Hwy 97 in TWO countries! (957 miles in 5 days) - Kawasaki Versys Forum
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post #1 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 04:06 PM Thread Starter
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Hwy 97 in TWO countries! (957 miles in 5 days)

A friend with whom I've twice ridden to Alaska recently moved to Issaquah at the south end of Seattle, from Arkansas, so I figured it was time to ride down for a visit.

Last Thursday forecast to be PDG, so that was my planned departure day, and I left Kelowna in the Okanagan for 'points south' at 8AM and 15C. Two hours later I arrived at US Customs and Immigration at Oroville, WA, sunny and 70F. A few minutes conversing with the officer then I was on my way, now on US Hwy 97, so I pulled up under a big tree for lunch in the shade. I was not able to find the same Walmart ATF I use in my forks in Canada, so I stopped at the Omak Walmart, got 2 quarts, then back on the road in a very short time.

From just south of Omak at Fort Okanogan (note the different US and Canadian spelling...) the 97 starts following the Columbia River - VERY impressive! At Chelan I took 97 ALT to stay on the west side of the Columbia all the way to Wenatchee where 97 turned west, into 4-lanes for 15 miles, then south again, 2 lanes, as 97 climbed thru "Dogpatch" (or, at least, a place that brought Dogpatch to mind , note the pics) and over Blewett Pass at 4,102 ft.
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post #2 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 04:45 PM Thread Starter
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After Blewett Pass (LOTS of motorcycles on this nice stretch of curves), I followed 97 till 970 came off it, headed west towards Cle Elum and Roslyn. When I gassed up here, the tank's mileage was in the mid-50s/US gallon.

Roslyn is the town where the TV series "Northern Exposure" was filmed, and riding in is somewhat of a 'deja-vu' experience, as the whole area seems familiar. In the middle of town is the painted wall that on the series said "Roslyn's Cafe" with a moose walking in front of it, so I took the obligatory pictures. As you can see - the "apostrophe S" was added for the series.

After the short break (and cleaning the bugs from my visor) I again headed west, but onto I-90 this time, over Snoqualmie Pass, and down into southern Seattle and Issaquah in the great North 'Wet'. Nice to see my old buddy, Joe, and plan the next day's ride, which we hoped would be a circle around Mt. Rainier.

Friday dawned rather less than spectacularly: fog and low clouds in every direction. We suited up with rain pants ON right away, then headed south via Tiger Mountain and Enumclaw where we joined Hwy 410, then, after adding rain-suit jackets as it was starting to rain, we headed east towards Yakima. The road is VERY scenic I think, but all we saw as we climbed were wet, REALLY tall trees, clouds, fog, LOTS of rain, and one helluva load of bicycle guys riding UPHILL in the downpour.... I wondered what was going through their minds. BTW, it was CHILLY too, and my 12v heated gear was back at Joe's place, hung up !

Just before we got to the turn-off for Rainier, the fog deepened - maybe 50 yards of visibility occasionally- and I began thinking this wasn't the best place to be, then we turned south (Chinook Pass at 5,438 feet) looking at drifts of snow up to 8' deep along the sides of the road. Besides the fog, it was damned cold.

Stopping and checking my map I could see that the next pass, Shriner Peak at 6,777 feet, would be enough higher and colder that black ice was possible. We talked it over and decided that turning back was our best option, so we did. Going down that Hwy 410 in the pouring rain was miserable for us, but I'm sure it was WORSE for all those bikers pedaling UP in their trendy shorts and lycra shirts. 40 miles later we again pulled in to Enumclaw where the "Golden Arches" beckoned to us, promising HOT beverages and NO rain (at least - NO RAIN inside!).

When we found our booth, one of the McDee girls put one of those "CAUTION - WET FLOORS" signs beside us where the water was pooling from our gear, then apologized!

It's amazing how long you can 'tarry' over a hot chocolate and burger when it's pouring out. I could see that my gel pad over my seat was soaking up the Washington state atmosphere, and prayed that my rain pants were STILL waterproof.

They WEREN'T, and my butt was chilly and soaked as we mounted up for the 30 to 40 miles back to Joe's home.

IN THE POURING RAIN! Now I understand where the term "North Wet" comes from!
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post #3 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 05:02 PM Thread Starter
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Once we were back home, gear hanging everywhere, we took stock of our situation: my 'waterproof' boots and gloves had proven NOT to be. In fact I took my gloves and wrung them till a large puddle formed in the sink, and STILL had them in the dryer at LO heat for about an hour. We talked over going shopping Saturday IF it continued raining, which it DID, so WE DID TOO!

Cycle Gear in Auburn was on the list, and I replaced my rain-suit and gloves, picked up a pair of Tourmaster mesh pants on clearance for back in Kelowna (where it SHOULD get HOT, sometime!), then we took in a couple of MEGA-dealers for a GREAT afternoon out of the pouring rain.

Sunday dawned quite foggy, but around lunch that was going away, replaced by sunny breaks. Joe suggested a ride north and east including some dirt roads in the "rain-forest", and off we went, he on his KLR, me on the ContiMotion shod Green Hornet. He guided me on some nice twisties, and then we turned onto a forestry road called 'Stossel Rd NE' and followed it for quite a distance till blocked by a barrier and sign indicating that motorized traffic wasn't allowed, and we "did a 180 and got out of there".
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post #4 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 05:13 PM
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I now see why one of the forum members (can't remember who right now) use Sloshington in his location spot. I still chuckle every time I see it because I can relate...

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post #5 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 05:35 PM Thread Starter
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Joe, his wife and I went out for dinner Sunday night, then we started packing the Green Hornet for the trip north.

IF any of you wondered about those 'steer-horns' (ACTUALLY a 25" piece of 3/4" copper tubing bent UP at both ends) on the rear of my seat - they are to use to keep my set of Tourance tires, same 130/80 and 150/70 sizes as I use in AZ on Big Red, from slipping down to obscure the tail-light, and as tie-down attachments. At least - I HOPED they would work that way!

Turned out they DID, and soon we had the load rigged, except for my dry sack which would go on in the morning, fitting, I HOPED, into the well in the tires.

Monday dawned with broken clouds, so I optimistically packed the rain-gear in my backpack (BUT put my Tourmaster heated jacket liner on, plugged it in, and turned it to LO), put the dry sack into the 'well' - IT FITS!!! - finished tying it all down, said my "Good-byes", and 'hit-the-road' back towards I-90 East at 7:45AM.

The clouds reduced as I went east, retracing my route till Wenatchee where I crossed the bridge and followed 97 up the eastern edge of the Columbia. By Omak I had been seeing patches of water on the edges and in the road-grooving for awhile, so decided to put my NEW rain gear on. Besides, I saw clouds, low and 'scudding', ahead and to my right, and figured my good luck might just run out.

But - it HELD, and I joined the line for Canada Customs at Osoyoos, in the SUN (clouds were all east of me - go figure!).

After answering a few questions I rolled the Versys forward, then started removing my rain-suit and 12v jacket. Another Customs officer came out and asked how I liked the Versys (he ACTUALLY knew what it was... ), and how does it compare to the 'Wee Strom and BMW GSs (ALL of which I've test ridden ). We chatted for about 10 minutes, then I was headed north on my final leg, arriving home in Kelowna at 4:15PM, 1540 kms or 953 miles after leaving Thursday.

Several tanks of gas gave me mid-50s mpgUS, and my overall gas mileage (EVEN with all that 'drag' from the load I'd tied onto my 'mule') came to 50.07 mpgUS, or 62.58 mpgImperial. That's 22.2 kms/L, or 4.5L/ 100 kms.
PLUS - many more SMILES TO THE GALLON!


If any of you are still waiting to go for a 'trip' on your Versys - saddle-up and head out, Pilgrims....
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post #6 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 06:41 PM
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First off, Issaquah is about 15 miles east of Seattle
Second, we should have gone riding together. My place is on the way to Auburn from Issaquah.
Love some of the pictures that you took while out riding. 97 along the columbia is a beautiful ride. If you haven't already, try highway 2 (North Cascades highway), it is an amazing ride that has some of the best scenery around with twisties to match!
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post #7 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 06:45 PM
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post #8 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-26-2012, 07:11 PM
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Thanks for the pics!
Heading to Creston in a week, a buddy from Oakland wants to ride to Alaska and that's where I wave goodbye. We're coming up through St. Helens, Ranier, Blewett, Grand Coulee, Kettle Falls. The idea is "no twist unturned", but then I'll have the new tires INSTALLED on the bike. Glad you had a good time, despite the cold & wet.
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post #9 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 02:55 AM
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Originally Posted by Baron650 View Post
Thanks for the pics!
Heading to Creston in a week, a buddy from Oakland wants to ride to Alaska and that's where I wave goodbye. We're coming up through St. Helens, Ranier, Blewett, Grand Coulee, Kettle Falls. The idea is "no twist unturned", but then I'll have the new tires INSTALLED on the bike. Glad you had a good time, despite the cold & wet.

Not meaning to hijack...but if you are near Creston, you have to cross into B.C. and hit some of the roads around there, either heading up to Nelson,New Denver or Kaslo...these are the finest roads we have to offer.

Glad you had a great trip south Fast Eddie!!!
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post #10 of 11 (permalink) Old 06-27-2012, 03:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nemisis714 View Post
First off, Issaquah is about 15 miles east of Seattle
Second, we should have gone riding together. My place is on the way to Auburn from Issaquah.
Love some of the pictures that you took while out riding. 97 along the columbia is a beautiful ride. If you haven't already, try highway 2 (North Cascades highway), it is an amazing ride that has some of the best scenery around with twisties to match!
Sorry I didn't call you - you could have got wet with Joe and me!

I've ridden 2 and 20 - nice roads, but... (CHECK below)

Quote:
Originally Posted by SUREFIRE View Post
Not meaning to hijack...but if you are near Creston, you have to cross into B.C. and hit some of the roads around there, either heading up to Nelson,New Denver or Kaslo...these are the finest roads we have to offer.

Glad you had a great trip south Fast Eddie!!!
Thanks. And I DEFINITELY second the surefire recommend - BC has some INCREDIBLE roads, so do yourself a favor - bring your passport and get north of the border!

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post #11 of 11 (permalink) Old 07-09-2012, 03:49 PM
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