Day One

"Was ist das?"

Thursday May 25, 2000

Seattle - Spokane WA

5:45 driving time - 350 miles

by Gizmo

Greetings to all members of the Virtual Vacation club from Whizmo and Gizmo, aka Mark Jennings and Greg Riker.  We're once again on the road, bringing you the latest in local color and roadside observations.

We'll get a fancy page with a master map of the entire trip up in a day or two, but here is the overview:  We're headed to British Columbia to tour with the folks at Rocky Mountain Motorcycle Adventures, a motorcycle tour company based out of Whistler.  The tour starts in four days, but for the next few days we're going to take a little jaunt over to Idaho and Montana.  Today is the warm-up ride across the state to Spokane.

Mark's driveway - ready to roll

We started out in Seattle this morning with good riding weather - cool temperatures, no precipitation in sight.  Here we are in Mark's driveway with this year's mounts. 

I can see those emails coming already.  "What's the deal, Greg?  What happened to the All-American iron? WHERE'S THE HARLEY?!?", and perhaps  "Sure, we expect Mark to change loyalties every year because after all, he has ten or more motorcycles in his garage at last count, but Greg, not you?!?"

The new mounts

It's true.  Things have changed.  Things have changed in a major way.  Let's just get it out of the way right now.  Last fall, I took a test ride on a BMW K1200LT touring bike, and I was really impressed with the package.  In the past, I have been plagued with cold hands, wet hands, non-locking storage, and less-than-ideal weather protection.  My solution to every drenching was to buy a new pair of gloves.  Well, in a moment of insight, I realized that if the bike I rode protected my hands, I could get by on as few as perhaps six pair of gloves instead of the dozens I had purchased in vain. In hindsight, the BMW could be the absolutely most expensive way to keep my hands dry.  We shall see.  I promise you lots of comparisons and observations about migrating to the K1200 throughout this trip.  But for now, go ahead and chuckle.  I know you're a tough crowd - you're either going to think I'm a wimp for giving up the Harley, or think that I may have finally come to my senses for riding anything other than a Harley.  I'll wait here while you finish smirking.  

Words of Whizmo Wisdom...

I'll tell you a dirty little secret about motorcycles - they consume tires like termites consume wood.  In fact, I'm a little concerned about tire wear right now.

Before this trip, I took a hard look at the tires on my R1100S and concluded that the front would survive the duration of the trip, but the back wouldn't.  So the front started with 2458 miles, hardly enough to wear the nubs off your typical Camry tires, but definitely middle-aged for a sport bike tire.

But after today's ride, the tire is showing noticeable further wear.  I've included a picture of the tire with a penny in the tread and I'll show you the wear for the next few days.  So we'll all see how it goes.  (It is a total PITA to replace tires on a trip and we're headed to the hinterlands, so if we motor past a dealer tomorrow that has the right tire in stock, I'll probably just replace it.)

How bad can tire wear get?  Well, Mr. Peter Wylie, a riding buddy of mine, not two weeks ago managed to completely roast a rear tire in under 1,000 miles! 

And oh, by the way, Mr. Mark 'Whizmo' Jennings coincidentally decided to add a BMW R1100S sport touring mount to his substantial collection last fall.  So that's our story, and we're sticking to it.  Stay tuned for lots of Bavarian insights over the coming days.

Elmer Aqueous, patron saint of Waterville

In 1997, we came through Waterville on the first day of our trip to Michigan, and it was raining.  I was miserable, and made some lame jokes about Waterville being an appropriate name for town where we were getting soaked.  To honor the memory, we stopped at the center of town where this statue commemorates the town hero, Elmer Aqueous, shown here with his divining rod. 


We've had a lot of fun in the past with online contests, so we're going to kick off this year with a contest right away.  We stopped for an afternoon ice cream break at Dean's Drive-On-In to enjoy the daily special, a huckleberry shake.  On a whiteboard next to to cash register was a trivia question - "What is the eastern-most Canadian province?"  (No, that's not

What was the question?

today's trivia question.)  The thing that caught our attention was the answer to yesterday's trivia question - "Samuel L. Jackson".  So here's today's trivia question.  In Jeopardy-like fashion, what was yesterday's question, to which the answer would be "Samuel L. Jackson", as written on the white board?  Be sure to submit your entry in the form of an answer!  Click here to submit your entry.  Good luck!

Banks Lake, heading to
Electric City

It's hard for me to pass up a town called "Electric City".  We headed north out of Coulee City on 155 to find Electric City.  On the way, Mark snapped this shot along Banks Lake on the way to Electric City.  There's lots of dramatic scenery like this on the way to the dam.   The dam itself was not very exciting - an enormous concrete structure generating electricity for the northwest part of the country.  But I can get excited about a town called "Electric City".   That's cool.  Would natives of "Electric City" be called "Electricians"?  I hope so.

We're going to be trying something new this trip.  We will alternate principal writing responsibility each day.  Today, Gizmo (Greg) is doing the update, and Whizmo (Mark) is writing the sidebar feature.  Tomorrow, we'll trade.  Please let us know what you think of the new approach.  We're trying to make this as interesting and engaging as possible for all involved.  Your input is important to us.  Click here to drop us a line.

And finally, it just wouldn't be a bunch of Jerks riding around the country without gratuitous imagery.

'Woman in silhouette holding replica of Tweetie Pie' (--artist unknown)