Days 7–12: The Pacific Northwest
Visiting the Pacific Northwest for the first time in 2011 left me in awe. Being raised in Baton Rouge, Louisiana made me accustomed to flat terrain and hot weather. So when I saw the nearly 3 mile tall Mount Rainier, I was truly mesmerized. Although the University of Georgia has its fair share of hills, I still wasn’t used to the mountains and beautiful scenery of Seattle. Back in 2011, I took a spin around the Olympic Peninsula and all I could think about was how cool it would be to ride a motorcycle in one of the most beautiful parts of the country. Fast-forward 5 years, I found myself finally fulfilling my dream of riding in the Northwest. So after our 2 nights in Yellowstone, I was super excited to show Truth and Nofal the mountains, the great summer weather, the curvy roads and the beautiful water scenery of the Pacific Northwest.
In this post, I’m going to share our ride from Yellowstone to Seattle and Portland (Oregon). Then I’ll talk about my solo ride from Portland to the southern border of Oregon via the coastline. I’ll finish the continuation of my story in the California Highway 1 post — which will be up within the next week.
Crazy curves: To Beartooth or not to Beartooth
After Yellowstone, we were planning to take the motorcycles to Beartooth Highway near Yellowstone. Beartooth Highway, is a road that runs along the Northwest border of Wyoming. Here’s a few snapshots:
Unfortunately, the Ninja’s chain and sprocket wore faster than we expected. Considering that we’d be running the bikes at over 12,000 rpm at Beartooth, we decided to skip it in the name of safety. We ordered the parts and had them sent to Portland where we installed them in the parking lot. We added Beartooth to our hitlist and we’re going to go back next summer during my internship in Seattle.
After feeling sad about Beartooth, we headed to Missoula, Montana. The ride to Missoula was very nice. Filled with jagged mountains and green pastures, Montana is definitely one of the best looking states. We passed some of the coolest looking railroads and I got to imagining the days of cowboys and bandits. We churned out about 300 miles from Yellowstone to Missoula.
Once there, we stayed with our favorite Airbnb host, Lisa, were we each had our own room. I stayed in “The Dungeon” and got the best sleep of the entire trip up to that point. We were so tired after a week on the road, we slept for 9–10 hours. We had a good time getting to know Missoula over dinner with Lisa.
We didn’t get a lot of pictures of Montana because we were exhausted and wanted to spend the day enjoying the ride and not snapping photos everywhere we went. In fact, most of the Northwest was spent enjoying the ride. We were so sapped after Yellowstone, we had no energy for photography!
Seattle: My favorite place
In terms of cities, Seattle is one of the best kept secrets. It offers the best balance of city life and outdoor activities. Where else can you go and enjoy a nice sized city during the evening and then drive 70 miles to one of the tallest mountains in the lower 48? In Seattle, you’re surrounded by mountains and water — which offers a wonderful quality of life. I also love the mild weather year round, never getting too hot or too cold. For the most part, Seattle’s temperature ranges between a low of 40 in the winter and a high of barely 80 degrees in the summer. In sum, it’s a city with lots of character and so many cool things right at your fingertips!
We rode from Missoula and spent one day in Spokane, WA before heading to Seattle. As much as I hate to admit it, our ride to Seattle was … rainy! I know Seattle has this misperception that it rains there every day of the year (not true by the way as Atlanta gets over 50 inches a year versus Seattle getting about 37 inches) but this was just pure coincidence. Nonetheless, we encountered our first day of full blown rain where we got drenched on I-90. We also got a taste of rainy and cold weather, so it took us a while to thaw out when we arrived to Seattle. The rain and cloud cover was so thick, we only got to see the nice scenery periodically.
We arrived to Seattle around 3 p.m. I spent the evening showing Nofal and Truth some of my favorite areas of the city. Here’s a brief video near the pier:
Truth and Nofal spent the remainder of the evening putting a sprocket on the Kawasaki while I spent time on the rooftop working on the Yellowstone blog post. Blogging turned out to be more work than I thought!
The next morning, I took Truth to Biscuit Bitch, one of Seattle’s best breakfast spots. We then took a ferry to the San Juan Islands.
After a day of riding up to the Islands, we headed back to Seattle. We arrived to lots of traffic but luckily, lane splitting is legal in Washington state so that cut our travel time down significantly.
In the evening, I spent more time showing Truth and Nofal around. Overall, I think they liked Seattle which made me happy because it’s one of my top three favorite cities. We got a solid 8 hours of sleep and headed down to Portland the next day.
Oregon: a tranquil ride down the coast
Although Truth and Nofal got to see Mount Rainier, the ride from Seattle was a little mundane because we took I-5. We took I-5 because we were trying to get to Portland to pick up parts for the Kawasaki. The chain wear caused us to have to do an emergency chain swap in the hotel parking lot. Something I never thought we’d have to do but we made it work due to Truth’s ingenuity!
After helping Truth with the chain swap, Nofal got the opportunity to go explore Portland. He enjoyed his time out and about. In the meantime, I went for a run and did some weightlifting to maintain my weight (as mentioned in the last post, I was burning over 3000 calories a day and losing weight).
The next morning I headed out for the Oregon coast while Nofal took the BMW to the shop. Here’s a video of part of the ride:
The Oregon coast ride was fast, curvy and full of interesting things like Thor’s Well and lighthouses. It ended up being pretty cool too, almost 50 degrees the majority of the ride. Luckily, Theresa brought me to REI in Seattle where I bought a Hydro Flask that kept my coffee hot the entire day.
We made it to Medford, Oregon at days end, where I went to sleep at 10 p.m., exhausted once again. We had to get rest for the next day which would include Crater Lake and making our way to 140 miles worth of hairpin corners in northern Cali!
The ride throughout the Pacific Northwest exceeded my expectations and I can’t wait for next summer where I plan to do more riding out there on a Ducati Panigale. Hopefully my love of the Northwest’s mountains, weather and water encourages you to check it out one day. Thanks for reading and be on the look out for one of the premiere parts of the trip: the California coastline along Highway 1 from northern California all the way to Los Angeles!