Sunday, June 20, 2010

Highway 20 Ride

The morning began early, leaving through Peace Arch crossing into the US. From the I-5 we head to Lakeway Dr, and wind around Sudden Valley where the only other thing that seems awake are bunnies that eagerly run along side us and then dart into bushes. It is a quest to avoid all traffic as we follow the Skagit River and head to Concrete for breakfast. The map was checked and a few u-turns in order to maximize the experience of a new road along the way. After being refueled with coffee, the goal is renewed to avoid vehicles, and not to hit a bunny. We curve around familiar roads, canopied by trees; next destination Winthrop. The Cascades never cease to enthrall me. The gorges, jutting cliffs, waterfalls and pristine peaks. Although this route is familiar, the beauty thrills me each time. Snow is still piled at the sides of the roads as we reach the summit. The drop in temperature is apparent.

The tips of my fingers are really cold, so I take my gloves off for a few minutes. It sounds ridiculous but is wisdom from an old lore. When I put the gloves back on, I am grateful they can warm me. It changes my perspective. When they were on and my finger tips were getting cold, I could not fully appreciate my gloves. When they are taken off and I have time to fully understand how much they were warming me, I am indebted to their protection. The descent into the Methow Valley the thermometer rises. We pushed through the quaint western town of Winthrop....we have been there before, and decide to wait to stop somewhere new.

The road continues to mesmerize as we wind through farms and rivers. The day is heating up and we pass through to Omak, our actual destination being a big-box store of no name. They can do their own advertising, as I am full of dissonance that I succumb to the lure of their budget wares on the backs of slave laborers.

We have agreed that on our bike trips we will eat only at local restaurants - no chains....our next vow will be to stay out of big-box stores. In Omak we disrobe as much as possible and head to 97 North, through Tonsaket on the Loomis Highway that takes us up to Oroville. We see two deer perished by cars within a mile of each other. It was eery to see their carcasses decaying in the afternoon heat. The mood is somber for a few minutes, as I let my mind wonder what would happen if we were the vehicle to hit the deer. A smell wafts through my thoughts to pull me back to now.

The sultry air is perfumed with an aroma, sweet and fragrant that reminds me of ginger. My senses are full and and sated. We stop by a lake for stretch and photo ops. I can hear fishermen on the lake, telling stories....laughing. Back on the bike the road is idyllic as we are by ourselves on twisting tarmac that takes us up to the border. The 10 minute wait with the sun beating down was one of the longest parts of the day. Once we are through Ken is once again finding those roads less traveled.

It is then that the metaphor of taking a unique route dawns on me. It can take longer, but is more scenic. It will often have a few more twists, turns and dangers along the way. You can be isolated on the road less traveled, but you can also open it up and really experience the thrill of the full throttle and full adrenalin. My husband has always preferred this road. For him, the journey is the is not just about getting from one point to another. This time in my head nudges me to recognize Ken's individuality and brio.

We take the East Lake Road from Oliver to Penticton, with no vehicles impeding us. Such a rare opportunity...We both love this road as Skaha Lake and the road run beside each other. A long, relieving sigh describes the panorama of the lake and route. There are only so many ways to describe the curve of the road and the timbre of the motor as you gear down, enter, accelerate right, then left. The rhythm is natural and we arrive at the end, gratified with almost 9 hours of riding.

PS the party was not set to start for about half on hour, and so, in true biker form, I change from a sweater to a light shirt at the side of the road - cars passing, heads turning....nothing showed - I had on a tank top....but they thought it might!! I did my nails - fingers and toes, fixed my hair and put on makeup. When Ken told people at the party they all thought he must be joking.....they would not believe that I would do that.....they obviously do now...

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