Canada 2013

Day 14

June 28

  I am hoping to get away early enough to catch an earlier ferry so I get Frost packed up and we're off like a dirty shirt.  
  It's foggy but the streets are deserted so I can move at a rapid pace.  
  As I near the ferry departure point, traffic picks up considerably.  
  I had made reservations for a later ferry, but the folks at gate tell me I can go ahead and get on this earlier one. This will save me an hour of hanging around as the ferry is close to departure, so I am a happy camper.  

When another passenger sees my confusion about the 'parking chock', he tells me

'It goes under the side opposite the sidestand to keep the bike from rocking off the sidestand.'

I thank him and position it accordingly which make perfect sense to me now. I have to wonder why they don't have it posted somewhere for folks like me that don't do this everyday.

When I find my 'resting place', there is a super nice Austin-Healey parked in front of me. I talk to the owner and he tells of the challenges of getting it restored and keeping it in good working order.

  It's a gem from any angle and a real credit to the owner's determination to keep it that way.  
  This ferry has a nice cafe and it seems that everyone has decided to descend on it at once. This is pretty typical 'ferry behavior', so I figure I'll go out on deck for a while and let the line work down.  
  It's a nice voyage out past quiet islands and ...  
  views of the open sea.  
  It's hard to tell if it's clouds or fog that lays so heavy on the water.  
  Since most folks are downstairs filling their gullets, I can enjoy quiet, peaceful scenes like this all by my lonesome.  
  But I do once again check out the safety equipment on board for my own edification.  
  The time seems about right, so I wander downstairs to the cafe. There are only ten folks in front of me, which gives me time to figure out what I'll be having. Being a fancier of pig meat and hen fruit, it's a real short figuring out time. As I eat, I reckon between getting the earlier ferry and having breakfast now I have saved me two hours - one for breakfast and one for the earlier ferry.  
  Soon the departure announcement is made, so I head back downstairs to Frost.  
  It's a bit of a mad dash to get off the ferry and out of the traffic, but before long we are back out on the open highway.  
  At WeSToc, a local has told me of a border crossing that is supposedly not used much. When I arrive, I'm wondering what 'not used much' means.  
  It's a long slow process that requires much milking of the clutch. After I get across, I pull into the first store lot I see to give my hands a rest.  
  After taking in some liquefied nourishment - some cow juice and tasty cakes - I'm back at it. This is lovely country with nice vineyards and ...  
  some lovely old churches.  
  And in the distance are some snow covered mountain peaks that I will be passing by in a while.  

I find this town has an interesting name and there is a great story behind it -

The area that is now the Town of Concrete was originally two settlements located at the convergence of the Baker and Skagit Rivers in the northern Cascade Mountains. The settlement on the west side of the Baker River was originally known as Minnehaha. The east side of the river was known as Baker. The initial settlers to the area relied upon the timber from the mountains to build their homes and run their mills. The settlers soon discovered that the mountains yielded more important products, limestone and clay. The settlers of Minnehaha changed the name of the town to Cement City when the Washington Portland Cement Plant began construction in 1905. The production of cement was so profitable that a second company, the Superior Portland Cement Company opened for business in 1908. The influence of these companies was so great that when the two towns were incorporated into a single town in 1909, they named the town after their most important business, Concrete.

  As I move further along Highway 20, the scenery gets better and better.  
  And soon the riding includes some nice bends and twists.  
  But it really turns from good to great when I reach the North Cascades National Park.  
  The park has various displays at the headquarters, including this old steam engine and coal car.  
  And the farther along I go, the more I agree with these signs. Highway 20 does indeed 'rock'!  
  It has nice succession of sweepers, good pavement ...  
  and occasional tunnels.  
  But before long I have to make a stop. I just cannot seem to stay awake this morning so I pull off at the first rest area I find. I figure I'll take a hydraulic break and a short walk to get my blood flowing. Riding a motorcycle in mountain country and being sleepy is not a winning combination at all.  
  There's a beautiful reservoir at the overlook though I do have to climb out a bit to get the picture.  
  With my head and other parts of my anatomy cleared, I get back on the road and whizz through another tunnel. This road reminds me a lot of the Blue Ridge Parkway with it's numerous tunnels.  
  Down on the flatlands, I pass by Diablo Lake.  
  It's a lovely reservoir on the Skagit River.  
  The skies don't look promising, but I see patches of blue which give me hope for a dry future.  
  I enjoy the cooler temps at these higher elevations but I know they are coming to an end as I descend to the plains.  
  I'm now in the center of orchard country and I see something I don't quite understand. I don't know if the netting is for frost protection, bug protection or to keep out two legged and four legged varmints - or some combination of all three.  
  I can see how a biting wind could come down off these barren mountains with tree killing cold.  
  As I move along, I see another feller enjoying his past time on a lovely day.  
  At various spots along the road they have stacked hundreds of crates, waiting to be filled with their precious fruit treasures.  
  Soon I am in the middle of what I call high desert as I pass by the Chief Joseph Dam.  
  I am hotter than blazes and dryer than cotton so I make a fuel and hydration stop at the first place I can find.  
  Once Frost and I are refueled, we are back out in the heat. The amazing thing to me are all of these ridges with not a tree to be seen anywhere.  
  And as dry as I feel, I imagine this windmill probably earns it's due pumping water to the thirsty cattle.  
  It's visually interesting to be to see that much water surrounded by that much dry land.  
  But I guess that's the reason they built the reservoir.  
  But soon I am getting back into the 'green zone' as various trees replace the scrub brush.  
  Then I top a ridge and come upon astonishing green as far as my eyes can see.  
  The joy of riding is that you never know what you will see just over the next ridge or hill. As I pass through a small settlement, the huge grain elevators stand as silent sentinels by the railroad tracks.  
  The little town reminds me a lot of the one I grew up in. There everybody knew your name and there was a sense of accountability for your actions which seems to be a lost concept today.  
  Before long, I'm back on the slab and will be for the next three days. Fortunately, I sail right through Spokane, looking forward to arriving at my motel earlier than I planned.  

But as the Scottish poet Robert Burns wrote -

'The best-laid schemes o' mice an' men
Gang aft agley,
An' lea'e us nought but grief an' pain,
For promis'd joy!

I am twenty miles from motel but traffic is at a complete standstill. I turn my CB to channel 19 to see what is going on. It seems there are three different wrecks at three different mile markers between where I am and where I want to be.

  So what should have been a quick thirty minutes turns into a hour and a half of hot, nasty, dangerous stop and go. I finally make it to my exit and I am mighty glad to get to the motel.  
  I'm so tired that I walk over to Arby's across the parking lot for a quick supper. All I want to do is cool off and collapse which I do in short order.