Reflections and images from my travels

Archive for June, 2018

Bogachiel State Park to Quinault Lake- Willaby Campground……. the gift!

Monday June 11 2018. I awoke to something rarely seen and spoken about in hushed tones in Washington…….the sun! My tent positively glowed as my eyes opened in Bogachiel State Park. This was a first and I got up to enjoy every bit of it. I had a quick breakfast and broke camp. I also saw a blue jay one of my favourite birds and colours. I could tell already this would be a good day.

I got started at about 8:30 AM, much better than my previous performances. The cycling, and I, felt good.

I would pass through 2 separate Native American Reservations- The Hoh and The Quinalt. I did not realize when I got to the coast that I would also pass through one of the Olympic National Parks. Many of these circumvent the Olympic Peninsula allowing the public to recreate in beautiful, protected areas.

I climbed up from Bogachiel River for awhile and then passed through pleasant-enough forest-lined roads. I also passed by the road to the Hoh Rainforest. I was disappointed I could not visit there as it would have been a definite highlight. It was just too far there and back considering the distance I had to travel today.

Perhaps it was the last few challenging days and ever present rain, but, when I cleared the forested area entering the Olympic National Park and saw the coastline of the Pacific Ocean I could have wept. It was so vibrant and beautiful. It was sunny and I felt great! This is what I had dreamed of when I got the idea to travel the Olympic Peninsula so many years ago.

I stopped at Ruby Beach and walked on the sand, listening to the squeal of thrilled children, the call of seabirds and the rhythmical crashing of waves. I was at peace. My mind was clear and my spirit soaring. I achieved the state I always hope to when I undertake these adventures. I lost track of how much time I spent there taking photos and just……being.

When I finally moved on I discovered another beautiful beach called Beach 4. I had the same experience and drank it in. I soon came to realize there were 8 beaches along this Olympic National Park. I would not be able to visit them all or I would camping on one of them tonight!

Halfway through the Olympic National Park I realized I was quite hungry and suddenly a lodge with a proper restaurant appeared. I really should have bought a lottery ticket today! I stopped in and the service and food were superb. I continued my scholarly research on the ales of the Pacific Northwest and even had an ice cream. There was also a well stocked store to pick up more food supplies. Everything I needed was here.

Realizing the day was slipping away, I rode through the remainder of the Olympic National Park and was saddened by my exit of it. However, the front view from my bike was not a bad thing.

I returned to forested, inland road and peddled away happily with the memories I had just made. I was again taken aback when I got my views of Quinault Lake surrounded by forest only briefly allowing views. I got to Amanda Park but my final destination was a few miles past this very small village. I turned left off the highway and was immediately enveloped by green. Temperate Rainforest! It smelled wonderful. About 3 miles in I pulled into Willaby Campground my destination for the night. It was easily the most beautiful campground I had ever been in. Secluded sites with plenty of space and within old growth forest as it slopes toward and affording views of Quinault Lake. My campsite had an overlook with a log overlooking the lake. A perfect spot to enjoy some tea (Evelyn would be proud) contemplating life.

I made another freeze-dried meal and this one was very palatable. Three bean chilli.after dinner I had time to complete an adjacent Rainforest educational loop hike. This place had it all. The hike was gorgeous and inspired a few photos.

I finally went down to the beach in the campground as the last of the light provided some colour to the sky. I took a few photos and drank in the last of what had truly been…..a gift. Life does have it’s challenges and I certainly experienced a few over the past few days. I did start to wonder if this trip really would be worth the effort and not just a big mistake. No….just one perfect day…..a gift…..restored my faith in this trip and in myself. I consider myself blessed.

All good things, however, must come to an end. I was smiling broadly as I zipped the tent closed that night.

From Elwha River to Bogachiel State Park…another EPIC trial!

Sunday June 10 2018. I am going to warn you right off the top- do not expect many photos from today. All will become abundantly clear.

I awoke not feeling the best. I slept well but felt I was lacking energy. I had a very slow morning and only had a light breakfast thinking I could get some food “on the road”. I got out by 9:45 AM which was late for me. The distance was long again today. It was not presently raining but the forecast was not looking promising.

I had a rather uneventful 9 mile (so American) to Joyce WA. It had the best general store which had been open for over 120 years. It was amazing to walk through and see hundreds of general store items for sale. I picked up a milk and apple for the road. I had to get a photo of the store with “Eric the touring bike proudly resting on the side.

The lady owner inside recommended a cafe just further up the highway famous for its blackberry concoctions. Strangely, it was called the Blackberry Cafe!

I had a great breakfast there and man was it busy for a small place. A good sign. They had a menu item called the “Sasquatch Burger” and at a price of $32.95 US I bet you can guess how much beef came with that meal. More likely a ticket to the ICU! I did NOT

have that burger. I was thrilled with a very generous omelette and whole wheat toast. I was so full I could not have the famous Blackberry Pie they are famous for. Another time.

So far the morning was going amazingly well. All good things must come to an end. The weather became “erratic” after I left Joyce. There was rain and then sun followed by rain repeat 10 times! This is most frustrating on a bike. I do have gear to keep dry so when the rain came I had to get off the bike and put all of the pannier rain covers on as well as my personal rain gear including helmet rain cap (yes, there is such a thing). I would ride but then the sun would break through for long enough that you started to sweat. You had no choice but to stop to take off the personal rain gear otherwise you would get wet with sweat. Repeating this time and time again really frustrated me and slowed me down considerably. Rain if your going to rain!! It’s easier that way.

Also the route along Highway 112 seemed pleasant at the start, it was hard slogging with steep ascents and chilling descents. My legs really got a workout. On one of the steeper ascents (9% grade) I thought to myself man this feels hard. Harder than it should. I am relatively fit and my touring bike has 30 gears (yes it helps to have that many when you are carrying a load). There was also an odd slapping sound coming from the front of the bike. I stopped on the steepest section of the road only to discover my front tire was flat. Arghhh! I was way behind because of all the costume changes and now this! I had a moment and then composed myself. Just get on with the task. At this point I can here all of you saying “why do you put yourself through this? Just rent a car next time”. Well, no matter what you do in life unexpected events occur. I have found in my life that challenges (while challenging) often lead to great rewards and a sense of accomplishment. Life has not been easy but I have been privileged to experience some amazing things in my life. Also, one has to keep things in perspective. At the time the flat occurred I was not on a steep descent, it was the front tire (always easier to repair) and the sun had came out. I got down to work and had the flat fixed quickly and was on my way.

I was happy to be on my way but as soon as I was the deluge of rain really started! I was really being tested today. Happy thoughts, think happy thoughts.

I proceeded to come off Highway 112 (now my own personal Highway of Tears) and turned onto Highway 113. I was greeted with a massive 4 mile climb. What sustained me was the thought that I would reach that blessed campground at Bogachiel State Park before the town of Forks. This was how I had interpreted the map the night before. After the big ascent I rode and rode expecting the campground to come up quickly. Wrong. I figured it out when I saw the city limits sign for Forks WA.

I was now traveling the circuit CCW and not CW so I actually had 6.5 miles to go. Oh what fun! These challenges come up time and time again when you cycle tour. They build character. I have LOTS of character. The rain had settled (an appeasement from the gods I am sure).

I finally arrived at Bogachiel State Park very fatigued. It was much later than I hoped as I pulled in at 8 PM. I called my family as two brothers were having birthdays soon. It was nice to hear their voices after much solitude. I had a freeze dried meal that was dreadful even though it is one of the better brands.

I decided the best way to end this epic day was to go down to the Bogachiel River a quick walk down from my lovely campsite. As usual the beauty of nature had a way to calm me before I fell into a well deserved sleep. Would these epic trials continue?

Day of Rest……!

Saturday June 9 2018. After the epic ride yesterday I needed the day off- I had planned it in originally so I could spend some time in Port Angeles- not knowing how much it was appreciated as I awoke to the pitter-patter of rain on my tent fly. Yikes, would it ever end?

I moved slowly and ached as I got out of the tent with a grunt and a groan. The good part of being in a RV Park is the amenities. They had a heated activity room with plenty of electrical outlets, a laundry (thank you know who) and a shower (I am not worthy but I am somewhat dirty). My morning was planned.

After a quick breakfast I gathered all of my wet clothes and panniers and threw the lot in. I then had a 6 minute shower mandated by the coin operated machine. I then just organized things and blogged a bit as my devices charged away. I even washed the bike which sorely needed it.

Yesterday I had noted another issue with my bike. Under load and especially on the downhills the handlebars felt wobbly. Not a good thing. In my haste to get to the RV Park the previous night, I had struck a couple of potholes which may have loosened things up. There was bound to be a bike shop in Port Angeles so after I finished all of my chores, smelled respectful again and the rain had finally settled a bit; it was time to bike into Port Angeles.

On my way down (all downhill) I found the other end of the Olympic Discovery a Trail. Nest! Much easier than the city roads I had taken to the RV Park last night.

When I got into town the first thing I did was find a bike shop. Easy, one was on the main drag. He agreed that my stem was quite loose and if it failed could be “catastrophic”! He adjusted it and it felt back to normal. I was starting to wonder what value I had with the “tune-up” I had prior to departing on this trip.

I next stopped in the Visitor Centre to check out afternoon activities. Let’s say the retired volunteer was nice but kept alluding to her experiences, kept smirking and telling jokes but in the end wasn’t that helpful. I was thinking of going up to the Olympic Hot Springs but my volunteer seemed to draw a blank regarding this activity- I was not surprised. She passed me on to a much more experience fellow and he told me the road had been washed out with a recent flood and didn’t recommend it. Too bad! After last night though I was not interested in another “adventure”.

I was hungry so I had a nice lunch at H2O Bistro with a very attentive waiter. I finally had to have fish and chips but there take was to batter salmon. Yum!

I wondered around the port and did get a few photos from there including some tall ships that were in port. I was surprised there was not much to do here so I got back on my bike and made my way back to the RV Park (all uphill) I really felt tired and had a headache. I guess I had not really recovered from my previous day’s exploits.

When I got back to the RV Park I decided to check out the Elwha Dam Interpretive Centre and hike. It literally started right out of the front gates of the RV Park! It was a lovely night and not raining. The Elwha Dam and another further up the river were both decommissioned after a nasty fight over restoring natural salmon spawning channels. In this case nature won. This was the largest Dam deconstruction ever undertaken in the United States. It was interesting to read about and the hike to the now open river site where the Dam once stood was well worth it. The colours were beautiful that evening. I then walked over the Elwha Bridge to get a photo before returning to the RV Park.

I had another long day tomorrow so I applied my “secret sauce”- a wee dram of scotch, just kidding- sleep, to be frank. I hoped I would feel better the next morning.

EPIC Ride from Port Townsend to Port Angeles

Friday June 8 2018. I got up at 5 AM in Fort Casey with strong winds (Oh no the cyclists worst enemy) and decided it was best to catch the earliest Ferry at 7:15 AM. This would leave me some time to tour Port Townsend and have plenty of time (I thought) to get to Port Angeles. It was a quick 40 minute Ferry ride over to Port Townsend. The seas were rough. I got over so early nothing was open! I was not expecting the strong winds in this town. I think today was going to be a challenge.

I did have a quick oatmeal breakfast at camp in Fort Casey but I needed something more for the big bike ride ahead. I eventually found a local coffee shop open on the pier and had my requisite latte and a quiche.

I decided to visit Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend. It was quite an uphill to get there but worth it. Fort Worden Historical State Park is a 432-acre multi-use park with more than 2 miles of saltwater shoreline and a variety of services. I went down to Wilson Point Lighthouse which was very photogenic and also explored the shoreline. The structures on the ground are lovely as are the grounds. Time slipped away and I suddenly realized I needed to get going!

The Olympic Discovery Trail is a designated non-motorized, multi-use trail spanning the north end of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. The route spans around 140 miles between Port Townsend, Washington and La Push, Washington. As of August 2017, 80 miles of this trail are complete and additional miles under construction. The remainder of the route can be ridden using a combination of public roads. I was going to use these trails for the North stretch of my Olympic Peninsula bike tour.

The start in Port Townsend was the Larry Scott Memorial Trail. I was thankful to be off the main highway. The Larry Scott Trail starts in Port Townsend and travels 7.3 miles South and West towards Four Corners where it ends at Milo Curry Trailhead. The Larry Scott Trail is part of the Olympic Discovery Trail and the Pacific Northwest Trail. The Larry Scott Trails is beautifully constructed and is available for non-motorized transportation and recreational purposes including walking, bicycling, wheeling, and horseback riding.

So far, so good. The wind, however, was howling so my pace was tortoise- like. There is not much you can do but gear down and push through. As the trail took me in further inland the wind settled somewhat. Overall, the trail markings were good but lacking at some intersections. I loved the verdant green forest canopy hanging over sections of the trail.

I happily rode along but the wind came back and at times almost stopped me on steep road downhills. Psychologically this is the hardest thing to deal with on a bike. I was off the Olympic Discovery Trail and would only join it again in Sequim WA. Around Discovery Bay I noticed that some dark clouds were approaching and felt the first raindrops. I stopped and got on my rain gear and put the pannier covers on. No sooner had I done this then the deluge started. It was not cold but boy did it rain! Worse yet, I was on sections of major highways so as semi-trailers shot by I was showered with spray and road dirt.

It was very hard riding and it seemed like forever before I got to Sequim. I had to eat something as I was famished and most of looked a site as I walked into the pub. They did not serve hot drinks so a local ale was ordered- purely for therapeutic reasons you understand. I inhaled the meal and got back on my bike.

There are no pictures here as I did not have a weather-sealed camera and honestly I did not want to stop. The late start from Port Townsend, the wind and now the rain all contributed to slowing me down. It was overcast and rain clouds hung low contributing to a darkness and I did not want to be on the highway too late. The Olympic Discovery Trail from Sequim to Port Angeles was stunning. Lovely forest and bridges to cross and so quiet. Despite the conditions I felt strong in terms of peddling but I was getting psychologically tired. It was really quite a long way to get to Port Angeles. I noted marathon mile marker signs along the route (I believe it was run the previous weekend- a challenging but lovely run) so I knew exactly how long I had to go. I got into Port Angeles much later than I expected. I had ridden about 120 km. A long, tough day!

My next task was to get to my campground. I was not exactly sure where it was but is was NOT in town (note to self, do not do this in the future)! After a quick scan of my map I had a reasonable idea where it was. It was a tough slog up some steep hills. I admit it, I cursed some. When I got up above town my heart sank when it appeared to be another 7.5 miles along a major highway. Yes, it’s still raining. I was ready to get off my bike and have a good cry. I thought this is when the tough get going and I went. I pushed hard but made a major error when I missed the intersection for my turn thinking my campsite was further along. It was really starting to get dark and a bit of fear crept in. I was running out of day. I preceded down a steep 2 mile hill only to get to the wrong campground which was closed. I realized my error and started back up the long steep hill. More cursing ensued. When I got back up the hill I noted an obvious sign to my correct campground down a different highway. I eventually arrived in rain but the main office was closed. Thankfully, they left instructions and directions to my campsite on the office door. I looked with envy at all the RV’s as I wandered over and did have second thoughts about this camping nonsense. I set up my tent quickly and stripped out of my wet clothes and literally collapsed into my sleeping bag. The raindrops fell on my tent fly in a syncopated rhythm. It was 10 PM. No food just sleep!

I wondered as I drifted off, would this rain persist for my remaining journey?

The San Juan Island Tour Ends- Back to Anacortes and on to Fort Casey

Thursday June 7 2018. The B&B here in Friday Harbor is just fantastic. Comfortable, cozy rooms with character. I missed Louise and Tinus last night for dinner so my mission was to get up early and meet them at the ferry terminal to say goodbye. From yesterday, I knew they were leaving on the 8 AM Ferry and I was departing at 11:05 AM. I found them enjoying coffee at the Salty Fox Cafe on the waterfront and we had a nice chat. Such wonderful and engaging people. I appreciated their openness, humour and active lifestyles. We said our goodbyes and asked another patron to take some photos of us. Tinus asked the woman taking the photograph to focus on him because “he was the pretty one”. Joker!!

I went back to the B&B and enjoyed a great breakfast (the best included breakfast thus far with ingredients picked from their garden that morning- I watched them) and then did a few errands like getting my bike gearing corrected (I could not shift into my smallest chain ring up front) at a close by local bike shop who did it for free before heading down to catch the Ferry to Anacortes. I will return to these beautiful islands one day.

This time coming off the Ferry there was no rain! I was now navigating with good old waterproof and foldable paper maps purchased through the US based Cycling Adventure Association. Great maps with all sorts of useful information. A big advantage is they do not run out of power like my downloaded iPhone maps and App I used from Macs Adventures for the San Juan Islands! I do think my oh so old and out of date iPhone 6 Plus is not holding charge like it used to. Sigh….technology. I took the Tommy Thompson Pathway out of Anacortes which avoided a busy stretch of highway. I had to cross a causeway that had a unique potential hazard for cyclists- broken seashells which could cause a flat! I survived unscathed. There was an ugly road section under construction I had to get through. The riding was on a major road with a wide shoulder though. The difference with Island riding was the noise and amount of traffic.

I got up to Pass Lake and then proceeded through Deception Pass State Park. This was my favourite stretch. I had to cross the suspension bridge by foot on the pedestrian walkway which was very narrow. My panniers had to be forced through in a couple of sections. I did not get a photo on the bridge as it was best to move through quickly. It was also safer than riding on the bridge as the traffic was heavy and there was no shoulder.

I got into highway riding mode made easier by the drone of the cars for the next 10 miles until I got to Oak Bay Harbor. I decided to go into town for a bit to eat which was much further than I expected. After eating at a local coffee shop, I had to double back to my turn off point off Highway 20 West which put me on a quieter road with a nice shoulder. Nice. What I didn’t know was this beachside road had numerous steep climbs with grades up to 17%! It took longer to complete than I thought and it was getting late!

I finally got into Coupeville and after a bit of confusion with the cycling map directions here I made it to Fort Casey State Park my campground for the night. It is literally located right beside the Ferry Terminal to Port Townsend. Perfect! It is a basic campground and I am surrounded by 5th wheels and campers. Just one night! There is one group with the Top 40 radio blaring music no one wants to hear. Electric power, the convenience of a trailer and alcohol are not a good mix. The rest of the trailers are quiet and respectful though.

I setup my little tent and made some tea and walked on the adjacent shoreline for some photos. I got a few photos of the 9 PM Ferry coming in a stone’s throw away.

Tomorrow it is off to Port Townsend via said Ferry at either 7:15 AM or 8:45 AM. Which will it be? I feel pretty good considering I have cycled about 270 km! Great, that annoying trailer just turned off their music at 10 PM as per campground rules. Sleep will come shortly. Until tomorrow.

San Juan Tour- San Juan Island Loop

Wednesday June 6 2018. I awoke afresh in Eastsound. The boutique hotel was very quaint and the rooms were lovely. As I was preparing my gear I saw Louise and Tinus getting ready to leave quite early. The local establishments were not open until 8 AM, so, I wondered what they were planning. We had to be on the ferry to San Juan by 10:35 AM but we had to ride from Eastsound a distance of 18.3 km. I decided to wait around and have a coffee and light breakfast at a local bakery. I got there early and waited but at 8 AM the doors had not opened. A woman was waiting with me and was very perturbed that they were not open on time. She rapped on the window to no avail. She left in a huff ( she was most likely a tourist) and as soon as she was away the bakery opened.

I was off and the ride down was glorious. Perfect sunny weather and a very quiet and pastoral road. It was good for the senses and the aching quadriceps from that big climb yesterday. I got to the Orcas Ferry Terminal about an hour ahead of schedule. I was soon joined by Louise and Tinus who had breakfast in Orcas Village. This is why they left early. We sat in the warm sun and chatted and laughed. They really are good company. The ferry arrived and all three cyclists got on. So quiet.

We landed in Friday Harbor and went right up to our next B&B Tucket House which was within 5 minutes of the Ferry Terminal. It was a beautiful place. We were able to store our bags/panniers prior to the Loop Ride. Louise and Tinus went for coffee and a bite and I started ahead.

The Island Loop was very quiet and scenic. The roads were undulating. My first stop was at Lime Kiln State Park. A whale watching and kayak site. I had a nice snack sunning myself on the rocks with the gulls. There was a lovely lighthouse and kayaks to get photos of.

I was off to the next stop which turned out to be English Camp. A sign at the site explains it better than me.

War over a pig! Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed. We could learn something. The trail down was nice and the grounds were lovely and well preserved structures like a field medical unit and serviceman’s quarters were there to be appreciated.

I rode on and came to the posh and trendy Roche Harbor area. What a nice area to have a bite as I was quite hungry. A nice bowl of clam chowder and rockfish fish tacos would do nicely. There is a lot of cottage sites for sale and one of the nicest marinas I have seen.

On the way in I noticed an interesting park I just had to check out on the way out of Roche Harbor. I spent some time wandering through Sculpture Park. Yes, it is a park of sculptures which are for sale to fund local community projects. I really enjoyed the sculpture letting me know where I was. They were a bit big to fit in my panniers!

As I was leaving Sculpture Park to get on my bike I heard a call and said hi to Louise and Tinus riding by up to Roche Harbor. We spent quite a bit of time together but during the day we rode separately and at our own pace so we could enjoy the islands individually.

The ride back to Friday Harbor was quite quick and I enjoyed the farmlands and cooling dusk realizing this was my final ride on the San Juan Islands. Just to add salt to the wound, I passed the local vineyard which was of course closed. I soaked it all in!

I got back to the B&B, went up to my cozy room and eagerly consumed the homemade cookies and truffles waiting for me. Yum! I found out they have a hot tub and enjoy a well deserved soak. I walked around town and then had a light dinner and Belgian Ale at the San Juan Brewery located close by. I missed Louise and Tinus. We had talked about having a final dinner together on our last night, but, I figured they had dinner at Roche Harbor and would come in later that evening.

My island tales are over for now. I will remember the glorious, solitary rides on quiet roads, the smell of sea air, the lovely parks which were informative and restful, the company of Louise and Tinus, the extremely disappointing vineyard hours, the challenging and rewarding ride up to Mount Constitution, but most of all, gratitude that I am still well and eager enough to ride for adventure.

Tomorrow, I sail back to Anacortes to start the next chapter in my journey the Olympic Peninsula sans comfortable accommodations. Follow along with me.

San Juan Island Tour- Lopez Island to Orcas Island, Mount Constitution Climb

Tuesday June 5 2018. I awoke in my very comfortable bed in Lopez Village, Edenwild Inn. I joined Tinus and Louise for a rather meagre but well done breakfast. We cycled independently along Lopez Avenue smelling the vegetation and wild rose along the road. Very pleasant! It was overcast but no rain. I was going to miss Lopez Island for its pastoral quietness and it’s many road names like Vista, Namaste and Paradise. Orcas Island was going to be harder to cycle and had harsh names like Massacre Bay, Victim Island and Skull Island!

I arrived at the ferry terminal after about 30 minutes of cycling. I was early and was soon joined by Louise and Tinus. Conversation ensued to pass the time.

The ferry for inter-island travel was smaller and the crossings were quicker. We had a brief stop on Shaw Island and then onto Orcas. We departed and I took off on ahead. The riding was hilly compared to Lopez but still very pleasant. I visited Deer Harbor and had a latte and a breakfast wrap. Both very good and much cheaper compared to the going rate on the San Juan Islands.

I peddled back to another intersection with Crow Valley Road and proceeded north. What a fantastic road. Undulating, rural but lined with blooming wild rose; it’s sweet liquor filling the air. I was really looking forward to stopping at a local winery on the same road but unfortunately it was closed- only open weekends presently. I stopped and had a good cry and peddled on.

Eastsound arrived soon. My stop for the night. I quickly checked in (thankfully the room was ready) and dropped off 2 panniers for the big climb ahead. I was staying at the Outlook Inn. Very charming.

The ride up to Moran State Park was steady and pleasant. Moran is the “crown jewel” of the San Juan Island Parks. I can see why. It’s spectacular.

Mount Constitution is a mountain on Orcas Island, the highest point in the San Juan Islands and the second highest mountain on an ocean island in the contiguous 48 states. A stone observation tower patterned after a medieval watch tower stands at the summit. It was designed by architect Ellsworth Story and built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936. The tower offers panoramic views of the surrounding islands, the Cascade Mountains, and many Canadian and American cities. On a clear day, the view encompasses locations as diverse as Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Saturna Island, and the cities of Vancouver, and Victoria British Columbia. Mount Constitution lies within the 5,000 acre (20.2 km2) Moran State Park. The ride up was long and tough. Great views about three-quarters up helped with the arduous task.

The summit was eventually achieved at 2407 feet with about 4265 accumulative elevation gain! The views from the top were spectacular and white-capped Mount Baker was clearly seen. The stone observation tower was impressive. What an overview!

I spent about 30 minutes up top taking photos and having a snack. I then proceeded down at “warp speed”. On my way down I saw Tinus and Louise making their way up. They had the same look on their faces that I had earlier. What a thrill going up to 60 km/hour on steep descents and taking corners like a Ferrari! My hands were sore from braking so hard when I got to the bottom. It was a fast ride back to Eastsound. I had a coupon for a local craft brewer, Island Hopping Brewery, so I figured it was a great way to celebrate my huge climb today. I had the beer flight sampler which was made up of seven, yes seven, small glasses of their local brew types adding up to about 2 pints in volume. Great beer and price with the coupon; however, I did feel rather loopy at the end. I cycled back to town (I am pretty sure it was a straight line) and took off to the “Lower Tavern” for a meal. It was needed to soak up all of the beer consumed recently. The tavern provided very hardy pub food in a fun bar-like atmosphere. I did an evening walk around the village and retired to blog and slowly sink into a well deserved deep slumber. Onwards to San Juan Island tomorrow.

San Juan Island Tour- Anacortes to Lopez Island with a visit to the world’s most welcoming outhouse and South African stalkers!

Another great sleep! I could get used to this. It’s Monday June 4 2018. I was in bed early last night so I was up at 5 AM and figured it was the perfect time to catch up on blogging. I do not have to catch the next ferry to Lopez Island until 12:45 PM and check out at the hotel is at 11 AM. I put that provided French Press ground coffee to good use and lay in bed blogging away happily for about 90 minutes. How relaxing. It’s amazing how almost anything can be done with a smartphone. As I type away, the sun comes up and it is a lovely, sunny morning here. Fantastic! Hopefully it will continue as I pack up, have a shower, breakfast and eventually make my way to the Anacortes Ferry terminal about 8 km away. I am now at this moment officially caught up and blogging live! Wahoo!! Hopefully, I will stay disciplined and blog daily as I proceed with my tour.

I arrive at the Anacortes Ferry Terminal early. I have time to read and have a latte-are you surprised? The sun feels warm and relaxing on my body. I look for my microfibre cloth which seems to be playing hide and seek. No luck. Is this the first lost item on this trip? I decide I will look for it later. I notice a South African couple who are also waiting at the terminal. They have bikes as well. I say the requisite hello but no other conversation flows.

It’s time to board. This ferry is definitely quieter. Also, once you pay for your ticket (included in my tour with Macs Adventures- check them out) to get out to the San Juan Islands all inter-island transfers are free. Sweet! The ferry ride is pleasant and quite short. The Lopez Island terminal at Port Stanley is very small. Bikes and foot passengers off first and the bikes (all three of us) are sent to a “staging area” to wait for vehicle traffic to get by us. I talk to the South African couple and take a picture for them on their cellphone. They are most appreciative. We chat about the Lopez Loop Tour which we will both be doing. They will proceed up the Loop Tour forthwith while I take a detour to Lopez Village to drop off some of my heavy panniers before I also do the Loop Tour. Why work harder than you need to?

The roads are in excellent condition, quiet and the surrounding land is rural and pastoral. Perfect! I am in my element. After dropping off two of the heavy rear panniers at my B&B, the Edenwild Inn, I’m off. There is a bit of a stiff headwind but nothing too bad.

I eventually end up at Agate Beach Park on the other end of the island. A great place to have a few snacks and admire the open bay view. My two South African cyclists pass by and stop and we have a more in depth conversation. It turns out the woman is a GP in Vernon BC. Small world! We immediately bond. As usual, friends are easily made on these adventures. They carry on up to Iceberg Point while I decide it’s time for a bathroom break. Just inside the entrance to Agate Beach Park is an unassuming outhouse. Imagine my surprise when I open the door to be greeted with the most welcoming and beautiful outhouse I have ever seen! Gorgeous colours, flowers, humorous signs and the New Yorker magazine as one “gets down to business”. This outhouse was more inviting than many hotels I have stayed in! Lopez Island is known as the “Friendly Island”. This is certainly true when so much care is spent on their outhouses!

I then proceed up to Iceberg Point which is about a 4 km walk one way (no bikes allowed). It juts into the ocean and has a day-marker with expansive views along the coastline and out to the ocean. A nice place for photos and peaceful as well. Of course, my South African friends are there but I decide to leave them be to eat their lunch.

It’s getting a little late, about 4:45 PM, so it’s time to get back to Lopez Village as many of the restaurants close early. Food is essential as you burn many calories cycle touring. It is a most pleasant ride back. I miss one turn going back but realize my mistake and double back and behold my South African friends have caught up with me. We ride and chat the rest of the way back. We get back to Lopez Village by about 6:45 PM and it turns out my South African friends are staying at the same B&B. We have a good laugh. I tell them about a couple of restaurants close by and the need to get in quickly before they close. I head over and choose Bucky Lopez Island Grill. Open until 8 PM. Fantastic! I am famished and wolf down a really good seafood marinara pasta dish as well as a local English style bitter ale. Yum! As I am leaving, you can see this coming, the South Africans are there! I’ve had enough and proceed to introduce myself formally and they do the same. Louise and Tinis are their names. I find out he has run 61 marathons and they both love doing these adventures. It gets weirder when I find out they have ordered exactly the same main as me. They are also on a Macs Adventure which is identical to mine in itinerary. Drop the mike I’m sold! I expect to run into them over and over for the remainder of this week and I am happy for it. We joke for over 20 minutes (we have the same sense of humour) before I say my goodnight, take a few photos in Lopez Village and then head back to the B&B for a shower and blog session (this one, in fact).

Tomorrow is a much earlier start than today and the tour on Orcas, the next island, is much tougher with a ride up to the top of Mount Constitution. Will I have the constitution? Only time will tell.

The Tour Starts- Anacortes WA

Another good sleep! I could get used to this! It’s now Sunday June 3 2018 and I will be leaving Pat and Richard to start my tour. I’m excited. It has been awhile since I did a big cycle tour solo and I always love the anticipation and sense of adventure.

Richard makes me breakfast and I finalize packing my steed. His name is Eric by the way. My trusty mode of transportation for the next 3 weeks. He was purchased in 2015 as a gift to myself (the best kind). I have always enjoyed cycle touring and he is one of the better touring bikes on the market. Solid, fast and extremely well built (just like someone else I know…. kidding).

I get a lovely surprise. Richard is going to join me on the ride to the Washington State ferry terminal in Sidney BC. It’s only about 5 km from their house and off we go!

It’s a great day to ride. Overcast and about 14 C with no wind or rain.

We arrive at the ferry terminal early and we say our goodbyes. I will be back to visit!

The ferry route from Sidney to Anacortes takes about 3 hours with a stop in Friday Harbor, San Juan Island long the way. It starts to rain lightly and it is quite cold in the ferry ride over.

Just before we arrive at the Anacortes ferry terminal, I quickly eat lunch on the ferry. As I go out to my bike it has been raining and it is wet. I did not put the rain covers on thinking it would not be that wet. I was wrong.

I remember my first hotel in Anacortes is not too far from the ferry terminal but I am not really sure where it is. On the ferry ride over I did not bring my cell phone up on deck to plan on getting there. I get on the bike and just go. It is very wet here and I again make the decision to not put the rain covers on.

I just follow the signs towards downtown Anacortes and after one wrong turn find my hotel. I am quite soaked and a little dirty. The reception staff are great. They tell me they have a bike rack in the back of the property outside. I give them my best puppy eyes. The manager asks if my bike is expensive. I say yes and she states that she will keep it inside right beside the recreation desk. I could kiss her!

All the other guests eye me warily as I trudge up my soaked gear to my room. It’s a lovely boutique hotel and at reception they provide freshly ground coffee for the next morning’s eye opener. Decent!

I am thrilled to see an older style adjustable radiator element in the room. A perfect dryer. I place the wet gear on the radiator and wipe things down. I have a quick hot shower and then it is off to explore the downtown with a map I picked up on the ferry. It is a historic building walk tour. Perfect! It takes about 90 minutes to complete with a background story on each building provided on the map.

What a great way to explore the town. It’s lovely here and some of the homes and parks are gorgeous. They also do something unique here. They have local artists create murals of individuals (historic and present day) from the town attached to local buildings. What a great idea and there are hundreds of them! I tour about 30 properties including a paddle wheel steamboat which is their largest exhibit. It was operational up to the 1980’s and was termed a “Snagboat”. The W. T. Preston was a specialized sternwheeler that operated as a snagboat, removing log jams and natural debris that prevented river navigation on several Puget-Sound area rivers.

Back to the hotel for a lovely meal. As I finish the meal the sky clears and beautiful sunlight streams into the bistro restaurant. This bodes well for tomorrow. I then go up to bed in my room to read and work on this blog but my eyes will just not stay open! Off to sleep. I guess I have still not repaid that sleep deficit.

North Saanich and Coles Bay

What a great sleep! Not quite long enough but I am on holidays. I feel free. Freedom equals relaxed sleep.

Richard and Pat have gone off to Victoria Airport to rent a car for Pat to drive to her golf tournament in Nanaimo. Even though she has retired since fall 2017 they still have not had time to drive her car out.

They have made me coffee (I love you guys) and I am able to tour the house and grounds in daylight. Gorgeous property. I am thrilled they have found their little slice of retirement heaven. I find out later it was no easy task to acquire the property (that’s another story) but when Pat saw this property she knew it was “the place”.

Pat and Richard return and we enjoy a lovely breakfast together before Pat leaves. She loves golf. She plays all the time and is very good at it. She will overnight in Nanaimo and will have another golf tournament when I return so our time together is brief but meaningful. We say our goodbyes and promise to stay in touch. How couldn’t we? I now know where they live!

I will spend the day getting ready for my tour, exploring North Saanich and visiting with Richard and his yacht. Yes, his yacht. His passion is sailing and he, Pat and another couple purchased an older 46 foot yacht. They enjoy going out and sailing around the island and have it stowed in a marina close by.

We visit the marina and I meet Ralph, the other owner. Richard and Ralph plan to do some maintenance on the yacht while I run around North Saanich. What a beautiful boat! I learn more about boat maintenance and costs than I ever thought I would. Biking is definitely more economical.

I pop into Sidney for supply shopping, lunch and a walking tour. Pretty little town for photography. I am stating to relax and am morphing into an islander.

Afterwards, I drive around North Saanich and visit some local wineries to buy a gift of local wine for Pat and Richard for putting me up (or, putting up with me?). My stops include Roost Vineyard and Church and State Vineyard. Wines are purchased and then it is off to Horth Hill Park for a hike.

I then pop down to Deep Cove Vineyard (do you see a pattern emerging?) but they are just closing. When I return I will check them out.

Then it is off to Coles Bay Park for a hike (yes, I never sit).

I return back to my home base and start final stocking of supplies in the bike panniers. Richard returns home and we enjoy a beer and some good conversation followed by a swim, hot tub and outdoor shower before we head back into Sidney BC for a lovely dinner. We get back home and I am surprisingly tired. I am still playing catch up.

It’s off to sleep as the next day I start my tour!

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