Tag Archives: Cascades

High Kill Zone – D.E.E.R.

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.

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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.

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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.”

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Day 6 – Coram, MT to Great Falls, MT – 212 Miles – 8.4.2012

Sundance RV did not have coffee so back down the road we went. The first place we saw was a huge rafting center, store, and restaurant. Pulling in we should have noticed there was one car in the lot. Oh, well, coffee was only a minute away.

Inside there was no one in sight. We went through the souvenir store to the restaurant, it looked great but with no one in sight. I hollered; “Hello”. We walked through the restaurant, store, and into a gift shop. We found a guy with a cup of coffee chatting with an elderly lady.

He was the owner; “I don’t open the restaurant until lunch.”

We got back on the bikes and headed to the West Entrance to Glacier Park. We stopped at the West Glacier Restaurant. We enjoyed excellent coffee and food at reasonable prices. Two Russian couples were at the next table. They were riding from Seattle to New Jersey.

We entered the Park using our National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Passes which are sold to those over 62 for $10. The passes are good for life. I’ve purchased three because I keep forgetting mine.

It is 50 miles from the West Entrance to the East Exit. It was a great ride. Motorcycles are the only way to truly enjoy the Ride to the Sun Road. We had been warned that because of road construction it could take all day. That is probably true on weekdays; after all there are only two seasons in Montana, Winter and Road Repair. We went through on a Saturday. There were no work crews but miles of construction zones complete with warning signs.

Motorcycles Proceed with Extreme Caution.

Our one delay, five minutes at a red light where a landslide was being repaired with only room for one way traffic.

As much as we raved about the Northern Cascades, they don’t hold a candle to Glacier Park.

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Glaciers carved these valleys.

2 ½ hours after entering the park, we exited via East Gate.

Despite all the warnings about wildlife the only thing I saw was a grouse jump in front of a jeep. Unbelievably it wasn’t killed. It ran back out between the front and rear tires, sans tail feathers. It left a pile of feathers in the roadway.

JAK says that he saw a young brown bear. His story is that the bear began to cross the roadway about five miles west of East Gate, saw the motorcycle, and jumped back into the woods. JAK hit the brakes and pointed to the road side. I saw his brake lights and him pointing. This wasn’t the only “invisible” critter that JAK saw.

After leaving the park, it wasn’t much more than a half hour before we hit the plains. What a letdown after all the beautiful scenery we had been experiencing.

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Our last 90 miles was pretty much like this. Pulling into Great Falls we headed to Motel 6. “Sorry we are booked up.”

I asked; “Do you know of any motels with vacancies?”

“Everywhere is pretty much sold out, but I think there is one room at the Super 8.”

JAK and I experience de j’vue. We head for the Super 8. Across the lot is a Best Western. I look at JAK and say; “What the heck, let’s check.”

JAK waited outside while I went inside. I got in line for the one agent working. Another agent opened, as I move to his position, I hear the first agent tell the couple who had been in front of me; “I’m sorry we don’t have any rooms.” Crap!

My agent said; “Let me check.” He plays with the computer; “One with a king, and one with two queens.”

Life can throw you a bone at times. This was one of those times.

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Day 3 – Woodland, WA to Winthrop, WA 365 Miles – 7 hours

Our third day, August 1, 2012, found us leaving Woodland, Washington, around 8:00 a.m. But not before we suffered another no-quality, no-value meal at the Oak Tree Restaurant. For the life of me, why we returned to this place after such a terrible dinner the previous night is a mystery. Maybe it’s a biker thing.

The 210 miles to Burlington reminded me why everyone I’ve known who moved to Washington returned to California. It was cold and overcast. Intrepid travelers that we are, we had two levels of clothing. Lightweight, mostly T-Shirts, and heavy gear for the snowstorm and thundershowers we expected to dump on us. We had nothing in between. After 30 minutes, I signaled for JAK to pull over. We brought out the heavy gear and buttoned up tight.

At 9:15 a.m. we saw our first

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. We were on I-5 on cruise control (70 mph) with our feet up on pegs, nowhere near the brake or gear shift. There at the edge of the roadway was a doe. We had no idea what she would do. A few years ago just such a doe ran right out in front of JAK up in Idaho.

We were lucky, the I-5 doe just stood there as we rode by.

Breathing again, we returned to our relaxed riding positions. Oops, wrong thing to do. Not five minutes later we were in the fast lane, having just passed a tractor trailer rig. I was prepared to swing casually in to the slow lane when I saw a shape ahead. The shape materialized as a fawn (small D.E.E.R.). The creature was running southbound in the northbound slow lane of I-5. The tractor trailer swerved out across the fast lane that I had just vacated. I HATE DEER.

The cold miserable weather and absence of scenery continued until Burlington, Washington. There we pulled off the interstate and onto State Route 20. We had heard nothing about this route except that it is one of the northern most roads paralleling the Canadian border. We couldn’t go into Canada; it’s a Second Amendment thing.

The moment and I mean the moment that we got onto SR-20 it all changed. The sun came out and it warmed up. For the next 150 miles JAK and I were treated to one of the most exceptional and rewarding rides we had ever experienced. Riding in the Northern Cascades alongside the Skagit River we were surrounded by picturesque mountain tops. We never went more than five minutes without sight of a river or lake. It was August, yet we passed snow piles along the upper part of the ride. Traffic was light and we carved through most of the curves at or above the speed limit. It was an exhilarating experience.

It came to an end when we pulled into Winthrop, Washington, a small tourist trap with a population of about 500. Fifty or so motorcycles were parked along the 1890’s style main street. We got the last room available and spent the night in a nice, overpriced hotel. Here is the view from our balcony.

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We shared some might fine whiskey, Maker’s Mark, smoked an excellent cigar, and called it a night.

A Biker’s Life can be mighty nice!

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