Oops! Travel stupidity forces backtracking 2-1/2 hours – Part 1

My blunder forced me to backtrack 2-1/2 hours. Up at 05:15h and awaiting the Edmonds to Kingston, WA ferry at 08:00h

My blunder forced me to backtrack 2-1/2 hours. Up at 05:15h and awaiting the Edmonds to Kingston, WA ferry at 08:00h

Stupidity makes for good travel stories

Epic travel experiences require big stories, and this is one of my biggest travel blunders, ever.

When we were crossing the into the United States during our 2016 Schnitzel Run tour, I was putting my passport into a ziplock bag.

“What are you doing?”, asks my BMW riding travel companion, Robyn.

“Sticking my passport in a baggie so it won’t get get”, I answer.  I’m wearing an Olympia brand mesh motorcycle jacket, and the breast pocket isn’t waterproof.

“Why don’t you just stick it in your pannier; it’ll be safe there until we cross back into Canada next week”, Robyn advised.

Good idea, I thought.  So I stuck my passport in the right side BMW bag liner with the rest of my clothes.


Fast forward to Rich’s Custom Saddles in Kingston, WA, a short ferry crossing across the water from Seattle.  We’re booked into Rich’s above-the-shop guest suite for motorcycle customers who have booked ‘ride in’ custom saddle appointments, as we’ve done.

For Rich’s ride-in saddle appointment, we’ve booked our overnight stay for Monday.

Guest accommodation at Rich's Custom Saddles, Kingston, WA

Guest accommodation at Rich’s Custom Saddles, Kingston, WA

On Tuesday at 08:30h sharp, Rich’s shop opens and work begins in earnest on the 5 custom saddles booked for that day.  Our two RTs’ saddles (Robyn’s rider and pillion and mine), a new Yamaha FJR1300 that’s been ridden in, and a BMW R1200GS that’s been trailered to the shop.

Rich's guest accommodations

Rich’s guest accommodations

By early afternoon, our saddles are almost finished.  We’ve done 3 ‘test fittings’ where the newly made saddles have been put on the bike and we’ve gone for a fine-tuning test ride, reported back to Rich how the shape felt, and he’s reshaped the saddle.

Upstairs in the guest suite, I’m pumped.  I estimate our departure will be at around 2:30 pm (Tuesday).  I have to be back in Edmonton by Thursday, and at this rate, we’re a half day ahead of schedule.

OK, let’s make sure we’ve got all our gear

I’m super organized today.  All my luggage is packed and lined up nicely in the living room.  I’ve double checked my bedroom and the bathroom for anything I might have forgotten.  I’ve got everything.

Meticulously, I arrange my helmet, jacket, gloves, boots, tank bag, a shoe bag, camera and pannier liner in a neat grouping in the living room.  I grab everything I can carry in one trip, shoving my gloves into my helmet, carrying it with my left hand my jacket thrown over my arm, camera slung over my neck and carrying my tankbag in my right hand.  I’ll make a return trip for my pannier liner, I think to myself.

Rich has finished the Singletons’ and my saddle and says we’re good to go.

I load up the bike and conscientiously double-check that I’ve loaded everything.  Tankbag? Check.  Camera inside tank bag?  Check.  Gloves?  Check.  Shoe bag in trunk?  Check.

We wave goodbye to the crew at Rich’s and ride through the beautiful coastal Washington roads, eventually landing up in Burlington, WA.

It’s late in the afternoon, but an early-ish stop, with plenty of time to freshen up before supper.

Robyn and Ora wheel into the Fairfield Inn and go in to find a room, while I start unloading my bike.

And now, the punchline . . . 

I open the right side pannier, and AAAACCCK!  No pannier liner!!  I start laughing at my stupidity and realize I had left the bag with my passport in it at Rich’s guest suite.  Despite my care, I had forgotten to go back upstairs to get it.  If I had my passport on my person, I merely would have called Rich’s and ask them to ship my pannier liner back to me using the cheapest way possible.  All the liner contained was clothing, but without my passport, I’d have difficulty re-entering Canada.

I sheepishly walk into the hotel and announce, “Bad news.  I left my bag liner at Rich’s, and it’s got my passport in it.  I’ll have to get up early tomorrow morning and return to Kingston.”

That evening, Ora, Robyn and I have an excellent meal at Bob’s Burgers across the parking lot from our hotel.

Over supper, I decide my plan will be to rise early the next morning and try to be on the Interstate highway south to Seattle by 06:00h, an Robyn and Ora will continue back to Edmonton without me.  Perhaps I’ll catch up to them in B.C. the next day??

On Wednesday, I’m up at 05:15h, and merging onto the interstate highway at 06:05h.  The traffic is light, but there are a surprising number of vehicles, commuters likely, heading south towards Seattle.

The traffic is moving briskly, and I take the HOV lane (‘Motorcycles OK’ say the signs), and for the most part, I am not traveling any faster than the adjacent non-HOV lanes.

I arrive in Edmond, WA just as the ferry is leaving.  A couple of motorcyclists arrive; one of them on a Harley is one of Rich’s employees, and he says he prefers the HOV lane when on the bike even if adjacent lanes are faster because it’s ‘safer’ having traffic next to you on only one side of the lane.

The ferry crossing is short and we roll up to Rich’s shop at 08:30h sharp, just when the doors open.

“We tried to contact you when we found your luggage upstairs yesterday afternoon”, says Rich’s wife.

“Yeah.  My phone was off.  (I don’t have a U.S. roaming plan.)”, I reply.

With my bag liner and passport in hand, I depart Rich’s once again, back to the ferry.

Highway 2 eastbound, then north to Osoyoos, BC

At 10:30h I exit the busy Interstate 5 highway onto Highway 2 eastbound, which narrows down to a 2-lane secondary highway which, for the most part, is quite pretty.  The rain continues on and off, as it has for this entire trip.

Highway 2 runs through the lovely Bavarian theme town of Leavenworth, which is actually worth visiting.  Leavenworth has a desert-like climate, and the temperature rises to a very warm 29 C, the hottest it will get on this tour.

I’m trying to make time, and I still have hopes of catching up with Robyn and Ora, somehow.  So, I’ve placed complete trust in my BMW Navigator V GPS to route me the fastest way possible back to Edmonton.

The GPS directs me along Highway 2 east, then north on Highway 97 making a beeline for the border crossing at Oroville (due south of Osoyoos, BC.)

Next:  Part 2 – Ooops, the ride home



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