After three weeks of traveling around the south and days in Seattle where I was not riding, it was time to put miles on the bike again. This leg of the trip is the real meat of the riding where I’m going to see what I’ve ridden so far to get to: the back country of Idaho and Montana. It’s always been a goal of mine since I can remember to go to Idaho. Since I’ve had a motorcycle, it was to get to Idaho by that motorcycle.
Today the goal is to get to Spokane via the North Cascades Highway, aka, Washington Highway 20. Once on the east side of the pass, it should be a pretty direct ride on secondary highways across the mid state and on into Spokane. With a departure of 10am that should get me in at 7pm. 380 miles for the day.
About 30 mins before departure Andy calls. His cat has some flea control medicine from Hartz and is having a bad reaction to it. The cat needs a bath. To say that his cat hates me is well an understatement. He really hates me. After trying to catch it I crunch my toe on the stairs and the cat growlingly laughs at me I concede that me giving the cat a bath is not going to work. Upon consulting their vet on the issue, the vet explains that this stuff can be lethal so they come home and bring Bo into the vet. After removing the meds his cat shows marked signs of improvement. For more info on the effects of the medicine see Hartz Victims.
Now that Bo is in good hands, the only problem is that the weather does not look so good outside. Do I delay a day? Both Raissa and Andy tell me that the weather is going to be fine so I head out. All along the I-5 freeway it’s a mix between heavy black clouds and sun. I keep telling myself I can always duck for cover and u it if I need to. Once I get off the freeway and a bit east, the weather starts to look up a bit. I get some almost $3 a gallon gas before heading into the mountains.
The Cascades look to be big and steep, but not super high as the pass is only 5000 feet. The pavement is great and the road winds through deep coniferous forests along a river. I stop into the visitors center of North Cascades National Park and find out that it’s a fee free park! What a deal. The California parks all charge a fee just to pass through! TI’s truly a spectacular park as well!
About 1/2 way through the park the road is closed and it’s only open at 30 minute intervals. Another rider, Josh, is heading through the park as well. He’s riding an 84 Honda Magna a bike I’ve always found really cool. He going to see his girlfriend who just relocated over the pass. We chat bikes until the pass opens. In the heart of the park is Diablo Lake. It is a deep emerald green amongst the mountains. The Cascades are nicknamed the American Alps and I can now see why. The tops of these mountains have that gray whispy cloud action going on. Not good. Not 10 minutes later does it start to rain! 🙁 About 10 miles later I cross over none other than Rainy Pass then Washington pass.
I see a bit of blue ahead so I’m betting that things clear up once I get out of the mountains. It does.
It’s 6pm and I’m crossing the mid state. Not good. Most of this country is orchards and farms. I run across another V-Strom (what I ride) in a motel parking lot in Pateros, WA but didn’t see the rider so I keep going. There is nothing out here. I mean nothing. The sun begins to set at 8pm. Heading east you don’t see the yellows and oranges that you do heading west, though it’s just as neat. The sky fills with blues and purples as day finally concedes to night.
At 9pm I arrive in Grand Coulee and get gas. The mercury is dropping and it’s dark now.so I put on some warmer clothes. Brian, the night shift worker in town for UPS drives by so I ask him how the road ahead is going to be. He says that it’s going to be more of the same, not a whole lot going on till Spokane. It’s apparent he’s in no hurry and neither am I as it’s nice to stretch. We talk about UPS since I worked out at corporate about 10 years ago.
It’s 86 miles to Spokane. I roll out of town and after about 55 miles it starts to really get cold. It’s nearing 50 (isn’t it summer?). In some small town this kid darts across the highway with no lights on his dirt bike. At 10:45 pm I arrive into Spokane. I can’t find the hotel. After 20 mins of riding around I find it. I knew on this trip I’d get rained on as well as have a long night ride. I just did not expect both of them to happen on the same day!