Not your usual National Park sign

We have a goal of riding every great motorcycle road in the Western United States, and cross every mountain pass.  On this North Cascades Loop motorcycle trip, we not only hit some good roads, but we crossed the mountains twice while checking off two more National Parks.  

1200 miles covering; desert, mountains, Islands and into Seattle

The 330 miles between home and Wenatchee, WA. is straight up Hwy 97 ….sort of.  At Toppinish, you merge with I-82 for about 50 miles, and then merge with I-90 for a short distance.  There was some really confusing road construction as they are building a new roundabout in Ellensburg.  There were no signs, and the gravel was in poor shape.  Try to stay on Hwy 97……I made a couple of U-turns figuring that out. 

Otherwise the pavement was good and the scenery was bland.  Except for a short stretch south of Wenatchee, it’s all pretty flat and without trees. Nothing new for anyone who has travelled eastern Oregon or Washington. We spent the night in Wenatchee to be ready for the start of, “The Loop.”

Leavenworth, WA. our own little Bavaria

Every town should have motorcycle only parking.

We rode 22 miles to Leavenworth before our 1st layover.  In 1962 this was one of many failing logging communities and one of the few that made a plan people rallied around.  Modeled after Solvang, CA. the Bavarian theme has been a huge success.  They were blessed with a mountain setting that fits the motif quite nicely. 

Now, I’m not going to lie, this is a place I would have barely slowed down passing through……but I’m married 🙂  We spent a few hours wandering the streets and I will admit it’s really well done.  You can even go to the  Leavenworth Nutcracker Museum, which opened in 1995 and contains more than 5,000 nutcrackers.  As exciting as that may sound, I was able to hold back, hoping for yodelling lessons. Maybe I rode off wearing brand new lederhosen…..no photos, no proof.

US Hwy 2, the southern leg of the loop

2017 was a horrible year for wildfires.  This one had just started and was making a serious run up the hill.

DON’T THROW CIGARETTES OUT THE WINDOW, THAT’S JUST STUPID

Leavenworth to Everett is only 100 miles but it’s a lot of forest & mountains.  Steven’s Pass at 4000′ has an average January snowfall of 104″ with an average temp of 18° (-7.4 C).  It was 90° on this beautiful August day!

 

Stevens Pass ski area

On to Burlington WA for a couple of days

Part of the mission of this adventure was to get Karla into Seattle.  These blogs would not be complete without a, “Karla” story or two.  Since I write the blog, you will notice I look like a pretty darn good guy…..

Two summers ago when we rode to Vancouver, BC., Seattle traffic was enough to make you never, never go to Seattle.  I told Karla that if we went on a Sunday morning there would be no traffic……she said, “yeah right.”  Have I ever led you astray??  Wait, hold that thought…..

We planned a two night stay in Burlington WA., close enough to ride into the city, but still on our path of the North Cascades Loop motorcycle trip.  We headed south at 8 am on Sunday morning, Karla was still skeptical, but the freeway was all ours. 

 

We found a free parking spot right at the Seattle Center, a block away it was $20

Mercer St at 9 AM…..SUNDAY

Going up?

Top of the Needle

Plum, the all vegan place in Seattle Center

CHIHULY Garden and Glass

One of the newest and most popular exhibits at the Seattle Center is the CHIHULY Garden and Glass.  No photograph will ever convey the truly amazing beauty. This is worth a trip to Seattle on it’s own.

They may appear smaller in this photo, these are full size canoes…filled with blown glass art

Another interesting hold-over from the 1962 World’s fair, besides the Space Needle…..Ride the Monorail from the Seattle Center to Westlake Station.  From there it is a short walk to Pike Place Market and the waterfront.  Slightly downhill to Pike Place and then multiple flights of stairs to reach the waterfront.  These are must see, when visiting Seattle. 

The fruits, the vegetables, the people…Pike Place is always crowded, but always worth a visit

The waterfront is not a long walk, but a few flights of stairs from Pike Place.  Lots of shops and people watching.

Backroads from Seattle to Burlington includes a ferry to Whidbey Island.  At the North end, you ride the bridge over Deception Pass.

Back in Burlington, dinner and Uber please

Why so many glasses?  3 drinks to a shaker, I may have been, “confused”

Back on the road, the North side of the loop

I forgot to tell you, one of the reasons for the timing of this adventure was the solar eclipse.  Central Oregon was in the path of, “totality,” meaning we would get total darknes.  Apparently, this is a big deal because we were expecting up to 500,000 visitors.  In an area of 150,000 residents, we said, “we’re outta here!”

What is known today as the North Cascades Highway was originally the corridor used by local Native American tribes as a trading route from Washington’s Eastern Plateau country to the Pacific Coast for more than 8,000 years. After the California Gold Rush of 1849, white settlers started to arrive in the North Cascades looking for gold as well as fur-bearing animals. This far north, the settlers needed a clear route through some of the most rugged terrain in Washington Territory. (Source Wikipedia)

Today the highway is anything but rugged, with smooth tarmac, generous wide lanes and very little traffic.  I want to ride this again, be aware, it’s only open in the summer. 

10:20 AM, it was time for the eclipse.  We pulled over, put on the glasses and ….nothing. We were too far north.

North Cascades National Park visitor center, smaller than some, we thought it one of the best

Diablo Lake has a very unique color

Winthrop, WA. A western themed town. 

Twisp, WA. This is the place to eat on the northern loop

This was the hidden gem find of the entire trip.  Glover Street Market in Twisp.  Don’t miss it.

It would  have been nice to sit outside, but it was baking hot.  The menu included something for everyone with lots of vegan choices too.  With an open kitchen we watched the food preperation.  Absolute, farm fresh and one of the best meals we had all summer.

Now you head down into Methow Valley and lots of farm land.  We came closer to running out of gas than ever before.  On fumes we made our way along the Columbia River into Chelan.  The only shade was standing up against a Wal-Mart but it was cooler than the midday sun.  We cooled down, held our breath on fuel and found a station.  Then into a air conditioned Starbucks for about a gallon of ice water…..Don’t be us, get gas early and drink lots of water……

We made it back to Wenatchee and spent the night.  The next morning we were riding south to Yakima and Mt. Rainier National Park.

The smoke covering the Northwest was showing in front of the mountain

If you get two tickets to Paradise……by all means go!

The lodge at Mt. Rainier

Dining room had a veggie burger

Nice motorcycle road in Rainier National Park

North Cascades Loop Motorcycle Trip

Then we rode a few hundred miles home……That’s how we spend a long weekend.  How was yours?

Random Dog Photo

When I take a nap, Leia is always willing to help out

Life is Short…….Start Living Now!

Peace.  Don & Karla (and Leia)

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