(2007) Tahuya

Entertaining Company – Not Your Usual Tourist Trap

My STN friend Carolyn was in town for the weekend. Work on Friday and then nothing to do but play, play, play until her flight home to the Bay area Sunday afternoon.

January 21, 2007
Total Miles: 116 miles, 1 day
Seattle, WA to Belfair, WA
Map Link

Carolyn came to my workplace when she was done with her work and together we set off in my bug. The first order of business was to feed her. Not wanting to endanger myself by wasting time driving around we went two blocks away to the George and Dragon Pub, an English bar that served hot food and beer. My efforts were appreciated as the cold beverages were placed before us and hot food was served shortly after that. And I hadn’t even realized that I was hungry.

After dinner we picked up some groceries for the weekend and then headed to my house. Glen was due around 7pm to drop off a bike for Carolyn to use and we were excited to see how well she would fit on it. While we were waiting for Glen to show up I asked Carolyn to help me move my VFR from the garage to the living room. Since I don’t ride it much I thought I might as well put it somewhere out of the way.

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Carolyn after a hard day’s work

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Nope, feet can’t reach on the GS

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Hey – at least she’s not on a public road!

Glen showed up right on time with the lowering links already installed (3″) and the forks lowered on the front (2″). Carolyn got on the bike and could just touch with her toes – perfect, by her own admission. We visited for a while before Glen and his wife left for the evening and Carolyn and I returned to the warmth of the house and talked about rides and bikes and plans for the next day. Ah yes: the next day. Carolyn has an XT225 and a F650 but didn’t have much experience on the larger bike in the dirt. She was hoping to get some “mud time” in this weekend. I was only too happy to accommodate her.

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A perfect fit!

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Bikes put to bed for the night

We were going to catch the 9:30 ferry out of West Seattle and ride to Southworth and find a place called “Gold Mountain”. Things fell apart when Carolyn’s KLR wouldn’t start. Glen had warned us that he had trouble with the electrics earlier, but he thought that everything was ok. And because he’s such a nice guy he also said that if we needed, he could bring up the new battery that he was going to charge that night. So at 9:03 we called Glen. While waiting for him to arrive I checked for the next ferry and saw that there was one at 10 – would we make it? It didn’t take long for Glen to arrive and has we had already removed the bodywork necessary to get to the battery it was a short time later that the bike was running and we were putting our gear back on. A big thanks to Glen and then Carolyn and I decided to see if we could make the 10 o’clock sailing.

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Glen putting in the new battery

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Jimmy offering advice to Glen

I live only two miles from the ferry dock and as we approached I could see that the ferry was still there. Not that it means much; it could be full and just starting to pull away for all I knew. I rode past the ticket booths to the front where bikes park to buy their tickets. Cars will still loading as I ran inside and bought passage for two bikes. We were the last one loaded – talk about timing!

The ferry crossing was only 40 minutes and the Olympics were peeking out from the clouds. Considering that the weather forecast had been for hard rain all weekend we felt very lucky to see sunshine and patches of blue sky. After the ferry ride we meandered our way along the waterfront to Port Orchard where I gassed up. I can usually get 260+ miles on my tripmeter before needing to refuel and Carolyn’s bike was at something like 20, so we figured that we were good for the day on her bike. I didn’t know exactly where Gold Mountain was, but I had a vague idea. Apparently the idea was too vague as we ended up riding in a loop past Bremerton and back. All we wanted were some dirt roads to cruise around on.I didn’t want to wander aimlessly around looking for them so I headed for the ‘sure bet’ – Tahuya State Forest. This was where I went last fall in a search for mud and figured that it would be a good place to take Carolyn.

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Olympic mountains from the ferry
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I filled up my tank…

I don’t know the area very well, but we found a map that led us to some 4 x 4 trails; something we were both comfortable in attacking today. Carolyn let me lead and she was good at letting me know what she did and didn’t want to try or ride through. I pushed her a little anyway (what better way to learn?) and she did great.

A little hill caught her off-guard and when I got off my bike to help her, the slope and the soft soil worked together to topple my KLR as I was turning away from it. I left it there to help Carolyn and then we both stood there staring at my bike, trying to figure out the best way to pick it up. Just then three dirt bikers came by and unabashed, I flagged them down for help. They were helpful, although they scoffed at our heavy KLRs. Oh well – I knew that my bike didn’t fall because I couldn’t handle it on the trail…

Carolyn strutting her stuff

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Serious concentration

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Tahuya campground

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Oops. The sidestand sunk

We continued to explore the area, meeting up with Andrew who was on his first dirt outing, as well as discovering a troublesome section of potholed road that neither of us were enjoying. About halfway to where we could see the road we both stopped to let a Jeep Cherokee go by (we had been following it, but it turned around and came back). Carolyn didn’t want to ride any further along here so I volunteered to ride ahead and see what happened around the next bend. It turned out that the road ended after that, except for a tiny little single track that streaked up a steep hill. I turned around and said that we should go back.

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Carolyn trying to look pleased at the terrain

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I offered to check on the conditions ahead

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High centered on a couple of these ones

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Coming down the trail

The way back had a surprise in store for us: the Jeep that we had allowed past was now sitting in the middle of a very large puddle. Apparently the driver had gone around the puddle a few times before deciding that he could make it through. Nope. The water drowned his engine and he and his passenger were stuck. Andrew offered to find some help, but before he could get on his bike, a lifted pick up truck came by with a heavy-duty strap. We all stood by to watch, cameras clicking away. Nothing exciting happened other than the Jeep exiting the puddle, water pouring from various points of the bodywork and tailpipe.

The excitement was over so we got back on the bikes and look for other roads. I plowed my way through the broken ice, loose sand and deep gravel, gaining speed as the surface flattened out into hard-packed dirt. That’s when I noticed that there wasn’t a headlight behind me. I waited a couple of seconds and then backtracked to find out what had happened to Carolyn. I found her standing next to her bike, the deep sand showing me the story without a word from her. We picked her bike up easily and continued on our hunt for more 4 x 4 trails.

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Oops

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His shirt says “Harley Davidson”

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Bikes near the Jeep-eating puddle

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Bluepoof conquers all!

Finally Carolyn said that she had enough of dirt and wanted some pavement. It was an easy request and we followed some roads I had taken last fall, including one that starts out paved, turns to dirt and then is paved again at the other end. I had flown along this road last fall, but then it had been dry. The recent rains (and snow) left the surface covered in a thin, slick layer of mud. We both took it easy here and were rewarded with a bald eagle that swooped down low over the road, and an immature eagle landing on a nearby tree. We stopped to take pictures and while we were searching for the eagles a Ural came idling past us, the driver smiling at us while his dog focused on the road ahead. After the eagles flew away we got back on the bikes and headed for pavement.

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Tahuya-Blacksmith Rd

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Tahuya-Blacksmith Rd

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Taking it easy on slimy roads

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Adult bald eagle in tree

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Ural Patrol with passenger (Husky)

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Bald eagle takes off

Zipping along the pavement was a blast! There was little traffic, the ice had melted off and the sand was predictably in the corners. We took roads that were new to me and they were great. I made notes to explore them in the summer when the pavement would be dry and clean. A short break to gather ourselves before the final push to the ferry led us to realize that it was later than I realized and that we’d have to take a direct route to save time.

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Olympic view

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The only time I’ll be shorter than Carolyn

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Friendly kitty at our last stop

We made good time heading for the ferry and were about 2 miles from the dock when I saw Carolyn pull over. I had told her at the beginning of the day that if she wanted to stop for anything (photos, water, eagle watching) just to stop. I would watch my mirrors and come back for her. But stopping here? Now? I circled back and parked behind her. The KLR had died and she wasn’t sure why. It was almost like it ran out of gas, but with none of the usual sputtering. My mind immediately suspected something with the electrical simply because of the trouble that morning. We were on a steep uphill so I turned the bike around to try and bump start it. Nothing. We fiddled with the reserve switch. The battery was starting to chug with each push of the starter. I glanced at the time: 4:20. We had a 4:30 ferry to catch. I looked at Carolyn and said “Let’s leave it here and we’ll figure it out in the morning.” It was crucial that we get on that ferry as I was having a dinner party that evening and even with the ferry ride I’d have only 30 minutes before the first guest was scheduled to arrive.

Fortuitously, a vehicle came up the same driveway we were in at that point. I flagged the driver down and explained that we were out of gas but trying to catch the ferry. Would it be ok if we left the bike there and came back the next day for it? He was very pleasant about it and said that it would be just fine. With that we pulled the KLR back closer to the bushes, trotted over to my KLR and took off for the ferry.

Epilogue:
The next morning Carolyn and I hopped on the GS to ride around to reach the bike. The ferry schedule didn’t fit in with our schedule and this was the best way to get to the bike and back and still leave time for Carolyn to pack and get to the airport. We droned down the highway for 60 miles, a 2 gallon jerry can strapped on the back of the bike. The KLR was right where we left it and we got to work. We hooked up some tiny jumper cables between the bikes and poured the gasoline into the KLR. After waiting a moment for the KLR to catch a charge we pushed the starter. Nothing. Not even a headlight. The battery was deader than a possum on the highway.

Fortune smiled upon us, however, as a friend of mine who had been at the previous evening’s party lived only a couple of miles away. He had also left some things at my house that I had brought to drop off, so we got back on the GS and headed for his house. His driveway is short but steep and dirt. I pointed the bike straight up it and gave it a little extra gas for momentum. That’s when the rear wheel slid out and the bike went horizontal, spinning around on the crash bar. Carolyn immediately asked if I was ok, to which I said that I was fine. We stood up, looked at the bike and I said, “Let’s go get William”. It didn’t take long to get the bike upright, the car packed with a battery, jumper cable and various tools and back to the KLR. A few minutes of removing KLR parts and we soon had the battery hooked up. A couple of presses with the starter and it finally fired! We were set. William packed up his stuff, we both thanked him profusely and then Carolyn and I rode back around to West Seattle (having missed the last ferry that would work with our schedule). She packed up her bags and I dropped her off at the airport, just in time for her flight home.

Tell me what you think! I want to know!