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July 10th, 2012 | North America

Port Angeles and Olympic National Park…

Compared to the last few days, the ride to Port Angeles would be a doddle…!!

Forks to Port Angeles.

Ready to ride the last stint to reach the ferry at Port Angeles…

It would take little more than an hour to get there, but I also wanted to visit the Olympic National Park, and ride to Hurricane Ridge, which would use up some of the spare time I envisaged having today…

The long rides I had been making since leaving Santa Barbara had paid off, and I was looking forward to a slow and unhurried ride to my destination for the day…

Instead of following the US 101 all the way to the port, I chose to take what I felt might be the more scenic route, and after passing through the tiny settlement of Beaver and Lake Pleasant, I turned north and rode towards Pillar Point Beach on what is known as the Burnt Mountain Road.

This road follows the course of the Pysht River, twisting and winding through dense forests, and with very little traffic to contend with, I was able to pin the throttle back and enjoy the sensation of riding down a “green tunnel” at high speed…!! So much for “unhurried ride”…!!

I enjoyed one particular section of this ride so much, that I made a u-turn and rode back a half-dozen miles, to do it all over again…!! This is something that I have rarely done in the past, but with so much time on my hands, I could afford to wring every ounce of enjoyment out of today’s ride…

I spent the better part of an hour, just sitting on the verge of this road that runs alongside Lake Crescent…

I slowed down when we reached the coast, riding through a stand of tall trees that grew right down to the waters edge… There were signs warning about bears and deer crossing the road, and I kept a wary eye out for them, but never saw any…

This would be my exit point from the USA… Canada would be the 101st country on my journey…

We crossed Jim Creek and rode slowly towards the village of Agate Beach, before turning south and heading towards the northern reaches of Lake Crescent…

I passed a number of rustic old homes set well back from the road, secluded by thick bush and tall trees, and as the road got closer to the lake, it narrowed into a single lane affair…

The management of this motel went out of their way to help me with maps and directions; invited me to join them for dinner, and helped jump-start the Big Fella after I had left the lights on…again…!!

I stopped on the shores of the lake, struck by the beauty of my surroundings… I parked the Big Fella near the water’s edge, grabbed a bottle of water, and clambered over some rocks to sit at the water’s edge…

The water close to the shore was crystal clear, and I watched schools of small fish darting about below the surface… Further away from the shore, the water turned a deep blue, mirroring the sky above me… Thickly forested hills formed a backdrop to this special place…

I spent almost an hour there, day-dreaming my way through the last few days and those that still lay ahead of me…

I thought about my imminent reunion with Trevor and Chenty, smiling to myself as I remembered the fun we had together in South East Asia… It was hard to believe that this had taken place more than a year ago…!! The last year had flown by so quickly…

I refueled on our entry to Port Angeles and set about looking for a place to stay… I settled on the Royal Victorian Hotel, which had been recommended to me by the lady working at the service station where we had filled up…

The manageress of the motel was from Korea, and was like a little dynamo…!! She bustled about, making quick fire suggestions on how I could spend the remainder of my day in the port….

Trevor had suggested I take the time to ride into Olympic National Park, and I am glad that I followed his advice…

She rattled off four or five places where I could enjoy meals at; showed me photographs of herself and her family up on Hurricane Ridge; gave me a detailed map of how to get there; and suggested I go and book my passage over to Victoria on the ferry as soon as possible to avoid later disappointment…

She spoke in  very clipped tones, leaving out many words in her sentences, which is typical of Asians speaking English… Her pronunciation of the “Straits of Juan da Fuca” which lay between Port Angeles and Victoria in Canada, sounded very much like “John the Fucker”, and I tried hard not to laugh out loud…!!

She then invited me to join her and her husband for a BBQ later that afternoon… This invitation was extended to all the other guests as well…!! Apparently they did this once a week…!!

I had never heard of such a thing, and looking around at the parking lot that was filled with vehicles, I wondered just how many people they had planned to cater for…!!

We spent a good deal of time chatting about things to do and places to see, before I paid for the room and went out to take some gear off the Big Fella to lighten the load for my ride up to Hurricane Ridge…

When I tried to start the bike to move it closer to the room she had allocated to me, I discovered that the battery was flat…!! I had once again left the keys in the ignition and in the “On” position…!! A few minutes later, after reversing her car close to the Big fella, we were able to jump-start him, and get things underway again…

Vestiges of this past winter’s snow, still clung to the upper slopes of the ridge…

The ride up to Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park, wound its way steadily up to a large visitors centre, where hundreds of cars were already parked… Hikers were setting off along the many trails that led from here and out into the surrounding mountains…

Many of the roads that led further into the park had been closed for years I was told by a park warden, when I enquired about riding further into the park… I stood chatting to a few other bikers who had parked near to where I was standing, and then as the sun began to set, I began the 17 mile ride back down to the  entrance of the park…

Taking in one of the many scenic views along the road to Hurricane Ridge…

This was the only animal I saw on my visit to the park… Black-tailed Deer..

The speed limit of only 25 m/h in the park made perfect sense considering that at many points along this road, there were no barriers to prevent one taking to the air if you misjudged a corner at high-speed…!! The drop offs to the valley far below were impressive…!!

Despite the many warning about bears and other wildlife, the only animal I saw was a Black-Tailed Deer that wandered past the bike while I was sitting enjoying the view from one of the parking areas…!!

Where was all the wildlife that was supposed to abound in this part of the world…??

Back in Port Angeles, I settled into my comfortable room, and waited for the “dinner bell” to sound…!! A discreet knock at my door, was followed by “Dinner ready…!! Come join now…!!”

A table had been laid out with various salads and buttered rolls, and  burger patty’s sizzled on the BBQ… I joined about a dozen of the other guests who had accepted the invitation to dinner and with the Big Fella parked only metres away, you can guess what the conversation centred around…!!

Later that evening, another GS 1200 pulled up and parked next to mine… The rider was from Oregon, and was on a short tour of the northern states… His wife had recently passed away, and he had decided to take a few weeks off to be on his own…

The Big Fella gets some company at the Royal Victorian Motel…

After sharing this fact with me, I thought again of the many bikers I had encountered that experienced some sort of life changing event, that saw them hop onto their bikes and head for the nearest horizon… Some of them, like me, just never seemed to get to that horizon…!!

After chatting about our bikes and the set-ups and equipment we had added to get the most out of our rides, he retired to his room next to mine, and I did not see him again…

I fell asleep later that evening, my mind a jumble of excited thoughts at the prospect of seeing my friends Trevor and Chenty again… The plan we had hatched more than a year ago, to ride to Alaska together, was about to become a reality…!!

©GBWT 2012

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