Saturday, July 28, 2007

Day 5 – Winthrop, WA to Ellensburg, WA – 320 miles

We started the day with a pledge to stay cool and to go where it’s green. In the parking lot of the hotel we met two fellow bikers, Annie and Terry from BC, Canada, who are on a multi-week trip to the States. We swapped tales and admired Terry’s very sleek Victory Kingpin cruiser. Terry presented is with Canadian lapel pins that we are proudly wearing on our riding jackets.

We had a tasteful breakfast in a trendy coffee house in Winthrop. The coffee shop was populated with hiker-types, all decked out in hiking shorts and sandals. In order to fit in, we ordered quiche with our coffee. Some bikers. The entire town of Winthrop is built on a western theme and is quite popular with both hikers and bikers.

The day’s ride led us right into WA 20, a spectacular mountain pass highway that leads across the Cascades and features splendid views of high mountain peaks and glaciers. It also featured two Ducatis that we joined in a spirited chase down the mountain. It was one of the most exhilarating rides either of us can remember. We captured part of this run on video and will upload it for your viewing pleasure. The incredibly scenic route took us by glacial lakes and briskly flowing mountain rivers.

We next descended on Darrington, WA, where we planned to ride a dirt road over the Barlow Pass. We plans were derailed when we stopped at the local forest service office and learned that the road was closed. We did get pictures in front of an impressive Douglas fir that dated to the early 1900’s, when this part of Washington was covered in virgin forest. It was a reminder of man’s impact on the Pacific Northwest. We stopped for lunch in Arlington, WA, just outside Seattle and had a delightful lunch of clam chowder and home made crème pies at the Bluebird Café.

We spent the afternoon riding US 2 across yet another pass through the Cascades. The ride started among a frantic Friday rush of city folks heading out of town to spend their weekend in the mountains. They can probably be seen tomorrow in hiking shorts and sandals, eating quiche in neat little coffee shops.

Lethargy quickly overcame us, the result of crème pie and the deadly boredom of stop-and-go traffic. We pulled into a drive-through espresso bar and downed major doses of sweet caffeine. It’s an unusual regional phenomenon. The entire Pacific Northwest runs on caffeine. We had no choice but to go native.

We soon arrived in Leavenworth, WA, a way to cute German/Bavarian themed mountain tourist town. Not in the mood for theme towns, we elected to move further south and back into the stifling heat of the plains. Our mission was to set ourselves up for our coming mountain rides around both Mount Rainer and Mount St. Helens. We spent the night at Ellensburg, WA, which is fairly close to the famous Hanford nuclear facility. As of yet, we have experienced no radiation poisoning.