It was Friday, November 23rd , the day after Thanksgiving. My friend Kurt had recently purchased a brand new BMW R1200 RT. He and his brand new bike were ready for the inaugural ride.
We had exchanged a few emails over the weekend about hooking up the battery tender, heated gear, and other BMW peculiarities, and started talking about making a nice day-ride. The weather had been pretty wet but, with a less-wet forecast for the weekend, we decided that, weather permitting, we’d ride Sunday.
I decided to ride my BMW K1300 GT for the day.
We’d meet at 9am Sunday at the Starbucks in Smokey Point. I left my house 8:30 a.m. because I didn’t want to be late. Well, that was the plan. When I neared the Smokey Point exit, I punched a few buttons on my GPS screen, and told it to take me to the nearest Starbucks.
The previous evening, after we decided to make the ride, I asked Kurt to send me an email with a Bing map showing the Starbucks where we’d meet. I never saw the link in the email he sent me, but considered I would just intuit the correct Starbucks.
I didn’t realize there could be so many Starbucks stores.
My trusty GPS unit took me to the very nice Starbucks on the west side of the freeway, when in fact, the true “Smokey Point Starbucks” was on the east side of the freeway. When I arrived, and saw Kurt wasn’t there, I bought a coffee, and asked the barista for directions to the Starbucks where Kurt was to be. She knew nothing of Kurt, but told me I was not in the “Smokey Point Starbucks.” The “Smokey Point Starbucks” is just across the freeway, and on the left side.
Back on my motorcycle, over to the other side of the freeway, and there it is. I see Kurt’s new BMW, a really nice looking bike, sitting in the parking lot. I parked adjacent to it, and went inside to explain why I was late. I don’t know if it worked. He had sent me a map after all.
We set out to ride around some of the usual winter-riding-season roads. From Smokey Point we took the Pioneer Highway north, where we cut along at a good clip until we got to the Stanwood area. We had a straight stretch of road from there to Conway. The weather was foggy, but showed promise. I had a little condensation on my visor, but was perfectly comfortable.
From Conway we turned West onto Fir Island Road to cut across the flats, toward LaConner. Leaving the little hamlet of Conway and crossing the bridge over the south fork of the Skagit River, I got a very sudden radar hit. I quickly gave the sign to Kurt, and slowed down to the posted 35 mph. We rolled past the LEO without incident.
After crossing the north fork of the Skagit River at Rexville, we turned onto Dodge Valley Road to slip over to Laconner around the back side where flocks of snow geese were gleaning the barren fields. We took the bridge across the Swinomish Slough, and rode through the reservation to Highway 20. As we were leaving the reservation I noticed a white SUV on the side of the road. It was tribal law enforcement, but he had his radar pointing the other direction. As I passed him, my detector started chirping. I hadn’t had any warning but, because I saw him before he saw us, that made the difference.
We slabbed Highway 20 on the Anacortes spur, and circled around Mount Erie via Heart Lake Road. We came back to Highway 20 and took it over to the Bayview-Edison Road, turned north, wound through Bayview to Edison, and stopped at a favorite spot, The Bread Farm.
We went in and bought some cookies. Kurt bought a loaf of their bread to take home in his saddle bag. I had some delicious coconut macaroons, and a couple hazelnut cookies. Kurt had a few of their Mexican Tea Cakes.
We left Edison and rode Chuckanut Drive up to Fairhaven, parked, and had lunch at the Colophon Café. They had a nice, spicy, chili soup as a special. We each had that with a mini-baguette. I like the Colophon Café. The food is a little above-average, and a little more eclectic than I usually get on motorcycle rides. The waitress was effervescent with bubbly energy. She made it even nicer.
We left Fairhaven going south, wound our way back to Colony Road, turned south again on Highway 11, and then east on Bow Hill Road. Approaching the crest of Bow Hill, Kurt pulled alongside and gave me the “coffee” sign. I thought about where to go, and led him south on Old 99 to the Starbucks at Cook Road. We had a coffee, talked for a bit, and left for the last leg.
I took him down I-5 to the south side of Mount Vernon, took the Kincaid Street exit, cut behind Wells Nursery, and turned east on Blackburn. We took Little Mountain Road over to West Big Lake Road, turned South and hit the Highway 9 junction just past the south end of the lake. As we navigated through the corners around Lake McMurray we came to my departure point to turn towards home.
Kurt would head South on Highway 9; I would turn west and catch a quick freeway ride to get home. I waived Kurt off and, just as I rounded the corner onto SR 534, a WSP unit pulled up to the stop sign, making it three in one day.
We Washingtonians are very well protected.
Click on the map below to go to the Garmin Player page, and my GPS tracks.