In Northwest Washington, late Spring brings the first days of summer-like weather, infrequent and interspersed between days of cool, gray and wet of a winter that hangs on well into mid-year. When those first days come, I rarely pass on an opportunity to celebrate the beautiful day by taking a ride on the motorcycle.
On a clear day in the Pacific Northwest, you can see forever.
May 5th was just such a day. A very fine day. Clear, blue, and sunny, with temperatures in the mid-70s. Not one to miss when it comes likes a surprise gift.
A bald eagle pair return yearly to their nest north of Alder Dam.
The motorcycle and I found our way to SR7, riding south. On the left, Mt. Rainier stands alone, a pure white giant in the eastern sky, still without the consistent warmth of July to melt the snow. The road alternates between easy twists and turns and long straightaways – just enough variation to keep it interesting and fun. North of Alder Lake and the dam of the same name, a seasonal bald eagle’s nest brings birdwatchers to a roadside pullout.
At the intersection of SR7 and Hwy 12 at the town of Morton, I decide that there is enough time left in the day for a ride up to Mt. St. Helens, and turn west on Highway
12 to ride to the national park’s western entrance. On the way, I pass the DeGoede Bulb Farm and Gardens, whose fields of tulips are in full bloom, and passing cars stop and the families get out to simply walk through the fields and be surrounded by the beauty. Of course I stop for photographs.
Continuing on, I stop to ask a man in a gas station about a backroad on the map that I have not ridden before, and he directs me to a southwestern turn at Fuller Road, which, via a short stretch on Jackson Highway, leads into the town of Toledo. In town, I stop at a local sandwich shop for a hoagie and a bottle of water, and take a few photos of the well-known painted street scene, complete with traffic cop, that announces the town as the “Gateway to Mt. St. Helens.”
As I am leaving Toledo on SR505 west, my trip odometer reads 100 miles, and I use the odometer to keep approximate track of the range left in my tank. The tank should have enough fuel for 40 to 50 miles before I hit the reserve, so I opt to ride up to the mountain without filling the bike.
As I proceed up the mountain and the miles roll up, I decide that it would be a good idea to fill the tank after all, but the last gas station I pass riding up the mountain is closed. Oh well, I am on my own. I figure that the bike will use more gas ascending the mountain, and less on the way down, so I keep riding, and make a few stops for some good photos of the mountain on the way up.
The Honda Aero at Mt. St. Helens, May 5th 2012.
At the entrance of Mt. St. Helens park, I ride into the parking lot to get a pic of the bike by the park’s sign, just for the “official record.” I realize that I have been riding almost 30 miles, and I know I am getting low on fuel, but debate with myself about riding further into the park. Good sense wins out, and I start the ride down the mountain, and within a mile, the fuel runs out in the main tank and I go on reserve. The ride up the mountain had used more fuel than I had anticipated. Good thing for good sense.
Mt. St. Helens covered with snow.
I make it back to the town of Toledo, refuel the bike and ride home via the interstate. Back by 7PM, it is the conclusion the first of what I hope to be many stellar rides in the Pacific Northwest, summer, 2012.