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Looks like we’ve dodged a bullet

March 30, 2007

It’s 6:30 am, and the Weather Channel’s forecast for Seattle is for afternoon showers. Ditto for Centralia, and if there’s gonna be rain in Portland, it’ll happen this evening. Looks like the only thing Safety Ed and I will have to worry about is staying warm. The high temperature expected today is about 10 degrees cooler.

We leave Top Pot Doughnuts at 9:05 am, and after a stop to gas up, head south on Airport Way. The sun is out, the sky is blue, and there are lots of white fluffy clouds. I’m feeling good about this, and so is Safety Ed, who kept pushing to trailer down.

Lots more traffic in the Kent/Auburn Valley, but that’s okay. The trucks can’t get up to speed as quickly as the cars, so I just slot the PX in a safe distance behind. West Valley Highway is wide, flat and multi-laned, at least until we pass out of the city limits of Kent.

We’re making excellent time, as the warehouses and light industry of the Valley turn to farmland.

A potty break in Puyallup, then to Pacific Avenue in Tacoma. Safety Ed mentions different turns he took, but seems to like the choices I’ve made. South on Pacific, Safety Ed points out a C-17 overhead (we’re close to McChord Air Force Base), while I point out a light blue vintage Vespa with a “For Sale” sign, parked outside a building that was probably once a gas station.

Behind the military bases on Highway 507, the PX is humming along contentedly at 40-45 mph. Traffic, however, wants to hum along at a much faster pace. We get passed a lot. Safety Ed watches the rear, beeping his horn regularly to signal a pullover to let the traffic pass.

In Yelm, it’s obvious suburbia is extending its reach into a once-rural area… we pass a used-car lot that specializes in riced-out Hondas and Mitsubishis.

We’re still humming along, but the skies have darkened. Something plops onto my faceshield. “Please let that be a bug,” I plead.

It’s not. The raindrops are falling faster. We’re still about 25 miles from Centralia.

Luckily, it was a very brief shower. The rest of the ride into Centralia was just as I remember it from last year. We’ve made good time, it being about 12:30 pm. It’s McMenamins Olympic Club for lunch, then a stop at an auto parts store for a half-quart of 2-stroke oil (the white thing was showing).

The skies are bluer and brighter as we pass through Chehalis and head south on Jackson Highway. I still can’t believe our good fortune, the PX a willing and able runner at its 45-mph top speed.

The sun is still high in the sky as we cross the Lewis & Clark Bridge into Oregon. US 30 is the last leg of our journey, and potentially the diciest. It’s basically a freeway, though there are sections of the road that pinch down to two lanes.

I’m on point, Safety Ed is behind and to my right watching our backs. Cars pass as though we’re standing still, and I suppose, relatively speaking, we are.

Unfortunately, I find it difficult to run flat-out after many hours on the road. In particular, holding the throttle wide open is hard on the wrist and forearm, and the big trucks (whose drivers feel compelled to offer an extended middle-finger salute) make bow waves that have me bobbing and weaving. Luckily, Safety Ed can just cruise on his GT, and he honks his horn when too many cars get backed up behind us.

I’m really beat, but get a second wind when the art deco towers of the St. Johns Bridge appear over the trees. We’re close. Real close. Favicon

  1. Walter permalink
    April 2, 2007 12:40 pm

    Excellent ride! Sounds beautiful. Three tips on long riding though:

    1) Get a Throttle Rocker (or something like it), for your wrist’s sake.

    2) Never leave home without a bottle of 2-stroke (synthetic, right?) oil.

    3) Bring extra clutch and throttle cables.

    Oh, and what the heck… put a Sito+ on that PX. (But the truckers will still hate you. Oh well.)

  2. July 22, 2007 1:51 pm

    Click here to see a Google Map of the route we took.

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