On Thursday, September 20th we pulled into Friday Harbor on San Juan Island at about 7:30 pm. It was just starting to get dark and we were anxious to ride. We rolled off the boat approached a couple of U.S. Customs officers and they let us through without any issue. We pushed up the hill and then waited for the ferry to unload all its autos and then we set out in low light on deserted roads. We rode as the sun set and the moon rose past big fields and dew covered blackberries. That night we slept out under the stars on a bluff overlooking Roche Harbor. During the night we were awoken by random encounters of passing deer. Some running very close to us. In fact, one came between us and our bikes which were about 25 feet away from our sleeping bags. Just before dawn, a deer came running through the woods and slammed into Debi’s bike, breaking off her mirror and leaving deer hair stuck in the bar-end shifter levers. We were now completely awake and a bit groggy from a choppy nights sleep. Once we were up we found the mirror about ten feet away – broke.
As we packed up our sleeping bags and tarp we decided to head down to the marina area and find a little food. Roche Harbor seemed ridiculously wealthy. We walked around the docks checking out boats from all over the world. There is an adorable Post Office right along the dock and we mailed a few post cards to celebrate its unique setting. In the store next door, we bought a paper and ate some cereal at the outdoor tables. A bunch of people were wondering around and it appeared like they were getting ready for a wedding. Some folks were lost and confused others had intent and plans but most seemed hung over and bothered. After breakfast we rode over to the Reserve Sculpture Park to check things out. This is what we live for: Free Art as outdoor sculpture. After a good feeding on the sculptures we rode off back to Friday Harbor where we hit the yet another grocery store and then cooked some soup in the park and waited for our ferry to take us to Lopez Island where we would connect with friends. The ferry ride was short and all things were chill on Lopez Island. Once off the boat we stopped in Odlin park and had a snack and played a game of dominoes. We watched some out of town, novice campers set up their camp in the wind which is always amusing. We made a brief stop at the library and then headed off to our friends Mary and Glen who lived nearby. The locals call the island Slow Pez and for good reason. It moves at one speed which is ideal for us. That night we were invited to a birthday party for a young neighbor. Cake and Ice cream all around!
On Saturday, September 22nd we checked out the local Farmers Market and Natural Food Coop and bought some goodies for later. We also checked out Neil’s Mall which resides at the transfer station/dump for the island. Here at Neil’s Mall everything is sorted and items of value like clothes, bed frames and household goods are diverted onto tables and racks and people come from all over to peruse all the free stuff. Being on an island, trash is expensive and must be loaded onto barges to be removed. Neil’s Mall is doing an incredible service to help lighten that load. The day had enough time for a nap which always feels great. No need to rush around this island.
That afternoon we rode our bikes out to Shark Reef Park and watched some sea lions out on the rocks. On the way back we found a small roadside stand and bought some veggies and potatoes. When we got back to Glen and Mary’s we cooked dinner for everyone and then headed out to the Lopez Center for Communities and the Arts to see a special event called Piano Mania. All of this just a short walk from our tent. Occasionally, during the night, apples would fall from a tree above our tent. Not too bad odf a deal to wake up to ripe fruit outside your door. Life is good.
The next day we slept in in out tent and then headed out on a ride to Watmough Bay. We stopped at the Islandale store and then rode out to Iceberg Point. This special place has actually just been declared a National Monument by President Barack Obama. At the entrance to the park we met a nice Morman fellow and we chatted for a bit about all things good. That night we bought a whole roasted chicken and devoured it. We seem to be on a whole roasted chicken kick these days. This happened to us in Mexico too. I think it happens when we get tired.
On Monday, September 24th we went to the amazing library and did some laundry in the common area of the place we were staying. We took a slow walk around the village and made a chicken soup for dinner. After eating we watched The Sting on DVD with our super great hosts! Thank You Glen and Mary for letting us camp out in your front yard and letting us have some of your apples. Loved all the stories! Glen – Maybe we will see you in Yosemite sometime.
Tuesday, September 25th was our last day on Lopez Island. We could have stayed here for a lot longer. Very cool place with lots to explore and plenty of great biking. We managed to get on the 9:30am ferry to Anacortes, WA. Once off the boat we waited for the traffic to dissipate and then we headed into town to find the library. Here we saw a sign that said based on the number of dogs licensed in the city of Anacortes, WA there is 900 pounds of dog shit excreted daily and that you should pick up after your pet. Great and this isn’t even a big town. We made it to the library before it opened so we sat around with a bunch of other early risers waiting for the doors to be unlocked. After finishing up our computer chores we rode across town and stopped at the grocery store for a little more food. Re-supplied, we made our way to the Tommy Thompson Trail that took us out of town.
Now, from Anacortes, WA we will ride south through the Skagit valley and then get back down near the Seattle area in a day or so.
See you soon,
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On Monday, September 17th we found ourselves once again re-supplying at a grocery store called Safeway. Here we wound up buying a whole roasted chicken and took it down to the waterfront in Port Angeles, WA to devour it. Along the docks we watched a drunk guy run around with his headphones on, remove most of his clothes and then dive into the water. He managed to swim around a bit before a father with a young son had to pull him out and then they got away from him. And on he went running around. We were glad that he didn’t bother us. Here we also witnessed a large raven mocking a seagulls call which took us by surprise. As our boat pulled up to the dock we got into the right line to proceed through customs and then we boarded. On the boat we met a nice couple named Lynn and Ed. They had just completed cycling the Great Divide Mountain Biking Route from Banff, Cananda down to Antelope Wells, NM on two Surly Trolls. An amazing trip that we hope to take someday.
It was incredibly sunny and the water was calm. The ferry ride is about 90 minutes and crosses the Strait of Juan de Fuca from Port Angeles, WA to Victoria, BC Cananda. As we pulled into the inner harbor in Victoria it was alive with water taxis, planes taking off and ferries coming and going. Once we started to unload it took a little while to get us and our bikes through Canadian Customs but eventually we were let through and we wondered out into Victoria. As we roamed under the warm sun we made our way over to a visitor center and found a nice spot in the shade to have a little snack and get oriented. Here we met Loic form France who had been cycling all over the world and was now about to enter the US and begin a southern tour with the goal of beating winter. We traded some maps and suggested routes. We had just biked through some of the areas that he was headed to. We gave him all of our Clallam County bike maps as we found them useful and easy to read. Best of Loic with your tour! Au Revoir!
As the afternoon began to settle out we decided we would head off to our evening hosts house. Tonight we would be staying at Ralph and Maureen’s house. We met Ralph on the kitchen renovation project down on Vashon Island and he thought it would be a good idea if we stopped in and spent a couple of nights with Maureen and their daughter, Melanie so we could explore the city. That night we had a great dinner with salad and prawns.
The next day we slept in just a bit. Sleeping in a bed feels amazing especially after being in the tent for so long. We decide we would walk around Victoria instead of bike. The pace of the city was busy and their was plenty of traffic. Although they seemed quite used to bikers we kept our day on foot. Walking slowed things down for us and allowed us to thoroughly explore and not have to worry too much about where we were going or where the bikes were. We strolled around the inner harbor, Parliament building and then out to the Fisherman’ s wharf. We visited the floating house boat community and somehow managed to buy the crappiest order of nachos on the planet. We walked all around the city and made a day of it. Beautiful weather all day long.
On Wednesday, September 19th we finished up some laundry and internet chores and then headed out. We made our way through a small maze of community trails that brought us form the neighborhood we were in to the Galloping Goose Trail that would take us out to Sooke. We rode out as far as Atkins and then decided to bail and turn around and go back. We took the Goose back to the intersection with the Lochside Trail and then we took that north. Sooke will have to wait for another time. THe Lochside Trail is part trail and part residential bike routes through various neighborhoods and eventually takes you up to Sidney, BC. On the ride up we stopped at good market along the trail to buy fruit and cereal. On the outskirts of Sidney we passed through some large pumpkin patches and some big farms. We rode just into town and then got off the trail and navigated our way to the MacDonald Campground in the Gulf Islands National Park. For $13.70 a night you can camp. The place was practically deserted. We picked a site that we thought would be quiet and neighbor-less and it turned out to be just that. A nice quiet sleep indeed.
On Thursday, September 20th we slept in and ate leftover pork and squash for breakfast. We played cards in the morning sun on our picnic table. After a while we got packed up and started our ride into town. In Sidney we would be catching a ferry to the San Juan Islands back in Washington State. As we approached town we stopped in the Safeway supermarket just to check it out. Wow! the prices were out of line. We bought nothing and moved on with the food we had. After the store stop we found a small skate’bike park. Bryan rode his fully loaded bike up and down the ramps just for fun. The day was slow and easy. We decided to wait and skip the noon ferry and wait for the 6 pm ferry that would take us right to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We rode around the waterfront and checked out sculpture and played dominoes a couple of times at various picnic tables. We watched as some Asian men pulled in crab after crab form the wharf. Eventually, 6 pm came and we again boarded the boat and took our seats. The sun was setting and it was going to be a beautiful night. From the ferry we could see where Debi used to work at a summer camp called Camp Norwester out on John’s Island. We ate a bowl of cereal for dinner and watched as a sliver of a moon broke over the horizon.
In the next post we will start an evening ride on San Juan Island and begin exploring the other islands.
See you there,
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Tags: Canada, Washington
On Saturday, September 15th we rode back through Port Townsend, WA and pedaled the Larry Scott Memorial Trail in the reverse direction and stopped briefly in Chimacum for some more apples and bananas. From here we decided to take Center Road south to Route 104 and then after a long gradual climb we blazed down to 101. This was to avoid a really long and tight section on Route 20 around the southern tip of Discovery Bay. This would also let us avoid some really heavy traffic. Once through the wild intersection of 101 and 20 we started up the west side of Discovery Bay paralleling 101 on the Old Gardiner Road. It was nice and quiet and supposedly we were now on the Olympic Discovery Trail. Signage was poor and there wasn’t much of a trail to speak of but no traffic at all. The route was full of Blackberries and we continued to graze at the spots that were too good to pass up. We were now on Washington’s Miller Peninsula. The route occasionally popped out onto 101 for short sections and the terrain undulated making for easy pedaling. The day was soon ending and we finally picked up a separate paved section of the Olympic Discovery Trail outside of the small town of Blynn, WA. We rode only a couple of miles and we happened upon the Jamestown S’kallam Indian Reservation. Here we stopped at one of the nicest stores we have ever come across run by the tribe. We met some nice folks walking their dog and even got to watch some salmon working their way upstream on the Dean Creek.
As evening approached a chill descended upon us. We made our way into the dark Sequim (pronounced [Squim]) Bay State Park. Here the Olympic Discovery Trail ran right through the park and offered convenient hiker-biker sites. We settled into camp, had a fire and slept hard.
The next morning we took a little hike around the park, caught showers, packed up our bikes and moved on down the trail. Our goal for the day was to pick blueberries at Graysmarsh Farm, check out town and then make our way up to the Dungeness Spit which was recommended to us by our friend Roxanne. As we neared town, right on the trail we came to the Sequim Chamber of Commerce where we got a little wi-fi and had a snack. The weather in Sequim is amazing. Those who know call Sequim the blue hole and it does receive some of the driest and bluest weather in Washington. Sequim is located ina rain shadow and receives about 18″ of rain a year. The views of the Olympic range were stunning all day long.
On the outskirts of Sequim we passed by the Olympic Game farm where we saw all kinds of large game grazing in the fields. With some high priced admission fee we chose to continue along our way to get out to the water. Finding our way into the Dungeness Recreation Area was easy and we were able to find some ride-able horse trails into the park that brought us right into the campground. Clallam County has some information on their website too. This area was under National protection and our National Park Pass once again got us in for free! We got our tent set up in the really remote, hard to find hiker-biker sites. At $7 a night it was a good bargain. After camp was set up we decided to head out for a hike on the spit to watch the sun go down over the Strait of Juan de Fuca. That night we had a fire and slept soundly once again.
On Monday, September 17th we got up in the early morning chilliness and packed up and hit the road. We road back into Sequim and picked up the Olympic Discovery Trail once again. We rode in and out of the forest, along the water and eventually, after winding through some industrial areas it brought us right into Port Angeles, WA. Most of the route was quiet and we were able to see some sea otters fishing and sun bathing on the rocks. Once in town we bought our ferry tickets, met some bikers who had just finished the riding the Great Divide Mountain bike route. We also hit the super market to get our sundries as we heard things can get a little expensive on Vancouver Island. Here we take a ferry to British Columbia.
See you on the boat!
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On September, 13th after an enjoyable break on Vashon, WA we left the house and headed to the north end of the island on out bikes and caught the ferry to downtown Seattle to begin riding north to British Columbia. The ride on the island was brisk and a little foggy. The daily bustle in early morning in Seattle was exciting. We watched a lot of commuters come in on ferries. There were pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, plenty of cars and trucks pouring into the city. We waited for the next available ferry to Bainbridge Island. They ferry ride was short and after we got off we immediately found a park and had a breakfast snack. While eating we watched a woman’s crew team practice in the harbor. The main road we took on Bainbridge Island was big and wide and at times fairly busy. Just across an old, rickety bridge over the Agate Passage on the north end of the island we decided to have a big lunch at a big buffet at the Suqaumish Clearwater Casino. After lunch, we explored the grounds, casino and hotel and waterfront area as we tried to digest a mountain of food. Slowly, we hit the road with full tanks and could barely get going. The riding north of Suquamish was tight and the drivers were generally speeding and miserable. Bursts of ferry traffic from Edmonds, WA made riding exhausting. We had intentions of riding into Kingston, Wa to check out the Classic Cycle with its museum but due to the traffic situation we bailed. We took a short stop in Port Gamble to regain our composure and watch some tourists wobble around after being let out of a big tour bus. Later that day we crossed the Hood Canal on a floating bridge that connects the Olympic and Kitsap peninsulas. It is the third longest floating bridge in the world. The tides fluctuate as much as 18 feet in this salt water tidal basin. Cool bridge with heavy traffic. There seems to be heavy traffic all through this region. That night we camped out down an old logging road at a quiet spot in the woods near Shine, WA.
The next morning we slept in a bit and let the morning roar of traffic subside. This has been a technique we have been using as we have traveled around the country – we share the road – just at different times. We try hard to avoid rush hours, lunch hours and Fridays all together if practical. A slight shift in our ride times in order to make the riding a bit more enjoyable and safe! We wound our way up through the Chimacum Valley to Port Hadlock, WA to try and stop in and see our friends Brad and Eva who we met in Montrose, CO earlier in the summer. You can read about their neck of the woods in this older post. Once in Port Hadlock we weren’t able to connect and decided to head off for Port Townsend that night. Passing through Irondale, WA , Bryan was right hooked by a woman turning into a bank drive-up window. What a bummer. Debi was actually able to catch up to her at the window and informed her that she almost killed her husband. The woman said she had the right away. So sad. We have found that a lot of drivers don’t fully understand Right of Way for safe road usage. We watch people pass on the right, make hard right hand turns (the right hook) in front of cyclists, tail gate and drive aggressively and distracted. It is an awfully scary situation to be in and often goes without the driver knowing of any wrong. Today, in Irondale, WA was the day we decided that this would be our last big bicycle tour on the roads shared with motorists. We have been in thousands of situations involving motor vehicle traffic and have had our fill and then some. That is OK because there is plenty of other riding out there to be had. Check out another fellow cyclist, Cass Gilbert who we met in Mexico, he has an exceptional site of touring through the Americas on everything but paved roads. Thanks Cass for keeping it as real as it gets!
As the afternoon calmed down we found ourselves heading over to Aldama Beach on Discovery Bay which is off the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Here we picked up the Larry Scott Memorial Trail. This turned out to be a nice quiet trail that helped us get our mind off the early part of the day. The trail brought us right into Port Townsend, WA .
The trail brings you right into the shipyard and marina area of Port Townsend. Coll area - lots to look at. We made our way down the main street and settled into Pope Park and cooked up some zucchini and hot dogs. After lunch we headed up and over to Fort Worden State Park on the north end of town.The park is located on Wilson Point jutting out into the Admiral Inlet on the Puget Sound. Here we found a $14 hiker-biker site that suited our needs perfectly. As we were getting ready to cook some dinner a Law enforcement officer came down the trail and verified who we were and if we would like to receive some visitors! Brad and Eva had found us. We had left a message at their marina of travel plans. They were out for the day but decided to come find us. We all headed out into Port Townsend and found an Indian restaurant for dinner. So great to see you both again!
On Saturday, September 15th we woke up, had breakfast and spent the day riding our bike s around Fort Worden. There are trails all over the park and the area has old batteries that used to house large cannons. Back in the 1890′s this was the first line of defense against nautical attacks to cities like Seattle and Tacoma not to mention the Naval yard in Bremerton. The Fort was closed in 1953 and was turned into a park in 1955.
Tomorrow, we head out and on toward Sequim, WA on the Olympic Discovery Trail.
See you there,
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Tags: friends, Washington
On Sunday August 12th, We dropped Risa off at the ferry on the North end of Vashon Island and said our goodbyes. We had timed her drop off with a pick-up of two more amazing people, our great friends Chris and Dusty. We wish everyone could come stay and goof off. Really, we do. Chris and Dusty play in a band called Slyde. They just finished playing at a wedding in New York State the night before, got on an early morning flight to Seattle and then navigated an unfamiliar bus system to get them to the ferry dock. Then a short ferry ride and minivan ride back to the house. All in a days work -You guys rock! Welcome to Vashon! Salmon and sausage on the grill for dinner and lots of catching up. Chris was out here on business for a few days and Dusty had some free time so we all decided to take advantage and work with those facts. With the local trails just around the corner Dusty and Bryan rode some sandy, briar laden singletrack that sometimes doubled a horse trails. Odd mix but not bad being right out the door. Trails were dry and the blackberries were still bursting. The sun was ablaze just about every day of their visit. We even got out to see some live hip hop in a town park. Lots of grilling out on the deck.
As the week evolved we all got a chance to explore more of the island and when Chris no longer had obligations we took off for a good old fashioned road trip around the Olympic Pennisula including the Olympic National Park. Risa gave us some pointers and we looked up all our low tide times, got out our maps and picked a route. The next morning we would pile into the mini-van with a thule box on top and take off! The only remaining obligation was to receive a delivery of brand new kitchen cabinets that were supposed to arrive around 11am for the kitchen remodel we were overseeing. Then we could leave. And then, surprise, the truck pulled up in front of the house at 6:30am. A bit brash way to wake up but then again we unloaded them easily and by 7:30 am the day was ours. It was Friday, August 17th and it was hot and sunny. With our new schedule we decided to pack leisurely and get going in the early afternoon. We caught the 2:10pm ferry to Ruston, WA. Became traffic outside of Tacoma and on toward Olympia, WA and the drive slowed down a bit. Stopped at Trader Joe’s to re-supply for food. We had coolers and boxes to fill. The drive out of Olympia moved a little better. We chased the day west. We drove till we arrived in Lake Quinault in the Olympic National Forest. All campgrounds were full. So, we jumped back in the car and headed up the South Shore Road along the Quinault river to a campground called North Fork being on the North Fork of the Quinault river. Perfect, quiet and cheap. We took one of only a couple of sites remaining. We rallied on firewood and our set up our campsite. Plenty of good eats for all.
In the morning we packed up under gray skies and headed back out to Route 101 via the North Shore Road to Lake Quinault. Along the way we stopped and checked out some really big Cedar trees. A short hike off the road lead us to some ancients. Next stop was Ruby beach. We parked the van and we all went for a stroll out along the water. Sure wouldn’t want to be shipwrecked here back in the day. The beach was busier than we thought but their was plenty of room for everyone. Some locals were having a fire near a small stream that emptied into the ocean.
Our final destination for the day was the Hoh rainforest. We got there early afternoon and there were still a few sites left. We got our tent set up and then we took off on a hike in the misting rain. First, was a short loop out of the visitor center through the Hall of Mosses which contained old growth Maple trees. Once through that we blazed past all the slow and short distance hikers We embarked on out the Hoh River Trail. This is the trail you would take to summit Mt. Olympus. Completely surreal hiking – gray skies and low lying clouds made the place feel even more humid.
On the Hoh River Trail it is out and back, not many options for any kind of loop other than the Hall of Mosses which is short. We hiked a couple of miles out then turned around and came back with different light and different trees to look at.The next morning we got up early and headed out to deserted Rialto beach in La Push, WA in time for the end of low tide. Coastal hiking in this area is dependent on tides. Sections of the beach become impassable due to steep cliffs and high water. We came through Forks, WA and turned onto La Push road crossing various vampire treaty lines. When we got the beach the sun was bursting through and it gave us a chance to dry out some tarps from our night in the Hoh. We rambled over and among the giant rock formations and peculiar tide pools. Blue sky and the last of the morning clouds blazed above us as we scampered across old growth driftwood and huge ancient trees. A lovely afternoon indeed.
From here we decided to wing it and make a run for Sol Duc campground along the Sol Duc river where our good friend Joshua was working on a trail crew in the Olympic National Park. We knew roughly where he would be camped but not sure if he would be around. It wound up being a great hike in. The people slowly trickled off as we got further from the parking lot. That seems to happen at every trail head. After asking a couple of hikers and seeing some recent work sites we located Joshua’s camp and arrived before him but were told he would be sleeping here tonight. Victory was ours. We had found him! After a small snack and a real treat of hearing Sean play the Kora out here in deep in the forest we headed back to our campsite in the campground. Thanks Sean! We all needed it – very beautiful. We determined it would be best to kidnap Joshua for the night and bring him back to our campsite. Then we would drop him back off at the trail head in the morning so he could hike back to meet his crew and do some work on the way in. Perfect! We got back just before dark and had a big spaghetti dinner and sat around the fire. Joshua slept in the van and at one point during the night Debi or I hit the automatic door opener on the key chain from the tent. This promptly opened the van doors on Joshua and he didn’t know what was going on. Imagine sleeping in a tent for weeks and then you get one night on the floor of a mini van and the doors get opened on you in the dark and no one but you (and the bears) are around.
The next morning we slept in a little and had a leisurely breakfast. We had to bring Joshua back to the trail head. We said our good byes and well wishes. Best to you Joshua! Maybe we will see you again soon. We dove out of the Sol Duc valley and stopped at a general store for some lunch fixins’. After lunch we drove up to Hurricane Ridge even though it was real cloudy down in Port Angelas. On the drive up you climb about 5,000 ft. through the foothills and the weather can change fast. And change it did. Typically, you would think the weather is worse up there but once we broke up through the clouds is was incredibly sunny and blue skies. We had time for a short little hike around the main visitor center which afforded some jaw dropping vistas. After our last little meal break we decided to call it and head back to Vashon via the Southworth ferry. This would complete a giant circle of carpooling a forgotten number of miles. Debi and I were paying close attention to the roads because we planned to come back this way and ride our bikes up and around to Port Angeles via the Olympic Discovery Trail. In Port Angeles we would catch a ferry to British Columbia.
We all woke at 3am on Tuesday and it was time to take Dusty and Chris back to the ferry so they could catch a cab back to the airport and fly back into Albany. A Well worth whirlwind! We love you guys and we will see you again soon in the Atlantic Northeast!
More to come!
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Tags: friends, Washington
One of the many great things about Vashon Island is its close proximity to downtown Seattle. From the north end of the island you can board the King County Water Taxi pay $5 dollars (bikes are free) and in less than an hour you are dropped off on Pier 50 right downtown. Debi and I decided to take a little day trip over to the city to what was shaking. We wanted to see some Art, furniture galleries, a very cool map store and suck down some high octane coffee. Big ambitions for a big day.
One of the first things we had to check out was the Market Theatre Gum Wall. An iconic yet extremely disturbing collection of used chewing gum. Plenty of germs here! We also walked (a couple of times) through Pike Place Market. Here you can find just about anything you are looking for especially if it is flowers or fish. It was a satisfying to stop for some num nums and some fruit.
Walking up from Pike Place market we took a stroll through the Olympic Sculpture Park. We love outdoor sculpture parks because they are usually free and open year round. Outdoor parks never look the same. The time of day, season and weather all twist to give you a different experience.
We found a nice little Nepalese restaurant called Kastoori Grill that filled our tummies with an all you can eat lunch buffet. Even with some time off from biking our appetites have not diminished.
Walking around Seattle we passed by the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. We didn’t go inside but caught a few sneaky peaks through the trees. The museum wasn’t in our budget or time frame that day so we will save it. We caught a lot of his work in St. Petersburgh, FL earlier in the year so we felt content skipping on the admission and entrance.
Seattle bustles. Boats, Planes automobiles, bikes pedestrians all seemed to fit. It allowed us to get some good coffee and roam around the city checking out art, people and all things grand and free. We always say you can’t see it all in a day (or a lifetime) but there is plenty around to keep one busy. Looking forward to coming back over and seeing a little more.
Bryan and Debi
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Tags: art, Washington
On July 29th, we crossed the Puget Sound from Ruston,WA to Vashon Island. We had a fairly easy morning ride on various bike paths and a short busy section in Spanaway, WA. It was a quiet sunny Sunday afternoon and the ferry was just about empty. Once on the island we regrouped, had a snack and then headed off to our destination. For most of the year we have planned on coming up here for our friends wedding in August. As things worked out we were able to find a house sitting opportunity for very nice couple who were friends with the grooms aunt and uncle. Our stay on Vashon was shaping up to be a lot of fun.
Vashon Island turned out to be hillier than we thought. Big steep climbs seemed to pop out of nowhere. After one final climb to a high point near Gold Beach we were stopped by a motorcyclist who new our names! It was Jar, the owner of the house we were heading to. We had arrived a day early but soon found out that was just in time. The owners were planning on leaving in the following days. We needed to get the house ready to host some of the out of town wedding guests that would be arriving shortly and staying for a week. In the following weeks we spent a lot of time in our outdoor kitchen area that we created out on the deck overlooking the Puget Sound and Mt. Ranier. We put this area together as the kitchen inside the house was in process of being demolished and remodeled. Big sunny days and dry nights made a perfect setting for our outdoor deck living situation.
The house we were staying at was close to the Dockton Forest which was riddled with singletrack/horse trails. This was a fine addition to the neighborhood. Debi and I spent the next six weeks exploring all things Vashon. There are plenty of parks all around the island and we tried to visit them all. The island supports a vibrant Farmer’s Market and there was live music every week. We met so many nice people and had a really great time. Here are some pics form our time on the island and our friends wedding…
Our friends, Galen and Sam had the most beautiful wedding and we were so excited to be here and be a part of the festivities. The weather was spectacular. Lots of great people, music and times! Congratulations you two!
All week long wedding guests had a chance to explore the island. There were a couple of planned events like a rehearsal dinner and musical performance at Barnworks. Super fun to hear folks laugh and sing.
Here are some pictures from the wedding week…
Our close proximity to the water made for easy jaunts to the beach which were best at low tide.
On August 9th, Debi’s cousin Risa came to visit us and we had some good times tide pooling and chilling on the deck. Deck Living! Thanks for making time and coming over to visit us! We loved being able to host. Risa works for a company called Southern Explorations. They offer world class trips to South and Central America even including the Galapagos and Antarctica! They offer unique trips that cater to your interests and schedule. Check them out if you are heading south!
No visit to Vashon would be complete without a stop at the legendary bicycle tree. Legend has it that it was leaned in the crotch of tree back in the 1950′s by a boy who didn’t like the bike. It stayed and the tree grew around it! The bike is located on the NE corner of the intersection of Vashon HWY SW and SW 204th st. Located down a short path into the woods just north of a couple of old buildings.
The next morning we woke up early to head over to Paradise cove on the Colvos Passage to do some tide pooling and hopefully find a starfish.
Bryan had a chance to some sailing on the Puget Sound with Jar and Roxanne and a couple of their friends. Thank you so much for making that happen. It was a highlight of the trip! Keep on Sailing!
Vashon Island is in a unique location. It seems to stay a bit drier here than the Seattle area. Mount Ranier definitely has a lot of influence on the cloud cover and weather over on the mainland. Many mornings showed the Puget Sound packed in with fog when we were up above in the sunshine. We are really starting to feel the region and it feels like the Pacific Northwest is going to be exciting! From the north end of Vashon Island it is a short ferry ride to downtown Seattle where we will take you on a day trip in the next post.
Stay tuned and see you there!
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Tags: friends, Washington
On Friday, July 27th we rode into Tenino, WA to meet our friends Barbara and Jamie in the Tenino City Park. Originally, we had planned to meet at the Margaret McKenny campground in Capital State Forest. Turns out you need a discovery pass to camp or park. Oddly enough, today was the start of the Oregon Trail Days in Tenino. Free camping, entertainment and even a parade on the following day. This couldn’t have worked out better. The city park was right on the Yelm-Tenino Trail which we would be following when we leave town. That night we caught up and traded stories and had an amazing salad dinner in cafe Westfalia. Our friends Barbara and Jamie just got off the ferry from Alaska where they spent the summer solstice above the Artic circle! Amazing stories as always- Keep on truckin’ you two and we will see you down the road. Here are some pics from Tenino…
On Saturday, there was a parade where an absurd amount of candy was thrown at the crowd. Re-enactors and traditional blacksmiths came and went among the tents and tarps. That night we ate an awesome salmon dinner with fresh corn. The music and partying went on all around us out in the field. We were all awoken by some drunk folks who were having a hard time with law.
The next morning we got up early and had a nice farewell breakfast with Barbara and Jamie. Then we hit the trail and headed for Yelm, WA. The trail was uneventful and super quiet. Today we decided to ride into and through Tacoma, WA as it was Sunday, our favorite day to ride into big cities. Once in Tacoma, we planned to take the ferry to Vashon Island.
We are getting ready to visit and stay on Vashon Island where our friends Sam and Galen are getting married. This has been our only time sensitive commitment on this trip. We still have the city of Tacoma, WA to navigate and then get on the ferry in Ruston, WA near Point Defiance. Here we will cross the Dalco Passage on the Puget Sound to Vashon Island.
See you next time,
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On July 25th, we rode away from the Columbia river and headed north on 401 to Naselle, WA where we found a quiet, deep woods campsite on state land. As the day wore on it actually started to cloud up. Light drizzles of rain were sporadic. This part of Washington was devoid of heavy traffic and we slept well without interruption. We woke to a clouds and misty rain that seemed to be just floating through the air. It was not enough to don rain gear but enough to cloud your glasses.
By mid-morning we were riding up along the Willapa Bay passing an oyster farm on the Palix river. The miles came easily even if there wasn’t much of a view due to the low lying clouds. As we rounded Range Point we began a short southerly jaunt into South Bend, WA, elev. 80 feet. Here we picked up the Willapa Hills Trail. During our research earlier in the trip we planned on this being a 56 mile off-road route up to Chehalis, WA. The first 6 miles were paved but poorly marked. We wound up winging it through Raymond, WA and eventually made it through. As we left Raymond the trail was turning into a roughly ballasted and overgrown trail. At first, the trail was passable and then the long tendrils of the Blackberry bushes slowed our progress to a crawl. At times, it was Bryan in the lead wielding a Leatherman, cutting barbed branches to gain us another 50 feet or so of progress. Guess the trail doesn’t get much use in these parts. The trail parallels Rt 6 and it is generally easy to ditch out onto the road to avoid the really overgrown areas.
Making our way toward Rainbow Falls State Park in Dryad, we met Marlene and talked about Blackberries and her memories of the trains that passed through here back in the day. We also had a nice experience in Pe Ell, WA where we chatted briefly with Bonnie about her town of 600 people. That night we went to bed early and took advantage of the hiker-biker campsites. The park was quiet and subdued. We met and saw no one until the morning when we chatted with a ranger at the bathroom. We headed out on the road and then eventually, got back on the trail only to be foiled by a non-existent trestle over the Chehalis River near the Spooner road in Adna, WA. The flooding of 2007 took its toll on the area.
Once in Chehalis it was a short six mile ride into Centralia, WA where we found some groceries at Fuller’s Market. At the nearby farmers market we bought some pees and apricots. We decided it would be a good time to do some laundry and call our friends Barbara and Jamie who we originally met in Mexico and arrange our paths to meet again. They have just come back from an epic trip to the Artic Circle in their 1984 VW bus! They just got off the ferry from Alaska a day earlier!
See you in Tenino, WA!
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The next morning we found our way into Astoria, OR and located a small cafe on the Main St. The place was hopping and had some interesting items on the menu.
Astoria, OR has a riverwalk path that is a nice alternative to the riding the Main Street through town. The path makes its way along the southern bank of the Columbia river, passing by and through waterfront business. It even shares space with some waterfront railroad tracks which need to be minded.
In Astoria, there are three bridges. Small, medium and large. We crossed the small one and the large one. The small bridge did not get any pictures. The large one however deserved some.
As we ate we hemmed and hawed about the crossing of the Columbia river- a 4.5 mile crossing, a long climb to get on the bridge, ongoing construction, wind and traffic. We could see the forested hills in Washington on the other side. At this point in our travels we have gone over quite a few bridges and honestly it is not that much fun unless you can get some unique circumstances that improves the situation.
We decided it was time to go and we headed out and hit the local grocery store for more provisions. The Washington side looks a little desolate for the first couple of days. After our shopping we met some nice folks and traded some road stories of the area. Leaving the store we headed back down the riverside path and started on the climb up the bridge. Traffic was thick. Access to the bridge was an approach ramp that rose directly over land and houses in town. Once we were above the rivers edge we were quite high up. Still, a short climb remained alongside the line up of cars waiting for the construction delay. We approached the flagger at the front of the line. She said we would go first to get around the construction equipment then we were to pull over and let the batch of traffic pass and then we would have the lane to ourselves. Well, at least until the next wave of traffic came. We were able to cross the bridge in four waves of traffic. All driving extremely fast in what we deemed windy conditions.
Once we arrived on the Washington side we were relieved to be done with the bridge. We stopped at a rest area called Dismal Nitch to unwind and debrief. Here, we decided to take Rt 401 to Naselle, WA instead of 101 up the coast. We were all done with traffic for the day. The sun was still shining and it appeared that most of the cars were heading up the coast. We had a nice chat with a couple of cyclists getting ready to cross the bridge to Oregon. They would have to do the steep climb out over the water to the high point of the bridge where they then would meet the construction. We deemed either direction not that much fun.
See you down the road and in the hills in Washington State!
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Tags: Oregon, Washington