Not too much to report today on the short trip home to complete the adventure. Headed out of Hope about 7:45 a.m. and booted it up the trans-Canada for the ferry. Traffic was light until Chilliwack with a brief slow-down for a semi that had gone off the road in a spectacular way a few kms west of Chilliwack. Stopped at the Whatcom turn-off to grab a cup of tea at Timmy’s and headed out again. Got to the ferry terminal shortly after 10 – in plenty of time to make the 11:00 ferry. Docking in Victoria at 12:30, I took my opportunity to avoid the snarl of stupidity we call traffic from the ferry into Victoria and immediately turned off to Wain Road, looking forward to the nice ride down West Saanich Road. Alas, the riding gods were angry and I ended up behind 2 tour buses that had beat me off the ferry. What a buzz kill. Eventually got home though, cases are unpacked, laundry underway. Daydreaming about next time . . . .
I’m almost too tired to blog, but I don’t want to disappoint my 3 fans, so here goes. . . . . 😊
Mother Nature decided that Blair should babysit me for one more day by sending rain to the Olympic Peninsula. Hwy 2 was expecting snow overnight and Hwy 20 was closed, and any other route back west looked like it was going to dog me with significant rain. So the route home seemed clear – follow Blair up Hwy 82 and 97 and stay over in Osoyoos. Then take the Hope-Princeton through to Vancouver to catch the ferry to Victoria.
We left Yakima about 7:45 a.m. and booked outta there – so successfully that we got pulled over for speeding. I don’t know if it was our polite Canadian persona or just dumb luck to get a generous officer, but we got away with a warning. Spirits un-dampened, we cruised through the Yakima Canyon (picture by E. Hanson from the internet). With a desert-like landscape, the scenery was stunning and we enjoyed perfect weather on our way through. While the locals would probably tell us it’s not the most exciting ride, we certainly appreciated the changing geography and striking landscapes. Every once in awhile, we'd get a glimpse of the river or some pretty little scene would present itself in the small towns we passed through. Aside from a pit stop here and there for a washroom or drink of water or to top up with gas, we pushed through to Omak before stopping for a quick lunch at McGak's. Jumping back on the bikes, we headed for the Canadian border. We wondered if we should stop at the duty-free to avoid being searched when we realized we had been south of the border for 4 days and had nothing to declare! However, like a couple of horses headed for the barn at the end of a long ride we rode on up to the gate. I guess they figured we didn’t have enough room on those bikes for anything to worry about and they let us on through with no hassles anyway.
Arriving in Osoyoos about 2:00 p.m., we parted ways – Blair heading on home and me to the Tim Horton’s to check the weather and see if I could get a couple more hours under my belt before calling it a day. I pulled into the Tim’s parking lot and as I turned off the bike, a friend from Kelowna comes walking up. He said he recognized the bike and then looked at the little boots and figured it must be me! So we had a quick chit-chat before he carried on to his next job site.
I sat down with a cup of tea and google and no rain was showing so I decided I would shoot to get as far as Hope. I was on the road about 20 minutes when it started to rain. . . . Pulled over and threw on my rain shell and kept going. Rain didn’t get too serious and the ride over that highway is just beautiful. As tempted as I was to stop at the West Hedley Mall (picture from the internet), I gave it a miss, stopping only to take a photo here and there along the road and ensuring I had to pass the same damn semi one more time. Hedley, being the site of the old Mascot mine is actually quite a neat little place. I've been there before. If you look closely at the 7th photo below and can zoom in, you might see the old mine structures way up at the top of the mountain.
Stopped for a stretch at Princeton and was just back on the road before hitting some pretty tedious construction and a smattering of rain. Construction and traffic turned a 3 hour ride into 4 and by now it was starting to feel like work. Traffic eased up around Manning Park though and I almost had the road to myself. The curves and some rough road surfaces commanded the majority of my attention and the stunning scenery commanded the rest.
Got through to Hope and knew an 8.5-hour day in the saddle was enough – no point in trying to make the last 2 hours to the Tsawwassen ferry through lower mainland traffic. Checked into the Royal Hotel which is a great little place – very friendly and well kept, with great Wifi for blogging! There's a Chevron station, White Spot, an Italian restaurant and a Save-on Foods right across the road. Went for some seafood fettucini at the Italian place and am ready for a hot shower and a good sleep. Last leg of a successful adventure tomorrow!
Our grand plans of climbing Mt. Rainier to sing “the hills are alive . . . .” at Paradise and traversing the Chinook Pass were dashed by rain today. Hoping the forecast was wrong, we left Castle Rock around 8:30 a.m. with the plan to stop at Morton for breakfast and do a status check before deciding what the rest of the day would look like. It poured on us all the way up I-5 before the Hwy 12 turnoff to Morton and we got more than one little shower from semi trucks on the freeway. My boots and socks were soaked by the time we hit Morton and I was reminded of when my sister and I were kids and my grandma would put bread bags over our feet with an elastic band at the top before putting our rubber boots on. Wished I’d remembered it sooner – my feet would have still been dry!! It was also a challenge to find the sweet spot of having the helmet visor up a bit to keep it from fogging and not getting splashed in the face with the rain. I don’t think Blair ever did find the balance as his windshield managed to shed the rain nicely – and funnel it up into his face under the crack in his visor! Chilled and wet and with a serious case of helmet hair (well me, anyway), we strolled into Papa Bear’s Restaurant and Lounge in Morton and were presented with the Main Street Slam breakfast. This turned out to be a huge breakfast that neither one of us could finish. Great value and good food – definitely worth the stop. The establishment didn’t kick us out, so we spent and hour and a half there, chasing the chill off before suiting up to head out again. While we were waiting, Blair directed me to look out the window and pointed down the street. Just a half a block down was the "Bucksnort Pub", advertising pizza, pool, beer and cocktails and sporting a MOTORCYCLE on the roof! If we'd seen that first, we might have been drinking at 10:30 in the morning. I was further amused by the sign on the side saying "financing available" - is that for the pizza, beer, pool, cocktails or the motorcycle? :)
The low-slung clouds and intermittent rain made it clear pretty quick that there was no point in riding Mount Rainier – there would be nothing to see and rain-soaked curves would be less than enjoyable, so we decided to book it through to Yakima. We still got some adventure riding over Hwy 12 – there were some really rough and bumpy patches that demanded our attention and respect as we rode the curves through the mountains. Still saw some beautiful scenery and were entranced by a couple of cool bridges over deep gorges. The rain stopped for a bit and didn’t hit us again until White Pass where we had another dose of rain. Temps got down to 9 degrees and the water that had seeped into my boots created some pretty icy toes. Once through the pass, the descent into Yakima brought the temperatures up pretty quickly. The landscape changed abruptly from the green, lush mountains to the dryer, bare landscape reminiscent of the Alberta badlands.
We arrived in Yakima about noon and pulled into the Sun Country Inn, pretty chilled and ready for some down time. Decent hotel – another like the others – older, but clean and reasonably priced. Wifi left much to be desired, meaning it didn’t really work at all. We checked into our rooms and shed our damp gear. Necessity being the mother of invention, I used the cardboard coffee cups in the room to stuff into the shafts of my boots to prop them up in front of the heat. Hoping they will be dry before heading back out tomorrow. Then it was hot bath and some relax time.
Noticed a big motorcycle store across the street – Owen’s Cycle – and couldn’t resist the urge to go take a look. Massive bike store with tons of gear, accessories and bike parts. We spent some time looking around before walking up to the Red Lobster for an early supper. We asked the front desk person if the Red Lobster was in walking distance and she said “Well, I wouldn’t walk that far”. After walking for about 10 minutes up the road – BAM – there it was. We were surprised it was so close. LOL
Margaritas were on special, so. . . . . done deal. The Red Lobster watermelon margarita is totally worth ordering. We ate too much – again – and then strolled back to the hotel to make an early night of it. Hoping to be on the road back to reality pretty early tomorrow and still need to decide on the route I will take back. All in all, another successful day, full of adventure, despite missing the Mount Rainier views and hikes. 'Nother time. . . .
Another tough day on the bikes. Sigh.
Headed out of Astoria about 9:00 a.m., crossing over the awe-inspiring bridge once again. The Lewis and Clark Expedition, also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition, are a pretty big deal around the Long Beach/Astoria area, due being the first American expedition to cross what is now the western portion of the United States – so says Wikipedia. I’m not sure how successful of an expedition it was given that the historical site is named Cape Disappointment. According to google search, Cape Disappointment didn’t have anything to do with Lewis and Clark, actually, but rather was named for Captain John Meares’ first thwarted voyage to find the Columbia (and that was on the internet, so it must be true). We stopped to adjust gear at a little rest stop that popped up just out of Astoria and laughed to find it called Dismal Nitch. We were almost afraid to see what some of the communities along the road might be called! As we started out, we passed tons of people parked along the bridges and sides of the road fishing in the river.
We took Hwy 4 to Longview. This road must have been built by a rider – everything about it screamed “I LOVE MOTORCYCLES”! Road surface was amazing and it travelled along the river with curve after curve almost all the way to Longview. A short trip up 411 took us to Castle Rock where we were granted an early check-in at the Mt. St. Helen’s Motel. Would definitely recommend this motel as well. Once again, basic, but huge rooms, clean and friendly. Blair said his shower was a little anemic, but otherwise, the rooms are good value. We “de-geared” the bikes, attempting to make room for helmets and riding gear in our side cases, to swap to hiking shoes and t-shirts at Mt. St. Helen's. Gordon, a member of the bike forum that I am on and who has been following the blog, met up with us and rode the Spirit Lake Highway with us.
What an amazing feat of engineering the Spirit Lake Highway is! Heading out with perfect weather, we crossed massive concrete bridges spanning the chasms through the mountains and linking long, sweeping curves that make you itch to twist the throttle just a little more. And just to make sure you’re on your toes, they threw in some tight twisties towards the end! We marvelled at the mountain and the destruction it wrought, which is still very palpable when looking out over the landscape. Once again, awe-inspiring vistas. (When you look at the photos, it's not my fault Blair didn't know how to hold up a mountain for a kitchy tourist photo!)
Instead of spending time (and $) on the observatory, Blair and I chose to take a bit of a trek down the hiking trail. We went further than we perhaps intended, forgetting in our frequent pauses at different points to take in the scenes, that what goes down, must go back up. . . . . Gordon, being smarter than us, opted to hang out and take in the views. While waiting, he and the bikes became a tourist attraction for some foreign tourists and we expect he is going to end up in family photo albums in Asia with strangers sitting on his bike. And maybe ours too. 😊
Our hike brought us back to the observation area without needing to be tow-roped up, and we felt better for having stretched out the riding muscles. Jumped back on the bikes and had every bit as much fun on the way back down the mountain. Noticed a neat phenomenon that might just have been due to the right lighting at the right time of day, combined with the landscape. Coming across some of the bridges, there would be a wall of tall, straight trees all in front and just the way the light fell on them and separated them in our vision a bit, we could swear we were looking at one of those tightly packed geometric images that make your eyes go squiggly. Almost made me feel a bit dizzy and I had to force my eyes back to the gray pavement ahead of me to shake the sensation.
Ended the day at Parker’s Restaurant across the parking lot from the hotel. Had a great meal and are turning in early for another day of motorcycle escapades. We may have to modify our original plans to get to Mt. Ranier depending on the weather. Rain is arriving and if we’re not going to see some pretty stunning scenery due to rain, we will change the direction and nature of our day.
What a great day today! Had a quick yogurt and coffee at the hotel and were on the road by 8:30 a.m. Most of our day felt like we had the road to ourselves. Gorgeous ride over 101 to find Ruby Beach - our first glimpse of the ocean and beautiful shoreline. Pulled the bikes in and took the short trail down to explore the beach a bit. Then on to the Moclips Highway on a quiet highway through the trees to 109 and then Aberdeen. At this point we were more than ready for food and stopped at the first place we saw – Duffy’s Restaurant. Highly recommend it. It is clearly a family run restaurant. The food and service were excellent and prices were on par with most other places we’ve seen. We stuffed ourselves (including a massive piece of coconut cream pie we couldn’t even finish) - convinced that we would burn calories from the vibration of our bikes during the rest of the day anyway! On our way out of Aberdeen we had to stop at what was advertised in the Washington guide as “one of the largest Star Wars stores in the country”. They weren’t kidding. This guy had a massive collection of Star Wars memorabilia, all crammed cheek-by-jowl in to every available space. If you’re a fan, it’s a must-see. Heading out of Aberdeen, we made our way to Raymond and then along the coastal road to the Long Beach area. What a pretty ride. We didn’t ride the highway all the way up the beach, opting to head over to the closest access point at Seaview and spend some time walking the beach. The weather was perfect. It wasn’t long before we gave in to the temptation to ditch our boots and dig our toes in the sand. Blair insisted that to do it right, we would now have to go put our bare feet in the ocean. Many creative expletives were expressed when the cold tide came rushing over our feet! We let it happen one more time before taking our west coast weenie butts on out of that! A little further along the beach, we were shocked to see that what we thought was a big piece of driftwood, was actually a ship’s prow with a figurehead that bore a striking resemblance to me!!! We had to photograph the discovery. 😉
After soaking up some wind and sun, we reluctantly put our socks and boots back on and headed for the bikes. We crossed the awe-inspiring and monstrous Astoria bridge just after 5:30 p.m. and checked into the Columbia Inn. Once more, an older, modest motel, but friendly front desk, clean beds and a good recommendation for dinner. We went to the Silver Salmon Grille for dinner and it was excellent. Indulged in steak and prawns like we hadn’t eaten all day, then waddled the waterfront boardwalk to see the bridge up close and personal. It really is an amazing structure. As the sun set, we headed back to our rooms and are looking forward to another fun-filled adventure tomorrow!
Jumped on the 10:30 a.m. Coho ferry from Victoria to Port Angeles. Despite it being a Monday morning, we were lucky to get snuck on as the last 2 vehicles. If we'd been in a car, we wouldn't have made it. Arrived in Port Angeles around noon and headed straight for Hurricane Ridge. Amazing ride up to an elevation of 5000+ feet. Stunning vistas and plenty to see at the top. Still lots of snow on the mountains, but none on the road, fortunately. Back down the mountain for lunch at the Coyote BBQ Pub in Port Angeles. Good burger for a decent price and a free piece of pecan pie for dessert because we had to wait a bit for our lunch! :) Headed out for the Sol Duc Hot Springs and found the ride up Sol Duc Road beautiful, free of traffic and in great shape - the kind of road that makes you want to turn around and do it again. We spent and hour and a half having a soak in the hot pools before riding that wonderful road back down to 101 to Forks. Spending the night at the Olympic Suites Inn, which obviously used to be apartments. Got a 2-bedroom suite for the price of a hotel room - older, but clean and neat and great value. Note that there is an additional $150 charge if the following occurs in your room: Smoking, having a pet in a non-pet room, or . . . Wait for it . . . . Cleaning fish!! Lol. That one was a first for me, but totally legit! Discovered that almost everything in Forks to do with food closes at 9 p.m. and were lucky to score a subway sandwich at the last minute. The bonus was that you can buy a 750 ml bottle of Stella Artois for about $2 in the gas station. Not sure what the Mike's Hard cost, but it wasn't much more. Bit of chill time, then will retire for a decent start in the morning. Grabbed a yogurt and a cheese stick for a quick bite in the morning, then will hope to find a cool cafe or restaurant on the route to Astoria, which is tomorrow's final destination.
Quick trip to the BC Interior for a meeting on Friday, then back to Victoria with a day to pack and prepare for the Monday departure for Port Angeles -the start of the Olympic Peninsula (and beyond) trip. Glad to have company for this particular trip. If the forecast is to be believed, we are looking forward to perfect riding weather, with sunshine and temperatures between 15C and 26C for the 4-5 days of travel. Even considering the darn chilly temperatures we are likely to hit when travelling through the mountains, the forecast of sunshine is a Jackpot!
Long time, no adventures!
In early June, my buddy from Kelowna and I are taking our bikes to the Olympic Peninsula for a few days. We intend to depart from Victoria, BC and travel by ferry to Port Angeles. From there, we have several items on our bucket list, including:
- Hurricane Ridge
- Sol Duc Hot Springs
- La Push Beach(es)
- Waterfalls en route
- Long Beach/Astoria
- Spirit Lake Hwy to Mt. St Helen's
- Mt Ranier, including Steven's Canyon Road and the Mather Memorial Parkway
Route planning is well under way - just the details to figure out now. I've been using a trip planning site called Traveller's Point, which allows you to map your trip, plus use a planner for notes and bookmarking websites with relevant information. It has a few quirks that I've worked through, but overall, I find it a great trip planning tool. Stay tuned for pics and stories!