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Posts from my very first “tour” – a setup of day trips around Fidalgo, Guemas and San Juan Islands over five days in 2003.


Proto-Tour 2003 day 5

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Tour 2003 Day 5 - Cattle Point Lighthouse

Cattle Point Lighthouse

So this is it, the final day of the Shakedown Tour. I rambled around San Juan Island until mid-afternoon on this day and then ferried back to Fidalgo Island. From there it was about an hour of driving and I was back at my place in Woodinville.  Thus my first attempt at bicycle touring came to a close.  I’d be back in this area next year, but this time solely under my own power. As always read the day 1 report for the intro to this series and details on the source narrative and such. The entire series are collected in the Tour 2003 category.


San Juan Islands Shakedown Tour 2003 day 4

05.19.03 11:12am Friday Harbor
I’ve checked out and am now ingesting coffee at a narrow park overlooking the Friday Harbor Marina. I can definitely feel the fear or maybe it is the loathing. A our tourist plea is always selling, selling, selling – it must just grate one one and f one is busy, then it is so continuous that any attempt of a facade must be worn thin. All of Friday Harbor feels lie that. It is not really slow island living, they are busier than most cities in some ways and it’s not even the busy season yet. I should come out here in the dead of winter sometime to see what it’s like.

So, one last bit of recreating before I travel homeward. I think a jaunt to American Camp and Cattle Point will be it.It’ll be 25 or 12.5 miles depending on whether my map is listing round trip or not. Either way a nice ride that will let me return for lunch, then departure. Things do seem calmer on this Monday”¦

Tour 2003 Day 5 - Riding on Cattle Point Road

Riding out to Cattle Point

1:03pm Cattle Point
I parked the car in one of the last two hour parking slots on Argyle Rd (above the ferry terminal) – I shouldn’t be much longer than that and I don’t really see them enforcing much, especially on a slack day like today. I got my gear together and set out for Cattle Point, more or less my final designation for this trip. The typical hill route – plenty of hills left for the the ride back of course. Riding past American Camp was probably my favorite bit of riding this trip. It was along the edge of a bluff with steep meadowlands to a beach. The Olympics and the Cascades in the distance, over the long expanses of water. The road wound a long those hills (and up and down them of course) was mostly empty.

I arrived at Cattle pt and there were a few tourists in those egg shaped trikes. They seemed like decent enough people but I didn’t linger and rode on to the end of Cattle Point Road to see what was there. A marina on a private drive it turned out, but I enjoyed the extra mile. Back to Cattle Point which truly is a stunning vista. A knot of small (tiny really) islands close by, an arm of San Juan Island and a point with a small lighthouse in between cast open water with land way in the distinct.  Today is warm, hazy and breezy. May be the warmest day yet – short sleeve weather even. A nice send off indeed.
Tour 2003 Day 5 - Cattle Point

Walking on the beach

On the beach now; I really had to yet to walk on the beach this trip. A bit at Guemes and on the edge of it many times here, but happy to spend a bit more time on the water.  It is so peaceful down here, very gentle swells, seagulls, alone here but for one lady beach combing and a photographer around the point. Neither of these present more than distant murmurs in the breeze.  I always feel relaxed and at home when I’m by the sea, even in stormy weather or in very short visits.  I walked around the point scrambling over some rocks with small tidal pools, then up the bluff and around the light house and finally back to the bicycle.

2:50, Friday Harbor Marina
Back from Cattle Point, round trip distance 20.4 miles – a nice ride.  I check the ferry schedule and the next ferry is 4:15 so I moved the car and rode to the marina to eat my sandwich. Riding past the ferry terminal I noticed about 10 cars in the Anacortes lane. I figure I’ll eat, get an ice cream cone, ride around the area a bit and move my car into the lane around 3:30.

3:55 Friday Harbor Ferry Terminal
Last Ride. I did a quick 1 mile loop around Pear Point. A true joy off of Argyle Road that had tempted me each time I went past it. I first had to climb a steep hill out of Friday Harbor but then was quickly on mostly forested roads. There were a few nice views of the bays on either side of the point. There was a stretch on this loop that was unpaved which was a nice bit of variety and equally nice riding in the woods. Completing the loop I ride down that steep hill I started with and was back in town. I reload the bicycle gear and move the car into line. At this point I got that aforementioned ice cream cone and on seeing the walk-ons board returned to my car just a couple of minute before cars began to load.


Tour 2003 Day 5 - Ferry Terminal

Leaving San Juan Island

4:20pm, Strait of Juan de Fuca, aboard the Sealth
It was a much more laid back trip back to Anacortes then the trip out. No saturday night crowd of kids, no eager tourists there for their overnight. Just tired tourists, those whose trip ends on this day.  Locals of course, ignoring things as usual.  Very nice weather, comfortable standing on the deck of the ferry still in my shorts and t-shirt. I spend most of the trip outside, absorbing all I can.

5:00pm, Leaving Lopez Island, still aboard the Sealth
We have just pulled out of Lopez on the last leg of my San Juan trip. Only the drive back from Fidalgo Island to Woodinville remains.  So this will be the final entry for this trip unless something interesting happens in that drive.  It has gotten cold – I put on warmer clothes but still spend as much time as I can outside, taking it in. A thin layer of clouds has robbed us of the suns warming rays as we move eastward, the sun sets behind us.  But there are those who look back toward where they have been and those who always gaze forward to see where they are headed and I have always been been in the latter camp.  Absolutely beautiful views of Mount Baker in the first half of this trip, with swirling clouds around it, but its whole face out.

It is from nature we come and in nature that we find the greatest beauty.

All of the daily reports from this tour can be found in the Tour 2003 category.
All the pictures from this tour are collected here: ProtoTour 2003 Flickr Set.

Proto-Tour Day 4

Saturday, February 25th, 2012

ProtoTour 2003 day 4 - Pi


This was the fourth day of my 2003 Shakedown Tour around Fidalgo, Guemes and San Juan Islands. This day was spent entirely on San Juan Island where I took two ~20 mile trips, basically circumnavigating the island. For the intro to this series and details on the source narrative and such see the day 1 report. The entire series are collected in the Tour 2003 category.

San Juan Islands Shakedown Tour 2003 day 4

05.18.03 1:16pm Roche Harbor,  San Juan Island
I got up around 9:30, did my morning routine and walked into Friday Harbor for breakfast. I went to the San Juan Donut Shop and had (not so good) coffee and a (pretty great) cinnamon roll. Good coffee was surprisingly difficult to find on the island.  I wandered around Friday Harbor for a spell ending up at the grocery store for some basic supplies. I dropped these off at the hotel, prepped the bicycle and set out.

ProtoTour 2003 day 4 - Mausoleum

The Mausoleum

It was a short jaunt through town and then onto Roche Harbor Road which I followed to Roche Harbor.  This was a beautiful ride on gently rolling rills. Along the way I say a fawn (pictured) and a doe that bounded away as I rode by.  I pulled off the road at the Rock Island Resort at the enhance to “The Mausoleum”.  I walked up past a white fenced in grave stones and into woods. There I encounters two men, a woman and three kids who were loud and rowdy before I finally approached the mausoleum.  This was a Greek styled structured with six pillars, one of which was broken surrounding a round table with five chairs and a clearly deliberate gap where another chair could have been. Once again one chair was broken with the back sheared off.  Each chair had a name of the deceased carved on it plus some information – Knight Templars, Masonic ranks and such which was very weird. The broken backed chair was for a four month old.

ProtoTour 2003 day 4 - Roche Harbor 1

Roche Harbor

While I was contemplating the memorial the obnoxious family arrived. The kids were unimpressed, memorable quotes: “Is this it?” “Why did we come here?” – ah “wisdom” from the mount of babes.  One of the men took a lot of photos and finally they moved on allowing me to continue examining it in peace. I walked around the very well maintained trails a bit and finally returned to where I’d locked my bicycle and rode on. I continued on until I reached Roche Harbor, which is a nice like harbor with marina, store, restaurant, resort and such.  I had lunch at the Lime Kiln Cafe where I had an oyster po’boy and fries.

12.4 miles to Roche Harbor

ProtoTour 2003 day 4 - San Juan Island Roads 1

Riding on San Juan Island

3:00pm Front St. Ale House
I leave Roche Harbor via a pretty steep and long climb and ride through rolling hills, valley and dale.  Beautiful big clouds bring and take the sun as I ride. I biked up a serious hill – was to ally let down by my front derailer [editor: not sure what happened here – chain slipped off perhaps, or just wouldn’t shift?].  Many more valleys and ups and downs then to my surprise I see a sign for Friday Harbor City Limits. So I’m back in town, obviously off my island circumnavigation plan.  So I headed back to the pub for a much needed brew.

Sign at the Front Street Ale House:  Live Well “¢ Laugh Often “¢ Love Much

12.8 miles back on this alternative route.

ProtoTour 2003 day 4 - San Juan Island Roads 2

Riding on San Juan Island

4:35pm  Lime Kiln State Park, San Juan Island

Ten miles  of rolling hills from the hotel to this state park on the route I took. Nice riding if a bit strenuous for the second trip of the day. West Side drive before the park was very scenic and had the most bicyclists I’ve seen to date on this trip.  Plenty of motorists, most in SUVs of course.  I have to admit I took some satisfaction at not having to pay the US$5.00 parking fee.

I’m sitting right on the rocky edge of the island, my favorite thing about all of the islands especially when facing west as the sun is going down or at least heading west as is the case now. Warm with gentle swells, it is so peaceful and nice. People are here but not right around me at this time.

ProtoTour 2003 day 4 - Orca

Orca breaching

There is this cute little lighthouse on a slightly more protruding spit than I’m on – about 300 feet away I’d say. I’ve been waiting for people to move away from it so I could take a picture but they just won;don’t leave, displaying far more patience than I normally give the tourists credit for. Seeing a pod of Orca whales swim buy pretty much explained what they were waiting for. First one, swimming by and surfacing for air, then another who jumped a couple of times, once pretty far out of the water. Then a few more came by, including a group of three that would surface together. Then one came by very close to the cove I’m sitting above and jumped quite high two or three times. I hadn’t come out here looking for Orca’s, it wasn’t even on my mind at all, so I have to say I really appreciate the serendipity.

ProtoTour 2003 day 4 - Deer


7:30pm Front St. Ale House
I’m back at the Ale House which is clearly my favorite place in Friday Harbor.  But seriously I checked out all the menus of the place that were open and none really appealed. Anyway riding back from Lime Kiln State Park, a deer hopped in front of me and I’d swear a bald eagle flew in the woods next to me for a time.  I definitely have seen a decent amount of fauna on this trip – whales, deer, bunnies, great blue heron, bald eagles, several other hawks that I couldn’t ID plus of course countless other birds.

The ride back from the park was again 10 miles putting me at over 40 for the day. I was tired riding home and there was of course several hills, including the popular Baller Hill, but I knew that one was coming, plus several other long hills on that ride. It was on this ride that I fully realized that there is a categorical imperative to let fly one’s barbaric yalp when exceeding 30mph.


This was one of the few days on this so-called tour where I actually spent the whole day riding.  The next day I’d return back home but I spent the morning and afternoon riding around before I left until the evening.  This final day will be covered in the next and last post.

All the pictures from this tour are collected here: ProtoTour 2003 Flickr Set.

Proto-Tour Day 3

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012

Tour 2003 day 3 - The Golden Road

The Golden Road

This was the third day of my 2003 Shakedown Tour around Fidalgo, Guemes and San Juan Islands.  On this day I drove back from Woodinville to the ferry terminal on Fidalgo Island and took the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. This sucked up pretty much all of this day. I don’t have too many pictures from this day either though plenty of rambling in the journal. I’ll excerpt some relevant portions in this post. For the intro to this series and details on the source narrative and such see the day 1 report. The entire series are collected in the Tour 2003 category.

San Juan Islands Shakedown Tour 2003 day 3

05.17.03 5:15 Aboard the Elwha
I love the throbbing rhythm of the ferries; that deep bass thrumming that they all have when underway.  Its hard to believe I’m back amount the San Juan’s, these islands I love. It was raining in Woodinville, but out here the weather is just as it has been the last few days: sunny, with big clouds and lots of wind.  A glorious spring. Anacortes and Guemes are now behind means I’m heading toward Lopez Island – the only other stop on this evenings trip.

Tour 2003 day 3 - Ferry

Ferries passing in the setting sun

5:42 Lopez Island (from the Elwha)
Pulling into Lopez, which from afar looked pretty flat. If it genuinely is (editors note: it is) apart from the rather short steep hill up from the ferry dock, it would have been some nice easy riding. Oh well, it’ll have to be ridden on another trip (for that see here).  I love the water and the islands and miss them dearly. Thoreau may be correct in stating that only from the shore can you understand the sea, but I do love being on it. But for the shore, truly only an island can really give insight into the sea.


Tour 2003 day 3 - A San Juan Island

One of the San Juan chain as seen from the ferry.

The ferry is packed with an obvious mix of islanders and tourists with perhaps an inclination toward the regulars. Lots of kids – teenagers fully decked out for the prom, two little league teams of what look like about 10 and 12 year olds, plus many other kids running and galavanting about the boat.  The islanders can always be recognized as they just ignore the trip either sleeping, reading or otherwise just ignoring the beauty outside their windows. As for myself I do not make the mistake travelers often do and I recognize that I too am a tourist – but I did grow up here and am no parvenu. My roots are in the islands.


Tour 2003 day 3 - On the ferry

The Golden Road to San Juan Island

Heading in towards Friday Harbor we were sailing right up the Golden Road. Plenty of zenith still in the sun but a glorious path to the true west. The setting sun with big clouds all around and the island below – a true path that must be followed.

05.17.03 7:30 Front Street Ale House, Friday Harbor, San Juan Island
Off the ferry , uphill for a little ways and then just off the main drag my hotel. I check it and check out my digs which was some sort of suite that I had to get as I had booked late. It wasn’t all bad – it had a jacuzzi tub!  The important aspect for this trip was that it was on the first floor and easy enough to move the bicycle in and out of. I unloaded the car and then headed out for dinner.

I ended up at the Front Street Alehouse [editor: in which searching for a link appears to now have closed! What a shock, this was my favorite place to eat and drink on the island.] where I had some seafood (fish and chips I think) and a couple of beers while I read up on riding routes on the island.

8:30pm Front Street Ale House
So a “celtic band”,  is playing at the old Front St. Alehouse leading toward my ordering a third beer (perhaps as they struck up “Danny Boy”).  San Juan brewing’s Oatmeal stout is quite good, so I don’t mind an encore. The band, 1066, is composed of a banjo/violin player, Guitar and keyboard with a local occasionally sitting in on harmonica.  Mostly they played folk songs and not so much of the jigs and reels you’d get from a more trad “celtic band”.

So that’s about it for this day as recorded in the journal. I think after dinner I walked around Friday Harbor for a bit and then retired for the night. Tune in to the next post for actual riding around on San Juan Island.

All the pictures from this tour are collected here: ProtoTour 2003 Flickr Set


Proto-Tour 2003 day 2

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

Proto-Tour 2003 day 2 - Mount Erie

Mount Erie on Fidalgo Island

This was the second day of my 2003 Shakedown Tour around Fidalgo, Guemes and San Juan Islands.  On this day I rode on Guemes and Fidalgo and then drove back to Seattle to see a concert after which I stayed at my apartment in Woodinville. I’d be back in the Islands on the next day. For the intro to this series and details on the source narrative and such see the day 1 report.

San Juan Islands Shakedown Tour 2003 day 2

05.16.03 12:20 Anacortes
At the Guemes Island ferry dock. I slept ’til nearly 10 (!) so kind of rushed to get out of the heal, but no problem really. I had a muffin at “The Store” again and then wandered around Anacortes looking for a disposable camera and a small can of WD-40. I found the WD-40 but not the camera – I assume I can get one at the store on Guemes. I would like to have it for the ferry crossing though.

Proto-Tour 2003 day 2 - The Store

The Store

I arrived at the ferry dock around noon and they don’t run the ferry at the noon hour, so I’m waiting around for the 1pm sailing. Time is a little short today since I need to leave at 5pm to get to Seattle for the concert tonight. But I’m stressing doing what I haven’t before. The plan is to ride Guemes and be back in Anacortes by 3pm, grab a sandwich then ride around my old neighborhood. The weather today is like yesterday – breezy with big fluffy clouds. UW Atmospheric scientist Cliff Mass basically said this was stormy weather, but hopefully it’ll sat like it did yesterday. The forecast is for Sunday to be nice which would rule as its my next big riding day.

Proto-Tour 2003 day 2 - Young's Park

Young's Park on Guemes Island

2:08pm Young’s Park Guemes Island
I’m sitting on a log at this beachside park on the north end of Guemes. Tired of waiting for the ferry I biked to Steinman’s grocery and managed to get a disposable camera. Back waiting for the ferry this unpleasant man and his S.O.  (who seemed nice enough) came biking up. Got to listen to his kvetching on the short ride across the water.  They went straight up the hill, so I went right, following “Lars Route”. Lars apparently unicycled around the island to raise money for the community center. I found plenty of hills, some quite steep and long. I passed the unpleasant bikers who were at the beachfront down by a cabin that a friend of my parents owned back in the day. It was a steep descent to Young’s Park, which of course means a steep climb out. It’s still breezy with big glorious loads and it’s pretty warm when the sun is out. The tide is out and the water is still.

Proto-Tour 2003 day 2 - Guemas Roads 2

Wooded road on Guemes Island

The unpleasant bikers have arrived, so I think I’ll bid a fond farewell to Young’s Park. As they pulled up the man asked me if I’d been here before to which I answered “Yes, but not for a long time” which was true. Before they arrived I find four flat painted rocks grouped together in the planter below the Young’s Park sign. On the back they read “strength”, “Peace”, “Joy” and one was unreadable but had to be “Love”. This is just the sort of thing that appeals to me, leaving stuff like that, never knowing who’ll see them (if seen at all) and what they’ll do with the,. Random acts of joy! Now to that climb”¦.

Proto-Tour 2003 day 2 - Monument on Guemas

Monument on Guemes Island above the ferry terminal


05.17.03 Fidalgo Island Ferry Terminal
I biked the rolling hills back to the ferry terminal approaching right at 3pm. The ferry was on the Fidalgo side so I stopped at the little store which was very nice. Had some of everything from videos to fresh veggies. I got iced tea, hawaiian water and a great molasses cookie. The ferry was clearly not until 3:30 so I biked up Guemes Island road to Schoolhouse Park and used the porta-john there. Then I biked back to the ferry against the strongest headwind I’d ever experienced, arriving around 3:35 and exceeding 20 miles for the day. Ferried across, for free bringing my total ferry sots to $1.25 – now that is a reasonable charge. I grabbed lunch (a great sandwich on fresh country french bread with gorgonzola, peso and fresh tomatoes) and bread at La Bon Vie and headed out toward my old home.

Proto-Tour 2003 day 2 - Roughly the view from the house I grew up in

Roughly the view from the house I grew up in

I parked at Sharpe Park and biked up to my old house, then down Birch Way and around the old neighborhood.  I biked back up the hill in defiance of how hard it used to be (in fairness I was riding a single speed BMX bike back then). I then rode around the new housing developments in the woods where I used to meet Nicky – one of the few other kids my age in the area. These new developments were big expensive houses with very mediocre architecture and no real sense of neighborhood A gated community indeed. I could have exited out of the back of this development toward Nicky’s old place but would have had to trespass. Instead I biked back toward the park and turned onto the road that would wend it’s way past Nicky’s. I continued on past the old one room schoolhouse (where I and a couple of other kids were photographed for some newspaper article) and down the steep hills to Lake Erie Grocery. From there I looped back around riding up the hill along Lake Erie to Rosario Road and then back to Sharpe Park.

Proto-Tour 2003 day 2 - Guemas Roads 1

At this point I had to jam back to my place in Woodinville and I went off to a concert of experimental music in Seattle.  I was to return to the islands on the next day and the narrative will pick up there in the next post.

Morning mileage: >20m
Evening mileage – I don’t seem to have any record of it.  Though knowing that area, perhaps another 10 miles or so

All the pictures from this tour are collected here: ProtoTour 2003 Flickr Set


Proto-Tour 2003 day 1

Monday, February 20th, 2012

ProtoTour 2003 day 1 - Pull & Be Dammed

The great Pull & Be Damned Rd.

[Update 02.21.12: I found my journal from this “tour” which it turns out I was just transcribing in the document I published below. So I’ve transcribed the rest of this day and edited the post accordingly.]

Introduction 2012
I’ve talked about what initially got me interested in bicycle touring in earlier posts, but rooting around my documents folder I found some fragments of a tour diary from what I thought of at the time as a “shakedown” tour.  I was at this point planning on doing self-supported touring and was in the process of acquiring gear. After much research I had decided on REI’s Novara Safari and had managed to find one in the size I wanted (too small ultimately) and had been getting in some good rides on it. I had some old small Jandd panniers that I had gotten in college (at an earlier point where I was thinking of touring) but now knew that I needed to really outfit myself for self-supported touring with a full set plus camping equipment and so on.  Anyway I decided to do a sort of credit card touring in the San Juan Islands, where I’d drive to Anacortes and bicycle around from there.  It didn’t turn out like that due to circumstances, but I’ll leave that for the narrative.

So about this “diary”.  Back then I wasn’t blogging, but I was posting regularly on Bike Forums and was an avid reader of Crazy Guy on a Bicycle. So while I wasn’t sure this was appropriate material for the latter I was planing on posting this stuff somewhere.  I began writing this highly detailed narrative but never went wrote beyond the first full day. This was the only tour I did with film cameras and I was just buying disposable cameras and using those. So of course there were plenty of bad pics and even the ones that were focused and with enough light look like they are from another era. It also should be noted that even though I scanned these and thus they were at a high resolution, I had scaled them all down to what was a more typical size back then which now seems tiny.

Even though the narrative ends after the first couple of days I have photos throughout the the trip. So I’m going to upload all the photos I have and past in my original narrative (which would be quite different if written today I think). My next (first real) tour was of course a return to these parts as I did a (fully self-supported) tour through the San Juan Islands and Gulf Islands. This one I did indeed write up on Crazy Guy on a Bike.  Anyway I’ll do a followup post where I summarize what went on the rest of the days of this tour as of course the details are mostly forgotten.

San Juan Islands Shakedown Tour 2003

I grew up on Fidalgo and Whidbey islands, the beginning of the San Juan Island chain. These were great places to grow up, scenic and away from the cities but close enough to not feel like the sticks. Fidalgo Island in particular with it’s mix of wealthy retirees, working class fishermen and refinery workers, and the tourist trade had the perfect mix of the down to earth and the cosmopolitan. With it being the jumping off point to the San Juan’s it had far less of the tourist industry than the rest of the chain. While I fairly regularly visited Fidalgo, I hadn’t been out to the rest of the Islands since I was a young lad.

I always loved bicycling, but succumbed to the influences of the automobile when I got my license. I kept an old mountain bike around in college, and used it occasionally. I worked for the schools housing department as a student and after graduating with a number of hardcore cycling enthusiasts. WhenI moved away from campus I was strongly “encouraged” (read endlessly harassed) to commute to work. This I did, doing a 4-5 mile commute for 6 months. I was in pretty lousy shape at this time and this was fairly tough, especially once we started adding Friday bike to town for lunch trips. But I began to get into shape. This was ruined by getting a job in the computer industry in Seattle. Eventually I moved to a place where I could commute to work, engaged in a diet and whipped myself into the best shape I’d been in since I was a lad. In the process I became obsessed with touring by bicycle.

Tour Plan
So I wanted to bike tour, and I’d been trying to do a trip to the San Juan Islands for the last few years (nothing quite like working in the computer industry to foil vacation plans) I had arranged for 5 days off in May for a conference that ended up being canceled. So it became my San Juan mini tour instead. I was planning to drive to Fidalgo and stay in a cheap hotel as my base. Then take the ferry to Lopez and Orcas islands for day long rides. Then take the car to San Juan Island and stay for 2 days in Friday Harbor. Two things ended up conspiring against this plan: 1) a bike accident I was in 2 weeks before the trip and 2) I wasn’t able to get my hotel in Anacortes for the days I wanted to. So I re-planned.

The Master Plan

Day 0) 05.14.03   Wrap up work, pack, drive to hotel in Anacortes.
Day 1) 05.15.03:  Bike  Lopez
Day 2) 05.16.03:   Bike Fidalgo, return to Seattle for a concert stay at home
Day 3) 05.17.03:  Drive to Anacortes, ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
Day 4) 05.18.03:  Bike San Juan Island
Day 5) 05.19.03:  More biking on San Juan, take late ferry home.

I was able to stick with this plan with the replacement of biking Fidalgo on Day 1 and Guemas/more Fidalgo on Day 2. While I am very interested in self supported touring I had neither the gear nor really the inclination to do so this trip. I really wanted to be able to get back to Seattle for this music concert for one thing. The other was I was still really sore and my endurance down from this bike accident I was in. I wasn’t sure if I could bike all day and camp and still really enjoy myself. I wanted to be able to really relax and have a real break from all the work I’d been doing. I considered this a scouting tour, for a longer self contained SJI touring in the future.

Day 0) 05.14.03  Woodinville -> Anacortes WA by Car
Worked later than planned, then it was all rushing. Did laundry, ate the food in my fridge that would go bad, packed and loaded the car. All this from about 7:3-pm to 9:00pm. Ran to the Top Foods for vitamins, dental floss, beer and water – should have got some food.  Then to Barnes and Noble for some reading material. I was looking for Michael Chabon’s Summerland which I was able to find, and Gao Xingjian One Man’s Bible which I was not able to find. I did get Cape Cod by Henry David Thoreau, to continue with my reading kick (plus it is fairly appropriate for the island setting I’d be heading to what with all the ocean and beaches in that book) I also discovered a new edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn based on a newly discovered manuscript which I have to say I’m fairly excited to read. However I probably won’t read it this trip, as I think that Summerland will be the ideal vacation reading.

Finally I’m leaving Woodinville to my old hometown. Put on Hanging Gardens by the Necks, and made it into Anacortes as it was finishing. Puts my driving trip at around 65 minutes, which is pretty good time. Checked in at the Anacortes Inn which I decided to use as the Seattle Bicycling Club uses it for it’s annual San Juan tour. Alas I ended up on the 2nd floor, but it was an easy carry of the bike up there. I took a leisurely bath and began reading Summerland which sems like it’s going to be a lot of fun. It’s set on a fictional San Juan Island (which sure is appropriate) and involves a lot of baseball. I’m not obsessed with baseball but enjoy it well enough. When I played as a youth I played catcher, which the hero of Summerland plays, nice to see recognition of the best position in the game) Michael Chabon is a brilliant writer, and while it was perhaps a bit above it’s target audience, I loved the lyricism and the beautiful imagery. My favorite quote from the book sums it up pretty well:

“A baseball game is nothing but a great slow contraption for getting you to pay attention to the cadence of a summer day.” Summerland, p. 64

I planned out my ride on Lopez before bed, noting that the Ferry times, really required an early start. I wasn’t too happy about that as I wanted to sleep in, and really relax.

Day 1 (05.15.03) Anacortes WA

ProtoTour 2003 day 1 - Novara Safari at the Hotel

My Novara Safari (more pictures can be found in my Safari Set)

The Store 12:30 pm
On one of my various day trips to Anacortes over the years I discovered “The Store” a place that looks like a small country general store. I had stopped for water, and found the best muffins I’ve ever had. It became a regular pilgrimage. I went there both mornings I was on Fidalgo Island, and missed it on the rest of the trip.

A miserable night of tossing and turning led my to abandon my original plan and go with Plan B: Biking Fidalgo and Guemas Islands instead of Lopez. A cappuccino and blueberry bran muffin at The Store are helping to restore my vigor. I also bought a disposable camera while I was here.

ProtoTour 2003 day 1 - Refinery in the Distance

Riding behind "The Store"

03:10pm Gere-a-Deli, Anacortes  WA
Bike the hilly region behind “The Store” that I was not too familiar with, even though I recall some friends of my parents lived backed here. It’s a nicely hilly area with big views over the refinery and out toward Mount Baker. I wandered around the various residential backroads around the elementary school and eventually decided to go to the Anacortes Community Forest Land trails. These trials are places I had never really explored while growing up there. Turns out it is a huge 2000+ acre trail land park, with a number of small lakes, swamps and miles of singletrack trails. My Novara Safari is described by REI as an “Adventure Touring” bike and I always joke to myself when I go off road that I am adventure touring now. So with this thought in mind I hit the easy, wide gravel path into the forest lands.

ProtoTour 2003 day 1 - ACFL

Lake in the ACFL

I rode past some swamps, and small lakes, on this nice path, taking pictures as I went. Lots of step singletrack trails led in various directions of this main path, but I stuck with the main. Eventually this petered out and I ended up on some much more difficult paths. Very narrow with lots of exposed roots, rocks logs and other hazards. At this point, I encountered the only the person I saw in the park, A Mountain Biker on a Specialized MTB with full suspension. We exchanged pleasantries and he advised me to “Just go with the flow” in regards to riding these trials. A valid philosophy to be sure but I am a bit novice as a trial rider for bombing trails like these. I road when I could, but I walked the bike on the steepest bits, especially the steep downhills. At some point on these trails I broke my right toeclip. Making the steep descent off a singletrack I ended up on a gravel road by a massive construction zone above the road out to the Ferry Terminal. I biked out the gravel road (puling over at one point for a massive dump truck with trailer) and ended  up in a maze of new cookie cutter housing developments that have sprung up in this part of the island.  I meandered through this suburbia until eventually I ended up on Oakes Ave (SR20 Spur- the road to the ferry) This road is pretty busy, but has a nice wide bike lane, so a nice ride for the most part.

ProtoTour 2003 day 1 - Development above the Ferry Terminal

Coming out of the ACFL above the ferry terminal

I biked back into Anacortes taking side streets and avoiding the ferry traffic. I hit commercial looking for Anacortes Cyclery (where I got my first bike, and actually all subsequent until my current ride) AC was not where I remembered and I biked up and down Commercial Ave looking for where it had moved. No luck and I there were no other bike shops. I was racking my brains thinking of a way to fix my toeclip, but the plastic bit which held the strap was completely sheared off. I figured I’d need to ask around and I went to my favorite Deli, Gere-a-Deli on Commercial Ave. I asked there about a LBS and was informed that Anacortes Cyclery was gone and that Skagit Cycle, outside of town by the old Drive-In Theater (where I saw Star Wars back in the day) was the nearest one (they have since moved into town). Not a great ride out to there, but I figured I’d throw the bike in the car, get the toeclip fixed and bike the reservation that lies in that part of the island. Anyway I had a great lunch at Gere-a-Deli where I ordered The Green Giant, a vegetarian sandwich with avocado that kicks much ass. Before I left I called the LBS and confirmed that they had clips and could put them out. Then I biked back to my hotel and the car.

[And that’s where my original typed narrative ends. But it turns out I was more or less transcribing a written journal I was keeping at the time so I’ve returned to that source to complete the narrative.]

7:57 Village Pizza
I went to the bike shop, Skagit Cycle and got two new toe clips. Nice and very competent guy there. Good deal as well, the two clips and labor was only about $15.  I also bought another San Juans bike book that actually has elevation info – ‘Touring the Islands, Bicycling in the San Juan, Gulf and Vancouver Islands‘ by Peter Powers and Renée Travis published by Terragraphics.  It uses 3D satellite generated topographic maps and looks pretty good.

ProtoTour 2003 day 1 - Reservation Rd.

Riding on Reservation Road

So the LBS was right next to Highway 20 on March’s Point, so I parked at a convenient Park & Ride and rode around the point. A nearly trivial ride that took me less than 30 minutes – this really made me think abut how epic i seemed as a youth. On the way back I crossed the 20 at Reservation Road, biking past Padilla Heights Road. I did some beautiful miles through tunnels of spring green trees, with breaks opening onto views of Similk Bay. I biked some roads with great names: Snee-oosh and passed by the best named road ever: Pull & Be Damned Road.

ProtoTour 2003 day 1 - LaConner across the slough

La Conner across the slough

Snee-Oosh wraps around this whole headland which is reservation land.  There was some long climbs both on Reservation and Snee-Oosh roads but eventually there was a long descent and then I saw La Conner! I had completely forgotten this bad route to La Conner. I chose not to go to La Conner as it was after 6 at this point. I stopped at a cute park by the Res activity center, snapped some photos of La Conner and ate a Power Bar.  Then it was a long climb back to Reservation Road to where I a had turned onto Snee-Oosh then simply retracing my route back to the Park and Ride.

9:30pm Brown Lantern
Post Village Pizza I went for a short stroll around Anacortes. The sky was beautiful: glowing pink and purple. That big evil cloud I had attempted to photograph earlier was now a dark purple. As I walked toward Causland Park and the new Library the last of this magical glowing faded and it was then my favorite time of day – post sunset twilight. Still plenty of light to see but the sky is just layers and layers of grey, especially when overcast like tonight. It is so quiet, so full of potential. Dogs barking seem like they are miles away, barking through a tube from the previous century.

I was writing this while drinking Black Butte Porter at the great Brown Lantern Ale House on Commercial Ave in old town Anacortes. Once ‘open mic’ began I finished my beer and headed back to the hotel for the night. So that’s day one of this, nearly lost in the mists of time, “tour”. Tune in to the next post for more from this long weekend in May of 2003.

ProtoTour 2003 day 1 - Anacortes Inn

Anacortes Inn

Morning mileage: ~20m
Evening mileage ~22m

All the pictures from this tour are collected here: ProtoTour 2003 Flickr Set