Day 2 June 23, 2013 – After a pretty good sleep, I woke up to the alarm at 720am and promptly hit the snooze. Sometime later I got up, made a pot of coffee to go with the muffins Frank left me the night before and finished Day 1’s blog, chatted with Louise, and listened to a conference call on the Calgary flood’s affect and contingency plans for my employer. I’m totally out of the loop of course, and my team is doing what they have to, but I was curious and listened while I packed up and loaded the bike.
The goal for Day 2 was to get to Concrete, WA, via Hwy 20 …
By 930am, I was off, filled up the gas tank and headed further west. It got a bit chilly going over the Bonanza and Paulsen Passes, but it wasn’t for long and I didn’t bother adding any layers. After coming down from the pass, the highway goes past Christina Lake, where there was a bike race slowing traffic down. I managed to snap a couple of pictures.
The weather was nice, warm not hot, and sunny although the sky to the south-west where I was headed looked dark. Stopping in Grand Forks for some water and trail mix, I remembered to dig my passport out of the top-box so I’d have it handy at the border. Crossing at Danville was no problem, only took about 5 minutes and most of that was because the agent was moving and talking real slow.
Because I’m the US now, I’ve shut off the data on my iPhone and iPad. I wanted to look up some maps and ping Louise, so I was looking for a place with free internet in Tonasket, where I stopped for gas. Turns out the gas station has free internet! So I grabbed a sandwich and a banana. Using FaceTime I called Louise – but talked to my son Robert in a Walmart instead. It’s kind of surreal video calling someone in a Walmart in Calgary from a gas station in a little town in Washington!
Headed out again …
It was at this point that I started to unwind from work somewhat. I recall just thinking of the scenery and remembering coming up this stretch of road in reverse 2 years ago on the PNW trip in 2011. It felt good to let go of work stress and just focus on the here and now of the road, riding and the trip.
That happy state of mind was interrupted not far south of Tonasket in the town of Riverside, where a pretty big accident had just happened. Well, I suppose big by local standards, it looked like four cars and truck pulling a long horse (or cow) trailer had collided with the horse (or cow) trailer in the ditch on its’ side.
I have no idea if there were any injuries – man or horse (or cow) – but there were a couple of ambulances on scene, and probably a dozen other police and emergency vehicles. Traffic was detouring through the town to go around the accident on the highway.
You can just see the horse (or cow) trailer behind the red FireRescue truck …
The scenery in this area is quite stark – rocky, low brush … quite a bit different from the mountainous area I’d come down through into Tonasket.
Soon enough I turned off Hwy 97 at Okanogan as Hwy 20 heads west from here instead of south. Almost immediately after turning, I noticed large white tent-like coverings over a pretty large area. At first I couldn’t figure out what they were, then thought maybe someone was making a lame attempt to hide marijuana plants – but that was stupid.
I’m pretty sure that what’s under the screen is an orchard of some kind of fruit, with the screening protecting the trees and fruit from birds and insects and other critters. Not far from the first screened orchard, I spotted these 2 helicopters on the side of the road. I’m not sure what kind of ‘copters they were, and I tried to look them up on the ‘Google’ but nothing. I suspect that they’re used for crop or orchard dusting, but not sure I saw sprayers on the fuselage or not.
From here I followed Hwy 20 as it wound through the mountains to Twisp where the highway follows the Methow River north. Along the way, I passed through the crazy town of Winthrop, which is a false-fronted old-west orientated town – well the main street anyway. I had first though to stop for gas and a bit of a break, but it was just packed from end to end on main street – there was no where to park. So I figured I’d carry on and stop a little later for a break. Eventually I found a road maintenance facility on the side just past where the highway leaves the Methow River and heads west, so I pulled off, took a bio break and snacked on cashews, and dried fruit.
The sign wouldn’t apply by this time of the year, but in the spring and fall, I bet it gets pulled out when Washington and Rainy Passes are snowed in.
It started to get rainy by this time and I was glad to have my Aerostich on – no need to stop and pull on rain-gear. I did put the squeegee onto the thumb of my glove though!
And snow by the side of the road too!
The scenery here was spectacular! Amazing vistas anywhere you looked – even the road itself. There are a couple of serious hairpin turns along here that are fantastic and thrilling to go around. The major features in the area of Washington Pass are Ross Lake and Diablo Lake, both of which feed hydro-electric dams. Highway 20 picks up and follows the Skagit River pretty much all the way to coast from here.
By the time I got to Marblemount, I only had a couple of bricks on the gas gauge so I figured I’d get some gas.
The house right behind the gas pumps had some interesting lawn ornaments …
The rain, while not at all heavy, was steady and the temperature hovered around 10 deg C. all day.
I was layered up and had the FJR’s heated grip on low, so I didn’t feel cold at all.
Looking west along the Skagit River.
By 5pm I reached Concrete and I was hoping to stay at one of the cabins at Ovenell’s Heritage Inn. It’s on the south side of the Skagit River, and I had to cross this bridge (actually crossed it a few times this evening) to get to Concrete-Souk Valley Road. Apparently this road runs the length of the Skagit River on the south side and might be worth riding as far as possible instead of the highway someday.
I road up to the main building at Ovenell’s and checked in, getting the key to the Woodsman Cabin and a recommendation for dinner – Cascade Burgers back out on the main highway. I had a really good burger and a milkshake, then saddled up again, crossed the bridge (again) and made my way to the Woodsman …
After enjoying a quick shower, I called Louise, read for a while and traded emails with a friend, Rick Wallace, in Anacortes. We made arrangements to meet for coffee in the morning, then I hit the sack.