Saturday, July 26, 2008

Off the Ferry and Into the Woods

Day 32, July 25, 2008-331 miles. Off the boat--at last! While it was good at first, and never was bad, it got old. Maybe a cruise with someone special to keep you warm at night, or maybe with more on-board things to do it might have been less boring. But I did get bored looking at mountain after mountain.

The ship docked on-time at 7am AK time. The instant we hit the ground, the time changed to Pacific time, so in reality, we docked at 8am. Having been up since 5:00, drinking coffee and eating a big breakfast, I was ready to get into the hold and get the bike untied and pack the bike. It felt good taking the hold-down straps off the bike and getting it ready to go.

The bikes worked their way out of the hold as they were able. Since space was tight, and since they were in two columns, and since they had to be backed out of the space, it was not bad getting them freed. Everyone got off the boat with no mishap.

We had arranged for all the bikes to gather at the top of the parking area for some pics and goodbyes. Somehow we had bonded pretty well for folks who were strangers just 5 days ago. I guess the tales of adventures and the instant understanding of events helps people to "feel" what the other is describing. In any event, we had become friends in a few days.

The pics were taken, goodbyes were extended along with good wishes for safe rides, and we were off for the third leg of our adventure.

We had pre-arranged for Juan and Dick, two who were riding Vstrom 1000s and lived in the Seattle area to guide us to Ride West BMW. Dick has been considering a BMW GS Adventure bike and he wanted to ride one. So, we left as a group, got gas (cheap at $4.35 for regular), and started our journey south to Seattle.

They knew a road that ran parallel to the water, through some mountains and connected to I-5, the main artery for folks traveling north or south through the far west. The road was fun; lots of curves and elevation changes. Challenging enough to keep us awake and alert.

When we broke out of the mountainous area, the land became flat as a pancake. The topography changed much faster than in NC. Shortly we connected with I-5. South on I-5 about 60 miles, and to the dealer just a short distance from the interstate.

I went to the service desk, talked with Eric, who remembered my dilemma and had gotten the tire ordered, and went back outside to remove the wheel from the bike. It came off eaaily (BMW rear wheels on their R bikes are simple to remove. 5 lugs like a car, and it's off!)

Eric had agreed to work me in and in about 45 minutes, the new rubber was mounted and balanced, and I was ready to re-install the wheel and get on the road. No problems reinstalling the wheel, so we were ready to go about an hour after arrival. Not bad at all.

While waiting, the general manager came up to talk, and he wanted to show us some rides on a map. We went back inside and in about 15 minutes, we were amazed at all of the options we had--they have great roads out here (far west)! Too many for us to take advantage of many of them. Too bad!

So, we said goodbyes to Dick and Juan and got on I-5 for a while. We had decided to ride south and east to Mt. Ranier, just to see if we could ride on it. I had been there with friends and my ex-wife 19 years ago, so I wondered if I could remember much of it. As it turned out, I could remember some pieces, but not much.

The ride itself was great. Lots of turns and elevation changes; some places fairly challenging. We rode into the Mt. Ranier National Park at one of the accesses, renewed our annual passes to parks, and rode as far as the pavement went, to Sunrise Lodge. The ride to the Lodge was good, and even more challenging than the other roads. FUN! The RT has such good, abundant power, and terrific brakes--it's fun to ride it hard on challenging roads. These roads had lots of abrupt rises and falls in the pavement, working the bike's suspension pretty hard. Glad to have on-the-go ability to change the suspension for different road conditions. The RT is a great touring bike! I'm happy with my decision to buy it on July 30 of last year.

Because it was now getting later in the afternoon, and Gary was beginning to get low on gas, we did not do the loop to Paradise Point. Maybe another time later...

We rode south towards Carson, on the banks of the mighty Columbia River. The roads from the park to Carson were awesome. The first roads were average roads cutting through the countryside, but soon they turned into a roller-coaster ribbon of asphalt that went for about 80 miles. I can't describe them adequately, but picture a narrow road through a huge forest of Fir trees right up to the edge of the road (felt like riding through a tunnel much of the time) and winding left and right, up and down, for miles on-end. Throw in some hairpin turns, and it was a blast! The RT's suspension was tested to my limits. Leaned more than I had ever leaned on the RT, and it never failed me! Thank goodness!!

Finally, we arrived in Carson at about 8:30, found a room in the Econo-Lodge, unpacked the bikes, walked a few blocks for our exercise and dinner, and called it a night. Slept well!

Tomorrow--??? I don't know where we're going, but I believe it will be fun!

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