Day Six – Winthrop WA to Astoria OR
Miles: 407
Elapsed Time: 12:08

It was going to be hard to top the day before, but I had a feeling this day had a chance. We had a 400+ mile day scheduled with much to see so we knew we needed to get going. We were up and moving by 6:00 and by the time we reached the gas station on the far side of town it was only 6:30 so we decided to grab a burrito at their little food stand and we were on our way a little before 7:00, just as the restaurants were opening. We started out in Winthrop below 2,000 feet but within 30 miles we were above 5,000 feet. WA20 through the North Cascades is a great ride and our first stop was not far into the mountains. We arrived to Washington Pass and stopped at a couple of turn-offs to take some pics before entering into the formal observation area. We spent a good deal of time there looking at the spectacular views of Liberty Bell Peak and Winter Spires. There is a hiking trail and we found ourselves wondering around enjoying the view. It was rather cold at the pass and we were all geared up as we left.

WA20 winds it way through the various peaks in the Okanogan National Forest like Whistler Mountain, Cutthroat Peak, and Mt Hardy as it drops in elevation. In too short a distance we reached Diablo Lake for another pic opportunity. The lake is unique with its intense turquoise color that is derived from the constant grinding of rocks by glaciers that result in a fine powder giving the lake its unique color. We chose to stop at Vista Point which clearly seems to the best spot and we basically had it to ourselves. It was only 9:30 and we were at our 2nd major stop but we were only 64 miles in, and there was much more to see. We skipped riding down to the Diablo Dam because of time, but by time we reached Gorge Creek Falls we needed to shed some layers. The falls happen as Gorge Creek comes down the mountain and dumps into Gorge Lake. We walked out onto the bridge over the creek to get a better view of the falls. After shedding our layers we got back on and continued the fantastic ride through Diablo Canyon. We began following the Skagit River as the road straightened out to some degree but the great scenery continued. Once we reached Marblemount we began to get out of the mountains and by the time we hit Grassmere we were completely out of the mountains and getting close to the coast. Traffic had really begun to pick up and as we neared Deception Pass it was really quite busy and many Saturday afternoon tourists were out and about. Deception Pass is a dramatic seascape where the tidal flow and whirlpools beneath twin bridges connection Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island move quickly in both directions depending on the tides. We had some difficulty finding a spot to park but we circled back after passing over both bridges and found a spot on the small island between the two bridges known as Pass Island. Only the South bridge has a pedestrian walkway so we walked the entire portion and back before walking underneath and getting an up close view of the structural support of the bridge. The bridges were built in 1935. We could have stayed longer as the views were magnificent, but we needed to get going.

On Whidbey Island we passed by the Naval Air Station and Ault Field but didn't notice any activity. We arrived to the ferry a little early allowing us time to stop by Fort Casey. The fort was one of three in the area built to protect Puget Sound in the late 19th century, but after the invention of the airplane a few years later their demise was already in the cards. We left the Fort and rode directly to the front of the line to get on the ferry. We only had to wait about 5 minutes before we began boarding. There was one bike in front of us, an older model Harley with some serious ape hangers. The rider was very nice and we struck up a conversation with him. The ferry pulled away after a short boarding period. The ferry was nice and we stayed near the bikes and soaked up the view. The cool breeze on the deck of the ship was nice and refreshing. The ship never went faster than 20mph and cruised at about 15mph taking exactly 30 min to arrive to Port Townsend. Unfortunately we were not the first to exit and got behind some cars and trucks but it did not take us long before we had passed everyone except the older Harley. He was hanging right in there and really hitting it hard. It had to be uncomfortable for him and he was bound and determined to stay in front. Every few minutes he would take both hands off the handlebars and rest them all the while maintaining his speed. We were taking it easy to some degree but once we hit US 101 we decided to bid farewell and hit triple digits for a minute or so and he got behind us and eventually fell away. He was probably relieved as well, but he could ride. Our next stop was one of our highlights and one we were greatly looking forward to since we hadn't eaten much since breakfast. Hama Hama Oysters was the lunch stop and even at mid-afternoon the place was still busy. We didn't have to wait for a table but we did have to pick one in the sun and bear the heat until the sun finally fell enough in the western sky to provide us some shade. Once our food came and we were in sensory overload. The sight and taste of the oysters were fantastic. We ordered two dozen and even some crab cakes but we mostly focused on the oysters; very good. We jumped back on US 101 gassed up in Skokomish before heading down to Astoria and our final destination. We began riding fairly aggressively and once we were south of Aberdeen we turned it up another notch. I have only myself to blame. We blasted down to the town of Raymond and cruised through town nicely and then back on it after South Bend. US101 loses some elevation as it moves south toward Astoria. Somewhere on US 101 before we turned left onto WA4 and left US 101 we passed a black Ford Explorer that I feared was a patrolman. I slowed down, not that it would have mattered at that point, and looked hard to see if I was right and I saw no lights and no insignias. So I kept going hard. I turned left on WA4 and in less than two miles I heard Steve's garbbled voice saying pull over. I saw in my rear view mirror that Black Explorer and I pulled over immediately. He had gotten all of us although I believe he saw me pass on a double yellow, as we all did thus passing a car that was going the speed limit. We really didn't have any possible argument, and we didn't try. We were apologetic and very respectful. He could have really thrown the book at us but instead left us with a very costly ticket; $230 to be exact. It was going to be hard not have this negatively impact the rest of the day and even the rest of the ride. We had a very short distance remaining so we took it easy, and arrived at the Hampton with no more issues. Once we arrived we quickly got of our gear and began our 2 mile walk down the Riverwalk to the restaurant and brewery district. We began at Buoy Beer having dinner there and it was very good. I know I had the pan-fried Sole and I think everyone did as well but I know it was good. The beer was also very good. We also stopped at Fort George Brewing on the way back. Despite the ticket this was really, I think the signature ride of the trip.