Chrome's Ride to Th' Ride - Thursday August 2nd

Helena MT to Seattle WA

614.5 miles today, 3180.1 miles total for the pre-ride.

Another spectacular day of riding, but it started off with a bit of slight panic. One of our riders was arriving tonight in Seattle, so I needed to add a hotel room for Thursday for him and his wife. So although I woke up at o'dark:thirty, I had to wait a while until it was at least 8 in Seattle.

I'm glad he and his wife were arriving a day early! When I called the hotel to add one room for Thursday in addition to our 15 for Friday, the nice lady on the other end responded "So you'll be needing a total of sixteen rooms for tonight then?"

Uhm... no. One room for Thursday, leave that couple in the same room for Friday, and add the fourteen others, bringing our total to the agreed-upon 15 for Friday.

"But you're all arriving today."

Uhm... no. We're all arriving on Friday.

"No, you're all arriving today."

Uhm... pretty sure you're wrong about that. 

"Well... you have 15 rooms for tonight, and none for tomorrow."

This went on, back and forth, for quite a while before I convinced this lady that I was correct, and she was wrong. Then she had to talk to a manager. Evidently the group sales person I spoke with originally had moved on, or the moon was full, or the planets were not properly aligned... something was awry. The fact that I had a confirmation from January 15th didn't really matter anymore. (Note: Since updated - lovely group sales lady Elizabeth didn't move on, and was instrumental in working this out). 

Much more waiting while she talked to me, then to the manager (wonder why I couldn't just do that???), and I guess they found the rooms, or something. We're not getting charged for 15 rooms tonight, and we have rooms to stay in tomorrow night. All is well.

So instead of getting out early, I got out of the hotel about 10:15 and on the road headed west on Hwy 12. 12 is another great road, not quite the road-love of my life like that stretch of I-15, but definitely a flirtatious relationship. I picked up I-90 southeast of Missoula, and rode that all the way through Cour D'Alene, Spokane, the wide plains of Washington, and into Seattle. 

I-90 is designated as a scenic highway in parts along this route, and deservedly so. Gorgeous scenery and great riding. I found about 4 consecutive "cop magnet" car-partners to take the lead about a quarter-mile in front of me, and was really able to twist the wick, rumbling through the canyons and across the plains at nimble speeds. My best car in this process was a Toyota Prius, believe it or not. This driver wasn't out to save the world with their little miniature car, they were out to save *time*! There were times following that car that I would get caught in a Parcheesi blockade in traffic, and the little Prius would be far, far ahead in just a few seconds. When the driver signaled an upcoming exit, I pulled up beside the car, pointed at it and gave a big thumb's up. The driver (couldn't tell if it was male or female with the half-tinted windows) pointed at my bike and gave a circular motion, sort of the Mr. Miagi "wax on, wax off" movement. It took me a few miles to realize that he or she was commenting on the sad state of cleanliness of my bike! Damn.

I stopped for lunch about 20 miles west of Spokane. I had picked up an hour when I crossed into Pacific time zone, and gave half of that back at the lunch stop. I ate outside of the truckstop Subway, walking around my bike and admiring all the crevices the mud had managed to penetrate. 

A family walked past. Little girl, mother, father, grandfather with a cane, grandmother. The little girl looked over shyly. I asked her mother if I could give her a kazoo. I gave the mother and father one as well. They asked where I was from and about the charities. The father told me they were moving to be with his in-laws, starting over and "hoping it will be better than where we were before". There was definitely a story there, a story involving hard times and withering hopes. I didn't dare ask, the wound was obviously pretty fresh. I wished them well and turned to gather my things to ride. The father reached for his wallet, and I started to tell him not to do it, but I could see it would be just as important to him as it would be for the charities. He thumbed through a couple of bills... I could see into the wallet, and I know the tug of not-quite-having-enough. He pulled out probably more than he could afford at this time, and apologized it wasn't more. I assured him that every penny counts, it all goes to a good cause, directly affecting lives. He smiled and walked on into the store with his wife and child. 

That single dollar bill is the most profound donation I've ever gotten. I am proud to add his name to the sponsor list. 

I wish them well, and hope they find a better place than what they've had. They deserve all that, and much much more. 

Renewed and reinvigorated, I pushed on westward, into a fierce headwind on the Washington landscape that had the rivers, ponds, and even roadside ditchwater frothing with whitecaps. It tried to take complete control of the batwing fairing, and failing that, it settled for reducing my gas mileage to 30, then 27, then 22 mpg. When my fuel warning light came on at less than 100 miles, it felt like I'd never finish this part of the trip, like the half-life of the last day was stretching out infinitely long in front of me. 

I filled up once more and pulled back into the traffic. Finally the sun dipped once I was past the Snoqualmie pass, and the wind began to die down. 

At one point I pulled alongside a black truck, and the young lady driving was lighting a cigarette and giving me a thumbs up at the same time. Finally, someone who could appreciate a ragingly filthy bike! I reached for a kazoo and offered it to her. We eased our  vehicles closer and I finally managed to hand it to her (she was to my right, and it would have been *so* much easier if my *#*#&#&# cruise control was working!). She asked if I was sure I didn't want it, and I yelled that we passed them out all over. Only then did I notice she had a passenger! I wasn't about to try the I-90-kazoo-dance again. She took an exit just a couple of miles down the road.

So... the website is on the kazoo, and if you're reading this, ma'am, I'm sorry I shorted your friend. E-mail me a mailing address, and I'll make sure you get a small pile of them to pass out to all your friends!

Other than that, it was just the same old, same old day. Glorious riding, great machine, wonderful weather, and at the end of the day, a hot fresh burger straight from the grill of my brother-in-law, and my lovely bride here already, having flown in this morning. 

Tomorrow, the Gathering. I can't wait. Let the adventure begin!

-=Chrome=-

e-mail all the riders: riders@lrlr.org

e-mail Chrome: greg@positivecontrast.com

Twitter: @LngRchLngRiders

Donate: http://lrlr.org/donate

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