Reflections and images from my travels

Archive for June, 2018

Pender Island Summer Solstice!

Thursday June 21 2018. Summer Solstice the longest day of the year! I almost slept it away. The cabin, the cool temperature and the very comfortable bed kept me within it’s grasp until 9:15 AM. Yikes! I got up and found Catherine reading her book in the wonderful sunshine. We needed to get on with our day. So much to see and do!

The morning involved some car touring and a visit to South Pender. Last time I was on Pender I was cycle touring with Anna and we never made it over to the South. We stopped at Brooks Point Regional Park for a walk. Catherine told me this parcel of land was saved by local advocacy after a developer tried to place condominiums here. I am so glad it never came to pass. A beautiful and relaxing spot. We also saw a huge tanker vessel saunter by.

On our way back I noticed a lovely small Anglican Church of the Good Shepard surrounded by lovely woods and had to stop for a photo.

We had to get back for a booked lunch at Jo’s which is a relatively new and very popular restaurant. What great service and food. We were very satisfied afterwards.

For the afternoon another Viewpoint. But, before we went there, I really wanted to see the local cidery and winery. I continued to be hopeful that I would find one open. Disappointed again! Photos of signs again!

It was a short but steep climb to Mount Norman. The views from this Viewpoint were even more spectacular. The sun was warm and we even were able to see the Olympic Mountain Range and a bald eagle flew by.

Afterwards we drove to Hope Bay for a quick look at the stores and the view and because there is a local chocolate store there. Unfortunately after we finished admiring the view and went to the chocolate store they were closing down for the day. Foiled!

We had a brief stop at the cabin and then went to dinner at a pub in Poet’s Cove. A fantastic spot with really good food. The landscaping around the resort was gorgeous. As we made our way back to our vehicle we noticed a small plaque which was a memorial to the traditional native people who inhabited this cove for thousands of years. What a heartfelt message. I guess when the resort was being built an ancient burial ground was found and both parties came to terms so the resort could be built.

On our way back to the cabin we stopped by Mortimer Spit and were entertained by a trio who could not get their vehicle with attached boat out due to the sandy conditions. There was no formal boat launch there so it was beyond me why they attempted this. The beers they had in their hands provided some explanation. The Spit was also a great place to get a photo of the bridge joining South to North Pender Islands. They are all one Island the locals dredged a channel through this area so boats could pass through.

Once again we returned to the cabin and enjoyed some port and Pender chocolates. How did we acquire these chocolates when we missed the opportunity to purchase them at the store? Catherine remembered that a local bookstore had them for purchase which we visited before we went for dinner that evening. Fantastic pairing with the port with flavours like Chai, Pineapple and Lavender.

Afterwards we walked back down to Anchor Bay hoping to catch another sunset like the previous night. Of course with camera in hand this did not occur. The sky was clear which never bodes well. It was still a nice sunset and I was able to get some photos.

What a great way to spend the Summer Solstice of 2018. Again, I feel truly blessed. Tomorrow is my last day on the Island before I must start to head back to my life in Calgary. It has been a fantastic trip and I am grateful to Catherine for her friendship and willingness to share her love and knowledge of Pender Island with me. Thank you!

Pender Island Postings

Wednesday June 20 2018. My last day on North Saanich. I was to take the Ferry to Pender Island to meet Catherine. I cleaned up a bit at Pat and Richard’s place including the kitty litter box again. Cat’s sleep and defecate!

I stopped in at Roost again for a latte and made my way to Swartz Bay. It was quiet. The Ferry stopped at Mayne Island first and then Pender Island.

I drove up the Ferry Terminal Road and spotted Catherine waiting for me. A quick wave and then we made our way up to a pull out on top of the hill for a formal greeting. I wanted to see my other friend’s cabin first so we made our way to Hope Bay. We found the cabin easily and admired the view and huge deck. I think the deck has to be refurbished which will be no small task!

After visiting Dave’s cabin we stopped in st Catherine’s cabin which looked like it would be the perfect place to chill and relax. I skipped breakfast that morning as I had a large, late dinner the night prior. We made our way to a lovely bakery to enjoy a coffee, snack and good conversation. My friend Catherine is a medical school classmate who also has recently retired. She has a lovely, rustic cabin on North Pender and thankfully agreed to put me up (or is that put up with me?).

The plan for the afternoon was a small tour of the island by car and a hike up to Oaks Bluff Viewpoint. It was a lovely spot to just sit, chat and admire the expansive views. Pender Island inspires you to slow down and just be. We must have chatted up at that viewpoint for almost two hours. I’m not quite sure what I was pointing at!

Afterwards we made our way back to the cabin and got ready for dinner. We went to a pub in Port Browning for a lovely meal and my requisite ale.

Upon returning to the cabin we went for a nice walk admiring the variety of residences from the simplest cabins to the most extravagant estates. What a variety!

We then had the most special experience. Catherine led me down to a ocean view by Anchor Bay. I sensed very quickly that this would be a great sunset location. Of course, this was the one time I did not bring my camera! As we watched the sunset Catherine called out and pointed out to the ocean. Slowly passing us were two lone killer whales their fluid, undulating backs and dorsal fins rising and falling. It was magical and we truly felt blessed to witness their passage. We then witnessed the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen. The clouds above the horizon projected the most colourful and vibrant colours- orange, red and even fuschia tones. Our retinas, and we, were in awe of nature’s flagrant display of her beauty. I was somewhat upset that I had not brought my camera to share this with you all, but on the other hand, sometimes it is best to not have anything interfere with these type of experiences. Unfiltered so to speak.

We were quiet as we made our way back to cabin having witnessed such beauty. The evening was capped with conversation and a glass of port before we realized how late it was and fell into blissful slumber.

Oops…..not quite done with North Saanich!

Here I thought I had signed off. One last full day in North Saanich before I head off to Pender Island.

Boy, did I sleep last night! I guess I needed it. I got up at 9:15 AM. Late for me. I had a really relaxing morning with domestic chores. Cooking a from scratch breakfast, coffee on the deck contemplating life, last minute laundry and even cleaning out the kitty litter box! You are welcome Pat (actually she requested it). Pat is away golfing in Comox for three days. I did not realize that cats are very fussy and will not use a litter box if it is dirty. Who knew!

The afternoon was spent walking the boardwalk in Sidney and admiring the views and all of the sculptures adorning same.

I then took the scenic route by vehicle (what, not bike!) of North Saanich. It really is pretty here. I passed an amazing church originally built in the late 1800’s and had to stop to take a few photos.

I then stopped at Roost Winery and Bakery for a latte and the best peach pie I have ever had. The server said “with whipping cream and warmed?”. I told her she was telling me all the right things!

I did a bit of grocery shopping in Sidney for a from scratch dinner (pasta tonight). I also got in touch with my friend Dave who also has a cabin on Pender Island. I got the directions and will stop in for a quick look, but, I promised him I would not squat!

I returned home (ha, like it’s mine), enjoyed dinner and then a hot tub with my good friends Port and Haagen-Dazs! The night ended looking out over Cole’s Bay from the deck with a crescent moon above. Life really is good!

Off to sleep and dreams of Pender Island.

Back to Sidney!

Monday June 18 2018. It’s time to get back to Canada.

I had a great sleep and a very easy morning but had to be up early as the only Westbound Ferry sailing back to Sidney left at 8:30 AM arriving 11:15 AM. Perfect. That would give me an afternoon of leisure and lunch in Sidney before cycling the short route back to Pat and Richard’s place. They had graciously allowed me to stay there even though they were both away. Thanks!

I was originally scheduled to stay one more day and overnight camp at Washington City Park but Pat and Richard’s place seemed more appealing than another night at a campground.

After a quick breakfast at the hotel I had a very pleasant ride to the Ferry. The sailing was smooth and I had a nice chat with a teacher and his new bride from California. They were on their honeymoon and traveling up to BC then Banff, Alberta. I gave them a few ideas for the Banff portion of their trip.

I arrived about 30 minutes late in Sidney. I had a nice lunch there dockside and then cycled back uneventfully to Pat and Richard’s place.

After unpacking, washing the bike and doing some laundry I went out for a short hike to Horth Hill. The weather was spectacular today.

I then stopped in Sidney and picked up some groceries for dinner. I decided a BBQ would be prefect tonight. It was nice to get back to some from scratch cooking! After dinner I walked down to Cole’s Bay Park for some photography (bad light) and a light hike. A nice Pinot Gris and Port for soaking in the hot tub tonight ended the day. Life is good.

I will head off to Pender Island soon to spend a few days with my friend Catherine. I’m looking forward to it. I will sign off for now.

A few final thoughts about my trip experiences while cycle touring the San Juan Islands and Olympic Peninsula:

-for most cyclists, the San Juan Islands provides the best cycle touring experience

-Washington State is very bike friendly

-the vast majority of drivers are very respectful of road cyclists

-the State is not always the best with respect to road signage

-almost everyone in this State drives a Subaru Outback- really!

-generally the State campgrounds are good, but, I believe the Canadian campgrounds are better in terms of arrangement/state of maintenance

-people are very friendly and kind

-the roads are generally in good condition, but, there are a fair number of pebbled road surfaces

-on the road, especially the Olympic Peninsula, more local cafes and less pubs/fast food outlets please!

-the seafood is fantastic

-RV Parks rock for amenities

-whatever you do, stay active and open to new experiences- life is just better that way!

Cheers!

The Anacortes Relaxation Continues!

Sunday June 17 2018. Happy Father’s Day to all of the fathers out there. Thing of, and missing you, dad. A real bed is much appreciated after you have not slept on one for awhile. I had a very lazy morning. I really wanted to catch up on the blog. Mission accomplished. I also finally shaved although suspected this would cease all free lattes! I was correct.

I got geared up for another day of walking, hiking and enjoying Anacortes. I figured with Father’s Day it would be quiet in town except for the restaurants. There was an option to do an afternoon cruise on that tall ship but I was still undecided.

I had a nice breakfast at the hotel and was off for more exploration of all Anacortes had to offer. It was sunny again and expected to go up to 23 C today.

I decided to skip the tall ship cruise and go for a long walk. There apparently a nice trail along the Guemes Channel close to Ship Harbor. It was mentioned to me at the Visitor’s Centre yesterday.

I had to walk basically back to the Ferry Terminal. There was an entry point off Dakota Avenue but unbeknownst to me there was no public access to the walkway from this end as it was the private property of Lovric’s Sea Craft. I had to walk back up to Oakes Avenue and walk along the busy road and passed a small park appropriately named Roadside Park. I should have taken a closer look but walked on. I eventually had to access the parkway from the terminus of Edwards Way. This involved me walking back along the trail to Lovric’s Sea Craft where a gate ended the trail. Just before the end of the trail there was a set of steep stairs leading to Roadside Park! If I would have known there was a public access point at Roadside Park to Guemes Channel Pathway it would have saved time. Also of interest at the end of the trail there was an interesting sign and view of the “La Merced”. It was an old 4 mast ship built in the early 1900’s and provided different shipping services to different owners until it was retired as a “tide break ship” in the late 1950’s. It’s hull was filled with sand and today it still sits having been encompassed by nature almost like a planter. Neat!

The pathway itself was excellent and well constructed. The long term plan was to connect the Ferry Terminal at Ship Harbor to the Tommy Thompson Trail. Now that would be excellent. The Guemes Channel Pathway was another example of restoration of old canning/fishing plants being converted to recreational pathways and public access to the shoreline. Along the Pathway I had great views of Mount Baker, foxglove in bloom as well as wild rose and bald eagles fishing. A great afternoon choice.

I double-backed along the same trail towards the Ferry Terminal and found another trail called SHIP (Ship Harbor Interpretative Preserve). It connected the Guemes Trail to the Ferry Terminal. It was a wetland migration area and also very pretty.

From the Ferry Terminal I went up to Sunset Avenue and then down to Flounders Bay. There was a nice marina I had seen from the viewpoint at the Washington State Park.

I thought I would catch transit back but they do not operate on Sunday! I walked back to the Ferry Terminal, then SHIP and finally Guemes Channel Pathway (which I know knew like the back of my hand). I finally climbed those steep stairs to Roadside Park and then back to Old Town in Anacortes.

I walked about 24 km so was ready for a bite. I went up the the rooftop bar at the Majestic Inn and had a passion fruit ale and a pork slider followed by strawberry-rhubarb pie. The evening was punctuated with a G&T as the sun set.

A wonderful day and a great way to end my Anacortes experience. I have a relatively early ferry tomorrow at 8:30 AM to head back to the “true north strong and free” Sidney BC.

I will enjoy the last night in that comfortable bed!

A Day of Rest in Anacortes!

Saturday June 16 2018. I slept in. Finally! I had no where to quickly pack up and get to. This next week was going to be about relaxation. I must admit I was having second thoughts about not cycling up to the Northern Cascades, but, quickly brushed these misgivings aside. I know I made the right decision. I had a leisurely breakfast to use up the last of my food supplies and packed up.

Washington City Park has a lovely scenic loop ride and I decided I would cycle this before I rode back into Anacortes. It was sunny and the earlier forecast of sunny and warmer seemed to be coming true. As I cycled I passed a walker who noted my fully loaded touring bike and said “you’re brave to cycle this way. I said it seems pleasant. She stated yes, but, I know what’s coming ominously”. The grade did get steeper and steeper but was doable. I got up to a lovely viewpoint for some photos and then a nice downhill.

Soon I was in Anacortes at noon and stopped in at my hotel. I thought I would drop off my panniers and bike and then enjoy Anacortes on foot as check in was not until 4 PM. My room was ready! Great!

I took my gear up and got organized and had a nice, long hot shower. I took a light day pack and camera and headed off.

I stopped in at the Visitor Centre to get some ideas. Another tall ship was in Port and the Farmer’s Market was on but only until 2 PM. It was already 1:45 PM. I quickly went over to the Farmer’s Market but they were already packing up. From what I could briefly see they had some nice offerings. I noted a barber shop across the street and thought I would stop in for a hot shave. He told me with recent changes in regulations it was not worth the price to do these so they were not offered. I decided to just chat with the fellow. The barber had cut hair in Anacortes for over 22 years and had a very unique shop with great decor. So different from modern stylists. When I had arrived he was cutting a local woman’s hair and you could just tell he knew each customer personally. As I was leaving I noticed a great Harley-Davidson trike out front. It was the barber’s and he told me with bride how he himself customized it and got it for a steal from a local woman who had the bike roll over on her and she was left with significant injuries so her husband insisted it be sold. The barber told me he enjoyed taking his grandchildren on the motorbike and traveling to visit his children. I had not noticed as he was sitting that he had lost both feet to diabetes and this afforded him mobility and freedom. I had to snap a photo of the bike and owner.

Next, it was on for a latte. Cycling in I had noted a nice “espresso hut” and decided to go there. It was a bit of a walk. It was busy! I ordered the latte but when it came time to pay she said it was on the house. How nice! I hope it wasn’t because I was still in a feral state and she thought I would benefit with a little charity. I really needed to shave! My beard is salt and pepper and does make me look older.

I stopped at Safeway to get a disposable shaver and small shaving foam canister. I also picked up another micro cleaning cloth. I never could find the one I had earlier misplaced.

I next decided to just check out the Cap Sante Marina boardwalk in town. It was warm and sunny. I learned that this marina area had originally been marshland and had been developed when the town was established. Over the years with paper mills and other mills the area had become quite polluted. A major redevelopment was undertaken to make it into one of the greenest marinas and tourist destinations for boaters and visitors alike. It was a beautiful marina. A lot to see including that tall ship, all of the yachts and great dockside restaurants. I realized I was quite famished and stopped by Cabana’s Restaurant and, in the words of the server, to “destroy” a Mahi-Mahi fish taco!

I decided to walk towards the Cap Sante Lookout and along the way stopped at an ice cream stand for dessert. Yum!

The views from the Lookout were fantastic! Several photos were taken.

I returned to town and found a lovely wine and nibbles tasting shop and had a great cheese plate and 2 glasses of local wine- a Pinot Gris and Riesling, both lovely. Now this was the life!

Afterwards, I enjoyed a walk along Commercial Avenue looking for more murals. My hotel had a rooftop bar so I stopped in for a G&T and watched the sunset from my vantage point.

A fantastic day! I returned to my room and slept in a real bed after days of camping. My body said thank you.

Port Hadlock to Anacortes….back to the start!

Friday June 15 2018. I had a great sleep on the beach! The only annoying thing as I got up and was packing inside the tent was the sound of a vehicle clearly forwarding and reversing for literally 25 minutes! I zipped open the tent and saw a fellow trying to find the PERFECT spot for his tent trailer right next to me. As I exited the tent he said “sorry if I woke you”. The blade was quickly sheathed. He was clearly claiming a spot for the upcoming weekend and after unhooking the trailer drove off.

I packed up and started on my way. The plan was to get to Port Townsend and have breakfast there a distance of about 13 miles. I made only my second mistake (remember Elwha RV Park?) on the way back. The directions on my map seemed to suggest I turn right soon out of my campground onto Highway 116 Flagler Road. I did not realize that Oak Bay Road I was on was Highway 116 and a short stretch of it was also Flagler Road (makes perfect sense right?) so I had a nice 6 mile return tour around Indian Head Naval Base when I sensed this way could not be correct. Sigh….! It was a very hilly 6 miles.

I got back on track and found the correct road out of Port Hadlock and got back to Highway 19 the end of my true loop for the Olympic Peninsula! I did a little fist pump but was a bit behind so I had little time to celebrate. I moved on and got back on the route I had come out on originally. It put me back on the Olympic Discovery Trail and off the highway. As you recall this section is called the Larry Scott Trail.

I arrived in Port Townsend again and stopped for breakfast at my favourite dockside cafe. I celebrated with a small piece of strawberry shortcake (perfect breakfast fare), a pot pie and a latte.

I got on the ferry, got some nice photos of Port Townsend and before I knew it I was back in Fort Casey State Park. This final section was familiar to me but done in reverse which is still a new experience.

On the way back I noted that I had missed a section through Coupeville on my way out. In my haste to initially get to Fort Casey Park, I had taken the highway and not the recommended Madrona Way. This was an opportunity to rectify that situation. I am glad I did. The town of Coupeville is charming full of restored older homes as B&B’s and quaint churches. The port side was picturesque as well.

I got back on hilly West Beach Road and enjoyed watching two huge military jet fighters circling Ault Field Naval Base.

Deception Pass Bridge soon appeared and I stopped to hydrate and have a snack. There was a much better vantage point on the opposite side coming back for photos of this dramatic bridge. I also just cycled across it this time which felt amazing with cars whizzing by.

A bit more climbing and then a nice downhill to get back on the Tommy Thompson Trail and a photo of that causeway with broken clamshells just waiting for a bike tire!

I arrived back in Anacortes with the main cycling part of my adventure over. There was a much bigger fist pump as I got back to the Majestic Inn. What an accomplishment. I was really happy with the tour and myself.

I knew I would get back early and had planned to just overnight here in Athens Washington State City Park and then would cycle 76 miles into the North Cascades, spend two nights there and then cycle back. Honestly, this just seemed like burning time. It would be a huge cycle and an out and back. My bum was a bit sore and I had noted a bit of medial right knee pain so I decided on a plan change. I was able to cancel my reservation at Newhalem Campground online and the Majestic Inn had a nice room for two nights at a reasonable price starting tomorrow. The deal was sealed!

I had a lovely celebratory dinner at the 5th Street Bistro and then cycled to Washington City Campground for a final camping evening. The campground was quite full and a bit noisy. I went for a short hike to Sunset Beach and was blessed with a most beautiful sunset.

I slept well that night knowing I could sleep in the next morning and would not have to cycle that 76 miles. My right knee said thank you!

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