Cycling With Marty

A motorcycle trip from Anacortes, Washington to Los Angeles.

On Whidbey Island, waiting for the Port Townsend Ferry.

Don and Marty.

My nephew, Marty, bought my son's Honda Nighthawk motorcycle.  The object was to move it from our house, in Anacortes, WA, to the Los Angeles area, where Marty would be working for the summer.  

Since Marty was just getting his driver's license and had just completed the California motorcycle safety course, it seemed that a good way to move it would be for me to ride with him and use the trip as a four day practice session, while enjoying a spectacular ride at the same time.

It was cloudy as we left Anacortes, but expected to stay dry.  We paused at the Deception Pass Bridge, which separates Fidalgo Island from Whidbey Island and watched the ebb current pouring furiously through the narrow passage.  We made our way down Hwy 20 to the small town of Coupeville, then headed to the west coast of Whidbey Island where we caught the ferry to Port Townsend.  

Marty on the ferry.

Curious seal


Port Townsend is a cute town of Victorian homes, docks, old commercial buildings, and interesting restaurants, which sits at the northeast corner of the Olympic Peninsula.  The town  climbs away from the water up a bluff, and presents an image of times past to passing boats.  The movies, "Officer and a Gentleman," and, "Snow Falling on Cedars," were filmed in Port Townsend. 

We had about 350 miles to go that day, so we rode off the ferry and turned south to connect with Hwy 101, which would be our artery for the next three days.  For over an hour we rode a gently curving road, with the Olympic Mountains disappearing into cloud to our right, and the deep fjord of the Hood Canal to our left.  The tide was out, exposing vast mud flats in places, and from time to time we saw residents digging for clams in their rubber boots, leaving little mounds of soil across the flats like so many oversized sand-crab holes.  

Our route took us well west of Seattle, and about 20 miles west of Olympia.  From there we headed toward Washington's west coast and soon crossed the Wallapa River  and followed a wonderfully twisty road along Wallapa Bay.

Wallapa Bay

It  was about 2 P.M. when we reached the long, high spanned bridge over the Columbia River.  This was the point where Lewis and Clark finally reached the Pacific Ocean.   A strong sea breeze blew from our right side, and made for gusty riding conditions as we crossed.  On the other side was Oregon, and the interesting fishing town of Astoria.  Commercial fishing boats are docked here, and it is a popular launching spot for sport fisherman, looking to hook salmon and giant sturgeon.

From here, Hwy 101 would undulate between following the rugged Oregon coast, and swinging inland to pass behind the heavily wooded hills which frequently hugged the coastline.  Along the road at about ten mile intervals are Oregon's coastal towns, some very quaint, some functional, and some quite touristy. 


A rugged stretch of Oregon Coast.

Our destination for the night was Yachats, OR, where we would stay with friends, Greg and Nan Scott.  Yachats is a quiet little town of about 400 residents, squeezed between two towering peaks and the Pacific Ocean.  The Yachats River flows from between the two mountains and empties into the ocean.  We rode in at about 7 P.M. after spending nearly 10 hours in the saddle.   I wasn't hard to find Greg and Nan's house, located on the Yachats River just a few hundred yards from where the river widens and drains into the ocean.  

Greg and Nan were hospitable, as always, and we enjoyed some concert DVDs on Greg's superb home theater system before hitting the bed and falling instantly asleep.  

Although the forcast had called for a 30% chance of showers, we woke up to gray skies and steady rain.  By the time we finished breakfast the rain was heavy, so we waited about an hour to let it taper off.

We snapped the cases onto the bikes and readied for a quick get-away.  Not so fast!  Marty had a dead battery.  Both bikes had run perfectly the day before, so we were surprised at this, especially since no lights had been left on.  Greg helped us jump-start the motorcycle and we figured that it would charge as we rode along our way.  

The ten miles just south of Yachats is very twisty and very scenic, so we rode carefully, getting the feel of our available traction on the wet road.  We stopped occasionally for the obligatory photo of the commanding scenery, and Marty kept the Nighthawk running during the stops.  

The rain continued most of the day.  As we descended to sea level, the rain slowed to a mist, but as we climbed back up over a mountain, it would get heavier.  Our riding gear kept us dry and warm, except for Marty's hands, which became cold when his gloves got wet.

Checking the fuel reserve valve.

Lighthouse south of Yachats.


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