There are two gatherings in the area. Soap Lake has the Lava Love Run to the Sun motorcycle rally. Ephrata has the Basin Summer Sounds music festival. At one sight I can be surrounded by leather and watch the daredevils face the "Wall of Death". The other offers "Wines of Washington" and some cool jazz. I did both and was welcomed at both and felt comfortable at both.
The people watching at the Run to the Sun was probably more interesting if for no other reason than the amount of inked skin that was on display. I was there on Friday morning as the motordrome was assembled - the "big top" as it were. The riders had no roadies to do the heavy lifting. They all pitched in as the huge barrel slowly took shape and the canvas raised. Hours were spent inspecting the interior of the drome, and the sound of hammer on nail echoed in the lake. I imagine that a protruding nail head is the last thing they want to ride over. This is the same bunch that normally puts on the show in Sturgis. The local promoters paid for everything, so the shows were free to the public. I think the local farmers got a kick out of it. You can read more about the "Thrillarena" here: http://www.thrillarena.com/index.html The feeling that I am at a small carnival prevails.
The main stage at the Grant County Courthouse is cool and quiet. There is a 3-on-3 basketball tournament in the street down the block. The Ephrata farmer's market surrounds the second stage on Basin Street. There a young man and his guitar try to garner more attention than the Rainier cherries. A funk jazz trio (trumpet, keyboard and drums) plays to a dozen fans (some dressed in leather eating cherries) on the big stage. It's early, just before noon. Unlike at the Sun Run, the beer garden is empty. It is pleasant, relaxed. Looking at the program, I realize I've seen many of the acts at Jazzbones in Tacoma. Again, here the shows are free. The money being made on $6 beers and Lion's Club onion burgers.
I spent the day riding the six miles between the towns making sure I returned to Ephrata in time for Vicci Martinez and to Soap Lake for the poker run.