We left early from our friend’s home in Sidney after a pancake breakfast (gotta keep in shape ya know) for the short ride to the ferry terminal. There was a long line of cars, but we slowly inched forward for the ticket booth, only to see a set of 4 GS’s roll up into the line behind us. It was a nice sunny morning and the U.S. Customs officer was quite friendly - a real surprise - and after looking at our passports waved us through without the usual questions. Our position was first in line, and a few moments later the 4 GS’s rolled up behind us for first loading. We spoke briefly with the riders, two ladies on 650 GS twins, and their husbands on F800Gs and R1200GS Adventures respectively. Kim and her husband Burke, Angie and her hubby Richard (IIRC!) were from Bend, OR and were returning from a couple of weeks riding in Canada. Shortly after, we were motioned to board and rolled into place near the front of the ferry for the ride across to Anacortes, Washington. Kim had old friends in Anacortes who’d been neighbors in Dallas and it was good to get a chance to meet them again. They were staying in a beautiful RV park in a nice 5th wheel while waiting for a home purchase to go through and we snagged a camp cabin there for a couple of days. Anacortes was a beautiful area and our friends gave us a brief tour of the area, including a stop for burgers at The Brown Lantern in the downtown area. Anacortes was one of those areas that is easy to understand why folks want to live there. The following day, we jumped a ferry back to Orcas Island to see a couple of my friends who’d built a cabin on Orcas a few years back. It had turned out that they were up from Dallas that same week and it seemed somewhat miraculous that we’d been randomly invited to stay in Sidney, which was so close to Orcas and Anacortes on the days that both our friends were there as well. funny how that happens at times... As we waited for the ferry, mild terror ensued when we saw hundreds of school kids milling around waiting to board the ferry. I began to sweat at the idea of being trapped on an island with screaming children and my flashbacks began about the years I served as an adult Boy Scout Leader for our local troop. Behind us sat two GS’s, an 1150 Adventure and a Red/White Anniversary version of the 1100GS like I owned previously. The owners weren’t particularly friendly and informed us they were parent chaperones for the kids we were watching below. As I pulled over to the roadside to check directions to our friend's cabin, a car with California plates laid on it's horn behind me and I thought "Wow, it's SOOOOO nice to be back in the U.S. again". As I cocked-and-locked my middle finger, the car pulled up alongside and it was our friends laughing. They'd waited for us at the landing in a rental car. After laughs we followed them out to their well hidden cabin in the woods... and I might add I NEVER would have found it in spite of well written detailed directions. Orcas proved to be a really nice surprise, both for beauty and the lack of development. The little settlements were nice and not glaringly touristy and the day was spent touring the island with our friends. As evening neared we were exhausted and made for the ferry to wait an hour to catch the last late night run, only to find that the earlier ferry had been delayed - the lady at the ticket booth radioed down and they held the ferry until we were able to get on board. It was a blessing as we were spent for the day. We made it back to the camp cabin and crashed in earnest. Since hitting Vancouver Island we’d been in some form of rush to get to certain places at certain times. Spending so much time with our hosts and friends added up after so much solitude and we were both ready for some downtime to catch up. Suddenly being thrust back into civilization, traffic and appointments was harder than expected... Our plan for the next few days was to leisurely make our way down the Pacific coast, camping and spending time on the beach as much as we could to decompress. The 4 months of nonstop travel were catching up. Daily stresses of finding places to stay, planning routes, setting up camp, being bear-aware at all times, tearing down camp, riding quickly and cautiously day after day, staying with folks and staying up late talking, yada yada were all taking little pieces. A leisurely ride south sounded good indeed. As a matter of fact we were both sort of in shock to be back in the U.S. with all the trappings - traffic, stores, etc. Mexico was calling... Late that evening Kim’s daughter called and said she’d like to meet us in California if possible, as she had a long weekend coming up and free flights out and back. The idea sounded fun, as she is a motorcyclist and would really enjoy the ride down the coast even if on the back of one of our 1200’s. The next day broke sunny and in the 50’s, perfect riding weather for our southward trek. We said goodbyes to our friends and headed for the Coupeville-Port Townsend Ferry an hour or so south and made the ferry. Port Townsend was a very interesting town, and we rode around a bit before stopping in front of the courthouse to check maps. As we sat, a man walked over and began asking about our trip. We ended up talking with him about different routes and things to see. So many folks have been so nice on this journey and we never tire of conversing, even if we’re tired () We’d gotten an update from Kim’s daughter as to schedule and she could make the flight to Portland the next day, otherwise it wouldn’t happen. The decision was made to change course from our original plan to go west out to Port Angeles and around the Olympic Peninsula and instead head for Astoria, Oregon to make the Portland Airport the next day. Our path lay due south towards Olympia, until the crossroads west towards Aberdeen and out to Westport to see the North Pacific. Somewhere on the way, we stopped for gas and were shocked to see the two couples we’d spoken with in Port Hardy - Jeannie and Mark, the man who’d been taking pics of our bikes while we had breakfast and a spitting image of Dustin Hoffman, as well as their friends Harold and Sarah. They were heading back to Redding, California. We all laughed and actually hugged each other in surprise. It was fun seeing them again if only for a moment. It’s been surprising how many times we’ve reconnected with people randomly like that. We rode out west to the viewing point in Westport and got off the bikes as the sun was beginning to get a little low. On the viewing platform sat a couple with binoculars watching the bay. As we struck up conversation, their British accents were a pleasure to hear as they discussed their travels around the world. They were intense birdwatchers, having spent years traveling to see various species and were currently watching this area for a certain seagull. From Westport, they were to fly to Barrow, Alaska to see another type of gull they’d not seen before. I was a bit envious that they were able to travel the world at will, though I admit less so at the thought of birding and sitting in chairs for hours with binoculars. Not knocking it, just that I’d rather be riding yaks or motorcycles in exotic places. Still, we had a great exchange and wished them well, as did they to us. Astoria was still a ways away and the day was late, so I knew we’d be getting there at dusk most likely and warned The Butterfly. The ride south along the coast on 101 was very nice, whetting my appetite for more in the next couple of days. It was indeed dusk when we finally crossed the long bridge across the Columbia River and tooled through the town looking for coffee. McDonald’s was once again our friend with a buck cup o’ java. While we searched for motels on the phones, Kim got a text from our friend Ronetta in Alaska. Apparently her sister lived in Vancouver, Washington and wanted us to spend the night with her that evening. If we’d gotten the text earlier it would have helped in planning but as it sat now, it was dark and we were tired. Against my better judgment and with no desire to ride after dark, we made the decision to go ahead and stretch for Vancouver, with the upside that it would at least be closer to the Portland Airport. We gassed up and got going along the Columbia River east. It wasn’t fun, as we were both tired and riding in the dark is a major no-no for me, especially after living in the deer infested Texas Hill Country. I told The Butterfly to stay as close to the centerline as possible to keep away from the roadside and we tucked in behind a car to let them lead and take the brunt of any deer. The drive to Vancouver was a very, very long one it seemed and by the time we finally hit the city we were fried. It took a while to find the house and it was close to 10:30 when we finally got our gear off and settled on her couch. We stayed up talking until well after midnight, and I must have sounded drunk from exhaustion as I have no remembrance of any of the conversation. Unfortunately our host had to get up at 2 am for her work schedule so she only got an hour or two of sleep. Her partner had to be awake at 4 am and out the door at 6 am so Kim and I were up and out about the same time. We found a Mickey D’s and slumped in the chairs like zombies until the light rain subsided and the day began to dawn. Crabbiness was rampant. It turned out one of Kim’s best friends was visiting Portland the same day, so we made plans to swing by and see her while there. In addition, Kim’s daughter let us know that her flight time would not be early as expected, but instead arrival would be about 4:30 pm. It happened to be Friday as well, so I knew the way out of town for the coast was going to be a nightmare. We met her friend for coffee and caught up, then headed east for Multnomah Falls to fill some of the time before the flight arrived. It was pouring rain and there were hundreds of tourists packing the parking area of the falls as we rolled in. The short climb to see them was easy, but we both were terribly under-impressed. Alaska and Canada had so ruined us for spectacular beauty that we had feared our reactions would be that way. And it was. Milling herds of tourists swilling down ice cream and buying souvenirs didn’t help. From the falls we took the old Historic Columbia River Highway back for Vancouver, an amazingly beautiful stretch of road that got us smiling again. We spent time at the Vista House overlooking the river valley, definitely a good stop for sure. The rains to the east were approaching as we got back on the bikes and headed for the Portland Airport, Kim excited to see her daughter again after so much time on the road. She appeared at the Arrival Lane already dressed in her Dainese leathers and gear with a small travel bag. Kim had wanted to let her daughter ride on the back of her bike, but after strapping both duffle bags and luggage on my back seat, she didn’t feel safe with Alexis aboard. Afterwards, a small crowd had gathered to watch the sideshow of us in gear on bikes from Alaska and Texas swapping bags and feverishly strapping things on as the security car sat with flashing lights behind us. It seemed forever by the time we got moving, Alexis excitedly shouting to me from behind through her AGV helmet while Kim asked a thousand questions in my headset. I felt like a translator at the U.N. who was moonlighting on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange at the same time... The traffic was indeed a nightmare and lasted for hours as we slowly crawled southwest towards Neotsu and Lincoln City in the fading light. Rain threatened continuously but never seemed to hit us hard. It was dark when we finally made Lincoln City and abandoned the idea of a campground for a cheap motel.