It was Hanna who reminded me again that they were celebrating her Mom's 60th Birthday in a Beach House on Highway 101 on the Oregon Pacific Coast.
Oh sure, they had all made sure I was invited but I kept finding reasons why I could not make the 800 mile ride through Montana, Idaho, Washington and Oregon to where the event was being held.
Now, as she was busy packing for her family to make the trip she reminded me again that I was invited and should be there for this important surprise party.
What an excuse to go for a ride through the Northwestern mountain country to the fabled Highway 101 which runs along the Oregon coast then south through California.
I told her, "Yes I'll come, but don't tell anyone else and we'll make it a double surprise.
They very next morning I packed the sidecar and Mini Mate Tent Trailer and headed west.
Lookout Pass is under construction and was my first stop.
From there the ride was great with 60 miles of Idaho pan handle country which winds through the beautiful Lake Coeur d'Alene area.
This heavily wooded area with it's miles of shorline is always a beautiful ride.
Heading south after passing through Spokane, the gateway to the Inland Empire, I found myself on I-90 to Ritzville, then 395 to I-84 and the Columbia River Gorge.
My stop for the night was at the Cascade Locks KOA campgrounds where some very pleasant people found me a comfortable space beneath tall shady trees. After an all day ride in the sun it was a great place to stretch out and take a nap, before setting up for the night.
Neighbors were friendly folks from Minnesota's Iron Range country in the far north and were visiting a daughter who worked in Portland.
They took pictures of the rig and asked many questions. Nice folks.
A good night for sleeping in the tent trailer with a light breeze keeping the rig cool.
The short 200 mile ride in the morning was great, especially the ride from I-5 to Highway 101 on Highway 20.
Winding, twisting, tree shaded and lightly traveled.
It was truly a wonderful ride to Newport on the beach and the ten mile ride south on highway 101 to Seal Rock where the kids had rented a beach house for the week.
A highlight of the weeks events was the Marine Discovery Tour Boat.
The trip wound through Yaquina Bay where guides discussed everything from the Jetty that lined the river, to the birds and fish we would see. As the boat made it's way from the bay out into the Pacific Ocean we were told to watch for whales swimming in the area.
As it happened we observed several whales coming to the surface to "blow" and then drop quickly back under water. One surprise came when a large whale surfaced beside the boat. Less that 20 feet away he came to the surface, spouted, and then with roiling water swirling about him he sank slowly into the ocean.
WOW! Said the tour boat crew. That was really close, you will very rarely see a whale come that close to us and we are not allowed, by law, to approach them that close. That was a once in a long time view of a whale.
On the way out to the ocean we had dropped two "crab pots" in the water, anchored with bright red and yellow buoys. We now returned to the bay to pick them up.
They both had several crabs in them and the guide carefully brought them out and handed them to passengers, all the while explaining facts about their life and how many could be harvested each day by crabbers.
Here Linda, the Birthday Girl, got to show off her skills as a crab handler.
Along with other passengers all of the kids had an opportunity to hold a crab while hearing the explanations about it's life.
Finally as the boat slowed even further, they got to drop the crabs back into the water, cautioned by the guide to not make it into a Frisbee throwing contest.
"Just drop them gently back into the ocean," she said.
The boat tour ended back in Newport amid much laughter as the families headed back for their cars, for a short trip to The Chowder Bowl Restaurant.
This seafood specialty place was packed with tourists and regulars who were enjoying the specialties of the house.
With 22 family members in tow we found they had prepared for us and had a long table set up and waiting.
From the Chowder Bowl it was only a short 15 minute drive back to the Beach House where acres of sandy beach was waiting.
Kites were flown, dams were constructed to slow the flow of water from a small creek into the vastness of the Pacific and games were played on the sandy shores of the worlds great ocean.
Grand daughter Megans husband Tim Stone flew his drone over the ocean to shoot close up photos of the whales which continued to cavort in front of the picture windows of the house.
Shown on the big screen TV they were spectacular.
I wonder if any of the others saw the UFO's which I caught on my camera through the dining room window?
The lights seemed to dance across the sky, perhaps someone or something else was watching us as we watched the whales.
A wonderful week at a beach house on Highway 101 on Oregon's beautiful coast.
One last picture with one of the new Greats, taken upside down in the Chowder Bowl.
Thanks Wyatt for posing for me.
The ride home was great despite the heat of a Fourth of July weekend afternoon.
The Iron Butt Association cautions riders that if they get tired or have any problem continuing the ride, pull off the road, get a motel and try it again tomorrow.
Which I did.
The Super 8 in Walla Wall, Washington gave me a good nights sleep and I was ready and rested for the ride back home to Helena, Montana.
The ride was wonderful, the visit with kids, grand kids and great grand kids was fabulous, still, it was nice coming over McDonalds Pass west of Helena and looking down at the valley and the city.
No matter which way you arrive in Helena, you find a beautiful view waiting for you. This view from the top of Mount Helena.
Thanks for coming along with me on a great ride and a wonderful week with the kids.
Watch for me I'll be in the Right Lane America.
Del "Lonnie" Lonnquist