Kurt’s optimism was unrelenting. He wasn’t going to miss an opportunity to get out on the BMW for a three-day ride, and he wasn’t going to let Marv or me wimp-out on it either. We had planned the Spring Ride months ago, but planning a ride during the shoulder season that far in advance is a crap-shoot. We’d had some nice weather, but we’d had mostly hard rain. We were all watching the forecasts, and trying to decide where we could go riding, Marv and I were pessimistic about going anywhere, expecting we would end up riding wet. Kurt was having none of it. He was going to make a ride somewhere, with or without us. We were scheduled to leave on Monday, the 31st. On Saturday night, the 29th, I was in the mood to cancel, and Marv was not interested in another rain ride either. When I went to bed Saturday night, I was sure I was out. I was going to finish my weekend at work, and then relax before taking a long vacation in Italy.
I was playing internet chess Sunday morning, when I got another email from Kurt showing a sunny forecast for Eastern Washington. I finally realized I was going to have to go, and Marv had come to the same conclusion. I responded, and said we should go to Electric City. We had a consensus.
We met Monday morning at the Novelty Hill Starbucks near Redmond where we took an extended sit-down for coffee and catch-up. Kurt then led us east on back roads through the Carnation Valley and into North Bend where we fueled up and hit I-90 for the ride over Snoqualmie Pass. Snoqualmie Pass is the lowest of the passes over the Cascades, which had been factored into our route planning. It’s still early in the season, and none of us wanted to ride through slushy, twisty, mountain-pass roads. Fortunately, the pavement was bare and dry. We got off the interstate at Nelson Siding Road and wandered down to the Columbia Gorge in Vantage, where we were bathed in sunlight and found perfect riding temperatures.
It was nice to be on the east side of the mountains, and to see the wind farms and beautiful rock landscapes of Central Washington.
We crossed the Columbia on the interstate, and then turned northeast on Highway 283. This ride wasn’t going to be on very twisty roads but, with that in mind, I had planned it to be scenic. We did a dull stretch for a half-hour or so, and then got to the Highway 17 turn-off and started winding our way along the edge of the coulees and up to Electric City. It wasn’t the most exciting set of roads, but it was nice to be riding in the sunshine, on dry pavement, and with almost no traffic.
We stayed at the Sky Deck motel, right at the edge of Banks Lake. Marv went straight into the motel; Kurt and I went on to the Grand Coulee dam and the visitor’s center. We looked at the exhibits about the construction of the dam, and watched a bit of the movie about the geological origins of the coulees.
After that, we returned to the motel, cleaned up, picked up Marv, and went to dinner.
Tuesday morning was cool and sunny, and promised to be a nice day for us. We made a day-ride out of Electric City, making a long loop around North-central Washington. Two roads were still off limits to us due to slushy conditions. Cache Creek, and Sherman Pass were both going to have to wait until later in the season.
We went north from Electric City to Columbia River Road, and then northwest to Omak. We had lunch at Magoo’s, a place Marv’s wife had recommended. We fueled up before leaving town, and went north on US-97, to Tonasket.
We took the Tonasket-Havillah Road, which was nice, and provided fairly comfortable riding. However, we made a wrong turn to a road that petered out to a muddy, gravel surface.
We came across a county worker grading the road with a road grader. He said the road would get too muddy if we were to continue. Somehow, I had missed a mark with a way-point on my GPS, and we had to backtrack to get back on the Tonasket-Havillah Road.
We connected with County Road 4861 to Chesaw Road. Both roads were really sandy, and we used an abundance of caution.
We got to Toroda Road where the pavement was clean and clear again. We connected to Highway 20, and made our way to a nice long break in Republic.
We had a good time zipping down Highway 21 to the south, west again on Manilla Creek Road, and back to Electric City for our second night’s stay.
We had a nice dinner at The Fusion Café across the street from our motel. I give it high marks – very high marks considering where we were.
Wednesday we had a fairly straight-forward route planned to take us home. With all the sand still on the roads from the winter, the back roads wouldn’t be very much fun. The scenery was nice anyway, and I enjoyed the ride.
We went south and west to Waterville, where we thought we’d have breakfast at the Blue Rooster, but they were no longer serving meals; they just hadn’t updated their web-site. We continued on our way, and stopped for lunch at the ’59er Diner in Cashmere.
After reaching Leavenworth, we took a short diversion off Highway 2 through Chumstick Canyon. Back on Highway 2 again, and up and over a clear Steven’s Pass, we went straight on through to Sultan, with dry weather and very little traffic. We stopped at the Sultan Bakery for a coffee, and to bid farewell. Marv and Kurt would head south to their homes on the East-side, and I wandered on the East County roads north, to home in Sedro Woolley.
I’m glad Kurt persisted in making this trip. I really enjoyed it; I think we all did. It wasn’t the nicest set of roads we’d ever ridden, but they were just right after a long winter season with very few riding days. It was nice to feel at home on my bike again.