Day 1 533 km
The necessities of course...
Like a lot of adventures, this one started suddenly and fairly spontaneously.
Having an exciting weekend planned for Mission, I woke up Friday morning and decided instead to go to California. Mission can be done in the future, providing the opportunities are still available.
So, from Nanaimo I set out to catch the Black Ball. Funny that I decided to back track, but having played on the Toga ring the night before it all seemed very worthwhile. I had never been on the Coho before and having never made a reservation for anything except for a table at a Jazz club, I thought I would test luck on the May long weekend.
I arrived 90 minutes prior to the 1030 ferry and then waited in line for 20 minutes before they told me that because I did not have a reservation and it was the infamous weekend, there was little chance on getting on, but If I wanted to wait, I was welcome to and a full refund would be rewarded to me upon not going anywhere. I figured why not?
I went into the line that they put people that are not organized enough to make reservations and waited. I was lucky in the fact that there was only one other motorcycle without a reservation to compete with. On a black and white custom hand painted, hugely overloaded Honda was a delightful couple that almost immediately adopted me. I was told by Kitty that ... as a woman traveling alone on a motorcycle, I will inevitably almost never be alone. This turned out to be true.
After much disorganized chaos with customs along with many heated, cranky, anxious tourists, I was happy at the thought of leaving Canada. Alas they finally filled the boat...There were many angry folks who did not make it on, but Jonathan and Marnie, the couple on the painted Honda, and I were narrowly squeezed on.
After strapping my Ninja to the side of the hull. I went upstairs to enjoy the view and chat with Jonathan and Marnie about motorcycles and life.
Getting through customs on the other side was fairly swift. I thought I would have to take off my helmet, after all how can they see if I match my passport picture, but in the end it was not required. The gentleman at customs looked skeptically at me when I said I was traveling alone. I did have to declare my pepper spray which he agreed was a good idea, but useless against strung out crack addicts. Oh well...
Port Angeles was not quite what I pictured, but then neither were all the coastal towns that followed. The seaside towns reminded me of Ontario's remote towns, not prosperous but fairly comfortable.
We set out together Jonathan, Marnie and me for HWY 101.
I am grateful for having taken the ART course, not only because it saved my life last week on Fort street, and I am for the preservation my of my life, but also because I have a new approach to long sweeping turns, of which there are many in Washington. Not only are there many but they are all perfectly banked. Not once did I feel as though the road was trying to eject me. There was a heavy presence of Sheriffs along the way and plenty of warning from the oncoming traffic. Not a problem for me anyway as I was consistently at or under the speed limit, mostly due to the overloaded Honda I was traveling with.
We stopped plenty of times for various reasons. Marnie was a little anxious about those beautiful sweeping turns as Jonathan and I were delighting in them. Every once in a while we would pull over so Marnie could catch her breath. Plus there were so many good places to photograph. I was not in any hurry as I was supposed to be in Mission anyway, so every km was unplanned.
I thought it too bad I promised some people I would not camp because Washington is definitely a State to camp in. But on this trip I had promised to have four walls around me. Next time though, I am camping.
Astoria was the first place I felt truly charmed by. One has to pass over the most spectacular bridge that divides Washington from Oregon, to get there. The nice folks on the overloaded teetering Honda kept on going to Seaside and I settled into this very old likable town. That evening I went to have a look at my Ninja and oil the chain like the gentlemen at Adrenaline said I should. Good thing I did too because once again it needed tightening. Hence the torque wrench...
Day 2 632 km
Oregon is infamous for speeding tickets. Apparently that is how they keep their taxes low. I am not sure this is the case, but I made very sure I did not speed whatsoever. It did not take as much concentration as I thought.
My goal for the day was to get to Dune City to take a Quad out on the 100 foot tall dunes
There were so many motorcycles on the highway that day and a couple off, unfortunately. Actually, for having heard there would be an aggressive presence of police, it seemed that the only time I saw them, they were fishing motorcyclists out of ditches. It is an eerie feeling being out enjoying the weather and amazing views and curvy roads just to come around the corner and see the carcass of a twisted motorcycle. When I got to Florence it all became clear why there were more motorcycles than cars on the road. Florence was having its annual rhododendron festival and there were more than 1500 motorcycles parked and riding around. I actually had to pull over and turn my Ninja off to let her cool down because of the pure congestion of bikes in town. So far I had managed to travel alone and suddenly there were a bunch of folks that were interested in traveling with me. The guy at the Shell station said that Florence during rhododendron festival is wild at night and not a great place for a lone motorcycherist. I waited around long enough for there to be a clear path out of Florence and a compliant Ninja and left. I hadn’t after all gotten to the dunes yet.
Just outside of Florence are the Frontier dunes. I was told that I should check it out and on a quad. I rented a quad and headed out into the largest sand dunes I have ever seen. Now I have never driven a Quad and especially not on sand, but it did not take me long to figure out that if one stops, one should be pointing down hill or will not be able to get going again without getting off and pushing. This whole idea of riding around on dunes on a Quad appealed to me greatly. Unfortunately I had no idea what I was getting into. The pure disorientation that comes with being completely surrounded by sand and the sand blindness that almost immediately ensues is overwhelming. The steep cliffs are a bit of a hazard, but fun if you can spot them.
Finally reaching the point where I had the illusion that I was getting the hang of it, I rolled it and me down an steep invisible cliff. A very nice couple of fellows came over and inspected me to see if anything was broken and that my pupils were equally dilated and then flipped my quad right side up and off I went and little slower... and somewhat more timid.... Thanks to the Alpine Star boots I did not have a broken tib/fib but instead a mighty lump that turned into a fist sized bruise. I escaped with a mild concussion and my loss of consciousness was maybe a second or two. Yes, I had a helmet on. It hurt to bear weight on my left leg, but weight bearing on a motorcycle trip is not overly necessary anyway.
Getting a little bored with HWY 101 I thought I would mix it up a little and whenever I could turn right towards the ocean I did. There are signs along the coast that guide bicyclists on more interesting routes than cars, and those roads are the best. All of a sudden I had a curvier road and absolutely no traffic. I was traveling about 20 km slower, but it was some very sweet Ninjaing.
Since it took one day to get to Oregon, I thought that I would try to get to California in one day as well. I succeeded and finished my day in Crescent City.
Thank you to Mason for every single hip song ever played. Great coastal cruising tunes.
“Let's raise a glass of milk to the end of another day” - The Tragically Hip