1991 San Juan & WA Coast

In 1991 we did a loaded bike tour through the San Juan Islands in Washington state and then rode down the Washington coast, across into Oregon and then back to our house in Tigard, Oregon.

 August 9, 15 miles Home to the PDX train station – from Seattle train station to the Alexis Hotel

We left our house in Tigard to ride to the train station under rainy skies.  We even had to wear raincoats and booties.  Of course the first day of rain in weeks had to come on the day we started our tour.

We got to the train station early, boxed up the bikes, changed our clothes, checked the bikes and panniers (all but 2) and headed off to Dan & Louis Oyster Bar for lunch.  By that time it had stopped raining so it was a nice walk to the restaurant.  After lunch we rode the bus up to Pioneer Square for a coffee at Starbucks, and then headed back to the train station.

The train was late as usual, so we were an hour late leaving Portland.  Across the row from us on the train was a fellow reading a Japanese book – so we struck up a conversation.  He just returned a few days ago from a year teaching English in Tokyo.  Funny guy, especially after he had several beers and orange juice and vodkas.

We had a nice train ride.  Pretty quiet with no loud kids or anything.  We got to Seattle about 8:30pm.  What a zoo!  They have this tiny baggage pickup area and a ton of people crowded in to find their bags.  No one could even see the baggage carrousel!  We finally got our bags and the bikes.  Dave got the bikes together fast – we lost one tool on the way, but fortunately had an extra one.

It was 9:00 by the time we left the train station and was already dark.  It was only 1 mile from the train station to the hotel so we rode over anyway, despite the darkness.  When we tried to check in at the hotel they didn’t have our reservation.  Fortunately they had extra rooms and we were put in one of the condo units – very nice, with a washer and dryer even, so we washed some clothes from the day.

We went for dinner at McCormick & Schmicks – yum yum.

It is very late and we have to be up early for the ferry – Dave’s found a baseball game though – the Giants no less, so who knows when we’ll get to bed.

August 10, 30 miles Seattle to Friday Harbor

We got up at 5:45 – only after both alarm and a wake-up call.  Made it to the ferry dock by 6:45.  It was already crowded – Dave stood in line, and then ran out as soon as he got to the front to get all of the bags.  Limit was 2 bags per person – we had 10.  But they let us do it anyway.  We sat at the very front of the ferry.  The trip from Seattle to Port Townsend was OK.  But once we left Port Townsend, boy it got bad.  Really rough seas and I got sick.  Thankfully, below each window there was the old faithful “barf bag”!  Dave wasn’t much help – I had to keep pulling his jacket to get him to shield me while I threw up in front of everybody (we were sitting at the front!).  Boy it was bad.  It seemed like eternity but Dave says it only took a half hour.  Anyway, I was never so glad to see dry land!  I bravely carried my barf bag to the garbage on the way out – Dave wouldn’t help me (what a guy…).

We loaded the bikes back up while I tried to compose myself.  It was chilly and windy.  We took the bikes down a long pier to the front of the harbor and then had to push then up a very steep ramp.

We went and had lunch at a little pizza join that was pretty good.  From there we decided to ride around the outer edge of the island to a camp ground at Lakeland Lake.  It was a very pretty ride, gorgeous views of the ocean.  We took a wrong turn (a Dave special) and ended up at Roche Harbor.  Pretty place, but wrong resort.  But by then it had started to rain, so we hung out and had an ice cream bar to wait out the storm.

We waited for a bit but when the rain didn’t look like it would stop we took off as it was only 5 miles to Lakeland Lake (it rained the whole way).  When we were checking in we met Sidney Goldstein, a funny guy from Philadelphia.  Kind of a chatterbox, but we are staying at a site with him.  We got a warm shower – yeah!  Then Dave made yummy dinner, noodles, herb soup and chicken.  We shared it with Sidney, after he sat and stared at it for a while.  He did not have food for his dinner.

The people who actually had reserved the site we were in showed up.  Bikers, no less.  They rode in, looked around but didn’t say anything.  Then they rode off.

Sidney offered to buy some Ben & Jerry’s.  Dave jumped at the chance at free ice cream.  I of course refused (but they forced me to eat a little).  Now we are off to bed, very tired, Sidney chatted constantly all night.  Sleepy but a long way from the bathroom!

August 11, 51 miles Friday Harbor to Port Townsend

We left the campground about 9:15, to catch the 10:40 ferry.  We ran into Sidney again at the ferry.  Despite my fears, the ferry wasn’t bad at all – you couldn’t feel any waves or anything.  It was about 1½ hour ride to the next port.

It was really sunny and warm, with very nice views of the Sound and a beautiful view riding over Deception Pass. We rode for a while and then stopped to check the map.  Sidney rode with us for a bit but we eventually lost him.  We stopped at a picnic area in the Navy Archery Range and made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  After lunch we made our way down Whidbey Island.

After lunch it was 20 miles to the ferry at Fort Casey.  Had a near accident behind us after a car stopped quickly behind us.  We made it to the ferry just as it was pulling in.  Sidney showed up at the ferry and we ended up eating dinner in Port Townsend.  Boy he is quite the chatterbox.

We had dinner at the Fountain Cafe, a place where we had lunch with Dave’s Mom and Dad earlier in the spring.  We had yummy noodles – took a long time but was good.  Sidney met another fellow from Philadelphia, so he had someone else to chat with a bit.

After dinner we rode to Fort Warden.  Campground full, the sign said.  Dave talked to the camp host, who was no help at all.  Sidney went to a campsite and bugged this fellow until he said we could setup in his site and pay his fee for the night.  We took a shower and crawled into a semi-wet tent.

August 12, 72 miles Port Townsend to Belfair State Park

Today turned into a longer day than we anticipated!  But we did manage to escape Sidney, who was beginning to be a bit wearing with his non-stop talking!

We rode out of town after buying muffins and bread at the Bread and Roses bakery.  We rode out Discovery Bay road, which was off the beaten track – it was very pretty.  Through Irondale, then onto Port Ludlow where we saw a deer by the side of the road.  He watched as we went by but did not run away.  We rode along water most of the day.  We crossed the Hood Canal Bridge, just after Port Ludlow.  Boy was that scary!  Very narrow and lots of traffic, plus steel grates on part of it. The death ride, Dave called it, when we finally got off it.

About 5 miles after the bridge we stopped for bread, muffins and cookies for lunch.  We talked to a couple who were biking around the park – on their honeymoon.  Dave lent them a wrench to fix their seats.  From the park we took the back roads – lots of hills.

We rode through Bremerton on some weird roads.  But the killer was Union Road.  Wow!  It was about 100% grade, or felt like it (Dave said maybe 10-11%) and it was long.  We pulled over on the first road off it to catch our breath and to make sure we really had to go all the way to the top.  But unfortunately, yes we did!

Finally got off Union and down to Old Belfair Road, which was 14 miles or so to tonight’s stop at Belfair State Park.  We stopped at a little store and had lemonade and chocolate chip cookies.  Then off we went to the park.  We stopped one more time and bought a loaf of bread and Fig Newtons.

We got to the park and they had hiker/biker spots – yeah!  Plus hot showers too!  Our spot was nice, we took showers and washed clothes.  Had sweet and sour shrimp for dinner, with half a loaf of bread.

We went for a walk and called Mats (Dave’s nephew) from a pay phone to wish him happy birthday – 3 years old.  We actually saw a Mats Rock and Gravel Rock Yard today!  Now the sun is setting, doesn’t look like rain either, off to bed!

August 13, 72 miles Belfair State Park to Lake Sylvia Park

We got a pretty early start – about 8:40.  We rode the 4 miles back into Belfair, stopped at the grocery store to get food, then hit the road.

We took Highway 106, which ran along Hood Canal.  Very pretty, but very developed.  There didn’t appear to be a clear spot!  We turned up Trails Road, wow! Really steep, another Bikecenntenial special.  Once we huffed and puffed our way up, we rode along and went around Mason Lake.  More rolling hills.  From there we made our way into Shelton, were we stopped and had lunch at a city park.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and cookies.

We left Shelton, climbed another steep hill (Pioneer Road).  Saw a deer with two fawns.  Made our way to Elma where we stopped for ice cream and lemonade.  Then we rode 10 miles of headwinds to Montesanto.  Dave found the Chamber of Commerce and got the scoop on bakeries and pancake breakfasts.  We’re staying at Lake Sylvia State Park – very nice hiker/biker sites.  Our neighbors in the site next door have a more stuff than I thought you could get on a bike – a whole bottle of Baileys!  And no, they did not share.

August 14, 44 miles Lake Sylvia State Park to Grayland

Short day, but a fun one.  We started off with breakfast at LB’s Family Cookroom.  Dave had a full stack of blueberry pancakes, I had half a stack.  Boy were they huge!  Big as a dinner plate.  Dave ate all of his, but I couldn’t finish mine.  We hung around and waited for them to digest, then ran over to Thriftway for supplies before we headed out of town.  We didn’t see a sign for Highway 105, so we stopped and asked a telephone utility man.  He gave us an alternative route for part of daily route.  We rode the Blue Slough Road along the Chehalis River, which came out at Cosmoplis.  From there we rode through Aberdeen, and joined up with Highway 105 heading for the coast.  It was sunny most of the way.

We stopped for a couple of photos at an old wood carving and a little oyster house.  We also stopped at an Ocean Spray factory where we got free samples.  There we ran into a kid who turned out to be Jay Grave’s (owner of the Bike Gallery) nephew.

We rode into Grayland, it was still foggy here.  At the campground the sign said FULL – but they had a hiker/biker site.  We took a look at them but they were pretty bad.  They were off in a boggy area, looked like a dump, really overgrown.  Dave stood for a minute and got eaten by mosquitoes.

I suggested that we look at motels and Dave agreed as he swatted mosquitoes.  We rode back into town and asked in a little store if there were any B&B’s.  The lady said up in Westport, 10 miles the wrong way into the wind.  She also suggest a couple of local motels.  We rode to one of them, they had a room for $30, really smoky and one with a kitchen for $70.  So Dave wanted to look at others, so down the road we went.  We found a little one with a kitchen for $32, not bad!  Dave had an oyster sandwich with the smoked oysters we bought earlier.  I ate grapes and we hung out.  Made burritos for dinner, watched the news.  We then walked to the beach – very cold.  I’m glad I’m not in a tent tonight.  We walked to the bar next to the motel to have a beer but ended up having blackberry pie ala mode and coffee.  To bed with full stomach.

August 15, 82 miles Grayland to Fort Canby State Park

We got an early start today, which is a lot easier when you start from a motel room.

Today was kind of a non-eventful day.  We rode quite a few miles but it seemed to go by quickly.  We rode Highway 105 south, then east to Raymond which is at the end of Willapa Bay where it comes inland.  We stopped at Raymond for a muffin break.  From there we had a pretty good headwind for a couple of miles as we headed west, back towards the ocean again.  We actually spent all of the day making our way around that bay, lots of little inlets and sloughs with interesting land formations.

Dave saw a blue heron and a herd of deer.  I, of course, couldn’t see anything!  We got some good miles in early, which always feels nice.  It was a little chilly, and the fog never quite burned off.  We did get a couple patches of sun, but lost it again when we headed west again back towards the ocean again.

We went through on scary road construction area with lots of narrow shoulders.  We rode into Long Beach about 3:30.  We stopped at the visitor info center to get some information on the area.

We rode down to a little restaurant on the bay, where we had a bowl of chowder (not very big) and garlic bread.  It was nice and warm anyway.

From there we rode another 3 miles to the campground (uphill on a full stomach!).  We have a nice spot, near the facilities.

We setup camp, took showers and tried to call Dave’s mom as today is her birthday.  We took a walk up to the interpretive center, with a cup of hot coffee, and then took a bit of a trail walk back to the campsite – it felt nice to walk a bit.

We’ve just finished dinner – freeze dried tostada which was actually not too bad.  We’re going to have hot chocolate and read the paper.  Too many mosquitoes coming out so into the tent before we get eaten alive.

August 16, 78 miles Fort Canby State Park to Big Eddy County Park

We woke up to rain this morning, or least a heavy mist.  The bikes actually stayed fairly dry, except for the seats.  We had them under the trees.  The tent was pretty wet on the outside, we waited a bit to let it dry and got a late start, almost 9:00.  We rode back through Ilwaco and then out 101 towards Astoria.  It was misting heavily so we wore our bright coats.  Both of us got pretty sticky and sweaty.

We stopped at Fort Columbia to use the bathroom and toured the interpretive center.  Very interesting.  From there we headed towards the Astoria Megler bridge, which spans the Columbia River between Washington and Oregon.  Dave decided to be brave and take a picture from the middle of the bridge.  I kept pedaling while he stopped.

Pretty scary bridge, a big log truck went by and I thought we were both goners.  We paid our $.50 each at the end of the toll bridge.  In Astoria we stopped at the chamber of commerce for a map and found out where the bakeries were.  We stopped at a bakery and ate our fill of cookies and rolls and also got some to go.  We ran into another biker who had stopped – he sounded German or something.  When we asked him which way he was headed he said, “what’s headed?”.  So we asked him which way he was going.  Never could figure out where he was going.

We left Astoria and headed east on Highway 30.  There were lots of rollers for the next 20 miles.  We stopped at Bradley State Park and had peanut butter and jelly sandwiches.  We could see the Puget Island ferry from the viewpoint.  From there it was downhill with a tailwind until Clatskanie.  We stopped at a store and got apples for Dave and grapes for me.  Then we headed up Mist Mountain.  Actually it wasn’t too bad, a lot like Chehelam Mountain (a hill near our house that we ride a lot), only longer.

Six miles of climbing, real pretty scenery.  We rode down the other side into Mist.  Bought ice cream bars and lemonade and found out that the park was only 4 miles away.  We headed off to the park.  When we got there a sign said full.  I told Dave to use all his charm and get us a spot and he did!  Only $4.

No showers but for the last night we will survive.  We had chicken paprikash for dinner, blech!!  We can see the fish jump from the picnic table in the river behind the tent.  They like the mosquitoes at least!

August 17, 60 miles Big Eddy County Park to Tigard (home)

We got up about 7:30, had cereal for breakfast and left camp about 8:30.  It was chilly – we had to wear long sleeves.  We rode 8 miles into Vernonia, where we stopped at a couple of stores for bananas and rolls.  From there it was pretty easy ride, fairly flat, with a couple small hills.  We came into the sun soon after that, which was nice.

We stopped at a fruit stand for juice and muffins, no fruit, near Banks.  Then we headed toward Cornelius, where we made another bathroom stop (for Dave of course).  From there we were on “hometown” roads – by the golf course, on Farmington and Tile Flat roads.  We stopped at Lolichs fruit stand for berries – blackberries and peaches.  Then on to home.  We stopped for the obligatory photo at the ‘Welcome to Tigard’ sign.

It was great to ride into the driveway and know we were home.  We both took a long shower – now time to clean up all the gear.  It was a great tour – lots of great scenery, pretty good weather (for Oregon/Washington coast) and no mishaps.

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