West Route Post Number Ten

“It was an Elan. A delightful little thing famously made of Kleenex and unicorn farts.” ~ Sam Smith

DAY TENMy goal today was to make sure I made the ferry terminal at Port Townsend by 9:00 at the latest to present my reservation to the ticket booth so that I would not miss the 9:30 ferry, the key link in the chain of connection with the Evergreen Lotus folks. When I awoke before the alarm at 6, I figured I’d get a jump on it just in case of traffic or something that might delay me. Of course it was early Saturday morning so I was pretty much alone on the road, so I made it in time to see the 8:00 ferry depart. I stopped at a bayside café and had a nice cup of tea and breakfast and was still first in the lane for the departure. As I waited in the sun chatting with a trio of motorcyclists who were off for a day tour, I saw a man in a green shirt with a Lotus logo approaching. It was Alan Perry who had come from Bainbridge Island to take the same ferry and was behind me in his early Elise. He said the ticket booth guy had said, “You’re the second Lotus this morning, what are the odds?”

Little car, Big Trucks!

We chatted for a while and Alan gave me some tips for loading then we were on the ferry for a smooth and pretty quick trip across the neck of Puget Sound as it connects to the Strait of Juan de Fuca to Whidbey Island. We were to connect with Victor Smith and his wife in their Elan there, but his ferry was late and we jetted off to the meeting place with Dave Ellis (M100) and Mark Gleason (Elan S2).

After everyone had assembled and had their “rest stop” we charged off as a lovely group of five to cross the North Cascades highway. In between that target was a high and low point. The high point was Deception Pass a very narrow gorge between the tip of Whidbey Island and the mainland. It is about 400 feet wide and the bridge is about 250 feet above the water. Very dramatic!

The low point was all the traffic in the small towns along the way to the Cascade Highway. They were looking for the turnoff to the Home Depot or trying to find the new coffee kiosk, or who knows. What they weren’t doing was paying attention to their driving.

CC Elan, Dave’s M100, Victor’s S4 Elan Coupe, Mark’s S2 Elan and Alan’s Elise

On we traveled to the town of Concrete, WA (no that is not an imaginary place, it is very concrete!) to a little burger place filled with 50’s memorabilia and the food was really quite good. Finally we got going up the Cascades Highway, climbing and twisting like a multi-hued caterpillar toward the cooler air. At Rockport, Mark Gleason peeled off to head home on route 503 since after that turn one must cross the whole pass to Winthrop or turn around and double back. And that is exactly what Victor Smith did about half an hour later as he had to get back for a ferry departure.

The three of us carried on over some spectacular roads and magnificent vistas as upward we climbed.

The Three Amigios at Diablo Viewpoint

At the summit the snow on both sides of the road presented a vertical wall taller than the Elan windshield.  As we began our descent, I noticed that each time we passed a snowmelt waterfall the temperature would drop by 20-25 degrees for a hundred yards or so. Nature’s own air conditioning system!

Further down the grade, Alan signaled to pull over and stopped for what I thought was a comfort break, but no, it seems his throttle position sensor was not working and no matter what amount of pedal he used it would do nothing but idle. Luckily, I had a couple of screwdrivers and he was able to check it and reassemble it and it seemed to work. By this time Dave had rejoined us and we set off yet again to Winthrop.

In Winthrop we said our goodbyes and I headed east on20 while they went south to US 2 and back to the Seattle area. Their adventure wasn’t over either but I’ll let Dave tell it:

“Alan and I continued on, doing the North Cascades Loop clockwise, until his S1 had a hard failure just north of Wenatchee.  He coasted to a small side road and to a stop in the shade of a couple of nice trees, where the head-scratching began. He couldn’t find a tow service that would take him back to the island so I suggested just getting the car to Wenatchee, leaving it in a safe place, and returning for it in a day or two.  He got the car tucked in at the tow service fenced storage yard and then we drove 2 1/2 hours back to Seattle where I dropped him off at the ferry terminal and zipped home.  We missed the 11:00 PM boat so he was looking at catching a boat in the 12+ AM time frame.”  No outing ever has a guaranteed outcome when driving old Lotus cars. I might mention that my “throttle position sensor” is my right foot attached directly by cable to the Weber carbs, and if it fails, a suitable replacement can be found at any bike shop.

On I pressed toward my destination of Davenport, just west of Spokane. But I was really tired, it was 88 degrees in the valley and I heard Ann’s voice telling me to stop. It sounded something like this: “When will you get it through that old oaken noggin of yours that you need rest now!” spoke Ann.

All of a sudden it made sense to me…don’t proceed to Spokane, stop in Okanogan!! So I did exactly that! See how my mind works?

Impressions from the tenth day:

• I stopped at Rodeway Inn at about 5:30 and after several tries was still unsuccessful at getting decent internet access, so I asked for my money back and went to another motel who promised excellent wifi but it was barely any better. I was too tired to move again so that is why no blog last night. Sorry.

• I had a choice of three restaurants within walking distance; A Mexican/Chinese place (?) a Mexican place or a Mexican place. I had enchiladas for dinner with a Modelo to wash them down.

• While we were out and about a long time today (started at 6:45  and ended at 5:30 – almost 11 hours) we sat a lot too. Waiting for the ferry, on the ferry, waiting for the others to join us, waiting to wait before getting going, waiting for food and eating it at Concrete and waiting for the photo op at Diablo.

• There are three distinct Washingtons: The water Washington with the sound, straits and ferries, the Mountain Washington with its alpine climate and fauna, and the dry plains Washington east of the Cascades which is a lot like eastern Colorado.

About Me

Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!

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May 2021


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