This story picks up on day two after riding eastbound over the Highway 20 Washington Pass. This day would be one of taking it easy and finding a rose or two to smell. I enjoyed a great breakfast in one of the restaurants which was a short walk from my hotel. I strolled down the old west style plank sidewalks and checked out the many shops. I found a great book titled: North Cascades Highway by JoAnn Roe.
After hitting a few more shops, I discovered the Shafer Museum which is just across the street from my Hotel Rio Vista room. My love of history and the huge collection of cool old stuff drew me in. It was still early in the day and I had the whole place to myself. I walked the grounds through a maze of old mining equipment. They had moved all of this equipment from the hills and reassembled it to give us an idea of what it was like to be in a 1800s mining camp.
I examined every machine and read the plaques which tell a little bit about each item. These museum grounds seemed to go on forever. After I had been there for an hour, two museum volunteers started opening up the many old cabin and building displays. These ladies were very friendly and I enjoyed talking to them as they went about the opening up routine. Each building had great displays set up inside which gave a glimpse into the life of the early pioneers. One of the buildings was built by Guy Waring, one of the Winthrop founding fathers. He built and operated a trading post on the edge of today’s Winthrop which serviced the local miners and settlers. Many came to this area in 1883 to find their riches buried in the hills and river bottoms. Only a few actually did well at mining. Unlike the Yukon or the California Gold, these mountains were very stingy. Shifting plates, glaciers, and volcanic action had done well to hide the precious metals from most.
By now the sun was bright and I headed to my hotel. I built a nest of pillows on the deck chairs and sat down with my new book. It was a wonderfully relaxing atmosphere with the Methow River in front of me and sun warming the fresh mountain air. I spent most of my day on that deck drawn into my book. The stories of how the Native Americans, miners, settlers, and others shaped this land helped me appreciate this area even more. These early people spent most of the day just trying to survive in this sometimes harsh place.
My eye caught some movement on the river island just in front of my room. I watched a mother deer and her two small fawns graze nearby. It was so fun to watch the young ones buck, play, and charge one another in mock battles.
By early afternoon I had finished the book and gotten my share of the sun. I cleaned up and walked through town until I found a great place for dinner. I stopped off at Three Finger Jack’s Saloon. It is touted as being the oldest operating saloon in the state. I enjoyed a glass of whiskey at the bar with Jack’s old 30-30 rifle hanging above.
After packing my gear and watching a movie it was off to bed for an early wake up. I wanted to get a start on my ride west before the traffic and wind picked up. There seemed to be a trend of winds that increased from the west throughout the afternoon.
On Sunday, I was rolling west at 6:45 am. I love this time of the day in the outdoors. The bird song rings through the air as nature comes to life. The open farmlands in the area between Mazama and Wintrop are favorite grazing places for deer. I saw way more deer that cars for the first hour of my ride. The wind in my face increased with every mile. I passed the area of my bear encounter from two days prior. I have to admit that I kept an eye on the woods around me a little more than usual.
I started to get glimpses of the steep, snow covered peaks of the Washington Pass area. The beauty of the mountains always takes my breath away. The next few hours were spent grinding through my lowest of gears as I climbed the mountains. I was able to take in the sights much better this time as I was not flying downhill. I stopped a couple miles short of the summit and talked with a motorcyclist. I have kept my motorcycle endorsement on my driver’s license for many years and look forward to the day when I can get another cycle with a non-human powered motor.
I made it to the Washington Pass summit followed by Rainy Pass . It was mostly downhill for the second half of the trip. Even with a stronger headwind, I found the westbound ride over the mountains to be a little easier than eastbound. I rolled to my truck in the Newhalem parking lot, loaded everything up, and drove home. This 150 mile over and back trip had been very draining but incredibly rewarding.
Until the next ride.