Take the long road home…

Anyone who has been following the blog this week knows I have been in Spokane all week. I decided to drive over and bring the bike so I could bike commute to the Spokane office.  Combining the fun rides and the commutes this week, I cranked out 140 miles.

I have to admit, though, when I came up with this idea I had NOT factored in I would be driving home on the Friday of Memorial day weekend, which around here is NEVER a good time to be on the road…

Before I get into the drive, though, I want to share a last few pictures from the bike commutes.  First, sunrises in Spokane really are pretty

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No wonder I had so much fun going to work.

Then, on my last commute home I stumbled on this statue.


This is Mother Joseph, the founder of the Holy P! In all the time I worked for them, and stayed right across the river I had no idea this statue was so close!  She was a Nun, but a stud of a nun!  She could blacksmith, bricklay and whatever else needed to be done in the 19th century.  Plus, my favorite part, she always recruited the prettiest nuns to help her.  Her thinking was loggers and ranchers in the west were more likely to part with money if a cute girl asked than one not so cute.  She understood men well!

Well today dawned, and I was out of the hotel room early. One downside, the ham and salami wrap I thought I had forgotten yesterday was found at the bottom of a pannier!  UGH!!!  Had to toss it…

In talking with a coworker and fellow cyclist, Jeff, he told me that there was a construction project between Ellensburg and Cle Elum.  (I had seen it on my trip over Sunday).  He told me a couple of Fridays ago it took him almost 2 hours to get through this.  (the normal time is 40 minutes) With it being a holiday weekend I was worried it would be worse.

As a cyclist, though, I have learned something. Sometimes the most direct route is NOT the best one…

Normally. I90 is the fastest way to and from Seattle and the west side. However, a day like today, I took a gamble and took the scenic route. I decided to cut north and go over Stevens Pass.

Now some would call me nuts.  I-90 is a 2 lanes each way, and has a 70 MPH speed limit.  Hwy 2 is one each way for most of it, and at best it is 60…

Here was my thinking though:

  1. Those heading west would be in a hurry, so most would stay on 90
  2. MOST people head east of the mountains on Memorial Day to try to find better weather (It normally rains in Seattle)
  3. Stevens PASS is much prettier, so even if slow, I would have more to look at (this is an old photo it was NOT this nice today)

    Mt Index, WA
    Mt Index, WA
  4. Worst case, I would pull over, have dinner somewhere and get home late

The other part that intrigued me is that I had NEVER, in the 30 plus years I had traveled to and from eastern Washington, jumped off the freeway where I would today.  It fit in with the week of new discoveries!

Sure enough, it didn’t take long for me to wish I was on the bike. I saw vineyards, craggy rocks, cliffs, gorgeous river views, and a cool dam, but there wasn’t one spot I could pull over and take pictures.  I picked out at least 15 places I coulda stopped a bike, but by the time I found  spot for the car I was either too far away from the photo-op or going too fast to stop….

Someday I will need to ride this route.

As I headed up into the mountains I noticed something. Westbound traffic (me!) was cruising right along. We slowed in Leavenworth, but otherwise, west was easy.  Hell, sometimes I couldn’t find any other cars in my direction.

Eastbound? In Leavenworth they were backed up for at least two miles.

I went over the pass (in a driving rain!) on my own, no cars in either direction, this seemed strange to me until I got further down…

There is a stretch of towns on Hwy 2,  Goldbar, Startup and the biggest, Monroe.  This is about a 9 mile stretch. Eastbound traffic was inching along this entire way.  The reason I saw no one on top was they were trapped here!!  Hell, one truck had a guy standing up in the sun roof waving at people! (again I wish I had the bike and the camera!)

I saw about 7 or 8 RVs or 5th wheels that had decided “to hell with it” and pulled over to have dinner and wait it out.

Me, on the other hand, I had my tunes from the phone cranked (80s hits, Top gun, Tobie Keith, some old trucker songs (CONVOY!!) and even Willie Nelson) and I never got below the speed limit!

My trip over last Sunday was about 4.5 hours. Going home, it was closer to 6. However, I had pretty views, no stress and, in all honesty, a good drive.  Yep, the Long way home is sometimes the right choice! I enjoyed myself, and yes I admit I bought a Diet Mtn Dew (DMD) to keep me awake in Leavenworth.

Like the wind!


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