We left the McDonalds at Port Orchard at 6:05 AM on Friday, 25 June, for the
first leg of the trip. Bob Nelson and Dave Franks were each riding 1500 Honda
Goldwings; Tom Totten was riding a Harley Heritage Special Softtail, Wayne
Snodgrass was riding a Harley 2003 100th anniversary edition Road King Classic,
and Mike Carroll was on a 750 Kawasaki Vulcan. Tom and Dave were going to ride
with us until Sunday and then take a short route back to Port Orchard. This was
to be a great motorcycle trip for five guys from Harper Church to see the great
State of Washington. Bob Nelson led us out of the parking lot and up to Port
Townsend. We stopped by a church in Port Townsend to take pictures. We were
attempting to get most of the stops in a steeple chase motorcycle event while we
were doing the five corners run. The bikes were loaded onto the Port Townsend
Ferry for the trip to Keystone, Whidbey Island. A trip on the ferry is always
scenic and it is good to get some salt-sprayed air into the lungs once in
awhile. We met another group of travelers who were riding a couple of Kawasaki
Concours and a BMW. It was enjoyable to share motorcycle trip information with
them and talk about the bikes. I want to take a test ride on a Concours someday
soon. After stopping by another church, we rode on up through the Chuckanut
Drive stretch on the way to Bellingham. The ride was pretty scenic with water on
one side and huge rock formations on the other. The weather was great, it was
warm but not yet smokin' hot - that experience was to come later. We rode up to
Blaine, Washington, for the first checkpoint at Peace Arch Park within a stone's
throw of the Canadian border. Checkpoint number one was done and everything
seemed to be going well.
While we were at Peace Arch Park, Dave found a bulge in his front tire on his Wing. Bob Nelson pulled out his Wing World directory that listed all the Honda shops. We called Al's Honda in Bellingham and he told us he had a ten-day backlog. Bob told him this was an emergency on the road but to no avail. Customer Service was not in this man's vocabulary. Wayne said you get better weekend service at the Harley shops so we called one. At this particular location Wayne was right on. The owner said his equipment would not work on the Goldwing rim but he called another local shop and set us up for the tire change. As we were discussing directions, one of the guys who was at the shop with his Buell 1000 volunteered to lead us over there and keep us off the interstate for safety. I guess you can say, "you meet the nicest people on a Buell." You meet some great people on the road and it seems everyone was willing to help us after we got past the local Honda dealer. We were all waiting behind this general motorcycle parts and accessories shop and realized there was a Dairy Queen right across the street. There's something about a Dairy Queen that hits the spot on a hot day. We were admiring a sports convertible that pulled out of the back of the shop. The guy who owned it joined our bull session and he gave us about a dozen bags of candy. He said he was a vendor. Through a minor problem we met two really neat people. The tire was replaced and we were back on the road. The drive went down the road to the North Cascades Highway. You get such a peaceful feeling out in the wilderness, gazing at those towering forests and those sparkling lakes and breathing that crisp mountain air, and there's no better way to appreciate it than from the seat of a speeding motorcycle. Of course it was nice to have the occasional crotch rocket speed by and become our "bear trap". Some of those guys really perform a service. We rode to Winthrop and decided to get a camping spot at the KOA. Winthrop is a cute little cowboy kind of looking town that seemed to be tourist friendly. We went back to Winthrop to eat dinner at Three Finger Jack's Saloon where the food was recommended by a guy we passed on the street. It was good food from a simple menu and we were ready for a first night in the sleeping bag. It seems we were camped between a local Baptist Church group and a Vietnam combat veterans group. One of the guys from the Vietnam combat veterans came by and talked to us. I believe everyone in our group was a Vietnam era veteran and at least a couple of us served in-country. Later on I walked over to hear the Baptists sing "The B-I-B-L-E yes that's the book for me." I was invited to join in but I declined. I told them we were a road-weary bunch of Christian bikers that would add nothing to the musical quality but we did enjoy the sound of Christians worshiping. Day one was in the book and we had seen some wonderful scenic highway, met a couple of really great people and overcome some minor difficulties. It was a good start to a road trip with a great bunch of guys.
The trip from Winthrop to Metaline Falls was scenic to say the least. It was also starting to get hot. Wayne and I were getting the doo wraps wet at every chance to provide a little swamp cooler inside the helmet. By the end of the day I was also soaking my hair for a little additional cooling. It was a great ride and the picture at Metaline Falls may have been the most scenic that I actually got on film the whole trip. Dave had developed a contact lens problem that morning and we were attempting to get a replacement for him throughout the day. Walmart was no help because they wanted a prescription that Dave did not have with him. Of course on a bike trip everyone packs light and brings only the necessities and I think Dave now considers back-up contacts or glasses a necessity he can't do without. We later tried an optical place and that also was a fruitless endeavor. From Metaline Falls we turned south to Spokane. Dave's eyes were watering badly by the time we got to Spokane, creating some serious discomfort and concern, especially when riding a motorcycle where vision is so important. He decided to make a run for home on Interstate 90 where vision is not quite as critical as it is on small country roads. We were praying that it was a safe trip. Later, one of the guys with a cell phone called to make sure he reached home safely and we were delighted to hear that he was home. After leaving Spokane, we decided to avoid Pullman and turned to 395 through Idaho. This route took us through some delightful country on the other side of the border. We were able to run fast on some lovely two-lane roads through a lot of farming communities. Western Idaho has some beautiful scenery in the background. As we headed down into Lewiston, the temperature shot up into the 90s and we felt like we had entered a furnace. After gassing up in Lewiston and getting lost through the confusing mess of roads between Lewiston and Clarkston, we were a little late heading up to Anatone. A lady at the quick-stop where we gassed up said "why would anyone want to go to Anatone?" Later we thought it was a question worth consideration. The road up to Anatone was a gas because it could have been a skills test for motorcycle riders with all of the turns to negotiate. We were running on a road with lots of switchbacks named rattlesnake gulch. We arrived, just as the annual picnic was finishing up. A sign listed the population as 45 people and also listed dogs, cats and horses. We talked to a lady who was disappointed we didn't make it in time for the BBQ, and she told us about 35 of the residents were over 80. I also had the distinction of heading us up the wrong way on the only one-way road in the town of Anatone. The sun was going down as we headed back down the road back toward Clarkston. Bob found a campground with reasonable prices and a shower. A brush fire on the side of the mountain near us kept enough smoke in the air to keep the skeeters at bay. We set up camp with some commenting on who snored in the different tents. Bob still believes he doesn't snore. Granted, he's not world class like some of us, but we offered to tape record him just to show him he can hang with us. The shower was 3 minutes of hot water for 50 cents. It was a bargain.
We started off from Clarkston to pick up some more churches for the steeple run. It started off as a great day of warm-weather riding but there was some serious wind coming before the end of the day. On this day, Tom broke off at Kennewick and headed for home. I think we all missed his sense of humor for the rest of the trip. We stopped and gassed, had something to drink and said goodbye to Tom. I know we were praying for his safety as we continued the trip. It was Bob Nelson leading with Wayne Snodgrass in the rocking chair and me bringing up the fantail for the rest of the trip. The Columbia Gorge area was beautiful, but we faced massive wind with a front moving through from the east. We also visited a nice little church in Carson. Navigating I-205 and I-5 from just north of Portland to Longview was a nightmare - Sunday afternoon "going home" rush at 70+ miles an hour - not fun! We eventually made Ilwaco with it starting to get dark, lots of wind, and some light rain. The wind was blowing to the point we knew setting up tents was going to be a serious challenge. In a moment of weakness, we actually considered running for Port Orchard and finishing the trip at a later date. I got to thinking about the direction we were headed and that a pastor friend of ours lived somewhere close to Aberdeen. I pulled up beside Bob and suggested that we call Truett Johnson and ask if he had a dry place to put three sleeping bags. I know Truett and Sandy have entertained lots of visitors over the years at the different places they have lived. I thought this could be a great opportunity for Christian fellowship the Lord cleverly disguised as a disgusting portion of this ride with all of the wind and water. Everyone agreed, so we stopped for gas and attempted to make contact. The coffee at the gas station was refreshing as the rain and wind had provided a bit of a chill. With no answer, we continued to Montasano and made eventually made contact with the Johnsons. We were warmly encouraged to come on over. Bob led us to the Johnsons. Truett helped get two bikes in the barn to keep them dry and Bob put his cover over his Goldwing outside. Once inside, we were offered things to eat and the most comfortable sleeping quarters during the whole trip. We encouraged Truett to show us his Civil War collection and we talked about church friends and how Truett's ministry was progressing. Bob got the bedroom, I was on a comfortable folding mat in the floor, and Wayne brought his sleeping bag in. We all got great a night's sleep. Truett and Sandy got up early and prepared a wonderful ham and egg breakfast for us. The fellowship was great and it was good to see old friends again.
Whoever said "it ain't over till its over" (I think it was the immortal Yogi Berra) must have had a premonition about our last day of the five corners run. We headed north from Montasano with threatening skies for some serious precipitation. This was the day to pay our dues to the Five Corners God who would not give us victory cheaply. We rode in and out of light precipitation during the morning and it was cool as well, making for a mostly miserable run - except for some really gorgeous scenes in the Hoh rainforest. It made us reminisce back to the warm days on the east side of the mountains. As we turned to head toward our last stop at Neah Bay it started to rain in a downpour. We drove in and out of this for the last forty miles. It was miserable and only added to my saddle-sore discomfort. To top it off, the little road from Clallam Bay to Neah Bay was the absolute worst road of the entire trip. Potholes, uneven asphalt patches of old potholes, no guardrails to the rocks below, and poor visibility. If it wasn't for God placing two elderly ladies in front of us who would only go 20 miles an hour, we might have attempted to go too fast and regretted it. When we finally pulled into Neah Bay it was time to take pictures and celebrate a little. The Washington State Five Corners Run was complete and we had seen much of this very beautiful state. We would all three qualify for the pin and the experience was priceless. By the time I got back to Port Orchard my trip meter indicated that I had ridden a 750 Kawasaki Vulcan for 1772 miles all over the state of Washington. I would recommend this as a five star trip to anyone who enjoys riding motorcycles and viewing the beauty of God's creation. Additionally, I would do it in the same sequence. The North Cascade Loop helps get you ready for some hairy switchbacks in the southeast and windy conditions in the gorge.
It is finished at Neah Bay. The three pin qualifiers Bob Nelson, Wayne Snodgrass and Mike Carroll
The Five Corners of Washington
Friday June 27 through Monday June 30 2003
Respectfully submitted by Mike Carroll and Wayne Snodgrass