22 - 24 September
It was around 300k (180 miles) to Seattle and though the distance could be done in 2 days I knew getting in and out of 2 big cities would be time consuming so I settled for 3 days. After a rainy night it was still overcast and raining in the morning. I left at 9 and headed southeast trying to follow the descriptions from google maps. As previously mentioned they are good for avoiding the big roads in busy cities but the downside is the many change of directions especially here in Vancouver where I was supposed to follow a poorly marked bike trail (sometimes on roads - both sides? - and sometimes through parks). It took forever and I constantly had to ask for directions from people who had no idea about the trail. Luckily a guy took me 3k (2 miles) to Queensborough Bridge and shortly after I met Barry who took me 32k (20 miles) to the border. I enjoyed his company and the backroads he picked - and not having to navigate saved a lot of time. As we rode the weather improved and when we reached the border at Blaine early afternoon it was beautiful. Surprisingly many questions asked considering I just wanted to keep my initial visa time frame... I rode to Ferndale on Portal Way which was in bad shape but not very busy because it ran parallel to I(nterstate freeway)-5. On bigger roads into big town Bellingham where I skipped the suggested small trails and headed straight through town picking up cosy Chuckanut Drive. With its steep slopes on both sides not the easiest place to find a camp spot so I pulled up a driveway and asked for advice and before I knew it I was invited to stay with Grobe and Maureen who had lived 25 years in Germany before retiring back in the US. Dinner at the balcony with a gorgeous view of Puget Sound, a shower and the guest room - and in the morning pancakes at neighbour's Jim and Carol. Lots of interesting conversations and incredible hospitality and generousity.
Another rainy night and overcast/drizzly morning as I continued through the hilly forest along the ocean. Soon I rode through open farmland challenged by the headwind but at least it had stopped raining. Instead of riding the mainland I decided to do Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. I'm sure it's spectacular on a beautiful day (especially Deception Pass) but the rain and overcast sky made it less impressive. Most of the time I was protected from the wind in the forest but the times I was exposed severe winds threatened to push me over.... I had a quick lunch in a deserted park in Coupeville before continuing down to Clinton from where I planned to take the ferry to the mainland in the morning. The southern part of the Whidbey was more hilly and (head)windy so I arrived in Clinton late afternoon trying to find people who could recommend a place to pitch my tent. Few people were home and the people i did find surprisingly all warned me about the many homeless people and drug addicts. When I finally found a guy who allowed me to stay behind his house it wasn't my preferred choice because he showed little interest in me but it was late so I gladly accepted his offer.
It was a very rainy and windy night but fortunately my spot was well protected. As the rain turned into a drizzle I got up at 7.15 and left just after 9 in good time to catch the 9.30 ferry to Mukilteo (free this way). Headwind, overcast skies and also rain dominated this last day - first a long hill up to highway 525 south and later per intuition I found a Wallmart where I stocked up. I picked up the interurban trail and rode it for a while despite it being slow and often in too bad shape for my heavily laden bike. Instead I rode highway 99 - big and busy with no shoulder but riding the bus lane provided a lot of room. When I approached Seattle I took some of the smaller roads downtown that I was familiar with from last time I was here. I rode onto the Bainbridge ferry just as it left and crossing the sound I finally experienced a bit a sunshine. I biked the short distance to Ed and Sandy's house (see earlier section on Seattle) arriving at 4pm just in time to join Sandy for the wednesday boat race. Afterwards I went straight to a local pub for a planning meeting for our sailboat trip to San Juan Islands - not having a shower for days and wearing my bike clothes the flies were all over me... Except for an evening trip to Seattle (live music and dinner) I spent the next days on practicalities and getting ready for the sailing trip.
5 - 27 October 2014
Great to back in Bainbridge Island for a couple of weeks - revisiting Ed and Sandy and all their friends instantly created a feeling of home-away-from-home. A couple of trees had come down since last time i was here in Spring providing great a view of Eagle Harbour. In between all the practicalities I had two main activities. One was helping out in the garden e.g. sweeping the roofs and cleaning the gutters, digging old trees/bushes out and mowing the lawn as well as cleaning and oiling a deck….
The other thing was sailing. We went out half the days I was here and had really good sailing every time most often doing 6-8 knots (and no motoring). Every time we did as much sailing or more than we did accummulated during our 8 day trip to San Juan Islands. As last time I was here the crew changed from time to time providing an opportunity to meet almost all the people I sailed with in Spring. Sometimes we were 3 and other times 7 on the boat - the latter a good number when the wind exceeded 20 knots per hour. Race day was as always Wednesday afternoon but the 4-5 previous times I had participated we never raced due to lack of wind. This time we had great wind and even got the spinnaker up (my first time experiencing that). We had a great race and only lost by 30 seconds to a much faster boat. The second race day there was no race as the wind was so strong that we were the only boat out - still great sailing of up to 9 knots...
After some great weeks with Ed and Sandy on Bainbridge Island it was time to head south to San Jose to pick up some stuff before continuing first to Hawaii and then Sydney... I took the morning ferry to Seattle at 6.20am and the train left on time at 9.30am. It takes over 24 hours and is a allegedly very beautiful when the weather is nice but unfortunately that was not the case on this trip. Overcast/rainy until Portland where we waited 2 hours for the delayed Chicago train. When we left it was soon dark - surprisingly I got a bit of sleep despite the noisy/snoring/farting people around me. We arrived on time and Terry was kind to pick me up at the station. I had some nice but also a bit hectic days with Kathi and Terry re-organising all my stuff and shipping them to Australia and Denmark. However, there was still time for dinner out and a halloween party in their housing community.