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Seattle: March 15, 2008

After having the white XT225 up in Seattle for 6 months, I'd still never flown up to ride it! I decided to rectify this and get some primo dualsporting in with Colleen.

Our first stop was at Boehm's Candies in Issaquah, about 20 miles from Colleen's house. We took freeways there so as to get our chocolate fixes as quickly as possible, and soon we were ordering chunks of chocolate, slabs of English Toffee, and little pecan turtles. Yum.

Our first off-roading adventure was on Middle Fork-Snoqualmie Road, which follows -- go figure! -- the Middle Fork-Snoqualmie River. Creative types, those Pacific Northwesterners!

Middle Fork-Snoqualmie Road becomes NF-56 and, simultaneously, becomes a whole lot of fun. The scenery is ethereal, especially in the misty gray day we had, with velvety green trees rising high above the narrow trail, dangling long tendrils of moss.

About 8 miles down the road -- only halfway to our intended turn-around point -- we hit the snow line. Oops! Guess it was a little lower than we'd thought.

We rode along a little ways in 4x4 tire tracks, which I think was my first time actually riding on snow. It was a lot easier than I'd imagined it to be. At first I kept my feet out as outriggers as I'd done in the deep sand in Australia, but I kept getting my boots stuck in the snowdrifts. I stood up and put my feet back on the pegs and felt much more in control.

There was much snow revelry as we are dorks and thoroughly enjoy this sort of thing:

After we'd had enough of our winter antics, we turned the bikes around and retraced our steps back to North Bend.

Back in civilization, we warmed up at the North Bend Bar and Grill. Their "Trail Burgers" are excellent: 1/3 lb beef, Swiss cheese, mushrooms, and bacon. I got sweet potato fries, sat by the fireplace, and pretty much never wanted to leave.

A quick jaunt to Snoqualmie Falls allowed me to dally amongst the azaleas:

Requisite falls photo:

Shortly, we hit my favorite road of the day, a tiny trail that Colleen had learned about from a local. I don't think it was even a "road" per se, just a wonderful ride of mud, puddles, tree roots, and rocks. It was challenging enough to require thought and strategy, but not so hard that it wasn't *fun*. And fun it was. We got totally dirty splashing through mudpuddles and ducking around trees.

This was one of those roads that really show me how I'm improving. I had nary a pucker moment on the loose mud or rocks; I felt "at one" with the XT and just had a blast.It was very encouraging...maybe there's even hope for me learning how to ride on large rocks someday! ;)

We did some paved backroad twisties afterwards, which I don't have photos of because I was having too much fun riding quickly (well, relatively) and flicking the XT through corners.

Our last dirt road of the day sadly ended at a brand new gate. We didn't see any way to get around this one (short of putting the bikes on their sides and pushing them under...which we were tempted to try) and, since we had to start heading back towards Seattle for dinner anyway, we shook our fists at the sky in despair and turned around.

I gassed up in nearby Duvall, getting a decent 68.24 miles per gallon.

We made it back to the Fremont district of Seattle just in time for our dinner at Kwanjai Thai, which was delicious as always. Mmmm.