From: Wendy and
Date: June 26, 1999 through July 12, 1999
Total Distance: 517.5 miles
Note that Wendy and Jeff alternate narration on a day by day basis.
Watch out for that change of voice.
|Narrated by Jeff
||June 26, 1999
||SeaTac Airport to Seattle
weeks of planning, the trip begins. But as with all the best-laid plans, problems do
arise. Our major problem was a lack of bike boxes. Flying with a bike is simple. The
airline provides a big cardboard box for a nominal free ($10-$15), and our bike clubs (League of American Bicyclists or Adventure Cycling) provide "bike-fly-free"
vouchers if we book our tickets through their agency. All we would needed to do wass show
up at the airport with our bikes, request the boxes, remove the pedals and turn the
handlebars, and wrap the whole thing up for delivery. Pretty simple, really. Or, at
least it should be.
On a preliminary check a few days prior to departure, Northwest
Airlines assured us they would have boxes available, but none could be found on Thursday
when I stopped by the airport. Not to be deterred, I went to the Delta Airline
counter, where they harassed me and would not give me a box unless I proved I was flying
with them. This, despite the fact that we were paying for the boxes anyway! After
some convincing, Northwest arranged to have some boxes sent from the Harrisburg Airport.
Well, Friday came but the boxes did not. Wendy and I spent the afternoon on the phone. The
airlines national customer services representatives assured us that yes, we needed to have
our bikes in boxes and no, they weren't obligated to provide them. Their lack of concern
was extremely frustrating. After many frantic phone calls, I finally found an cooperative
Northwest employee who really worked to find some. At midnight, we received the call that
although the boxes were not sent (for the second time) from Harrisburg, this employee
apparently begged Delta to give us some (used) boxes. All this uncertainty caused us both
much stress, a family argument, and a nearly sleepless night.
We awoke at 4:00 AM, loaded the car, and headed to the airport. Might I just say how
happy we were to see those boxes in all their cardboard glory. Wasting no time, we slipped
the boxes into their cardboard accommodations and boarded the plane. The flight, with
connection in Detroit, was uneventful and we arrived at SeaTac Airport around 11:00 AM.
(2:00 PM Eastern Time). As with any bike trip, there was the ritual of gearing up. All was
going fine until a strap on Wendy's pannier snapped. (A pannier is a "saddle
bag" used to hold our gear. We each carry 4 panniers: two on the front mounted on a
rack that sits low on the wheel, and two larger ones in the rear on a regular rack.
pronounced "Pan-Years" to us, but we've also heard "Pan-Yeahs"
especially among Canadians.) Wendy was so short on sleep that she looked as if she
might cry in her frustration. I did an emergency sew-up with a needle and some fishing
line from our tool kit. Sufficient for now, but this was not the first failure on these
panniers and the problem needed to be addressed.
Loathing city riding, Wendy had researched many possible routes from the airport and
was ultimately torn between what may have been the recommended but complex route or a more
direct but also more traffic laden route (Highway 99). We chose a combination of the
two, and started north on Highway 99. It was about what we expected. Eventually,
the road came to an abrupt halt due to road construction, and we ended up carrying our
bikes over a median to get on track for the other (recommended) route.
Our first priority was to go to REI to do some pannier
shopping for Wendy. After some consideration, Wendy chose Ortlieb panniers for the rear, and the REI
panniers up front. We were quite a spectacle in front of the massive REI store (which
included not just a climbing wall, but an enclosed climbing mountain!). While Wendy moved
her gear to the new bags, I was chatting with numerous curious customers and fellow
adventurers. A group of 3 cyclists stopped to chat, and after some conversation, we
offered them the old panniers. The gentleman who accepted them, David Engle, mentioned
that he was a High School Principal and that he would fix them up for some students. Wendy
noted that his school district was one of her clients. In fact, David's was running
software that she had written. (small world). Eventually, we asked them for advice
on how to get to the hotel where we had reservations along Green Lake. David said
that he lived in that area, and surprised us by offering us a place to stay for the
night! We accepted, and proceeded to follow the three other riders to David's
house: David, on a Klein road bike, and David (a different David) and Cynthia on a
Trek tandem. We arrived at David's home, and were introduced to his wife, Margaret, and
his daughter Erica. We all showered, and walked to dinner at a quaint hamburger stand. We
had a great meal, including what Wendy described a the best veggie-burger she ever had. We
walked the hillside a bit before returning for a much needed nights sleep. It had been
almost 24 hours since we got our measly 3 hours sleep the night before.
|Narrated by Wendy
||June 27, 1999
||Seattle (downtown) to
Best Laid Plans
day began with a filling and much needed breakfast courtesy of our hosts and newfound
friends, David and Margaret. The whole wheat waffles were the best I'd ever had (and I'm
not just saying that). After breakfast, David gave us some route advice and the name and
number of some friends in Wenatchee (where we'd be in a few days). We took a few pictures,
and hit the road.
Our maps lacked the detail I like, but we managed to wind our way
slowly up the coast towards Everett. The biggest mistake of the morning was mine. I
directed us left instead of right. Although we both enjoyed the swift descent among the
tall cedars of Puget Sound (that we both incidentally noticed was on the wrong side, but
in our exhaustion we both failed to recognize the significance of its misplacement) - but
it was a sad moment at the bottom of the hill when the road ran out and we realized we'd
have to turn around and climb to remedy the situation. I was feeling more than a little
We stopped at the port of Edmonds and walked out on the rocky pier to watch the ferry's
arrive from the San Juan Islands, and the "men in black" SCUBA divers enjoying
the underwater park just off the coast.
After struggling with several discrepancies between our maps and reality (as we saw
it), we finally arrived in the town of Everett. This town appeared to be a significant
port and lumber town, but also had a medium sized city center including many office
buildings and shops. The main street was wide, and inviting - but closed. It as Sunday.
Pretty much the only open restaurant was "The Flying Pig" which turned out to be
a very cute restaurant and brew pub. Although we didn't sample the beers, the food was
quite excellent. Perhaps too excellent. We still had miles to go, and now big cramping
lumps in our bellies. We both chucked when we received our bill imprinted with the slogan,
"Cuz Beerz Makes Ya Smurter".
We went for a short digestive walk, and left Everett towards Highway 2. After a little
searching, and an ominous warning, we found the road. This was a high traffic road with no
shoulder and plenty of irate drivers. Deeming it "too intense," we pulled off
and walked on the narrow bridge to the next intersection. We decided to take back
roads to our evening destination. It was a hilly jaunt through lush farmland and horse
pastures (where I waved and said "hi" to most if not all of the horses). When we
finally reached Fergusen State Park in Snohomish, we were thoroughly exhausted. When we
saw the sign that said they no longer accepted campers, we were bewildered. We asked in
town about motels in the area, but it didn't seem promising. We tried to get directions to
Flowing Lakes County Park
which was supposedly nearby, but nobody could direct us. Eventually we found
somebody who knew where it was, but he warned that it was very far and uphill. We felt a
little better when he explained that very far was actually only about 6 miles, and
besides, what other choice did we have.
Within a mile, Jeff had a problem with his front rack, and we used some nylon tie wraps
to temporarily fix it (it's the most unconventional items in the toolkit that seem to
provide the most utility). After 2 mostly downhill miles, we saw a sign for the
campground. Our emotions were somewhere between cocky and euphoric that it was so near and
easy after all. But, we kept riding and still no campground. True to his word, it was
another 4 - very steep miles until we found the park.
The campground offered several very primitive but large campgrounds along a lake.
Most sites were vacant. There were no showers and no restrooms except for a
porta-potty euphemistically called a "honey bucket" (a name which conjures
mental images that both amuse and disgust me). After such a long day of riding in the
cold, damp, Washington air, the unavailability of showers actually seemed to simplify
things: one less thing to do.
We cooked up a filling but watery and bland mac and cheese (I've never seen Jeff so
excited about Bacos before), and managed to cleanup just in time for the absolute darkness
and silence of a mountain evening. Not a creature was stirring, not even a cricket...
|Narrated by Jeff
||June 28, 1999
||Snohomish to Skykomish
My, What Have We Done?
a good nights sleep in our quiet, wooded campsite at Flowing Lake County Park, we woke to
steady rain. We decided to wait out the rain for awhile, and make a decision of travelling
or not by noon. Ironically, shortly before noon, the rain had letup, dropping only a
gentle mist now. So, we broke camp, checked our maps, and headed out for Skykomish.
trek to the campground last night was an uphill battle, but we were rewarded with some
nice downhill as we headed towards Highway 2. Along the beautiful rolling countryside we
saw horses everywhere. We finally reached Highway 2, and began our eastern trek along the Cascade Loop. Highway 2 was busy, but it
offered a clean, wide shoulder, and it was primarily flat. A luxury to us! As
promised by our extensive
collection of highway maps, traffic eased after about 15 miles, and we stopped for a
fast food snack.
The air was damp, the sky was cloudy, and the mountaintops were hidden in mist.
We'd expected this, but still, it was gloomy. And, occasionally, we were treated to some
grand mountain pass views off ahead of us. We stopped in the one-horse (if that) town of
Gold Bar to call home, and continued on winding through the passes, making gradual ascents
and descents. Then, suddenly, we were afforded a spectacular view of the valley carved by
the powerful Skykomish river, nicknamed "The Sky" in these parts. A deep green
waterway, pouring over huge rock formations with a a force unlike any river I know back
east. I stopped for some pictures. When I returned to my bike, I discovered a nail
head protruding from my rear tire., explaining the clicking I'd been hearing all morning
and possibly last night. The tire was still holding air, and I chose to leave the nail
intact for now. We got back on, and almost immediately, Wendy's tire went flat. Upon
close inspection, we noticed her rim tape was badly cracked (don't use plastic tape). We
didn't have any spare tape, but rather than re-tube on bad tape which would surely cause
another flat, we used electrical tape. After finishing the repairs, we pressed on again
only to be stopped in a few more miles when my tire finally failed (from the nail). At
this point, we were both very cold and tired. While I repaired my tire, I could see that
Wendy was doing her best to look as pathetic as possible - with the hope that some nice
soul in a pick-up truck would offer us a ride. One driver actually did stop to ask if we
needed help, but he was only going another mile or two, so we passed up his offer and
headed on again. We stopped in Baring to mail a birthday card for my dad, and an
anniversary card for my parents. While inside the post office, the clerk asked where we
were headed. I mentioned the campground, but asked if there were any cheap hotels in the
area. We were cold, tired, and a bit aromatic after last nights lack of shower. She
suggested the Skykomish Hotel, which was 3-4 more miles than we had planned, but worth it
in our minds.
The last 8 miles seemed to be mostly flat or downhill, and we soon checked into the Skykomish Hotel. This 110 year old
hotel had a history. It was originally built as a brothel to entertain the railroad
workers, loggers, and other mountain-folk. Now, it is believed (at least by the waitress)
to be haunted. We didn't care. We showered
away 2 days of sweat and went downstairs for dinner: huge portions of diner food
including eggs, toast, hashbrowns. An odd but oddly satisfying meal. We took a short walk
though the town of Skykomish
(with a population of 239, it's not much of a town), and retired for a warm night's rest.
|Narrated by Wendy
||June 29, 1999
||Skykomish to Leavenworth
It Feels Good To Stop
didn't know what to expect today, but I certainly had fears. It felt a little like we had
never really recovered from the stress and sleeplessness and jet lag of the travel. The
cold weather and long days left us both on the verge of exhaustion. We'd been
complaining that our legs had "nothing in them" and kept making the kind of
careless mistakes very tired people make.
We knew that, and we knew that today's ride
began with a 16 mile climb over Steven's Pass. Neither of us had ever climbed anything
quite like this. How we would manage was a big unknown. Our plan was to ride 50+
miles into the town of Leavenworth, but just in case, we'd made several contingency plans
including spending another night in the not-much-of-a-town Skykomish to rest our legs.
We'd also found a few "bailout" points where we could stop if we got too tired.
But we really wanted to get to Leavenworth because it was a "real town" with all
the amenities, and because the campground had showers and laundry. In other words,
Leavenworth would be a fine place to take a day off our bikes.
So with all the possibilities in mind, we enjoyed a good breakfast and set out on our
way into the damp mist again.Within a mile, I reported that my computer (to give speed and
distance) wasn't registering. I cleaned the nodes, and it worked again.Within a few
more miles, Jeff reported a problem with his computer, and I began to fear that today,
like the days before, would be plagued by mechanical problems. Jeff's problem was fixed by
another nylon cable tie, and we continued on.
To our relief, the climb was what we euphemistically called "gentle."
I'd estimate about a 6% grade. Now, we commonly climb hills of 8% or more in our native
Lehigh Valley, but not on loaded touring bikes, and not for 16 miles. 6% is not easy, but
it's "doable." So we climbed, and climbed, and climbed.
We stopped to look at a fabulous rushing waterfall, and saw we already had 5 miles
behind us. At 7.5 miles, we stopped at Deception Falls to take a 1/2 mile hike down a
trail to view intense, beautiful, and loud water rushing through rocks. We ate a small
snack, and continued our climb.
I should mention that although this was hard work, we were rewarded with gifts we could
not have received otherwise. We were sprayed with gentle mist from water falls of melted
snow, and bombarded with the sounds and smells of trees, wind, and nature. We could hear
(and subsequently stop to inspect) the rushing watershed through rocks, and whistle back
at the birds and chipmunks. Moving slowly, we were able to savor the stunning subtleties -
all of which would have been blurred, invisible or silent to a motor-tourist. This is why
we chose to travel by bicycle even when it causes us some pain at times. That, and the
As we ascended amid the magnificent snow-capped peaks, we had to stop several times to
wipe sweat from our eyes. We were hot while riding, and chilled as soon as we stopped -
but we were oddly encouraged. Although we were both tired, it was becoming clear that we
would be okay - and better than okay - we would make it. After 3 hours (plus an hour for
the hike) the summit of Steven's Pass came into view. We'd expected some sort of fanfare
or commercialism: a gift shop, or overpriced concession stand, or something. In
fact, all we saw was a muddy parking lot, and the ski lifts for the closed ski lodge of
the resort of the same name.
We donned our gore-tex jackets in anticipation of the cool, damp air in combination
with our descending speed. We stopped in less than a mile to add full-fingered gloves and
balaclavas (head, neck, and face masks) for additional warmth. We stopped again to add
hats to our bundles to keep the light snow from falling in our eyes.
Soon, we were rolling effortlessly (except for some hand cramps from the braking) and
enjoying the still beautiful scenery. We were both pretty euphoric from our triumph, and I
was reminded of the old joke, "why do you run?" asks one man.
"Because it feels so good to stop," replies the other.
Eventually, the road began to level. When it was time to move our legs again, our
tiredness became apparent. Talk of "bailout" routes came up again. As we
descended to Coles Corner, the sun started to shine through the clouds. We stopped at a
rest area (the last business establishment we had seen was the "Last Chance Espresso
Stand" far on the other side of Steven's Pass) and were amused and grateful for a
charity organization that was giving out juice and cookies. (Apparently the goods are
given to them for free, and they give them away for free, but hope to get cash
contributions in return. sort of a nice money-laundering scheme.) We indulged in the
snacks, refilled our water bottles, and left a generous contribution for the charity.
17 miles to Leavenworth, or 7 miles to a closer campground. We'd have to decide later
if our legs had enough to get us through. We were so tired that even that additional 10
miles was questionable. While we seemed to be feeling stronger after the rest stop
snacks, but it would be naive to ignore the fact that nearly all of the remaining miles
were downhill! We were still pretty euphoric as we slowly glided though the
beautiful Tumwater Canyons into Leavenworth.
We passed through the silly and/or quaint and/or absurd and/or cute pseudo-Bavarian
village without stopping. At the far end of town was the "luxurious" Leavenworth KOA campground
"sporting all the amenities of home." KOAs are considered luxury next to
the State Parks, and we kept joking that they were the the Kadillac of Kampgrounds.
We setup camp, enjoyed warm showers, and feaster on potato cheese soup made from
veggies we'd dehydrated and mixed ourselves before we left. It's becoming a joke with us
that everything we eat while bike touring is the "best we've ever had" (because
of the hunger of the exertion). But this soup was very, very tasty indeed.
Soon, we turned in for the night, looking forward to a day off to rest our legs, renew
our spirits, and enjoy this silly pseudo-Bavarian town.
|Narrated by Jeff
||June 30, 1999
God Needed a Day to Rest
awoke early in our luxurious KOA digs. The sun was bright, the birds were singing, and we
weren't going anywhere. Today was a day to relax, do laundry, and most of all:
be tourists. We decided yesterday that we both needed some recovery, and Leavenworth was
At 7:00 AM I gathered our laundry and set out for the camp Laundromat, only to
find that we had no change and there were no change-machines. The camp store would
not open until 8:30. Not accepting defeat, I walked the half mile to a local lumber yard
and obtained the needed quarters. With the clothing in the washer, I returned to camp and
prepared for a good breakfast. Wendy was still in the tent resting, so I patiently waited
for her to rise. Once awake, she finished the laundry and I prepared potato pancakes. We
devoured our cakes, folded the clothes, and caught the 11:00 AM camp shuttle into town.
Town was Leavenworth. A contrived Bavarian village, complete with
gingerbread-laden structures, German-type souvenir shops aplenty, beer gardens, German
food and sweets and even a few (real, not contrived) towering snow-capped mountains to
complete the picture. A brief history of Leavenworth might help: Up to 30 years ago,
it was a logging town. When logging in this area slowed down, the trains changed locale,
and the town was near ruin. On the verge of extinction, they sought professional
help. The results of a university study suggested that they "go Bavarian."
Without any sort of public assistance, the residents of this town mortgaged everything
they could and slowly changed the facade of their buildings from the traditional western
style, to alpine architecture. In fact, they even passed an ordinance that said all new
construction had to bear this same architecture and styling. It's phony, and tacky,
and hilarious. And it worked. No other town we passed through (except Seattle, of course)
was as bustling with tourists and their dollars.
We arrived downtown, and proceeded to stroll the streets, dodging in and out of
occasional shops, smelling the goodies, and chuckling the whole time. Wendy and I, being
on bikes, had no room for souvenirs, so there was no temptation there. Finally, we
stopped for lunch at a chalet looking restaurant called Gustav's that was chosen more for
the view of the snow-capped peaks to the west than it was for the menu. I enjoyed
some traditional kielbasa with sauerkraut while Wendy had a grilled sandwich. She washed
her lunch down with some draught root beer, while I sipped the local Icicle Ale.
After we'd had all of the town that we could stand, we walked to the grocery store
(which pronounced: Willcommen der Safeway), bought some dinner staples, and walked a mile
or so back to the campground. It was mid-afternoon, and we decided to sit by the pool
Dinner was a feast. I got a fire going in our site's firebox using some cedar I had
split in the morning. We had barbecue and fire toasted garlic-herb bread, and Cajun rice.
It was too much food, but it was great and we knew our depleted bodies would appreciate
After dinner, we called home, washed up, and took a walk to help us digest the great
dinner. As the final embers twinkle in the firebox, this days journal entry is complete.
Tomorrow, our journey continues on the "dry side" of Washington.
|Narrated by Wendy
||July 1, 1999
||Leavenworth to Chelan
rested from our day off, we woke early and were on the road by 8:30. As we continued our
journey west on Highway 2 towards Wenatchee, we watched the brown, barren, scrub-laden,
southwestern type mountains grow closer. These hills were more reminiscent of huge mounds
of sand than they were of the spectacular blue and green snow-capped peaks we could still
eye in our rearview mirrors. Don't get me wrong - these mountains were beautiful too -
The road to Wenatchee was unfortunately under construction for nearly
the full 20 miles that we followed it. We alternated riding on the shoulder and
riding in the road depending on the circumstances - but despite our efforts probably
picked up a few pound each of road tar on the undersides of our bikes. Eventually, we
reached the city of Wenatchee, and city it was. It was the kind of anytown USA that
sported a big, wide main street lines with Wal-Mart, outlets, and chain restaurants. While
I'm sure it is a pleasant enough town, it wasn't the ambiance we were seeking this trip.
We called the friend of the couple we'd met in Seattle (David & Margaret), and left a
message on their answering machine thanking them for the offer of accommodations, but
saying that Wenatchee would not be an overnight stopping point for us. Mostly it would not
have been enough miles for us. We enjoyed a filling breakfast at a chain diner called
Smitty's (good buckwheat pancakes and buttermilk biscuits) and continued our trek on 97A,
heading north now.
According to the maps, 97A was a quiet, low traffic road that ran through the canyon
created by the Columbia River. It was, in fact, all that - but what no map warned us
of was the brutal headwinds and crosswinds. The headwinds were fierce enough that when
they gusted, it felt like hitting a wall. Our comfortable 17-20 MPH pace was reduced to a
grueling 5-8 MPH crawl. The crosswinds, while not quite as crippling, threatened to throw
is off the road in either direction as they deemed fit. We'd try to compensate by
leaning into it, and they the window would die down again, leaving us in positions as
precarious as before. Frustrated, we continued on. Slowly.
When we saw the powerful roaring cloud of water from the Rocky Reach Dam, we knew this would be a
good diversion. Besides the awesome hydroelectric dam itself, the accompanying museum
offered an insider's view of the salmon ladders that were built in conjunction with the
dam so the fish could continue to migrate upstream. We also spent some time exploring the
well done museum of electric innovation, and regional geologic and historical information.
The birds-eye view of the turbine maintenance area impressed us both. All the tours
were free. As if it wasn't enough, the grounds were all lush green with wonderfully
colorful and thought out flower garden and topiaries. A nice diversion from the otherwise
Speaking of desert - another change we had not anticipated was the dry, completely
cloudless sky. Although the temperatures were probably only in the high 60's or low
70's, the air was very reminiscent of the southwest, and as I said, completely
unexpected. We had Seattle dampness in mind (but weren't complaining).
As we were about to depart from the Dam, I noted that my rear tire had gone flat.
I performed a glass-shard-ectomy, replaced the tube, and off we went into the
relentless wind again.
My map said the town of Entiat was ahead, but even after the "Welcome" sign,
we saw no stores. Just a park and some homes. Just as I was remarking that we couldn't
have seen town - no espresso shack - town appeared. A gas station, a diner, a fruit stand,
some small service businesses, and of course, an espresso stand or 3. We opted for the
fruit stand, and enjoyed a nice siesta in the shade.
Soon after our rest, we turned off onto 971 with 9 miles to the Lake Chelan State Park campground.
We'd hoped the change in direction would solve our wind problems, but in fact the wind was
as fierce as ever. To make matters worse, now we were climbing rather steeply too. At this
low speed, the crosswinds nearly blew me over. I put a foot on the ground to keep from
falling, and realized that with the weight of my bike, the stiff wind, and the steep hill,
that I couldn't start again. I began walking, and Jeff - not wanting to get too far ahead,
did the same. When we reached the crest and started to descend, the wind relented some,
and the landscape turned lush with tall cedars again. We began to relax, but one more
windy climb snuck in before our stupendously beautiful (and not just because we were
exhausted) descent to Lake Chelan.
We secured one of the last campsites (it was 4th of July Weekend), paid our $11, and
proceeded to our beachfront site mere feet from the 55 mile long (and less than a mile
wide) glacier lake. Our tent tonight will feature views of the clear night sky and the
majestic mountains reflected with the moon on the glacier lake.
We setup camp, walked on the beach, showered (coin-op), and walked to the look drive-in
for as-good-as-to-be-expected dinner, and a very thick milkshake for Jeff.
We were both tired from the wind and sun, but not the kind of exhausted we were before
our day off. We were feeling strong for whatever tomorrow dished out, but also confident
that we'd sleep well in the rapidly cooling mountain air.
|Narrated by Jeff
||July 2, 1999
||Lake Chelan to Pateros
Longest Day That Almost Was
|After a wonderful sleep in our
lakeside campsite, we both woke up at 6:30 AM to a bright sun glistening off the lake. We
stepped out of our tent to enjoy the sun licking the top of the ranges across the lake.
After the normal morning routine, we shared some dry snacks to hold us over until we
reached our breakfast stop on route. We broke camp and set out around 8:00 AM.
Yesterday's brutal winds, we weren't sure of what to expect today. As we rolled out of
camp and began cruising along our lakeside course, we wound along with hills to the right
and the 55 mile Lake Chelan to our left. What Views!
After 15 miles, we reached the quaint town of Chelan, with all the promised touristy
amenities. After weighing all the options (and choosing to leave our bikes locked where we
could see them after a suspicious fellow appeared to take inventory of us with his eyes)
we stopped at the Campbell House, a restaurant
affiliated with a fancy local resort for breakfast. We devoured our meals (granola waffles
with yogurt and berries for Wendy, scrambled eggs, smoked ham, hashbrowns, and a
fresh-out-of-the-oven buttermilk biscuit for me. All were very good.)
After breakfast we went for a short walk, and then set out again on our bicycles. The
pace was slow, but my overly enthusiastic legs got the best of me and i was continually
charging ahead. I humbled myself with a little convincing from Wendy. I don't know if my
legs are getting stronger or if I was just excited not to be fighting yesterday's
headwind, but I made an effort to calm down on the pace. We climbed a bit, then had some
downhills and flats. There was some wind, but it wasn't overwhelming.
Soon we reached Wells Dam, quite
lame compared to our tour of Rocky Reach. After a brief tour, we pressed on towards
Winthrop. In a short while, the weather began to change for the worse. It rapidly got
colder and darker, and just outside of Pateros it started to rain. We looked into the
hills where we were headed, and the storm was very visible. We decided to wait it out. As
we waited, our muscles cooled down, and our spirits as well. We contemplate bailout
options including some local campgrounds. Winthrop was still 40 windy, cold, wet miles
To kill some time while we waited for the storm to pass, we did some grocery shopping.
When we returned from shopping, we discovered that somebody had moved our locked bikes.
The lock cable "somehow" was now wrapped around my rear cassette. Our bikes,
locked together with packs, would have been impossible to lift. Trying to roll them
forward would have created this exact situation. Suspiciously in front of our now tangled
bikes was a parked car with Texas plates, and a back seat strewn with clothing and camping
gear, and the lights still on. As I struggled to free the cable, the car occupants
returned; A shabby pair of 20-ish year olds suspiciously coming out of a grocery store
without any bags. They made no eye contact, but moved from their car to a nearby bar, only
to emerge from there within 5 minutes as well with no bags. I had the willies by this
time, but they thankfully drove away.
I tried to settle myself, and we sat on the curb for a light snack. Enough time had
passed that we decided to cancel our reservation in Winthrop (We don't usually make
reservations but it was the 4th of July Weekend) and camp instead at the Alta Lake State Park 4 miles out of town.
4 miles uphill - and over a dangerous unmarked cattle guard.
I Guess I was a bit disappointed, feeling like we had quit the fight, but in the end it
was probably the best choice too. Alta Lake was a cute out of town park, although not as
charming as last night's Lake Chelan. We arrived and quickly set up camp along side some
rocks inhabited primarily by prairie dogs (which Wendy insists on calling whack-a-moles).
Just as we set up the tent,the rain began to fall again, and we both jumped into the tent
to wait it out. We felt better about having stopped early.
After the rain subsided, we walked the grounds, had some mochas at the concession stand
(yes, you really can get them anywhere), showered and prepared a simple dinner of pasta
with tomato sauce. Soon the light will slip from the sky and we'll enjoy another deserved
night's rest. But first - we'll whip up a batch of hot mocha pudding. Tomorrow: Winthrop.
|Narrated by Wendy
||July 3, 1999
||Alta Lake to Winthrop
journal entry starts yesterday, When we arrived at Alta Lake, we took care to choose a
campsite near a woman a two children with just a simple tent. After many nights near
up-all-night loud RV-ers, we try to choose neighbors who we believe will be quiet. These
neighbors were, in fact, quiet for awhile - except for some scary fire building, we didn't
hear from them until 10:00 PM or so. Then, a posse of men, teenagers, trucks, dogs, boats,
bright lights, and RVs appeared. They arrived like thunder and were totally rude. It was
all we could do to tune them out and fall asleep... Until 5:00 AM when they rose to go
fishing. And it was not a gentle awakening, but a loud ordeal of cursing, door-slamming,
wife-abusing (at least verbally) and engine revving. Again, we tried to put it out of our
minds. For $5 per night ($10 for them - since they had cars), I guess we got what we paid
At our own pace, we awoke, had some breakfast, and were on the road to Winthrop by
8:30 AM. We enjoyed the payback descent for yesterday's ascent, and remembered to go
slowly to stop before the cattle guard at the steepest part of the hill. At the bottom of
the hill, we resumed our journey north on highway 153 along the Methow (pronounced:
Met-How) river. Either the change in direction or the new day blessed us with considerably
less wind than the prior two days. While it was not abundantly sunny, it was pleasant
riding weather. We were feeling nice and enjoying the pleasant smelling apple orchards
when tragedy struck.
Jeff's front wheel slipped off the narrow, partially washed away part of the shoulder
of the road. Unable to right himself, he - still on his bike - slid a good distance down
the embankment. I watched the whole thing from behind, and it didn't look good. By the
time I stopped, Jeff was already standing and running down the embankment to get his front
pannier which had slid off. I made him sit down, and we took inventory of the situation: a
very deep, gory gash on his right hand. This was the kind of bloody mess that - had we
been anywhere near a town - I would have taken him to the hospital for stitches. He also
had some serious road rash on his left side, both above and below the knee. His t-shirt,
his shorts, and his gloves were all torn. (The long sleeved shirt which already had many
holes in it and was to be retired at the end of this trip anyway, of course remained
unscathed.) As for his bike, the handlebars turned themselves a bit, probably from a
desperate attempt to stay upright, and the fastening hook for one pannier was quite bent.
We cleaned and wrapped his wounds as best we could. When he was feeling a little
better, we fixed up his bike and eventually got back on and starting riding. Slowly at
first. As it turned out, owing to adrenaline, Jeff was actually riding faster than before.
Every few miles I'd ask him how he was feeling, but the answers - even when he tried to
put a bright spin on it - were not encouraging. We were really in the middle of nowhere so
our options were limited. We kept riding.
As if that weren't enough, another disturbing thing happened. A kid threw a firecracker
at us from a moving car! Fortunately, it landed squarely between us, and was apparently a
dud producing only a relatively small explosion. The sheer stupidity and invasiveness of
this act was profoundly disturbing to us both.
After about 30 miles, we arrived in the town of Twisp just as the apparent 4th of July
parade was breaking up. We walked down the quaint but slightly contrived old-west main
street, and thoroughly enjoyed two "cinnamon twisps" from the busy bakery of the
same name. We then walked down to check out the end of the local farmer's market and craft
show, and noted that this little town in the middle of nowhere had a rather large hippie
population. Plenty of hemp clothing, tie-dies, aromatherapy, and organic everything. The
market was ending, rain was looming, and Jeff was stiffening up from his fall. We got back
on our bikes and rode the remainder of the trip to Winthrop and the Winthrop KOA while eyeing with
awe but uncertainty the magnificent snow-capped peaks that were once again in front of us.
(Because we were making a big loop, we would pass through the cascade mountains twice.)
Because we'd changed our reservation at a campground on what is probably the biggest
camping weekend of the year,we were stuck begging with the campground owner for any spot
he could find. After a sob story, he came through with an unsanctioned, small, but
perfectly fine spot right on the Methow River for us and our two bikes.
We pitched our tents, showered, and walked a mile or two into town. Winthrop, like
Leavenworth, has chosen to ward off economic death by becoming a tourist trap. In this
case, the theme is wild west, but it's done a kind of yuppie mountain biker flair, so that
every other store seems to be "ye olde espresso saloon" or some other paradox.
We lunched at the local brew pup (as usual, root beer for me, the hard stuff for Jeff),
bought some post cards and gauze, and headed back to the campground for the not very
exotic tasks of doing laundry - one of the disadvantages of travelling light.
Tomorrow we had planned our hardest day of the trip: A long, steep climb over the 5000+
foot Washington Pass and then the 4000+ foot Rainy Pass - both along the very scenic North
Cascades Highway (which is in North Cascades National Park.) We're not ruling it out just
yet, but we're also looking into other options in the very likely event that Jeff's
battered body stiffens overnight up after today's fall. He says he's feeling "as good
as to be expected," but neither of us can predict what tomorrow will bring. We'll
have to wait.
|Narrated by Jeff
||July 4, 1999
||Winthrop to Burlington
Cheaters Guide To Bike Touring - or - you did HOW many miles in 3 hours?
1: take a tumble off the bike the day before, eating a pound of asphalt and losing a pound
of flesh. Step 2: Hobble around the campground for a day like a gimp with a limp, looking
for some pity. Step 3: Hope and pray for some pity and the offer of a ride.
secrets told. Here's today's story. By now you are aware of my fall yesterday. I woke up
this morning sore and stuff as if I'd battled with a Mack Truck and lost. The KOA staff
had been trying since our arrival to get us a lift down the road, and this morning even
posted a sign in the store. Just as we were losing hope this morning, a young gentleman
named Jeremy offered us a ride as far as Burlington on his route home to Vancouver. He
said he would make room for us and our bikes in his truck after he returned from his
midday mountain bike ride along one of the many trails in this area.
With an eased mind, we now had some time to waste. We washed up and walked into town
for breakfast. We sat down at the outside patio of "The Duck Brand" restaurant
and enjoyed coffee and omelets of grand size and wonderful flavor. After breakfast, we
strolled through town, and then back to camp. Jeremy was not expected until after 3:00 PM,
so we relaxed in camp enjoying the green grass and blue sky above. As 3:00 came and went,
we began to wonder if Jeremy would come back for us at all. Eventually, he did. We
gathered our gear, packed his truck, and headed out to Burlington. Although we couldn't
enjoy the sights and sounds as intimately as we have become used to while bicycling, it
was a relief to my sore body to have the day off.
As we began our ascent through Washington Pass, then Rainy Pass, we watched forests and
overlooks pass us by in a blur. It was a bit sad, but I don't think I could have peddled
my loaded up bike up the passes in this condition. We stopped near the top to enjoy a view
of the beautiful mountains and the glacier green Ross Lake below.
Soon, we were in Burlington, and Jeremy offered to take us slightly off his route and
right to the Burlington KOA instead
of just leaving at the edge of the highway (we gave him the choice.) We arrived, unloaded,
said goodbye, gave him a little gas money for his trouble, and checked in. Since it was
the 4th of July, the camp was busy with activities. We attended the Ice Cream Social
before dinner, and then crafted a yummy enchilada stew from a dried mix we'd bought in
Leavenworth. Well fed, we retired to our tent for a night's rest in preparation for
tomorrow cruise to Anacortes. We were put to sleep by hours of fireworks, going out with a
|Narrated by Wendy
||July 5, 1999
Quiet, Normal Life
morning, we awoke neither particularly early or particularly late, ate a simple breakfast,
and were on the road by the very average time of 9:00 AM. We rode a few mostly flat or
gently rolling miles to get to Highway 20, and then some more easy miles on 20 until we
crossed the bridge to Fidalgo Island. After the spectacular mountain scenery of the past
week, this morning's ride was sort of ho-hum. Light industrial, a little bit of farm land,
a refinery, and some creature comforts (espresso, gas stations, fast food, etc.)
we crossed the bay,things started to look up. Traffic got a little lighter, and there were
occasional views across the bay into the still mesmerizing mountain peaks. It seemed like
we arrived in Anacortes in no time. We were expecting a quaint by touristy seaport town,
but Anacortes was not that. To our disappointment, the town started out as very commercial
and generic. As we followed along the main street (appropriately called Commercial Avenue)
to the "old town" neighborhood, it started to gain some character - but not too
much. This seemed like a town that benefits from some tourist traffic but was not willing
to prostitute itself in the way that Leavenworth or Winthrop did. We stopped for some
spicy ginger beer and great rosemary pizza at a bakery and sat on the sidewalk to enjoy it
next to a one legged bicyclist (whom we didn't talk to.)
After a nice rest, we got back on our bikes and rode the remaining 4 miles along the
coast to Washington City Park. We found a quiet, wooded spot, set up camp, showered (hot,
high pressure, not that clean, coin-op) and caught a free (!) bus back into town (in case
you're windering, the rosemary pizza we ate earlier was breakfast.) In town, we walked a
bit and eventually ended up at the local brew pub (I knew we would) where jeff had the
hard stuff and I had the root stuff (I know it's corny, but I've really been enjoying
these craft root beers). We sat at an outdoor table and plotted a course for the next few
days while we waited for our pretty good brick oven pizzas. We then walked some more, went
to the grocery store, and caught another free bus back to the campground. We were a little
early for the bus we wanted, and we decided to take an indirect bus that was leaving
immediately and take a small island tour.
Returning to camp, we took a long walk on the 2.5 mile loop trail at the perimeter of
the park, and caught occasional glimpses of the Olympic mountains - every bit as
breathtaking as the cascades.
The weather today has been perfect. High 60's (F) but not a cloud in the sky. It feels
much warmer in the sun. Apparently this is the first nice day on the "wet side"
of the state since October. People are coming out of their metaphoric shells. We're
wondering if we arrived in time for the famed (but possibly only in myths) dry season.
We're hoping, of course, that it will remain this way for the remainder of the week. The
weather reports say it will, but we've been warned that things can change quickly here.
Still, we can dream.
|Narrated by Jeff
||July 6, 1999
morning we awoke in a forested Washington Park campsite listening to nature in all her
glory and the sound of the ferry horn in the background. Today would be unlike the past
ten days. Not only would we not have to break camp, but we would be peddling our bikes
with much less gear. Today, we decided to tour one of the many San Juan Islands: Lopez.
The San Juan Islands are a series of islands in Puget Sound only accessible by ferry or
seaplane. We chose Lopez for its legendary beauty and tranquility. We decided to catch a
10:00 AM ferry which allowed us to take a leisurely
pace for our AM preparations. I grilled some homefries for our bellies to accompany some
orange juice and a baguette. After breakfast, we lightened our loads. We removed some
panniers, and limited the others to a more minimal load: rain gear (you never know),
tools, snacks, etc. By 9:00 AM, we were on the road to the ferry launch.
We arrived in
minutes, purchased our tickets, and waited in line with the other tourists, vendors, and
island inhabitants. We soon departed, and enjoyed views of the Olympic Peninsula's snow
capped mountains, as well as Mount Baker (also snowy), and a cool sea breeze. Finally, We
docked on Lopez and unloaded our bikes amid a little chaos; A large tour group had
leaned their bikes against ours, and it took uncomfortably long to sort the whole pile
out. When we finally got on, the bikes felt a bit strange. We had each left more than 30
pounds of gear behind at Washington Park.
With renewed vigor we began our island tour. Not quite a three hour tour, Gilligan, but
close. Lopez was everything we expected: peaceful, subdued, and beautiful. We
roughly followed a route outlined in TerraGraphic's book, "Touring the
Islands." The route was perfect, even if the cues weren't. Mileage
seemed wrong, and turns miscued. We persevered an continued our travel though the quiet
roads. We soon came upon Lopez Village, a cute community with shops, cafe's and several
espresso stands. It was noon and we sat at an outside table at Gail'sfor soup and
sandwiches, while looking over today's route. After lunch, we continued winding along the
tree lined roads, occasionally catching a glimpse of mainland or a lovely bay cove. Soon
we were in the village of Richardson. Not much of a town, but what a view of the
Olympics! We took a moment to become absorbed by the beauty, then pedaled on through
farmlands strewn with "antique" tractors, and pastures with horses, cows, sheep,
and even llamas.
Mackaye Harbor Day Park Beach offered us more and wonderful distant views of the
mainland, and a crystal clear sea below us. The island was all but silent except for an
occasional vehicle, or more likely a fellow cyclist pasing us in the other direction. As
our tour was coming to an end, we deviated from the prescribed course and cut back across
the island to Lopez Village again. We did some grocery shopping for our evening meal and
sipped some iced mochas and a creamsicle drink while we lounged in the shade. As the hour
grew late, we pedaled to the dock for our ferry. While we waited, some recumbent
bicycles were ridden in. We talk to the captain of the tandem, and found out that he was a
key designer of Vision Recumbents. We spent quite awhile discussing recumbents, and
checking out the components and design of his machines. Eventually, the ferry arrived and
Back at camp, we showered, cooked a great BBQ dinner, and started a fire so that we
could toast (in in Wendy's case, char) marshmallows.
I didn't see this - but it was reported to me like this. After dinner Wendy and I
walked up to the camp restrooms to use the facilities. From the lady's room, Wendy could
hear me singing through the wall in the men's room. Believing she was alone, she shouted
out, "I can hear you singing." A woman who was in the room with her (in a
stall) replied, sounding a bit scared and confused, "I'm just sitting hear quiet as a
mouse not bothering anybody." She must have though Wendy was nuts.
Soon, the sun was setting again and we crawled into the tent for another night of
|Narrated by Wendy
||July 7, 1999
||Anacortes to Port Townsend
|The rain stopped before
morning, and we awoke to overcast - but dry - skies. Perhaps it was the cool
dampness of the air that kept us lingering in our comfy sleeping bags a few extra minutes,
but the air also reminded us how extraordinarily lucky we've been weather-wise. Once we
pried ourselves from our warm, dry nest, we set about the business of the day:
breaking camp, eating a simple breakfast, and hitting the road again.
Because we were
initially following backroads along the coast, we encountered more - and steeper - hills
than recent days. My legs started out a little numb and lethargic, and I could tell Jeff
was a little frustrated with my slowness. In a few miles, we re-joined the less hilly but
more traffic laden highway 20. My legs felt better. Soon, we came to the Deception
Pass bridge which crosses between Fidalgo and Whidbey islands. The bridge is very high off
the water and nestled between two rocky ledges in such a way that it not only provided
spectacular views, but it was in fact a spectacular thing to view itself.
On the bridge, we saw another loaded bike tourist, but he seemed neither talkative or
energetic. At a rest stop, we said "hi" and gathered from his accented response
that English was not his first language. His riding style suggested exhaustion. We
followed him for a few miles, but Jeff felt that he was weaving so much, it wouldn't be
safe to pass him in traffic. After not too long, he pulled off towards a restaurant, and
we continued on to Oak Harbor.
Oak Harbor is the largest city on Whidbey Island, and seemed to bear no other unique
distinction. We didn't know for sure what we were missing, but nothing we heard sounded
that promising. We went only as far as the nearest grocery store to stock up, before
returning to highway 20 and the much more interesting sounding Coupville. After Oak
Harbor, the road became high traffic with no shoulder. We rode on the sidewalk for awhile,
and at the first opportunity turned onto a quiet back road with nice views of Penn Cove.
The lack of traffic and easy roads made us both feel light and cheerful, and Jeff took a
few opportunities to perfect his mooning technique. Although I've never tried it
myself, I imagine it to be difficult to pull down one's bike shorts to reveal a vertical
smile while managing to keep a heavily loaded touring bike upright and forward moving.
Sorry, no pictures...
We soon arrived in cute and artsy town of Coupvillle, and sought out our lunch spot.
We found the Captain's Galley, and thoroughly enjoyed our shared meals of crab
cakes, spicy seafood chowder, and extremely tender Mussels from right there in Penn Cove.
Garlic bread too. Our only complaint was that we ate too much. We went for a walk
through town to digest, and stopped in some of the craft shops and galleries. We
ran into another bike tourist (from Canada) and found out that he was riding with the
bicyclist we'd seen earlier, but they'd gotten separated. They were, with a few others, at
the very beginning of a down-the-coast adventure. We chatted a bit, then departed.
Back on the bikes, we took a pleasant shortcut to the Keystone - Port Townsend ferry
terminal that was not only more direct and less trafficked than the main route, but also
provided us with bucolic views of prairie landscapes. Blue skies, red barns, yellow
rolling fields, green hills and trees. Without planning it, we arrived at the ferry dock
just in time to load-up before the boat departed. Unlike yesterday's ferry which gave us
views of huge mountain peaks, today's overcast skies allowed no such visions. We chatted
for awhile more with the bike tourist we'd met in Coupville who had received word that the
rest of his party was already at the campground near Port Townsend.
Although it would be easy to lament today's grayness, it is in fact yesterday's
sunshine that should be celebrate. Apparently the clearness of the last two days has
really been the only warm sunshine in western Washington since October. Seattle is - after
all - notorious for its rain.
After the short ferry, we cycled through the very cute looking town of Port Townsend
and took the un-recommended short but challenging route to Fort Worden State Park. (We later
discovered that the much recommended route was only marginally longer, and much less
hilly.) Fort Worden is a former military base that now supports two campgrounds, a
youth hostel, and conference services. The former barracks and other buildings have not
been used for military purposes since the 1950's, but still are very military in look and
We obtained a lovely, quiet campsite nestled among tall cedars in the hiker/biker
section of the upper campground for $5. After pitching the tent, we took a walk down
towards the beach under the guise of stretching our legs - but my real goal was to find a
mocha latte to satisfy my new Seattle-sized designer coffee craving. Latte in hand, we
returned to our tent, showered (very hot, high pressure, and clean too!) and called home
(my call did not go through, and I didn't know it at the time but a heat wave had caused a
massive electrical outage in the New York metropolitan area that prevented phone service,
among other things. Hard to imagine such heat while immeresed in the chilly
Washington air.). Dinner was a simple but delicious and filling pasta with sundried tomato
pesto. After dinner, we did laundry (again.)
It was another nice day - a good mix of town and country. The cool, damp air, while not
ideal, produces at the end of the day a natural kind of euphoric exhaustion. We
will both sleep well tonight.
|Narrated by Jeff
||July 8, 1999
||Port Townsend to Bainbridge
Last Real Day Of Riding
a peaceful night's sleep in our "primitive" campsite inside Fort Worden's
camping area, we crawled our of our warm tent and began the day. We decided to stroll the
grounds of this retired military base before starting today's route. After we packed up up
our belongings neatly on our bikes, we took a leisurely stroll across the base and back
down to the beach area. The beach was lined with old military structures, campsites, and
rushing waves. At one end stood the original lighthouse, like a sentry guarding the
peaceful scene. After our walk, we called Wendy's grandfather to wish him a happy
birthday, stopped in the park office to pay our $5 for the campsite, and rolled out toward
downtown Port Townsend.
As with most of our accommodations, we had an immediate climb
away from the campsite - tough on our not yet ready bodies. Sleeping by water most nights
has been a treat, but the penalty is that water settles into the hollows of each valley,
and our mornings usually begin with a leg screaming climb. We wound our way up the
hillside and then descended into the town for some breakfast. We found a cafe on the
waterfront and enjoyed the view more than the food. After breakfast, we walked through
town. Port Townsend is architecturally charming with turn of the century brick and stone
facades. We enjoyed the shops and galleries along the main street, but bought nothing. We
returned to our trusty steeds and rolled out.
As we climbed and climbed out of town on highway 20 we enjoyed occasional view of the
Olympics. The road was comfortable with its clean, wide shoulder and courteous traffic. As
our route leveled off, we made our turn onto highway 19, a winding, low-traffic road with
gentle bends and beautiful landscapes. As was so often the case, we were mesmerized by the
snow covered mountains, farm lands filled with horses, cows, sheep and even llamas, the
waterways dotting and dividing the landscape, and the impressive forests of towering
evergreens, mostly cedar reaching straight and tall to the sun. Along highway 19 we came
across another wonderful sight, a pasture filled with a large herd of buffalo, including
many young, brown, fuzzy calves - grunting. We stopped for awhile to watch, listen, and
take some pictures.
In a short time, we reached highway 104, and headed southeast toward the Hood Canal
Bridge. As we approached this bridge, we realized that for safety's sake it was best to
walk the bikes across instead of ride. The shoulder was narrow and laden with glass and
rocks - not at all bicycle friendly. We soon realized what a wise choice this had been.
The bridge contained pretty much every obstacle known to bicycles: grated surfaces,
long exposed sewer grates, large seems at odd angles, and of course plenty of debris
and a total lack of shoulder in some places. But the oddest thing about this structure was
that halfway across all traffic stopped. We were walking past those vehicles that had
passed us earlier. There was a sign warning of a drawbridge, but we saw no evidence of the
bridge either moving up or swinging out - and saw no machinery to support such a maneuver
either. After a seemingly long while, traffic began to move again and we continued walking
across the shoulder of the long bridge. Tired and irritated, we made it to the other
side: the Kitsap Peninsula.
Needing a break, we decided to veer from our planned course and pedal into Port Gamble.
Signs suggested that there were facilities in this town - but we rode through and
saw nothing. Port Gamble was true to its name - a gamble. We'd lost that bet, but rather
than backtrack, we decided to cut diagonally back to highway 305 via highway 307. Still
needing a rest stop, we were glad when we saw the town of Poulsbo. We stopped for some
subs and frozen Starbucks coffee, then pressed on towards Fay Bainbridge State Park on Bainbridge
Just before crossing the Bainbridge Bridge, we were bombarded with highway stands -
shacks really - hustling fireworks of every variety. After our earlier encounter with a
firecracker, these vendors did not make me happy, and I was glad to pass the "Last
Chance Firework Stand," and cross the bridge onto Bainbridge.
Fay Bainbridge State Park is nestled on the northern coast of Bainbridge Island,
offering coastal views of Seattle and the mountain ranges we'd passed through earlier in
our journey. We setup camp and grumbled that the RV campers got a great view of the shore,
and the tent campers did not. We walked down to the rocky beach to relax before eating our
homemade Mexican pasta dinner. We played a few games of rummy until darkness made it
impossible to see. As we played, a group of campers across the way could be heard
coughing, giggling, and saying, "ere" as they departed from their tent for
munchies. A hint of marijuana smell wafted our way to confirm our suspicions.
Soon we settled into our tent for a peaceful night's rest, listening to the
nature's best coming alive around us.
|Narrated by Wendy
||July 9, 1999
morning we awoke in no particular hurry to another gorgeous day in Seattle (how often do
you hear that?). We started off by calling the bus company to get route information, only
to find that we had virtually no chance of making the last bus of the morning: 8:00 AM. We
relied instead on a taxi to take us (sans bikes) to the ferry that would bring us to down
Seattle where would spend the day being pure tourists.
Departing the ferry, we walked
north using the Space Needle as our beacon. We stopped
at Seattle's Best Coffee for some mochas to keep
our designer coffee addiction alive. Then, we continued north until we saw the bustling
and aromatic Pike Place Market. The highlight of the
market was clearly the fish market that
featured a bunch of wacky performer-vendors singing, throwing fish, entertaining, and
offering samples. (For the record, the crabs were huge and fresh, the salmon looked
wonderful, and the small taste of smoked salmon we had made us wish we had a means to take
some with us. The salmon-jerky was interesting, but a little too odd for actual
After the market, we continued on to the Space Needle where we balked at the high
prices and long lines. We debated for awhile and eventually decided to go up to the
observation tower anyway. "Hey, we're here. When else are we going to be here,"
we rationalized. We made it a little cheaper by buying City Pass books that would take us
to most of the city attractions for about half the price.
So we waited in the long, hot line and eventually took the glass elevator to the tacky
but panoramic monument to a long gone world's fair. We spent a few minutes oohing and
aahing at the 360 degree views, and the descended. We found lunch at a bagel
place with tables outside. After lunch, we headed to the Seattle Art Museum. The current feature
at the museum was an impressionist exhibit. We were frustrated to find out that our City
Pass books would get us into the museum, but not this exhibit. Gotcha. Feeling somewhat
bilked, we paid the additional fee to enjoy the okay collection of art drowning in an
unfortunately large crowd of people moving very slowing as they listened to their
too-detailed recorded analysis of each piece. The museum also featured several nice
collections of American, European, Asian, American Indian, and local (Washington)
exhibits. We spent awhile seeing what there was to see, and then hit the road again.
En route to the ferry, we stopped again at Pike Place Market. We bought some onion
cheese bread, some oranges, and an orange fleshed honeydew. A pleasant ferry and a prompt
bus returned us to our campsite for another night of sleep amid the gently crashing waves,
singing birds, hungry mosquitoes, and giggling pot-heads - also here for another night.
|Narrated by Jeff
||July 10, 1999
||Bainbridge Island to Seattle
the promise of our last full day on the bikes, I rolled out of my sleeping bag around 4:30
AM. I wanted to sit on the beach and watch the sunrise behind Seattle, just across the
sound from the Park. The skies showed me the promise of a beautiful view and nature was
awakening around me. As I began my beachside wait, I paced up and down the beach, waiting
for the perfect photo. Soon, though, I disappointedly stumbled across an unnatural beach
find: empty Budweiser cans tossed about. I picked up 4 cans and a cigarette pack and
placed them on a table and continued my guard, still pacing. Soon, I was again confronted
by human waste: A cardboard beer carrier and another dozen cans. Once again I
cleaned up after these disgusting, lazy beer swillers, with an apparent lack of sense and
a bad sense of good beer as well. As I finished my clean-up, the skies awoke in a glorious
burst of color. The sun rose behind the distant mountains, lighting the Seattle skyline,
and dancing on the Sound in all its brilliance. Satisfied with my experience, but
disgusted by humanity, I returned to our tent for a little more rest.
In a while, we
woke, ate some wonderful fruit (because there can be no leftovers in bike touring, I
watched Wendy eat a whole melon), and set out for the Seattle ferry and our next campground. We arrived just in time to
roll right into the ferre. Soon we found ourselves in Seattle again. We were
planning to meet an old school friend of Wendy's for coffee, but miscommunication and
conflicting schedules left us on our own. After some coffee, we plotted a course to the Seattle/Kent KOA. I should
note that although we had planned to find a motel near the airport for our last two
nights, when the time came, we were both inexplicably inclined to continue our streak of
camping. Surely this is testimony to the quality of our new Mountain Hardware Horizon 3
tent (which we spent months researching), and our cushy Thermarest
We started by following the signed bike routes from downtown to the airport. The route
was the industrial, not so pretty route that we took into town on the first day. But
it had the benefit of being low traffic and having a wide shoulder for most of the way.
Eventually we turned onto the Green River Trail, a very windy and indirect path. Judging
from our maps and our experience, it would take 2-3 miles on the trail to equal one
straight-road mile, but the trail wound along the river, affording us views of the
surrounding area beyond Seattle. We could have chosen a more direct course, but this one
offered serenity, relaxation, and most importantly, the total lack of vehicular traffic
short of bicyclists, walkers, and skaters. We finally arrived at camp, set up, showered,
and walked to a nearby bus stop along a direct route back to downtown Seattle. Ah, life is
We arrived in Seattle, bought a few gifts at Pike Place Market, and wandered to the Seattle Aquarium for some more tourism. I enjoyed the
aquarium, and Wendy said, "eyoo..." a lot. After the aquarium, we went to the
Omnidome across the street to watch an IMAX film about the eruption of
Mount Saint Helens. This 30 minute film was overpriced, but very cool and realistic
indeed. As we exited the movie, our bellies reminded us to eat, and we chose the nearby
Fisherman's. This waterfront eatery offered great seafood at not-so-bad prices. I had a
delicious mesquite grilled Alaskan salmon, and Wendy had some great tuna. A grand meal by
any standards, and beyond that for two people who have eaten many camp-meals for the last
2 weeks. After dinner, we walked up the waterfront, and eves-dropped on an in progress
Cowboy Junkies concert at Seattle's music pier.
We headed for our bus stop just as the sunlight began to fade and the street people
emerged. Feeling a little threatened, we decided that we'd be out of the city earlier on
subsequent nights. Our bus arrived and we quickly boarded. Our 45 minute return bus trip
entertained us with a conversation between the driver and an apparent street person -
seemingly harmless and with the Seattle fashion sense or good luck to be wearing Gore-Tex
pants. The conversation was filled with humorous anecdotes. Stories about Seattle's
failing sports teams, the new overpriced and unwanted stadium with a retracting roof
(Safeco Field) that was about to open, woman, and much, much more. Finally we arrived at
our stop, walked back to camp, and crawled into our tent for another restful sleep.
|Narrated by Wendy
||July 11, 1999
plan was to catch an early bus into downtown Seattle, and then pick up another bus to the Boeing Museum of Flight. It was a workable plan,
but we felt a little silly since the first bus went fairly close to the museum - and the
second bus basically backtracked to where we'd already been. The bus driver suggested a
different transfer point, and stopped the bus to let us out in a particularly seedy
neighborhood. We looked around for awhile, and although there were a few bus stops in the
area, none appeared to be for the bus we wanted. After a good amount of uncertainty, we
opted to stand near a traffic cone that said, "no parking - bus stop" that had
no other route information, but appeared to be in the right place. It turned out we were
right and eventually our bus arrived to take us to the museum.
Despite our general
ignorance of aircraft design, Jeff and I had lots of fun examining the planes on display
at the museum. There was an extensive collection of small planes from a variety of eras.
The historical information was was usually interesting, and often humorous (at least to
us). We got to walk in a retired Air Force One, walk through the original Boeing Red Barn,
see one of the original Apollo capsules and plenty of other stuff. Bombers, mail planes,
bi-planes, human powered planes, gliders, early passenger planes, and lots of other stuff.
It's a small building - but it's packed full of neat engineering. We really enjoyed it.
After the museum, we caught the bus back to town and had a light lunch at Steamers on
the waterfront, which was crowded (probably owing to the location) and pretty cheap. We
got some fried food because that was the thing to do. After lunch, we caught a bus heading
north to the Woodland Park Zoo. We walked around the zoo
until closing time, and I discovered that despite my original beliefs about myself, that I
am a bit of a bigot after all. Without meaning to, and without any real evidence, I
continue to believe that mammals are the cutest, smartest, and overall highest evolved
members of the animal kingdom. The snakes, eels, fish, birds, bugs, and other creatures I
could leave behind - but the giraffes were great, the orangutans awesome (but lazy), the
zebras were wonderful, the elephants were huge but graceful, the goats were silly, but the
lion cub triplets were missing (we couldn't find them).
After the zoo, we decided to head back to the campground. We didn't want to repeat
yesterday's error of staying in the city until dark. As the bus headed south towards
Seattle again, we were confronted with the awesome sight of Mt. Rainier. Although this is
one of Washington's most known landmarks, hazy skies and other smaller-but-closer
mountains had prevented us from getting a good view. But there it was: the Seattle skyline
in the foreground, and the magnificent and huge Rainier in the background - snow covered
and majestic - it looked like it was just painted as a backdrop to the city. It was
At the campground, we went for a swim and walked down the street for a light dinner
before retiring for our last night in camp.
|Narrated by Wendy
||July 12, 1999
||Kent to SeaTac
last day is a short one - or a long one - depending on how you look at it. We awoke and
packed up at a comfortable pace, and set out on our bikes towards the airport. The airport
was only 5 miles away, but we wanted to be sure we had plenty of time to box our bikes and
make our noon flight. We climbed over a big trafficy hill leading to the entrance of I-5
(which we didn't take) and encountered our first and last taste of rush hour traffic. Most
of our trip, however, was through residential neighborhoods. After the initial climb, it
was fairly easy riding. We stopped en route at a market to buy some packing tape (for the
bike boxes), and soon we were on the airport grounds.
As we arrived at the airport, we
were treated again to a stunning and unexpected view of Mount Rainier - this time as a
backdrop to the airport. Realizing that it may be a long time until I see such grand,
quiet beauty again, I nearly cried. Instead I just paused and silently thanked the
mountains, and the trees, and the air for all they had given us these last two weeks. For
letting us play in their world.
Once in the airport, things were a little less serene. Northwest Airlines again bungled
things with our bikes. They claimed they'd never handled bikes before, couldn't find the
boxes, and didn't know what to do after we boxed them. The boxes they found were adequate,
but actually too short for our bikes (which are of average size). Jeff had to kind of
rebuild them a little and use loads of tape to make them fit. After our earlier
experiences with this airline, we were pretty irritated. Given the number of bike tourists
we'd seen or heard from, and the fact that Northwest is endorsed by the League of American
Bicyclists, it seemed impossible that we were the first to fly our bikes through SeaTac.
After we boxed our bikes, they made us drag them a good distance down to the "odd
sized baggage" counter downstairs, where they were dragged into darkness.
Hopefully towards our plane.
An hour of waiting, 7 hours of flying, an hour of layover in Detroit, and 3 timezones
later - we claimed our bikes at Lehigh Valley (ABE) airport, and made the short pilgrimage
home before midnight. Same as it ever was.