Tuesday, 29 July 2008

Trip to Seattle

As I sit here in front of the computer, I am basking in the glow of success after completing my Vespa ride on 50ccs to Seattle and back. Woot!


Odometer Reading - 8661 km

I left yesterday morning,, taking the Albion Ferry once again. I take a photo almost every time I cross lately because the ferry will stop running when the Golden Ears Bridge is complete in 2009. I’ll miss the ferry, especially since I get to jump to the front of the line on my Vespa!

When I got to the border, I had a good chat with the US border guard who couldn’t quite believe I was headed for Seattle. He was pretty amazed at my mileage and wished me luck. Pretty cool!

As I rode into Bellingham, 2 hours after I left home, the weather was still sunny but wasn’t particularly warm. I stopped in the downtown area and parked at a meter that thankfully had some time still on it as I didn’t have any US change on me. As I looked at a couple of restaurants, I was famished as I hadn’t had any breakfast yet.

The first place that grabbed my attention was the Horseshoe Cafe. Looking closer, it seemed pretty empty and was more a bar than a cafe. Around the corner, though, was a restaurant called Little Cheerful. It was busy and smelled good!

I sat down and the waiter greeted me with a “Howdy”, not something I usually hear in Canada. The breakfast I ordered was the Cyclops (one egg) and was very tasty - especially the hash browns mixed with fried onions. I didn’t feel that the portions were huge - they were just right. The coffee was excellent - heady praise from a guy that usually drinks only latt├ęs.

I left Bellingham and headed down Chuckanut Drive. I stopped near a viewing spot and took a snap of the ocean. Sad thing was, there was a car parked beside me with a person living in it. I’ve heard about people living in their cars but this is the first time I’ve actually seen it happen.

Chuckanut Drive was one of the most beautiful rides I have taken.

Imagine, I’ve lived just a couple hours north of the drive and I’ve never taken this scenic route.

It was delightful!

At Burlington, I took the road - under construction, lots of rocks, “motorcycles use extreme caution” - to connect to SR 20 and headed towards Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Islands.

Just before I crossed onto the island, I went to the Swinomish Northern Lights Casino. I spent my customary $5 and lasted almost a half an hour!

I liked the dedicated motorcycle parking at the casino - I’d love to see more of that sort of thing.

The island road was a nice ride but because it was a main highway, and I didn’t really go off that road, the scenery was just OK.

The photo above was one of the exceptions - Pass Lake just past Desolation Pass. This part of the ride was over 40 miles so it took a while.

Odometer Reading at Deception Pass - 8807 km
Fuel used - 0.879 gallon

At the south end of Whidbey Island I took the ferry to Mukilteo on the mainland. It was a $3 ferry which lasted about 20 minutes.

It was a very enjoyable ride on a mostly empty ferry. I had time to eat a bowl of Ivars clam chowder.

Before I went back t the car deck, I took this photo from above of my Vespa.
After docking, I rode south into Seattle. As the weather warmed up, the traffic increased - something that I’m used to from riding in Vancouver (I actually don’t mind riding in traffic).

Odometer Reading at Seattle - 8925 km

Last night I stayed at the Moore Hotel - downtown, clean, and cheap ($74). It was a pretty small room but fine to sleep in. I dumped my stuff, parked the scooter in a secure parking lot, phoned the family to tell them I had arrived safely, and headed to Pike Market to grab a bite.

I ended up at the Soundview Cafe and had an excellent meal of crab cakes accompanied by a nice glass of zinfandel.

That night I got together with Navin, a university fraternity buddy I hadn’t seen in over 25 years. We had a great time catching up on each others lives and mutual friends.

We went to an area called Fremont (Fremont Troll pictured above) and hoisted a few pints at a bar called the Red Door. The years seemed to disappear as we chatted and laughed about things past and present. We finally ended up at the Whisky Bar, near my hotel, for a final night cap before I retired to the room at about 1 AM.


Feeling a bit fuzzy in the morning, I had a cereal bar and headed out into Seattle.

I like Seattle. I like Vancouver more but seems to be a similar type city - sort of a parallel universe version of Vancouver.

I went to the secure parking which only charged me half price because I was on a scooter. Nice!

I left the garage and rode north up a series of giant hills. Poor Vespa! I made my way past forbidding I-5 signs through different parts of Seattle - Lakeview, Kenmore, Bothell and ended up in Woodinside! This was a surprise because that’s where Navin lives! I didn’t try to find his house but at least I’ll know for next time.

I eventually connected with Highway 9, making my way through traffic and construction, stopping at Snohomish for breakfast/lunch. It’s a great little place with western looking false fronts...

That is, except for the neo classical Roman building!

Stopped at Grilla Bites for a great coffee and and sandwich (turkey, avocado and bacon).

Big Lake - Odometer Reading: 9070 km
Fuel used - 0.952 gallon

I continued on Highway 9 because around Big Lake, the traffic disappeared. It was a great riding highway, nice curves, not too hilly, lots of trees.

I stopped at Sedro Wooley for a pop and, despite the beautiful square downtown and the nice residential streets, the rest of the downtown core looked pretty nasty.

Maybe the fact that it started to rain coloured my impression.

I continued on Highway 9 until the Lynden turnoff and then through the border and home. It was the soggy portion of the ride but I stayed warm and relatively dry as I had expected a lot more rain than I actually got.

At home, I parked the Vespa, hung up all my rainwear to dry and sat back, feeling success at completing what was for me a challenging ride. And only 2 or 3 near death experiences!

Now, where to go next summer.....

Final Odometer Reading - 9183 km

Total Distance - 522 km

Average consumption - 94.5 miles/gallon OR 3.65 L/100km


Steve Williams said...

You are really pushing that LX50 to the exceptional limit. What a great post and ride. I just love the landscape you get to experience.

I'll have to read your post again when I have a cup of tea and a cookie nearby so I can really get into it.

Steve Williams
Scooter in the Sticks

Joe said...

Terrific photos and I really enjoy your inviting narrative style. Thanks for sharing your trip in a way that makes me wish to see the same places - on a scooter, of course!

- Joe @ Scootin' da Valley

Conchscooter said...

Good job. I remember when Americans went to Canada, bought breakfast with five (US) dollars and got five (loony) dollars in change. I guess the boot's on the other foot and we're glad you came to spend your valuable money in our country. Thank you.

Baron's Life said...

Another great story and photos.
Great Job. I look forward to reading more of your stuff
I'm putting together a 50 CC , 2 cycle moped. Hope to have some pictures of it soon.

Jonathan Ziegler said...

I see that you've met the Freemont troll. A great piece of public art. One of my favorites.

Dave Dixon said...

It's a great challenge - or even an adventure - to push the 50ccs to places that most other people don't go. Glad you enjoyed the pics.

You should definitely do the trip - especially the part down Chuckanut Drive!

Of course, now the Canadian dollar is starting to slide - but it is nice to go the the states with currency that doesn't feel like the peso..

Love to see that moped! Good luck with it!

The Freemont Troll was very cool - one of the things I like about visiting bigger cities is the different creative landmarks and artworks.

Chris said...

Chuckanut! What a great name.

Your photographs are really something. My plans for the scooter are mostly commuter-centric, but blogs like this make the wanderer in me sit up and take notice.

Thanks, Chris

Dave Dixon said...

Chuckanut is a pretty cool name.

I originally bought the scooter to be an environmental commuter but found myself contemplating the challenges that I could attempt - including trips like Seattle!

Anonymous said...

Came to your party late. I love SEA and Vespas and am considering moving to Vancouver. Your photos are lovely. I'll be spending more time on your blog.