June 18, 2013
US 101 runs from Tumwater, Washington to the East Los Angeles Interchange, the world’s busiest. The stretch that loops the Olympic Peninsula has West and East across the top of the peninsula. Over the years, I ridden or driven over the almost 2,500 miles of US 101.
A route that Jim and I’ve covered from beginning to end is Washington 20. It begins in Newport at the Idaho border and ends on the Olympic Peninsula. You’ve seen some wonderful photographs taken along WA 20.
We began the day’s journey at Oak Harbor, Washington. After a nippy ride to the Port Townsend-Keystone Ferry and a short wait, we were the first motor vehicles to board the ferry.
The last time we rode one of the Washington State Ferries, our Harleys were strapped to the side of the cargo area. We expected the same, but were pleasantly surprised when we pulled to the front (or rear) of the vessel. We parked the bikes on the kick stands. It was a smooth ride across to Port Townsend.
We stopped in Port Angeles for lunch and to change into our foul weather gear. It rained off and on until late afternoon.
This was taken at a wide spot in the road. It stopped raining long enough for me to get the shot.
We enjoyed a sunset that lasted more than twenty minutes.
Red sky at night; sailors delight,
Red sky in the morning; sailors warning
In Matthew XVI: 2-3, Jesus said, “When in evening, ye say, it will be fair weather: For the sky is red. And in the morning, it will be foul weather today; for the sky is red and lowering.”
Old adages and biblical quotes don’t always foretell reality. We had plenty of rain the next day.
June 17, 2013, we began the day at Newport, just inside Washington, across a river from Idaho. Washington State Highway 20 begins there. We came this way so we could ride through the Northern Cascades west bound. We came through east last year.
We didn’t want to get out the foul weather gear. Even though we got rained on a half dozen times before lunch, we stayed in light gear.
Up at 5:30 a.m. and on the road by 7:00 a.m. gave us our earliest start of the trip. We didn’t make it ten minutes before we had a light rain. Another ten minutes found us at the Cross Roads Café having hot coffee. Checking our iPhones didn’t give us much information about the weather. One of the locals told us that we would have rain until Wednesday. Yah, right what did he know? He was right.
This was typical of the scenery we were forced to endure throughout the day.
Are you curious about the High Kill Zone? Before we got too many miles outside of Newport, I saw a sign that identified the area as having an extremely high number of deer killed annually. They had a sign listing the number killed in 2012 and the year to date number. I was going a little fast to read the numbers.
We saw a number of D.E.E.R. on Monday, but only two are noteworthy. The first was a large doe that had an encounter with an eighteen wheeler. The truck was parked at the side of the road with the hood up. We couldn’t tell if the rig was damaged or if the driver was removing deer parts.
Later in the day, during another light rain, we encountered a tight curve. One of those where the 30 MPH warning sign means, thirty. As we reached the apex, the pavement was wet and slippery, we espied Ms. D.E.E.R. standing at the side of the roadway munching on grass. The doe looked at us but didn’t move. We were lucky. If we had been forced to take evasive action, the chance of kissing the pavement would have been great.
The Northern Cascades were as beautiful west bound as east. There was plenty of snow still covering the ground.
What I had forgotten were the curves. I call this marching. When marching one counts cadence, left, right, left right. These curves follow one side of a river canyon. One leans left, and before finishing the curve, leans right into the next curve. Back and forth, for anywhere from a quarter mile, to miles. Coming down Washington 20 we experienced at least a dozen of these sections. Once again, it only gets better.
Once we were clear of the snow, the temperature rose rapidly.
Coming down out of the mountains, we stopped for fuel. Jim wanted to call it a day. We had covered 332 miles. Both of us were hot and tired. He said, “Let’s go back to the Buffalo Inn.”
I said, “Works for me.
We back tracked only to find that the motel had gone out of business.
Back in the saddle, we rode another one-hundred miles before stopping for the night at the Auld Holland Inn, Oak Harbor. The town is on Whidbey Island.
We spent 11½ hours on the road and were exhausted.
Dinner at Flyers and in bed by 8:30 p.m. While waiting to be seated an elderly couple struck up a conversation. Jim and I may be bad bikers, but everywhere we stop, someone starts up a conversation, more often than not women. They always want to know where we have been and where we are headed. “Where are you riding?”
Jim has the best answer. “Our wives gave us two weeks probation. We just ride, turn, and stop whenever we want.”
Father’s Day started at 8:50 a.m. when we left Glacier National Park – East Gate. It was cold and we dressed light. I was wearing 5-11 Cotton Cargo pants and a sweatshirt over a T-Shirt. 40º at 60 – 70 MPH is colder than I like.
The ride from East Gate to West Gate is 55 miles of glorious scenery. US 2 skirts the south side of Glacier National Park. This ride just gets better and better.
Snow covered mountains stood to the north for most of the way. During the hour long ride to West Gate, we saw 20+ oncoming motorcyclists.
Biker welcoming curves enhanced the ride. There were no unfriendly curves.
Last year when we ate breakfast at the West Glacier Village Restaurant, we met two Russian couples who were riding from the West Coast to New York. They were interesting. We decided to eat there again.
After breakfast we had fifty of the most boring miles of the entire trip. Within miles of West Gate, the scenery took a holiday. We had no scenery but plenty of traffic. The ride to Kalispell was just plain boring.
Ten miles west of Kalispell the great Montana countryside returned, as did the heat. Within an hour I was down to a T-Shirt and sans gloves.
Father’s Day riders were everywhere. After a hundred on-coming bikes, I lost count. During the ride, I estimated over two-hundred bikes. The next day the count for the day was probably around fifty.
We began the day in Montana and ended at Newport, Idaho. It was only a 290 mile day, but we were tired. We were in bed by 8:30 p.m.
Paula Chinick is another amazingly talented writer from the Tri-Valley Area.
Writing as P.C. Chinkck, Paula has completed her first novel, Red Asscher~Living In Fear, a spy thriller set in 1943 China. The terror and atrocities experienced by the Chinese at the time of the Japanese Occupation is intense in this too believable novel. A fearful American woman thrown into Japanese occupied Shanghai confronts her tragic past. As the story progresses, murder and treachery find her.
Toss in a few spies, add some Communist Chinese intrigue, and the story comes to life. I wasn’t able to put it down once I turned the first page.
Look for Red Asscher-Living in Fear to be published this year
Paula is working on the second book in the Red Asscher Series, Red Asscher~The Mission.
Paula has contributed short stories to:
Tri-Valley Anthology – Voices of the Valley: First Press (Createspace 2011)
Oakland’s Creative Writing Anthology – Tapestry
The California Writers Club Literary Review 2013
Originally from Seattle, Paula has lived in California for over 25 years. She spent the majority of her career in Information Technology as a project manager working for various Fortune 500 companies. She holds an MBA in International Business from John F. Kennedy University. After the economy collapsed, she decided to retire and pursue her greatest passion – writing.
She is the president of California Writers Club Tri-Valley Branch www.trivalleywriters.org.
Paula has a very interesting Tag Line, one that gives one pause for thought: If you live your life in fear and had the opportunity to change…would you?
For more information, visit her website: www.redasscher.com
We passed an interesting night at the Town House Inns & Casino – Great Falls. Jim and I believe that every girl’s baseball team in the age range twelve to sixteen was there. The sounds and action didn’t slow down until at least ten, but then the parents took over.
Up at seven, I was pleased to see not a single cloud in the sky. It was cold but clear. I stuffed all my foul weather gear, including boots, in my dry bag. Once completely packed and strapped down, I couldn’t find my dark glasses. They are in my foul weather jacket, the very first item in the bottom of the dry bag. I will not unpack, besides the glasses are scratched.
A stop at Big Sky Harley-Davidson solved my problem. I bought glasses from the clearance table.
We spent over two hours at the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail Interpretive Center. From the observation area you can see one of the five waterfalls that the Corps of Discovery had to portage. They pulled canoes, boats, and all their equipment overland for eighteen miles to get around the falls.
This gives one an idea of what they had to do to portage. The expedition carried tons of equipment. As a military unit they had to carry ammunition. Captain Clark came up with a unique method. He used lead to make ten inch canisters that he filled with gun powder and sealed with bees wax. If boats capsized, the canisters went to the bottom where they could be recovered. Everything else was swept downstream.
They had a hands on exhibition with a docent who explained about Indian weapons and those used by the expedition. One interesting item was a bullet mold. Jim said, “I saw one just like that being used in a movie, The Patriot.” The docent picked up a mold that was hundreds of years old and said, “This is the mold they used in the movie.”
Our next stop was Choteau (Show-Toe) at the Log Cabin Café where they serve an excellent three bean soup. Even better was the sour cream raisin pie.
Choteau is part of the Rocky Mountain Front. “The Rocky Mountain Front forms the seam between the wild lands and wilderness of the Lewis and Clark National Forest and the foothills and the plains domesticated by area ranchers and farmers.” The area is sparsely populated.
Leaving Choteau Jim let me pass him and take the lead. This surprised me. He almost always leads. I think the reason has to do with cruise control. The lead bike can set any speed desired and relax. Harley’s never seem to mesh when on cruise control. The second bike has to change speed every mile or so.
I set my speed at 75 MPH, relaxed and put my feet up on the highway pegs. I went about three miles before turning off cruise control and put my feet on the floorboards. I had a premonition. Less than a minute later I saw movement on my right. A D.E.E.R. came in to sight. The buck jumped a fence that was maybe fifteen feet from the roadway. It landed and made a left turn toward the road about fifty feet in front of me. I stood on the brakes while telling myself, Don’t lose it, Don’t skid, Don’t go down.
The buck turned back to a parallel path, I eased off the brakes. It turned back in an instant. The dang thing was about ten feet from me as I went by.
Jim came upon the D.E.E.R. and had a similar experience. The buck jumped over the fence and back into the field and then jumped back and ran across the road in front of him.
My heart was beating so hard it seemed I could hear and feel it. I pulled off the road and stopped. Jim pulled up next to me. When my heart returned to normal, I looked at Jim and pointed down the road. I said, “Go ahead.”
Jim said, “No, you can lead, I’m not.”
I think he wanted me to run interference.
As a reminder and for those new to our motorcycle adventures:
D – Dangerous
E – Evil
E – Everywhere
R – Rodent
Deer are a rider’s worst nightmare. Except for automobiles, deer have killed more motorcyclists than anything else.
A half hour later I was negotiating some very tricky gravel when another D.E.E.R. appeared. Fortunately this one was standing about a hundred yards off the roadway.
Over the next fifty miles we were treated to some easy riding as the Rocky Mountain Front provided some astonishing scenery.
The road seems to go on forever. The Rocky Mountains are coming into view on the horizon.
The snow covered Rockies rise above the plains, almost as a skyscraper rises from a sidewalk. The sight is unbelievably beautiful.
We are spending the night at the Dancing Bears Inn, East Glacier Park, Montana.
I wanted to ride the Going-To-The-Sun Road from East to West this year. It is the only road through Glacier National Park. We rode it West to East last year. The road is closed due to snow. The upside is that we’ll be able to take US 2 which skirts the southern boundaries of the park.