Tuesday, May 1st
On Monday I posted to our group web site that the upcoming weekend’s weather forecast looked promising. Ever ready to ride, Randy followed up with a plan to go to the Grand Coulee region on the east side of the Cascades. It didn’t take long for the other regulars, Dean and Marv, to join in. Doug managed to get this one scheduled in too. By Monday evening we had a new ride planned, including hotel reservations and a couple of planned routes.
Most of the planning on this ride started out as the optional ‘Plan B’ ride which was formulated in case the Pelican Run, a ride that occurred two weeks ago, got rained out. When the weather on the west side of the state turns rainy, we can usually find warmer and drier weather on the east side. We all get a bit weary of the roads on the west side of the state and, by Spring, we’re itching to find less-frequented paths. As it turned out, we had great weather for the Pelican Run out to the Oregon coast, and the ‘Plan B’ ride was shuffled to the side…until now.
Friday, May 4th
The ride for me begins Friday. I usually overnight at Marv & MaryLou’s house on the night before a ride, so I have to pack an extra day’s-worth of clothes, as well as everything I need for work. I’m much more laden than Marv on rides; the evidence of which is apparent at every gas stop. Since we ride identical motorcycles, one would think we would get approximately the same mileage, but I carry around 50 pounds of gear that Marv does not and, as a result, burn about ten percent more fuel.
Friday morning’s ride to work was WET! The rain-fly covering my saddlebag was filled with water. I stayed dry and crisp in my suit, but the bottom of my saddlebags got a little wet. Friday afternoon in Marv’s garage, I unpacked both of my saddle bags so everything could dry overnight.
When I got to Marv’s after work on Friday, I came with a bag-load of camera mounts. My latest distraction is to shoot video while I ride, and then take some of the clips edited together to make a short video of the places we go, and the group as we ride. I like watching a small group of motorcyclists wind along a curvy road, a short distance between each, like a string of pearls. I sprang for a few extra mounts for my cameras so I could video from a variety of angles. Marv and I spent a while figuring out good mounting points to record video from, and testing them out.
The forward-facing camera was easy to figure out. The only question regarding the positioning of the forward camera is whether to include a small piece of my motorcycle’s fairing in the field of view of the video. The aft-facing mount is a little more difficult. The only mounting location I had been able to find for it that is steady enough has been the barrier bar. The problem with that location has been that the field of view is largely taken up by my left leg and the motorcycle, leaving a small view of the riders behind me. Marv suggested to me to find a spot facing aft that has a better field of view. We used one of the mounts with an extension to get the camera below and outboard of the left saddle bag.
We put two camera mounts on my left mirror. The idea is to have one of them facing forward, which will have no part of my motorcycle in the shot, and one of them facing aft from the same point. That aft view also puts me in the shot; an idea that I had seen in another rider’s video, but I’m not sure I’m completely comfortable with it.
Saturday, May 5th
I’m on a temporary job on first shift, so I’ve started to adjust my sleep patterns. I got up on my own at about 0530. I collected my things, and got started packing my bike. Marv and I had a bowl of granola before heading off to Monroe to meet with Dean and Randy. We got there with time for me to catch a cup of coffee before they showed up.
We set out heading east on Highway 2. The traffic slowly tapered off as we rode, until there was mostly open road summiting Steven’s Pass. Near the top there was deep snow on the sides of the road. The pavement was clear and wet. The spray from the few cars we had to pass was congealing on our face shields as slush, but it was never a real concern to any of us. The distance we had to travel through the cold over the pass was only about ten miles. Before we knew it, we were in sunny weather at the turn-off for Chumstick Canyon.
We made our way farther down into the Wenatchee Valley where we met Doug for breakfast.
The group was now complete. The weather was warm, and we were bound for some scenic roads.
We followed Highway 2 to the junction in Wenatchee where it pairs with Highway 97. We followed that north to where Highway 2 departs from Highway 97 in Orondo. The next section of Highway 2 is nice with some well-engineered sweeping curves. We all pepped up a little and enjoyed the run.
We followed the tracks shown below and took our next extended break at the Dry Falls State Park. We saw four or five park ranger vehicles cruising around as we pulled into the park, so we decided that, if we were going to investigate the parks any further, we should buy the pass rather than get a ticket. Randy, Doug, and I all bought passes and explored the park. Marv and Dean opted out of the expedition, and left for the night’s hold-up in Electric City.
The three intrepid explorers found our way along a very bumpy and stony road to the bottom of Dry Falls, a geological formation that is exactly what its name states. None of us had ever seen it from the bottom of the old river bed. We took a few photos and left for our next stop at Steamboat Rock State Park. The ride down SR155 to the park was breathtakingly beautiful. I had never really visited the east side of Washington in the spring, but it is gorgeous before it dries out in the summer sun. The reds and browns of the gorge, mixed with the turquoise of the lake and the green of the sage brush to stunning effect. As we descended on the highway toward Steamboat Rock, there was a spot which afforded a view of the lake through a short tunnel. I wish now that I had photographed it. At the time, I thought it was too surreal and I wouldn’t be able to do it justice. The colors were incredibly vivid.
We made a short stop at Steamboat Rock, and then followed the route to our hotel at Electric City. Marv and Dean had already checked in. We took a break for an hour or so. I got cleaned up and visited with Marv. We coordinated with the rest of the group and all took a ride to a Mexican restaurant.
It was Cinco de Mayo, and the restaurant seemed to be the popular place. They sat us at a table right in front of a guy playing Spanish guitar through an electric amp. We had a difficult time carrying on a conversation, and I was especially annoyed. Dinner and conversation are a highlight of the outing for me. I also thought the food was below average, though not rejectable.
On the way back to the hotel we gassed up. Randy and Doug stopped to buy a few beers. Dean stopped to get an ice cream. We all met at the hotel and sat out on the deck enjoying the sunset and the great view of the lake.
Sunday, May 6th
We decided to have kickstands up at 0830 Sunday morning. We went just a few miles down the road and stopped at a café in Electric City to have breakfast.
Everyone but Dean got the buffet. Dean ordered off the menu because he didn’t want to eat very much. We were all nearly done when Dean’s heaping plate arrived. So much for getting a smaller portion when ordering off the menu!
After breakfast we went another mile or so up the road and stopped at the Grand Coulee visitor’s center. It’s chock-full of memorabilia and exhibits describing the construction of the dam. It’s very well done. There is a great view of the dam from the parking area. We lingered there for 45 minutes or so. We were then ready for some nice roads and scenery.
The rest of the morning and early afternoon were spent on fabulously twisty or sweeping-curved roads, in a fine mixture of scenery.
We took Manila Creek road out of Electric City over to SR 21. We hooked into Cache Creek road and followed it west to Nespalem. We took the sweeping Columbia River road northwest to Omak, where we diverted to the wonderful Highway 20 and Loup Loup Pass. We descended the west side of Loup Loup pass into Twisp, and turned south. We took a break in Pateros for a snack and chatted by the lake for a while. From there, we wound our way south past Chelan and back to the junction with Highway 2.
We stopped in Cashmere. Doug split off for the south on Highway 97. His route would take him over Blewett Pass to catch I-90 over the Cascades and home. The four of us remaining grabbed a quick sit-down lunch while contemplating the ride west over the Cascades, and home. Though there was a fair amount of traffic heading west on that Sunday afternoon; it was not as bad as it could be/has been. I split off from the group just east of Sultan, and found my way home.
Below are my GPS tracks from the ride home.
I arrived home at 1800 Sunday afternoon and, after caring for the dog and the motorcycle, I enjoyed a long hot shower. I set my alarm for 0350. Monday morning was already on its way.