Rockies Tour 2002 – Day 1: Guinness & Cigars!

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Monday, July 15

  • Seattle, WA to Sandpoint, ID
  • 415 miles

Our Southwest ODMC members, Pablo and Pork Chop, have ridden up from Tucson to Seattle, 1,500 miles, in only two days to join us on this ride. After a day off to rest up and wash the bikes, they are characteristically ready to ride. The Going to the Sun road is calling us!

The bikes are packed and inspected and after letting some of the Seattle rush hour traffic clear out a bit, we ride out to Duvall at the edge of the western foothills of the Cascades for breakfast.

Once we reach Hwy 2, our route across the Cascade Mountains, and ride east a bit, we stop for a bit and sit alongside the Skykomish River to let the urban stress melt out of us. This definitely gets the vacation process jump started for we Seattle people.

We ascend to Stevens Pass at 4,061 feet in the Cascades which is always a treat on a motorbike due to the road consisting of sweeper turns and big vistas. At the top is a ski resort which is quiet at this time of year. Another neat thing are the climate differences between the Western and Eastern slopes of the Cascades that are immediately obvious as we cross the pass and descend toward the Columbia River; the different trees, plants and weather of the semi-arid Eastern slope vs. the lushly forested Western slope. Once we cross the Columbia River, we ride for hours across the flat, wide open treeless plains of Eastern Washington State where you can spot clumps of cactus and rattlesnakes; a dramatic shift from where we started out this morning. 

Round Lake

We arrive at Round Lake State Park near Sandpoint, ID and we find the accommodations to be quite nice. As we stopped for a late lunch, we only need refreshments and some snacks. Scott unloads the ST1100 and takes off north to Sandpoint to haul back plenty of Bud Light. Once around the campfire, Scott breaks into his stash of Guinness and lights up a fine Cuban cigar. Ahhh….we’re definitely on vacation.

There is a story behind that illegal Cuban cigar. This is my first two week vacation ever as a working stiff and I am quite apprehensive about asking my boss, the CEO of the global construction and engineering company where I work, if I can have that much time off. I fill out the HR vacation request form, take a deep breath, ride the elevator upstairs and enter the CEO’s office. I find him deep in conversation with the COO over something on the monitor before them on the CEO’s desk. Great. Now I have to broach this with the two top guys in the company. The CEO sees me hovering in the doorway of his huge office and motions me to approach his desk. I walk what seems like two first downs on a football field across the fancy carpeting and hand him the request form which he places on his desk before him and gives it his immediate attention. Meanwhile, the COO who is standing next to the seated CEO behind the desk, leans forward to read it over the CEO’s shoulder. The COO is first to look up. He makes eye contact with me, studies me intently for a brief moment and then speaks first in a flat tone, “First time to take off two weeks?” I softly reply, “Yes, sir.” He breaks into a huge grin and says, “Well, you are going to love it! What do you have planned?” After picking my jaw up off the carpet, I explain about the motorcycle trip and the nightly ritual of smoking cigars and beer drinking around the campfire as both execs are enthusiastically nodding their approval, so much so that I fully expect them to ask if they can rent some Harleys and come along. As the CEO is signing the form, he says, “The one week vacation is wholly ineffective. Not enough time to truly unwind. Toward the end of that second week, you’ll suddenly realize that you’ve completely stopped thinking about work which is essential to returning rested and gung ho.” I promise to watch for that milestone and thank them for their support. I’m equally in shock as I am delighted. I think I’ve just been admitted to the secret, exclusive world of corporate executives. Form in hand, I walk out in a daze and head to HR to turn it in before I wake up from this dream.

The next day, the COO swings by my office and hands me a 4-pack of Guinness and 3 Cuban sticks in a leather holder. He heartily shakes my hand, pats me on the shoulder, and says he’s sponsoring the first night out. As he walks out, it finally dawns on me that I’ve earned this and their support is an expression of gratitude for all the work my team and I have done with the IT department I run. Nevertheless, I’m still blown away by it all and take it as a very good omen for our ride. 

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Go to Day 2: Riding the Wild Horse Trail

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