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795 Posts
Discussion Starter #21
Someone's knockin' at the door
Somebody's ringin' the bell
Someone's knockin' at the door
Somebody's ringin' the bell
Do me a favor
Open the door and let 'em in...Paul McCartney & Wings

Uh, that would be me.
The day arrives when I depart Canuckistan for The Great Satan, and in a case of synergy, the right hand does know what the left hand is doing. Two countries, but shared personna, I think.

There were differences, surely, but they generally were no greater than just dealing with the metric system.
None of that driving on the wong (sorry, that's Hong Kong, I mean WRONG) side of the road, no language barrier...hey, they speak 'Merican too! Mostly.
Credit cards need a PIN-that's different, and there are bears and snow in the summer. But not a whole lot of that.
No, I wasn't surprised...at all. Sharing a genesis and a culture is comforting, and a crutch to lean on. ****, they have serial killers, too, I felt at home.

The riding up there, way up there, was superb, even in the rain. The scenery was spectacular, nonpareil even, unless you are a frequent visitor to the Alps. The food was very good and
(I will say it) better than the US unless you are in a USA foodie place/state...just more variety, more than:

Grilled burger and fries
Grilled burger with our special cheddar and fries
Grilled burger with our homemade chili and fries
Supreme grilled burger with chili and bacon topped onto our special bun and fries
generic Mexican ( and I like generic Mexican)

They have creative pasta dishes, and salmon, and halibut, and cod, and burgers, and salads with local fresh ingredients...and...fries. The food was good and I was not eating at high end places at all.

The people were very nice and it wasn't just tourist industry people, just regular people...it was noticeable. And polite. I will say that the people on the street were a bit aloof, though that may be my southern eyes seeing that. Down South, if we're passing someone on a sidewalk, we say hello, or How're ya doing, or Awright, or nod slowly and coolly, just a short exchange of pleasantry, a recognition of another traveler making their way on the mortal coil until they die.
There must be a parallel where, once you're north of that, that exchange is optional or labelling in some watchoutforme way. We just say hello, sometimes getting called "baby" or "honey" by the unlikeliest of people.

Of course I am generalizing, but you can get the drift. And if you get the drift that I didn't like it, you got the wrong drift...just an observation. Sometimes people would pass you by as you're packing or getting ready to leave a place, just feet away and act like you're invisible (or to be avoided). That's ok, there were still enough people to say hello. And do not read me wrong, the people who spoke were nice, and the inmates on ADVrider giving advice could not have been more helpful and enthusiastic...maybe just a cultural thing, maybe because it's cold so much of the time, people are bundled up so much of the time, that their body image is one of isolation. OK, I'll stop.

Time to ferry it again.

There are a couple of options to cross the waters...I chose the one from Sidney, BC to Anacortes, Wa---and the beginning of wonderful WA 20, a hidden gem of a road that goes from here to there though some spectacular stuff...BC worthy stuff.

One more aside before I start with shiny things to see.

A difference of sorts. Yes, the USA has mountains; think Colorado, New Mexico, Utah, the Sierras, etc., but the difference in the BC mountains is not that they are higher--they aren't, or easier to get to--they aren't, but I suppose, because of the northerly latitude the tree-line is lower so that many many of the mountains are the grey granite "things," big-a$$ things, big beautiful things that have a green treeline, but extending far above that is bare rock and ice and glaciers. You can see far more of that than you can in the US. It's stunning, expletive worthy, and it's all over.

So, I am taking the ferry. I made a reservation for it--I was advised that was appropriate though I don't know how necesssary--and that was easy to do. Loading onto it was easy, parking was easy, and it was advised that this route was the prettiest, and it was very pretty.

I am riding with a coupla Harley "types" :). The passage took a little while and disembarkation was a breeze, as they guided us over to the customs people. I discovered that i was riding along with TANK and TANK, JR

US Customs for a native is a breeze...I have never crossed back into the USA with a surly officer. HR must train them, or maybe they are just nice. I get the routine questions about my occupation, why did I travel, how long, etc . and I knew all the answers, No questions about the bazooka, or the flame thrower or the assault weapons, or fentanyl. He asks where am I headed.
Concrete??? Why??
Because it's there and a convenient stop.
Grinning and shaking his his head, OK, I suppose so.
He did ask
What's the story with "Rosalie?" ( I have a vinyl sticker on my tank that says "Rosalie.")
He's smiling...Rosalie was my mother and I used her inheritance to buy the bike, and giving her some homage.
He liked that answer, smiled, thumbs up and said "Welcome, home."

He was a young guy, probably early forties, 6 feet, dark hair, thin, official, but an actual personality.
He starts walking to the next vehicle, and I turn around...

He turns back
I suppose they tell you all to say that, but I want to say it is really nice to hear you guys say, and you all do it, say, "Welcome, home."

He smiles, walks back over, and tells me that, yeah, he likes to hear it too. I've heard it a bunch of times, actually every time I've come back, and it is always really nice to hear. In Canada you don't feel like you are away, but you know you're "home" with that simple valediction.

Concrete is not far down the road.
I check in, and can survey the town from the balcony of the Mt Baker Hotel. Concrete is jumping. In a concrete way.

Concrete was formed by two towns joining, Baker City And Cement City. Both towns were formed by the Portland Cement Company in the late 1800s. Interesting town, with lotsa local color.

A slice of life in Concrete, Washington. A bunch of overalls just left The Lone*Star, spending some time on the veranda jawboning, rubbing elbows, telling tall tales, guffawing and then the guy in the picture, crossed the street with his squeeze.
He leaned into the gutter, occluded his right nostril, and vigorously blew out the left. From my balcony location at the Mt Baker Hotel, I could hear the snot hit the street with a splat. He stands upright, his squeeze doesn't notice, pays it no mind.

Tonight I dine at The Lone*Star, and so far I am not at all nasally congested, but in case I become so...I HAVE A PLAN.

But, before my Lone*Star repast it's time to Explore Concrete. Dodging traffic I meander around the City Center.

I hear a rooster crow, this guy emerging from the dark of The Hub, better for his visit, yells to me:
I bet you ain't never heard that before in the city! and laughs.
I yell back: You'd be surprised! and that gets a belly laugh. Truth be told, there are chickens in my neighborhood and a rooster was on the lamb :)rofl) a year or so ago and would take up residence in various back yards, so, yeah, I've heard that before.

On the way into town I crossed the Henry Thompson Bridge

The Fire dept. the Police dept, the Health dept, and Thrive Direct- whatever that is, and can you say "thrive" in Concrete?

A bit of a perversion of Nietzsche, but close...

stupid lazy R...I was going left, but came from the right, so that sticker is spot on!

Those of you following this may remember they other time promises were made that could not be kept. Still no Swedish twins.

The Entertainment District of Concrete


795 Posts
Discussion Starter #22
"Sew Lovely In Concrete"...my lucky day and all I wanted was the box, and didn't have room to carry it

Concrete "still life"

All the excitement of Concrete can sure work up a man's appetite and it was time to hit the Lone*Star. And my hole needed some waterin' ( that just doesn't sound right, but never one to avoid the low-hanging-fruit of humor, I'm in, but, thankfully, my hole was not waterin')

I take my seat in a booth. Next to this guy, who's droning on and on about the corruption in the Concrete's Sheriff's Office, it's all about who you know, he says, pi$$sed, about how he reported something and "they" didn't do anything, I tell you, and it's because that sheriff , well it was his brother in law, so what was he gonna do? And on and on.

Dinner was really good at the Lone*Star. And friendly, too. They had onion rings that were done in pancake batter, pretty good, actually. And a burger.

The next day was July 4th, so, I experienced both Canada Day and USA Day within a few days of each other.

Concrete awakens slowly on Independence Day, saluting America in its own way.
Still every small town has an old fart central where the elders commune over cups o joe, chatting up the coffee bearing waitress who knows them all by name.
She would be Tracy.
Tracy sports red Converse and jeans, a wink and a nod from too tight.

They talk, Did you see the fireworks last night?
I heard a boom.
Yeah, that was about it.

And from Tracy, I saw the biggest dead beaver last night on the side of the road! Tracy shows with arms spread a size about a yard wide and I don't know if that's the length or the width, having never encountered a dead beaver ( though, truth be told I've encountered boring ones).
The elders are silent, calculating the sizes of their encountered beavers, dead or not. A nod.
Twangy country plays overhead, far softer than the jawboning dressed in plaid at the counter.
Tracy asks if I'm ok. I'm more than OK.
10 patrons at The Lone*Star, soon to be 9 as I finish my Ranch Hand breakfast, number one on the menu, 2 eggs over easy, bacon, hash browns, whole wheat, and coffee. The bacon is crisp and greasy, just like I like my women.
Breakfast at The Lone*Star.

Outside, Concrete teems with Independence day frivolity and celebration.

This is Twin Peaks country, for those who were fans of the David Lynch Series.

Next time on Travels with Rosalie...Leaving Concrete


795 Posts
Discussion Starter #23
It's time to bid Concrete adieu and head east along WA20, a remarkably fine road traversing wonderful scenery.
It often looks like this, like just outside of Concrete, one blind turn into shadows and canopied roadway, one after another for miles and miles...

...yet, will open up this this

Turnouts are frequent and very short walks bring you to cool green scenes

with glimpses of how elevated the roadway is...

Here you can see WA20 in the midst of North Cascades Park as it begins to "straighten" out

WA20 goes through the valley seen here. It's spectacular and was one of the favorite rides of the whole trip. I anticipated this, though not to the extent that it was. It gets little mention in the forums, though there are certainly those that say it is a don't miss...I am now an apostle of that view. It is pretty remote so even if there are billboards advertising it, I don't think most would venture up that way. However, it is a major east west route, though i suppose for many the lure of the interstate is too much to ignore...wtf!


795 Posts
Discussion Starter #24
cont'd from above

Turns out, along the way was the Grand Coulee dam, hey why not! Looking like the Pillsbury Doughboy as a Italian Ninja.


From WIKI...

The Grand Coulee dam is not named after a person. Coulee is a Canadian French word meaning dry streambed. The Grand Coulee was so named in the 19th century to indicate that the canyon once filled with water.

I was curious was it named for labor to construct it, as in Coulee "labor." Let's not think of the insensitive, perhaps vaguely racist, implications of that question, I mean who is the authority on the proper spelling of Coulee labor? Cooly, coolee, culee, coolie, what is it? I always assumed that it referred to Chinese immigrants in the 1800, but the wisdom of the internet tells me something different...

From NPR...

So what, exactly, is a coolie? And how much do they get paid?

The dictionary definition of "coolie" is simply "a hired laborer." But the term quickly became synonymous with the thousands of East and South Asians that traveled to the Americas as part of a system of indentured labor used throughout the British colonies.

For more info

So, I'd bet, in fact, "coolie" labor was involved in the construction of the Grand Coulie Dam, but not associated with its moniker, and is in fact, a generally ethnic slur, though, hard to pinpoint as racist. A paradox of sorts. It was applied equally to those who make up the function of that labor.

My route now turning south as well as continuing east brought a pleasant surprise...a return, though passing visit to the Palouse, an agri area of easterm Washington, known for it's gently rolling landscape. It's notoriety for photgs is that the hills are tall enough that, when seen from an elevated postion, when the sun rises or sets, beautiful, changing shadows race across the landscape. I was just riding through this time though.

Gotta love minimalist landscapes, I think...

I was up in the Palouse in 2014, went to Steptoe Butte early am, joined by a bunch of other photogs and shot the following. The shadows change by the minute and the early bird gets the best worms...I was abit late to the wormfest, but you get the idea. It's beautiful.

I am now making some serious tracks. There's a storm in the gulf that could threaten my return to NOLa, the storm soon to be named Barry, and what a phenomenal flop it was, though mercilessly hyped by all the "experts." The cone of Uncertainty of these "reports" from the "experts" should more accurately called the Cone of Hyperbole.

Today is the 14th anniversary of Katrina. I am a veteran of that storm. I am also a veteran of Camille. Those were real storms. The hype that Little Jimmy Cantore and his ilk perpetrated regarding "Barry" was awful. But I didn't fully realize how wrong the "experts" were calling wolf after wolf after wolf. I tell you what...people who live in hurrican prone areas, have seen them all their lives can read a weather map as well as any of the so-called self proclaimed "experts." But persist they did with their most dire predictions. Anyway...it was out there so I was trying to beat it to South Louisiana...spoiler alert...I did...easily. Their History Channel Ancient Aliens predictions pretty much failed, miserably, to materialize of most. "If this happens and then if this happens, and if then the Earth stops spininng, well, it is Armageddon, people! OMG we're all gonna die!"

So, I was doing 450-500 mile days. I stopped in Lewiston, and then on to Twin Falls where at El Sombrero Mexican Restaurant I came across this guy.

Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18 Show Content

I ordered the special, fajetas something. His party came in after I was seated and ordered so I had a front row seat, though for his performance, any seat at the El Sombrero was good.

See him?
He's at a table for 10 at the El Sombrero and loud enough for the entire side of the restaurant to hear.
What is everybody hearing, you ask?
Well, the only one talking at the table, he's going after the everyonegetsatrophy culture, about how he raised his boys, about ghost peppers at a sushi restaurant in Idaho Falls, he calls pico de gallo, "pico,"
and... he announced that he is one of those people who don't smell.
Pregnant pause...
When all looked up--and he certainly had my attention, he asked his fellow diners if he smelled...
I didn't hear ANY response,
but he then followed by up with, wait for it...
"I haven't taken a bath since yesterday morning and I've been in all that heat." It was in the 90s today.
What a silver tongued fox he was.
And in non-sequitur afetr non-sequitur, he informs all, that there was one thing that was never served at his house when he was growing up, and "don't even bring it in [his] house:" canned spinach.

Note taken, though I suspect there are not too many visitors.
I think he was the brother in law or uncle they had to include at least a couple fo times a year. he was the guy that not only the family talked about, but, hell, here I am talking about him posting it on the web.
After I got home, a news article appeared in my feed...not this one, but similar:


Thing is, I don't think this guy is in the 2%, or maybe he's in the 98%. Who would tell him he does stink?

The next morning readying for departure I notice this

What focus group came up with this name?

I find something disquieting about a toilet paper called Marathon.
Is that the message they want to send?
Maybe Sprint would be better, or if the wags prevail, Long Dump?
But under no circumstances, 4x440 Relay, or Hop-Step-Jump (Hop-Step-Dump?)

Time to move

The area where Idaho, Wyoming and Utah meet is very pretty. Lots of rapeseed fields,

and winding into Wyoming on WY530 on the way to Flaming Gorge, Utah


795 Posts
Discussion Starter #25
Wyoming 530 is a fine road, but those clouds looked ominous. Within a few miles I climbed to 10k feet, had some sprinkles of rain, but in a short bit of time wound up near Flaming Gorge, Utah.

The late afternoon sun in Flaming Gorge is hard to beat.

There is a formal area of Flaming Gorge to visit and I have a couple of times, but for this afternoon it was not in the cards, gotta roll on.

This is all primo riding though, and the ride down from Flaming Gorge to Vernal drops you over 1000 feet, maybe 2000, and has twists and turns and overlooks the valley and Vernal...very hooligan inducing, not that I would ever do that. Of course I would not. I did blast past an electric lime green Challenger on the way down. I feel so ashamed!

I was on my way to Vernal, Utah. Vernal is an attractive little town with many good restaurants and located in some very good and very scenic riding areas.
It is dinosaur country...or was dinosaur country back in the day. Vernal is a nice ride from Moab and the attractions there, plus, Vernal is no slouch when it comes to it's own appeal. As I said, lots of good riding in the area and one could easily spend a couple of days there exploring, but that would not be this time.

The next morning, now making tracks to beat the "storm" (that wasn't), I am heading to Gunnison, Colorado. Took some interesting back roads out of Vernal, that were paved after a fashion.

I was mostly taking squiggly roads into Colorado, but rain was a constant threat. My plan was to take CO92 along the north side of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, a very fine road that parallels US50 sorta between Montrose and Gunnison, but Mother Nature had other ideas. It was getting later and if dry, fine, take 92, but it wasn't...
The rains over 92

Earlier in the day I put on my cooling vest because it was hot. Now however as I rode US 50 between Montrose and Gunnison, a notoriously dangerous for motorcycles road, it got dark and the skies opened. The temperature dropped and my cooling vest continued to cool. I was wet and cold when I finally arrived in Gunnison.

Wanna give a shout out to a couple of places:
The Western Motel

(thanks google)

I pull in and I was almost shivering, or maybe I was, but the lady at the desk, an owner I think, took instant pity on me. She told me to park my bike under the portico to the side, she gave me a room right by the office, IOW, close to my bike, told me where I could find rags for the bike, opened the door to the room for me so I wouldn't have to fumble in the rain. Now, there are many places that "allow" this sort of thing...if asked..., but this was spontaneously offered, noticed and much appreciated. Shout out to the Western!

The other place is the Gunnison Pizza Company, about a block from the Western.
Nice pizza place run by sorta hippie millennials, and they had a "Pizza Verde" to die for... that good.

The rain stopped and I am fast approaching the end of this mega ride. In the am I hit the WalMart for some essentials and then I was on very familiar roads, heading toward Trinidad for the night. No rain and nothing approaching cold for the rest of the ride.

My route from Gunnison to Trinidad is one of my favorite Colorado rides. However the two roads that I am going to ride don't seem to make the "best of" lists when it comes to the area. No idea why. They are just as picturesque and fun as the 3 digit north south state roads. Not as rugged as 550, but not any traffic either. the roads I am referring to are 114 and 12, both just wonderful roads.

This shot was taken where Colorado 112 and the dot are. Those are 13 and 14,000 foot mountains on the horizon. This area of the route is flat and agricultural, but 114 and 12 are NOT, but just very fine motorcycling roads.

Whenever I am in the area I always take 12 to or from Trinidad. I will detour for it.
There is a small town, Weston, closer to the Trinidad end of the route. Everytime I passed through it, I always wanted to stop, but it would just flash by. This time I was waiting for it and finally stopped.

I cut across the northeastern corner of New Mexico and the temps are still pleasant.

Typical backroads New Mexico scene

and then I get to a spot that I always stop to take a picture, Bellview.
Near the Texas border, the area looks like a ghost town, though there are people around. One time a car, not this time, stopped and asked if I was lost.
No, not lost, for me the Bellview Post office is iconic and exemplifies motorcycle travel.
The combination of exploring and adventure on two wheels, taking you to places like Bellview, places far away and out of time. And Port Renfrew, and Revelstoke, and Thermopolis; like, finding someone in a gas station in the middle of Nowhere, Wyoming who knows your home and helped when your city needed it. And this middle of nowhere is no nowhere for her, but her home. I notice those things and you would or do, too, right? Lots of emotions on these ride, but poignancy is often present.

There is something that is apart on these rides, but there is also something that is together, a unity, when all these little parts come together to make a whole, and the picture of the Bellview Post office, shuttered, blanched in the New Mexico sun, whispers of past floating on the breeze, paints that for me.

So, while in the reverie of so many stops at the Bellview Post Office over the years I did not know what lay ahead...in Texas.

What I found out later was that I was riding through a heat advisory.
I watched the ambient temp rise and at 91 degrees I put on my cooling vest.

I was headed to Abilene, and between Bellview and Abilene everything associated with living gets worse. I see 98, then 100, 102, and at 70 mph that's a furnace. Eventually the temps topped out at 108. I was riding at temps over 100 degrees for hours, pushing fluids as best I could, but no alternative than to push on.
It was brutal.
I was alert to the symptoms of dehydration and heat injury and I think I didn't have any, but heat can cloud the mind. I was probably wrong about that though

The next day, Abilene to Beaumont, was only slightly better, it was only 104, but still it was hours at over 100 degrees. Gotta love Texas in July, right?

NonStorm Barry got me going from Beaumont before dawn and the trip back to NOLa was uneventful.
It took me a couple of weeks to recover from the heat of the trip's last two days. I was dehydrated so much that I think the lenses in my eyes lost some volume from the dehydrated state, my vision was different...back to normal now.

So, that's about it. I am calling this an epic ride, and for me it was. When I left on the ride I could hear the swans telling me tales, but after the ride, the swans have gone silent. I think they are just waiting for a better and later time to start singing.

There will not be a quiz, but any questions?
Get out there and ride with the oil you're using, the tires on your bike, the windscreen you have, and the seat that's paid for.
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