Total Day: 363.0 km (225.6 mi)
Total Trip: 5,460.4 km
Today was the last day on the road before the final home leg. We were going through our final leg of unexplored territory, somewhere that neither of us had ever been before. I was excited to see this part of Washington State, as I hadn’t really explored the eastern part of the state before. I was starting to look forward to heading home, but I was still on my adventure, and it really felt like it wasn’t over yet.
We knew that today was going to be a fairly easy day of riding, with a short distance. Truthfully, the travel had finally caught up with us, and we were a bit tired. We woke a bit late, ate our breakfast at a leisurely pace, and packed up our camp. Having never been to Spokane, WA., before, I will give the place the benefit of the doubt – we were clearly on the edge of the city, and the edge of any city is rarely pretty. Spokane’s was ugly, with very heavy traffic getting out of the city; frankly, after being on the road for 5 minuets, all I wanted to do was get out of the city. After a wrong turn and a detour, we made it out onto US Highway 2, and proceeded east towards the Cascade Mountains.
Highway 2 was… straight. Very straight. Montana straight. I started to feel like “yes, we have seen Montana, and I’ve done straight, I’m done with that”. We stopped for an iced coffee in the morning, to try and beat the heat, and then proceeded on… until we were sent on a massive detour. I’m not sure what the road work was, but check out the map below and the clear detour we took to the north. It took us a long, long way out of our way.
I thought we were riding through prairies, sotme wonderfully rolling roads that were empty of traffic – a blessing after the congestion of our ride out of Spokane. As it turns out, however, we were riding through the Channeled Scablands, an area left barren of arable soil due to glacial floods. The floods floated icebergs, and the icebergs often carried massive boulders, which were dropped as the icebergs melted; the massive boulders littered the landscape in an amazing fashion. It’s as if giants had had a slingshot fight, and left their shot where it all fell. They were amazing (many were graffiti covered, of course) and I regret not stopping to photograph them. Worth the trip back, I suppose.
This detour took us through lunchtime, and we rode into the tiny town of Mansfield, WA. There was a restaurant, the Golden Grain Cafe. It was open. Their cook called in sick so there was a limited menu, and it was great – we had lasagna and french fries, I mean, what could be better? After lunch, we got on our bikes and made our way off of the detour, back onto Highway 2, into the foothills where the roads got more exciting. We pushed on towards our destination of Leavenworth, WA, which we reached by 3:30 pm.
I’ve stayed at the Leavenworth KOA before, and it’s a big resort-style place. The facilities are good, and vast, and include some hot food vendors (hot dogs and such), and it’s one of the locations where people would tend to spend a week. When I say it’s big, it’s HUGE. Fortunately, our camp was close to the main lodge. Unfortunately, our campsite wasn’t really ideal – but it was good enough that we made it work. It was hot, again, so I didn’t put the rain fly on my tent, which means that set-up took me very little time at all. I like this KOA, it’s the first one I ever stayed at, and I’m sure it won’t be the last time that I stay there.
When we checked in, RRP had noticed some signs regarding bears in the area. They acknowledge that there is bear activity regularly, and then the woman checking us in confirmed that she had seen a bear just three days ago, quite close to their main lodge. Looking at our camp ticket, she said, ah yes… I saw it walking right on your campsite. To say that this didn’t quell the trepidation that RRP had towards bears was an understatement. However, it was a packed KOA, with each campsite seemingly taken, so the likelihood that a bear would visit our campsite was low. That didn’t stop RRP from needing a bit of a bracer, and he walked back to the main lodge after getting his tent out, and bought some adult beverages for us to celebrate the final camp set-up.
We specifically planned to have our last night in Leavenworth because RRP had heard of it, but had never been there. Leavenworth is a neat town, in that it managed to completely change industry from forestry to tourism, almost overnight – otherwise the town would have been lost. When the forestry industry in the area collapsed, some smart folks in the town decided to make it a tourist destination by kitting everything out like a Bavarian mountain town. Everywhere you go, you see buildings with gingerbread trim. All the signs – including, say, the NAPA Auto Parts store – use a Bavarian-esque font. You see places called the Kaffee-haus and the Waffel-Haus. It’s quaint, it’s kitchy, and because everyone is into it and the whole town is a theme park, it’s kind of fun. This place is definitely worth a weekend trip, but do yourself a favour and go in the off-season. Summer and Christmas are crazy busy, and through the winter the place is packed because of the snow-sport seekers. Early fall is probably your best bet, but it’s in the high mountains, so you might get snow. Be warned.
After we set up camp, had a refreshment, and rested for a little while, we decided to head out for a celebratory dinner. What could be better to finish off an epic motorbike trip like this, after all – a little beer, a little schnitzel, a little spätzle. We made our way to Colchuk’s for dinner – one of several places we had scoped out, and the one without a line. It’s a bit out of the way, as while it’s on the main drag, it’s upstairs. We were seated right away, and treated to live music from a duet of guitarists that were, frankly, amazing – tipped, and well worth it. The food was great, the beer was good, and we had a lovely evening.
We returned to camp, and were ready to head to bed pretty early – it gets dark earlier in the mountains, and we were beset by our full stomachs. To bed, and a bit of excitement to return home in our heads, we had a good sleep.