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It was the best of rides; it was the worst of rides................

"Criminey," I yelled at Red, my wife. "I didn’t do the Bluebird this year! And it’s almost too late!"

I have a collection of favorite day rides, all doable from my front door. I give them monikers, or nicknames: "Auvil Fruit," a sweet two-laner twisting around basalt bluffs on the Columbia River; "Salmon La Sac," another sweetie, winding around Lake Cle Elum, high in the central Washington Cascade Mountains; and "Bluebird," a wondrous ride to an 1880's cow town that time forgot......The Bluebird is usually the first ride I do every year after taking the bike out of storage, and the last before the bike goes in and the skis come out.. I love the thing.

"Criminey," I moaned. "I gotta go do the Bluebird!"

"Maybe Fred’ll go with you," said Red, whose doctor won’t let her ride yet. We had hit a deer in July, the reason I still hadn’t done the ride, and the reason Red still had a doctor.....

"Pretty damn late," said my friend Fred said a day later.. "If it snows up there I’m turning back....I don’t do snow!"

"Nah... it ain’t gonna snow!" But I wasn’t really too sure.....the Bluebird climbs high, really high, and it rests high on a mountain plain, unprotected from the gales sweeping up from the Columbia River Gorge.

On the morning we planned to do the Bluebird, it did feel like snow..... 31 degrees, and low, very low, clouds. I was wearing polar fleece under garments, a Widder electric vest, a down jacket, a neck Turtle, Field Sheer Riding jacket and pants, polar mitts, and a highway safety vest.

"Wow," said Fred. "You look like a Day-Glo Jabba The Hut!"

"Bite me," I said pleasantly. "The cagers are probably gonna run me over anyway, but I’ll be warm and bright when I die!"

The first thirty miles were spectacular, if a bit familiar.... the Yakima River canyon, sunlight on frost, bronze basalt hilltops and dark river canyons, the familiar rippling water alongside the familiar sweeping curves. We both love the canyon.... but it wasn’t warming up any.

"Criminey, it’s cold," I yelled, as we stopped just south of Yakima.

"Duh," said taciturn Fred, shivering.

There is a part of the Bluebird that’s not interesting, boring even.... it’s the agricultural stretch between Yakima and Mabton, our Bakersfield. Onion fields, hop fields, alfalfa – the place looks and smells like money, and the unavoidable evidence of farm worker poverty alongside doesn’t help either. But the stretch is unavoidable if you want to do the Bluebird. Right in the middle of this unappetizing part of the ride, my new ST 1300, my 2007 holdover, my impulsive replacement for my old Goldwing, my new bike with only 4000 miles, failed me. Fred had stopped to make an adjustment, and when we mounted up to continue, my shiny new ride wouldn’t start.

"Wish I could spend all that money on a bike that don’t start," happily remarked Fred, from astride his faithful, throbbing Suzuki DR650.

"Bite me," I said, less pleasantly than before. "Can’t be the battery, just can’t be....."

But it apparently was, and after 30 minutes of dinking around, I pulled it out and Fred put it and my credit card in his aluminum panniers and went throbbing off to Yakima for a replacement. I stayed with Shiny New, and all it’s expensive non-starting parts.

Fred was gone for nearly three hours. I slept for one of them, my head propped on my removed seat, baseball cap over my eyes. The day was finally warming up, and my makeshift bed in the dead cheat grass was surprisingly comfortable. On the highway huge ag trucks roared by about every minute and a half. I awoke to flashing blue and red reflections on the inner surfaces of my spectacles. I sat up and turned around.

A big Washington State trooper smiled at me. "You all right, sir?" He asked. "Had to check to see if you were dead."

"Nope, still kicking... I think! My buddy went to get a new battery for me, and he’ll be back soon." I scowled at my watch. "At least I think he’s coming back! Thanks for asking."

He waved goodbye and pulled smoothly out on to the highway. I strolled the weeds for awhile, throwing rocks at beer bottles. My arm has deteriorated somewhat from my center fielder days, fifty years ago.... But I did find a new Craftsman 3/4 inch box end wrench someone had lost by the side of the road.. I also found a rubber toy pterodactyl, which would make a great addition to the luggage rack of Shiny New. I put both items in the panniers, and then Fred was back.

He grinned as he handed me the new battery, my credit card, and the sales slip. "You’re gonna love this!"

I stared at the figures on the slip. "Bite me twice, " I yelled at the slip. "Friggin’ crooks! Somebody’s gonna hear about this!"

"Yeah, who?" Fred kept grinning. "Guys at the shop said that the OEM battery had been filled in Japan two years ago...... and sat around killing itself!"

"Somebody somewhere is still gonna hear about it," I muttered, while fumbling at the plastic envelope holding the battery bolts and nuts.

But within minutes the new juice was in and the bike started. After deciding we still had time, we idled through the strange little town of Mabton, famous for being the birthplace of New York Yankee’s pitching coach, Mel Stottlemeyer, and then the Bluebird, the real Bluebird, began. Mile after mile, sweeper after sweeper, the smooth asphalt climbed and climbed.... high into a land of enchantment. Scrub oak and tamarack and trees I don’t know blended into a red and gold and green panorama, a glorious tapestry under the weak early winter sunlight. The good road was absolutely deserted, and the turns kept coming. As we leveled off on top, the hazy outlines of Mt. Adams and Mt Hood, the great Pacific rim volcanos, reared up in front of us, startling and dramatic, even though we knew that they would be there. After twenty blissful miles, we pulled into the tiny, old cowboy town of Bickleton, Washington. We idled in front of the Bluebird Tavern, the oldest operating tavern in Washington state.

"Whattya think," I yelled at Fred. "They serve a burger......"

"Nah...!" Fred yelled back. "I don’t like tavern smoke! Let’s hit a Micky Dees at Goldendale." And so on we went, through the alpine curves swooping down to Rock Creek, and then back up the other side, the ST1300 absolutely gobbling up the sweepers, feeling as planted as if it was on rails. Forty miles later, as we wolfed down 1/4 pounders in the small town of Goldendale, surrounded by volcanos and windmills, Fred said, "that thing goes like hell!" "Yeah," I replied. "She do boogie in the bends!" And I forgave Shiny New for stranding me in the weeds in Mabton, Washington.

An hour and a half later, after dark, I walked into my house, tired, dirty, and smiling from ear to ear.

"How was it," grinned Red.

"It was the best of rides; it was the worst of rides......!"

(Mt Adams from Goldendale, stolen from the 'net)
 

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as all ways---a nice one . been there done that.
 

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I have more in common with the sitting on the side of the road waiting for my friend to return
 

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CJ,

I don't know how you do it. But you've got that knack for writing that just spell bounds me. I read books all the time, mostly detective mysteries, but when I start reading one of your yarns, I just can't quit until I reach the end :)
 

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could it be that CJ should be given the title "forum bard" rather than "senior member". We all enjoy his writing when he feels the muse. I personally look forward to his entries.
 

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Great story and awesome story telling!!
 

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Bob W wrote:
could it be that CJ should be given the title "forum bard" rather than "senior member". We all enjoy his writing when he feels the muse. I personally look forward to his entries.
I second the motion. HEY MODERATORS! WAKE UP! Can we do this? :cool:

Where's a moderator when your need one?
 

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:cooler::cool:

When I open what seems like a long post, I find myself guilty of something that is worse than speed reading.

My eyes scan the words, only seeing half of them. My brain understanding even less. But still, I get the meaning of what I'm reading.

But with these posts, I READ EVERY WORD!!!

I take them in with my eyes, my brain rolls them around over and over again, getting every feeling that was written in the words out.

My mind soon has me feeling the bike in the curves and the wind in my face. Like savoring a good wine, I don't want to move on to the next sentence, until I've extracted everything I can out of the first.

I've got to hit that stinking LOTTO so Nancy and I can spend a month reallyriding the roadsthat Cousin Jack has helped my ride with my mind.

Thanks!!:waving:
 

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Thanks for the kind words, folks.... appreciate them!

But I don't needa special title....... already got them: "husband, father, friend......biker!"

LIF: you get yourself and your good lady out here, lad, and I'll guide you up the Bluebird (the Mabton-Bickelton Highway) myself!

:waving::waving::waving:
 

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One day, one day...

I guess that on my "bucket list" it would have to read,,,,,

Ride a majestic road with Cousin Jack!!
 

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Oh MAN,,,,,,,,,,, what a sight to see. And the way you build up the emotions with your words just before I see the picture. I know it's not completely like being there. But the way you put it, it's dang close.

Rest assured,,,,,,,,, IWILL see the West again:cooler:
 

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OK CJ, I'm comin' over to do the Bluebird with you in 2009. Never had the opportunity to ride those roads before and it sounds like a great ride. :cool:

John
 

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Another great yarn from CJ. Thank you.

How's that book coming along??
 

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Some day we will have to teach you how to push start a motorcycle.
 

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Lusting4Dragon wrote:
Some day we will have to teach you how to push start a motorcycle.
We tried, L4D, we tried...... 600 poundsplus bike, one guy 66 and the other 68, flat road......just wasn't gonna happen......
 

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Great post - like to do the bluebird sometime:bowing:

 

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Thanks CJ... enoyed the ride.. hope I can do it in person sometime.. SDB/Jim
 

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You, my friend, are a wonderful writer.Thanks for the ride, I loved it.jimsjinx
 
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