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North America

Autumnal Glory in Washington State

[slideshow]

Sidney to Anacortes 2.02 km
Anacortes to Fort Casey 58.04 km
Fort Casey to Quilcene 39.81 km
Quilcene to Lilliwaup 54.81 km

If there is any pattern to the first few days in Washington State it is that we have met some really nice people and discovered that the inland route is relatively hilly but very beautiful, taking us through dark green ferny forests with occasional hilltop views of the ocean, lush farm country, quaint Oceanside villages and a river filled with spawning salmon.

We took the ferry from Sidney to Anacortes and stayed in a motel the first night (Ship Harbour Inn – a bit expensive but well maintained and friendly and accommodating owner and very close to ferry). The first ride in Washington was along a series of rolling (very) side roads with great views of the ocean. We met a bunch of cyclists from a Skagit County bike club and they were full of enthusiasm for our trip and gave us lots of information about the route we were on (essentially cycling from Anacortes to Port Townsend over Fidalgo and Whidbey Island). I was a bit knackered by the time we got to our campsite at Fort Casey (which is right beside the terminal for ferry to Port Townsend) as we’d battled headwind for part of the day and the terrain was consistently hilly all day. However, we really liked the scenery around Penn Cove and Coupeville (an old town that has maintained a number of historic buildings and an old pier.) This is a great area for Vancouver cyclists who want a long weekend or 4 days of cycling and touring. There are lots of unique and lovely places to stay if you don’t want to camp (Coupeville, Captain Whidbey Inn, Port Townsend).

The hiker biker section of the Fort Casey campground was beside the recycling bins…we must have looked a little dismayed as a guy came by and invited us to join him and his wife at their campsite. We ended up with a lovely view of the water and a pleasant evening sipping rose and sharing stories around their campfire, where we were introduced to smors.

Unfortunately the wind that we’d battled all day kept up all night and I was freezing in the tent. I don’t like the confines of a sleeping bag so had slipped my sleeping sheet over my air mattress and was using the sleeping bag as a blanket. I will be buying long pants and a sweatshirt for night wear in the next big town. But the new air mattress was excellent…old fart huge.

We took the ferry from Whidbey Island to Port Townsend. This is another historic town we could easily have spent a day or two in. We met a very friendly bike shop (P.T. Cyclery) owner who regaled us with tales of other cyclists he’s met through the shop that are on long journeys, including a 23 year old French Canadian woman who had been cycling North America for a number of years surviving on barter and picking fruit.

Turns out we needed the extra tire we bought at the bike shop and spent a frustrating hour fiddling with my bike (again sigh) at the side of a very hilly road (highway 20 west). Pretty country but narrow shoulders. The best part of the day was at the end cycling 101 to Quilchene. The grade was gentle, and the shoulders wide as we cycled through farm country. I bonked at one point though (just tired and hungry) and let Ian get ahead while I stopped for a bite and to put a sweater on. I looked across the road to find I had an audience of three very beautiful horses who spent the five minutes I stood resting staring at me with such unwavering intensity they made me laugh. Must have been my bike and helmet? And back on the bike, blood sugar and sense of humour intact.

Our budget said campground but I needed a motel and Ian was happy enough to agree. I slept like the dead although Ian says the dead don’t snore so like that…

Our third day cycling was also tough because of hills. We followed 101 into the Olympic National Park. The day started with a 6 km climb although relatively gentle grade and then descended into what eventually seemed like a never-ending series of hills with short but steep climbs, all along the Hood canal. So we motelled again…

Over beers in our room, we reminded ourselves that we are on a training ride but we are also meant to be having fun. So if we spend a little more on motels than what we planned and if we take a little longer than what we had hoped we can and will adjust for that and perhaps the other challenge I fear is coming…my raspy throat maybe developing into a cold.

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