Day 49: Oak Harbour to Langley (Canada!)

With the last minute decision to make today our longest ride of the trip so far, we started fairly early after taking advantage of the motel’s continental breakfast. I hadn’t realized how close my friend Krystal lived to the route we would be riding, so our plans didn’t include staying at her place. However with this realization, we decided to push 135 km today to just barely cross the border and stay at 0 Avenue in Langley – right on the border.

We rode along the quiet roads of Whidbey island until reaching Deception Pass on then northern tip. Given it was a long weekend in Canada, there were quite a few cars with BC plates passing us. Deception Pass was quite the tourist attraction and gave Whidbey island a new feeling. We stopped there so I could take photos (also at Daryl’s request, since he wasn’t able to) and to explore the area.

We continued on, riding along the beautiful Chukanut highway near Bellingham. It was a very long day and we avoided taking extra long breaks as we often do, but I never felt to worried about making it before dark, just about making it around the time we said we would be there.

We reached the border and weren’t too sure how we were supposed to cross. We rode to the front of the line and then followed the lane for buses, where we were told to pull ahead and check in at the office. We put our bikes out front where we saw three customs agents who told us we could lock them to the bike rack nearby. Though we didn’t think they could be in a safer location so we didn’t bother locking them. It was a quick and easy process to get through customs, and from there we had less than 10km to go to reach Krystal’s.

We turned onto 0 Avenue and the first thing we saw was many large rolling hills. These weren’t exactly to thrilling to see at the end of our longest day, but we went slowly knowing we were close and excited to have made it into Canada and I was very excited to see Krystal after quite a few years.

A few hills later we did find her place and spent the evening catching up.

Day 48: Freeland to Oak Harbor

We told Donna we would stick around until she returned from her morning ride, so after waking up we relaxed, made breakfast and got some laundry done. We awoke to the note in the photo below so it was easy to make ourselves at home.

Friends were meeting us today where ever we ended up, though Donna offered to have them come to Hotel Donna, we decided eventually to get going since we hoped to reach Vancouver by Monday.

Donna rode with us for part of the ride before she had to turn around to return home. On our way we saw some other tourers so we stopped to talk to them, then as we continued another guy found us and rode along with us, so the five of us continued north towards the ferry. We said goodbye to the other three there and kept going, with plans to meet Daryl, Karen and Karen’s mom in the next little bit.

Nice, easy and flat riding was ahead so I was cruising along when I turned back and didn’t see Jesse anywhere behind me. I stood and waited a few minutes to see if he was coming, but still I didn’t see him. I wondered if maybe Daryl and Karen had found him and he was chatting while I had continued on, so I waited a bit longer. Eventually I turned around and rode for a bit before I saw Jesse at the side of the road with his bike pulled apart. He was fixing a flat tire so I joined him on the grass as he fixed it.

As we kept going up the highway we heard honking as we saw Daryl pass by us. He continues past and then finds us on a sidestreet where he stops and we all stand around excitedly chatting for a while until another car comes behind them and forces us to disperse. We agreed to meet in Oak Harbor up ahead so Jesse and I got back on our bikes and rode on.

We were treated to a night in the motel and dinner at a nearby seafood restaurant (thank you!!) and had a great time catching up with good friends.

Day 47: Seattle to Freeland

We started our ride in the busy morning and tried to follow the bike route north leaving the city. Mostly we were able to stay on bike friendly roads but we did find ourselves on some busy stretches which if we were local we may have been able to avoid. We felt the extra weight from the added gear that we had shipped ahead and picked up at Tatenda’s.

We stopped at a cafe before getting too far for a quick break. Then it wasn’t too far to the ferry to Whidbey Island. It was a quick ferry across, then we waited for all the cars to pass before we started our way up the hill from the ferry. As we’re continuing up the hill a car slows and talks to Jesse behind me. Jesse quickly tells her about our trip which impresses her, then she drives ahead and pulls over so we can properly talk. We learn Donna is a road cyclist on the island and she invites us to stay with her for the night. We quickly agree which pleases Donna, so we take down her address before she heads off.

Donna’s place wasn’t far, but on the way we stop for our pasta salad lunch which Tatenda’s wife Faith made for us, and also to attempt to wash some of the mud off our bikes which we collected in Seattle. As we near Donna’s home, she sees us again from her car and shouts for us to just go to her house and she’ll be back in a bit. So we find her house and settle down on the porch with our books until she returns. When she does return Donna calls out from her car “I so hoped you wouldn’t be sitting on my porch” – apparently she wanted us to go inside.

We quickly go inside and change since we’re heading out right away to get pizza with Donna’s friends. We’re told it’s ‘typical Donna’ style to invite strangers over to stay with her, and that we aren’t the first.

We enjoyed great pizza with great company with a view overlooking the water.

Day 46: Port Orchard to Seattle

Today we caught the Port Orchard to Bremerton foot ferry before catching the larger ferry to Seattle. The large ferry was free and the small foot ferry was only $2 so it was quite the inexpensive trip. The ferry took us to downtown Seattle where we met with Jesse’s friend Tatenda for a while.

In the afternoon we went to REI to have our bikes looked at. I asked the mechanic about tune ups and if we would have to make an appointment, and he said he could quickly look at our bikes but that they were fully booked for 3 weeks if we needed something major done. So we brought them in and were amazed at the service we received. Many minor adjustments were done on my bike to fix the gear shifting problem I was having, and he showed us how we can also make these minor adjustments since there is an easy way with our bikes. He taught us many useful tricks to recognize when the bikes would need maintenance. Our chains were still okay, but my front tire needed truing, and I needed a new back tire. These were the only aspects we had to pay for, so overall we had a great experience.

We returned to Pike Market for some baked goods before we heading to Tatenda’s. We knew Seattle had a lot of bike paths but it wasn’t too easy to find them. We were in the downtown core so we ended up on busy streets initially, but found our way to a large park with a bike path through it. Once we got there we stayed on the pathway, looking for one to take us over the bridge. As we followed along the path got a bit damp, then muddy, then it went underneath the water. The muddiest and dirtiest we’ve been in one of the largest cities on the trip. We walked our bikes and what we thought was a short ride turned into a much longer one as we pushed our bikes through thick mud.

Eventually we made it to Tatenda’s where we enjoyed dinner together with his family, and he and Jesse were able to catch up on stories.

Day 43: Astoria to Raymond Washington

We went out for breakfast with Mark and Ryan before parting ways. A big pancake breakfast started the day before we took off in different directions.

Jesse and I hadn’t yet decided our route north from Astoria. The Adventure Cycling map had us going east and avoiding the dreaded Astoria Bridge, but the Pacific Coast book and Mark and Ryan’s route would have us going straight north and over the bridge. The rainy day also brought Jesse and I major tailwinds, and with Mark and Ryan’s encouragement to ‘experience’ the bridge, we decided to go north to maximize the wind. A scenic route isn’t too scenic in the rain.

The bridge started one block from breakfast, so immediately we started climbing. A lot of our climbing was over land rather than over the river as the road curled around, so it didn’t seem so bad. There was not a lot of traffic behind us and so far it seemed to be the right decision. There was construction being done on the bridge, an advantage we were aware of. Right near highest point we reached the construction. The person managing the traffic waved us forward and told us what the final car of oncoming traffic was and told us to get a head start. Once that car passed we started pedaling to reach the top, and with the major tailwinds at our back it wasn’t too difficult, we were able to get a very good head start on the traffic behind us. However being a 6.6km bridge, they did catch up with us and once we were out on the very exposed river, the wind affected us far more, and made it even more difficult to deal with as a car would pass and alter the wind for a second. So we decided to stop and let the chain of traffic pass before the next break in traffic. The beginning of the rain also made this decision seem to be a good one.

Finally we made it off the bridge and quickly turned off into a rest stop and stayed there a while to see if the rain would ease up. When it seemed a bit lighter, we set off, and for the first time using the rain gear we had been carrying with us.

An afternoon of riding in the rain was made enjoyable by the lack of effort thanks to the tailwinds. We ran into a couple southbound tourers taking cover in an abandoned house, so we pulled over to chat with them for a bit. With no where proper to stop in the very underpopulated area, we kept going until the town of Raymond where we decided to finish the day, even though the idea of pushing on to the next town was tempting.

We found our way into the local bar, the Pitchwood, and were greeted with a loud “Hello!” At first we were taken aback, not sure in the sincerely of the greeting, but we quickly realized everyone was very friendly and soon found ourselves sitting with one of the staff discussing our route for the next day. He was a bit disappointed we wouldn’t be able to see more of the area. They had great food and an interesting menu as well. I ordered a veggie burger with a variety of interesting toppings, but when it arrived it looked a little too ‘authentic’ so I looked at it a bit longer. Rather quickly the server ran over and asked if in fact I had ordered a veggie patty, and then profusely apologized and ran away with my plate. The other staff/owners (everyone just seemed to hang out here) seemed very concerned that there was a problem, quietly talking amongst themselves. The server made me a really tasty mixed drink to apologize, and quickly my meal came back again with the new patty. Overall we had a great experience in Raymond, the friendliest town we’d been in so far.