Biking the Olympic Peninsula and the Washington Coast

Our departure from Canada was slow and slumbered as we made several day stops with family in Vancouver (Mark, Char and Lauren) and then once again a few days at a friend’s place (Carmen) in Victoria. We felt ourselves hanging on to the familiar and knowing we won’t actually see friends or family for a while after we leave Canada.

 

Mark, Char and Lauren in Vancouver

Mark, Char and Lauren in Vancouver

 

The day we decided to cross over to the United States via Port Angeles just happened to be one of the busiest days in Victoria. The streets were packed with Royal Victoria Marathon participants, busy from the Canadian Thanksgiving Day weekend, and unbeknownst to us the Port Angeles Dungeness Crab & Seafood Festival! Stopping to ask a Police officer what the best approach was to get from the apartment where we were staying in downtown Victoria the few blocks to the ferry through all the pedestrian traffic, he advised us to just get off and walk along the marina wall. Easier said than done with two fully loaded touring bikes as people were pushing their ways through the crowd. With tensions high and frustrations soaring Mike was furious at the decision on why we choose to listen to the officer and not just take the long way round and ride around the crowd. Being the stubborn person I am, I figured we were already committed and as long as we are polite and not too pushy we’d make it. Sure enough people saw our dilemma and started to set us through the crowd. But that was only the first hurdle. Arriving at the ferry station the line was long to head through customs, so much that it extended out the front door, down the stairs and onto the street.

 

We had to enter the line via the ramp hoping someone would let us into the line but all we got were “the line’s back there…” I tried to explain with the weight of the bikes there’s no way we could even attempt the stairs, all we received was a sarcastic “good luck with that” from one grumpy lady. I decided to leave Mike at the top of the stairs with my bike and stand in line until we caught up. which This is when some lady barreled up the stairs rushing to get her ticket and knocked over Mike’s bike weighting an excess of 190 lbs. without an apology was enough to make both our tempers soar. I ended up making friends in the line and it worked out after that, but next was the customs line… we were in the last 1/2 of the line and dreaded the thought of what would happen next with our fully loaded bikes, fuel canisters, I am sure some questionable content if someone really wanted to rip through our bags. Will they search us? It will take forever to unpack and pack everything back up. We approached the guard.

 

Where are you headed? he asked.

Mexico, we answer.

How long did you think it will take you?

A few months, we reply.

Have a great day!

 

REALLY? That’s it?! Sweet. One border crossing completed with NO hassle other than the logistics of the line itself. We secured our bikes on the deck that had two bike racks and settled down for the 1 1/2 hour crossing. A sigh of relief from the stressful morning, We’ve come to the conclusion we don’t like heavily congested areas. Hard to deal with and very stressful.

 

Bike rack on ferry to Port Angeles

Bike rack on ferry to Port Angeles

 

The crossing was relaxing with views of the coast line as we left Canada and approached the States. We were lucky to catch glimpses of porpoises playing in the swell and birds flying by. Naturally our bikes attracted interested questions regarding our journey, where we’ve come from and where we are headed. Met some wonderful people including Sam and Sandie from Portland, OR who offered a place to stay and left us with their contact number if we are to run into any trouble while traveling down the coast.

 

Mike and I with Sam and Sandie on the ferry who are coming to Seaside to visit.

Mike and I with Sam and Sandie on the ferry who are coming to Seaside to visit.

 

Our first stop in Port Angeles was the visitor information centre where the wonderful ladies there loaded us up on local sites and were so sweet, they let us stash our bikes in the back room so we could walk around the town and take in the crab festival. Our first impressions on entering the States were epitomized by the brass jazz band blaring out from the event tents, the red and white checkered table cloths, food and people everywhere. The smells and sights were rejuvenating so we headed straight in to sample the local fare!

 

Crab festival

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Crab fest_ Mike~

Crab cakes!

Crab cakes!

 

After filling ourselves and stocking up in groceries we headed west on the 101 to cycle around the Olympic Peninsula… glad to be on the road and into new territory which neither of us have traveled before. Our first destination was the coastal town of Mora, WA for a little ocean time, tide pool exploring and hearing the crashing waves. We took a day trip from Mora to Rialto Beach known for its towering sea stacks, crashing waves, large beach logs and tide pools. We arrived an hour before high tide with waves crashing and no way to walk the 1.5 miles to the Hole-in-the-Wall sea stack, content with just sitting, watching and listening we waited for the tide to sub-seed before we ventured down the beach. But the sights were glorious with the mist, the clouds and the sun.

 

Waves crashing at Rialto Beach

Waves crashing at Rialto Beach

 

Rialto Beach

 

 

With the weather holding and not being in a rush we decided to venture about 19 miles off the 101 into the Hoh Rainforest, one of very few temperate rainforests in the United States with its beautiful moss covered maples and giant Sitka spruce, Western cedars and plethora of lettuce lichens (Lobaria sp.). The area also boasts an astonishing 360-420 cm (141-165 inches) of annual rainfall. I can’t say we did heaps there. We camped at the Hoh Campground located by the visitor center and just sauntered the little trails there, nothing too adventurous, just enjoyed being in such a magical place and resting alongside the Hoh river.

 

Entering the Hoh

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Roosevelt Elk

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Mossy Maple

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Beautiful campsite in the Hoh

Beautiful campsite in the Hoh

 

After our two side trips, Mike and I were getting anxious to head south. Traveling in the fall has been great. The colors are wonderful, the traffic is almost non-existent and the only problem getting a campsite is that the odd place is closed, but it is also getting colder. We’ve been finding it hard to get up early and make a break for it. We try to set the alarm for 6:30 am, but find ourselves just nestling into our sleeping bags for a few more hours until it warms up. Sauntering out of the tent usually by 8 am and still not fully packed and ready to leave until about 10 am. I think the only thing that I really dislike about this trip so far is putting a very cold, wet tent away.

 

Cam set-up

 

We are also delighted to be catching the fall migration of many bird species. We’ll often stop for hours along the many mud flats to see what we can spot. It’s a great way to see secluded little beaches and spend some time with the local and visiting wildlife.

 

Short-billed dowicher's

Short-billed dowicher's

 

We’ve been spoiled with beautiful campsites and great weather. ┬áJust upon reaching Astoria, OR recently that the weather has changed and even that has been marginal. The last three days have been rain but today and the rest of the week looks sunny and mild. We were happy to cross the 4 mile long bridge from Washington to Oregon.

 

Overview of Astoria and the Bridge

Overview of Astoria and the Bridge

 

Looking forward to the State known as being progressive and bike friendly and the first stop was Astoria, home of the Goonies a cult classic that every kid that grew up in the ’80s adores. We met a fellow cyclist (well bike-car-ist) and fan on the road to Astoria and ended up exploring Astoria together.

 

Mike infront of the Goonies House

Mike infront of the Goonies House

 

Paul Everitt of Going Solo has been on the road since 2006 and on many adventures on his self-made bike car by which he traveled with 3 other friends from his home in the UK to Italy then took off on a solo mission to cycle across Canada and decided to keep on going across the States, with his final destination (as it stands at the moment) to Las Vegas before returning home to the UK to plan his next adventure.

 

It was great to meet a like minded individual and to hear all his stories from the road. All the best Paul!

 

Mike and Paul (Going Solo)

Mike and Paul (Going Solo)

 

After waiting out the rain in Astoria, we cycled to Seaside, OR where we’ll spend the next few days visiting. We are staying with our first Warm Showers host, Neil, and also received an e-mail from Sam and Sandie who we met on the ferry to Port Angeles who are driving out from Portland, OR the day to show us around! In addition our dear friends, Faith and Lionel, are visiting family in Oregon and are coming out this week to the coast to come hang out for a night.

 

Life is good.

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