I’m on my way to the Garden City
The clock said 7:45. Mr. Mark and Allstate Bill had stopped by Diva Espresso, but they had their scooters in the back of Mr. Mark’s truck. I’ll be riding solo.
The route to the Edmonds ferry dock had become almost second nature. The morning was clear, the temperature ever so slightly nippy as I approached the mega-house in Woodway. Hmm… it doesn’t take up most of the block, it takes up the whole block.
Downtown Edmonds is pretty quiet at 8:15 am. I pull up to the ferry dock from Main Street and park next to the toll booth. You can buy tickets inside the terminal building on these really cool touch-screen machines. That’ll be $6.50 for a motorcycle (technically, in the state of Washington there’s no such thing as a scooter) and rider. Once the ticket is scanned, I can proceed to the head of the line. Gotta love that!
I’m joined in the cycle park by a guy on a Kawasaki KLR 650 and another guy on my dream bike, a BMW R1150RT. “It makes the commute bearable,” says the Beemer rider, who tells me he’s from Issaquah.
Half an hour later, the MV Puyallup docks in Kingston, and I’m on my way to P.A. Getting off the ferry always reminds me of my racing days, particularly the beginning of a track session. All the cars wait in a place called pre-grid until they are cleared to enter the track; once I hit the track, my brain would shift gears as I did in the race car. Coming off the ferry was particularly evocative, the PX being a minimalist machine with a non-synchro gearbox.
The signs say Highway 104… this is the right way. Hmm, there’s a bunch of traffic. But as Safety Ed told me, there are wide, hard shoulders, so I can pull over. Plus, there are intersections with stoplights, so the initial part of the trip is not traumatic in spite of heavy traffic and large trucks.
I make the right the map said 104 would, and the traffic tails off. This is kind of a suburban street, lined with what I’m guessing are waterfront homes, none of which could be called palatial.
What’s this? It’s the Hood Canal Bridge, already. It’s got a 45-mph speed limit. It’s also got grates, but these aren’t so, well, grate-y. Still, I’m not inclined to rip across them at full speed, which apparently was not to the liking of the driver of the brown Lexus that suddenly appeared behind me. Apparently, the double yellow lines and “No Passing” signs don’t apply to people who drive Lexuses (Lexi?), because this dude blew past me before the western hi-rise section. Fine, whatever.
Less than a mile further on, another Lexus driver felt the need to drive six inches off my license plate. Geez, dude, sorry if 47 mph isn’t fast enough for you, but I need to find a place to pull off safely. I do, and this Lexus blows by, too.
Oh, my, the speed limit is now 60 mph. Just keep watching the mirrors, and you’ll be fine, I remind myself. Oh, to the driver of the brown Camry: I pulled way over to the right so you could make a legal pass (there were dashed yellow lines) was it really necessary for you to blow by with only six inches to spare?
Luckily for me, there were turnouts and “Slower Vehicles May Use Shoulder” signs just when I needed them. One was particularly well-timed, and I was pleased seven vehicles would be able to get by me and on their way, at their pace with almost no delay. We’re down to the last car, a dark blue Subaru Forester.
Okay, why the hell aren’t you passing? The road pinches down really soon!
Arrghh! The license plate frame on the Forester is from Carter Subaru. It’s an Uptight Seattleite!!
No, you moron, you don’t do the “after you, no, after you, no I INSIST” bit when someone on a vehicle with a top speed that’s 13 mph below the posted speed limit is frantically motioning for you to GO BY!!!
The Forester driver finally gets it and goes by, but I’ve had to slow down so much, and the road is going uphill enough, that my momentum is gone. Even though there’s no permission being given to use the shoulder, it’s wide enough use until the road levels out.
I’m a bit wrung out. There’s a junction up ahead which, among other things, offers an excellent Steve Williams photo op (stay tuned for the picture), so I pull off and wait for an opening to cross the road. Picture taken, I’m back on, and back up to speed, such as it is. I must say, bless its little 150cc heart, the PX just goes and goes with nary a complaint. It even feels smoother accelerating through the gears.
Some familiar names from the map appear. Blyn, a S’Klallam Nation town, with the requisite touristy stuff, but no casino… it’s down the road. Old Gardiner Road, which weaves in and out of US 101, and offers tantalizing possiblities for exploration, when there’s time. On the way back, maybe?
My gosh, can it be? Yes! I’m in Sequim (it’s pronounced “skwim”). And Sequim has a freeway…
I guess Sequim isn’t a little fishing village any more, but still… a freeway? There’s definitely freeway-level traffic. Okay, I know a possible detour is coming up… there it is! Washington Street, which has an exit (I said it was freeway). I have time, but no, I’ll stick with the freeway.
I wonder if I shouldn’t have taken Washington Street when I get to the other side of Sequim and find a white Dodge Caravan filling my mirrors. I’m going 47 mph and have no more speed left; there’s a solid yellow line defining a median. No possibility of passing legally, yet. But the Caravan’s driver decides the law doesn’t matter and blasts by with about a foot of clearance on my left.
My eyes get wide and my mouth turns to cotton as the hole the Caravan leaves in the air fills in, drawing me to the left. There’s a rumbling sound, which turns out to be a clapped-out, jacked up ’68 Chevy Impala that also blows by, this time with about six inches to spare. No wreck, again… someone wants me to stick around, at least long enough to catch the ferry to Victoria.
The road widens to four lanes, traffic thickens. Are we in Port Angeles? Not quite yet. I am on the lookout for a white building with dark blue trim, because Bill Sommers of Little Billy’s Scooter Tales has invited me to stop by and say hello, and the building I describe is his workplace.
There it is, the second light on the main drag into town. I turn right at the light, and into the parking lot. There’s all sorts of activity, as this is a new home for a builder’s supply store. No, Bill’s not here, he’s at the other store, which is further down the same road, which is also the way to the ferry dock.
Bill comes out to greet me as I pull up next to a Yamaha Vino. He looks a little different than the picture that accompanies his blog, but then so do I. Bill introduces me to his friend Jeff, the fellow who’s restoring the ’63 Allstate. Jeff is totally enraptured by the PX, and says he can’t wait to get his Allstate running. I can’t say I blame him.
Bill and Jeff have to get back to work, so I head for the ferry terminal. It’s not too far away, and before I know it, I’m at the Black Ball Transport office. I tell a fellow in an orange vest that I have a reservation.
“Mr. O’Neill?” he asks. Uh, yeah…