Dan had sent a message to some of his friends, including Marv, to see if anyone wanted to make a two-day ride to Colville in northeast Washington. Marv invited me along and, when it all shook out, there were just the three of us who would make the ride.
We met at Shari’s just off I-405 in Kirkland on Wednesday morning. After breakfast, we got underway on some of the East King, Snohomish, and Skagit County roads that would ultimately situate us in Marblemount, pointed east to cross the North Cascades on Highway 20. The roads were dry, and the weather was overcast, but warm. We enjoyed ourselves during the two-hour run to Marblemount, since Dan had chosen all the best roads in the area. We cleared Washington Pass, and took a break to shed some layers.
After getting past the milestone of Winthrop, we stopped for lunch in Twisp at La Fonda Lopez, a cool little place Kurt had discovered. The food is Mexican, but not the run-of-the-mill sort of food you see elsewhere. I like this place, and will stop there every time I pass through and need food. Dan would have some gastronomical discomfort later, but he alone.
After lunch, we crossed over Loop Loop Pass, and then turned north on Highway 97 in Omak, and rode north through the orchards of the Okanogan Valley on the dull, straight arterial that runs north to Canada. It was late afternoon, and the valley was sweltering under the late August sun.
In Oroville, we took an extended break, and drank a lot of water. Just north of Oroville, we would turn east and start working our way to Colville on secondary two-lane roads. As we rode along several marshy areas, I was on the lookout for a moose, but never spotted one. We were all having a good time riding at a brisk pace on the little-used North Central Washington roads.
We rejoined Highway 20 in Curlew as dusk was creeping over the hills, and I was starting to see deer in all the shadows – some real, and some imagined. We zipped along to Kettle Falls, across the Mighty Columbia, and then south to our motel in Colville.
On Sunday, we took my favorite route back to the west side of the state – north to Kettle Falls, and then south on Bridge Creek and Cache Creek Roads. Our path was clean and clear. When Marv and I rode to Colville in July, a couple of the best roads were freshly chip-sealed with a lot of gravel in the lanes. This time through we were able to enjoy them.
The three of us had strung out a bit on the Columbia River Road south of Lake Omak, when Dan pulled over and waved Marv and me on. We went for a bit, not seeing Dan in our mirrors. We were nearly to a turn, and I thought that would be a good spot to pull over to wait for him. As we rounded the corner, Marv pulled along-side of me motioning me to pull over, just as I saw an oncoming white SUV ahead that raised the hairs on the back of my neck.
The LEO swerved over into our lane several times with her lights on, and signaled for us to stop. She pulled up along-side of us and asked us to ‘please slow down.’ Then she remarked that she too rides a Ninja.
After we promised to check our speed, she rolled on, so we pulled over to wait for Dan. We expected that, if he was trying to catch up with us, the conversation she would have with him might be a little longer. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. Dan was soon with us, and we proceeded to Omak.
Using Yelp, I found a great little restaurant in Omak, the Breadline Café. We had a nice meal and sat chatting for a while.
Leaving Omak, we connected with Highway 20 to ride back west over Loop Loop Pass. As we rode along the ridge, we looked ahead and watched as the weather in front of us grew more and more ominous. In Twisp, we pulled over and prepared ourselves for what would turn out to be a deluge.
We rode the rest of the way to the junction of Cook Road and I-5 in varying degrees of rainy weather. Dan had opted to take the freeway home. After I pointed out to Marv that he was running out of rear tire, he decided to come up to my place and install my spare wheel to insure he could get home. It was a quick five miles to my house.
We swapped rear wheels on Marv’s bike, and he set his sights on home. Later that evening we would order new tires, and begin planning for the next ride. It had been an excellent trip; I was glad Dan had planned and led it.