Hop Along's ride to the Ride... it's time to Ride

Sometimes, even the best of plans can get tripped up.  There can be many causes, sure, but sometimes they end up for the better just as often as the end up for the worse.  For example, Thursday I had planned on parting ways with Frank en route to Washington and going to a swimming hole, then a certain route to a campground on the south side of Mt. Rainier.  Then on Friday would be an early arrivial into Seattle to spend time with a longtime friend from Cleveland who moved to Seattle a few years back.  To exchange snow for rain perhaps.  And better scenery.

The directions I had to the swimmig hole were a little vague... I easily went 25 miles down an 'in and out' route before coming to a stop.  I didn't mind too much though... the country road afforded the opportunity to stop and eat as many huckleberries as one could want, nearly the whole road seemed to be lined with wild hucklberry bushes!  It was great.  But I didn't make it to the swimming hole.  2  bridges short of the spot the road turned to crushed gravel.  Now If you know me, I'm normally quite OK with that.  But it was fresh laid.  As in, walk on the gravel and it pushes up around your boots, never-been-packed fresh.  And I had no indication about just how far I had yet to travel, other than 2 bridges.  So I cut my losses, ate a few more huckleberries, and moved on.

So en route to Mt Rainier there was a road construction advisement on the one major road south of Mt. Rainier.  45 minute delaysduring daylight hours.  Sounds like heavy construction.  And a good time to go this other route that exists up the east and then north side.  And a great choice it was: my campsight had a clear view of Mt. Rainier, and I spent sunset sitting on rocks next to a glacier melt river, watching the clouds roll over the side of Mt. Rainier.   Now, for the lighting folks amongst us, I will just say this:  Whoever first used a 'bounce light' technique to light a cyc may very well have seen a similar sight: sunlight filtered through the rolling clouds, and bouncing off the snow on the side of the mountain.  There were long, slow transitions from cool blue refletions, to warm oranges.  And of course, it was on the side of Mt. Rainier.  Epic proportions, and slow, sloooow transitions that were to die for.  Theatre can mimic life in many ways, but it just can't compete with the scale that Mother Nature can provide.

Aside from that fortuitous camping location, there was one other great aspect to the re-routing on Thursday: it meant I would be near Crystal Mountain Ski Resort, which, like many ski mountains, has year round activities not focused on snow.  Like Disc Golf for example.  I had been travelling with a small selection of discs, hoping to play along the way during this trip.  There were one or two opportunities I passed on because the courses looked so-so, or time was a tickin'.  But this course was a morning opportunity on Friday, I was up at 5am to get pack up camp and head out.  And yes, I beat the sun to the mountain side course; the dew was still on the grass.  At the very least, I can say I had a good trip.  Or three.  I fell a few times.  Then I went up the wrong way and missed a few holes.  But I was okay with it, it still took me 2 hours to hike and play half the course.  Impressive.  It also reminded me that I'm not in shape like I used to be.  Have to do something about that.

The other change in plan came up afterwards.  I have also been testing my push starting the bike skills.  My battery has been showing signs of weakness (it's only a 2 year old battery, so this has me concerned).  I talk to a technician at a Honda shop that is on my route, and he agrees it sounds like a battery issue, rather than a greater electrical system issue.  They also have the correct battery in stock... I just need to push start the bike (by myself) *one more time* to get there.... where they let me change the battery in the lot next to their service garage.  Often motorcycle shops will take in travellers who need assistance quite quickly, and get them back on the road.  This shop, I could tell in our conversations, didn't really want to do that, but would if needed.  So I said I'd just do it myself and get going.  It took as long to get things OFF the bike, luggage and seat, and to get everything back ON, as it did to actually swap out the battery.  But it all fired up and off I went.  But I was a little surprised by this shops attitude, and by the conversation I had with the parts folks: they are essentially a mega-shop (larger than any other Honda shop, and most Harley shops, that I have ever been to).  And they took pride in that they were doing better than their competition... which were shops that were closing down.  Sure business is good.  But I can't help but think it's nice to have one or two more bike shops around, along with the folks that work there.  Times are tough all 'round.

And this morning... it's Saturday morning.  The riders have gathered, breakfasted, and packing the bikes.  We're all excited.  We had a riders meeting last night to gather the crowd and put everybody on the same page, share hand signals, and such.  Harass each other a bit as usual.. which certainly continued into breakfast.  And we are all reminded about why we ride: to raise awareness for two great charities, and of course, to help them do what they do so well.   So.. scroll on up the this page... and clikc on the DONATE tab.  And if you have a kazoo... put the big end in your mouth and say: "Doo-Ti-Doo-Ti-Doooo!"