Monday 28 August 2017

Day 21 - 24....June 15 - 18

I should subtitle this post...HOW TINKER CAME TO MY RESCUE!

After my evening by Lake Sylvia of picnicking, it was time to head off to bed. The plan was to stay at Lake Sylvia for two nights as my best girlie friend Tinker was driving over from Seattle, so we would have one last day together. That's the downside of having best friends on the other side of the world...sure you can talk on skype, but to actually sit down together and chat happens so rarely.

So off I went to bed looking forward to the next day. At about 11 pm I woke up to the sound of rain but I was nice and dry and snug in my tent and dozed back off again. At about 2 am I woke up again and it was still raining, not a light drizzle but heavy rain. Also I saw giant shadows running over my tent...I'm sure they were just tiny mice but in my head at 2 am they were enormous cyclist eating critters! Then at about 6 am I woke up again and it was STILL raining heavily. I had hours until I met up with Tinker so just hunkered down and read my book. When I finally decided to get up I was in for a shock!

What had been a lovely place to camp was now a lake with my tent in the middle of it. Thinking hmmm this isn't good, I quickly got dressed and waded outside. Only one thing to do...carry all my gear down to the amenities block, try and dry some stuff with the blower hand dryer and wait for Tink. 
I unhooked my food storage bag off the raccoon and bear proof tree only to find some critter had munched a few holes in it. Packing up my gear that very same critter seemed to like eating chamois towels too, as that had a few holes in it!

So I waited and waited for Tinker, one of the park rangers came to check on me. Apparently most people had left the state park and he offered to give me a lift into town. The road out of the park had turned into a small river!
I kept waiting for Tinker to come and rescue me..11.30, then midday, then 12.30 and still no Tinker. Finally we found each other...she had been driving around since 11 am looking for me! We were both so relieved to see each other and had to laugh, it was so typical of US!
So it was off to Montesanto to find a hotel for the night and to have a feed. One of my favourite things about Tinker is watching her eat a hamburger. I have never ever seen anyone enjoy a hamburger as much as she does and she didn't disappoint me this time either.

Thank you Tinker for rescuing me...your timing was perfect to meet up on the one day of the whole tour that was the wettest!! I said a sad farewell to my friend that afternoon...who knows when we will see each other again.

Not a lot to see in Montesanto. A few nice buildings.

I ended up spending two nights in Montesanto waiting for the rain to stop. It had been a record rainfall that night I was camping. Just my luck! For the first time on the trip I couldn't decide what to do, which route to take, so I posted a message on the Pacific Coast group on Facebook asking for advice. I was offered a place to stay by a Warmshowers host in Aberdeen. It was only 20 km ride from Montesanto but I thought if someone is nice enough to offer I would like to stay, and I'm so glad I did.
The ride to Aberdeen was along a back road nearly all the way with the last 6 kms on the Olympic Highway. 

I stopped at a Starbucks (don't say a word...they have good tea and donuts, clean rest rooms and fast wifi!) and while I was inside my back tyre decided to go flat. My only puncture on the whole trip.

Luckily for me Lauri, my Warmshowers host came and picked me up. I had a great visit with Lauri...we rode down to the supermarket then headed off to GH Wine Sellers to buy a bottle of vino and of course we ended up having a glass, then it was off to Cakecakes to buy one of the best cupcakes I had ever eaten.
After dinner Lauri took me for a drive around the older streets of Aberdeen where the sawmilling tycoons had built beautiful victorian style houses.
I would have had a whole different impression of Aberdeen if I hadn't stayed with Lauri, so thankyou for such wonderful hospitality (and thankyou Sadie.)

I left Lauri's in the drizzling rain and went in search of a coffee from a cafe she had pointed out the previous afternoon. Very good coffee at TinderBox Coffee Roasters, probably the best I have had so far on my whole trip. I also had a very odd french toast bagel with sausage, egg and bacon on it..kind of a sweet, salty and savoury combination. My tastebuds were a bit unsure about that!
On the way out of Aberdeen I passed this very cool sculpture.

My destination today was Bruceport County Park, a nice easy 57 kms. Misty rain most of the morning but that didn't hinder the view at all.

I found a bit of shelter for my lunch stop up this track off the main road.

Lauri had mentioned an oyster bar in South Bend. Apparently the New York Chronicle rated them THE best crumbed oysters in America! I rode up and down the street a couple of times looking for the place, eventually asking a local who pointed me in the direction of the Chester Club and Oyster Bar. It didn't look the most salubrious of places, with ZZ Top lookalikes sitting outside smoking and a pool competition going on inside. I wandered up to the bar, checked I was in the right place and ordered a dozen oysters. They were the freshest, most delicious oysters I have tasted and I spent a very pleasant half hour or so watching the pool games, having a beer and eating oysters.

The weather had cleared by the time I got to Bruceport County Park. I had a lovely tent site, but this campground was slightly run down and I did put plastic bags on my feet in the shower. The hosts at the campsite were so friendly, even offering to drive me into town if I needed any supplies.

My neighbors in the next campsite invited me over for a drink (luckily I had bought for the first time a whole bottle of wine!). I ended up sharing a meal with Ken and Sarah from Seattle, as well as another bottle of wine...they were such lovely people and so interesting. 
Sarah was waging war on the mosquito population with this very lethal electrical tennis racqet thing! It was pretty funny watching her leaping around swiping at them.
We wandered to the edge of the park to watch the sun go down over Willapa Bay. It really is a lovely spot.

I'm so excited about the next days ride...I will finally get to the West Coast and the beach, and also it will be my last night in Washington State. I still can't quite believe I am doing this ride, every now and again I stop and think am I really doing this?

Thursday 17 August 2017

Day 19 & 20......June 13 &14

You know that feeling you get when you read something or hear about something you are about to do and it sounds harder or riskier than what you thought but ends up being fine?
Well that was me this morning...I was heading from Dosewallips (still no elk herd) to Shelton via the Hood Canal.
The Pacific Coast book had said parts of this road had no shoulder, narrow, blind corners and logging trucks! Despite my new found confidence I was a bit apprehensive.

It ended up being not a bad days ride! Yes it was noisy on Highway 101, and yes there were all sorts of trucks, but I had found so far the truck drivers are very aware of bikes and go out of their way to give us room. Its the RV's and cars towing caravans that are scary and SO unaware.

Anyway the day started out biking through more tree lined road, so it was so nice to finally get to the Hood Canal and some open space and views. As much as I like trees...hour after hour of trees does tend to get a bit boring.

I think I spent more time checking my rear vision mirror than I did the view on this part of the trip, but I did manage to find places to pull over for some photos.

As you can see it wasn't always no shoulder and narrow. I love these small towns and always stopped to buy something at the store. People are so friendly and curious...I wonder if it is because I am a woman of a "certain" age and on my own, that everyone I met without exception, was helpful and friendly. Chatting with other touring cyclists later on in my tour, the guys on their own or couples didn't seem to experience the same amount of friendliness I did.

Out of the blue on the highway I passed this building. I think it is generating hydro electricity, I did read the information panel but never wrote it down in my journal. But it is a beautiful building and worthy of stopping to munch on a marmite and cheese sandwich and admire.

I also passed a place that promised me wonderful cooked oysters so of course I pulled over only to find they didn't cook them that day! I could already taste those delicious, freshly cooked oysters when I walked in the door, and the idea of a container of cold oysters just wasn't appealing. 
On the subject of food...I was eating so well on my tour. A lot of fresh fruit and salads, seafood and really good burgers at local diners and of course the daily sugar hit of a donut from a bakery! I never eat donuts at home but one of the great things about cycle touring is you can eat pretty much anything.

Riding along side the Hood Canal I passed quite a few fireworks stands. I was told later that fireworks can only be sold on native american owned land, which also explains why I passed a huge casino. Apparently they can also operate casinos when no one else can. I have no understanding about any of this, I am the first to admit that, but it seems not right to me that people live in houses with no water and falling down buildings and then just down the road is a huge casino.

One thing I noticed was despite roads surrounded by what I thought was forestry and logging, there are a lot of people living up these side roads. I passed quite a few roads like this that looked like just a forestry road but had all these letterboxes.

I finally reached Shelton via the long way again. I missed the turnoff and ended up adding another few kms backtracking but I did see what I think was two bald eagles so it was worth it. Shelton is known as the Christmas Tree capitol and I passed quite a few plantings of trees.

I had a wonderful stay with my Warm Shower hosts Laryre and Judy. We had made contact before I left and they were a "must visit" as both Larye and Judy weave and have quite a few looms in the workshop. I felt truly spoilt staying with them, hearing their tales and sleeping under a beautiful patchwork quilt. They gave me a fabulous breakfast which was enjoyed over conversation ranging from politics to hippies to biking and watching the fattest squirrels I have ever seen playing around in the trees.

Larye then rode out with me in the morning and set me on the right road to Montesano and Lake Sylvia State Park. Thankyou so much Larye and Judy for a truly memorable and enjoyable visit.

Following Larye's insruction and the ACA map I managed not to get lost and found myself in Elma. I felt this part of my trip was reason for a original plan had been to start from Shelton and I had looked at this route so many times on google map before I left that it was great to be finally riding it. Larye and Judy had mentioned the Miller House Deli in Elma as a great cafe stop, and it was! Best lemon cake I have ever tasted.

It really was a lovely ride to Montesano, quiet road and no hills. I did get lost in Montesano but two sheriffs kindly showed me the way up a very steep hill to Lake Sylvia State Park. I'm not sure why it is, but it seems to me that all state parks so far have a hill to climb.

Lake Sylvia State Park is beautiful! The hiker biker campsite wasn't that great, but since the park was fairly empty the ranger let me camp on a normal campsite. 

I had a lovely relaxing evening down by the lake picnicking and watching all manner of fishing boats row around the lake. I was joined by a few Canadian geese grazing their way through the grass and I saw two tiny little dogs with life vests on!

Its an odd thing when you travel on your have times of feeling lonely, times of wishing people wouldn't talk to you and then other times like this evening of just pure 100% contentment. 
If I had known what was just around the corner I may not have felt so relaxed and contented!

Monday 14 August 2017

Day 16, 17 and 18........Port Townsend and beyond...June 10, 11 and 12

What can I say about Port Townsend! I really loved this town. From the moment the ferry started cruising into the harbour, to the day I rode out of town along a beautiful trail I had a great time.

I had been in contact with a fellow bike tourer who lived in Port Townsend and he suggested I stay at a Warm Showers place hosted by Dan and Lys Burden. Thankyou Richard for that great suggestion...this was a touring cyclists paradise! 
Unfortunately Dan was away but Lys was in town as was the "other" Dan, her brother. Dan and Lys cycled from Alaska to Argentine in the 1970's (you can read all about their trip in National Geographic), and they were pretty much the forerunners of what is now the American Cycling Association and the bike touring movement.
The number of touring cyclists they have hosted since then is amazing, as is the space they have made for us to stay in. You can just make out Birdy parked in the doorway of the Warm Showers room.

An added bonus of staying with Dan and Lys was I got to meet Toosie, who is such a sweetie and kept me company on my walks to the little grocery store nearby.

Lys kindly let me stay for 3 nights as I found out there was a Steampunk Festival on in town the next day and I also wanted to go for a ride to Forth Worden Historical State Park.
Port Townsend has some lovely old buildings and quite a few very quirky shops. Its definitely a town that is just the right size.

I spent nearly the whole day wandering around the old part of town and checking out the Steampunk folk. There was all manner of entertainment going on, flintlock displays, tea drinking competitions, folky morris dancing stuff ( still makes no sense to me), steampunk bicycles and of course plenty of incredible outfits.

After that it was off to meet Richard for a beer or two and chat at a local brewery. One of the great things about bike touring is the people you get to meet in the course of your travels and even beforehand. I found the bike touring group, womens touring group and pacific coast group on facebook full of great information and inspiration. That was where I met Richard, and we spent a very pleasant couple of hours chatting away. Its great to talk to locals and hear about the town from someone who lives there.
Richard mentioned that the hiker biker sites at Fort Worden had moved to a nicer location, so I wanted to check them out. Even though I wasn't staying there, its always good to have a look so you can pass info on to other cyclists.
After a wonderful nights sleep I headed off to Fort Worden. There are so many forts and lighthouses scattered through the islands and on all these prominent points. I guess at one time when they were all functioning it served as a good defence.
Fort Worden is not used as a fort now but all the buildings are still intact and maintained and now serve other purposes. The parade grounds and surrounding areas are beautifully looked after, and the hiker biker site is now located away from the main camping and closer to the lighthouse...a much nicer location.

Its funny writing about this part of my adventure all seems a long time ago but I can still recall how I was feeling. I really felt I had gotten into the stride of bike touring now, it took me probably nearly two weeks to really settle into it and realize that I could go where I wanted to, when I wanted to. I knew after the second or third day that the schedule I had written up was going to get thrown away, but I still felt this need that I had to "be somewhere". I also could feel my stamina and fitness increasing and I would wake up in the morning feeling excited about what the day would bring.

So it was with this sense of excitement I headed away from Port Townsend. I was hoping now that I was on mainland USA, that I would meet up with some other touring cyclists. So far I had met cyclists out for weekend trips or touring cyclists riding the opposite direction to me. I was never alone at campgrounds, there are always plenty of RV's and campers but it would be nice to meet some like minded people.

I decided to head to Dosewallips State Park for the night for no other reason other than I liked the name! There is a wonderful bike and walking trail out of Port Townsend called the Larry Scott Memorial Trail. It was a bit tricky finding the start of it as you ride around the wharves and ship building yard and it is tucked away in a corner.

The first thing I passed was this huge recycling plant...well I think it was or maybe a paper pulp processing plant. After this it was a lovely ride along the coastline and then the trail veered into beautiful forested area.

Once off the trail I hit Highway 19 but there was surprisingly little traffic and a lot of trees, trees and more trees.

Finally made it to Quilcene...motto "the Pearl of the Peninsular" and had my first meeting with Highway 101. This highway was pretty much the road that will take me all the way to the end of my route.

After riding through more trees I made it to Dosewallips State Park and yay...finally a cheap campsite. It was only $12 for the hiker biker site compared to the $20 or $30 I had been paying elsewhere. The Park Ranger said there was a herd of wild elk in the park, I saw plenty of elk droppings but no elk.

Birdy and I had the whole biker hiker site to ourselves and she got to be undercover for the night. I always liked to get my tent set up and my bed organised first thing on arriving at camp, no matter how tired and grotty I felt.

After a pretty good nights sleep and a bit of rain and still no elks, it was time to head off to Shelton. I was averaging between 60 and 70 kms a day which seemed to suit me, and today would be a 71 km day (if I didn't take a wrong turn). I knew the road would be challenging for me shoulder, blind corners and logging trucks but hey...I had now clocked over 700 kms and was a lot more confident on the roads.