always lovely. We rambled around Fort Warden a little bit, took a look at some of the old war bunkers and checked out the lighthouse before heading to the downtown area for a good meal at an underground Victorian cafe (antipasto salad, black bean soup and roast beef sandwiches).

The day ended with taking the ferry back to Seattle and home. I was way more tired than I had expected, but that’s the sign of a good weekend, isn’t it? :)






Day 5… le fin

Day 5

Day 5 woke up somewhat early going by the past few days’ record. Got up, showered and went to Linda’s Restaurant again to get breakfast. Breakfast was a hotcakes shortstack and a side of eggs. The pancakes of course turned out to be so super-size that I could only manage to eat about a quarter of the serving.

I wanted to take the shortest path home that I could while still catching a couple of good roads on the way. I crossed back over into Washington, heading north towards Goldendale and then on a little backroad – Bickleton Highway – that would lead through Bickleton and end at Mabton, where I would get on 82W and then 90W home. The backroad was about 60 miles long and a little out of the way but it really paid off because it was completely remote and scenic. You know it’s a good ride when you’re not checking your speedo, but just going with the flow and responding automatically to the road without thinking about it. The towns that the road went through are hardly even deserving of that description, but it’s what you would expect going through rural America.

Hitting 88W was a reality check of the dreary freeway slabbing through miles of arid desert that lay ahead before I was finally home. I wanted this part to be over quickly. :| Got off at a little town called Buena to catch another supposedly scenic backroad to Moxie City. The road led through the Yakima wineries and I suppose it was pretty but the dry heat was getting to me and I was getting a little hungry by now.

Stopped at Moxie City and went to the grocery store to get supplies for lunch, then rode over to the local state park and sat in a shady grove of trees to eat a well deserved lunch and a bit of a nap.

From here on it was back to 82W where it had gotten really windy – almost as bad as it had been on the gorge. I slowed to a 60mph crawl in a 70mph speed limit zone, which sucked but I didn’t feel safe going any faster when the wind was trying to rip my head off every few minutes. :| Got off at Ellenburg and took Highway 10 to Cle Elum so that I could go a bit slower. It helped a bit with the wind because there was more tree cover.

Getting on I90 at Cle Elum turned out to be a nightmare because of a massive traffic gridlock. The view of the bumper to bumper traffic miles ahead made me worry that that’s how it was going to be all the way to Seattle. This turned out to be unfounded though as the freeway split up into more lanes and traffic finally started moving. I managed to get up to a comfortable 70-80mph pace for the rest of the ride. It was a relief and a delight to finally be riding back through typical Pacific Northwest foliage with the cool weather and the evergreens fringing the freeway. I had never quite noticed how pretty I90 was for an interstate. It was still a bit windy but exceedingly manageable. I pondered all the things I would do when I got home to figure out how I could beat the wind the next time – install my old windshield, try to get a closer fitting jacket so the wind wouldn’t billow around in it, see the suspension could be tweaked at all to make it handle better etc.

I got into Seattle at around 6:30PM – way later than I had hoped – but it was still sunny out. Rode into the parking lot, parked, unloaded. I was home. It wasn’t quite the ride I had had in my head when I had started out, but it had had its moments.

Photos coming soon.

Days 3 and 4

Day 3 saw me leaving Redmond and heading out west towards Sisters. It seemed like a charming little town which I unfortunately didn’t stop at. The weather continued to be marvellous and the route I picked to head towards Eugene – 126 and 20 west turned out to be neat little roads – remote, winding and twisty. There were a few Snow Zone signs which made me a bit nervous, not wanting a repeat of the previous day’s experience, but fortunately all the roads were wide open.

The best ride of all was a little winding backroad called Brush Creek Ln. that led south from Sweet Home to Springfield. It was a glorious lazy, winding road that ran through rural lands with little farmhouses and sloughs – my favorite kind of road. :)

From Springfield, I got on I5 and took the quickest path to Dexter, OR. It was great to see the old familiar faces of people I hadn’t seen in almost a year! I found a spot up on the hill to pitch my tent – happy to finally be using it.

The party was good and mellow. Nobody got shit-faced and fell in the ditch this year, but we did have the gigantic 10 foot bonfire and a live band.

Day 4

Day 4 – Sunday – saw me waking up later than expected (mostly on account of being woken up by loud, chirping birds – why on earth do they do that?! – and not being able to go back to sleep for  while). Got breakfast, said my goodbyes and took off, this time north on I-5 for the shortest path to Portland. I managed to ride 120 miles non-stop before I finally reached PDX.

Had lunch at my favorite Cuban restaurant – Pambiche – sugarcane juice, fried plantains and an appetizer plate of Cuban goodies. I managed to not have a siesta and got back on the bike to head to the Columbia River Gorge.

I was hoping to ride both sides of the river and spend the night at a friend’s place in Washougal. Alas, like the rest of this trip, fate had other plans for me.

The ride started off on the old Columbia River highway which was a cool, historic road that would have been rad to ride early in the morning some weekday, but was absolutely tourist hell on a late Sunday afternoon on Memorial Day weekend. After about 15 miles of crawling along at 20mph I finally got on I-84 which I rode about 100 miles through Hood River and The Dalles.

At The Dalles I crossed the bridge over into Washington to head east to see the mock Stonehenge monument. This is when what had been a glorious day slowly turned into hell with side winds that threatened to rip my head off every few minutes. It was scary enough that at one point I just stopped, feeling a little paralyzed with fear and wondering how to get the hell out of there. I finally wound up going 15 mile east to see the Stonehenge, took some pictures and then went off to find a campground. The closest one was full up though and I ended up crossing back into Oregon to find a motel in Wasco. I called my friend to tell him that I wasn’t going to make it to Washougal after all. :|

So here I am now, in Dinty’s Motor Inn (I kid you not). Dinner, a hot shower and a warm, soft bed has taken the edge off a bit and I’m feeling a little less bummed about my best laid plans all going to hell.

Ah well, win some, lose some, right? Let’s see what tomorrow brings. I want to find the shortest path back to Seattle so that I can get there by afternoon and chill out and enjoy the rest of the day in  my old familiar neighborhood. But I’m not holding my breath.

Day 2…

Day 2 of the ride was again a mixed bag of worms. We got a pretty late start heading out of Portland. By the time we were packed and ready to go, it was almost noon. Our plan was to take 224 south, then hit 26 south to go past Bend and camp in the Deschutes area.

After we went past Estacada though we saw a sign that said that there was no through access because of the snow. We stopped and called ODOT who said that it was a mistake and that the road should be clear. Feeling more assured we went on.

Highway 224 was a blast – mostly remote, twisty and scenic with its views of the Clackamas River. Imagine our surprise when 70 miles down we got flagged by another rider who said that there was 2 feet of snow two miles down the road! And sure enough there was. :|

This meant that we had to double back 70 miles (although a very gorgeous 70 miles of road) and decide what to do from there. After we reached Estacada again, we stopped to get a bite to eat and ponder our options. We ended up deciding to head north a bit, get on 26 and then 97 south. I didn’t think that we’de make it there by dark, especially because I was a little tired after four hours of riding and I didn’t really want to be riding another 3-4 hours.

We made a good effort of it and rode 100 miles non-stop before we reached Madras. The route overlooking was beautiful although with lots of traffic. There were a few spots that made me gulp and slow down because of the heights (curse the fear of heights). At Madras, Sarah decided that she wanted to continue on to Deschutes while I decided to stay put because I was too tired to continue. We separated and I went on to Redmond and found a place to sleep at for the night.

My phone’s LCD screen had inexplicably cracked earlier that day and I was without access to GPS and internet, not to mention phone numbers of people that I needed to meet this weekend. It was almost an imperative for me to have found a hotel room with internet access. I got online and got all the directions and phone numbers I needed. I also tried calling my own number from the hotel room phone until I finally got it to turn on and be receptive (not easy when you cannot actually see the screen on the PDA). The hotel bill will not be pretty.

Today I ride out to Eugene, I’m not sure down which way yet. Maybe highway 126 over to Sisters and then 120 to SPringfield and then south, or 97 south and 58 west. I am leaning towards the former because the latter is the route I followed last year.

I’m not sure when I will be online next. Maybe tonight or in two days, whichever comes first. :)


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Day 1 of Memorial Day Ride…

I left home at around 2:30PM on Thursday evening to catch the 3:00 ferry to Bremerton. Made it there a few minutes before they started loading. Rode on, parked, went upstairs to the deck and took a few photos of the gorgeous skyline with the Space Needle in the distance.

The ferry ride was about an hour spent in silence and contemplation. Finally for a long ride by myself, I think. Alas, fate had other plans for me.

Got off the ferry a little before 4:00PM, rode off and promptly missed the turn to 403 and got hopelessly lost. Google Maps stopped working so my GPS fob was useless. Finally made it back on the freeway in 15 minutes, thinking – “Away I go! To freedom! The open road! The wind on my face!”

And got stuck in a bumper to bumper traffic for the next 1.5 hours in 80 degree weather and a rapidly overheating bike, not to mention a slowly cooking me.

Apparently the Hood Canal bridge closing up north was forcing a lot of people to take a detour south and head back north via the route I was on. To think that the only reason I hadn’t taken it was because I wanted to avoid the gridlock in Tacoma. :|

At one point the heat got so unbearable that I pulled off the side of the road. I saw another bike stopped a little ways ahead and rode up to her to see if she was okay. She was, we chatted a little, then got back on the road and rode side by side for a little while. Her name was Dina and she rode a Harley Sportster. She was a typical Harley rider in leather jacket, chaps and a half helmet – the kind I never dreamt I’d be chatting up, but bad traffic makes for strange bedfellows. She was pretty cool too so I invited her to stop with me at the next rest stop where I planned to wait until traffic got better.

Finally we reached Belfair and I saw a McDonalds which appeared to be an oasis (a clear first indication of a heat stroke), I turned off the main road and went in to get ice cream and a long drink of cold water.

We waited in there and chatted about our biking adventures. She had had an interesting life – she had lived in England, New Mexico, and all over Washington state. She rode and camped a lot.

We sat there for about an hour by which time the traffic had subsided. I was beginning to have doubts about ever reaching Astoria before 10:00PM (when the hostel said they would be closing) especially with the Memorial Day traffic heading down 101 towards the coast. The heat had sapped a little bit of my strength and I wasn’t looking forward to riding another 200 miles before dark.

I decided to ride with her to Olympia and then south towards Kelso, where I’d decide to either head south to Portland or west to Astoria.

It was dark by the time I got to Kelso, so Portland it was! Portland, and Sarah, and a pint and a soft, warm bed for the night.

And so here I am, getting ready to load up the bike again and head on south to the Deschutes area in central Oregon. They say there is an obsidian flow that you can walk through. More on that tomorrow.

Off soon….

It’s almost the long weekend!! A few more hours before I skip town. I am taking the day off tomorrow and WFH today so that I can leave early and ride down to Astoria. I’ll spend all of Friday wandering down the Oregon coast, enjoying one of the most scenic rides in the United States. On Saturday I need to be in Eugene, OR for a party in the evening (same biker party I went to last year), so depending on where I spend Friday night, I’ll have to find some cool roads to explore during the day.

The party should be great. I’m looking forward to meeting a bunch of people that I made friends with last year and haven’t seen in a while. Last year they had a HUGE bonfire and flaming tetherball, which was good times. ;) Sarah’s riding down from Portland too and between the two of us, you can bet there will be trouble.

Whenever I am ready to get out on Sunday morning, I’ll hit the road again and head up north to ride the roads around the Columbia River Gorge both on the Oregon and Washington side. I’m not sure if I can do both banks on the same day or if I’ll have to split it up to the next day, but I intend to spend the night at a friend’s place in Washougal chatting again about bikes and his big adventure ride from last year. Monday morning I’ll be seeking to find the fastest way home and get back to Seattle mid-afternoon so I can relax and maybe catch a SIFF film.

It strikes me that this is the first time since the summer of 2007 that I will be doing a somewhat long solo ride! While I have ridden a lot between then and now, it has always been with other people – a little strange for a loner like me.

All my bags are packed  and waiting to be hitched to the bike. I’m bringing my tent and sleeping bag as I intend to camp for at least a couple of nights (solo camping! eek! yay!). I’m bringing my netbook and of course my camera and attempt blogging while on the road. Basically I’m trying as much as possible to simulate my upcoming X-country ride on a smaller scale to work out all the kinks and get a better idea of what I need to bring along and what to leave at home.

A few more hours!! Can’t wait… can’t wait!! :D

Bonehead Enduro 2009



South Coast and Volcano Region, WA

Day 1: Towards Copalis Beach

Day 2: Astoria

Day 3: Towards St. Helen’s


Days travelled: 3
Miles covered: ~650 mi


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The Palouse

Shall we call this the Motorcycling Adventure From Hell?

Let’s backtrack though to the beginning, especially to the part where was I was having jitters about riding again after a two week break. I was worried then that I was riding like a n00b all over again, and I stubbornly decided to follow through on my Palouse plans to prove myself wrong. Matter of fact, what I did was prove myself right in a big way.

The one thing that I realize now is that riding a bike isn’t about just planting your rear end on the seat, taking off, and steering. What it is is an intricate process, where every muscle in your body is participating and moving in response to stimuli from your environment, without your mind actually spelling out the actions required. When you go 80 mph with cross winds trying to blow you into a semi, your body sub-consciously hugs the machine close, so that you are one with the machine. When you are racing through the twisties at 5400 ft with an asshole in an F350 tailgating you, your mind learns to block our aforementioned asshole, and lets your past experience effortlessly guide you through the twists and turns without so much as breaking a sweat. When you need to make a sharp right-hand turn into a gas station, you subconsciously know when to slow down, how much to slow down, turn your head, lean into the turn, roll and smoothly pull up near the gas pump, without actually registering that you are performing several very distinct actions. Hindsight is 20/20 though, and I realized how rusty just two weeks of not riding had made me, everytime I had to deal with every one of these situations in the past three days.

Day 1 – Ride To Lewiston

As planned, I started out at about 8AM on Saturday morning. I had planned my route the previous evening, and it was roughly to be:
Leave Bellevue and get on I-90E
I-90E past Ellensburg to Vantage
26E to Othello
17S to junction with 260E
260E past Kahlotus to junction with 261E
261E to Starbuck (Destination Highway)
12E past Pomeroy to Clarkston and finally Lewiston in Idaho

Everything went well in the beginning. I spent what seemed like a lifetime on I-90, stopped briefly at Cle Elum for breakfast, and then continued past Ellensburg and Vantage. It was still early morning, so traffic was relatively light and within a couple of hours I was nearing my halfway point. When I got to Othello was when the horror of the journey began. I was a bit tired and decided to stop at an A&W for lunch. As I waited in the left turn lane for traffic to go past before turning left, I started feeling the bike slip away from me. Mind that I had recently had the bike raised and still wasn’t used to the new height. I could have either tried to stop it falling and pulled it back up, risking injury to several back muscles and possibly failing anyway, or to just let it go. I did the latter, but instead of letting it down gently, it slammed down. The frame sliders on the bike might have had something to do with my laziness, but this time they failed to work. When I got the bike back up (with the help of another girl who was stopped behind me) I realized that the tip of my gear shifter had completely snapped off. I think I was in complete shock and just stood there looking at it for a few minutes in a “I cannot believe I just let this happen.” kind of way. I pushed my bike into the parking lot and tried going through my options.

I called a friend to ask him what I could do and whether I should just go back home. He suggested I continue on my way and just shift gears by turning my foot inward toward the shifter (thankfully the entire shifter wasn’t broken – just the tip with the rubber grommet on it). He suggested I ride around a block and try it. Apparently this is a common mishap on the track and people just deal with it. A workaround that some racers use was to drill a hole through the tip of the shifter and run a bolt through it.

I decided to go get lunch and calm down, hoping things would make more sense after I wasn’t dizzy with hunger. After lunch, I tried riding it to the gas station and shifting the hard way, and it was like I thought it would be – pretty unnatural and difficult! I didn’t know if I could go any distance in either direction of my journey while riding that way. Oh, and I realized that the tip of my clutch lever had also broken off. Damn aluminium!! I filled up the tank, and walked back to the Scene Of The Crash to see something shiny still lying in the left turn lane. As expected, it was the broken end of the lever. Miraculously no one has run over it in the past half hour.

As luck would have it, someone had informed the local police about the incident, and a cop car pulled over next to me as I walked back to my bike. The cop asked me if I was okay, and whether anybody had hit me and made me crash. Nope, just my own stupidity. I asked him if he knew anyone in the area that could fix the lever, and he said he’d find out. He asked for my id and then started making some calls on his car radio(?). Finally, he hung up and told me of an auto mechanic called Doug and gave me directions to his shop. Nice cop!! I’ll never make donut jokes again!

I found the mechanic without any difficulty. He turned out to be this really sweet guy, covered with grease thereby increasing my confidence in him. He confided that he owned an old Goldwing although he didn’t get to ride it much. He rolled my bike into his shop (Doug’s Pit Stop, I later found out), and when I explained what I needed done, understood immediately. He drilled a hole through the shifter, found a bolt that was the perfect size, threaded it, wound it through the hole and sealed it with LocTite. He even took the rubber grommet off of the old shifter and slipped it onto the bolt! When he was done, it looked good as new! :) He said he couldn’t really do much with the broken clutch. I suggested that maybe we could try superglueing it back and then wrapping it with layers of duct tape. We tried this (with black tape) and it worked just fine!! While he was working, his kids were playing around the shop, and the little boy in particular kept talking to me, showing me his Superman backpack and telling me about his father’s motorcycle. Hehe… funny kid. I thought to myself about what a simple life they must lead, here in this one horse town in the middle of nowhere, that I just happened to chance through. And how charming and seemingly content they were. He charged me next to nothing for the excellent job he did too. Incidents like these are what make my motorcycling journeys so worthwhile. It’s a pity I had to meet these nice people because of my absurd idiocy from earlier on, but perhaps it was meant to be?

I left Othello with many good feelings. What I had thought to be a crippling first blow to my plans, was fixed in a matter of merely an hour, thanks to the kindness of a few good people in this “hick town” as what most of us snobs from the cities would call it.

From here on, I made my way toward Idaho like I had planned. So, during most of my journeys, “the road is the destination”, but in this case it turned out to be a destination that continued FOREVER. What I had envisioned when I had planned this journey was “rolling hills”, “a vast prairie” and “the endless greenery of the Palouse”. What I got was miles upon never ending miles of dry, arid desert, passing through brief little ghost towns to break the monotony. Even passing through two Destination Highways did nothing to make the road cheerier. Yes, the highways were wonderful with many twisties and the like, but it was stiflingly hot (a near constant 100 degrees throughout), I could barely breathe through the heat, I was low on water, and I was the only person on the road, which made me the tiniest bit paranoid after my unfortunate episode in Othello. Oh, and I kept thinking of horror movies like Texas Chainsaw Massacre and The Devil’s Rejects and imagining a madman with a chainsaw standing in the middle of the road around the next turn. When they say that deserts drive people nuts, they’re really not kidding.

I stopped briefly in Starbuck and went to the only cafe (no pun intended whatsover) I saw, to rest a little and get something to drink. The couple that ran it were surly and brusque. When I tried to make conversation with the man, he started talking about the forest fire that had been going on, and how the government was doing nothing to stop it, letting people’s properties go up in smoke. That was one angry man. Not loud, yelling angry, but quiet, festering angry, in the manner of someone who has a Grudge against life, and if he was one small man against the government, and couldn’t do anything to change anything, by gum, he was going to be angry and make sure every one of his customers knew it. I was glad to see the last of that dismal place, and made a mental note to ride around it on my return journey.

The rest of the ride toward Lewiston was more plod, plod, plod, and mile upon mile of dried, dead grass, and a haze of smoke enveloping the horizon. I longed for the occassional mountain lion or chainsaw wielding madman to wander into the path and break the monotony a little. Alas, to no avail, I was doomed to keep rolling, adding miles, and subtracting minutes, until I finally rolled into the twin towns of Clarkston and Lewiston.

The place I had a reservation at – the Guest House Inn – was a dumpy little motel at the edge of town. It had obviously seen better days, but had since fallen into ruin for lack of patrons. The receptionist – who seemed to be Irish – was nice enough, and she cleared up a spot near the entrance for my bike, where it would be in sight of the night clerk. I went up to my room and just lay on the queen size bed with my eyes closed, wishing the tiredness to fall away from me. Even taking my gear off seemed to take a world of effort. The room was super-chilled by a noisy, ancient air-conditioning unit. The window looked out onto railroad tracks, and the Snake River, and what looked like a refinery in the distance, on the other side of the river. Depressing as that may sound though, it was oddly pleasing, and I imagined myself to be living an adventure again.

After cleaning up a bit and changing, I headed down to the motel lobby, which had an Irish pub attached to it. A stay at a rundown motel warranted a drink in the bar, I reasoned. And the thought of a pint of cold Guinness cheered me up considerably. In keeping with the rest of the day though, the bartended announced that he didn’t stock Guinness because nobody drank it, would never stock it again, and he would change the name of the pub from Mulligan’s to a good American name if only the management would let him. I sighed, ordered a Fat Tire, drank it up quickly and left when the locals started thronging the place for the night’s karaoke. A spot of dinner at the Italian restaurant across the street (mmm…. pesto+pizza+Guinness), and I was ready for bed.

Day 2: Leaving Lewiston

When I woke up the next morning, I was still exhausted, and aching, and my body was crying for more sleep and rest, after the 8 hour ride of the previous day. I got breakfast (waffles that you had to make yourself, and some bad coffee), and checked out. I had originally planned to do a bunch of Destination Highway roads on the Washington side, like the ones from Pataha-Pullman, and Pullman-Rockford, not to mention the Spiral Highway in Idaho, and go south toward Walla Walla at the end of the day. I tried finding the Old Spiral Highway on the map, which showed some vague squiggles instead of a concrete path in the general direction of WA-12. What I did successfully accomplish was to get completely lost in what seemed like the increasingly hideous ghost town that was Clarkston. When I finally hit upon what I thought was the right way, I was conscious of a bad smell, not unlike human shit. My hunch was dead on, as within a few minutes I passed a Solid Waste Disposal Facility. What an excellent way to start a day of riding! A few more wrong turns later, I ended up on 12E. I was originally going to end up on this highway after having done a few runs of the Spiral Highway, but by this time I was so tired and annoyed that I just said screw it, and continued onward. What’s worse is, I didn’t have the energy to do any of the rides I had originally wanted to do. Once again, it was another day of 100+ degrees, not a soul on the road, scenery consisting of vast empty plains of dead, dried grass, and the roads weren’t even rated that highly in the book. What I did do was to just keep riding in the general direction of Walla Walla.

I find that the nicest thing about towns in East Washington is that you can leave them forever.

Pictures? Imagine this picture multiplied by six trillion and you'll have a near constant movie of the “sights” from the past three days.

By the time I reached Dayton, the air was heavy and murky in the distance, and I could smell the smoke from the forest fire. I stopped at a rest stop and got a bottled frappuchino, and heard people talking about the fire. Apparently a high alert or something of the nature had been issued, on account of the fire, the high temperatures, and unstable climate conditions. Glad that I was riding away from the fire, I set off again. The ride to Walla Walla was pretty uneventful, but you probably already guessed that. I reached the motel absurdly early for what was supposed to have been a full day of riding. They let me check in, so I did, and went to sleep. I slept all afternoon.

This motel was even dumpier than the previous one, although you wouldn’t know it if you looked at their website, which was all I had to go on when I had made reservations. It was one of those places where you can park your vechicle outside your room. Unfortunately, it was also one of those places where the bathtub looked like it had inhabitants, the shower curtain stank, the water kept running so that you’d have to deal with the sound after having turned off the noisy air-conditioning, and the traffic sounds from the neighboring highway are loud and clear well into the night. In other words, quite charming. I woke up at about 5:30 PM. Too late to do any wine tasting like I had originally planned. I decided to ride to the downtown area anyway just to check it out, but it seemed like even the ghosts had taken the evening off. I managed to find one cafe with any sign of habitation, and settled down into a comfortable couch with a coffee, to plan my escape route back home the next day.

I decided that I’d probably die of old age before getting home, if I went back the way I had come, and I had to go down some interesting roads to salvage this weekend. I-90W was definitely out. I figured I could go to bed early, and leave at about 7:00AM to get on the road to Pasco via 12W, which then went on to Yakima. There were some good rides in the Yakima region, and depending on my state of mind by the time I got there, I could decide which ones I wanted to do. There was one especially from Naches to Packwood which was highly recommended by the book – great engineering, good scenery, lots of twisties, remoteness, character, all the good stuff. From there, I could follow 123N to Enumclaw, take 169N to Renton, and finally good old 405N to Bellevue. In theory anyway, it sounded do-able.

I left the cafe with a plan in mind and decided to go scavenging for food. Some 10 year olds on bicycles passed by when I was unchaining my jacket from my bike, and an interchange followed:

One Kid: Hey, is that your crotch-rocket?
Self: Yup.
Aforementioned Kid: That’s bad-ass!
Another kid, not to be confused with aforementioned kid: No, it’s not!

Huh, he was just jealous.

Dinner turned out to be delicious takeout from McDonalds. Figuring I had reached the lowest point possible, I showered and watched some TV, just to re-assure myself that I wasn’t missing anything after having stopped watching it a year ago. American TV was still exactly as bad as I remembered. I did stumble upon Ella Enchanted, and just had to watch the whole thing through. After that, it took me a long time to fall asleep, although I did wake up at about 5 in the morning when I heard my bike make the sound it makes when someone “accidentally” touches it, displeasing my newly acquired Gorilla alarm, and giving a warning beep. Swearing under my breath, I got up and took a peek through the window to see my next door neighbor scrambling into his truck and driving off. Hmmm…?

I managed to fall asleep again, only to wake up at numerous intervals in the night by the sound of his truck revving and just running the engine for no apparent reason. You meet the strangest people in cheap motels.

I returned the favor in the morning when I left at 7:30 and let my bike’s engine run for a while. Just to warm it up before I got on the road, you know.

The journey to Pasco was….. exactly like the rest of my journey had been. I broke several speed limits and didn’t get caught, while other poor blokes got pulled over by various sheriffs from assorted counties. From thereon to Yakima, and then to Naches, and along the Destination Highway that was supposed to make it all better. Which it did, in a manner of speaking. It was much, much cooler because of the shade, the speed limit of 50 was most annoying and hence disregarded, but it seemed like the whole world and his uncle had decided to ride the route that day too, and I was constantly stuck in traffic. The ride up 169N was a bit disconcerting, to say the least, especially the steep, high, unbanked bits triggering off my severe vertigo, where one part of my brain was going, “Don’t look! Just don’t look! It’s high!” and another part was offering the sane counterpoint of, “You have to look! If you don’t look, you will go over, you know.”

And do you know that you have absolutely no idea what speed you are going when riding through a dark tunnel?

To cut an extremely long story short, I made it to Enumclaw, then to Renton, and then back home. Perhaps I should have gone north from Yakima, hit I-90 and then gone home. I hadn’t counted on going so slow on some of the roads I took, what with the traffic and the idiotic speed limits. But I did find some nice routes for a future date when I wouldn’t be so tired and suffering from just-want-to-get-home-itis.

Total Miles: ~700 mi


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Hood Canal


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The Cascade Loop


The river outside Leavenworth.

Teanaway to Peshastin – a great ride!

I stayed at the Haus Rohrbach in Leavenworth.

The view was magnificent!

Downtown Leavenworth


Leavenworth to Coulee City

Coulee City to Chelan

Chelan to Winthrop


Winthrop to Oroville and back


Winthrop to Rockport

Rockport to Oak Harbor to Langley

The ferry home…

Miles covered: ~880 mi

Destination Highways ridden: 6


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Olympic Peninsula


I’ve always thought that my idea of an adventure would be to just wake up one morning, get into my car and start driving and go someplace I’d never been before, with no plan in place, just a few maps and the road ahead of me. And to drive and drive with no concept of time and no worries and thoughts about when I would be back. While I’ve done solo road trips in a car, doing the same thing on a motorcycle seemed just a little bit more adventurous and demanding. Not to mention a little stupid – I’ve been riding for a grand total of six months. I’d done a couple of longer rides with a group and I commute to work daily, but I wasn’t sure if this was experience enough for something more challenging.

I had so many concerns initially – what if I was stranded on a lonely road? What if I had engine trouble? What if I took on a route that was too much? What if I ran into bad weather? What if a 250 cc bike really wasn’t cut out for a long road trip? What if?

Fortunately for me, the motorcycling community consists of some of the most supportive people I’ve had the good fortune to meet. They patiently answered many of my questions and helped me to prepare better for my trip. I bought a TourMaster magnetic tank bag, raingear, a bungee net and a tire repair kit. My motorcycle insurance didn’t cover towing in case of a breakdown, so I joined the AMA and enrolled in their MoTow program. I put together a list of all the Yamaha dealers in the area (this came in handy later on!). Some friends showed me routes that they had done which gave me a better idea of places to go and see on the loop. Destination Highways Washington outlined many excellent routes I could explore on the way.

There were many other good suggestions that I didn’t take on – like listening to my MP3 player on the way – I thought this would interfere with my concentration on the road plus I really didn’t want even music to interfere with the experience. Or getting a CamelBak to drink water during the trip – I just stopped frequently enough and drank from my Nalgene water bottle. At times like that, I really wished I had a modular helmet – taking your helmet off frequently can be annoying!

I bought maps of the area, but I left the final route unplanned.

I had to wait until I had a longer holiday and good weather. For a while there, it seemed like I would have to wait until next summer before this happened. And then finally, this week came by and I decided to just up and goal.

Friday night, I packed up a few essentials in my mini-tank bag and a small satchel. My minimalist tendencies always kick in when I go on long trips and this is fortunate as I didn’t want to overload my little 250cc. I packed a toothbrush, toothpaste, chap stick, soap, lotion, socks, underwear, a spare t-shirt, some granola bars, a camera, phone charger, cigarettes, two slim books, a water bottle, maps, glove liners, a balaclava and rain gear.

I put all the expensive things in the tank bag to take with me whenever I had to park the bike and walk around. The other things – like clothes and books went into the satchel which I planned on leaving behind and could afford to lose if somebody with thieving tendencies came upon it. ;)

In hindsight, I should also have taken a clean cloth to wiper down my helmet visor, windshield and mirrors, at least one extra visor, pajamas, and my Motorcycle Owner’s manual.

Day 1 – Saturday, October 22, 2005


I woke up early on Saturday morning and loaded up the bike. I secured the satchel to the back of the bike with a bungee net and stuck the tank bag on to the tank with the map window showing directions for the first leg of the journey.

The plan for the day was to ride to Edmonds, take the ferry to Kingston, and ride to Port Townsend from there to stay the night.

The first thing I did was to ride to the nearest Chevron to fill up the gas tank and roll the odometer to zero. My bike has a 2.5 gallon tank, and I can ride for approximately 110 miles before hitting the reserve. Since gas stations on my route were few and far between, I had to be very careful and keep track of how much fuel I was using.

I rode to Redmond and got onto 405 North and took the exit to Woodinville. From here, things went to hell, as the route parted ways with Google Maps’ instructions. The next two hours were a harried nightmare consisting of stopping at various gas stations, getting conflicting directions, making wrong turns wherever possible and riding absurdly long before realizing that I was on the wrong track.

Somewhere near 10 miles of my destination, I ran into a young Harley rider who was also heading to the ferry and he suggested that I follow him. My profound relief gave way to the slightest twinge of anxiety as he made abrupt lane changes and turns while giving me about a second of advance notice. I don’t know if this was just about him trying to act cool or a genuine lack of awareness. In any case, it cost me dear, when we finally reached the ferries and headed to pay the fare, and he made a sudden right turn. I should have slowed down enough and turned slowly. Instead, I jerked to the right and felt my bike toppling over to the side. We got it up in a few seconds, but I *cringed* at looking like a rookie. A police car drove slowly toward me and the cop grinned and asked me if I was okay. Only my pride, I mumbled, as I made my way to the toll booth, swearing inwardly at myself. The last time I had crashed was in my first week of riding when I was newbie doing turns in a parking lot. Fortunately, the bike was unharmed except for my front break twisting slightly so that it was slightly awkward to use.

As an interesting aside, I am more sensitive about crashing than most male riders are, because as a female rider, I feel like any stupid thing I might do on my motorcycle, reflects on female riders in general, unfair thought that might be.

I paid my $4 fair for the ferry and was informed that the next ferry was at 11:30 AM – meaning a 20 minute wait ahead. I rode to the head of the line past the rows of cars, because motorcyclists and bicyclists have special privileges on the ferry – they get to ride on and off before the cars. There were a couple other motorcyclists – the aforementioned Harley rider and his girlfriend, and a BMW rider with his wife. A Suzuki Marauder turned up later.

The BMW rider was an old guy who had ridden up from Olympia for a daytrip. We chatted for a little while, with his wife standing by silently, even though I tried to include her in the conversation many times.

It was the same with the Harley rider. He seemed nice enough and chatted a bit, while his girlfriend looked coldly down at me and didn’t speak a single word. I remember gazing at her and wishing I looked as good as her, with her perfect long, blonde hair, perfect body, perfect makeup, perfect leather outfit and perfect skid lid, and feeling frumpy in my leather jacket, mesh pants, full face helmet, loosely braided hair, glasses and no trace of makeup. And I remember thinking that it didn’t matter- that I got envious, admiring looks wherever I rode anyway. That when people saw me, they didn’t so much scrutinize my hair and makeup, as much as they gazed at the image I represented – the look of wild, dangerous, uninhibited freedom. And the feeling I got when I rode my bike hard, with the roar of the engine ringing in my ears and the wind whistling past me, riding down straights, and leaning and twisting through curves, was something that a backseat rider would never have. I wouldn’t exchange it for all the good looks in the world.


On board the ferry, we parked our motorcycles right at the front, so we would be first to get off. From here, we parted ways. I made my way to the top deck and bought a sandwich and apple from the restaurant and found a window seat. The ferry ride was less than 30 minutes. When I got to the lower deck, the other riders had already left. I got off and rode to the closest gas station to refuel. It sounds a bit paranoid, but I got into the habit of refueling at every major town I came by. It was always only a couple of dollars worth, which made it seem even more trivial and unnecessary. I always got some amused looks at gas stations where I had to go inside and pay. “You put anything in there?” :)

I asked an old guy for directions to Port Townsend. I showed him my map to indicate the route I wanted to take – Highway 104 until I neared Discovery Bay, and then 101 for a stretch before taking WA-20 into Port Townsend. He said that he was going to Port Gamble himself and I should follow him and take that route instead. “Down 104, that’s just cattle country!” I agreed and we headed back toward our respective vehicles. I was pulling on my gloves, when I saw him start up and take off without so much as a glance in my direction! I wonder if he completely forgot about me as soon as he got into his truck. :P

In any case, the route he had recommended was easy enough to find on my map. It went by Port Ludlow and Port Gamble and looked over the waters of the Puget Sound.


I took off on 104 and came by Port Gamble sooner than I’d thought I would. It was a tiny, little picturesque town which seemed to have been primarily a logging town years ago. I parked her for a while and walked over to the bay. There were stairs that led toward the beach and the logging mill. Unfortunately, my motorcycle boots and gear were not comfortable enough to walk around in for long periods of time, and I wasn’t inclined to take them on and off every time I wanted to explore. Instead, I found a patch of green grass and sat down to look over a magnificent view of the bay. The sky was the bluest blue and the waters were sparkling and clear. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day.

There was a tiny little general store near the edge of the town, where I stopped for a coffee. I got curious looks from the locals, something that I would soon get used to.

I reluctantly left the town and got back onto 104, following it toward the bridge over Hood Canal. As I approached the bridge, I prayed inwardly – “Please let it be paved. Please let it be paved.” For a rider, there is no worse nightmare than riding over a bridge with metal gratings. My prayers were answered. There were some stretches of metal gratings, but there were strips of concrete on them which some thoughtful soul must have put in place for the benefit of us two-wheelers.

From here, I diverged from my route and took Paradise Bay Rd.. Past Port Ludlow, it turned into Oak Bay Rd., via Irondale, to Rhody Dr., and finally onto WA-20, following it all the way into Port Townsend.

The first sight that greets you as you enter Port Townsend, is the numerous boat yards. I later found out that boats from all over the country are sent here to be repaired. I didn’t stop though, meaning to find Fort Worden first so I would know for sure that I’d have a place to sleep at night. Once I found the hostel, a nice old guy told me that I would have to come back at 5 PM, as the hostel was only open between 5 PM and 10 PM for checking in. I had two hours to kill, and really needed some nourishment, so I took off and went toward downtown Port Townsend.

I parked and walked around down the few streets that comprised downtown. It reminded me a little bit of Portland, OR, with its hip, artsy teenagers smoking outside the cafes, the film institute across the street, the little independent theatre next door, and the numerous boutiques and used bookstores. I got a coffee and took a closer look at my maps and my copy of DH – Washington, to figure out where the main Destination Highways were located. After coffee, I went outside to smoke my first cigarette of the day, and smiled as I listened to the artsy teenagers bantering and reminding me of similar moments outside the Communist Cafe(my name for it) in downtown Portland.

I got back to the bike and rode around near the water then back into town. The weather, the green hedges and trees, the winding country roads and pastures reminded me a little bit of rural England. It was really a very nice, little town for a motorcyclist. I could imagine myself living there, and waking up on Sunday mornings and cranking up an old Triumph and riding around the countryside. :)

Back to Ford Worden to check in. I got a dorm room bed for a princely sum of $20. The best part was that there was no one else in the women’s dorm, so I practically had the place to myself. The hostess was very nice and I chatted with her a little bit. She exclaimed that she didn’t have many lone females dropping by without a reservation. I grinned and said that I hadn’t expected them to be full up at this time of year. She indicated to the Rules and Regulations quite a few times to make sure I understood them – things like clean up after yourself, stick the sheets and pillowcases into the hamper in the morning, do not hog the bathroom etc. I laughed at one of the rules that said – “You are expected to keep the place tidy. Your mother will not clean your mess up here.”

She informed me that there was an all-you-can-eat pancakes breakfast in the morning. Yummy!

I unpacked and cleaned myself up a little bit. There were still a couple more hours of daylight left, but somehow I couldn’t bring myself to move a muscle. I made my bed and lay there looking out the window for at least an hour, before I reluctantly got out and went to scavenge for food.

Since there was still some daylight left, I followed the trail to the lighthouse to take a few pictures and then rode down to The Commons within Fort Worden, which served a buffet dinner. I got in line only to find out that dinner was $15 a plate! I swore under my breath but stayed put, as I was too tired to go find another place. There seemed to be a regiment of soldiers stationed there, all of whom were in line for the buffet. Fort Warden used to be a WW1 barracks, so this wasn’t at all surprising. I made small talk with the lady in front of me, who informed me that she was there for a scrapbooking event along with 85 other members of her organization.

The food was splendid – vegetarian pasta, grilled salmon, lasagne, steamed broccoli, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, salad and black forest cake for desert. I almost never eat enough at a buffet for me to get my money’s worth, but the food here was delicious enough to make it worth it.

At 7 PM, I rode back to the hostel, and changed and got into bed. I spent some time looking at some more maps and scrutinizing some of the tourist brochures for the various towns I would encounter to decide on which ones I wanted to visit.

I finally turned the lights out at about 9:00 and lay listening to my iRiver until I fell asleep (I blush to say that I did listen to Born to be Wild). I’d like to say I slept like a baby, after the eventful day, but it was not so. Still, all things considered, I slept fitfully until my alarm went off at 7 the next morning.

Day 2 – Sunday, October 23, 2005

“I can make you pancakes.”

I don’t reckon there are too many people who wake up the minute the alarm goes off while they are on vacation, and I don’t see why I needed to be amongst the few that did. I have in fact perfected to a fine art the act of turning off the alarm, rolling over and tucking myself firmly into the blankets in a smooth, synchronized move.

I finally woke up at 8:30 AM, showered and got dressed and went upstairs to the all-you-can-eat pancakes breakfast, only to find that it was also an eat-all-you-can-make pancakes breakfast. There was one other lodger there drinking coffee and he laughed when I told him that I had never made a pancake in all my life, and I wouldn’t know the first thing to do when it came to pancake-making. He pointed out that there were instructions on the box, to which I responded that I never read the instructions on the box while on vacation. He asked me if I was British, which I thought was odd. I asked him if he wanted to breakfast with me at The Commons, and he declined.

I left him in the kitchen and headed back to my dorm to get my wallet. As I walked out, I saw him standing at the head of stairs, grinning.

“I can make you pancakes.”

Too late though. I already had visions of a breakfast buffet floating in my head, and I declined. That was the last time I saw him.

The breakfast buffet however was over as I found out to my astonishment that it was almost 10:30. They made me an egg and sausage muffin sandwich and a coffee. Poor substitute indeed!

I ate quickly as I was anxious to hit the road again. I walked back to the dorm, grabbed my belongings, left a $5 bill for the hostess, and headed out to my motorcycle. It must have rained in the night, as it was dripping wet. I wiped down the seat with paper towels, strapped my luggage back on, let the engine run for a bit, before getting on. My hostess stood in the window waving goodbye to me. I waved back and rode away from the hostel, down Battery Way, and out of Fort Worden.

Someday I’ll go back here and spend a weekend. This had been my favorite leg of the journey. This is the kind of place I can go to, to relax and kick back. I could imagine hiking the many trails, sipping coffee in the little coffee shops or sitting by the Bay for hours on end.


It had been drizzling when I’d woken up, and while the rain had stopped, the streets were still wet. It was dull and gray, but the air was fresh, clean and bracing. The town was like a little washed out watercolor and I felt like I was riding through an artist’s canvas. It’s the kind of morning that motorcyclists’ dreams are made of.

I rode out of town to hit WA-20 again. The route from here was pretty straightforward. The idea was to simply follow WA-20 and hit 101 to reach Sequim and then Port Angeles. WA-101 is the scenic highway that traces the Olympic National Loop, and I’d be spending most of my journey on it.

I stopped a ridiculous number of times on the way. When I had started off, it was steaming hot in just my t-shirt and leather jacket. As soon as I hit the highway at 60 mph though, it was whoops it’s cold! Let’s get those glove liners on. A little bit further, let’s get that balaclava on, let’s close the vents on the helmet, let’s put the pullover on. Those glove liners are really uncomfortable, the hell with them. Thankfully, it didn’t get any hotter, so this was pretty much my outfit for the rest of the journey. The balaclava really helped in keeping my head and neck warm, and also in cutting down the wind noise a little bit. The glove liners kept my fingers warm, but they really restricted my movement. For a while, I wished I had gotten a windshield that protected my wrists as well. I’d been against the idea of a windshield for the longest time, but I’m glad that I’d given in, and had one installed. It cut down on the wind hitting me squarely in the chest and really made a difference in my comfort level while riding.

Still, not once in my ride did I think of complaining. The way I saw it, when I was hurtling down the road at 75 mph, my body bracing itself for the shock of the cold and the winds, I had never felt more gloriously, screamingly alive than at that minute.


I stopped at Sequim and went to the visitor center to use the restroom. There were two lovely people working there – Bob and Joanne who recommended things to do. Sequim was renowned for its lavender fields, but this was a bad time of the year to see them, as they had already been harvested.

They suggested that I might want to ride north to see the Dungeness Spit – the longest natural spit in the US or the world – I forget which. The Olympic Game Farm was on the way too, and I really wanted to ride through there, but apparently motorcycles weren’t allowed in, since the animals were wild. Even cagers had to keep their windows rolled up, as there’d been stories of animals taking a bite out of elbows and other protruding bits. :)

The ride to the Spit was well worth it, even if it meant a bit of a detour from my original plan.

From Sequim, it was an largely uneventful journey to Port Angeles. I got a bit of a shock when I hit PA. I had been expecting something close to Port Townsend, but on a much bigger scale, since it touted itself as the ‘Gateway to the Olympic Peninsula’. To me it just looked like a shoddy little dead end port town. Almost all the stores were closed and there was hardly anyone on the streets. I found a café that served some hot vegetable soup which I wolfed down gratefully. My bones had been chilled through on the ride and was glad to get the circulation going again. The café had computers and internet access, so I checked my email and looked up the weather.

I made my way out of PA pretty quickly. There was really nothing to see or do in this town and I had a long ride ahead of me.

My next stop was the town of Sekiu (pronounced see-cue). However, I also wanted to make a detour to ride from the town of Joyce to Fairholm along Lake Crescent, as it was recommended as one of the most scenic rides in WA state. I decided to stop at Joyce, refuel, ride to Fairholm and back, and then continue to Clallam Bay and Sekiu.

This sign amused me as it reminded me a bit of Neil Gaiman’s descriptions of various towns in American Gods.

Destination Highway 15: Port Angeles to Fairholm

To anyone who lives in Washington state or is planning to visit, this is a must-ride route. I would call it perfect, but that would be underselling it. It is 27 miles of perfectly paved and engineered roads, remote, endless twisties, fabulous views of Lake Crescent. I think I cried a little at the end of it. It was simply the best ride I’ve had in my short motorcycling life.

I’d been very cautious on the ride, paying attention to all the speed limit signs. The ride back was another story though. I rode hard and fast and far more aggressively than I had before. While I stopped many times before to take pictures, this time I was free to just fly through the route, never pausing before I was back where I had started.

Destination Highway 28: Port Angeles to Highway 112/113 Jct

Another beautiful, beautiful highway! I had a few hairy moments on this one where I found that I was going too fast and hadn’t slowed down too much on certain turns and had to lean until I was thought I would scrape my mesh-encased knees on the pavement.

At least two other surreal moments stand out in my mind – the first was riding at 75 mph on 101 and see two deer prancing across the highway within a 100 yards of me. I squeezed the brakes gently, came within 10 feet of them, they looked at me, as if to say hello, and then walked on. I rode past without needing to come to a complete stop, but my heart was beating at about twice its usual pace for a while.

The second moment was towards Clallam Bay when I approached more civilization with and I saw a giant dog sitting in the middle of the street, directly in my line of travel. It just sat there and looked at me. I was unsure of whether to stop or go on. I just slowed down and rode past it, whereupon it got up and started barking and chasing me. I rolled on the gas as much as I could and took off.

I saw a few riders going the other way and waved at them. It’s always good to see other riders on the road. There were times when I was relieved to even see SUVs on remote stretches of the road.


I reached Clallam Bay to find nothing worth stopping for. By this time my fingers were freezing and I could barely feel them anymore. My visor was coated with some kind of whitish gunk that I couldn’t wipe away by swiping my gloves over it.

Sekiu was about a mile away. It was getting dark now. I parked, and walked around to the various motels on the seafront and looked at some rooms. I wasn’t very excited to see any of them. They looked dreadful and smelled musty – as if they hadn’t been aired out in months. I wasn’t looking for anything fancy, but I wasn’t keen on spending $50 to live in a dump, where none of the owners were willing to budge on the price, even if it meant not being able to fill the room.

Just as I was about to give up and go back to the first motel I had looked at, I stopped at one last place. It was owned by a delightful lady called Linda who spoke with a slight accent (from Mexico where she visits often, as she told me later), who showed in a couple of suites which had fireplaces, kitcken, the works! I told her that all I needed was a bed for the night, and she laughed and said that she didn’t see why I shouldn’t have one of the nicer room for a knocked-down price. “At least someone will get to enjoy them!” She rented me an entire cabin with two bedrooms with fireplaces, a living room that looked directly onto the sea, kitchen and bathroom for $50 – the same price the other owners wanted to charge for a single crummy, smelly room. I liked her! :)

I unloaded my gear, and rode into town to the only restaurant, to get some dinner before they closed for the night.

I slept well that night! :)

Day 3 – Monday, October 24, 2005


The next morning I woke up before sunrise, showered, crunched a granola bar by way of breakfast, and loaded up the motorcycle just after sunrise.

I wanted to get most of my riding done this day and hopefully get home by the end of the day and sleep in my own bed that night.

Destination Highway 49: Sekiu – Neah Bay

The entire morning was replete with marvelous riding. These were my third and forth Destination Highways – Sekiu to Neah Bay and back; and Sekiu to Ozette and back.

The first ride was every bit as enjoyable as the one along Crescent Lake, only this was along the Juan de Fuca Strait. It felt special in that Neah Bay is the North Westernmost point of the United States. I rode through the Makah Indian reservation on the way, but was unable to stop at the museum there as I had intended, as I didn’t want to break my momentum.

I couldn’t go all the way to Cape Flattery either, as the road suddenly metamorphosed into a dirt track. Not for the first time, I wished I was riding a dual sport!

I turned out and went back to Sekiu, stopped briefly to refuel, and finally had the opportunity to see its beauty in gleaming daylight.

Destination Highway 31: Sekiu – Ozette

I must say that I didn’t enjoy the ride to Ozette as much. It was 34 miles of riding in the remote wilderness, in the freezing cold, and I didn’t meet a single person coming the other way, which was rather disconcerting. I thought of turning around many times, but my stubborn trait of finishing what I started kicked in and made me continue until I finally reached the campgrounds of Lake Ozette. The lake was no different from any other lake I had seen and I couldn’t help being disappointed.

I rode up an extremely steep and gravelly driveway to the only convenience store and lodge in the area. “Do you have food here?”, I yelled to the old guy sweeping outside the front door. “If you want to buy some, sure!” I dismounted with relief.

There was another guy loading up a truck who asked me where I was from and what I was doing there. I chatted a little before heading into the lodge to get a coffee, a banana and a bag of chips. I realized that I was famished and wiped out. It’s not just that I don’t have much stamina – that’s always been a problem with me. But riding on an empty stomach was just not a good idea. The first rule of motorcycling should be to never ever ride when you’re tired and hungry.

The lodge itself was an interesting place. The owner had many old newspaper clippings and handwritten accounts by families who had been some of the earliest settlers there. Apparently the first settlers that had come to Ozette had been Scandinavians. It reminded me of Eva who keeps claiming that the flora and fauna here is very similar to that in Northern Sweden. The settlers plans were dealt a severe blow when the US government had declared the entire place to be a restricted area and established the Olympic National Park. The settlers had to pack up and leave for Seattle.

I read through some of the histories and looked at old maps and made a mental note to come back there in the future. There were many old photographs of rocks with drawing etched on them that looked fascinating, but I’d have to hike down the trails to be able to look at them.

I chatted a bit with Rob – the owner – and bought some blueberry breakfast bars for the road. As I was leaving, I saw that the other guy was still loading his truck. He said that he was doing his graduate studies in Environmental Studies at the University of Washington and was down there to study and analyze the waters of Lake Ozette to learn about the history of its formation and of the surrounding land. He was dismantling his equipment and leaving for Seattle that evening. He was taking the northward route though, while I was heading south. We wished each other luck and a safe journey, and recommended that I eat at his favorite Mexican restaurant on Forks, since I was planning to stop there for lunch.


The ride back was really wonderful, and I realized that I hadn’t enjoyed it before only because I had been so chilled and tired. This time I enjoyed the remoteness and the scenery and the twisting, winding road was fun to ride on. There were some stretches of open land – some that were post-logging wastelands and others that were huge fields full of grazing sheep.

I got back to Sekiu and rode to Clallam Bay for the next leg of the journey – the route to Forks.

Destination Highway 15: Sappho – Clallam Bay
Destination Highway 20: Forks to Kalaloch

I had been intrigued by Forks even while I had been planning this journey – not least because of its unusual name. The tourist brochures were studded with pictures of huge rainforest trees draped with overhanging moss, and other such flora that I had never seen before.

The town itself was as much of a disappointment as Port Angeles had been. I stopped at the Mexican restaurant, got an oversized meal – their idea of a small burrito was one which was at least 8″ by 3″ in area. I stayed only long enough to eat and took off to get back on 101 for my next Destination Highway.

The route was certainly a nice ride – I could feel the cold and wet air seeping through my gear, as I rode underneath the unusual mossy, rainforest trees. It was very bracing and relaxed riding.

This is where my motorcycling worries started though. I could feel that my engine was a little warmer on the left side. When I stopped and parked, I could hear a faint, clicking sound, like metal touching metal. I cursed myself for not having even the most basic mechanical knowledge about my machine and swore to find some class and enroll in it when I got back to civilization.

This ride was especially pleasant as it went past the Pacific Ocean. I got many scintillating views of the ocean and stopped many times to gaze and take pictures. There were many scenic beaches along the way, but as usual, I didn’t stop to go down to any of them.

By the day I reached Kalaloch (pronounced clay-lock), I was really worried about my motorcycle. The engine felt warmer, and the clicking sound was persistent. I was also really tired and Kalaloch Lodge looked so splendid and inviting, that against my better wishes, I decided to stop riding and stay there for the night. It didn’t hurt that once again, I got a knocked down price of $55 for a room in a splendid holiday resort. My room directly overlooked the sea, and I’m pretty sure that it fetched a pretty price in peak season. From my room, I could see and hear the ocean waves rise and fall.

I have to mention one thing though – while Kalaloch lodge looked so rich and opulent from the outside, the rooms on the inside were almost of motel room quality. I suppose they figured that they had such a brilliant location – directly perched on the sea – that people would come and stay regardless of the quality. And to be fair, they had a great cook and excellent service. The place was replete with snooty, rich, dressed-up, old people – the kind of people who would wear a suit and pearls to dinner – and I certainly got my fair share of very odd looks.

I unpacked quickly, leaving only my camera and other valuables in my tank bag, and followed the trail down to the ocean. The ocean shore was cluttered with huge logs – I’m not sure where they came from. I’ve heard say that during a storm, the logs could turn into weapons of destruction, as they could fly about and kill a person instantly. In fact, it is forbidden to visit some of the beaches during high tide.

I took my boots off and rolled up my jeans, and walked on the cool, sandy beach, feeling all the tension and tiredness fall away from my body. No wonder people bottle up the sounds and sell them for a fortune. I wished I had a blanket, so I could have just laid there and fallen asleep.

The waves crashed on the shore leaving shiny, frothy foam, and myriad patterns of sea algae, shells, wood splinters and other vegetation. I smiled with delight as walked looking down – what school of art would these fall under, I wondered.


I spent at least a couple of hours on the beach, before I reluctantly collected my boots and walked back up to the lodge. I set them down at the top and took some more pictures. As I was putting my camera away, an old couple was walking past me. The man looked at my boots, which were in his way, and said – “Are those for me? What size are they?” I laughed and said “Size 8.” “Not my size then. Pity.” I grinned and got them out of their way and walked barefoot on the concrete road for a couple of minutes, before deciding to put them back on.

Back at the lodge, I sat on the porch outside my room and smoked a cigarette while looking out at the ocean.

“You’re an easy rider, yes?”

Back at the lodge, I went down to dinner at 7. They seated me at a smaller windowside table, and I ordered a glass of the Robert Mondavi Merlot along with some crab cakes for appetizers. When they brought me the wine, I saw the couple from the beach come in and get seated at the adjacent table for four.

“You got a better view than me.” I said.

“Well, you must join us then. Plenty of room here.” The guy replied.

I should mention that while I’m usually somewhat of an introvert and try to avoid company – especially during mealtimes – this changes when I am out of my environment. When I am near people who look different and interesting, the verbose, extroverted part of me surfaces, as it did now. Also, I’ve always enjoyed having conversations with people much older than me. For some reason, I find that I get along much better with them than with people of my age.

They introduced themselves as Ralph and Louise, and we proceeded to have a most delightful conversation that lasted over dinner and many glasses of wine. They were from Holland and were vacationing for three weeks in the US. They spoke with the charming accent that I associate with Europeans who do not speak English as their native language – not exactly broken English, but with some pauses, and consulting with each other on the correct English phrase to express their thought.

It turned out that Ralph had been a long-haired hippie when he was younger and had spent six months in India. He turned out to have visited more places in India than even I have – Delhi, Bombay, Bangalore, Benares, Varanasi. He had smoked marijuana and drunk bhaang with local people. He told me how he used to sit at the bus stops with the poor people and smoke beedis and hashish, and the rich, upper-class Indians would walk by contemptuously and sometimes throw money at them. This had been one of his many experiences with the deeply entrenched caste system in India.

He talked a bit about Osho and how Dutch youths would go and spend time in his ashrams and then return to Holland and demand to be called by their new names. “So you have a guy whom all his friends and family know as John, and suddenly he would expect everyone to call him Murundra!” I was in splits at this.

We could see my motorcycle parked from where we were sitting, and they were admiring and interested when I told them it was mine. “So, you are what they call an easy rider, yes?” Ralph said. I confessed that the movie did have a small role to play in my journey.

We also talked about the recently murdered Dutch director Theo Van Gogh and his controversial movie, its effect on the security of politicians in the country, Islamic society in Holland, the rise of right-wing politicians like Berlusconi in Italy, and Merkel in Germany, the state of politics in the US and how the current government was alienating itself from Europe and the rest of the world, socialism and globalization and feminism and women’s rights in Holland – this last in response to my question of how feminism in Holland compared to that in countries in Sweden.

Louise responded to this one and her answer was surprisingly touching – “We are very similar to Sweden when it comes to women’s rights. I was part of what they called the second wave of feminism. I volunteered and worked for domestic violence shelters, rape shelters and many other feminist causes. But I’m still waiting for the third wave of feminism to start in my country.”

The conversation also touched on Americans in general – like it always does when I am talking to any non-American. This is always touchy territory for me, because on the one hand, I can completely understand why people outside of the US dislike the country’s image and sneer at the super-size servings, the gun culture, the bad television and the entrenched insularity. But I have lived here long enough to have seen the good things that they do not and cannot see – that while there are many things to dislike, there are still many more to value and embrace.

I talked about how there were a fair number of people who were no different from me and them and who wanted to learn more and do more, of how the moral, religious brigade was not representative of all Americans, of how many good, kind, intelligent men and women I had met here, of how people are always willing to help out during times of crises – you only have to see the amount of private donations from Americans during the tsunami to attest to this, of how there would always be some amount of racial tension, but an immigrant would feel more at home in the US than in Europe. Five years ago, I had the same contemptuous attitude that they did, but my ideas have changed so much over the years. And strangely enough, even more so in the past three days during those long rides through endless country. I tried and failed to explain what it was that I felt toward this land and this country on those rides, of the fierce loyalty it inspired even in a non-believer and anti-nationalist like me.

We got kicked out at about 9 PM as the restaurant closed for the night. We exchanged phone numbers and addresses and retired for the night. I made them promise to call me when they came down to Seattle in November, so that I could buy them dinner and show them around a little bit.

On the way to my room, I thought to myself again how much better I get along with Europeans than any other nationality of people. I wonder… I’ve never felt like I belonged in any place I’ve lived in until now… maybe there is a place that is calling to me, and these are the little signs that are nudging me toward my final destination?

I fell asleep quickly, only to wake up at 2 in the morning. The room felt superheated and I had to open a window to let some air in. I looked listlessly at a copy of Town and Country – which featured dresses and jewelry in the range of $28000 and dreamily imagined myself in Vera Wang dresses and Balenciaga baubles until I finally fell asleep again.

Day 4 – Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I woke up late and threw my things together in a hurry, before heading down for breakfast. Ralph and Louise were finishing up the remains of their breakfast while I ordered. I witnessed an amusing conversation between Ralph and the waitress, as he asked her why they didn’t serve muesli. She had no idea what muesli was, and said they served granola cereal, and tried to explain to him what it was.

I ordered coffee and French toast and devoured it hungrily. I happened to mention my motorcycle troubles to Ralph and he asked if I had changed the oil. They left soon to go to the beach and he stopped to look at the oil level. He came back in a few minutes to explain that I had practically no oil left and I should buy some and refill it. How embarrassing to be told by a non-motorcyclist what I needed to do to my machine!

We went to the convenience store and bought a can of WB-40 and re-filled the oil. He also helped me hold the bike upright, while I lubricated the chain. After taking a few photographs, we finally said goodbye.

I checked out of the lodge and got back on 101 to ride down to Hoquiam and Aberdeen. The ride was largely uneventful and dull. By this time, I was really tired of riding and just longed to get home. While I had originally planned to turn north at Shelton and ride past the Hood Canal (the last Destination Highway in this area), and then take the ferry back to Edmonds from Kingston, I changed my route, and just decided to ride to Olympia and take I-5 N to Bellevue.


I stopped over at Aberdeen, only because it was unthinkable to not do so, considering I was a big Nirvana fan in the 90s. The only thing I will say about Aberdeen is that it is the sort of town where I would go stark raving mad if I were forced to live there, and probably shoot my brains out within the week. I made a slight detour to go look at the Wishkah. As far as rivers go, it was fairly unremarkable, and its only claim to fame seems to have been the mention on Nirvana’s compilation album.
I was not unhappy to put this dismal town far behind me, as I headed only WA-12 E for a 50 mile journey to Olympia. Again – a largely uneventful, listless, uninspiring journey that I was relieved to get over with.

I stopped at a Quizno’s and got a turkey and cheese sandwich with some coffee to wake me up.

I-5 and home again

The final leg of the journey was near – getting on the superslab to get back home – something that I was more than a little apprehensive about. I was acutely aware that I was riding an underpowered 250cc motorcycle on a major freeway. Still, it was the only thing to do, and really the only way home.

The ride on the superslab was interesting, to say the least. I don’t know how many times I prayed inwardly and how many hairy moments I had thinking – this lane is too narrow, and these cagers seem to be closing in on me. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that in an hour it would be over and I would be home. How curious that so many of us rant about how uninteresting and stifling our home towns are, and how inviting they seem when we are away.

I got onto I-405 N toward Renton, and got onto I-90 E towards Bellevue, and grinned happily as I got onto that old, familiar exit onto 148th Ave. It was a surreal feeling to get back into familiar grounds and see that nothing had changed. It was 5:00 PM and the streets were clogged with the usual peak hour traffic. I wanted to smile and scream with happiness at every car, at the sheer comforting familiarity of it all. I wanted to tell them about my adventures and share my joyousness with everyone. I had been away for only 4 days, but it seemed like a lifetime now. I would have cried if I weren’t so happy.

I rode first to Eastside Motosports to find out if I really had anything wrong with my engine. They told me not to worry and the clicking sound was just my exhaust heating up and was perfectly normal (felt like a right idiot then!). Relieved, I turned homeward. As I got two blocks from home, it started drizzling and was pouring down when I pulled into the driveway. I laughed happily at the perfect timing and let the rain pour over me.

I had made it. I had done my first solo journey and come back in one piece, none the worse for wear. And deep in my heart, I knew that after this, anything was possible.


I have no doubt that there will be at least some people who will read this and think that it wasn’t such a big deal and who know others who have done longer and more trying rides. That’s as may be, but to me this will always be one of the more memorable times of my life. Six months ago, I was still struggling to learn to shift gears, and now here I was, with a major ride under my belt. To me this was about overcoming so many of my ingrained fears, about pushing myself just that little bit further, about satisfying my wanderlust and most of all, about putting to rest my fears of being trapped in the monotony of my life and feeling like there is no escape. I realize now that while I will always have that underlying fear of the unknown, I also have the courage to break free and head into it, to let it swallow me and show me its wonders, and finally to release me so that I can return home a happier, wiser person.

In conclusion, I wonder if other riders have felt this strange, wondrous feeling while out on the road. That conviction of someone watching over them, that commune with something greater than themselves. I have thought often about this over the past few days. I am by nature a most anti-organized-religion agnostic, and yet on many of my lonely rides, I had a feeling that can only best be described as being connected with something higher and greater than myself. I don’t know if this is the sort of feeling people get when they go to their chosen place of worship, but if so, I understand the power of faith and why some people are more at peace with themselves and the world than others. I am unable to find words to describe it adequately. Perhaps that’s just how it should be.

Motorcycle: Virago 250
Days travelled: 4
Miles covered: ~550 mi
Destination Highways ridden: 6


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Rolling hills, pouring rains, hailstorms, flaming tetherballs… oh my!

Rolled back into town a couple of hours ago. Too late to do a writeup, but I did manage to upload photographs. The highlights are posted under the cut. Try and connect the dots. :)

This is my favorite one out of the best ride I’ve done in Oregon.

All photos here: And some under the cut.


Back from the Palouse…

I got back an hour ago from my long weekend trip to the Palouse, or perhaps I should call it the Motorcycling Adventure From Hell? I ache all over and my right hand seems to refuse to want to straighten up. I’m pretty sure I’ve messed up my back all over again, negating the effects of the muscle relaxants I’ve been taking over the past couple of weeks. And I am tired as heck.

Let’s backtrack though to the beginning, especially to the part where was I was having jitters about riding again after a two week break. I was worried then that I was riding like a n00b all over again, and I stubbornly decided to follow through on my Palouse plans to prove myself wrong. Matter of fact, what I did was prove myself right in a big way.



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Labor Day weekend plans…

It’s been a while since I last updated, and for a good reason. I’m back though just in time before being out for the next three days. A lot has happened over the last month or so and I’ll update about it when I get back from my Labor Day vacation. I have good and bad feelings about the next three days.

The good: I’m thrilled to finally be making the roadtrip I’ve wanted to, which is to ride to the Palouse in Eastern Washington. It has many incredible rides, listed in Destination Highways, WA (this link actually has links to video clips of the rides). All the pictures I’ve seen of this area remind me of the Shire. :) The best part though would be riding the Old Spiral Highway in Idaho. Here’s a great pic/description of it. You have to click on it and tell me you do not completely envy me. :) I’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning and riding toward Clarkston/Lewiston (named after Lewis and Clark, of course), and staying the night at the Guest House Inn in Lewiston. The next day I’ll be doing all the good rides in the area and riding back toward Walla Walla where I’ll spend another night at the Capri Motel, maybe even take time to do some wine tasting, like once recommended to me. Monday morning I’ll ride on home. Depending on how I’m feeling I might either just take the direct route home, or go past Yakima or St. Helen’s.

The bad: My bike’s been in the shop for two whole weeks now, waiting for the cam chain tensioners to be shipped. Adrian did my 15000 mile service as well, while it was there. I could only just pick it up today at lunch. While two weeks doesn’t sound like a lot, I feel like I’m riding like an effing n00b now. It’s as if my body has forgotten how to react to things. I forced (yes, forced!) myself to take the long way home past Lake Sammamish just so I could get a longer ride in, but that didn’t seem to help any. I just couldn’t get my mind off of how uncomfortable I was, how tight my gear seemed to be, how tall the bike seemed, and how hot I was in the 80 degrees heat. It’s insane! To add to this, he fixed my bike so well that it seems a lot more uhhh… powerful now? Which sounds idiotic, I know, but I guess it really didn’t run very well for the past few months that I’ve had it. Earlier this evening, I was this close to just cancelling the reservations and calling off the trip. But the stubborn part of me stopped me from doing so and I’m going to go through with it. I’m just hoping that after the first hundred miles or so, I’ll be okay.

Secondly, I got a shock when I actually looked at a map and realized that I’ve never ridden this far before. It’s practically 300 miles from where I live, clear across the state. It means 6 hours of riding, which probably won’t seem like much to most riders, but is a bit daunting to me. I’ve ridden that long and longer before, but it usually included the return journey. Fortunately, when I started writing down directions and breaking up the 300 miles into smaller intervals with breaks planned in, it doesn’t seem all that bad. Oh, and it’ll probably be about a hundred degrees in that part of the state. I’ve dealt with that kind of heat before though, and I have an evaporation vest this time too to make it easier.

In any case, I’ll know how it’ll turn out as I do it. I have the same queasy feelings in my stomach that I have before every major ride, wondering why the heck I’m doing this, and pushing back thoughts of unmentionable worst case scenarios. I know I’ll be fine once I hit the road and am on my way.

Hope y’all have a wonderful Labor day weekend too! Too bad I’ll miss Bumbershoot this year, but hopefully it will be well worth it.


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Cascade Loop pictures…

I’ve come to accept the fact that I will never do a write-up about my 4-day solo trip to the Cascades. Well maybe never is too strong a word, but as of now, I suppose I’m just going to share the pictures for now.

Click here for North Cascade Loop pictures

I really need to find myself a nice, cheap, portable laptop that I can take with me on trips. Make it far easier to document things.

Post-trip blues…

I’m back. Tired and disoriented, and my mind is protesting a bit after being thrust into work-mode so abruptly, but back nonetheless. I need to catch up on everyone’s journals to see what I missed. For me, it was a glorious four days of riding through mountains, desert, plateaus, and covering lots of incredible backroads in WA state.

Trip report with pictures coming soon, but for now I’ll leave you with a teaser:

If a picture could have a soundtrack, this one would sing “Perfect Day”.


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My long weekend plans…

My brief itinerary for this weekend:

Saturday morning: Leave early and ride to Leavenworth
Saturday afternoon: Ride some of the Destination Highways around Leavenworth
Saturday evening: Check into the Haus Rohrbach and spend the evening in the pseudo-Bavarian town that is bound to be awash with tourists
Sunday morning: Leave whenever and ride to Winthrop
Sunday afternoon: Ride some of the Destination Highways around Winthrop/Twisp
Sunday evening: Check into Chewuch Inn and hang out in pseudo-cowboy town of Winthrop
Monday morning: Leave early and head out to Okanogan Highlands and ride as many Destination Highways as possible
Monday evening: Try to get back whenever and spend the second night in Winthrop
Tuesday morning: Leave early and start the last leg of the journey to ride the northern part of the Cascade Loop to Sedro Woolley
Tuesday afternoon: If there’s time and energy, ride north toward Bellingham and explore some of the rides up there (very much doubt I will do this as I want to get home in time to relax before heading back to work the next day)
Tuesday evening: Relax at home!

I’m trying to leave work early today so I can beat the peak hour long weekend traffic and head to Seattle Cycle to pick up my tailbag and chain lock/alarm. Then back to the Eastside to pick up last minute things for the trip like cash/cigarettes/chocolate/money and to plan out my routes in better detail.

I’m excited! This is the first long journey I’ve taken since last November. :) I’m a bit worried about dealing with drunk tourists and crippling heights with my vertigo, but I figure I can’t let that stop me and not do the ride I’ve wanted to do for so long. And unfortunately, I’m “credit-card camping” so it will set me back a good bit, but it’ll be money well spent.