Round Trip Ride To Republic

When I suggested to Marv that we take advantage of a nice September weekend to make a motorcycle trip, he was all for it. Marv had made a few trips over the summer, but I had been out of vacation time, and hadn’t made any trips with him since late Spring. 

After taking careful stock of possible destinations, we settled on Republic. We cast our net wide to our riding friends, and managed to snag John and Chris to make the trip with us. We set out Saturday morning –  me from my house, and the others coming up from the Seattle area.

We met in Clear Lake where we happened across our friend Kurt with a group of Desmo NW riders on their way to Mount Baker. After a quick chat, we continued on for breakfast at Clark’s Cabins in Marblemount. With our appetites satiated, we went over the North Cascades Highway, and on to Republic.


Gas Stop Chris John


Arriving at our motel in Republic, we met Chris’s co-worker Grant, and Grant’s friend Thatch, who were making a quick weekend ride too.  During dinner at the nearby Esther’s Mexican restaurant, we discussed plans, and asked them if they would like to join us for the ride home, and so it was. road-to-republic-9road-to-republic-10road-to-republic-11road-to-republic-12road-to-republic-14


(“You’ve got to be good looking ’cause they’re so hard to see.”)



We began the trip home by going south on Highway 21 out of Republic, and then turning west on Cache Creek road. It was a grand morning with fantastic weather and scenery. We continued without a real break until we stopped for lunch at the Duck Brand in Winthrop. The kitschy little town was bubbling with activity. 

I anticipated spotty traffic going over the pass to home. There are only a few routes through the Cascades, and we were going to be among the people heading west on Sunday afternoon.  After our lunch, I let the other riders know that I wasn’t going to try to keep the group together while going over the pass. When passing long strings of cars on twisty mountain roads, it’s enough for me to keep track of myself, without worrying whether the whole troupe is staying together.


 As the group approached the Diablo Dam Overlook, Thatch slowed and then pulled into the Overlook to investigate a problem he was experiencing with his bike vibrating.  They could find no obvious cause, so continued their way.  Thatch would later discover the vibration was due to his newly-mounted rear tire being significantly out of balance.  


 I had picked up the South Skagit Highway in Concrete, while the rest of the group had headed south to ride the full length of the South Skagit Highway. 

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Consequently, I ended up quite some ways ahead of the group so, when I neared Clear Lake, I stopped and waited half an hour or so for the rest of the group to catch up. I wanted to make sure everyone got back okay, and then I bolted for home.

Click here for a link to this ride report’s permanent web page.

Chillin’ in Chewelah

Marv and I had some maintenance to do on my motorcycle, so we combined a Friday Garage Day with a Saturday/Sunday round-trip ride to Chewelah. Marv came up to my place Friday morning, and we spent the day getting my bike up to snuff. Replacing the automatic cam chain tensioner took much more time than we anticipated. I made a simple route to get us over to Chewelah and back.


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It was a clear and cool Saturday morning with the heavy weight of promise hanging over it. Saturday mornings always fill me with a sense of anticipatory excitement. I hadn’t made a full day of riding since returning from last month’s California ride. Back roads carried us from my place to Concrete, from which began the gradual climb to Newhalem.
After a pit-stop in Newhalem to clean the bugs from our visors and take a swig or two of water, we started the more abrupt climb to Rainy pass, and then Washington pass. Over the passes now, near Mazama, I pulled us over long enough for me to lose a layer of clothing. The air was hinting that rest of the trip would be at summer temperatures.
We stopped for what, but for my memory, should have been a forgettable lunch at Logan’s Café in Twisp. I recall I had coffee, a vegetable omelet, hash browns, and an over-buttered English muffin. Marv had his preferred on-the-road fare – fish and chips.
Following Highway 20 east from Twisp, we went through the ruins from the 256,108-acre Carlton Complex fire of 2014. Remorsefully winding past the denuded skeletons of a forest that will never grow back, forever lost to the hungry desert eager to eat its death, I forced my mind to ignore the blackened remnants of the trees once teeming with life, reaching out to snag anyone who would hear the tragedy of their tortured ends. Their motionless branches, like arms lifted to point bony fingers of condemnation at mankind, their silent rage frozen in motion, projected at me a suffocating despair, scalloping out my complacency, and replacing it with a desolation so profound I could search in its midst for a thousand years and not find solace.

We climbed Loup Loup Pass and then descended into the Omak area. Our plan had been to take the Columbia River Road through the Colville Reservation to Nespalem but, as we approached our turn-off, we saw a ‘Road Closed’ sign. We quickly made the detour north to Highway 153, and followed it around to Nespalem. It’s a good alternative I was planning to use for our route home the next day; now we’d ride it in both directions. The entertaining slalom of Cache Creek and Bridge Creek roads were covered at a mellow pace.

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Crossing the reservation to its eastern border at the edge of the Columbia River, now Roosevelt Lake, we arrived just in time to catch the Inchillium Ferry before it cast off for its eastward crossing. They had already loaded, and we were nearly the last to board. There were three guys on cruisers in front of us. Marv chatted with them a little, and one offered us suggestions on roads to take after we left the ferry. I was a bit perplexed at what he could possibly have been thinking. Why he would think he knew the roads over there better than we is beyond me, and besides, them being in the front of the ferry just meant we’d have to pass them after we disembarked.

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We took a nice set of county roads over to the junction with U.S. 395 a bit north of Chewelah. After checking in at the Nordlig Motel and getting cleaned up, we went for dinner at Mondo’s, a small Italian café.

Sunday morning we found the continental breakfast at the motel to be virtually non-existent, being only coffee and pre-packaged muffins. We set out on the highway, retracing our route all the way home. We even stopped at Logan’s in Twisp again, and had the same meals we had on the previous day.

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Approaching Diablo Lake, we found ourselves in a parade of cars we had a great deal of difficulty getting around. Finally having done that, we stopped for gas in Marblemount, and then rode on to the Cascadia Farms stand near Rockport. We took a long break there where I treated Marv to two large scoops of ice cream – one blueberry and one raspberry. Shortly after that, at the Highway 530 junction, Marv and I parted ways; he turned south, and I sped along to get home in time to get some things done prior to the beginning of the work week.

Here’s a link to this ride report’s permanent web page.

A Dip in the Puglia

Puglia (ˈpül-yä), Italy, the region known as the ‘heel of the boot,’ is a region of Italy less frequented by tourists. The region, also known as Apulia to the English, doesn’t have the cachѐ of Florence or Venice, or the grandness of mighty Rome.  It’s not the beating heart of finance, design, and fashion that is Milan. It’s a simple place where food and life are paced for the simple joy of living. Its people speak English less frequently, and are more traditional. I find the Italians to be generally and genuinely, warm and friendly people. They’re hard-working, honest, and polite. The children are incredibly well-mannered. They’re smart, and the things that are important in life, like family, friends and celebration, hold their rightful place at the apex of their culture.

I had been to Puglia once before. In 2009 I visited Bari and Lecce, the two most prominent towns in the region. I was enchanted watching the old Italian tradition of Passeggiata every evening. It’s an Italian tradition, still strong in the south, in which the community comes out to walk and socialize around 5 to 6 pm. They dress well, socialize, and enjoy their community. I was very excited for a deeper exploration of Puglia.

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Springtime Northern California Ride – 2016

Early in the year, Marv and I had discussed a ride to California. We missed making a California ride last year, and we were eager to get down there for some of the nice roads we both enjoy. 

We went through the process of recruiting our riding friends to go, casting a wide net to gather those who were interested and could make it. Dan Hytry committed right away, as he loves to ride in California. We had several riders reply with ‘Maybe,’ or ‘Let me see if I can get the time.’ In the end, six of us made the ride. Dennis Cook, and John Parish would go, and our friend from Los Angeles, Chris Hemer, would join the group in Redding and spend the week riding with us.