Here’s one. Let’s go to Colville for a shakedown ride.
Marv and I, and most of the riders we know, had lost a friend a week earlier after striking a deer while riding alone in Oregon. Randy Upshaw has been a feature in several of my ride reports, and was on many rides on which I made no report. He was a good friend and riding companion. It had been a very gloomy week, and I think we all take measure of ourselves when something like this happens. I needed to get back on my bike and ride.
It was Tuesday evening, and I was already looking ahead to the weekend. I characterized it as a ‘shakedown ride.’ We could make sure we were ready to make the next long trip. It was just an artifice. I really just wanted to go for a ride. I sent messages to Marv and Kurt asking if they wanted to ride over to Colville on Saturday, and return on Sunday. Kurt couldn’t make the whole trip, but he was able to get away for part of it with us.
After we decided to make the ride, I made reservations for Benny’s in Colville, and put together a route. None of the roads was going to be new for either of us, but I hadn’t been to eastern Washington for a couple of years, so it didn’t seem tiresome. It was nice to be inland again.
The terrain in Washington is a study in stark contrasts. There are rain forests on the west coast, wet forests on the west slopes of the cascades, and desert in the east central area. The eastern portion of the state returns to mountains and forests. There’s a little something for everyone, whatever their mood. The eastern half of the state is dominated by the efforts put forth by the C.C.C. in the 1930’s and the Columbia River Basin Reclamation Project, most significantly by the Grand Coulee dam.
Marv and I met Kurt at the Starbucks on Novelty Hill, east of Redmond. We said our good-mornings and, after breaking out my new camera, we left on the back roads out of the ‘burbs to connect with Highway 2.
After crossing the mountains and sweeping down the east slopes, we covered the well-worn Chumstick Canyon roads, and finally stopped for breakfast. We could tell the weather was going to be hot; the forecasters had guessed correctly.
After breakfast, we rode to Wenatchee on Highway 2, and then turned north on US 97. Kurt continued on Highway 97 and over the North Cascades Highway; Marv and I turned east through McNeil canyon, and then crossed a high plateau and entered the Columbia basin. I always stop to take photos at the massive Grand Coulee dam. It’s not the largest, but it sure is big and, at the time it was built, it must have seemed an overwhelming undertaking.
We continued our north-eastern trek, pausing occasionally for photos and water breaks. The heat was everything the weather forecasters had predicted. We crossed the Colville reservation, and took the Inchelium ferry across FDR Lake. We were nearly to Colville.
We stayed at Benny’s Colville Inn, and had a reminiscent dinner at the Acorn Tavern. It was a place Randy liked. I had ridden all day carefully watching for deer, and thinking of Randy – et cum spiritu tuo.
We took our time getting started Sunday morning, leaving enough time for the deer and elk to complete their daily migrations. Early mornings, and late evenings are good times for riders to park their bikes. We only had one encounter with animals actually in the road Sunday morning.
The ride east on Saturday was splendid, but there was magic in the air on Sunday morning. It was very much a classic summer morning, and I was finally starting to loosen up and shake off the gloom.
We took a nice mixture of roads back to the west, and stopped in Twisp for a late breakfast. The night before, when we checked on Kurt, he told us he had stopped in Twisp for lunch at La Fonda Lopez, a nice Mexican restaurant with a unique menu. Marv and I went out of our way to find it, and it was good. I gobbled my breakfast. Kurt was right.
We bypassed touristy Winthrop, crossed the passes, and dropped down to the Skagit River-Seattle City Light Project. The Gorge, Diablo and Ross dams on the Skagit river have created three beautiful lakes popular with the tourists and R.V. Crowds. We were able to safely pass most of the slow-pokes and enjoy most the road, but the last 10 miles or so was a parade of slow-movers. When we got to Concrete, we took the South Skagit Highway, which is a nice road to avoid the R.V. parade. It’s a nice, shaded, 30-mile alternative to the main road.
It had been a nice run, and we got to see some roads we had not been on in some time.
Thanks for the good times Randy. Rest in peace.