I couldn’t believe it – this was the final day of our first Montana ride. We’re headed home. The sun in the east was warm and inviting, but the morning air was brisk and a bit nippy. The eastern sky was beautifully blue, but as we directed our Road Star westward, the fabled, or in some cases, dreaded gray overcast of the Northwest loomed on the horizon. As beautiful as the weather had been, I couldn’t believe we were destined for rain, but the closer we got to Spokane on I-90, the cooler the temperatures got. We’d gassed up in Coeur d’Alene, so blew right through Spokane – just catching glimpses of the city’s skyline.
At Spokane, I-90 turns left to the southwest and to our relief, away from the gloomy gray. If fact, with every tick of the odometer, the heavens were returning to the royal blue, sun drenched skies we’d become accustomed to. While we loved the return of fairer weather, we soon became aware of boiling heat. Even with our flip-face helmets wide open, we felt wave after wave of hot scorching air reflecting from the pavement – occasionally bolstered by a torrid surge from our ‘air-cooled’ V-twin. However, this discomfort paled in comparison with the joyful satisfaction of riding, and smelling and feeling the rolling-hill resplendence of Central Washington. Mile after mile, we coursed through flowing golden-grained wheat fields, occasionally interrupted by an aluminum-bladed windmill or grain mill.
Roughly 1 hour southwest of Spokane, I-90 turns due west and Seattle. We stayed on WA-395 in a southwesterly direction for another hour and arrived at the Tri-Cities of Pasco, Richland and Kennewick. We found a truck stop just outside of Pasco a welcome break from the heat, and took the opportunity to refuel us and the bike. We found the highway through this area a bit confusing. WA-395 intersects I-182 so we traveled east for a few miles, then WA-395 turns south again, crosses the Columbia River and then drops into Kennewick. Just follow the signs for WA-395 and you should be good. We didn’t stop in Kennewick, but it’s a nice community and there are lots of shops, restaurants, or anything else you might need. From Kennewick, the junction with WA-14 is 22 miles. As I mentioned in Leg 1 of this trilogy plus one, WA-14 is by far the most interesting of the highways paralleling the Columbia, but if speed and saving time is your priority, you can save about 3/4 hour traveling toward Portland on I-84.
The trip to Washougal is simply the reverse of Leg 1’s itinerary, and brings us back to our humble abode. We hope you’ve enjoyed reading about our BEST first ride to Montana. Better yet, we hope you’ll take this ride and then let us know how you enjoyed it. We sure did. In fact, we’ve made the trip several times since. Stop by our website soon for another great ride.