I loaded up Angus Monday night so I could get an early start on Tuesday, hoping to get out of Seattle before traffic got too bad. I realize now that there is no such thing as "before traffic got too bad" in Seattle anymore. Even leaving before 7am puts one into nasty morning traffic. It was slow going all the way into the city and across the lake to Bellevue where it finally opened up. I opted to take the dreadful I-90 over Snoqualmie Pass to save time. Just past the town of North Bend, as the freeway really starts climbing the pass, a pickup truck towing a trailer with some concrete electrical vaults on it in just front of me lost one of the concrete lids to a vault and it came flying off the trailer about 10 car lengths in front of me. We were both in the center lane, the lid fortunately went flying off to the left and I was able to cut to the right and avoided running into a flying cement wall at 70mph. The driver didn't even notice and kept going. I throttled up and tried to explain it to him and he flipped me off. Gotta love the karma there right. Well nothing like a near-death experience to keep your heart racing until exiting off on the other side of the summit in the small town of Cle Elum for a quick stop at the venerable Owen's Meats for some dried sausage for the trip.
Any ride that gets anywhere near Cle Elum is pretty much required to stop at Owen's. It's an amazing store -- sawdust on the old wooden floor, long meat counter, and the best sausage and jerkey and cuts anywhere. I know people who drive over the pass with coolers to load up here. As their slogan says "You can't beat our meat!" (It really does say that on the door.) Unfortunately they were out of my favorite, so I settled for a bag of pepperoni strips, and headed up over Blewett Pass.
East of Wenatchee all the way to Spokane I'm on US-2. This is the northern most transcontinental US highway, and is always my preferred route when riding through Eastern Washington. To me it's a very scenic highway. I suppose that sounds like an odd statement to a lot of people, especially folks who have traveled it, but it's one of my favorite roads. No, it's not "scenic" in the traditional sense -- there are no mountains, or rivers, or lakes -- or even trees. But it's still beautiful in it's own way I think. It's a very quiet road for one thing -- not a lot of traffic. When people picture Washington, more often than not they think of the coast, or Puget Sound, or the mountains and forests of the "Evergreen State". But that's only the Western half the state. Over here this could really be called the "Evergold State" -- countless miles of golden wheat fields surrounded by an endless sky. You'd almost think you were in Kansas, right down to the abandoned prairie type school houses. And I love watching the combines harvest the grain.
This is a nice resort town on the shores of the lake, with a charming downtown area. And in order to get the lay of the land I met up with two very charming sisters of a great friend and former neighbor in Seattle, Kim. I'd never met either of these ladies face to face, but one of them -- Cindy -- is one of my biggest fans and has been very encouraging of my photography and my writing. She and her sister Heidi graciously offered to show me around the town. I don't think I've ever had two women want to take me out on the town but we hit a couple of bars and finished up at a wonderful neighborhood restaurant -- all in the name of research for the article I'm writing. Like I said, it's tough work. We watched the sunset over the lake and then spent three hours gabbing like old friends. It's a wonderful thing to be able to meet up with people you don't know and have an immediate chemistry that makes strangers into instant old friends.