Our “plan”, if you can call it that, was always to use highway 101 as our route down the west coast of the USA. It pretty much hugs the coastline through Washington State, Oregon and California, providing Pacific coast views and plenty of amazing scenery. We rode a bit of it a couple of years ago and it seemed as good a place as any to start eating up the miles on this road trip.
With my noble steed – my BMW F650GS loaded up and out in the sunshine.
Our first stop after leaving Port Angeles was just 20 miles or so down the 101 at Lake Crescent. This beautiful glacier fed lake (courtesy of the mountains in Olympic National Park) is absolutely crystal clear and provided plenty of photographic fodder. We stopped for a coffee at the lodge where some kids were messing about in boats, it looked like a lovely place for a holiday or summer camp. The road along the lake seemed to go on for miles, we could have been driving on the A82 alongside Loch Lomond, although it was hot and sunny, so you know 😉
Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park.
After twists and turns in the forest we came out right by the sea, and stopped at Kalaloch Beach, well on the cliff above it. From here we could see Cape Flattery where we were the previous day) in the hazy distance, and sat and ate locally sourced Clam Chowder in the lodge restaurant. You don’t need much of that to fill you up!
Kalaloch Beach, Washington State.
The 101 left the coast and headed back into the forest of Olympic National Park. I have to admit I didn’t realise there were rainforests in North America, so we took some time to walk the trail at Quinault Rainforest, a very humid and dense forest area which apparently has the tallest Spruce Trees in the world. A temperate rainforest (rather than tropical), it gets more then 12 feet of rain each year. The forest floor was teeming with bright green foliage, and when we looked up we had to squint to see the forest ceiling – the trees are simply magnificent.
Tall tall tall trees in Quinault Rainforest, Olympic National Park.
Ocean Shores struck us as being a bit like Skegness. No, Mablethorpe. It seems big and modern and full of hotels and motels, but when you look closer it’s rundown and quite empty and not teeming with life or soul. We headed onto the beach (with many other people) to watch the sunset, which offered a beautifully orange display. The Oasis Motel, our chosen lodgings from the huge number available thanks to Trip Adviser, was just the sort of thing I’d imagined we’d stay in on this trip (we parked outside our own front door), with the added quirk of a beach hut tropical island theme to the room – complete with hand painted mural and clad en suite bathroom.
Oasis Motel, Ocean Shores, WA.
The sunset over the Pacific Ocean at Ocean Shores.
The following morning we left Ocean Shores and headed back to the 101, through Aberdeen, where we had to wait for one of the drawbridges to close before we could cross. The 101 then headed across marshland, through Willipa Bay the “oyster capital of the world” – one of every six oysters consumed in the USA is harvested here, and then towards Cape Disappointment and Dismal Nitch. I swear I am not making any of these place names up, it’s just that the amusing ones stick in my mind. We sat by the mouth of the Columbia River and ate our leftover pizza from the night before (I love having a topbox on my bike – perfect for pizza boxes!) and watched for sea lions.
Dismal Nitch, WA. (Proof we’re not making the place names up!)
We crossed the state line from Washington State into Oregon on the Astoria-Megler Bridge, and left the 101 to head away from the coast for a bit. This is where we hit the biking road jackpot. A guy at Dismal Nitch mentioned that he’d just driven the 202 and thought it would be the perfect riding road, and he wasn’t wrong. A glorious, traffic free route across country and through forest, twisting and turning its way along for miles. Fabulous. The 103 wasn’t any worse, and coupled with bright sunshine and warm weather we were both smiling as we rode along. Perfect.
LincsGeek’s Triumph Tiger Explorer.
Woodburn is just south of Portland in Oregon, a location we’d picked purely to be close to the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum. We booked into the Super 8, a no frills chain motel for two nights and headed over to Denny’s for a Little Chef-style meal. Not as nice (or quirky) as our motel in Ocean Shores, but certainly did the job and was good value. We even had a mooch around the outlet mall, but that just confirmed how little space there is on the bikes for anything fun – I shan’t be treating myself to any new Vans this trip unless I throw away something of equal size I brought with me. Hmmmmm.