It’s Tuesday morning around 6:30AM in our favorite hotel in Astoria, Oregon, just under the bridge to Washington.  It’s always a trip to see another state just across the water, knowing that there’s yet another ‘check’ on your list of states.  The boys are still asleep while I steal a little time to spew forth some verbage before we have to jet north.  I can’t wait for Seattle!  It’s one of my top 5 cities ever.  It’s clean, it’s active, and it’s constantly moving.  I like that.  But I digress.  On with the show…

Aaaaaaand it’s now 7:15AM in Seattle on Thursday.  Yes, there’s a slight gap.  But sometimes that’s just how it works.  As soon as you start something, another something appears and you have to hit SAVE and get on with it.  So, here we begin once again.  It’s drizzling outside our hotel room in downtown Seattle.  Fingers are crossed that it lets up by the time we push off at 11AM.  We have to make the shuttle to Vancouver Island, which leaves at 2:45PM from Anacortes.  Need to bang out this entry before we set sail.  And NOW, on with the show…

If you’ve never taken Highway 101 all the way up the Oregon Coast, you truly are missing on some of the most B-E-A-utiful scenery this country has to offer.  You go from redwoods to azure ocean views to rolling farmland.  It’s all stellar.  I swear it smells like my fraser fur candle!  It also reminds me of Iowa from last year’s ride.  Remarkable how so many places in the US can resemble each other yet be in totally opposite locales.  A tip in riding the 101 up the coast – DO NOT be in a hurry.  It may only be just over 100 miles from Newport to Astoria, but there’s one lane each way on most of the highway and there are many, many people taking the same route.  At one of our stretch stops, we met a family from Utah on their 10-day vacation.  Melissa, the mom to little Jackson, has a website call Adventure Tykes.  Like us, she and her husband, Brent, want to continue travelling, showing Jackson all that this planet has to offer.  Very cool kids…very cool.  So we’re not the only crazy ones out there.  With promises to keep in touch, we continued north.

We decided to stop in Astoria for the night knowing that there’s a fabulous Holiday Inn Express under the Astoria Bridge.  We stopped in downtown Astoria first for some bangin’ grub at an urban cafe. When you want great food, always ask where the locals go.  Outside the cafe as we were packing up, I asked a gentleman to take our picture.  Seeing as he and his wife were both carrying Nikon’s around their necks, I figured it was a safe bet.  We ended up listening to his many stories of his travels on motorcycles, how he used to play up the Harley role to get people to move out of his way or leave him alone.  Funny thing, this guy looked like an old hippie and was using a scrunchy to hold back his silver hair.  Ha!  Are you thinking about that ‘Sex in The City’ episode, too?

Our night in Astoria was exactly what we needed.  With a pool for Jack, hot tub for Terry and a laundry room for myself, we got our chores done and our ya-ya’s out.  As always, the view from the room is incredible!  We stood and watched several cargo ships pass under the bridge as the sun was setting.  It was something out of a romantic movie, but it’s hard to relish the moment with a 9-year-old bouncing around the room in his underwear. Oh well, it was a splendid moment anyway.  With delivery pizza in our bellies and a pile of clean clothes on the couch, we settled in for a good night’s sleep with promises of Seattle in the morning.

With bikes packed and a good layer of fog encompassing the bridge, we set north once again DETERMINED to settle in Seattle.  We were a day off but by this time, the so-called schedule was out the window before we even rolled out of the driveway.  We’d been keeping in touch with our Overland Expo friends in Seattle as the trip went on.  We’d met Shannon, Mike and Ducati last April in Amado and instantly connected.  They’re 41 and 43 respectively and we were looking forward to hanging out once again.  And who’s Ducati?  Their Chihuahua, whose traveled to Mexico and back on the back of Mike’s motorcycle.  But first, the hotel…  While YELP is usually a good place to start when looking for all things local, it led us down a twisty path of high and low numbers when it came to finding a reasonably priced hotel.  We settled on the Sixth Avenue Inn.  It was close to most everything, the price was within reason but it did have a few reviews talking about the urine smell in the hallways.  Not to worry, though, as there were plenty of good reviews to counter those.  We parked in front of the hotel only to be met with an overwhelming smell of urine AND THAT WAS IN THE PARKING LOT!  Strike one.  The staff at the front desk was quite friendly and assigned us to room 404.  The lobby was in the middle of being refurbished, so they were at least attempting to update the digs.  When the elevator doors opened, Terry and I could only glare at each other as the stench of urine wafted in.  Strike two.  We put our key in the door, turned the handle and, I swear, it was just like Goldilocks and the 3 Bears – “Someone’s sleeping in my bed!”  Yep!  Bodies in the beds and luggage on the floor.  Strike three!  Needless to say, we turned our sites to and another place pronto.  Fortunately, hotels are aplenty in a large city.  We settled into a fabulous hotel just a block from the Piss Avenue Inn, ordered a bit of room service and nestled in to our clean, sweet smelling room.

And the weather that day?  Absolutely spectacular!  And with a full view of Mt. Ranier.  So very rare.  Even the locals will tell you that the weather that day was a rarity and the most pleasant they’d had all year.  It was a good day to ride even it was on the freeway.  Speaking of freeway, we were spotted by a KOMO Channel 4 reporter.  Terry keyed up on the Autocom and said that some dude in a TV truck was waving and recording he and Jack.  Funny!  Later that day, we received an email for Luke Deucy, local reporter.  If time worked out, he was interested in doing a story on us.  But alas, it did not work out.  We have to set sail to Vancouver Island and can’t wait to hear if it’s a go.   But we do appreciate the interest, Luke!  Thanks for checking us out.

The monorail to the Space Needle and Experience Music Project (EMP) was only a couple of blocks away as was the Pikes Market, complete with the first Starbucks store.  After our tasty room service meal, we rode the monorail to the end, Jack beaming as the driver let him honk the horn at each take-off.  This guy must have kids.  EMP was also hosting an Avatar exhibit.  Last time we were here, the Muppet exhibit was happening and you couldn’t drag Terry and I out of there.  This time around, it was Jack and I salivating.  But of course, we were about a 1/2 hour late and it was closed.  Boooo.  I promised little man we’d check it out the next day.

We crashed pretty hard that night.  If you don’t ride, you don’t know how much it can take out of you.  You’re constantly ‘on’, always on the alert watching for texting drivers and squabbling families.  I’m telling you, if you do this on the road you’ve now become ‘those’ people…and you know who you are.

Wednesday brought a few morning clouds but a more refreshed trio.  Terry and Jack set out for the aviation museum (complete with flight simulator – more glee for Jack) while I did a few errands and had some downtown time.  I swear, there’s a Starbucks on every corner, kind of like San Francisco.  No problem getting wired in this town!  With venti in hand, I walked the streets to Pikes Public Market.  If you’ve never been, please do put it on your bucket list.  It’s a dramatic dance of color and art, vendors and tourists.  Swirls of buttery French croissants mix with the sweet smell of peonies blended with a dash of strawberries…and fish.  Plenty and plenty of fish.  But you can’t forget the famous fish throwers of Pikes Market!  These guys are funny and put on quite a show for the tourists.  And there are scads of tourists.  I can only do so much “Excuse me, excuse you” before I have to cut it and run.  I did manage to score some fresh fruit, veggies, cheese and local wine to fill our bellies for the next 24 hours.  Oh, and don’t forget the can of salmon!  That does travel well and is good protein in a pinch.  Back at the room, I listened to Jack’s stories of the simulator and how it scared him so when it first took off.  He hadn’t realized that the simulator actually moved.  He finally settled in and enjoyed the ride.  The aviation museum was a good score for the guys.

Later that day, we did all venture down to the market where Jack got to see the flying fish in action.  He totally dug it and Terry and I laughed as the same dude kept getting flying fish guts in his face with every throw.  Um, dude, you can MOVE.  Darwin.  While Terry ducked back to the room for a quick wink, Jack and I did the monorail to the Avatar exhibit.  We’ve done the Space Needle and didn’t want to chance another long elevator ride with B.O. man again.  Ick.  The exhibit was very cool as it had James Cameron explaining how he filmed the scenes, incorporated CG, etc.  I was hoping for a life-size Avatar but none was to be found.  I was a little disappointed.  We wandered into the EMP area to check out the Nirvana exhibit.  LOVED that they had Kurt’s striped sweater on display.  There were many notable items to peruse, many of them sweaters.  Hey, it’s cold in Seattle!  Jack enjoyed the interactive music area and how could he not?  I think he was missing his drum set.

Later that night, we headed to Mike and Shannon’s for a BBQ and some catching up.  They live on Beacon Hill overlooking Safeco Field and the airport.  Another rider, John, was bunking with them for a couple of days while he had some repairs done to his BMW 1200GS.  John was headed to Alaska and was fortunate enough to have Mike help plan his route.  You see, Mike and Shannon are seasoned moto travelers having done Alaska and Baja.  Their Chihuahua, Ducati, did Baja with them earlier this year.  Yes, you read that right.  Ducati sports a pair of doggles and little travel box on the back of Mike’s bike.  It’s quite a sight but so very cool.  And to give a hint as to how awesome Shannon is, at 41 she just joined the roller derby league!  Now, how bitchin’ is she?  It was a fabulous evening of food, wine and conversation.  We were also fortunate enough to watch the video of their Alaska trek.  The Alaska bug had now officially bitten Terry.  Next time, honey, I promise.  Mike was soooo excited to share with Jack his Legos from when he was a kid.  And the Lincoln Logs?  They were hand-made by his grandfather.  Jack played and created with Mike eventually joining in.  He told us not clean up before we left.  Something tells me he played with them well into the night.  Eventually the yawns started to overtake us all and it was time to wrap it up.  After hugs all around and wishes for safe travels, Shannon drove us back to our hotel.  What an amazing night.  Very cool people with very similar ideals.  I do hope they join us for some dirt riding in McCloud sooner rather than later.

So, here we are kids.  It’s 10:07AM and we need to pack our final gear and head out.  The skies are clearing and the roads are drying up.  The crossed fingers worked.  Your challenge for today?  You know that person you wished you had the nerve to talk to?  Don’t wish anymore. Do it.  If I hadn’t of asked that gentleman in Astoria to take our picture, we wouldn’t have heard his great stories.  If we hadn’t of struck up a conversation at Overland Expo with Mike and Shannon, we wouldn’t have met some very cool friends.  It’s about expanding your world and sharing your stories.  You may not think you have anything to offer, but you’d be amazed how many people are out there that you may influence in a positive way.  And the more you put yourself out there, the more comfortable you will become.  Hey, if Terry hadn’t of put the word out that we were travelling to Vancouver Island, we wouldn’t have had the offer from another moto family to camp on their property.  It’s all about networking and sharing what we have to offer.  You have peanut butter?  Great!  I have jelly.  You get what I mean, right?  Put yourself out there and be open to new experiences.  You just never know what you might learn about others and yourself.  Cheers.