This blog is a bit old, but better late than never to post it! This past year has been interesting for Marty and I as well as the rest of the world. In July, I decided to quit my job, an agonizing decision since I was grateful to have amazing co-workers and a flexible schedule (ish). Given the pandemic, I planned to be out of work for a while and hoped to live “simple” and moved onto Marty’s boat. I binged YouTube and settled into unemployment quite nicely… until I realized I was wasting time and my savings doing a whole lot of not much. I had originally planned to work a part-time job for a while, but summer in the San Juan’s is beautiful and maybe I’m lazy? It turns out that being unemployed while your boyfriend still has to work, is quite the bummer. No fun road trips. We also decided that boat life in the winter was becoming less wonderful. Boat life is not so romantic when you have to walk on icy docks in the cold to go to the bathroom or take a shower. Blah. Fortunately, through a former co-worker I landed a job with a great company and Marty decided to leave his job (also an agonizing decision considering his work crew are also really amazing people) and move into the house with me. He quickly found a new job and we had a few weeks before commencing our new employment. So let’s get on with it!
This 5 day ride was to celebrate Marty’s 50th birthday. The original hope was to do a loop in England/Scotland, but we all know the current state of affairs. Instead we ventured close to home, took it easy since we hadn’t been riding much this year and Marty was breaking in his b-day present, a new Brooks saddle.
Day 1: 18 miles. We left my house in Bremerton and went to Kitsap Regional Park. The ride was familiar for the most part, but we discovered a new-to-us bike/walking path on Finn Hill that is currently being constructed, so that was a pleasant surprise! We arrived in the rain and quickly began to set up camp… but not quick enough. Water was definitely getting between the tent and it’s footprint meaning we could be in for a damp, icky night. Knowing that my parents live a 15 minute car ride away made us think… should we stay here, or get a ride and stay in a warm house with the possibility of dinner and a movie, maybe pet the cat… What wimps we have become! So we toughed it out and stayed.
Lucky for us I always bring along the foil emergency blanket!! This saved us on our first night of the Divide Ride when our sleeping bag was actually really damp from the road sludge and my lack of protecting it correctly. This time I used it as a barrier between the bottom of the tent and sleeping bag and all was perfectly dry. Instead of cooking up a dehydrated meal, we took advantage of the local offerings and went to the nearby gas station. I wanted to go to the tavern, but no food there. Marty bought us an incredible meal of microwaveable burritos, chips, some cake thing and we even got to split a beer. We enjoyed our dinner looking over the hood canal and watching the fishing boats. We also decided that we should stop camping when the summer season is over.
Day 2: 28 miles. The next morning we packed up and headed a little down the road and hit up the Latte Your Way drive-through coffee stand. We had really tasty breakfast burritos from them and enjoyed a latte before our ride to Port Townsend. Today was a much better weather day, sunny even! Crossing the Hood Canal bridge was a little daunting, plenty of space to ride, just a lot of debris to look out for. I was nervous about riding highway 104, but the shoulder was pretty wide and we made decent time getting to the cutoff towards Port Townsend. Riding highway 19 was easy enough hill-wise, but the shoulder size decreases and the quarry trucks passing by make you constantly on edge. They tend to suck you in while they’re passing and then you accelerate quite a bit once they pass. We took a break in Chimacum and I went to the Chimacum Corner Farmstand. I’ve been passing this little place for years and finally stopped to see what was inside. It’s a cute co-op type place with some nice plants and local produce. Nothing appealed at the time and Marty didn’t seem to care to be there, so off we went! We were grateful to finally hit the Larry Scott bike trail that takes us off the main road and takes you along the waterfront, eventually spitting you back out right at the boat yard downtown. Along the way we were lucky enough to see an impressive buck on the hillside. We watched him for awhile, but then saw the doe in the bushes and we figured we were ruining their “alone time”. We finished our ride and stayed at one of our favorite hotels, The Tides Inn. I was so excited to get a discounted rate, $80 including tax. Typically it’s well over $140. that should have been my first red flag. We ended up staying in what they call, “the old building”. Yep, it’s old. But it was clean enough looking and it still had a great view of the water with a balcony. The balcony had an old non-functioning jacuzzi tub which was the perfect place to dry out our tent, tarp, and footprint. Woohoo! There’s always positives!
We grabbed lunch at Phofilling, get it! Pho-filling, Pho sounds like fah or fuh…, fulfilling ?!? I love a good play on words! Anyway, we’ve been wanting to try this Vietnamese place and it did not disappoint. Big portions gave us left overs for the next day. We walked about town a little, grabbed a coffee and sat in the central area watching people walk the beach. Again we decided against a dehydrated meal and opted for local cuisine. We ordered a pizza to go from a sidewalk shop that seemed very popular and I grabbed us a beer to share from a wine shop, go figure, and we headed back to the hotel and settled in and watched an old 80’s movie. Credit card camping is so nice :).
Day 3: 16 miles. After french toast with pecan butter and syrup at our favorite breakfast spot, the Blue Moose, we took the ferry to Whidbey Island. Our destination, Deception Pass. I have never camped here and was excited to stay in such a gorgeous area. The sky looked slightly ominous , the weather report called for rain, and Marty’s new saddle was still being “worked in”. Thus our excitement waned and thought this would be an excellent time to put our “no tent camping after the summer” rule to work. Marty booked us a room in Oak Harbor at the Coachman and we rested easy on the ferry knowing we had a short ride ahead of us.
We landed in Whidbey and were greeted by the Navy’s fighter jets circling above us. Pretty loud, but always kind of neat to witness. We headed towards Coupeville and took some side roads. Though it never did rain, it was definitely windy. It seems like it’s always windy on Whidbey. But the water views were nice, but kind of made you feel colder. We were so chilly, we opted to take the main highway into town rather than alternative country roads just to get there sooner. The shoulder on HWY 20 was fine until it ended abruptly, forcing us to ride in the gutter as soon as we got to Oak Harbor. We saw no alternative but to ride on the sidewalk at this very busy intersection. We re-routed and rode through the older town of Oak Harbor and on some less busy streets until we reached our hotel. Fortunately the hotel was only 1.5 miles away.
We checked in, happy to have a first floor room so not to have to carry our bikes and gear up the stairs. Soon after, karma hit us for not camping out when a van full of giggling teenagers pulled up and occupied the rooms on either side of us. We walked across the street for an awesome, quiet teriyaki dinner to close out the night.
Day 4: 26 miles. Our group of giggly teens were hardly heard all night, so we were pretty grateful for a good night’s sleep. We got breakfast from the hotel lobby and headed to our next destination, La Conner! Marty had scoped out some side roads so we wouldn’t have to ride HWY 20 the entire time and they were fantastic, windy still of course, but so peaceful. But a ride is not a ride until someone gets a flat, and Marty was the winner! We pulled off on the side of the road next to someone’s farm while Marty got to work. Sadly, when I flipped his bike over, the GoPro snapped off. Oops. At least the GoPro isn’t broken :)!
We continued our cold, windy, yet peaceful side road adventure until we connected to HWY 20 again right before Deception Pass. With all the construction on the bridges, I was happy to have minimal traffic. Once we got to the other side onto Fidalgo Island we opted for side roads again. These ended up being a bit hilly, but the views of the water and really nice houses made it worth it, and of course no traffic whizzing by. We finally made it to our turnoff, Reservation Road, the “entrance” to La Conner. We detoured slightly onto Snee Oosh which gave us a few brief vistas. Living in Washington, I feel like we live in a perpetual view of something beautiful.
We arrived at our hotel, the La Conner Channel Lodge and were super happy with our room! We had a great view of the Channel and could watch all the boats go by. We had a jacuzzi tub, little fireplace and not one, but two comfy chairs! So cozy. Outside we had a tiny deck and little garden, perfect. We dropped off our stuff and walked about the little town. We visited a bookstore where I bought “A Daughter’s Walk”, a history based on a woman and her daughter walking from Spokane, WA to New York in the 1800’s. Then we went to the local brewery for some pizza and beer, also very good. I purchased some wine at a little shop and by that time we were ready for dessert. The wine dealer suggested a little place in town and we had our first “deconstructed mochas”. It had some Italian name, but basically, vanilla ice-cream, chocolate syrup, with espresso shots and whipped cream completed with a butter cookie. Very good! Marty and I later recreated these on the boat :). Dinner was a dehydrated meal. Not too note-worthy.
Day 4 Continued: 0 miles. Well the weather outside was frightful, so we booked another night and that was delightful. On our second day in La Conner we visited a little cafe and then headed for the Quilt Museum. I don’t think it was top on Marty’s list, but given the rain and cold, I think he was fine just being inside. The museum was nice, as was one very informative volunteer :)… but it’s not like we were in a hurry.
We headed back to the hotel and Marty got the fireplace going with a flip of a switch and we spent most of the afternoon reading. Bliss! Dinner time came and we got ourselves Mexican take-out along with a Margarita to go (not as great as Marty’s Dad’s though!).
Day 5, but really day 6: 18 miles. Today we headed to Anacortes to catch the ferry back to San Juan for our “final week” on the boat before driving the Suburban back down to my house. We’ve done this route before so it was very predictable. We did pass two cyclists that were traveling with their dog who was running beside them in the bike lane. We were definitely impressed and tempted to find a similar breed… Getting a dog would significantly change our travel lives so we’re still thinking about it.
Though it wasn’t raining, the headwinds we encountered were higher than norm for the area. Crossing one bridge it was so severe I couldn’t breathe if I faced North. I know, I know, don’t face that way then… but once it hurts you keep doing it for some weird reason?? We finally made it out of the wind and into Anacortes with enough time to get lunch since the ferry was an hour late. Sometimes we are grateful when the ferry is late!
We finally made it back to San Juan and on the boat where we did not shower for the rest of the time there because it was COLD. We are now back at the house, scrubbed down and excited for our next ride. We have seven more pages in our little biking journal that we hope to fill out by the end of this year. The days are getting shorter, the weather getting colder, we’ll see if we can do it!