Day 6 – Lincoln City to Kalaloch Lodge

Day 6 – Lincoln City to Kalaloch Lodge

2019/05 - LAX to SEA
8 May 2019 in California, Some Infidelity

Well, that was epic.

We started the day in Lincoln City. The hotel that we were staying in, romantic as it is, lacks a restaurant. So the first order of business was to forage for food. This took us a little further down the road to the Wildflower Grill, one of my favorite restaurants in town.

I had hoped to go to my other favorite restaurant—the Blackfish Cafe—for dinner the previous evening. Sadly, and somewhat inexplicably, it and many other restaurants are closed on Tuesdays. Even more entertaining were the ones in Monterey and thereabouts that close on Wednesdays and even Thursdays, mind you. But given that we were only in Lincoln City for the night, this seems like a more than unfortunate occurrence. We opted for pizza instead.

This morning, our destination was the Wildflower Grill. I’d been there before, and last time had barely gotten a parking spot and a table (and there had been a line-up out the door when I left). So when we arrived to a completely empty parking lot, I had to do a double take and make sure that THEY weren’t closed on Wednesdays. In point of fact, they were not. The Open sign shone brightly, and I could see staff moving about inside.

The Wildflower Grill. Not a nicer setting, for an awesome restaurant.

Last time I was here, it was standing room only. It deserves more love.

Seriously. What’s not to love about a breakfast like that?!

What I could not see, however, were customers. We had a choice of tables, and as such a spectacular view of the pond and wildlife out back (the place comes by its name quite honestly). Given the quality of the menu—and the size of the portions—there would be no first and second breakfasts today. There would just be breakfast. Breton had the Eggs Benedict, and I had the omelette special. Chorizo, mushrooms, onions, cheese served with sour cream and avocado. Impressive and awesome. It was like eating a sloppy joe scrambler, with a bit of a Southwest spin.

By the time we finished, we were more than stuffed. Elevenses and even lunch were an open question. I was sufficiently caffeinated to hit the road, and we embarked on US 101 once more. As soon as we were out of town, we were back into the wilderness. Few cars, fast turns, gorgeous landscapes and all the speed we wanted and dared. The landscape veered between towering forest and rolling surf. It was a beautiful way to start the day, and to continue our ride.

A few miles out of town, there was a pressing need for fuel (and Breton very likely had other pressing needs). We pulled into the gas station in Beaver, Oregon to top up the tanks. Just before the Shell station, we passed Beaver Firearms & Grocery. Yup. In that order Priorities and all, I guess. Needless to say, we carried on relatively promptly.

We stopped for coffee about an hour out of town, in Wheeler. The Roost Cafe is clearly a key lunch-pin in the local gossip network; customers spent more time trading information with the staff than they did waiting for their coffees. This dragged out the service time somewhat, but the people watching was endlessly amusing and more than made up for it.

The Roost is gossip central. Good coffee, though.

All good things must come to an end, and unfortunately the epic roads did right around Seaside. The technical term for the traffic from there to Astoria at the border with Washington is “batshit crazy.” For every two cars that left the road, three more veered on with reckless abandon. We resigned ourselves to a process of following cars and protecting our lanes from random incursions. Fortunately, we managed to do so without incident, finally making it to the Columbia River and border between Oregon and Washington in one piece.

Getting in to Washington is an experience in itself. A curving ramp leads up to an elevated span that arcs across the shipping channel before plunging down to a miles-long causeway to the other side. Apparently speed enforcement isn’t an issue, because it’s been the only time that we’ve been in traffic and haven’t felt in any way hindered by other vehicles. We flew along with them at a speed we were more than comfortable with. Although that didn’t last once we got to the other side.

Within a few miles, though, several roads diverged and took with them most of the other vehicles. We reached our intended intersection, where Highway 101 North headed straight on, and Highway 101 North (alternate) veered right and then right again. If that sounds confusing, you’re not wrong. Moreover, the GPS wanted us to take the alternate route. After some hesitation, I followed it. One of my few other rules of motorcycling is “Go where the GPS tells you.” Which occasionally leads to some epic and unplanned experiences.

This turned out to be one of those times. As soon as we made the turn, all traffic disappeared. We would encounter only random vehicles for the next hour or so, as we explored the Washington countryside. The alternate highway is a motorcyclist’s paradise (which may be why it carries the ‘alternate’ status; what would be annoying in a car is often a delight on a bike. We wound from curve to curve, each one connecting sinuously to the next in a dance down the highway.

What was an open question, though, was where we were going, and where we would wind up rejoining the main 101 road. It was inevitable that we would. But what I wasn’t yet clear on was where we would find food. I was also hopeful we’d be able to fill up with fuel again, also. Because beyond Aberdeen, there pretty much wasn’t anything until we were well up the Olympic peninsula.

A great stop for lunch. Great food, and more kitsch than you can imagine.

The interior of Salter’s Diner. All the insanity…

Eventually, we rolled into the appropriately named South Bend and started scouting a place to eat. The first restaurant we found, which looked promising, was closed. A quick search on Google Maps suggested Linda’s Fish & Chips up the road. 4.6 stars for a road-side shack is always a good sign. Except it, too, was closed. We finally made it a little further along to Raymond, and found Slater’s Diner. Which was a total delight. Quintessential 60s diner, with more memorabilia than Elvis had deep-fried PB&J sandwiches. An awesome find, and a pleasant lunch.

A garage for their final evening. They deserve it.

They were kind enough to leave us yoga mats. We were lazy enough not to use them.

From there we were about 100 miles from our destination, Kalaloch Lodge in Olympic National Park. A quick coffee stop at The Jitter House in Hoquiam (don’t even ask me how to pronounce that) after filling with gas, and we were once again on our way. By now, we were venturing towards the Washington coast, and once again cars were sparse. It was a truly awesome ride, and a great way to finish up a day that veritably flew by. Apart from the brief stretch between Seaside and Astoria, our travels were epic, exciting and almost completely unhindered by traffic. It was the kind of riding day that you don’t get to experience very often, and it’s all the more wonderful when you find one because of that.

There are far, far worse ways to end your evening…

The beach at Kalaloch Lodge. Gorgeous and epic.

Breton takes in the scenery. And another glass of wine.

Kalaloch Lodge is the only accommodation within Olympic National Park. It consists of (a surprising number of) cabins on the Pacific coast. We had one of two cabins on the property with two separate bedrooms, made all the more wondrous by being right on the bluff over the water. It feels a little like Jasper Park Lodge with ocean access. There’s a dining room on the property, so dinner shan’t be an issue, nor will needing to ride anywhere. A bottle of wine awaited us on arrival, and now we’re just waiting for the sunset on the beach.

An epic end to an epic day.

And that’s a wrap. See you tomorrow.

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