After 10 weeks of COVID-19 ‘Stay Home – Stay Healthy,’ we decided to adventure out for a masked and socially distanced Memorial Day weekend motorcycle trip along the upper bank of the Columbia River Gorge, looping back west at Kennewick, and returning to Lynnwood via Cayuse Pass near Mount Rainier.
Our trip mapped 808 miles over three days, which for me, is pretty aggressive. However, we wanted to give it a shot so I’d have a better idea of how I might fair on a longer bike trip later this summer (assuming everything opens back up).
Our first leg of the trip was 272 miles and took us from Lynnwood to Lyle, Washington. We buzzed through Seattle and Tacoma on I-5 and then took the back roads south through some really neat old towns to Winlock so Brian could see the World’s Largest Egg. This roadside attraction was originally created in 1923–several iterations later, the current 12-foot-long, 1,200 lb. creation continues to honor the town’s egg production history.
After admiring the egg, we jumped back on the freeway until we were just north of Vancouver, Washington. From there, we left the freeway behind, catching route 14 east along the Columbia River Gorge.
Our first stop along the Gorge was at Cape Horn where we had stunning views to the east. It was a little overcast, but with all of the parks and trails closed because of COVID-19, we basically had the road and this viewpoint all to ourselves.
Bridge of the Gods
When we explored the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge with my parents a couple of years ago, we stopped briefly in Cascade Locks to admire the Bridge of the Gods. This trip, we decided to make a quick trip across the bridge–my first time riding my bike in Oregon!–and then back to continue along the northern bank.
We didn’t realize there was a $1 per bike toll–thankfully the lady working the toll booth was patient as I struggled to find some cash in my tank bag! After taking in the bridge from a nearby restaurant parking lot, we hopped back in line to return to Washington. We were better prepared this time and the lady seemed to get a kick out of our super quick return trip. Glad we could add some humor to her day!
Of all our roadside stops, we spent the most time walking around Stevenson. While the boutique shops and galleries downtown are all closed because of COVID-19, some of the restaurants are re-opening for limited sit down services in addition to their curbside pickup and delivery.
We began our visit by walking down to Stevenson Landing to check out the pier and parks. There were a few families enjoying picnics and a couple of guys fishing off the pier. I was pretty impressed at the social distancing, and I kept my mask on during our walk on the off-chance people did get too close.
We headed toward our bikes and made a last-minute decision to stop and share a bite for lunch at the Big River Grill. They had moved the tables around on their patio to accommodate social distancing so we sat outside, enjoying the sun and breeze as well as a spicy burger and fries. Yum!
Our final stop of the day was the Lyle Hotel, where we were the only guests! The hotel dates back to 1905 and was a popular stop because of the railroad station right down the hill. It transitioned into a roadside getaway with route 14 running through town, and now it’s a perfect retreat for people wanting a weekend away.
Richard, one of the co-owners, was very nice and made us feel right at home. We dropped off our things in a cozy west-facing room with a view, took a walk to the nearby park along the river, and then circled back to grab some drinks and dinner he prepared for us himself (he’s also a classically trained chef!).
The food was delicious, and the outside oasis behind the hotel was lovely–we enjoyed our meal at a picnic table under strings of lights, surrounded by nature and a nearby bonfire Richard’s wife and friend had concocted.
It was the perfect end to our first day!