Tuesday, 23 July 2013

202 Seattle

Wednesday 17th July 2013 Miles Today 135 Total 14,076

Today we set off towards the US but as stated previously we had a stop at Grant and Susan Johnson's house near Vancouver. Grant and Susan own a very large website, (Horizons Unlimited), catering for travel assistance and business. They help, via their site and CD sales, other bikers prepare and run their own trips around the world. The visit was a privilege and they made us very welcome and as well as feeding us, gave us a lot of good advice regarding our travels. We are extremely grateful and indebted to them.  We left there at around 5pm and set off for the US border.

We had spent 28 days so far in Canada in several parts and intended to ask the border controls to give us the 28days back on our 6 month visa to allow us to stay in the US for a couple of extra weeks.
Once at the border, we met an extremely nice immigration officer who by some quirk of fate had managed to get through his life to date and get a job with an important government department despite the fact that he appeared to only know one work of the English language...."no".

Seriously, he was the most ignorant individual we have had the displeasure to meet in the three months in North America so far. I will leave it at that, suffice to say we still only have about 83 days left before the visa runs out.

We drove for another 10 minutes and stopped at a Mexican cafe for a coffee and a bitching session (about US homeland security) between each other. After coffee, salsa and Doritos we calmed down sufficiently to ride on.

(Karen writes)
I still love Ray's use of the word we, I didn't actually get to say much.
This defies any sensible comment

(Ray writes)
We drove for about another 60 miles and stopped in a Chinese run motel. It was really nice, although when I first saw it, I thought it was going to be a real dive.  Arlington, turned out to be quite nice, as did the motel.

Thursday 18th July 2013 Miles Today 62 Total14,148

After our usual 11am start we drove to a Yamaha shop North Seattle where I had previously ordered the brake parts. All the bits were in and we then set off to a motorcycle tuning facility (a dynamometer - Dyno) where I had arranged to have the bikes internal computer re programmed to make Wallace less aggressive. Unfortunately the programmers have had a computer failure and I will have to get it done somewhere else. Ho Hum.

We then tried to ring Vern and Mike, the guys we had met in Haines and who had invited us to stay with then in Seattle. After a few calls we managed to find the English bar, The Market Arms, in the Seattle suburb of Ballard, that Vern had told us about.

The pub was run by a couple of Brits from Newcastle and was pretty close to what we would get in a traditional British pub, including the beer and the food. Yeehaa. We had a slow beer and followed it up with shepherds pie. Makes a nice change from burgers and chicken wings.
(Karen writes)
We called Vern and he arrived within 15 minutes and after the food and drink, he took us to Dia and Spenser's pad, which is a fabulous, house right on the dock of the bay.  The views, the ambiance, and the decor were fantastic.

Dia and Spencers floating house. It was a wooden palace with the obligatory boat.
We were there for 10 minutes and then we tried to deal with Seattle traffic.  It is as bad as London, and Dumfries, but their rush hour starts at 3pm. 
(Ray writes)
Vern had tried to take us to Mikes house to stay but unfortunately, after about 3 miles out of the 20 we were stopped dead by static traffic. Normally, being bikers we would just drive around it but, in most of the US it is illegal so we turned around and Vern took us to his condominium which was a stones throw from the Market Arms. Now were talking.
The condominium had just been sold so we used our own sleeping bags and towels etc but the view from the balcony was to die for.


We have forgotten to mention, that we were at our best as well earlier in the evening.Vern took us to his condo/apartment, which has a security guard on the gate.  We were signed in and given the keys, and after dumping our gear, Vern gave us the key.  Ray put it in his motor cycle jacket, and then we both decided it was too hot for them, so he changed and we all walked out of the flat and locked ourselves out. This is how to win friends and influence them.  The matter was resolved fairly quickly, but we (i.e Ray) did feel very embarrassed and a bit stupid.

The view across the marina from Vern's condo.

Once setteled in it was back to the pub to get drunk. We succeeded with flying colours and in the mean time made lots of new friends, most of whom wanted us to stay with them, sadly we were committed and had to decline but the gesture was appreciated and is not forgotten. Thanks.

The people we met, were a huge ex Norwegian guy named Gunnar. He is a fishing ships' first mate (in charge when the captain is off watch). The boat is huge with 130 crew with a fish processing factory on board. He was due to fly to Alaska the next day to start his shift in the Baring sea.
What an absolutely fabulous man.  He was so full of good stories and made us laugh.  A very intelligent man who we hope to keep in touch with.  This is the ship that he sails: (Extract courtesy of the Discovery Channel)

Factory Trawler

She's an all-in-one mega fishing trawler and factory. Northern Eagle can catch and package fish at the same time. She creates more profit because she doesn't waste time (and fuel) bringing her catch back to shore to be processed. In fact, once she's out to sea, Northern Eagle doesn't return to port until her hold is full of 1500 tonnes of frozen, packaged product ready for market.

She has one of the world's most state-of-the-art onboard processing factories. Northern Eagle's brand-new filleting machines can remove the backbones, ribs, and dorsal fins of an astounding 54,000 fish per hour. No part of the fish is wasted. Besides fillets, she also produces surimi (flavoured fish paste), fish meal, and fish oil. But the factory is also a dangerous maze of moving conveyor belts, spinning motors, and razor-sharp knives. If anyone gets seriously hurt, they are at least two days away from a hospital.

She's embarking on her most challenging and profitable season of the entire year. Colliding weather systems off Alaska's Aleutian Islands create 60-knot winds, ten-metre seas, and temperatures that plunge to minus-30 degrees. But the heart of winter is also the most profitable time of year. It's not enough for Northern Eagle to catch thousands of tons of pollock - the world's most abundant whitefish. Her Captain will push his vessel further and further north - into the ice - to cash in on large quantities of fish eggs produced only during spawning season. Highly valued in Japan, these eggs - called "roe" - are the most profitable catch in these waters. Getting a film crew onboard a vessel during this busy and important season is a major coup and Mighty Ships is there to capture all action in bitter cold and relentless seas.

We then met a charming trio, Jessica, Mark and Fred. Jessica is from Wales, just North of where my brother Bruce lives, Mark is an American and Fred is a beautiful golden labrador. (Sorry guys, we just did not have time to stay - but thanks all the same). This trio were delightful and partially instrumental in our sorry drunken state - Vern and Gunnar being the remaining (and principal) culprits.
I take it upon myself to accept responsibility for the fact, it was a fantastic night and Ray has also missed out that Spencer and Dia, popped to the pub via their boat.  It is a wonderful way of life.
It was a magical evening, and we were sad but glad, and totally spastic, when it ended.

Getting drunk disgracefully.

Gunnar and Jessica

Ray, Gunnar, Karen, Jessica and Mark

Friday 19th July 2013 Miles Today 28 Total 14,176

We awoke to a beautiful view over the harbour. It was however tainted by the fact that my head felt like it had been used as a football. I had a stinking hangover. Karen as usual didn't !
After a large dose of ibruprofen and a chat with the the porcelain trumpet (for the Yanks reading this - I was seriously sick) I went back to bed. At 11am Vern rang from the golf course (how does he do that after a night on the beer ?) and I tactfully chose not to blame him for my hangover, I was tempted but decided to save that pleasure till I was in a better state to enjoy it !

We rang Mike and arranged to go and stay with him. We set off a hour or so later and had a look around Seattle on the way there. We were advised to visit the 'Needle'. A viewing platform where one can look out all over the city. When we got there the queue was huge for the tickets and so was the queue to to on the lift.
The 'Needle'. Fortunately for me the queue was to long. I hate heights.

We decided to ride the monorail into town instead and visited Pike Market. We were a bit concerned about getting off at the correct stop but found out that there were only 2 stops. One to get on and one to get off. Even we managed that.

The market was very colourful and vibrant but as usual we did not buy anything. We use the excuse that we cannot carry anything but in reality we are just plain stingy.

The market

A quartet of black singers. They were very good too.

(Karen writes)
I am told by my husband that we have no room to carry anything and he is using the term "we" again for his own benefit.
On the monorail approaching the other stop.

The park by the Needle had a band on. It went well with....

.... the obligatory golden nectar.

Again, we got our wires crossed and we turned up at Mike's house, while he waited for us at his work.  I should know by now that I shouldn't leave a "hung over, I'm feeling sorry for myself" person in charge of the arrangements.  Anyway, Mike was with us before his dog, Sydney savaged us to death on the drive way, and we had a great meal, and a very pleasant evening chatting out on the porch/decking. Mike's wife Mary had gone on a girl's weekend. So we missed meeting her, but thanks to Mikes and Mary's generosity, we were able to stay with them until she came home on Sunday afternoon.

Saturday 20th July 2013 Miles Today 0 Total 14,176

The boys did bike stuff, and Vern turned up and joined in.  Breakfast was at a little grill place and it served a very good meal for 3, in one potion.  The boys went back to their bikes. Me, I had a fantastic time, sitting on the deck, reading my Kindle, watching the birds, the dog,(who could cope with us now), and grabbing the cat for cuddles. The horse, wasn't having any of it, but I have to say, it was the most relaxed and chilled out day I have had in a while. The house was built by Mike and his Dad, great design, and in the most tranquil setting..Just wonderful.
Vern was getting a flight back to Phoenix later that evening, so once the boys had done the bikes, they came and sat on the deck with me and Vern, what a character, had us in stitches with his tails of life and things that he had got up to.

Bikes fixed, time for a beer. Mike, Ray, Karen and Vern

 (Ray writes)
One story he told us was of a guy that was one of his best friends, now sadly passed. The guy was kinda rich and even owned a Hughes 500 helicopter that was parked in his garden (as you do). Anyway, he was showing off his new Magnum revolver handgun  to Vern. He opened the gun, ejected the bullets, closed the gun and then aimed it at the helicopter and pulled the trigger twice. He handed the gun to Vern who did the same but Vern aimed it at the wall. The Gun went off deafening Vern and the bullet went through the wall, through a few other things and then through the hot tub in the garden. Clearly, not all the bullets had ejected when the gun was emptied. 
Some time later the same guy and Vern were out pheasant shooting and on the way there they were both in the back of a pickup being driven to the shoot. Vern's friend saw a bird fly up and aimed at it. Vern saw it too and on seeing his friend aim the gun, got in first, swung up quicker and shot it. His friend then said, I wasn't going to shoot it, I have been  feeding that hawk for five years.
(Karen writes)
 These people have been so amazing and generous to us, we hope to return the favour one day.  We all went for a Chinese, before we took Vern to the airport and saw him depart for Phoenix.

Sunday 21st July 2013 Miles Today 77 Total 14,253

The morning started with Mike cooking us breakfast. Maple Elk sausages and scrambled eggs.  These sausages are the leanest meat you will find and I have to tell you, they are delicious. Mike goes hunting in November and gets his Elk, and then he ends up with a fabulous supply of these sausages and other cuts.  It is far better for you than beef steak.
We had arranged to meet up with Dia and Spencer for a ride out.  Three Harleys and a Yamaha.  It is at times like this, that I wish I could have coped with a bike, but as happy as I am as a back seat passenger, I still prefer my 4 wheels, sorry to offend.
We took off into the hills and visited a little place called Snoqualmie Falls.  Spencer was a mind of information on the history behind it all.

From furthest, Spencer, Dia and Mike.

Mike looks like an extra from CHIPS.

The Snoqualmie falls. Another Indian icon. Underneath is a power station built by a 23 year old civil engineer.
After the falls we drove a bit further along to an old open air railway museum and visited an old saloon. A real one !
The afternoon was completed by a visit to a winery, where we tasted several wines and feasted on cheese, meats and biscuits, very pleasant.
Part of the train museum

The saloon with a real spitoon.

(Ray writes) 
On returning back to Mikes place, Mary his wife had arrived home from her girly weekend. She is a tiny thing compared to mike who is 6' 4" but they make a fantastic couple. Mary is a John Denver fanatic, unfortunately fanatic is not a strong enough word in this instance. We all went out to a Chinese restaurant. It was one of those where the place was adequate but the food fantastic. Just how we like it.
Chinese dinner with Mike and Mary.

In Mike and Marys garden with Sydney the guard dog

Monday 22nd July 2013 Miles Today 301 Total 14,554

We awoke very early (for us,) about 6.30am so we could say goodbye to Mike who was off to work.  Mary was watching a John Denver video (I told you fanatic was an inadequate word.) Once we had said our farewells to Mike we packed up and Mary made us breakfast. We said our farewells to Mary and set off for the hills. It was raining lightly on and off and 17C when we left so we put extra clothing on. One hour into the ride East it started to heat up as Mary had told us it would. Then it heated up some more, and then some more. By the time we had reached 1pm it was 38C and we were struggling. We stopped several times to get drinks and cool down, and at one place we bought an ice cold water melon. We could only eat about 1/3 of it and gave the rest to other diners.
The scenery was completely different again to what we have become used to, but equally as beautiful in it's own simplicity.

As we left Seattle it was fairly cool.

As we were crossing the farming belt of the US there were the mobile watering machines all over the place. Where we could, we parked underneath them to give us a good soaking and for the next 20 miles or so it was quite cool.   At around 5pm we called it a day and pulled in to a motel at a place called Clarkston.  Goodness knows what passing motorists thought as they saw two nutters sitting under the water, still on the bike.

This is what they do out here.

Looking down the road at where we wre going.

As we approached Clarkston we came across these being loaded onto a barge. My guess was that they were sattelite launch rockets but who knows.

So what is this. Any guesses.

No comments:

Post a Comment