Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Day 1, Sunday, August 16 - Vancouver, Canada to Bellingham, Washington

Duckys want to know, "How in the World did we go across the Entire country last year??" We're too old for this!

But first, we didn't/can't/haven't said enough about Vancouver. The international collection of people are incredibly friendly, lots to do for families, the restaurants and bars are all smoke free, farmers markets in the middle of the city and everyone seems to be in-shape and outdoors playing on the water,

vancouver waterways.JPG
strolling, running or biking on the miles of sidewalks. For a city of two million people, you never feel crowded or even in a smog-filled city, and everyone is considerate of walkers and bikers.........Virginia Beach could sure learn a bit.

For the first time since we arrived on Wednesday, we had a beautiful, clear, sunny day. Our way out of town,
on our way.JPG
we wound through miles and miles of beautiful homes
vancouver home.JPG
with yards full of flowers.
We followed the famous Fraser River out of Vancouver. Obviously, their tide can be quite dramatic and without warning.
low tide tug.JPG
We had some unexpected (and a bit precarious) steep climbs on bridges
steep bridge.JPG
and roads that snuck up on us.
We stopped several times along the way to pick fresh blackberries
picking blackberries.JPG
growing wild and cultivated blueberries
Mountains were off in the distance the entire day, but too far away to see in photos but close enough for us to enjoy. The weather was stupendous, sunny, high 60's-low 70's and a cool breeze......Fabulous!
In typical fashion, our last 20 miles is all about getting there; but we did. After 72 miles, a couple of (Red Hook beers from Seattle-for you, Kurt) beers and a carafe of wine, time to turn in.

Day 2, Monday, August 17 - Bellingham to Friday Harbour, San Juan Island, WA

What a beautiful morning, cool, crisp almost sunny and the first mile and a half is all downhill. Which is great, until we realize we should have only gone a mile; but the detour afforded us this view.

bellingham bay.JPG
Once we actually headed out of town we began to climb, and climb and climb, but the trees-every kind of pine/spruce tree imaginable-lined the roads.
trees abound.JPG
Occasionally, we would hear a lone seagull or small boat puttering along in Samish Bay (Stacey, if you're reading, remember when you used to say 'samish' for sandwich?)
samish bay.JPG
In Padilla Bay there is oyster farming (note the rows in the sand),
oyster farming.JPG
the heart of Pacific Oysters.
We dropped out of the hills as if we were transported to a different state. Picture Kansas connected to the California Sierra Mountains, very dramatic.
mountains and plains.JPG
But in this very flat and low lying land lays every food group, from salmon (fishing)
salmon fishing.JPG
to bison, corn, apples, blueberries
farm blueberries.JPG
pears and potatoes.
We made it to Anacortes by noon,
which is amazing considering how many times we stopped for photos. After a long relaxing lunch on the outdoor patio at Calico Cupboard Cafe (they must have one of the worlds largest cinnamon roll) , we headed to the ferry to take us to Friday Harbor in the San Juan Islands.
waiting for the ferry.JPG
This collection of over 300 islands is as beautiful as everyone claims,
san juan islands.JPG
with million $$ homes tucked behind beautiful spruce and a snow capped Baker Mountain in the distance. This island is also where they filmed "Free Willey". What a serene place to spend the night.

Day 3, Tuesday August 18 - San Juan Island - Oak Harbour, Widbey Island, Washington

Slow start this morning; amazing we left at all considering the full pot of coffee, smoked salmon and cheese omelette and a dinner-plate size apple fritter. But since we wanted to see the island before catching the 1:00 ferry, we needed to get a move on; and thank goodness we did. San Juan Island is spectacular! We cut through the middle of the island

island interior.JPG
through farmland and winding roads lined with Chickory, Queen Anne's Lace and wild blackberries being looked over by majestic pines. We did have to come to a complete stop once to wait for a small deer to cross the road-surreal! All was a delight to the senses.
Once again we did an unintended 1/2 mile downhill, but were rewarded with a shot of Snug Harbour (low tide).
snug harbour.JPG
We climbed and dropped more times than we can remember, but the work was worth it when the west coast of San Juan dramatically appeared before us.
west coast san juan.JPG
The coastline is breathtaking
and the view beyond of Vancouver Island is icing on the cake (sorry you probably cannot see it in the photos).
wa coastline.JPG
We paddled (we have to say that for the Duckies) aling the coast hoping to see whales, but apparently you need to sit and wait for more than 10 seconds to actually see them-so no whales today.
We cut our entire island tour short as we needed to catch a ferry and actually make forward progress. A quick stop for a photo
friday harbour.JPG
on to the ferry, for one last spectacular shot of Baker Mountain.
mt baker.JPG
After disembarking the ferry we continued through the west side of Anacortes,
which can easily hold a candle to the beauty of the San Juans. We skirted the spectacular coast of the Island of Fidalgo until reaching the Deception Pass.
deception pass.JPG
Incredible site with water the color of the Caribbean. Ten more miles and our hotel room in Oak Harbour, Good Night!

Day 4, Wednesday August 19 - Oak Harbour to Seattle, Washington

We got an early 7 am start on a beautiful morning on Widbey Island.

Though we only had 50 miles to traverse we did not know how hilly it was going to be. The course weaved us through every cove
crescet cove.JPG
on the island and up and down every hill there was. Once again our senses were tickled by the taste of blackberries,
the smell of pine and fresh cut wheat and the view of water and mountains in the distance.
We crossed the Strait of Juan de Fuca (part of the Puget Sound)
port townsend ferry.JPG
to Port Townsend. We enjoyed the charming town
port townsend.JPG
while sipping coffee and watching the seals play in the harbour. Shortly past the town we biked our first trail, through a tunnel of green,
Larry Scott Memorial trail.JPG
dropping back on the roads along coves and harbours.
We crossed the 1.5 mile Hood Canal floating bridge,

hood canal bridge.JPG
all grates with the exception of a two-foot wide metal plate closely hugging the short jersey wall; a bit unnerving. With 48 miles under our belt and 20+ left to go, somehow we had a bit of a miscalculation; guess we should have stopped for lunch when we had the chance.
Still can't get over the mix of farmland, mountains and bays, just breathtaking.
fields and mountains.JPG
With more miles than anticipated left, we 'paddled' and hard as we could uphill and as fast as we could down in order to catch the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle........remind us to tell you those details! After 74 miles and 12 hours, we dragged ourselves to a hotel; we will not be sleepless in Seattle tonight!

Day 5 , Thursday August 20 - Seattle Sightseeing

Seattle's Public Market and all of Seattle, for that matter

public market.JPG
is an unbelievable cornucopia of color,
pepper color.JPG
people (of all sorts)
the pirate.JPG
flowers everywhere,
flowers everywhere.JPG
fish (yum, yum)
salmon at market.JPG
and things to do.
The must do list in Seattle: eat at Famous Ivar's
famous ivars.JPG
visit the very first Starbucks,
1971 starbucks.JPG
see the Space Needle,
space needle.JPG
check out the view,
downtown seattle.JPG
and ride the bus.
ride the duck.JPG
Okay, we didn't really ride the bus, but the Duckies insisted we take this picture. Tons to do for families, so put it on your list Moms/Lisa, but bring good walking shoes as the weather is incredible. Not sure what the story is that it always rains in Seattle. We think the locals are spreading that rumor to keep this fabulous city to themselves.

Day 6, Friday August 21 - Seattle to Shelton, Washington

Mother Nature Rules and apparently reads blogs. As if to prove us wrong, as we left Seattle this morning it was overcast, cool and misty.

seattle skyline.JPG
Our one hour ferry ride to Bremerton and back on our bike route south did not improve the weather. Luckily, the misting only lasted a half an hour and was never heavy enough to sting our face. Bremberton had several aircraft carriers in port at the Puget Sound Naval Base, but too wet to photograph.
We followed the Hood Canal south, occasionally catching glimpses on the incredible tidal change.
hood canal tidal change.JPG
Our course was lined by pines some so heavily laddened with moss,
mossed trees.JPG
there was no room for other growth. We stopped for a long chat with Harry (heading north) from the Netherlands.
harry from netherlands.JPG
This is his third month-long bike trip in as many years in the United States; loves the country and it's people, very refreshing from a Europeans perspective. We picnicked at Mason Lake
lunch at Mason Lake.JPG
among very friendly ducks.
ducky cousin.JPG
Mason Lake is huge, dotted with vacation homes along both banks of it's very long shore,
mason lake.JPG
we know it's long as we biked from tip to tip.
We paddled into the cute little town of Shelton,
rich with logging history and at the base of the Olympic National Park, rather early in the afternoon, but after a terrific cup of coffee and wonderful people at the local coffee and book store,
shelton coffee shop.JPG
we decided to stay the night; 50 miles completed.

Day 7, Saturday August 22 - Shelton to Centralia, Washington

This morning was damp, overcast and cold. Apparently so cold that our navigator decided we needed an extra 5 miles of hills for a warm up. It worked, though he says he "was asleep at the map". The cold was a welcome relief to the hills we climbed all morning, within an hour into our bike we had worked up quite the sweat despite the low 50 degree temperatures. The hills were shrouded in clouds and the course quite and peaceful.

leaving shelton.JPG
We made a coffee stop (to warm our hands) at Buck's
bucks coffee stop.JPG
then continued on to Elma (that's a town, not a resturant) for a quick lunch. In the less than 1/2 an hour we took for lunch the clouds were dispersing and the sun was breaking through.
beautiful day.JPG
The dark green evergreens majestically reaching to the clear blue sky softened by the white billowy clouds was just heaven.
Of course, having the last 40 miles on flat road with the wind at our backs was nice, too! Not to mention, lots of horse filled farms
horse farm.JPG
and picturesque rivers.
Though we could have gone all day in this fabulous weather, we stopped after 70 miles.

Week 1 Complete

Vancouver British Columbia, Canada to Centralia, Washington

Picture 1.png

336.2 miles