“Randy got a call. He needs to take care of some work. He’ll try to meet us in Kelso.” I was still bleary eyed early on Saturday morning when Marv gave me the update.
“What do you want to do?” I queried.
“It’s nice outside.”
(I guess that means we’re riding to Kelso without him.)
I muddled through my morning ablutions and gathered my gear. I still had to figure out my camera mounting locations. I puttered around with them in the garage for a while and did my best to get them aimed. After a generous serving of granola we were on our way.
We took I-405 and Highway 167 south to Sumner. We streaked down Highway 162, turning southwest on Orville Rd. past Lake Kapowsin. We meandered over to Eatonville and caught the nice section of Highway 7.
There was a point at which I came around a curve to find a deer finishing a timid road-crossing. I came to a full stop, both to check for the rest of the family, and to insure Marv didn’t come racing through to find a deer playing road-hog. The road was clear. Marv was behind me, probably wondering why I was sitting in the middle of the road. I moved on.
We were in Elbe when we took a pit stop. We rolled into a gas station and I finally got my first cup of coffee of the morning. We were both warmed up, and starting to get a taste of just how nice the day would turn out to be. Marv struck up a conversation with a rider that was there. He was a local and gave us a small deviation to try. He suggested we turn onto Highway 508 at Morton for a route west. That was a couple of blocks before our planned turning point in Morton at the junction with U.S. 12. Why not? I didn’t realize until later that Randy had plugged in a small deviation from U.S. 12 around Mayfield Lake. We didn’t get to blaze that trail on this ride. We did find that Highway 508 was a good alternate road.
We were somewhere along Tower Road when I realized I was getting low on fuel. The instrument display was flashing an alternating warning of “Low Fuel.” and a symbol of a gas pump. It’s hard to enjoy the road and scenery with the warning going off on the bike and in the back of my mind. I didn’t want Marv to have to siphon fuel for me. Besides, since we have the same tank, he must be getting low too, right? His warning was not going off yet.
I tried the tool on the GPS software to find the closest gas station. It was difficult to discern which station was closest to our route while riding down the road. I gave it a try nonetheless, and tried to add the gas station as a “via” point on our route. The recalculated route showed the gas station would be a fair distance off our preferred course. I decided to make a u-turn and pull into a parking area along the Toutle River. There were several cars parked in the relatively-remote area. There was a fellow there, sitting on a stump and reading a book. While we were doffing our helmets, a large van hauling a trailer pulled into the area. Marv deduced that it was likely a pick-up point for people rafting down the river. He chatted up the raft van drivers while I fiddled with my camera. I turned to the task of finding a gas station. At Marv’s suggestion, I asked the van driver, and was tipped-off to the location of a gas station about 4 miles further along our route.
Ahhh! We were gassed-up and on our way. I still remain puzzled how I used nearly a gallon more gas than Marv.
We rode along Silverlake Road and got on the freeway about 5 miles North of Kelso. We took an exit, went through Kelso, and found our way along the route across the Columbia. We were in Oregon.
The roads Randy had plugged in around the Scappoose area were magnificent. There were a lot of sport-bikers out on them. A rider came up behind Marv, and we sidled right to let him pass. The guy obviously knew the road well. He took off like a rabbit; we took off like Greyhounds. We followed him until a suspicious-looking white car came into view on the shoulder. Marv and I slowed, and we never saw the other rider again.
We stopped for a break at Scappoose. I had a message on my phone from Randy. He wanted to meet us in Kelso for dinner. Marv and I were both hungry. We continued on our route into St. Helens. We had an egg roll from the Safeway to tide us over until dinner, and continued back to Kelso to the hotel.
Randy showed up shortly after we arrived. We chatted for a while and then cleaned up. We went for a nice dinner at Azteca. It was a great wrap-up to a glorious day of back-roads.
It was Easter Sunday. Our plan was to leave at 0900 for the ride home. The route was Randy’s, with a small contribution from me for a road to get out of Kelso. It turned out to be a surprisingly good road. I was very proud of finding it.
We had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel. I knew I would need a few more minutes to get my cameras ready for the ride. I set up with one camera filming to the aft from the left fairing, and one facing forward right above it.
We had great weather and clean roads for the ride. We took Pacific way out of Kelso to Coal Creek Road. We rode on Coal Creek road north to Delameter Road. We continued on back roads and two-lane highways, winding our way north.
About 90 minutes after we left the hotel, we pulled over to the side of the road for a break. We were all having a blast on the ride. Randy decided to trim off a bit of his tire plug that was sticking out. He had had a flat on this tire two weeks prior, and he had plugged it. Clearly he thought there may be some problems with his tire, and it turned out he was right.
About 20 minutes after our first break, Randy got a flat. He pulled off the road into the driveway of a farm yard. Randy got busy on the repair while Marv cheered him on. I got busy changing out the spent batteries in my video cameras. Upon investigation, we discovered his plug had failed. He put a new single-strip plug in it and got it re-inflated. While Randy was pumping up the tire, two different farmers happened by and offered tools or assistance if we needed any.
We traveled along a very nice section of highway for about ten more miles before the tire plug failed again.
This time we did the tire repair using two strips to plug it. Randy didn’t want to chance it any farther, and decided he would head directly for the ferry and home.
We stopped in McCleary for lunch. I don’t recall the name of the café, but there were two other sport-bikers there for lunch, so we thought that was a good sign. Marv and I lobbied Randy to continue the ride with us. He said he would continue on for a while, and then cut out and head for the ferry.
After we left McCleary, we continued north on winding two-lane roads. By the time we got to the point at which Randy had mentioned splitting off, he was more confident in his tire. He decided to continue the ride with us.
We rode though the Tahuya area on the Kitsap Peninsula. That was the only area where we noticed any significant debris in the roads. There were some corners and curves with sand and gravel in our lane. We all took notice and slowed a bit.
We arrived at the Kingston Ferry terminal just in time to squeeze onto the back of a ferry that was loaded and about to leave. We chatted as we crossed the sound and, after we docked, we each found our own way home.
I ended up with about 16 hours of video from the two cameras from the two days of riding. It’s hard to decide which sections are worthy of the effort of publishing.
This was our first overnight ride of the season and, if this is any indication of what the 2012 season has in store for us, we are going to have a great year.
Here are my GPS tracks from Kelso to home.