Trip days: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8-9 | 10-12 | 13 | 14 | 15 | 16 | 17 | 18 | 19 | 20
So my trip has begun. Like most things that I do, I didn't really plan this trip out all that well. I mean, who would leave on a 2-month trip a week after tax day? A week ago I thought everything was going well, apart from the tax thing, but the last few days have been a big scramble. Firstly I had to crank away at work to get everything lined up so that things could continue running smoothly while I was gone. This of course cut back on the time that I could spend purchasing my camping gear, doing the service on motorcycle, pre-paying all my bills, contacting friends and relatives appealing for places to stay on the road. "Ack!" as Bill the Cat once said... or maybe he that's all he ever said?
I pre-packed my motorcycle yesterday just to make sure that everything would actually fit, and to jog my memory to figure what the heck I was forgetting. Of course afterwards I had constructed a 20 item list of things I needed to buy, assemble, rent, rob, borrow, and return. So this morning I got cracking at any ambitious (for me at least) 10:00 am. To make a long story short I finally was ready to go by noon.
I left via south side Bellingham, or "Fairhaven" as it's known by us Bellinghamsters'. As soon as I had gassed up the bike, the ominous gray sky began to drip a bit. Lucky me. Some guy walking into the gas station looked over and smiled a gap tooth smile, "It looked like a good day to ride until just now." Little did he know that this wasn't the only rain I'm going to be seeing over the next 2 months. I took a somewhat spirited, though cautious, jaunt down my favorite road of speed, Chuckanut Drive. Apart from the rain, so far so good. After clearing the Skagit Flats at break neck speeds, I reeled on my motorcycle, or maybe it was myself... and got into the grind down I-5. It of course continued raining and didn't let up until just north of Seattle when I got on I-405.
I wasn't expecting to see any other diehard motorcycle tourers out on the hunt mid-day on a monday. But, I took special note of 5 BMW riders with camping gear heading north?!? Weird. Maybe there's supposed to be some El Nino thingy going on in Canada. Hmmm.
I usually hate going anywhere near Seattle because of the god awful traffic problem they have. Suprisingly though, the roads were absolutely clear. I guess nobody down there takes lunch at 1:00 pm. At any rate, I finally got to I-90 and headed east over the mountains in hopes of warm weather and sunshine. When I hit the top of the pass the sky parted and splotchy sunshine mixed with rainy overcast making a nice Jekyll and Hyde sort of scene. As I got down towards Roslyn, that's where they filmed the Alaska based TV-show Northern Exposure, the temperature went up and my thermometer read a nice comfy 60 degrees. Stopping in Cle Elum to gas up, a guy in his late 70's looked at my bike and me sitting on it began talking to me. Once I mentioned I was going to Arizona and then on around the country, he regailed me a verbal song about his experiences driving with his brother in Arizona for a good 3 minutes.
Getting near to Ellensburg, I began pondering the map on the top of my tank bag trying to figure out what exit I wanted to take south. I was going a little fast, but in my map reading exercise I inadvertantly nudged the speed a little bit. To my horror, I came over a rise and looked up from the map to see none other than Mr. Fuzz, a roller, papa bear, the boy in blue, El Capitan, the man with the gun, and in this instance it was a laser gun. Of course he pulled out behind me ... doh! And after intimidating me for a little bit turned on his flashers and pulled me over.
"May I see your license and registration please" the state trooper said. "Yeah, just a sec" I replied as I dug through my tank bag to find my papers. "I clocked you with laser doing 84 in a 70, did you know you were going that fast?" He said, squinting a little. "Oh geeze, no I didn't. I was just looking down at my map and ... here's my license and registration." I sat there in the warm eastern washington wind bobbing back and forth as the semi trucks passed. For some reason I wasn't flustered or unhappy that I might get a ticket. After a hectic week tying up a bunch of loose ends, this was finally it, I was on the road and had no clue what experiences the trip would bring, but I definitely was relaxed. I took off my helmet as I waited, and basked in the sunshine and warm breeze, looking south at the rollings hills and farmhouses, slightly smiling. The trooper walked back up to me and I saw in my mirror that he didn't have a ticket in his hand. Somehow when he first pulled me over I knew he wouldn't write me one. "Here's your license and registration. I'm just going to give you a warning because I know it's really easy to speed on a bike. Just slow down." Now he was wearing sunglasses, and I couldn't see his eyes. "Oh wow, thanks a lot!" I put my license and registration away, donned my helmet and gloves and started the bike.
I stopped to get a bite to eat and stretch my legs at a truck stop on the western edge of Ellensburg. As I walked back out to my bike this goofy looking guy pulled up and parked his beater mid-80's Buick in the handicapped spot next to my bike. He looked at the bike, looked at me, and started babbling about reading Popular Science and seeing that Dodge Viper powered motorcycle thing and that if someone wanted to build a land speed record bike they needed to power it with some sort of DC-powered electric motor and... and... and... he like to ride a motorcycle but he can't because he has got artificial hip replacements. I shook my and and smiled as I ate my potato chips. "Have a good trip," he said "and be careful!"
I headed south on Canyon Road out of Ellensburg, weaving through the Yakima Valley Canyon. For some reason I wasn't in my usual sporting go fast mode. I meandered along waving at the fly fisherman in the river, and taking in the magnificent valley and hills. Through Yakima, and up through a low mountain pass on highway 97, I quickly got to Goldendale in southern Washington. I knew of a nice campground on the Columbia River just south of Goldendale from a few years back when I crewed for my friend Roger Flescher at a vintage car hill climb race at Marhill. Maryhill is an interesting place. It's home to a Stonehenge replica, and is the location of the first (and probably twistiest road) in Washington which happens to be the one that the hill climb race took place at.
I set up camp and then road across the bridge into Oregon to have dinner at "Linda's Restaurant," the local greasy spoon. No sooner had I sat down, a tan 40 something year old guy across the room started talking at me, not to me, about how all 3 of his Harley Davidsons had been stolen over the years, and that he used to own a BMW R90S, and that he was from Oklahoma and how much money he made in the last ten days hauling stuff with his pickup truck. The line of speech continued for 10 minutes until my food showed up and I could courteously stuff my face and cease having to look his way and encourage him.
Now back in my tent I can hear the passing cars and semi trucks coming down the hill and crossing in Oregon, trains every once in a while, light rain drops on the tent, the rustling of the poplars above my tent protecting me from the Columbia River Gourge high winds, and the splashing of the Columbia against the shore 40 yards from my camp site. My first night camping in over 10 years, and on my own to boot. No parents, friends, dogs, or other irritating creatures that might kick me, snore or slobber on me!
I'm excited to see what the trip will bring tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that.
Total mileage for day: 300
©2003 John Meloy <firstname.lastname@example.org>