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22nd August 2011

Prospectors' Days Weekend, 2011
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You don't need a big-bore cruiser to clock up the miles Stateside. Jeff Nordstrom rode his 500 Enfield to enjoy over 600 miles on a weekend away...

The annual Prospectors' Days Celebration in Republic, Washington happens the second weekend in June every year. My dad has organized a motorcycle trip for Prospectors' Days for the past several years, and this year was no exception. Participants seem to rotate, but there is always a good group that makes the trip. This year there were 11 people total, on eight bikes.

It sounds as though eight riders on five bikes left Yakima on Friday morning, but I can't speak to their ride, as I was not there. Three of us; Dad, Rocky, and I, left Yakima a little after 6am Saturday morning, taking an altered course from the norm, in an effort to meet up with the others in Tonasket, as a part of their day-trip out of Republic.

Our morning started with a quick chase over I-82 to Ellensburg where we cut across Old Highway 10 to US-97. We stopped for what we assumed would be a quick breakfast at Liberty Café before proceeding over Blewett Pass. Breakfast was good, but slow. The café was packed with as many as 20 people, all served by a single waitress and a single cook with a single hot-plate to do all the cooking. 90 minutes later we were back on the road.

Let's play 'Spot the Enfield'...

From breakfast we pressed on through a chilly morning to a fuel stop just north and east of Wenatchee. Dad called Jerry to coordinate arrival times in Tonasket, and we proceeded north at a leisurely pace under an overcast sky.

Apparently our overcast sky would have been the envy of those already in Republic. It rained hard in Republic all Saturday morning. It was bad enough to stifle the enthusiasm for riding in all but Jerry. They should have realized that sunshine follows Jerry wherever he goes. Although he left Republic with a black sky ahead of him, Jerry's glowing sunshine chased those clouds away.

It's like Where's Wally, but with motorbikes...

We arrived in Tonasket just a few minutes after Jerry, and fuelled up for the next leg of the journey. We left Tonasket taking Loomis-Oroville Rd north, and encountered less travelled roads, raging rivers, open fields, and lakeside communities. Great riding, and bright blue skies.

While we four were enjoying the beauty of northern Washington, the Republic crowd spent their day napping and feeling sorry for the poor children that had to walk in the parade in such rain. All except for Diana, she occupied her time dancing with Frenchy.

Is it inside the trailer?...

After passing through Loomis we continued north, apparently passing through the booming metropolis of Nighthawk. We were unable to discern any sign of human habitation. Nighthawk may well be a Sasquatch community. Somewhere around this area we stopped at a wide spot in the road that overlooked a dam some distance below. Rocky opened the snack bar and we all enjoyed some nice processed meat in stick form. Rocky then opened another pack labelled 'Dragon's Breath' and passed it around with the warning that it was hot. I passed, but Dad and Jerry indulged, not noticing that Rocky also passed. Once the fire started burning, Dad asked Rocky if he really liked that stuff, to which Rocky replied, 'I don't eat it, too hot.'

Has it gone over the cliff?...

Oroville came up as a surprise to me. We had been on a winding road high above a raging river with no houses or anything in sight, when we came around a bend to a rather well-kept golf course out in the middle of the sage brush. It was only after the golf course that houses started to appear. It was in this area that I began to realize Okanagan County's love affair with Historic Sites. It seemed every few miles on these little-travelled roads we would see a sign designating something as a Historic Site.

We headed north out of Oroville on Molson Rd to Molson, population 35. Molson was nestled in a grass-green valley less than 2 miles from the Canada border. Molson, with its 35 citizens had three Historic Sites. There was the Molson Historic Museum, which was a collection of building and agricultural equipment with nicely made signs telling where the items came from and how they were used. Less than a mile down the road was the Molson School Museum, and between them was a big barn with a Historic Site sign stationed proudly in front. We spent about 20 minutes looking around Molson, and were back on the bikes.

There it is! Hiding behind the rusty agricultural machinery...

From here we progressed through Chesaw, eventually making our next stop at the Curlew Mall for refreshments. After the brief stop in Curlew, it was through Malo and on into Republic where we arrived at about 4:30pm. This short hop gave us the only rain of our trip with sporadic light showers for about ˝ mile. My odometer had the three of us coming from Yakima that morning at 380 miles for the day, with Dad managing to stretch the posted distance from Tonasket to Republic from 42 to 131 miles.

Most of the riders that stayed in Republic had, as always, gathered up benches and chairs to sit and visit in front of the motel. So after checking in, we joined them. The weather had cleared in Republic by this time (Jerry was back,) so we roamed the town to stretch our legs and take in some of the dwindling Prospectors' Days activities.

Arguments over the results of the Spot the Enfield cometition raged on into the early evening...

Then it was dinner with the entire group, and more visiting until we all turned in for the night.

Sunday morning in Republic was brief for those of us not staying through Monday. We all met for breakfast at 7:00, then fuelled our bikes and rolled out of town toward the Keller Ferry at around 8:00.

It was pleasant riding in the cool morning, although that stretch of road was dirty to the point that even the fully fairing-protected riders noticed. Being completely un-protected I am still blowing sand and grit out of my nose. We hit the ferry just as it was loading, and it pulled out almost before the bikes were stopped.

It was another fantastic ride through the twisties leaving Keller, and then on to the wheat fields toward home. The group dwindled as we all went our separate ways. My last stop was in Quincy to drop off the PINWHEELS, before chasing back to Yakima on the freeway. Freeway riding is not my favourite, and it does tax the Bullet, but it had been a good weekend, and I was ready to get home.

Sunday covered about 240 miles for me, totalling around 620 miles for the weekend, averaging a little better than 60mpg. My Bullet may be slow and uncomfortable, but I'd like to see one of those Harley's match numbers like that.

Bullets on Right Now......

Long live the 500 single.


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