Monday, 25 July 2016

Big Guy rides the Left Coast - Day One - Maple Ridge, BC to Seaside OR

Day 1 - 530km - 8 hours travel time

After having a fairly decent sleep - I was pretty excited, after all, I I got up around 6:30am and made my last preparations for my ride. 

Today was Great Slab Day. I've done this part of Washington a bunch of times so I decided to take big concrete I-5 most of the way.  It's not that exciting a ride but it is fast. 

First, however, I had to make a stop at Bruce's Market to pick up some smoked salmon for my friend in California. I know he really likes their salmon jerky but it just doesn't travel that well - I have no cooler on my scoot!

I got to the border in fairly good time with no wait. The guard at the border was actually pretty friendly and didn't ask too many impertinent questions. Now the challenge is keeping my passport safe for the next 9 days.

First stop was supposed to be Colophon Cafe in the Fairhaven district of Bellingham but it was closed as I was too early! I wandered around until I found an open coffee shop and stopped at Tony's Coffeehouse

The shop had great character as with most of Fairhaven. I had a cheddar dill scone for my late breakfast (9:30) and a latté. Interestingly, everyone seemed to be by themselves and were all either on their mobile device or reading the paper. Not an unfriendly place, people were just into reading.

After a stop at a rest stop north of Seattle, I had lunch at the Subway in Puyallup. I quite like their $6 deal - 6 inch sub, drink and chips. I think it's $6 just for the drink in Canada!

I'm using an app called CoPilot GPS for its combo of downloaded maps (free) and live traffic updates ($1.39 for a month). It did a good job of getting me where I wanted to go, avoiding most traffic issues, and showing me some interesting parts of cities like Olympia.

A brief stop on the Olympic Highway

I made sure that I stopped when I was feeling a bit tired or crampy. I have some issues with my hips but the range of places to put my feet on the floorboard of the scooter went a long way to mitigating any problems. Like anything, you have to listen to your body and take a break when called for. 

I was also able to take some nice photos as I did of the Chehalis River, not far from my rest break. Despite the grey skies, it was reasonably warm enough for riding and the rain held, for the most part. 

Two stops I didn't make - one was Artic - after all these years of correcting kids there is a place where they spell it without the letter 'c' after the 'r'!  Also, there was Dixon Road but I was following s pilot truck through construction at the time. Following pilot trucks through construction, I would soon find out, would be a regular occurrence in this trip!

Stopped for a desperately needed espresso in South Bend and then visited this memorial to a World War II medical corpsman named Robert E. Bush. He was  very brave man when facing Japanese attackers, holding a medical bottle (IV?) in one hand while shooting at the enemy soldiers with his other hand. 

The gentlemen in the hat in the photo and I had a nice chat as we were both impressed by the hero's story. The gentlemen did voice his concerns that younger people had no respect or understanding of the sacrifices made by these people that fought for freedom. 

The crossing from Washington State to Oregon over the Columbia River is via the Astoria Bridge. It was called "The Bridge to Nowhere" by some when it was built in 1962 but is a popular bridge that is an important link on the west coast. The day I went over, it was quite windy and very exciting to cross! What a fun ride!

As this is a scooter blog, I should probably talk a little bit about the scoot! My BMW performed flawlessly today. The I-5 is not a technically difficult ride but it does require some zip when passing people. I tried to stay mostly in the middle lanes so that I wasn't worrying about people merging all of the time but I also could focus on what was ahead, and not worry so much about speedsters behind me wanting me to get out of the way. 

I tried both with and without earplugs today and settled on using earplugs for most of the ride. Just being on I-5 is so noisy and, with music cranked to avoid boredom, it was important to save my ears. 

I arrived in Seaside and checked into the Motel 6.. I do like to be frugal with my motels on my scooter trips but I also want a decent place. I'm not sure if all Motel 6s are like this - but it felt more like Motel Gulag 6.  - It was very spartan - there was not a single photo or picture on the wall, nor was there a clock radio. To their credit, the staff had cleaned the room but the bathroom was a bit grotty and, as I found out the next day, the show didn't work! I don't think I'll be staying at Motel 6 again!

Another downside to Motel Gulag 6 was that it was on the outskirts of town - Seaside isn't that big but the motel was pretty far from everything. That was OK, because my legs needed a stretch, and I made the 30 minute walk to downtown stopping at the beach for a few snaps. The beach looked very nice and there were lots of groups of people hanging out as the sun went down. 

The downtown itself was busy but seemed very touristy. That made it difficult to choose a place to eat dinner because every restaurant seemed to offer 50 things on their menu, the mark of trying to please too many tastes without having really good food.

I finally settled on Finn's Fish House.  It's always kind of weird for me to dine by myself because I rarely do so. I also find that the quality of service makes a much bigger impact on your dining experience because that's usually the only person you are speaking with. 

My waiter was polite but not terribly friendly The fish and chips came in 2 or 4 piece sizes and when I asked him about the size of the fish, he said each piece was about the size of a small potato. Forgetting I was in the US, I ordered 4 pieces and ended up with 4 giant slabs of fish - far too much for me to eat, let alone the vast bed of fries. I ate what I could - probably too much - and guiltily left the rest. 

After dinner, I wandered back to my cell - I mean, room, and slept surprisingly well, as the combination of greasy fish, salty fries, and a pint of porter sloshed around in my stomach.


Michael Phelan said...

How big are spuds where you come from?

SonjaM said...

Ah, this brings back memories from a trip down to Oregon... My favourite cafe in Bellingham was the Skylark's Hidden Cafe. We went here for breakfast a few times. Safe travels.

David Masse said...

Glad you're on your way. I too have pleasant memories of Oregon, your photos brought much of it back.

Looking forward to the rest of the story.

Safe travels Dave.