Back about 5 years ago, a few of us gathered for what had become sort of a regular thing. A day ride through some part of western Washington state that we wouldn't really plan until we all got together at the AM/PM at the junction of I-5 and US 12. This is the bare bones of the story of one of those rides.
I was within sight of the meeting spot doing about 55 when I saw a good sized bird fly across in front of me. Just as it got to the edge of my peripheral vision, I saw it bank hard into a tight hard left turn. The next thing I saw was a bright flash as the bird hit the side of my head and majorly rung my bell. I managed to stay up as I rolled the last 500 feet or so into the parking lot, circled around behind everyone and came to a stop. Thats when the world started moving. The sky was rolling farther to my right, and the ground was rolling higher up on my left. Thats about when I realized I hadn't put my feet down. Like I said, that damn bird MAJORLY rang my bell, and the damn thing was still ringing.
I saved it, and didnt go down. My feet hit the ground and I was able to pull the bike back up. With everyone looking at me with the same wierd look on their faces I had to tell them about the bell ringing bird. They all just laughed, and figured if anyone was going to have a bird circle back and hit them, it would be me. Scott even made a comment about every time he had ridden with me that he could remember, some critter had taken it upon themselves to try to take me out. Deer, elk. dogs, and now birds...I must have really pissed off Mutha Nature.
As we sat there and tried to figure out where to go, we couldnt agree on a destination. Everyplace we could all agree on wasn't going to be open on a Sunday. Finally we decided to just head out Hwy 6, and we'd figure out where to go once we got to the end of the road at Raymond.
Along the way, we stopped just passed Rainbow falls state park to look at what was left of one of the many bridges that had been washed away in a storm a few weeks before.
From there we just enjoyed the sunshine and the road as it snaked west through the foothills into Raymond and US 101. We stopped and topped off our tanks, and talked about which way to go from there. Scott said he knew a great place to get something to drink and eat down in Long Beach. It sounded good to everyone so that's where we decided to go. At least it was for about 15 seconds. Some guy walked out of the gas station just about then to get on his bike, and had overheard us. It seems he lived in Long Beach, and knew the place Scott had mentioned well. Or at least he had, before the owner got divorced, and had to closed the place and put it up for sale to pay off his soon to be exwife.
Since we couldn't think of anyplace else to go, and since Scott lived in Astoria, just across the border in Oregon, we figured we'd go to Long Beach and find something to eat, then figure where to go from there.
As we rolled south on 101 between Raymond and South Bend, a deer jumped out onto the road in front of a 4X4 going the other way. He slammed on his brakes, and guess where the deer went...That's right, right in front of me. I couldn't move over to the right, because Bear was right beside me, and didn't have a shoulder to pull onto. The 4x4 got stopped but I could tell I was going to be two for two in the animal incident department, and it pissed me off. Suddenly I pulled my left hand into a fist, leaned the bike quick right into the middle of the lane (sorry Bear), and as the deer came up to the handlebars of the bike in a panic, I just swung. Hit the little bitch right in the side of the head. I satyed upright, and no one else came close to hitting the deer as it veered back across traffic and off the road.
We made it into Long Beach with no more conflicts with Mutha Nature. But we did stop to help a few bikes that were pulled off onto the side of the road. They were tourists from Canada...or was it California...I don't really remember, and it doesn't really matter anyway. We just got them headed out along whatever road it was they wanted to go down and we putted off along the bottom of Willapa Bay to Long Beach and had some really good burgers, and some cold soda (it was a burger joint and didn't sell beer).
By this time, everyone was developing a thirst for something other than cold soda, so Scott said he'd lead us to the Sea Hag down in Ilwaco. I hadn't been there in a few years, so this was going to be a treat for me. We stopped at the beach for a few minutes, but they ahd the gates closed so we couldn't ride on the beach, then headed odd towards the Sea Hag and some cold refreshing ones.
Along the way, we swung up to check out the North Head lighthouse, and the view (a nice ride on a bike). Then we rolled down into Ilwaco and stopped at the Sea Hag.
Scott reintroduced me to an old friend, the Sea Hag, and after a drink or two we had decided that we were this close to Astoria, and none of us had ever been to the Astoria Columns we figured; "Okay, let's check it out." So we did.
We headed across the Astoria bridge, and followed Scott up around the twisting road to the column and scoped it out. The views were great, but the stairs inside the column were closed for repair so we couldn't go to the top to get the really good view from 120 feet up. Since Scott only lived a few blocks from the column, we stopped by his place on our way back out of town, and said our good-byes.
|half of the Astoria Bridge|
|the other half...almost|
I broke off at the Toledo exit, and headed the back way up to Salkum to at least put some enjoyment back into the ride. Freeways just bore the hell out of me. Unless they're passing through some scenic area, or the pavement totally sucks. But I digress...I made it home, and was filled wiht the joy that comes after a nice long ride. One with no planned route, no schedule, and each leg gets figured out as it starts. Even then, the little side trip can lead to quite the hidden treasure that fills the trip with memories. I wouldn't have missed this ride for anything. It was a keeper.
Catch ya on the road sometime...