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So before coronavirus hit and about three months before I turned 68, I headed out on my 450CL in 2019 for a two week ride around Washington. I had been putting off the trip for awhile but two of my old fraternity brothers and I had rented a condo for three days at Westport which does a big business in charter fishing. Another fraternity brother had terminal cancer nearby so I decided to call on him too. All told, I took in seven fraternity brothers in the trip.

My 1974 450CL has 11,000 miles on it, street tire on the front and a universal knobby on the back for old logging roads and forest roads. I had a one man tent, insulated mattress, and mummy sleeping on the rear factory luggage rack (you never want to put anything heavy over the rear tire) held in place with bungee cords and one cargo tiedown (Which broke, first day.). In addition, I had a pair of horse saddlebags I bought on Ebay thrown over the passenger seat. One side of the bags contained stuff for the bike when stopping for gas. There's a plastic bottle that contains a solution I premixed of octane boost (Out in farm country they only sell 87 octane gas), fuel cleaners (to keep the carbs clean), and artificial lead to lubricate the top end. There's also half a quart of oil, a can of flat repair, etc. The other side contains ready to grab food (a dozen eggs, a pound of bacon, beef jerky) with room for a can of pop and two Arby's burgers (They had two for $ 5 then.).

I had a very comfortable Italian embassy courier backpack for carrying clothing, hygiene, camp stove, stove fuel, collapsible fishing pole, tacklebox, proto-tool, cookware, etc. with a cellphone pocket and another for the Walkman). In the bike's toolbox I have extra sparkplugs and fuses. I also had a horse canteen designed for saddle use with two quarts of fine sipping whiskey. Gerber tool on my left belt and wearing a fishing vest with bait, powdered tea mix, sunglasses, etc. I sleep in my helmet as a pillow. Boot wise, I wear Wolverine Wellingtons. Here is the bike loaded:
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Between my sleeping bag and the grey bedroll and under my gloves is my tent. It uses very little space. The horse saddlebags are in black and over the raised pipes. The bike has antique collector plates.

I left Eastern Washington headed west to take White Pass. I started at a leisurely pace as I pick up road vibration in my hands at over 60mph. I previously replaced the handlebar dampeners but no change. Changed the factory grips to JC Whitney barrel grips but they have no "cush" to them all. (They worked great on my 1970 Honda 350 CL though as those had flex.). Will probably pour lead birdshot into the handlebars someday. However, the pass (highway 12) was smooth as glass. It was GREAT! (The only day of the trip that happened. Otherwise, crappy pavement.). I took this picture on the way over:

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Passed a couple of good fishing lakes on the way as I planned to camp on a creek. Because Seattle is so packed with people I picked out a washed out forest road and climbed clear to the top where no Seattle camper or 4x4 could go. The bike handled it easy. I didn't. The potholes were bone jarring. No wonder 4x4's didn't try it. Got to the top and no one is around but the snow had just recently melted, the firewood wet, and I had unknowingly lost my sleeping bag on the way up with all those ungodly impacts which broke the cargo strap. Had to go back down and get it. There's no fish in the creek. Not a one. To get a fire going, I had to shave off the wet wood to reach the dry with the proto tool:

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The Seattle boys had apparently made it up sometime before me, leaving this mess:
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Those boys don't even know how to dig out a windbreak. You can see my proto tool I used for digging it out. No. The garbage is not mine. It took a while to get a fire going:

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I had a sirloin steak with a stuffed baked potato with The Outback's "shrimp on the barbie" as an appetizer. Just put the baked potato wrapped in aluminum foil under the fire but not in it.

Went to bed at sunset but woke up at 11:30 with a paw on me. A bear? No. He'd be at the picnic table with my cookware. It turns out it was a cougar - about 125 pounds. They do attack.
Got up in the morning and promptly looked for another place to camp where they don't have cougars. The broken cable would not let me put my sleeping bag on my bike for the ride down so I had to ride to Packwood to buy a bungee cord leaving my gear behind. Asked about another campground while there. Only one site left, three miles from my own. I figured I'd still be within the cougar's hunting range. I was told I could sleep in Packwood's city park behind the library. So I checked it out and ran into a homeless person who, seeing me with a pack on my back, mistook me for a homeless person too (It would happen two more times on the trip,). We talked and drank "Hurricane" 8% alcohol beers. I still remember the price: $ 1.89 a can. Homeless people aren't just short one card in their deck. They're pretty much short the entire deck. The guy was holding the two of clubs. So we talked about the JFK assassination, the secret gov't insect that had been created in a lab with "a stinger on both ends" just to get him, how doctors, when he took two bullets to the brain planted a GPS system in his head ("Works perfect", he told me), and he could talk to birds. He told me he wasn't homeless. He could just not remember his address.

I bought him dinner at the "Blue Spruce" and ended up parking my Honda 450 next to a mint condition yellow Honda 90 trail bike with 2,000 miles on it. I expect when the owner came out he/she was just as amazed to find a Honda 450 with 11,000 miles on it parked beside his Honda 90. We must have looked like our own little collector bike show.

I bought Mr. homeless guy a prime rib dinner. He stared and stared at it like he didn't know what it was. Then he buried it under so much catsup you could not even see it. I could tell stories on this guy just inside that restaurant that would take half an hour. After awhile, I decided between sleeping in a park with him or up in the woods with a cougar, I'd take the cougar. I rode back up the mountain with my new bungee cord. I spent that night in my tent with my helmet on, visor down, my hatchet in one hand and my knife in the other.
Got up the next morning to bacon and eggs. For those that don't know, eggs will keep in the shell for two weeks without refrigeration. You can also make bacon last two weeks or even longer, by partly cooking it to kill the bacteria, and putting it in a plastic zip lock bag and squeezing the air out. Then finish cooking for the next breakfast. The person who told me this said bacon would last six months this way. Yeah. He probably thinks he can talk to birds too.

So off I go down the mountain to get back on 12 in search of I-5 which is easily found. You have to go northbound on I-5 for 19 miles to Grand Mound to get back on 12.

This is 19 miles of pure Hell. It took me an hour to cover it in traffic, every vehicle is a truck, and every truck is a diesel. I smelled like the back end of a city bus.

Finally got back on 12 to Elma and it's HOT. At Elma, I turn left for Aberdeen and, a few miles later the traffic comes to a complete stop. On a hot day, stopped in traffic with everyone's engine running on black pavement, you will swear it's 100 degrees. So I just rode through the middle of the all cars and hoped I didn't get arrested. Took me three hours to go 20 miles which was flying compared to everybody else. I never did see why they were stopped.

But I arrived at our ocean condo. Here's the view from the deck:
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We paid $ 300 a night. Apparently, that's a good deal. It was maybe three years old, two bedroom with a hid abed. I thought I was going to get to ride my bike on the beach at 100 mph but they won't let you. So we fished the jetty and crabbed for three days. One word of advice to the unknowledgeable. DO NOT CLEAN PERCH FISH IN A BATHTUB. It wasn't me that did that but it certainly ranks high on the list of STUPID. OTOH, the fish were great!

After three days here I rode north. The destination was Potlatch (two camping grounds there). You take 20 to 108 to 101. sounds simple. It isn't. Oddly. nobody lives out there. Here it's only miles away from Tacoma and nobody's there. It probably would be a really pleasant ride if I hadn't thought I was lost. You ride and ride into NOTHING. I was looking for houses to stop at for directions and there weren't any. After awhile, I was expecting the next sign to read "Gnome, Alaska, 2 miles" but I actually arrived in Potlach. The Skokomish Indian reservation was holding a car show when I arrived. Pretty cool. I attended. There's a state park to the right (With a ranger.). There's a little tiny creek about 100 yards past the ranger that salmon try and get up to spawn. There's so little water in it you can reach in and pull out a salmon. The state park was full but Potlatch wasn't . I think it's free but I stayed at the house of a fraternity brother who lives in Potlatch. Here's his house with my bike:
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His place is right on the beach:
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Next morning I'm headed north on 101. This is an awesome ride. You just have to take this ride. I have pics of this but have reached the site's limit. Will post more if anyone is interested.
 

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Thank you for sharing the ride with us.
 

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what is it with these cats? seems like once THEY are up no one else is allowed to sleep. SMH.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
What kept the saddle bags from melting on the muffler? Looks like you had a fun ride and thanks for posting.
The saddle bags are of leather and the exhaust pipe has a heat shield. The pack does get warm though. Thawed my frozen steak first day.
 

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In 1972 my dad came up with the idea of using "asbestos" to wrap around the exhaust to keep my plastic bags from melting. Those were the days.
 

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The saddle bags are of leather and the exhaust pipe has a heat shield. The pack does get warm though. Thawed my frozen steak first day.
IMAnonymous Just now reading your post, I live in Elma and have a cl450 as well, I have a log truck, we may have passed? your description of the roads Highway 12/ 101 are spot on. If you get over again let me know, your always welcome.
 

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So back to the trip! After helping myself to a live salmon we barbequed it at my friends' place. He was only about ten minutes away. The salmon was about 10 pounds (I think it was called a "pink".). Had a good time with my friend.
In the morning I was headed north on 101. This was the second beautiful road ride of the trip. I was headed for Quilcene to dig clams on low tide (proto-tool). Stopped at Seal Rock to get a campsite as no reservations required (No reservations required at Quilcene either but I was afraid they'd all be taken.). Hung my number on my campsite and rode the rest of the way to Quilcene. According to the state, this is a great place for clamming. I disagree. I took the road down to the bay and there's a boat haven that looks like an oil slick left by the Exxon Valdez. It's an environmental disaster. Where the road ends about a mile south your can see a peninsula with green grass. I walked all the way down to it and got about twenty clams (small). I took this picture:
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Riding back into Quilcene I took this "Ghost Busters" picture:

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I stopped at this club bar. Picture from the front:

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And from the back:

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It was too crowded to get a seat. Had to drink my beer standing. From here, rode back south to Seal Rock to do my clams. I cleaned their shells and put them in my cookware boiling pot with saltwater (They clean themselves of sand in it. After about two hours, once you see sand in the bottom, dump it out and put 'em on the burner. They open up and boil themselves in their own nectar which you can drink. I had them dipped in garlic butter with a bottle of wine. I love clams! Again, 101 is really a nice ride. Seal Rock has water but little firewood and even less beach. Here's where I filled my bucket next to my campsite. That's the beach.

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Pretty country but not a lot to do. If I had to do it again, I'd have camped in Quilcene (more to do). Here's the view riding north on 101:

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It goes on like this for maybe 60 miles. 101 runs right by the water and every day is a beautiful day. Except for the one pack of bikers I never saw another rider. Warning: Bring food through here. There's no grocery stores or restaurants to speak of and if you like high prices stop at Hoodsport. The bike was a bit low on oil today, likely due to riding on that hot traffic and pavement getting to Westport. Some might consider mixing in a quart of 20-50 with the 10-40 in summer because you won't be finding motorcycle oil out here. Also, keep in mind you'll be keeping "sun" hours (Go to bed at sunset and get up at sunrise). My canteen of sipping whiskey and the Walkman lets me pass the evening while taking in the view.

Next: North again on 101
 

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After spending three days in a $ 300 a night condo and my friend's cabin, I was back to roughing it. I did bacon and eggs this morning over my alcohol stove, took down the tent, and broke camp to continue north. The sun was up and all indications were of another gorgeous day. I made the ride north in a T-shirt and my safari vest. Ten miles south of Port Townsend the weather abruptly changed with freezing fog. It froze on my facemask, rearview mirrors, and my arms. For those ten miles I was a frozen popsicle. Then - Boom! You're in Port Townsend and it's 80 degrees. Hard to believe that ten mile stretch existed in June no less.
Port Townsend is a really cool place. You want to live there. Really! You do. Only the one street goes though town, the town jail is now a fascinating museum, and everyone is out on the sidewalk. A town with one street and it has bus service. I recommend the Krab Shack on the south end of town for a delicious crab hamburger. Then north to the middle of town and there's the Siren lounge at the end of long, weird staircase. According to the sign when you go in they have live entertainment but I missed it. But they do have an outdoor deck to sit on and watch the sailboats go by while you enjoy their specialty - A shot glass of whiskey with an oyster in it. Slug it down and order another. Walk further north (Everybody walks) and they have this little park where the locals dress up in 1920 outfits and give free concerts. You really do want to live there. Past the park you can rent kayaks.
I was still frozen from the ride through that fog and probably stayed too long at the Siren. If you think the stairs are weird going up, try 'em going down after shooting a few oysters.
On the way in I had spotted a tricycle motorcycle across the street with a V-8 engine with chrome exhaust and valve covers. I wanted to get a closer look and crossed the street and here comes the owner - two women in leathers. She tells me she bought it off Ebay. Sorry. No picture.

They have a couple of old forts from WW2 here you can explore. I missed that looking for a beach to clam. Apparently lots of beaches with daily red tide reports but I couldn't find any of them (Probably all those oyster shots I drank.). While it's a great town, you can do everything there is to do there in half a day.

From Port Townsend you can take the ferry to Whitbey Island (motorcycles board first without need for reservations.). A fair number of bicyclists but only a few motorcyclists. Cheap trip. Stayed with a friend on the island. For things to do there's the abandoned Fort Casey and, in the middle of nowhere, a settler's cemetery with 1850's graves and older as well as blockhouses built against Indian attack. There's a popular park on the north end with a lake but it was packed by reservation. Bicyclists are everywhere. Probably more bicycles than cars.

From there I rode north to Anacortes, the gateway to the San Juans. That's next.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
THE RIDE CONTINUES:

I rode up to Anacortes to catch the ferry to the San Juan Islands. Since I arrived early I stopped at a tavern and, not wanting to leave my pack on the bike, I wore it in. As a result, I was once again mistaken for a homeless person. Another one sees me and buys me a beer. He doesn't have a full deck either. He's taking the same ferry to the same place as me. Some guy is going to pay him to work on his house - Or was it a woman? He can't remember. Anyway, he's going to get $ 6 an hour. Tells me about his marijuana prison time and how he used to own a Honda 350. He's never been married but he did ask a girl to marry him once. He seemed surprised she turned him down. That he didn't know her name might have had something to do with it. Yet he had an explanation for that. He'd only met her an hour before. Homeless people have no clue how they sound. They think they're perfectly normal. He told me his life's ambition was to live in a van with a German shepherd. Did he own a German shepherd? No. But he'd get one if he owned a van. Does he have a driver's license? No. But he'd get one if he owned a van.

Our barmaid joins in the conversation. Turns out she was a homeless person living out of van with her boyfriend and a dog until he left her in Anacortes and took the dog with him (I did not ask if it was a German shepherd.). She wasn't the least bit bothered he'd dumped her but she plenty mad he took the dog. Between homeless people that's a divorce custody battle and she went on about that for an hour for which she gave me a free beer if I'd listen (It wasn't worth it.). I left the two as a perfect match for each other and headed for the ferry.

The homeless guy and I met up on the ferry again by chance afterwards and he pops open two cans of beer for us. We're drinking them and I notice we're doing it right in front of a sign that says alcohol is illegal on Washington State ferries. I pointed it out to him. His response? We did two more beers.
We both got off at Friday Harbor and its got the only grocery store on the island and where I bought beer and crab for dinner, then rode north up the west side of the island. It has a beautiful view of Vancouver Island. I have reservations at the San Juan County Campground. I have campsite #20.

NEVER GET CAMPSITE #20.

Here's a photo of it from the north end.
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There's my tent and bike. There's a lot more of the site behind me, including a fire pit and a picnic table. Here it is from the south side:
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This is a big campsite. It's also the only one with no trees for shade. The sun reflecting off the water made this site unbearably hot. So I got out my iced beer and crab:

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Notice, that can of beer is bone dry. It was actually dripping with ice and water just minutes ago. I did not have to heat the frying pan to melt the garlic butter for the crab. I just let the sun do it in about two minutes. I probably could have had boiling water in another ten minutes.

Lacking trees though it has a great view of Vancouver island. I took this picture from site #20:
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Walking down closer to the water I took these two pictures:
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But with no shade, that campsite was just blazing HOT! I ended up sitting on other reserved campsites to steal their shade trees (Their renters hadn't arrived yet.). With nothing to do, I checked the empty sites for left behind firewood. Well! Apparently someone noticed me doing that and I was again mistaken for a homeless person. So a family invited me to join them for a spaghetti and wine feed. Even though I'd just had beer and crab, I accepted. The reason? They had SHADE!

Nice people. I tried to convince them I'm not homeless but they either didn't believe me or didn't care. They were probably whale watchers as they told me "Whales were people". They all got out their smartphones at the same time when I told them about running into that cougar. I wondered what they looking up. It turns out they were looking up "ethereal" experiences to find my animal sign. Although I dismissed them as space cadets at the time, I later looked it up and what it said about me was pretty accurate. I did hit it off with one of the women, a forest ranger.

I slept well.

Next: Touring San Juan Island
 
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