I hit the road this weekend. It was fantastic! I needed to be on the road by myself, in order to concentrate on some Web book writing and also to gather my thoughts and feelings. I find that being on the road is very southing to the soul. I love it. The Coldplay concert was a great opportunity.
I left work a little bit early on Friday to do some work on the bike and get ready. It was the first time I was doing electrical work on any bike so I was happy that everything went smoothly. I installed the GPS, loaded my tent and backpack, set up the in-helmet headphones so I could listen to music, and I was ready to go.
No, I didn’t really need all that stuff for just a couple of days on the road. The “stolen” (and then found) side cases were mostly empty. I used the opportunity to familiarize myself with a loaded bike. I am going to do more weekend trips like this one as I am building up towards a possible long (2-3 weeks), “writing” road trip with my bike. We’ll see.
I decided to avoid highways as much as possible and follow scenic routes. I headed towards Leavenworth. In a week full of minor “incidents”, the beginning of my trip was no exception. If you’ve been following my twitter stream (or my Facebook updates), you might have noticed a sequence of “bad karma” events (the “stolen” side cases, the tendency of the bike to lie down on the road when I stopped, etc :-) I blamed them on my absentmindness of these days :-)
There were many miles of road works towards Leavenworth. They had HUGE signs with “motorcycles use extreme caution” because the pavement was grooved. This meant that the motorcycle was a bit wobbly. I slowed down in order to be safe (and for the safety of the other users of the road) but I immediately created a queue of cars. As WA state law requires, I had to do something about it so I used the shoulder, which was not grooved. As I moved to the shoulder, I was able to maintain constant speed, which meant that there was no longer a queue and the cars didn’t have to overtake me. I wasn’t overtaking cars from their right either since we were all going happily at the same pace.
Towards the end of the construction area, however, there was a police car parked on the shoulder. The officer pulled me over and gave me a ticket for $124. I tried to politely explain to him the reason I used the shoulder and how it was for safety reasons but he gave me the ticket nevertheless. We were both smiling and the entire conversation was pretty friendly but I think he was there to give tickets to all motorcyclists who were doing the same thing (there was another guy just before me).
I feel strongly that I was doing the right thing so I am going to take the advice of a lawyer to see whether I can fight this ticket, just for the principle of it :-)
I enjoyed the ride though. Crossing the Cascades is always such a wonderful experience.
I stopped at Leavenworth for dinner and then headed towards Wenatchee, where I spent the night and did some writing. The following morning, I headed south towards following the Columbia river. I had done this with my parents in May so I already knew it was going to be a beautiful ride.
I arrived at The Gorge early and set my tent. I returned to Quincy for some grocery shopping and writing at a bar. Surprisingly, I was very productive there despite the distractions from a set of bikers (they were fun), and a local who decided I was his very good friend. He was 54 and still called his parents “daddy” and “mama”, even though his “mama” had left the family back in 1959!!! He told me how they called people from Seattle “turkeys” because during hunting season they drive their 4×4 into ditches and then need to be pulled out :-) I returned to The Gorge and waited for the concert to start.
The following morning I had a very early start. I headed south, again following the Columbia river. I wanted to avoid I-90 again so I had planned a random route back home, going south and then heading west. The scenery was amazing.
I arrived at Yakima where I had a good breakfast and continued following my random route. I had no idea about the beauty I would find :-) The landscape was breathtaking. I was following SR410, through the Mt. Rainer national park. There are many campsites over there so I am definitely going to visit again soon! As I reached the top, I had to go through really thick fog (much thicker than the photo), which was “interesting” :-)
It was a wonderful weekend. It was great being on the road and concentrating on my thoughts, trying out the bike for a multi-day trip, and attending the Coldplay concert at The Gorge, one of the best concert venues around.
Here is the trip in numbers, courtesy of my GPS :-)
Distance travelled: close to 500m (I accidentally reset the counter just before I reached home)