Day One - May 16, 1999
On The Road Again
Seattle - Goldendale WA
5 hours - 291 miles
Welcome to the continuing adventure known as JerkQuest, in which our intrepid heroes set out from their comfortable homes in Seattle, braving rain, snow and road food in search of their fellow Jerks. On motorcycles.
What is a JerkQuest?
Those of you along for the ride in 1997 will remember that Greg and Mark left Seattle on a perfectly pleasant day in September to meet up with their highschool buddies Carl, Jim, Tom and Lyle on the shores of Lake Michigan. En route they encountered rain, cold, pasties, Youpers and Trolls, the birthplace of Judy Garland, and more rain and cold.
As Mark's wife Susan said as we left Seattle this morning, "Why are you doing this?"
I'm pretty sure she meant "why do you take motorcycles when you could drive or fly?", although maybe she meant "I don't understand why you want to relive your misspent youth." It's also possible that she meant "I understand that the weather along your route is likely to be cold and wet, and I question your judgment in this matter."
What's the difference between a JerkFest and a JerkQuest?
The JerkQuest phase of the adventure is the travel component to and from JerkFest, in which we converge on an area of the country selected by this year's JerkMaster. JerkFest proper is the phase in which the Jerks get together every other year to relive their youth and generally act silly while tormenting each other's loss of hair and gain of gut. Mark and I like to arrive on motorcycles so our buddies feel inferior for taking less macho means of transportation.
In summary, JerkFest is the reunion and associated activities; JerkQuest is travel to and from. These pages are the daily journal of both.
Where is the 1999 JerkFest?
Jerkfest '99 has been organized by JerkMaster Jim. He selected a river rafting adventure on the San Juan River, starting near Green River Utah, ending up in Lake Powell. We're pretty sure he chose this adventure because someone else is responsible for the food. The actual JerkFest starts Thursday, May 20, when we meet in Green River. Friday morning we get in the river.
Why are you called Jerks?
It's a term of endearment among close friends, as in "Hey you Jerk, you took the last piece of pizza" or "I can't believe you would cheat your best friends at poker, you are such a Jerk."
OK, now that you've been brought up to speed, here's the routine. Mark and Greg get up early each morning and put on more clothes than you'd need for an arctic expedition, and then proceed to ride our motorcycles across the country in the general direction of the Jerk convergence zone. Along the way, we make pithy observations about the quality of life along the backroads of America. We strive to avoid the interstates, opting instead for the more colorful and entertaining "blue roads" on the map. We share it with you because we think you might enjoy the vicarious thrill of a two-week trip without getting cold or wet. We do it for you!
A couple of Jerks
We left Bellevue this morning at about 9:15. We had planned to head east over the Cascades toward Spokane, but the forecast of rain and snow in Idaho and Montana convinced us that we should take a more southerly route to Green River (south of Salt Lake City). We might take the northern route back if the weather has improved by then. You can see that we're both ready for the worst. That's Mark on the left, and I'm the one with the sensible rubber booties. My lovely wife Janis took the inaugural picture.
In order to take the southern route, we had to break one of our most important tenets - avoiding the interstates.
We chose to take I-5 south to Portland, allowing us to make the rest of the trip on backroads. The interstates are fast, but boring. Once we got to the Columbia River, we took highway 14 east along the river, which was a very pretty drive. Our destination was the town of Goldendale Washington. I am writing this from room 206 of the Fair Vue Inn, where we are spending our first night on the road.
Greg wins round one
We stopped on highway 14 to take in the beauty of the Columbia River Gorge, and another motorcyclist pulled up behind us on a 1980 Gold Wing. We all performed the obligatory bike respect ritual, and then the big question - which of our bikes did the like better? Mark and I have a little competition going, and we keep score. Lobbying the voters is permitted, as you can see in this image where Mark is trying to explain why he really doesn't need a windshield. The gentleman chose the Harley. Score one for Greg.
This is a road?
Mark has been on this route before with his suicidal racing bike buddies, and he points out on the map a "great road with lots of twisties", biker jargon for a road with lots of twists and turns and other features that make motorcyclists happy. So we take highway 142, which winds up into the mountains, and eventually loses its center stripe. I have never been on a "highway" without a center stripe. Have you? Imagine my delight as I faced this scene. The road is maybe fifteen feet wide, and is starting to remind me of those documentaries about the mules that climb up and down the Grand Canyon on little tiny ledges.
Goldendale WA, home of the Jaycees Demolition Derby!
We arrive in Goldendale at about 4pm. We've ridden about 5 hours, just under 300 miles, and it's a good start. Once we've moved our stuff into the room, the Weather Channel goes on and we learn that rain is likely for tomorrow. To make things worse, we discover that the phone wiring in the room is welded into the wall, meaning that there is no way to plug in the laptop for online access to post today's journal. So those of you reading in realtime will get two days at once.
Tomorrow we head for Baker City, hopefully not in the rain.