“Fortune guides our affairs better than we ourselves could wish. Do you see over yonder, f
The next morning, the two of us climbed aboard the Beemer and crossed back into Washington, sailing east along Highway 14, tracing the north shore of the Columbia. Between Camas and Washougal, I watched a man in a faded red fiberglass runabout set a fishing line for his son. I should have taken Daughtergirl fishing more instead of leaving that to her grandfather, but regrets have no redeemable face value and it was hard to regret anything at all while on a motorcycle trip with my daughter.
Not impossible, though.
Dropping a buck on round-trip bridge tolls, we brunched on bacon cheese-burgers and chocolate malts in Cascade Locks. We bypassed the tourist-friendly Char Burger and joined a line of locals at the greasy, tumbledown, peerless East Wind Drive-In, where no skinny person ever worked. The first time I ate there, I was in college myself and out on a motorcycle trip with Mom and Paul, on a BMW. They’re pretty good for traveling, those Beemers, old and new.
The tollkeeper’s smile was a warm memory from visits past, though it faltered and cracked when I mentioned that to her. She’s aged gracefully, but no smile lasts forever. Perhaps it’s good that we appoint a day for remembering that.
Not for nothin’ is the Columbia Gorge de facto world headquarters of wind-surfing, but the K1600GT’s articulated windshield bracket carries strange magic in its rocker switch, which lets you tune out wind force just like trimming the pressure off a Cessna’s elevator.
There’s also plenty of poop for breasting headwinds. Still governing the ADV sector it invented with the R80G/S, BMW rocked the world with the S1000RR, and now there’s this dynamo. Der Motor. For a kid who grew up leaping onto kickstarters with wafflestompers, swooping along on the K1600GT in a Schoeller variable-porosity suit feels like impersonating Tony Stark.
Ich bin … Eiserne Mann!
The bike seems ripe for upholding such justice as a knight errant may prefer. It’s as Deutsch as Deutsch could be, with an upright riding position reminiscent of Gov. Arnie’s Terminator posture and seat perched alertly over the pegs. The only perceptible weak spot is its weirdly slothful horn button, which has such a long throw and slow action that a quick beep-beep takes the kind of dexterity and timing required to speed-shift a ’69 Microbus.
I challenge any man to ride this 60-percent-overkill literbike and remain innocent of arrogance. The GT is like that big guy in the weight room, quietly pushing 440 lbs. without even panting, let alone screaming. Spurning even Harley riders and waving only to God Himself, I felt no need of a map. Once astride Beemerus Maximus, the world revolved around me!
The Benton County deputy begged to differ, if you could call it begging. I didn’t mind the ticket so much—cost of doing business, if you’re me—but had to restrain physical commentary when his finger wagging verged into the irresponsibility of sharing risk with my daughter. Her mother and I have spent two decades struggling against crushing her with over-protectiveness.
It’s not as easy as it sounds.
Walla Walla is where my daughter mostly grew up before she and her mother moved out toward Dayton. The last time Daughtergirl and I went through Dayton, we parked a four-cylinder BMW K1200GT there to stroll around “All Wheels Weekend,” which featured beautiful vintage cars, a few hot rods and some Harleys, but no motorcycles. On this trip, we noted that the new GT’s panniers still have BMW’s innovative attachment system, but no longer belly flop onto their expensively painted fronts.
From the perfectly doped ESA to its mouse-wheel menu controller, the K1600GT may be too grown-up for me. I can see owning one in a few years after stripping off the roached fairing, lashing on a Model A headlight shell with an LED bulb array and reprogramming the suspension. Hacksawing off the treyshooter muffs to replace them with little titanium beer cans should save a good 40 lbs. It’d be like stuffing a Boss Hawg with an M3 engine. It’d be like Slim Pickens slappin’ a bomb’s ass. It’d be nothing whatsoever like properly policed, Teutonic maturity.
I’d leave the funky horn though!
Any motorcyclist with a penchant for adventure could spend decades exploring Pacific North
Woody Guthrie said it best: “Tom Jefferson’s vision would not let him rest; an empire he s