Posted by: fergy1008 | August 19, 2012

A little after chapter meeting ride to Whistlin Jacks

Sunday, August 3rd, and time again for a GWTA Chapter meeting. We hadn’t been to one in a while and we were looking forward to seeing everyone. As we pulled into the parking lot we were delighted to see all the bikes – there must have been 20+ bikes in the lot.

It wasn’t too surprising as it was a really nice day. Entering the meeting room all the usuals were there, plus some. While we were saying hello to people, Bud asked if were were going on the after-meeting ride to Whistlin’ Jacks. I hadn’t really planned on it, but we knew the riding area and liked the destination so I told him I would think about it. Our chapter president Vonda was absent, camping with family I think, but in her place Bud, the chapter VP, conducted the meeting. As the meeting went on, we talked it over and decided to join the group for the ride. We hadn’t had any real plans for the day, it was going to be hot so we certainly didn’t want to be stuck in the house and I had just cleaned the bike the day before and she was begging for a new layer of road grime. Once the meeting was adjourned, we gathered in the parking lot and to our surprise about a dozen bikes were going to participate, including a Moto Guzzi and a Honda Shadow. At quarter after 10 – and already 82 degrees – our ride leaders, Tom and Jennifer, led us out of the Eagles parking lot and we wound our way through Puyallup, out to Orting and along a very nice stretch of road (Hwy 162, which we’d never ridden before) leading through South Prairie and dropping us off in Buckley onto Hwy 410. It was a beautiful day and we quickly turned off the busy 410 for Mud Mt Road, a nice little, quiet winding 2-lane road. We met up again with 410 on the other side of Enumclaw and headed for Chinook pass.

The temperature was rising and, during a quick pit stop, I decided to take off my riding jacket.

I rarely do this but, even in my lightweight summer riding jacket, I was hot and, heading to Eastern Washington, I knew it was going to get even hotter. Angela, being a trooper, decided to leave hers on. As we headed up to the summit we were treated to some gorgeous views of Rainier.

At the summit we pulled over for a quick bathroom and hydration break. It wasn’t long before we were back on the road headed to our intended destination. As we traveled down from the summit on the Eastern side,

we talked about last time we’d made this trip – in 2010, on a nice November day, and we’d decided to go to Yakima for some pie. We had gone over along 90 but decided to come back along Chinook Pass. The pass had other ideas. Though we’d confirmed the pass was open, as we headed up the eastern side it began snowing, adding to what was already piled up roadside. As we continued to head up it became darker, the snow heavier and then it began sticking to the road. We talked as we went about whether to turn around but I still felt comfortable with how the bike was handling. Near the summit, but not yet there, we stopped on the road for a moment and when we tried going again the bike slipped a bit. At that moment we decided to turn around rather than continuing up a darkening, windy, snow-covered road with no guardrail, still having to face a downhill ride on the other side. We’d doubled back and ended up spending a really enjoyable evening at Whistlin’ Jacks. Today’s ride was much better – bright, sunny and clear.

We pulled into Whistlin’ Jacks parking lot about 40 minutes later and found that a lot of other bikers and cagers decided to make the same trip. I feared it was going to be a long wait in the restaurant but one of our members went inside and spoke to the hostess and it seemed that they were going to be able to accommodate everyone, though they would have to split the group up to a couple different tables. For some reason I was feeling antisocial and secured a place in the bar at a 2-top for Angela and I. Another group of three or four riders also chose to eat at a table in the bar. I’m kinda glad I did because it was nice and cool in there and the service was speedy. We had our drinks on the table and our lunch order to the kitchen in no time. We had decided to split a club sandwich and before we were even halfway through our beers our food arrived. I’m certainly glad we decided to split a meal because the sandwich was big and we had just eaten breakfast 4 hours earlier. The sandwich and fries were excellent as I remembered from a previous visit to Whistlin’ Jacks. We finished our meal with good conversation and a few laughs, including reminiscing about the first “real” ride we’d taken on our new wing…an October ride along Hwy 12 and 123 to Whistlin’ Jacks. We’d headed out wearing only half-helmets, without any other real riding gear and without thinking of the temperature change that would occur climbing to that altitude. Along the ride, which began pleasantly enough, we watched the bikes’ temperature reading drop to the low 30s and we’d arrived at Whistlin’ Jacks near frozen. Angela was wearing just cotton gloves and Converse, thin canvas shoes that left her feet so cold she couldn’t even feel them as we walked across the parking lot to the bar. While she stood shivering in front of the fire, I went to the gas station next door and bought her thick socks and warmers for her feet and hands for the ride home. After we’d sat in the bar awhile, having lunch and warming up with help from the fire and lots of coffee, we headed back out on the road, over Chinook and home where we made lots of mental notes about the valuable lessons learned on that ride. Today was far nicer and we were able to laugh about that adventure while enjoying a cold beer on a hot day.

During the meal we decided on a route home. Instead of following the group home, once at the summit we were going to cut off to Hwy 123 which runs North-South from Hwy 410 and connects up with Hwy 12. After chatting with the group a bit in the afternoon sun, we all mounted up and headed back toward Chinook Pass. We followed our group to the summit and a short time after, we split from the group and headed for home along our chosen route. The ride down Hwy 123 was nice and relaxing and we must have waved at dozens of other motorcyclists who were also out enjoying the day. My goal was to be home by 5:30 but, knowing the distance we still had to travel, I was thinking this might be a little stretch. Did I mention it was hot? Did I mention it was hovering around 95 deg all day? Do you remember me saying earlier that I removed my jacket? Well, once we were on Hwy 12, I noticed my arms were getting pretty red. We pulled off in Packwood, where I had planned a stop for us to cool off for a bit, and headed in to the filling station. To my delight, and also to the displeasure of my waistline, this store had a F’real Machine. You choose a pre-filled cup from a variety of flavors, place it in the machine and, in just moments, you have a tasty thick, cold shake.

So I grabbed a strawberry F’real along with a fountain drink, and Angela bought a water for the ride home. As we sat cooling down with our drinks and enjoying watching the many characters coming and going from the store, Angela looked at my reddening neck and arms and suggested we should buy some sunscreen. Since I didn’t want to pay the prices at the convenience store, Angela graciously offered to go across the street to the local grocer and buy some. As she walked over to the store, I filled the bike with gas for our final push home. Meeting her in the store lot a few minutes later, I was glad to see she bought a high quality sun block. Although expensive, Bull Frog brand in my opinion is the best. It doesn’t wear off with sweat or water for a while and that’s exactly what I needed. She sprayed me down and now we have it on the bike for future trips.

It was only a few more hours to home but the relentless heat and hot wind made it seem much longer. We continued down Hwy 12 then cut off to Hwy 7 in to Elbe and along Alder Lake. Shortly after Alder Lake the Hwy was closed due to a landslide and all traffic was diverted through Eatonville. As we approached Eatonville the traffic was backed up for at least a mile but, since the only thing backing up traffic was a stop sign in town, the line at least kept moving. A short time later and we were in the outskirts of Graham. I had decided to cut down 224th to Hwy 7 then Spanaway Loop road to home but one last stop was needed before the push home. The heat was starting to take its toll, so we pulled off, bought another water, I took off my drenched helmet and we cooled down for a few minutes before resuming the trip. Rolling in to home around 7:30, beat and exhausted by the heat, we went inside and almost immediately changed into comfy s and headed to the basement for the rest of the night. The total mileage – for a day that was just supposed to be a couple hours long and only to the meeting and back home – was 12 hours and 273 miles. That just goes to show what bikers will do sometimes. You never know where or when a ride is going to occur. But as for us it’s a lifestyle we are happy to choose.

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