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July 9th, 2012 | North America

To Forks, Washington…

I was still almost 1000 km from Port Angeles, and needed to get there in less than two days to get the ferry to Victoria on Vancouver Island…

Ready to leave Coos Bay, flag flying proudly….!!

I had been on the road for more than ten hours the day before, and today would need to cover about 700 km to get me as far into Washington State as was possible… I resigned myself to yet another long day and planned to leave Coos Bay as early as possible…

That plan did not materialise, because on exiting my room, I found a small crowd of people around the Big Fella… For the next half hour, I answered questions relating to my trip, while trying not to show my eagerness to be on the road…

Most of the folk did not recognise the South African flag I have flying from the top-box, and asked me to explain what all the colours meant…

One of the ladies who took more photos of both the bike and I than any other person there, turned out to be a wedding photographer on holiday from New Jersey…!! When she heard that I was getting married there in a few months time, her jaw dropped open in disbelief…

“You kidding me, right…??” she said half a dozen times, sounding very much like Fran Drescher on “The Nanny” fame…!!

We stood chatting long after the other folk had drifted away to their cars, and left the motel to continue their own journeys…

I finally eased out of the parking lot a good deal later than I had hoped to, and crossed the first of many large bridges I would encounter today…

The bridge that crosses the Siuslaw River and enters Florence…

Mindful of my run-in with the law the previous day, I started out just a little above the speed limit, and an hour later saw that I had covered barely 70 km…!! Not good…!! Highway 101 runs through a number of small towns as it winds its way up the coastline, hugging the Pacific for much of the way…

At low tide, many wide sandy beaches are revealed… People collect driftwood from them to sell at roadside stalls…

On entering these towns, the speed limit drops to between 40 and 60 km/h, speeds that no self-respecting biker likes to keep to…!!

This bridge spans Alsea Bay, just north of Waldport…

I picked up the pace as I rode north, looking for other vehicles that were traveling faster than the speed limit, and tucking up behind them…

When they slowed down, I would leap-frog them to find another “rabbit” to hide behind… In this way, I began to make better time, and was soon matching my usual pace of covering between 85 and 90 km in any given hour…

I had refueled in Reedsport earlier that morning, and hoped to make one long ride to the next time I needed to refuel… This would mean about four hours in the saddle without a break…!!

I had made rides like this many times, but today was the sixth day in a row that I was riding, and I was feeling the effects in my arms and shoulders… I began looking for a place to take a break…

I rode through the coastal towns of Newport and Depoe Bay, past Seal Rock and on to Lincoln Beach before I found a small coffee shop on the side of the road, that looked worth stopping at…

I sat on a bench outside, munching on a delicious muffin and sipping a very large cup of coffee, while I looked out over the Pacific…

A guy on a Harley stopped to chat awhile, and then left, heading south… He mentioned that he had seen no patrol cars on his way down, and I confirmed that the road south had also been free of these “unnecessary evils”…

The little coffee shop where I took a break…

One of the most impressive, and the longest, bridge I had seen, crosses the Colombia River, north of Astoria…

I stopped in the shadows of the bridge to take another break…

Oregon is timber country, and the highway runs through some of the densest forests in North America… Douglas Firs, Red Alder, Scrub Pine and Juniper cover the mountains and valleys… There are few open glades that you can see into, so closely together do the tress stand..

It is like riding down an open-topped green tunnel, and this goes on for mile after mile… Except when the road dips towards the ocean, and there, tiny islands, or rather, clumps of rock that have probably been dislodged from the mainland by earthquakes, dot the bays close inshore…

These small islands are a common sight on the Pacific Coast of Oregon and Washington…

When not dodging the Big Fella, cyclists have a few other things to worry about…!!

This should be interesting…!! I considered hanging around to see what happened when they did…!!

The road beneath me became a bit of a blur as we tore north… The Big Fella running sweetly, albeit a little louder than usual…

I began to wonder if my exhaust pipe was perhaps letting me know that it was about to expire…!!

We passed through a beautiful little town called Seaside, and for a moment I considered stopping for the night…

It was late afternoon and I still had a long way to go before my planned stop at either Forks or Beaver, far to the north…

I reached Astoria and crossed over the mighty Colombia River… The wind that tore at us as we rode across this very high bridge, reminded me of gusts that had caused me so much stress in Patagonia…!!

It was a good thing that a maintenance crew was busy on the bridge when we made the crossing, as they forced traffic to ride at a snail’s pace, which allowed me to tuck up close behind the other vehicles ahead of me to get respite from the wind…

We reached Aberdeen on the Chehalis River and started the final dash to Forks before the sun set…

I was still having trouble with my fuel consumption, and hoped that this would soon be a thing of the past, as I had arranged to have the bike serviced again as soon as I crossed over into Canada…

I had to stop and refuel again in a town called “Raymond on the Wilapa”… I kid you not…!!

Forks was still 82 Miles away, and there was barely an hour of daylight left….

Once again, despite running the Big Fella down to fumes, I was only able to get 18 litres of fuel into the tank…!! I was no closer to discovering the reason for this than I had been for the past few weeks, and this annoyed the hell out of me…!!

We were now in Washington State, the last state before the Canadian border… The scenery was unchanged from that of Oregon… Dense forest on either side of us, and small, sparsely populated towns where everybody seemed to know everybody else…

I passed a little place called Humptulips, and had to smile to myself… Who on God’s green earth would give a town a name like that…?? This part of the States is well known for the high quality of pot that is grown here, and I can only believe that the town fathers of Humptulips had sampled more than their fair share of their crops…!!

The 101 looped around the southern shores of Lake Quinault, before heading west towards the Pacific again… Although I was dead tired by now, the sight of the oceans as it lapped against the thickly forested shores, got my spirits up again…

It had taken almost 11 hours to ride from Coos Bay to Forks… Two stops for fuel, and numerous breaks to keep me awake…!!

I sped through a fragment of the Olympic National Park, before following the Hoh River inland again, and made the final dash to the town of Forks…

Good grip when dry, then…??

Most of the hotels in this small town were either full, or too expensive… I finally found that the Town Motel at the entrance to Forks, was the best value for money, and after checking in, rode the Big Fella right up to the door of Room 19…

The manager was from Mumbai in India, and was delighted to see the Indian flag on the bike…

She dashed off to get her camera and then asked me if I had enjoyed visiting her country…

I was too tired to tell her that India was one country I would probably never set foot in again, unless helicopter transport was laid on for me…

I just smiled and told her that it had been an amazing experience… Mostly because I was amazed that I survived the traffic there…!!

After a hot shower, I lay down to consider my plans for the following day… My brain seemed filled with cotton-wool, and I could hardly string two coherent thoughts together…

Sleep overtook me like a speeding train…

©GBWT 2012

2 comments to To Forks, Washington…

  • Mark Behr

    Big ride again – stay strong. Once again, if you need a place to crash in Vancouver, our family have plenty of room for you!

  • Kim

    Wow, looooong day and hopefully a good nite’s sleep!!! Perhaps you should have sampled the local plantations…
    Keep strong and always remember – “Raymond on the Wilapa” was worth the ride!!!
    BIG kisses
    K

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