Ah, yes. The weather is getting good out there, just in time for one of America's favorite pastimes: the good ol' road trip.
Duff McKagan is the founding bassist in Guns N' Roses and the leader of Seattle's Loaded. His column runs every Thursday on Reverb.
Right, the gasoline is inexplicably more expensive in the West right now than just about anywhere else in the country. But that shouldn't stop you. Instead, make the best of it! Go out in a group. Nothing better than making plans with others whom you like to travel with.
In the Northwest, we have a ton of water, and no road-trip list would be good without a few excellent boat trips thrown in. With that in mind, here's my pick of 10 locales to point your compass this summer:1. North on I-97 from Cle Elum to Cashmere: First of all, driving north or south means no sun in the eyes. Going north on the 97 transmits you from a Western Washington chill to the warmth of the high desert. Try the Liberty Café for the locals and the caffeine.
2. Highway 2 West from Dry Falls to Waterville: One of the best straightaways in the state. Haul ass for about 40 whole miles! Make sure you get your cop-radar-detector thing working, though.
3. The drive from my house to Slim's Last Chance on First Ave. in Georgetown: Anytime is a good time for chili and beer (well, I don't drink personally . . . but you get the idea).
4. The Vashon Island Loop: If you are in the city and want to get out of town real fast on your motorcycle, just get on the Fauntleroy Ferry from West Seattle and ride straight off into the country. Epic for such a short distance away.
5. The Ballard Locks to Deception Pass via the west side of Whidbey Island: I once saw a stat that Seattle has the most boats per capita of any city in America. Get yourself a small craft and a VHF radio, and grow a pair. This route is dangerous when the weather picks up . . . and make sure you have a full tank of gas. Especially when you get to the eddies of Deception Pass. You wouldn't want to get sucked down one of those.
6. My house to Safeco Field: Yeah, well, even though the Mariners have stunk it up pretty good this season, Safeco is still the best place to see a baseball game in the world.
7. Spirit Lake Highway to Mt. St. Helens: If you ever get a chance . . . just get off of the damn I-5 down there, and head east.
8. North Cascades Highway: Yes, it is that good. The rumors are indeed true. Get off at Ross Dam and see what socialism, er, President Roosevelt's Federal Works Program did for us all!
9. Lady of the Lake ferry from Chelan to Stehekin: No roads go to Stehekin, one of the very last places in Washington state that has kept its no-Walmart rule. Untouched by larger commerce in a big way, and an awe-inspiring scenic trip.
10. Incoming flights to Seatac (OK, technically not a "drive"): The view on any flight into Seatac is still one of the best ever. Mt. Rainier, Puget Sound, downtown, floating bridges, boats, and all those hidden lakes make Seattle the best city in the world to touch down in.