Friday, April 29, 2011

Ellensberg to Portland Motorcycling

I'm sitting in a Starbucks in Vancouver, Washington. It's really hard to believe I left the Hampton Court Inn in Ellensburg this morning.  My Harley Electraglide and I have covered so much ground.
It was a really nice morning ride from Ellensburg to Yakima.  Ellensburg, named after Ellen, the wife of the first settler, was definitely cowboy terrain.  Leaving the valley the northwest wind running 15 to25 knots hit me on the side making it difficult to hold the bike steady.  There were tumbleweeds and dry rolling hills.  If felt like I was riding through a Louis L'Amour novel.
At Yakima the terrain opened into Washington's wine country with farmland. The town had lots of Mexican influence too.  I drove around but didn't stay.  The sun was out and riding was really comfortable out of the wind.  At the trucker stop in Yakima I filled up with gas and had a coffee though. I'd also bought a couple of maps of Oregon and Washington State and had them along.
The fellow sitting next to me asked where I was heading. When I told him, he said,"It's a really pretty ride to take the Washington side of the Gorge. "  He showed me on the map. "We're planning on taking that route to Portland in a couple of weeks time. It's one of our favourites.  Bit of wind though."
Heading back up into the mountains I actually saw fields of purple sage. I wish I'd taken a picture but I thought there'd be more and a better place to stop. There wasn't but I sure have a better appreciation of Rider's of the Purple Sage.  It's so beautiful to see a purple carpet at the edge of pine.
I was on 97 going south heading into the mountains again. I think the summit elevation was 3000 this time.  Chilly and windy but with the sun out it was a joy to ride.
I stopped at Goldendale. It was a little town that advertised itself as as outdoorsman centre and appeared to attract deer hunters in season.  I filled up with gas again and had a grilled cheese sandwich in this small Chinese restaurant. An older fellow wearing a Gospel Rider vest came in after looking over my bike.
After he sat down and I 'd finished my second cup of coffee getting some heat back in my body, I walked over to where he sat and asked, "As another Christian rider, can you advise me whether or not the route along the Washington or Oregon side of the Columbia has less wind."
He laughed, "That's biking the Gorge.  No one can know till you get there. It's called the Windy River. The scenery is picturesque on the north though."  He said.
"That's what I heard," I answered.
"Where you coming from?" he asked.
"Vancouver, Canada."
One of the youngers cards at the table next, said, "You should have brought one of those beautiful Vancouver girls down with you. They sure are beautiful there.  A fellow your age must have a daughter." He and the men and woman at his table were laughing good heartedly.
"You're right the girls of Vancouver really are beautiful.  I always tell men looking for beautiful women to check out the churches.  Stop for awhile at the one with the most beautiful women. You'd be surprised what you can pick up there. "  I said.
"Now you're sounding like the minister here." he said turning to the fellow I'd spoken with.  He was laughing too.
"God bless."  I said after paying for the meal, leaving a tip and gathering my gear.
The trip from Goldendale to the Gorge was cross winds central.  I was glad when I finally got to the Columbia and turned right heading west. The wind was 30 knots on the nose.  Going around corners a blast would still catch the bike so  I had to hold on for dear life. It was better than steady cross winds.  I was thankful for the weight of the Electraglide too.  If I'd seen a big fat biker Mama hitch hiking I'd have offered her a ride just for ballast.
Out in the Columbia River everyone was windsurfing in the Gorge. I don't know why they bothered. You could wind surf just as well with a Harley.
A couple of fellows with long hair long grey beards sporting leathers with Vancouver Branch of some Biker Gang passed me at a stop. I joined in behind them  for awhile admiring how they kept in formation while I was scurrying about behind them like a dog trying to keep up.  They even had high handlebars and made that look easy.
I crossed north at the Bridge of Gods taking the freeway into Portland.  The sun stayed with me.  It was an awesome ride. Now I've got to find accomodation for the night.  DSCN8892
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