Pacific Coast Tour Ė Vancouver/Washington
Denis Kertz, ©1999
I cancelled my planned golf outing because I had so much packing left to do. I spent almost all day packing until 10:00 pm and remembered how much I hate packing.
I woke up to my 6:00 am alarm to leave by 6:45 for my 8:45 flight to Vancouver.† Dave picked me up and we had no trouble with traffic early on a Sunday morning.† I checked in at American for my Canadian Airlines flight and paid $50 to take my packed bicycle along.† Some airlines think you need to depressurize your tires.† So when the attendant asked if I had let air out of my tires, I was prepared and lied that I had, knowing that its unnecessary but not worth arguing about since its an argument I would lose irrespective of the facts.† I had strapped my 2 rear panniers together to form one baggage unit and packed one front pannier along with tent, sleeping bag, and other miscellaneous gear in a large duffel bag.† I used the other front pannier to carryon my valuables and fragile gear.
It was an uneventful ride to Vancouver.† At the time I made my flight reservations, I used my American frequent flyer miles for the flight to Vancouver on Canadian Airlines, an AA OneWorld partner.† I also upgraded to first class since I needed to start using up the frequent flyer miles I had accumulated in nearly four years of weekly flying on AA.† There were only three passengers in first class so service was exemplary.
In Vancouver, I breezed through customs.† Then I had to decide whether to ride my bike to my accommodations, the Kingston Bed & Breakfast downtown.† Since the weather was predicted to be overcast with some rain, I decided to take a taxi to downtown ($25 CDN).† I was able to get a van for a taxi so my bicycle and gear was no problem
Originally, I had hoped to stay at a Marriott Residence Inn downtown since I had a zillion Marriott Reward points also accumulated over the last three years.† Unfortunately, Residence Inn had all kinds of hokey rules making it impossible for this to work.† However, through the Internet I was able to locate the Kingston B&B for a very reasonable $45 CDN.† This wasnít a normal B&B.† It was really a hotel with very small rooms and a shared bath although a limited number of rooms did have a private bath.† Anyway, after settling in I extricated my bicycle from the bike box and was happy to see that it had come through luggage handling in perfect shape.† It took me about an hour to put the bike back together, mostly due to fiddling with the front rack.† Then I had the bike locked up in the hotelís basement storage room since they wouldnít let me keep it in my room.
Then I walked the short distance downtown to the wharf despite the threat of drizzle.† There was some drizzle but the sun was peeking out too.† Downtown I stumbled onto an Information Center and was able to pick up a couple of maps.† I also verified that the George Massey Tunnel shuttle was no longer a daily shuttle after Labor Day as I had read.† Then I sent a couple of electronic postcards from a PC in the Info Center.† After some more walking exploration, I called it a day.
I woke up around 7:00 and found breakfast at a place right around the corner.† They had oatmeal pancakes that were very good.† The weather forecast was similar to yesterday.† I decided to bike around Stanley Park so I dressed in light tights and long sleeve shirt along with a rain jacket to guarantee it wouldnít rain (it didnít).† After retrieving my bike from storage, I headed west down Georgia St about 1.5 miles to the park.† A bike/pedestrian path circled the park and made for a leisurely ride with a 15 kph speed limit.† Amazingly, a lot of other folks had the same idea of a ride, walk, or skate on a nice Labor Day.† It was only about 6 miles around so I took a cross country trail after the first loop and got a nice view of the Lion Gate Bridge that connects to North Vancouver.† After I made it to the southwest end of the Park again, I continued along the Seaside bike path and took the Burrard Bridge to Granville Island, figuring this would give me a preview of tomorrowís route when I left Vancouver.
On the Island, kite flying was in vogue as it was a breezy day.† One kite flier had 3 kites with streamers tied together and put on a continuous show of acrobatic loops, often coming within a couple feet of the ground.† There were several supposedly good museums but I passed, partially because Iím not really a museum fan but also because I was also a little reluctant to leave my bike alone in the big city, even with a lock.† After continuing on for a ways, I retraced back over the Burrard Bridge and headed east again.† This section was part of the route suggested by the Bible, the infamous guide book ďBicycling the Pacific CoastĒ by Kirkendall/Spring.† After reaching the BC Stadium, I headed back to the hotel and gave up biking for the day.
In the evening, I worked on my magic trick - how to get all of my equipment packed into four panniers.† The two rear panniers were already basically packed but not the front two panniers.† I couldnít pack everything yet but I got close enough that it looked like everything would fit although it was going to be tight as usual.
Earlier, I concerned myself with tomorrowís route.† Ideally, the route traces the western Vancouver coast, crossing several bridges and the George Massey Tunnel.† Unfortunately, bikes are not allowed in the Tunnel and the normal daily free shuttle operates only on weekends after Labor Day.† A bus can be used but the bike must be unloaded (a real pain) and only two bikes can go at a time.† The alternative, other than hijacking, is to head 5 miles east to the Frazier Bridge that can be crossed on a bicycle and 5 miles back.† On top of this the Bibleís route is amazingly complicated, with turns seemingly every few tenths of a mile.† I wondered why I couldnít just head straight for the Frazier Bridge rather than this circuitous route.† Fortunately, the Info Center was still open at 6:00 pm and they had a Vancouver cycling map that showed various bike routes and it looked like I could improve on the Bibleís route.
It would turn out that I would use the Bible for most of my route planning rather than my Adventure Cycling Associationís (ACA) maps.† However, my one complaint with the Bible was its singular focus on linear directions (after 0.2 miles turn right on A street, go 0.3 miles and turn left on B street, etc).† Most of the Pacific Coast route simply follows Highway 101 and Highway 1 where linear directions are fine (because the route IS linear) but in a metropolitan area I found these linear directions virtually hopeless and a basic map a real convenience if not a necessity.
I ate breakfast at the same place as yesterday to take advantage of the oatmeal pancakes and then I finalized my packing.† I was in no hurry because I didnít want to leave before about 9:30 since today was predicted to be the worst traffic day of the year because today was the start of school.† When I rolled my loaded bicycle out of the hotel, it was hard to believe that this loaded behemoth could actually be pedaled except I knew from past experience it could.† After the trip I weighed my equipment and my loaded bike weighed close to 90 pounds.† Nevertheless, I shoved off south and picked up the Seaside bike route.† I had decided to head as straight as I could for the Frazier Bridge so I headed through the city, not along the coast.† After a couple of miles I picked up the Ontario bike route for about 7-8 miles.† There was little traffic on this side route and some intersections had a small center island intended to force cars to slow down to make it around the island, a nice touch for safer cycling.† At the end of the bike route, I had to cross Marine Dr which was a very busy 4 lane street with high speed traffic.† A couple of blocks south another street paralleled Marine Dr and I took it until it linked up with another bike path.† Along the way I noticed my cyclometer had stopped working.† Puzzled, I reset it and it worked the rest of the day.
Eventually, I had to pick up Marine Dr but this was OK because it now had a 3 foot wide shoulder although the traffic noise was no fun.† I tried to find a bypass and wasted a couple of miles before I dead ended at a womenís prison so I gave up.† The first bridge I had to cross was Willoughby Bridge which was tricky because of the exit loop and the traffic but I made it across OK.† I took another bike path but it took me away from the Alex Frazier Bridge so I back tracked and hauled my bike over a 3 foot high concrete divider.† This got me to the bridge and I rode the walkway across which was strewn with debris including broken glass so I had to carefully watch my way, feeling like a pylon driver at times trying to avoid debris.
After the bridge crossing, I expected an easy time but confusing directions lead me to stumble around until I finally had to ask how to get to River Rd that would take me back west to where I would have crossed at the George Massey Tunnel.† This road was busy with truck traffic but had a decent shoulder.† Now I started to worry about making the ferry, as progress had been slower than expected.† After about 5 miles I stopped at a Shell Mini-Mart for a quick lunch.† I also grabbed some M&Ms and jerky for emergency fuel (it has been proven that one can live forever on jerky and M&Ms).† Back on the road, it was almost 2:00 and I was getting anxious since I didnít have a ferry schedule.† But I picked up Highway 17 south that goes all the way to the ferry terminal and, re-energized, I was confident I could make it by 3:00 which I guessed was the next ferry.† Several miles before the ferry I was overtaken by another tourer who flew in from Nova Scotia last night, getting in at 2 am, and had hitchhiked across the tunnel.† He was on his way to visit his sister in Victoria and do some touring.
We rode to the terminal together, paid $11.50 ($9/body, $2.50/bike) and timed it just about right as there was a 3:00 ferry as I guessed.† We got on board and tied down our bikes in preparation for a leisurely 1.5 hour ride to Swartz Bay.† It was a beautiful day, about 70F with no clouds.† Approaching Vancouver Island we had to meander through small islands.† I ate another lunch from the cafeteria to tide me over until morning.† We were first off of the ferry and pedaled away amidst the onslaught of anxious ferry traffic.† My exit to the McDonald campground was only about a mile and I soon waved good-bye to my companion who was going all the way to his sisterís house in Victoria.
The campground was OK if a bit pricey ($12 CDN).† I setup camp and straightened out my packing which always takes a few days to get into a rhythm.
I woke up to a crisp, cloudless morning and broke camp.† I also trimmed some material off of my tentís ground cloth to better match the tent footprint and tightened some bolts on my rack, the only time I would have to do so.† On the road, I stopped after a few miles in Sidney for a breakfast of so-so multi-grain pancakes.† Then I continued on to Victoria, about 15 miles away.† Along the way I saw a scenic tour sign so I went left to start riding along the eastern shore.† Unfortunately, I missed a turn on to Ash Street and had to start winging it, following the shore as best I could.† There wasnít a lot of shore view but there was a snow capped view of Mt Baker on the mainland.† Once when I was checking my map, a guy in a van backed up to offer suggestions and parted with ďWish I was doing what youíre doing.Ē
Eventually, I picked up Beach Rd and then wrapped around the southern coast of Victoria.† This was a nice stretch of road that lead into downtown which was a ZOO.† A gorgeous day and I guess everyone else thought so too.† I had thought about staying overnight but changed my mind when I saw the crowds and bought a ticket for the Port Angeles 3:00 ferry for $10.50 and waited about an hour.† This ferry was nicer as you could get all the way to the front of the ferry and get a better view.
Docking at Port Angeles was very interesting.† The ferry came along side the end of the dock, 90 degrees from its docking position.† Then a cable was used to tie the ferry to the end of the dock and use that as leverage to back the ferry 90 degrees around and into position along side the dock.† Once docked, it took almost 30 minutes to get through customs.† The inspectors were examining several packages and I was just imagining how long it was going to take to get through my four panniers.† But I put on my most innocent look and the inspector passed me right through.
After customs, I immediately exchanged all of my Canadian currency and checked in at the Info Center.† At first, someone suggested a campground about 30 minutes away but that turned out to be by car for 12-15 miles.† I wanted something closer so I could ride up Hurricane Ridge in the morning for what is supposed to be a great view in Olympic National Park.† The Bible suggested camping at Lincoln County Park on the outskirts and I was told there were showers there so I headed in that direction after some fish and chips nearby.† Unfortunately, Lincoln didnít have showers and it wasnít obvious they had any campsites either.† If there were indeed camp sites, they were embedded amidst some dense foliage and closely space trees offering little daylight, an unappetizing prospect.† So I headed back in to town to look for a motel as daylight was rapidly disappearing.† I scouted around a bit and settled on a $50 motel.† When I checked in, I was wearing my helmet, gloves, and sunglasses but the check-in guy never realized I was on a bike until he saw my registration that said BIKE for license number.† As he gave me my key, he asked if I had a bike lock, thinking I would lock the bike up outside.† I said I did but never mentioned there wasnít any way I was going to leave my bike outside.† After a shower, I headed out walking, hoping to find a grocery store but no such luck.
I woke up and walked to the wharf for a breakfast of oatmeal and pancakes - my ideal breakfast for touring.† I read in the local paper that Highway 101 was to be closed for repair work by Crescent Lake starting next Monday so I was getting through just in time.† Back at the motel I inquired about being able to leave my panniers while riding Hurricane Ridge but, to my dismay and disappointment, the motel showed no interest whatsoever in cooperating.† So stay away from Riviera Inn if you are ever in Port Angeles.† Since the motel wouldnít cooperate plus the weather looked a bit intimidating, I decided to bag the side trip.† So I headed to the public library to check email.† Unfortunately, the library didnít open until 10:00 so I had to wait about 30 minutes.† Then I got rejected after entering my login and password.† I wondered if something might have gotten changed so I tried the AT&T web site (AT&T is my ISP) but I couldnít access it either so I assumed their server might be having problems.
Next I stopped at the nearby grocery store two blocks away to pick up a few things.† Somehow I managed to find room for the additional food.† Leaving the store, I noticed a guy checking out my bike and he asked about the brand.† He told me he rode in Europe 20 years ago and looked wistfully at my setup. Shortly after I left, he saw me and pulled by in his car to warn me about the Crescent Lake road closure which I already knew.† Finally on my way about 11:00, the weather appeared to be clearing so it might have been a good day for Hurricane Ridge after all.† Oh well.
I picked up Hwy 101 as I left town.† It had a good shoulder, approximately 6 feet wide, and the only problem was noise.† It was also slow going due to some climbing and some head wind.† There were a couple of nice views along the way and I stopped at Lake Sutherland for refreshments.† Shortly thereafter, I started the 10 mile route around the east side of Crescent Lake where the shoulder narrows to just a couple of feet.† That coupled with the winding nature of the road made this a somewhat precarious stretch.† What made the narrow shoulder really bad was most of it was protected by a guard rail so you couldnít move to the very edge nor was there room to bail out if necessary.† Still, this wasnít the almost suicidal route the Bible seemed to suggest although it certainly helped that there was little traffic, especially in my direction.† The big logging trucks were headed in the other direction, but most importantly, there were only 6 RVs, which often are the most dangerous since the RV drivers are typically amateurs.
All along the lake I kept a close watch in my rear view mirror to try to anticipate trouble although the winding road and guardrail didnít give many options.† At least the ride was worth it.† The lake, formed by a glacier, was very scenic as it cut its way through the hills.† Finally, I came to the end of the lake and stopped at the Fairholm Campground at the western edge of the lake.† I had only ridden 30 miles but there was a small cafe nearby along with the nice scenery so it didnít look worthwhile going further.
Dinner at the small, rustic cafe was fine.† The campground had walk-in sites right on the lake so thatís where I camped.† Getting to the sites required descending a short, fairly steep hill on foot.† One thing lacking at this campground was a shower but it was a simple matter to walk out into the lake and douse myself in the lake (quickly) to clean up.† This was also bear country and campers were required to take appropriate care of their food so I hung my food from a tree on a limb hanging over the lake.† Later, a young, petite woman came down the steep hill and it looked like her touring bike was all she could handle without getting carried away by the force of gravity.† The secret to descending with a loaded bike like this is to simply use the bikeís brakes.† Later I would learn that my campground companion had cycled through Glacier National Park on the Going-to-the-Sun Road as I did 5 years ago and was on her way down the coast.† I was interested in learning more about her trip to compare with mine but it was late and she had to cook dinner so I decided not to bother her.† Instead, I read a paperback at my picnic table and watched a couple of ducks swim by and then surreptitiously wander through my campsite, undoubtedly looking for a free handout.
I packed up and wheeled my bike along the lake shore to the grocery store/cafe that opened at 8:00 for breakfast.† There I met a guy from Denmark, a pilot, who was touring the area.† He said Denmark was very flat, never getting more than 200 meters high, making for easy cycling.† Another guy stopped and said he ran a cycle touring company that offered tours along the coast but was now working on putting together a Y2K tour.† He said September should be a good time weather-wise and I hoped he was right.
In the store I noticed a vinyl map holder that I had looked for in Naperville before I left and I bought it.† Leaving, I was immediately faced with a 2 mile climb, a great way to start first thing in the morning.† But then it was downhill or level the rest of the way.† Weather prediction was sunny and no rain for the next 5 days, almost too much to hope for.† The weather was a brisk 46F but warming up into the 60s, great cycling weather.† This morning I moved my front panniers back a notch on my front rack and now my front wheels had a good shimmy.† So after 5 miles I stopped and moved them back to their previous position.† As I was about to resume riding, a car pulled over and I guessed someone was thinking I might need help.† It turned out to be the Danish pilot and he delivered my brand new vinyl map holder that I had left behind.
The route was now nice, mostly through stately fir trees lining the road on both sides but this eventually gave way to not so nice clear cut areas.† Timber companies apparently are becoming sensitive to the public perception of clear cuts as I saw a couple of signs noting dates when trees were harvested and subsequently replanted.† One sign said replanting was 1986 and the next harvest 2039.† After 28 miles, I took a road to Rialto Beach, a side trip of 12 miles.† After 8 miles, the road forked with the right fork going to the Mora Campground and the beach with a grocery store/cafe at the fork where I stopped for refreshments.
Arriving at the campground, I setup camp ($10), unloaded my bike, and headed to the beach, a couple of miles away.† Rialto Beach was a rocky, sandy beach with many weathered, faded tree trunks.† I hiked about a mile and found a spot to read and contemplate life.† Then I headed 5 miles back to the cafe for dinner before retiring to camp.† After four days of loaded riding, it was strange to ride unloaded. When the bike is loaded, it was almost a wrestling contest to move the steering wheel.† Unloaded, it seemed as if any muscle twitch moved the steering wheel and the bike felt very twitchy.
For the second night, there were no showers.† Earlier I had checked out the river by my site and it didnít look promising but now the river had subsided due to low tide so I prepared for another dip in the water.† However, further review of the muddy bank by the river suggested I might get dirtier trying to clean up so I took a pass.
I woke up to a rather chilly morning in the low 40s (my cyclometer has a temperature gauge).† Since there was no restaurant nearby (the nearby cafe didnít serve breakfast), I ate a couple cups of granola with powdered milk that I keep for such occasions.† Then I retraced my way back to 101, trying to find sunshine amidst shade supplied by roadside trees to warm the early morning ride.† After a mile back on 101, I came to Forks and stopped at a restaurant for oatmeal and buckwheat pancakes that were very good.†
As I prepared to leave I realized I might not be in another real town for several days so I found a phone booth and checked for a public library.† I assumed it was off the main drag but a local pointed it out to me - right next to the restaurant where I had just eaten.† At the library I logged on to my email account and got denied just like the other day.† Frustrated and wondering what was wrong, I tried again and got through this time.† There were 18 messages but no disasters.† Down the street, I stopped at a bank for cash at the ATM machine.† With the advent of ATM machines, I didnít bring any travelerís cheques and found it very convenient to just wander into town and use an ATM machine.† Of course, most ATMs now charge something like a $1.50 access fee if youíre not a customer but that doesnít amount to a whole lot more than the fee for travelerís cheques.
By the time I finally left Forks, it was noon and about 35 miles to Kalaloch, the next logical stop although I was considering pressing on to Quinalt Lake, another 30+ miles which could be iffy given my late start.† It was now 80F and time for shorts and short sleeve shirts.† The ride to Kalaloch was not very interesting although the rolling ups and downs helped.† Upon entering Jefferson County a sign noted that this was range area and warned to keep an eye out for livestock.† Having hit a cow on my previous tour just outside Glacier National Park in open range territory, I kept a close watch but saw nothing.† Hopefully, word has gotten out to cattle that cyclists donít necessarily stop for them.
I stopped at Ruby Beach where 101 made it to the coast for the first time.† The view was nice but I didnít linger long.† There were other beach access points that were cleverly named Beach 1, 2, 3, and 4.† At Kalaloch, I stopped to check the campground but on a nice Saturday it was 80-90% filled with all the nice sites by the shore long gone.† This was obviously a high volume campground as it even allowed paying for a site via a credit card machine.† I checked out South Beach, an overflow site just down the road, and it was even worse with a line of RVs along the shore in an open area with no trees or shrubs.
So my decision to push on to Quinalt Lake was an easy one even though it would be somewhat of a grind and I wouldnít make it till about 6:00.† I pushed onward on a fairly easy up and down route with some ugly clearcuts along the road and in the distance.† I was dragging somewhat without any food since breakfast other than a couple of granola bars.† At the turnoff to the July Creek Campground, there was a grocery store and cafe where I got some much needed food relief.† In addition to food, the cafe had several cuckoo clocks featuring animal speak instead of a cuckoo.† One featured horse neighing and another cat meowing.† A local woman took it upon herself to enlighten me about the clocks for which I was eternally grateful.
eating, I was a little dismayed to find out I was still 4 miles from camp when
I thought it was just around the corner.†
But the ride was worth it as July Creek was a great walk-in site without
any RVs or other vehicles.† It was
fairly full on this nice weekend but I still managed to get a nice site next to
the lake with a good view.† Even though
I hadnít worked up much of a sweat, I needed a shower and a quick dip in the
lake took care of that need.
When I got up around 7:00, it was a beautiful tranquil morning.† No one else was up and it was absolutely quiet without a ripple on the lake.† I got to watch the sun come up over the mountains that shielded the lake on three sides on another cloudless day.† I was momentarily tempted to stay but figured this moment of tranquility would pass as soon as others started getting up.† So I packed up and stopped for breakfast at an American/Japanese restaurant in Amanda Park.† Afterwards, I headed a couple of miles to a 1/2 mile guided nature trail in the Quinalt temperate forest, one of the few temperate forests in this country.† There was dense vegetation everywhere except for the cleared trail and the trees soared to 150-200 feet high with some wider than my outstretched arms.
After this nice tour, I headed back to the main road where the temperature was already in the 80s.† The route was more interesting today with trees lining the road side but not blocking the sun.† One thing that bothered me as it had on a couple of other occasions was the resurfaced road which used to be smooth asphalt but was resurfaced with tar and crushed rocks in a process called chip sealing.† I knew this because only 1 foot of the 2 foot road edge was rough and the outer foot was smooth but sometimes sprinkled with a few stray crushed rocks.† For cycling, the smooth surface is obviously preferable but the outer edge was inconsistently smooth so I had to ride on the rough surface and give up most of the shoulder edge.† Fortunately that wasnít a safety issue due to the low traffic but nevertheless made for a rougher ride.
At Humptulips, I stopped for refreshments and a decision whether to bypass 101 in favor of a side road that headed to the shore.† This decision depended on the availability of a ferry at Grays Harbor to get to the other side of the bay at Westport.† After Labor Day, this ferry is supposed to be operating only on the weekend at 90 minute intervals with the last ferry at 6:00 which meant I should be able to catch a 4:30 ferry.† Just before I phoned ahead to verify the ferry, the woman tourist I met at Crescent Lake rolled in.† I didnít expect to see her again after my side trip to Rialto Beach because I figured she would be ahead of me.† But she had stayed at Kalaloch last night and was high tailing it to Hoqiam to get to a bike shop because her front wheel bearings were giving her problems.† However, she didnít know if it was open on a Sunday (it wasnít) but was going to have to get there sooner or later anyway.
For some reason I couldnít get through to the ferry phone number on the pay phone but decided to go ahead anyway.† It was nice to get off the main drag and there was so little traffic that the non-existent shoulder didnít matter.† That is, until I got to the shore and headed south along the beach.† Now there was a lot of traffic and the road was lined with motels as the national park/forest area had ended and commercialism had taken over.† When I made it to the marina, the ferry was running but I missed the 3:30 ferry by about 20 minutes so I had to wait a little over an hour for the 5:00 ferry.
This ferry purported to carry 92 passengers but that would have had to be standing room only.† When the ferry arrived, there were about 20 passengers who disembarked but only 7 of us boarded including a family, two women friends, and me.† One of the two women had grown up in the area and extolled its virtues.† We enjoyed some good natured bantering as I ďcomplainedĒ about the $4.50 charge for the ferry.† I was told the ferry was only a 3 mile ride although it looked longer and took 30 minutes.
At the other side in Westport, I rode a short ways and ate at a good, authentic Mexican restaurant.† I know it was authentic because the waiter called me Amigo and Mexican music was playing.† The waiter also said he had seen me riding through the area a number of times but I assured him it wasnít so.† After dinner, it was a couple of miles to the Twin Harbor State Park that charged $5 for a hiker-biker site and shower.† For the rest of the trip outside of the metropolitan areas, I would be able to stay in hiker-biker sites that are reserved, as the name suggests, for hikers and bikers.† Generally these sites cost $3-5 and were an area aside from the regular campsites with varying quality.† For me, this was heaven, not only being half the price of the national park sites but also usually including a shower.† Unfortunately, it was warm and there were mosquitoes that were attracted to me until after I showered when they seemed to leave me alone.
It was a relatively warm night, probably in the low 50s and I never zipped up my sleeping bag.† In the morning I wandered through the campground before I was able to locate a water source to fill up my water bottles.† Then I headed south to Grayland looking for breakfast.† I bought a couple of maple nut muffins at a food mart since it didnít look like breakfast would be found in Grayland.† So I ate one muffin and then promptly found a restaurant on the outskirts of town where I stopped for breakfast.
Another cloudless day so I stripped down to shorts and short sleeve jersey.† The dayís route took me around Willapa Bay.† I could tell when I was getting close to the bay because suddenly the breeze felt 10 degrees cooler.† The view of the bay would have been nice except it was low tide and all I saw was mud.† Pulling into Raymond I stopped for refreshments and my second muffin.† The distinctive feature about Raymond was the iron sculptures scattered along the road through town, depicting animals, Native Americans, loggers, etc.† For 2.5 miles I was able to leave 101 on a bike path to South Bend.† In South Bend I checked some of the historical markers and then decided to check email at the library.† There was only a single PC so I had to wait 5 minutes for my turn.† For some reason, response was abysmal.† It took 5 minutes just to get into my email list, finally appearing on screen just as I was about to retry.† Then I finally gave up trying to read an email.† Composing email was no better so I just marked my junk email for deletion and logged off, a complete waste of time.
On the road again, it had noticeably cooled so I donned my tights.† This side of the bay heading back to the coast was more scenic since it was now high tide.† However, there was a strange white something in the sky in the distance.† It was a cloud - something I hadnít seen for almost 4 days.† Just after leaving the bay behind, I turned off to Bay Center and saw several cranes in the bay.† I continued on to the Bush Pacific County Park ($6) that was described as primitive, an apt description, although it did have a shower but one that was dirty even by my standards.† Nevertheless, I showered and ate at the only cafe in town.
I packed up and head back down the hill to the cafe where I had lunch last night.† I listened to the locals chat while I read a day old paper since no newspapers were available.† Then I took Bay Center Dr south to pick up 101 again.† As soon as I reached 101, I noticed another touring cyclist about 1/4 mile down ahead and wondered if it could be the woman cyclist with the bike problem but the distance was too far to tell.† I stopped momentarily to adjust one of my front panniers and then I took off in pursuit of the mystery cyclist but one that was no longer in sight.† Finally, I could barely spot a cyclist about a mile in the distance, silhouetted against the sky at the top of a hill and the pursuit was on.† With a goal in sight, I pushed to make up the gap but it was not obvious if I was gaining or perhaps even losing ground.† After 13 miles, 101 intersected with Hwy 4 and I followed 101 to the right and back towards the coast. I assumed the mystery cyclist did the same but no one was in sight.† In another 5 miles, I passed the Willapa National Wildlife Refuge and caught a glimpse of a cyclist in a pay phone booth but couldnít make out who it was.† At this point I eased up not knowing if I would get caught but the pursuit was over.
In a few more miles, I noticed an approaching cyclist in my rear view mirror and, sure enough, it was the woman cyclist I had met previously.† She pulled along side and we chatted as we rode on.† She had to wait until Monday morning for the bike shop in Hoquiam to open and got her front wheel fixed and also needed a new cassette and chain as well.† Then she had stayed at Bruceport County Park, which I had checked out and skipped, about 10 miles before my campsite.† She had quit her job and had been traveling since the end of May, including a month in France with her boyfriend.† She was currently on her way home to Arcata in northern California.† Then she was bumming/traveling around for the rest of the year before spending Christmas with her boyfriendís parents in Texas.† Then probably back to work some place.
In turn, I filled her in on some of my 1995 Seattle-Chicago trip including the cow incident.† This all transpired over about 10 miles until we came to the alternate 101 cutoff.† She wanted coffee, a telephone, and was headed on to Cannon Beach, further than my dayís destination.† After some thought, she decided to take the shorter, alternate route. As she prepared to leave, she introduced herself, Suzette, and offered her parentís cabin near Aracata as a place to stay when I passed through.† She was in a hurry and said she would give me directions when we met up again.† However, I never saw Suzette again although I met some other cyclists who did.
I continued on 101 to Fort Canby Park, one of three forts built to guard the strategic Columbia River mouth, to see the Lewis & Clark exhibition, which was interesting as well as a view of the neighboring light house.† Back in Ilwaco I stopped for refreshments.† So far the weather had started out overcast, a little dreary, and fairly cool at 53 degrees.† Now it had warmed up to the 70s and the sun was putting in an appearance.† I checked out a Lewis & Clark campsite and took a quick tour of Fort Columbia.† After Fort Columbia, I passed through my first tunnel of the tour, pressing a cyclist button before proceeding, which warned oncoming traffic that a cyclist was in the tunnel.† Then I took a picture of the 4 mile long bridge that crosses the Columbia River into Oregon.† The bridge had only a 2 foot wide shoulder so I picked up the pace to minimize my time on the bridge.† I was feeling comfortable until a logging truck breezed by at what seemed like only a foot or two to spare, which was unnecessarily close since no one was in the other lane.† Then I had to climb the big hump in the bridge at the southern end, which allowed ships to pass under the bridge to head up river, and breezed into the outskirts of Astoria.
I stopped at an Info Center to pick up a current Oregon Coast cycling map but they didnít have any.† I picked up some extra AA batteries for my bike light in anticipation of the couple of forthcoming Oregon tunnels.† Then I stopped at a Fred Meyer store to pick up some more ASA 400 slide film and got their last 4 rolls.† Outside the store I met two other cyclists from Vancouver going down the coast to San Francisco on a 3 week excursion.† We were all headed to Fort Stevens State Park so we rode together until I stopped for dinner in Hammond, a couple of miles outside the park.† After dinner, I pulled into Fort Stevens looking for the hiker-biker sites.† After one clear direction sign, there were no other signs and I wandered around for 10-15 minutes searching.† Finally I found a campground host and asked.† He wasnít sure either and asked his wife who got me pointed in the right direction.† There I found my Vancouver friends and went back to pay the outrageous $4.25 fee.
Back in camp, I talked with the Vancouver guys, Greg and Mike.† Greg was a BC Telephone power engineer and Mike a former free lance journalist who was about to take on a regular journalism job.† Greg was pulling a BOB trailer with his mountain bike that looked monstrously loaded.† Mike had a mountain bike with only rear panniers.† They had quite a spread set up for food on their picnic table.† Based on this evidence, I doubt they went hungry along the way.
Copyright Denis Kertz, 1999. All rights reserved.