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.