However, after three days of very hard riding in awful weather at times, the rather short ride, and nice weather, had me in a good mood. It dawned a bit cloudy and in the 50s, so I put on the rain gear just to be safe. As I was loading the bike up, an older gentleman on a modified sport bike came up to me as he was loading his bike and giving the once-over to my dirty, well ridden Harley commented that "well at least you aren't a weekend Harley guy", (which I took to be a complement, as bikes are meant to be ridden) and asked where I'd been to get the bike that dirty. I recounted my tales of weather and miles for the past three days, and found out he was also from Seattle and headed home with his riding partner. However they weren't nearly ready to go, so I wished them good riding -- and it seemed fitting to finish this ride alone.
I took the old US-30 route through old downtown Pendleton to get out of town -- and enjoyed the old town a bit before ramping up onto I-84 West and then I-82 West and across the Columbia River and into Washington. I took the first exit and traveled the old non-freeway route through the Yakima Valley, and as I crested the bluff above the river and looked down on the valley, I finally sensed I was nearing home.
Just past Ellensburg, where the west slope of the Cascades start, I pulled off to one of my favorite old roadside burger stands called Twin Pines. Its set in a nice little park just off WA-10, and it's the last stop before the old highway turns into I-90. I thought it fitting that I stop one last time for lunch before hitting the freeway for the home stretch. In the shade I enjoyed lunch and a nice milkshake, and spent some time reflecting on the trip and how far I'd come. The weather was actually so nice that despite all the riding I'd done, I completely forgot about the bad weather of the past three days and the hard riding, and wanted to keep going. But I knew I should get home.
As I throttled up onto I-90 headed West to Seattle, I thought about the purpose of the trip, and how I was going to use the time alone to do some thinking and perhaps resolve some things. But the thing that I kept thinking is that I really hadn't done that, and a verse from a song popped into my head that made exactly that point.
"Now the years are rolling by me, they are rocking easily
And I am older than I once was, and younger than I'll be that's not unusual.
No it isn't strange that after changes upon changes, we are more or less the same.
After changes, we are more or less the same."
The Boxer - Paul Simon
So here I am, some 3,000 miles and 10 days later, no better off, nor any worse off, and having made no profound decisions that I'd not already had in mind before I left. I had a hell of a time though.
(My brother Gordon, who is a map-fiend, just created and sent me this map of my route -- and for fun I'll post it here.)