Gary Gardner (grgardner) wrote,
Gary Gardner

At Long Last Summer - For A Moment

The fact that we've not had a summer to speak of here in the Northwest has been very trying.  Everyone, and I mean everyone in Seattle is in disbelief at the weather.  The media run stories about it -- how it's been so many hundred days since 70 degree days, and that so far we'd had 18 minutes of summer. (Summer being defined as more than 80 degrees under less than 30% cloud cover).   Well that changed -- at least for this weekend, and since I had nothing on the agenda decided I'd take a mini road trip on the bike. 

So I loaded up the ole' T-bag with enough undies, shirts, socks and sundries for three days (assuming I might want to stay out that long), and headed out -- more or less aiming towards Eastern Washington.   It was still kinda cool in Seattle when I left and so I had my lightest leather jacket on over a t-shirt, and was quite comfortable, and I'd packed a sleeveless shirt to change into as soon as I got over the mountains where it would be warmer.  I pointed the bike towards Mt. Rainier and headed towards Chinook Pass on WA-410.   I meandered a bit, and had lunch at my favorite tavern on the road to Mt. Rainier and then climbed up to the pass.  It's still winter up here -- and where Tipsoo Lake would normally be there was a big ice covered pond.  But the sun was out and it was glorious and I was on the bike headed down the road with nary a care in the world.
It got warmer as I rolled down the east side of the pass towards Yakima, and so I stopped at the Yakima Harley-Davidson dealership to change into my sleeveless shirt (and remembering to spray myself liberally with sunscreen).  I'm always somewhat humbled and amused when folks recognize me from my Quick Throttle column, as the young sales girl at the dealership did.  I'm flattered when people read and like what I write and she asked me to autograph a copy of the magazine for her, and she flirted a bit too - go figure.  I had no idea biker chicks read my stuff and think I'm somewhat attractive and or famous.   Or maybe there's nothing to do in Yakima either. 

I took the back roads through the orchards and farm country east of Yakima towards the Columbia River and followed that towards the Tri-Cities area.  Along the way I ran across an abandoned homestead that I thought might make some interesting pictures, so I shot off a few.  I'm quite a fan of the "Hipstamatic" program on the i-Phone, and it sometimes takes some absolutely amazing shots like this one.  It makes an haunting scene even more haunting, and you have to wonder about the why and what happened here.   The writer in me makes up stories -- which I'm sure are not as exciting as what really did go on here some 50-80 years ago.
Somewhere between this abandoned homestead and Richland, Washington the bike rolled over the 50,000 mile mark too.   I'll write about that later, but I paused along the road to enjoy all those 0's and reflect on those miles.  Some 30 miles later I pulled into Richland -- one of the Tri-Cities (the others being Pasco and Kennewick).  They all blend together at the confluence of the Snake and Columbia Rivers.   I'd made a reservation at a Holiday Inn Express using my i-phone while having lunch, and found the hotel right off WA-240.  

The nice thing about being a road warrior and accruing points in affinity programs is that with a little work and sticking with one program, you get "elite" status.  I happen to be Platinum with IHG the parent company of the Holiday Inn brands.  A regular room will always be upgraded if an upgraded one is available, and when I rolled into Richland, I found I'd been upgraded to the "Presidential Suite".  No lie, it said it on the door.  However I don't think Barry or anyone else has stayed here.   It was actually a rather large apartment with three rooms.    An enormous Mexican family was having "Anna's Quinceanera" (a Mexican celebration of a young woman turning 15) at the meeting room and there was quite a pack of young kids running about as well as teenage Mexican girls dolled up in evening gowns and super-spiked heels, and young Mexican boys standing around trying to look cool.   I figured I'd head out to dinner and miss the festivities, since the Mariachi music was a bit loud.  As usual, I asked the desk clerk if he could eat anywhere in town where would it be?   He said "Applebees".  I said any place that wasn't a national chain.  The girl standing next to him said Kino's down on the river, it's a steak house/sports bar.  I said fantastic.  She drew me a map and after washing off the road grime and sunscreen and changing into a regular shirt, I rode off.  

It was a perfect end to a wonderful 250 mile ride in the sunshine -- a nice steak, a nice single-malt scotch, and slice of apple pie, all while enjoying the sunset over the Columbia River.  
The next morning I ambled down the hall to the breakfast bar and had some food, while perusing the Harley Atlas for a different route home.  That was kind of difficult since -- and I'm not trying to brag here -- but I've been on nearly every road in the state, and there's only a few -- actually five but only three year round -- roads back from Eastern to Western Washington.   Nonetheless I'd strung together a couple of roads that I'd not done in sometime or in that order, and aimed my way back. 

I've forgotten what it's like, being on the road on the bike.  Usually every year by now I've taken a couple of long bike trips, but not this one.  The combination of a 135 day legislative session and work after, as well as the abysmal weather has kept me and the bikes home bound.   I've missed the familiarity and routine of the road;  plotting a route, riding and seeing what's out there, drinking Gatoraide from an adult sippy bottle, spraying on sunscreen, strapping up or unstrapping the T-bag, checking into the hotel, and finding a local place to eat a nice dinner, sleeping soundly and getting up and doing it all over again.  I found I miss the rhythm of the road trip.  I need to get out again soon.

The ride back was just as nice as the ride over -- but I got pink in a few spots where the sunscreen missed, including the back of my hands where the holes in my gloves don't cover the skin.   I have nice red knuckles  again -- I don't know why I always forget to spray there.   All that sun replenished my Vitamin D, and I feet great getting back and could have kept riding.  I probably should have, since Summer was here but for a weekend.  I woke to rain and 60 again today.  Same for tomorrow, and the next day too...  Well we had summer -- for a moment at least.

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