Day 4 - Astoria, OR to Issaquah, WA

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June 22nd 2017
Published: June 23rd 2017
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Greetings from Issaquah, WA! It is I, The Alien, bringing you tales of my great motorcycle adventure. Today marks the halfway point of the first third of my trip. Huh? Yeah. Read on for tales of sausage, boats, computer guys, international borders and how I almost died. Here goes:

I left Astoria, OR at about 8:00 AM (Yes, I'm slacking off on early departures but I'm on vacation.) Continuing north on US 101, I quickly crossed into Washington. I have not been to Washington state since I was 5 years old. At that time, my Dad took me on a 9 day car trip to Vancouver, WA in his MGB. My Dad is a smart guy and knew that the trip would be no fun for me if I were staring at his glove box the entire way, so he made a cushion for the seat that raised me up to his height so that I could see all the sights. We did the whole trip with the top down. That was my first road trip and it's good to be back all these decades later.

The Washington coast is even more beautiful than the Oregon coast. The roads are excellent and seem to be made for motorcycles. Except for one stretch. Coming around a tight, fast downhill left turn, the road suddenly turned to gravel and dirt. Not good. In that situation on a bike, brakes are not an option. The slightest touch of either front or rear brake will immediately spell disaster. My front tire did not lose traction but the rear did. This can be dealt with. I remember the first time I ever saw a Valkyrie, it was a TV commercial with the big bike powersliding across a dry lake bed.

I did my best impression of that commercial and kept things upright. We live to fight another day. That's the thing about riding though. You almost die...a lot. Even more if you live in a city like Los Angeles. The trick is to keep your skills up, keep your eyes open and make sure that you keep the "almost" in "almost died." MSF courses are good. They didn't have those when I started riding but now, they are a requirement to get your M1 endorsement in California. I had to learn on my own, from friends and from books. I would hear about a technique from a friend or book then go out and practice it until I felt confident. I still do that. After 25 years of riding, the one thing I'm sure of is that you never stop learning new things. If, that is, you can put your ego aside and listen. Those old greybeard bikers (which I resemble more and more), have a lot of knowledge to pass on if only someone were willing to listen.

I stopped at a gas station in the oddly named town of Cosmopolis, WA for a stretch and restroom break. On my way to the restroom, I noticed that the counterperson had fresh hot food for sale in a glass case. I asked her to pull a smoked sausage out for me. Upon returning from the room of enlightenment, I was surprised to se a large paper bag, bulging and soaked through with grease. "That'll be $46.19 please", she said. "Um... that's an awful lot for a sausage, dontcha think?" She gazed at me icily and said "I thought you said you wanted all the sausages." With that cleared up, I enjoyed my one sausage and was on my way. Maybe I should have bought them all, they were tasty.

The next stop for the Mothership and I was the town of Forks, WA. This town is notable for being the setting of the Twilight movies. For those not familiar with Twilight, please allow me to provide a brief synopsis: Twilight was a very popular series of books and movies marketed to young teen girls. It deals with a not-so-bright small town high school girl trying desperately to choose between a moody, glittery guy who is actually a corpse and an angry guy who is actually a dog. Oh, and the dog guy is really in love with her unborn baby, the child of the moody glittery guy.

I continued North and finally reached the farthest Northwest point that you can drive to in the continental U.S. Across a small waterway lies Canada, with the actual border in the middle of the water according to my map. It didn't look particularly Canadian. I'm not sure what I was expecting, maybe some Royal Canadian Mounted Police serving little cups of maple syrup... No such luck. I saw trees though. I can personally confirm that Canada has trees. I have to admit, as I stood there, I briefly considered altering my plans for the rest of the trip, forgetting about Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. How cool would it be, I thought, to beeline it from here to the furthest point South that you can reach by motorcycle? By the way, that would be Key West Florida. Hell, I could hit Key West, shoot up to Maine, then back to San Diego. A perfect "4 Corners" ride! Then I remembered that I used to live in Florida, remembered what the weather is like in late June and decided to stick to the original plan. Another time, perhaps.

A short while later, I came to the end of US 101. I did it! In 4 days, I rode every inch of US 101. It's nice to achieve a personal goal. I then turned onto 104 East and followed it to the Edmonton Ferry.

I've been on boats before and I've been on bikes before but I've never been on a bike on a boat before. I pulled to the booth and paid the fare. The attendant told be to pull to the front of the line, as motorcycles are first on/first off the ferry. Cool. When I got to the front of the line, there were two other bikes already there. One was a newer Harley-Davidson Road King and the other was a newer Indian Chief. Soon, we got the signal to board. This being my first time, I waved Indian Guy and Harley Guy on and followed their lead. We entered the rear of the ferry and rode all the way to the front, parked our bikes and got off. Well, at least Indian Guy and I did. Harley Guy just sat there on his bike, not speaking to anyone. Indian Guy and I walked to the bow and struck up a conversation. Indian Guy introduced himself as Rob and spent the 30 minute ferry ride pointing out sights and making helpful suggestions about my route through Seattle. We talked roads ridden, families and work (Rob is an IT guy). Much like me, he's been all over the country on his bike and much like me he works way too many hours but loves what he does. I'm going to tell you something about these trips that also applies to all of us every day: Our mothers were wrong. You should absolutely talk to strangers. You'd be surprised how enriching that conversation can be. Or you can be like Harley Guy and sit there sulking by yourself. Whichever you prefer.

After bidding Rob a safe ride and departing the ferry, I made my way to the freeway. There I was greeted by Seattle's bizarre freeway system. Sometimes there is a diamond lane on the left, sometimes it's on the right. Exits have multiple street names on them... It's nuts. Keep in mind that I'm a native of Los Angeles. I'm petty freeway savvy but this is a whole other level.

I finally made it to my motel, had a quick dinner at IHOP. (Don't order a steak from IHOP. When you see it, it makes you wonder what that cow liked like when it was alive) Probably a lot like Ernest Borgnine.

Tomorrow, it's off to Idaho. Go potatos!

See you on the road,



23rd June 2017
The edmonton Fery itself

Last chance for halibut fish and chips for breakfast........ Enjoying your blog
23rd June 2017
The edmonton Fery itself

No fish and chips for me.
Not this trip anyway. I really want to do this route again with my wife though, so there's hope!
23rd June 2017

Beautiful day for ride
Scott, I agree Washington State has a much more beautiful coast line than Oregon. Very glad your sliding episode in the gravel turned out good. I know you know what to do in cases like that, however, it would have been nice if the road dept. gave drivers a heads up. Great blog as always and I totally agree that people should talk more to strangers as they usually have interesting things to share. Have a great day 5 and speak to you later today.
25th June 2017

Washington Coast
I forgot to ask whether you were going anywhere near Anacordes. There is a place called Deception Pass and is awesome! Well, maybe another time when you decide to return to Washington. Thanks for the commentary. I have enjoyed each one. Although I've been busy to send a message, this is the first opportunity I had! Enjoy yourself and BE CAREFUL! I'm glad all the classes have been helpful in your "almost" situations.

Tot: 0.19s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 15; qc: 52; dbt: 0.0193s; 1; m:saturn w:www (; sld: 1; ; mem: 1.4mb