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Comin’ home from Tripletown

September 25, 2007

Heading west on WA 410, I see something very odd approaching. It’s a scooter!

A maxi scooter, probably a Burgman. The rider, who seems rather underdressed, gives the Secret Motorcycle Wave. There are houses along the way to Chinook Pass, so it’s possible this guy lives in one of them.

I’d spent the night in Yakima a the cheap and sorta-cheerful Red Apple Inn (“Under New Management”). As is my custom, upon rising I immediately turned on The Weather Channel, and was a bit stunned as the synthetic male voice said, “the temperature. is. thirty. six. degrees.”

It was early, so I decided to walk down N 1st Street to Mel’s Diner and have a leisurely breakfast. Wow, they have the Times and the P-I, but for 75 cents. I’ll splurge. It’ll help pass the time.

By 9:30 it felt considerably warmer, though I was in full cold-weather monty. After all, I would be ascending to over 5,000 feet in a few hours.

Luckily, the threat of rain had retreated to late Tuesday. The weather was just like Friday, sunny and more or less cloudless. I had given some thought to taking an alternate route through White Pass to Morton, then up through Spanaway and Puyallup, but I decided conditions should be okay. SR 410 is the shortest distance back to the Seattle area, and if traffic is bad, at least I’ll get it over with sooner.

It was, after all, Friday when I made the trip east, so I probably encountered a lot of people getting an early start on the weekend.

Traffic was light, and I was able to go quite a distance before the climb got steep enough to require running in 3rd gear. Even then, I was making good progress. I soon spotted a sign saying Chinook Pass was 11 miles away, and in no time I could see the rest area.

“You made really good time,” said the retired fellow in the green Chevy pickup that passed me. He’d stopped to help some people who were apparently trying to use WA 123, which is still closed due to a landslide, and said it wasn’t long at all until I pulled in.

When you make a trip like this, you make time by pluggin’ along.

After a restroom break and a drink of water, I was back on the road. Same deal once the road began to descend, I’m riding in 3rd gear at 25-30 mph. The descent going west is much twistier, with greater negative consequences if you screw up.

But it ends much sooner, so I can grab fourth gear and resume my usual 40-45 mph pace much sooner than was the case going east.

Traffic is still light, but gets heavier with trucks as I leave Mount Rainier National Park and Enumclaw approaches. Wide paved shoulders and more frequent intersections make it easy to pull over and let faster vehicles (including two Toyota Prii) go by.

What’s that sign? The Kings’ Inn? It’s Enumclaw!

I spot a Subway and realize I’m hungry. No motorcycle parking in the strip mall, I put the PX next to a pair of UPS trucks. My legs are a bit rubbery, but for some reason I can do rides like this and never, as Susan Carpenter of the L.A. Times so aptly put it, be “aware of my glutes.” It’s my shoulders that are sore, from twisting the throttle and hanging on for dear life in the aero wakes made by speeding double dump trucks.

The clock says 1:30 as I sit down to eat. Four hours, including three stops on the way for gas, gas and a restroom break, and a restroom break and photo op. I didn’t use the three quarts of emergency gas, but it’s still a good idea to carry some if gas stations are few and far between as they are on this route.

Time to hit it, back though Enumclaw and the exurban sprawl to Renton. I turn right at Rainier Avenue, and go through Rainier Beach to Seward Park and Lake Washington Boulevard. The sky is still a cloudless, intense blue, and unlike Yakima, there is a bit of nip in the air.

Mt. Rainier usually looms large over Lake Washinton on days like this, but I didn’t notice. It loomed a lot larger when I was riding next to it. Favicon

One Comment
  1. September 25, 2007 6:35 pm

    Thanks for posting the trip to Tri-town. I always look forward to your trips, and the recap of your adventures.

    Have fun,

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