Monday, August 12, 2013

Priest River, Idaho to Stevens Mountain Pass, Washington to Vancouver, Canada, Motorcycling.

Coming back from Sturges Motorcycle Rally, I left Priest River in the morning after sleeping on the side of the road in the all night thunder and lightning storm.
My clutch was tight so I headed down to Spokane's Lone Wolf Harley Dealership where they have a really great service department. They'd fixed my bike on the way out.  Sure enough they solved things again, adjusting the clutch and solving my problem of slippage.  Only $140 dollars and job done in an hour an a half.  I had coffee and donuts while I waited.
Then I headed out on the incredible I90 freeway. It was a hot day.  Dry and hot. I realized I wouldn't be having much more of this kind of breathable air after I hit the coast.  Lots of deep breaths.  Still with so little sleep the night before because of the storm and camping on the road, I had to pull off at every rest stop to lie down and try and catch a little zzzz's.  I was drinking red bull and double shots of starbucks but this is only a temporary solution.
At Moses Lake I finally found a Doobie Brothers CD. Having seen and heard them at Sturges I really wanted to listen to them on the ride. Steppenwolf had been entertaining me until then. Now I enjoyed 'Taking it to the Street' travelling along the road at 85 mph.
The beauty of freeways is the roads are great and the speed is great but it's hard to stay awake. I decided to take the backroad through the mountains bypassing the Seattle traffic and coming out at Seattle. I was glad I did. Beautful grape growing country all through these hills and mountains.  Truly spectacular. Quincy is an amazing town.
I stopped at Rock Island for a BLT sandwich and salad. There was a fire on the mountain side and bucket helicopters were trying to put it out.  Must have been from the lightening the night before.  Everyone along the way was talking about that storm.
I was really surprised at the size of Wenatchee. I'd never heard of it so it was just a name on a map before I came into this little city.  Right in the middle of wonderland with lakes and streams and mountains and everything a body could want in a town. I was tempted to stay but all day I'd been thinking of Gilbert my cockapoo companion waiting to see his human at home.  I actually thought I could make it through to Vancouver that day.
Then there was Ellensberg. What a beautiful tourist town with all the Bavarian architecture and painting. I thought I was in Germany. I regular little American alps.  Again I thought of stopping as there were so many fine hotels but instead I pushed on.  In future I should stop when I think of it.
This clip I made of the Stevens Mountain Pass is the ride up to the pass. It was truly beautiful country and great riding. A biker's delight. Lots of slow winding turns and beautiful scenery.
The problem occurred at the top of the mountain as we came over to the West Coast rain forest side. I just had time to zip on my jacket to my the webbing of my HD Switchback gear. That's when the storm hit.  Big big rain and lots of it. Then over the top it was pea soup fog. I couldn't see a bike length in front of me so was down to 20 km.
Another motorcyclist, obviously blind, and a blind car driver wanted to go ahead of me and I was glad to let them pass.  They obviously couldn't see what horrible conditions we were in so let them clear the way.  I just struggled to continue on at 20 km/hr , surprised when I saw lights coming at me at a crawl in the other lane.  Finally the fog cleared a bit so visibility was better. Then I had to keep pulling over to let locals continue at 45 mph.  I was doing maybe 35 mph on the way down.  It was exciting and of course I thought not only about the cars but about the animals that might be lost in this weather and dart across the road.
Without the storm and fog this would be one of the prettiest rides. I was really glad at Gold Bar to take a motel room, get some dinner from the Hacienda and then collapse exhausted from all the concentration and horror of the last hour riding. The whole  area along was resorts and cabins and outdoors sports activities. I imagine it's a kind of Whistler Blackhomb area for Washington. Real outdoor adventure area.
The next days drive back to Vancouver Canada was uneventful.  I was on a route I knew well.  Grey with light rain at times.  Great folk at the border crossing, friendly and welcoming. I was glad to be back home.
I was so thankful to be alive and well and to find my home all clean and tidy. Took a while to find my Mazda Miata keys. I was happy to have parked and unloaded the motorcycle.
Vancouver is the most dangerous city to drive in. Nobody uses their signals for change and street people wander out in the road everywhere. I kept thinking that Justin Troudeau wants to legalize marijuana. Well, let him drive around this city for a few days and see if he wants more stoned people on the road.  There was more drunken stoned behaviour on the streets of Vancouver than at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.  Compared to every city I drove through on the trip Vancouver was by far the most dangerous driving. Hence I was glad to get off my motorcycle. After more than 5000 km riding it over the last 2 weeks I remembered why I don't like riding my motorcycle in Vancouver.
So I was glad to get in the Miata once I found the keys.  Driving over to Joannes was just fine.  Top down. The sun out.  Loved Vancouver again.  Joanne's in Burnaby and Gilbert was ecstatic to see me.  Lots of barking and circling and barking and circling and giving me toys and generally dog propelled by wagging tail behaviour. I was sure glad to see him too.  Joanne is great.
Gilbert was back in the co pilot seat and we were reunited.  A walk down Commercial with a lamb kebab (shared) dinner at the Greek restaurant then lots of ball throwing and fetching restored us to old times.
Glad to be home. Hallelujah. Thank you Lord.
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