This morning’s route began in Castle Rock with a quick stop at the market and the post office.
Due to the prediction of rain and the cooler temperatures, we were layered in warm gear and rain gear. After our first climb and with just a little mist, we began taking off layers, leaving on the rain gear, just in case. Our hill climbs today were of the long variety, gradual, slow, 1.3 to l.5 miles up and then a quick 1-2 mile downhill run.
With the wet roads, we were cautious on the downhills and didn’t take advantage of the chance to get up to 30 mph. Also the roads today were filled with logging trucks, empty and full. After about 17 miles of up and down hills, we finally reached the Columbia River
and I figured the route would be flat along the river. NOT! We still had hills to climb, rocks to avoid, and passing trucks on the two-lane highway we traveled. It is still beautiful country and the short rainstorm just cooled us off after one of our hill climbs.
We stopped in Cathlamet, Washington for the night, staying in historic Hotel Cathlamet.
As we cycled into town, we noticed a highway sign stating that the ferry we planned to take tomorrow was out of commission this week, but thankfully will be back in service tomorrow starting at 5:00 AM. What luck! We walked around this small riverside community and captured some of the decline. It used to be a bustling river port.
Tomorrow after crossing the bridge in the background of the above photo and taking a short ferry ride, we will be in Oregon and headed to Astoria.
Before leaving Centralia this morning, we cycled into town to see the historic section. Beautiful murals adorned the walls of the buildings and the main street was filled with antique shops, bars, pubs, restaurants, and more antique shops.
It was a good three mile warm-up before we started up the hills for the day. Our map indicated we were to ride on Salzer Valley Road and I thought we would have a flat ride like yesterday. No way…our first “hill” was 1.3 miles and a very gradual climb, then a beautiful long ride on the ridge overlooking the valley we had just left.
The descent was a 16% grade and took a very short time to get to the bottom.
A few more miles and then we started another climb, a long gradual cycle with another quick descent. For 44 miles today we followed this same pattern. Who said going south on the Pacific Coast Cycle route was all downhill?
Every now and then I would look behind me and there would be no Bill. He was capturing photographs of those beautiful old vehicles.
He is just enamored with the old cars and trucks.
Thank goodness, I have the map to follow. We comment each day that “everything is beautiful, in its own way…” whether it’s a wild iris, a restored custom Chevy hotrod truck, or a calf stopped to check out the crazy bicycle riders.
We have stopped for the day in Castle Rock, Washington – 35 miles from Mt. St. Helens (not visible right now due to cloud cover). Rain predicted tomorrow may slow us down, but we still hope to be in Astoria, Oregon by the weekend.
We left Elma this morning and it was overcast, 51 degrees, but not raining! Eagles are the mascot for the Elma High School and Eagles Landing was the name of the new shopping plaza across from our hotel, so we believe that the photo below is an eagle’s nest – not sure who placed the platform on top of the pole.
We crossed the Chehallis River a few miles outside of Elma and had NO hills to climb today, amazing.
About half way through the route, we notice a herd of goats run away from us in their fenced in yard as we approached. Once our bikes were even with them, they all turned around and paraded out as if in a circus, jumped on the platform and began to perform for a good 10 minutes of entertainment and a nice break! No popcorn though.
We have stopped for the day in Centralia, Washington – still three more days to Astoria, Oregon.
Temperature was 43 degrees this morning when we started our ride from Shelton, Washington headed towards Elma. While I stopped at the post office on the main street in town, Bill took a few photos of the murals and historic train cars nearby. Wherever we stop, everyone is interested to find out where have we come from and where are we going.
Our ride this morning started out with a long climb out of town until reaching Cloquallam Creek where the ride leveled out. Many of you know that we travel with a white strobe LED on the front of our bikes, and 2 red LED lights on the rear of our bikes. Bill also has a flashing red LED on the rear of his helmet. We definitely wan’t to be visible. A gentleman today slowed his vehicle as he approached us to tell us that we had great lighting. He had seen us way down the road. Safety, check!
We also met a young man traveling on his bike north from San Diego, on the road since the first week of April, tenting it up the coast and willreach Seattle,his destination, tomorrow. He encouraged us to stay off the 101 as much as we could. Our Adventure Cycling Maps tend to take us on the back-roads and byways.
Bill managed to get several photos of a blue bird that I noticed as we cycled today, I believe it was a Stellar’s Jay.
Our ride was shorter today, only 30 miles as we were concerned about lodging. The next town with lodging was another 30+ miles and that just made for a long day. We have stopped for the day in Elma, Washington – not much here but at least there is a decent hotel. Tomorrow we hope to make it to Centralia, Washington. Oregon is getting closer, maybe by Friday.
A leisurely day 6 was spent at the bookstore and taking in another movie while the rains came down in Silverdale, Washington. After reading a book review in the Seattle Times, we picked up a copy of “Before the Wind” by a local author, Jim Lynch. This is a story of a family with an outlaw brother, a magical sister, and a legacy of wind, water and sail. Yes, it’s about sailing the local bays and working on sailboats – one of Bill’s other passions. Within the first few pages, Bill was hooked with the mention of a Pearson 36 (like Bill’s) and a Catalina 27 (our second sailboat).
With dry weather predicted for the next 8 days and our panniers repacked , we headed for Shelton, WA with Karen in many layers and Bill just one additional layer. After a long hill climb about 5.5 miles from our starting point, I was ready for a break and a “de-layer” (taking of one of my layers); however, this break turned into a delayer – trip delayed as Bill realized when he went to store my jacket that he had left his two yellow pannier bags back at the hotel. While he pedaled back to the hotel I stayed at the top of the hill, pulled out my book, sat on a rock and “used my time wisely”.
Our new theme is “No Bags Left Behind”. I keep telling Bill we need a checklist/flight plan. I thought it was a funny situation and Bill handled the situation very nicely. An older fellow (70’ish) on a Harley stopped to check on me and told me there was a diner a little ways down the road. When Bill rejoined me we stopped at the diner for a second breakfast of carrot cake and coffee. We were fueled for the rest of the ride, at least the next 20 miles as we stopped at a DQ for fries and a salad in Belfair.
As we cycled through parts of Bremerton, we passed by the Bremerton Naval Shipyard, referred to as the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility. Pictured below are the Independence and the Kitty Hawk, two deactivated carriers waiting to be scrapped.
Most of the day was in rural, forested and deforested land
with a few miles of checking out the canal-side second homes along the Hood Canal. Our day ended in Shelton, Washington on the Library Hill Trail – only about 100 yards but we had to walk our bikes down the trail.
We changed our mind about taking a day off and left Poulsbo this morning while the sun was still shining. We took a little detour through the downtown area with its Scandinavian theme. Poulsbo was settled by Norwegian immigrants in the 1880’s and is also famous for Poulsbo Bread – taken from a 1970’s recipe inspired by Ezekiel 4:9. Naturally we had to discover the Sluys Poulsbo Bakery and partake of their products.
Since a full loaf of bread wouldn’t fit in our pannier bags, we settled on a Swedish Almond Pastry and a Cinnamon Twist.
The pastries were great fuel after climbing a long hill as we cycled towards Silverdale.
We attempted to reach our hotel by using the Clear Creek Trail only to discover that there was a detour onto the road due to “bridge construction”. Seems they had to stop construction for awhile due to the Salmon spawning.
This mirrors work stoppage at home when deer season opens.
We are settled in Silverdale for the day and possibly tomorrow if the projected thunderstorms occur. Time for a movie!
Overcast, cloudy, gray skies, and a few drops of rain misted through the air as we left Oak Harbor this morning. The misty rain did not soak through as we cycled around Penn Cove towards Coupeville. Traveling along Madrona Way we commented on how much the area reminded us of our cycle trip along the southern peninsulas in Ireland. The cool breezes, the fresh air, the green fields, and the views of the water were vivid reminders of our Irish cycle trip.
We arrived at the ferry terminal near Fort Casey State Park in time to catch the 11:45 ferry to Port Townsend. While we waited, a couple came up to us and said they had seen us the day before as we traveled across the Deception Pass bridge and commented that we were making “good time” – even though we took time to “stop and smell the…” lilacs!
Continuing on through Port Townsend, we took to the Larry Scott Bike Trail which bypassed a steep climb and gave us views of Port Townsend Bay and the Port Townsend Paper plant.
As we left Port Townsend, we passed a unique bicycle shop/art gallery.
We continued towards Port Hadlock and as it started to rain, checked out the Hadlock Motel, right next to the Joy Luck restaurant. Since it was only slightly raining (think Irish rain) and the motel was not my “cup of tea”, we continued on another few miles(17), crossing another bridge over the Hood Canal (yes, another bridge)
to Poulsbo, an interesting town of Norwegian background. With 55 miles total today, we are thinking of taking a break tomorrow, especially with a weather forecast of heavier rain. Might check out the Sluys Poulsbo bakery, the original bakers of Ezekiel bread!
Traveling to Vancouver by train to start our Pacific Coast Bicycle Adventure took 3 hours. 3 days later we are almost back where we started, just farther west separated by “Possession Sound”. We have traveled 136 miles south from Vancouver over bridges, on paved trails, a few miles of gravel trails, highways and byways, did I mention the bridges?
We have navigated large cities and small villages, hills and valleys, and many diverse terrains and environments.
While our train ride gave us a glimpse of the countryside as we passed through, our cycling adventures allow us to experience the sounds, smells, and sights in a more absorbable way. The senses are on alert, whether its the sight of a hawk perched on a telephone line, the scent of lilacs warmed by the sun, or the sound of children at an elementary school.
Traveling at the breakneck speed of 4 miles an hour uphill on grades of 14% always guarantees a honk and a thumbs up from passing vehicles. Stopping for refreshments in eateries (with our bikes parked outside) will always spark conversations with the locals; “Where you from? – Virginia”, “Where you going? – Mexico”. These questions open up all types of discussions many of which end with “Wish I were going with you!”
Tonight at the end of our third day on the road, we are falling asleep to the sounds of freedom in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island in Washington, home of the Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. As we cycled into Oak Harbor this afternoon, we witnessed our Naval Aviators practicing contour flight, as they skimmed the treetops alongside our route. As Navy brats who call Norfolk home, we were impressed with their skill and ability. Blessings to them and their families.
Our daughter gifted us with the book, “Cycling the Pacific Coast” and thus planted the seed for our next adventure.
Driving our RV across the US, we stopped in various states to cycle their trails as part of our training plan. Plus, it gave us a break in the middle of the day from the driving.
We arrived in Seattle and found an RV park in Everett where we could store the RV for the 2+ months that we think it will take us to cycle the Pacific Coast. Our Adventure Cycling Maps indicate that we should start the route in Vancouver, British Columbia.
We did a practice run from the RV park to the Everett train station to be sure we could make the trip in plenty of time to board the 8:30 AM train for Vancouver.
On April 19th, we rose at 5:30 eager to get started on this adventure. An hour later, the RV was stored, pannier bags secured on the bikes and we were ready to go. We traveled the 10 miles to the station in plenty of time to have a cup of coffee and breakfast sandwich while we waited. Once the bikes were loaded in the baggage car along with our panniers, packed in Ikea bags, we settled in for the three hour trip to Vancouver. The scenery was beautiful as we traveled along the various sounds and waterways.
Arriving in Vancouver, we deboarded, picked up the bikes, made our way through customs and exited the train station to look for the Seaside Bicycle Route. This route travels next to False Creek, emptying into English Bay. Along the route we passed through Vanier Park where we were to start the Adventure Cycling mapped route. We dipped our back wheels in the “Pacific” and headed south.
Next post – Days 1-3 – or cycling back to where we started!