At a Canadian Vintage Motorcycle Group meeting the president looks over and says, "Robert's just back from an interesting trip."And perhaps a bit too smugly I begin to sketch the details of my recent tour of Washington's Olympic Peninsula; 700 miles in three days on my 1970 Bonneville. Other members begin to pipe up scornfully: Dan rode his 1952 Vincent to Tierra del Fuego; Ron completed the Vancouver-Daytona-Vancouver circuit on a '47 Knucklehead; and Steve piled up 12,000 miles round trip to Newfoundland on a 1974 Commando...Sheepishly, I reclaim my seat.
No matter the mileage, touring on older iron is challenging. While modern bikes barely get to operating temperature in 700 miles, the Bonnie is due for a valve adjustment and halfway to its scheduled oil change. So it's with some trepidation that I roll her out of the back of my van in Port Townsend, Washington. It's later than I'd planned. I missed my ferry connection, and it's almost 2:00 p.m. before we rumble out of town.
Named by Captain George Vancouver for his friend, the Marquis of Townsend, this charming town was built on logging and mining revenues, its one-time affluence evident in elegant Victorian houses. But in the 1890's, a planned link to the Northern Pacific Railroad in Tacoma was abandoned, precipitating decline. Overlooking the Puget Sound sea-lanes into Seattle, Port Townsend next gained strategic military importance, and nearby Fort Worden subsequently became the movie set for An Officer and a Gentleman.