Coastal Contemplations day 7

Written by robert on June 12th, 2016
The ultimate nurse log

The ultimate nurse log

blown forth
by the spring breeze…


drifting down the coast
There was some early morning rain but then the front moved by and the sun cand out.  I lingered in camp, drying out and recombobulating things.  So it was nice and warm when I returned to the road and continued drifting south. The wind was with me, pushing me and the occasional stray cloud down the coast. I rode steadily for about an hour and then I was at Rockaway Beach where I stopped for lunch.

waves and waves
and waves again

I lingered at Rockaway beach, checking out the town, taking care of some business.  This really is the first day that I’ve been able to tour as I’ve intended this time. No pressure, low miles, really checking things out. What also has been really welcome this tour is all those little things that can grate on one – trash, roadkill, edge city, difficult people aneed so on – and tend to lead to some down moments, none of that seems to have any purchase.

riding high in the blue sky
the half moon

Leaving Rockaway Beach the route rolls up and down the rocky promontories and through various little one horse towns.  At least until we come to Tilamook.  There is of course the famous cheese factory – I felt little compunction to visit and just took a picture and continued on my way – juse outside of the town proper.  Real feeling of a farmers town with tourist attractions.  The route now turns west into the wind.

A face in the rocks —
waves roll in

But not for long, as I came to the start of the Three Capes Route there was a sign warning that the road was closed six miles ahead. My maps have an alternative at this point to follow hwy 131 which cuts off Cape Mears. I’m often willing to take closed roads and see if there is a way for a bicycle to ride around, but six miles is a long way to go to find that out. So the direct route it was.

rocks like eyes
in the setting sun

The direct route more or less went through clearcuts, had no shoulder and was more heavily trafficked. It also had the only long climb of the day.  It rejoined the Three Capes Routs with a descending series of rollers.  Back with the wind I rode along Netarts Bay, which was beautiful riding. Right on the water, which was aquamarine with white sandbars poking out of it with the arms of Cape Mear and Cape Lookout encircling it. With a bit of an ascent into the woods I left the bay and soon reached Cape Lookout State Park.

Beach at Cape Lookout in the gloaming

The Beach at Cape Lookout in the gloaming

I’d arrived early due to taking the cutoff route and thus I had plenty of time  here. The hiker/biker sites are in a little stand of trees right above the beach. The continuous sound of the waves rolling in and out would gently accompany ones slumber.

a lone thin cloud can’t obscure the waxing moon

Photos on Flickr: todayall days


Coastal Contemplations day 6

Written by robert on June 11th, 2016

clouds breaking up over the Pacific

today too
today too…
cheating clouds


rain day
I’ve planned all along to spend several days on the beaches but on this day the weather forced my hand.  It rained on and off throughout the night and when I woke up it was really coming down. I’d begun to recognize the pattern though: sprinkles become rain, which falls for a spell and then fades away. The sun may even briefly poke through. So during one of these rain breaks I made breakfast.  I also checked out my weather apps and it was clear that there’d be a good storm in the early afternoon and rain off and on the rest of the day.  So I decided to stay here for another night.

Rain in them thar hills

During another break I rode backroads to Manzanita where I resupplied and had coffee and pie with the locals. There was a brief downpour during coffee. I also acquired a new pair of wool socks. I headed back as another wave of rain began. I spent time in my tent in contemplation, lost in the distant sounds of the surf. I caught up on my journal. During another break I had lunch. It really came down early afternoon as predicted. But after this torrential downpour it slackened off and I decided that I had to make at least an appearance on the beach.

tendrils of fog
pour off green hills
into grey waters

It was drizzling as I eneeded the beach, the only soul on the sands.  But the drizzle stopped and the clouds broke up and it warmed up. Out of nowhere people showed up. I walked with the wind for a spell and then back against the wind.  I spent some time sitting on a log just listening. What I’m here for.

shining down through the trees
the waxing moon

Photos on Flickr: todayall days


Coastal Contemplations day 5

Written by robert on June 10th, 2016
Seastack on the Oregon Coast

Seastack on the Oregon Coast

watching the downpour
under a temple


sometimes it pours
I lingered in Astoria having breakfast out, relishing supplies, finishing my coffee. The skids were cloudy, but streaked with blue and it was warm when the sun worked its way through the cracks.  I made my way out of town the same way I came in, following the waterfront trail.  At the Astoria Bridge the route makes a nice gentle climb into the hills above the downtown. The hills behind Astoria is the classic Astoria, old houses perched on the edge of the hill, trees, winding roads. Great route through here.

Old pair below the Astoria Bridge

Away from Astoria now the route cut a diagonal across farmland then into forested hills. Once again a great bit of riding, though plenty of reminders that Oregon too has its share of clearcuts.  It began to sprinkle and sensing this would last I pulled off under a tree and put on rain gear. It became pretty steady showers for a time but then faded away and the sun was out again. There was plenty of ups and downs in this route but it followed a creek most of the way and was in the woods and I enjoyed the break for the traffic. All too soon with a long cold descent I was back on 101 at Seaside.

blue cracks in the clouds
a sudden shower —
late spring

Now it was mostly 101 along the coast for the rest of the day. There was a brief jaunt down to Cannon Beach where I, along with the throngs of tourists, got my first solid sighting of the Oregon Coast. Even on this grey day plenty of people were frolicking on the sandy beaches.  The weather was odd though – wind out of the southwest which is very unusual and the clouds further away looked much darker. I sensed a storm coming on. So I soon returned to road.

driving winds, stinging rains
head down, keep on moving

This section of the coast is particularly scenic as the road is right on the edge and it ascends on big rocky outcropping a so you can really look out into the distance. Seastacks stud the coastline adding their mysterious facade to the beaches and waters.  The winds though picked up and then the rains began. It would go from sprinkles to a heavy downpour sometimes with driving headwinds. Nothing I could do but press on. There is a good long climb before Manzanita and then a long descent which is particularly soaking and at last I reached the turnoff for Nehalem Bay State Park.

water dripping off
the thin stand of trees
sparkles in the setting sun

In thin drizzle now, I set up my tent and cooked dinner. Never was I so happy for Oregon State Parks free showers.  As I cleaned up after dinner the clouds broke up and the sun shone through. The setting sun painted the scattered clouds brilliant pinks and purples.

beyond the grey clouds
white clouds
looming in the distance
black clouds

Photos on Flickr: todayall days


Coastal Contemplations day 4

Written by robert on June 9th, 2016
Astoria Bridge on the Columbia River

Astoria Bridge on the Columbia River

the ants’ road
from peaks of clouds
to here


a short ride over a long bridge

A grey morning, cooler and every so often brief periods of sprinkles. Today I’d cross the Astoria Bridge to OR and I decided that I would stay the night in Astoria.  I haven’t really spent much time in that town though I’ve been through several times. So with a short ride ahead I was able to linger at Cape Disappointment State Park.  I rode up to the Lewis and Clark Interpretative Center and hiked out to the Lighthouse.  The fishing fleet was out and bet when the slate grey skies and water there would be black spouts of diesel exhaust.

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

Cape Disappointment Lighthouse

After noon I decided to make my way to Astoria.  You descend from the park hugging the coast into Illwaco. Then it’s a stretch on 101 through farmland and wetlands. Back on the coast the hwy is right on the shore of the Columbia.  Soon the bridge looms large.  The last time I crossed the bridge there was a good storm and it wasn’t much fun. This time just a pretty miles crosswind. There is a very narrow shoulder which has a lot of debris in it and an inordinate amount of dead birds.  There was also some work being done on the bridge and there was a flagged on the climb out. They had me go last and while I enjoyed the traffic free stretch it was a stiff climb that I felt pressured to sprint up.

as I put on my coat
the sun comes out —
late spring

Descending from the heights of the bridge I was now in Astoria.  It is the beginning of “Fleet Week” and there were sailors in their dress whites all over town. Apparently they will be here in force this weekend.  But you’d see little groups of them going in and out of all the bars and shops. I wandered around town before retiring to the Norblad Hotel And Hostel.

grey skies meet
at grey waters…
scattered drops of rain

Photos on Flickr: todayall days


Coastal Contemplations day 3

Written by robert on June 8th, 2016
Lake Sylvia

Lake Sylvia

in the depths of the lake
billowing clouds


wind and water
The day dawned grey and cool – a relief after the heat of the last few days. It would break up as the day progressed, leading to blue skies streaked with trails of clouds.  I had many miles to ride this day almost all of it on the highways.  I worked my way up long hills and rolled down the other side, through trees and clearcuts under clearing skies.

in the clearcuts
a profusion of purple flowers

The wind was coming off the coast but not too strong in the morning and diffused by the trees and hills.  The mornings are always so pleasant, which feels like a secret.  With a long descent I came to the logging town of Raymond which I mostly skirted on the Wiliapia Hills trail.

Mudflat outside of Raymond

Outside of Raymond

Now Google Maps took me off hwy 101 onto a road that I assumed cut off a a corner of the coast route.  As I passed this group of people going downhill I thought I heard them yelling at me.  But I wasn’t sure so kept moving. Then the pavement ended. What trouble has Google Maps gotten me in to now?  Well I dig riding gravel roads so I pressed on.  Shortly a guy rides up to me on an ATV and says that I don’t want to go this way. “You’ll lose a couple of tires ” he said. “It’s about 10 miles all up and down the terrain worse than this. You’re welcome  to try it” he said. Well this is what the NFE is for, so I pressed on. It was definitely rough at spots but really I’ve been on a lot worse forest roads. It was actually really nice to be able to practice some fully loaded touring on gravel roads.  This ended up being my favorite section of riding on this day: In the woods, nice and cool, one car the whole time.  All too soon I descended out of the woods into an estuary and climbed up to 101.

harried by crows
a hawk flies
right next to me

Now it was just 101 to Cape Disappointment.  Rolling Hills, strong wind off the coast which was sometimes with me sometimes against me as I rode around inlets and over streams.  It was clouding up and cooling down a bit. At one point I heard a single clap of thunder and felt a few sprinkles.  I was tiring now and could feel the effect of the miles, but as I approached Long Beach I got a second wind.

Pacific Coast

First sighting of the Pacific Coast

The route took me to the beach at Seaview and onto the Discovery Trail. Now I’d ridden on this trail last time I was hear but this section was new. It ran in the sea grass right along the beach all the way to Beards Hollow and then on to North Head Lighthouse. Well this is basically a trail to the park and when it turned to North Head I returned to the road and it was just a couple of Ks to Cape Disappointment State Park. I was happy to be here.

grey morning
blue afternoon
grey evening

Photos on Flickr: todayall days


Coastal Contemplations day 2

Written by robert on June 7th, 2016
Hood Canal at dawn

Hood Canal at dawn

dawn’s glow
even more of a wonder…
willow tree


waiting to exhale

I woke at dawn and looking out the door of my tent saw the eastern colors reflecting off the canal and touching the clouds with color. A deep contentment filled me and I sat in for long moments in reflecton.

soft colors of dawn
reflected on still waters
a fish leaps

I was up early so even with my usual lingering in camp I was on the road earlier than normal. It was already over 70 degrees (f) and the day was just getting started. I had to backtrack a bit and it was just so lovely riding along the canal in this still morning. Less traffic, less sounds, the waters calm, the light still that magic glow of the sun not being directly overhead.

Olympic Mountains beyond Hood Canal

Olympic Mountains beyond Hood Canal

Turning south on Trails Rd.  I was back on route. And it began with a seriously steep climb.  Right into the woods though and the coolness of the air was very welcome. Thus continued as I wound around Lake Mason and it was during this part of the ride that it happened.  Every tour, usually on day two, I just let out this deep exhalation and let everything else go. It is just touring now. This is the moment that brings me back to touring.

a moment
dancing with butterflies —
alone again

The route went through Shelton where I acquired lunch and dinner supplies and then it climbed up onto this ridge and every so gently descended all the way to sea level. But it was hot now and out of the trees and a wind picked up strengthening as I approached the coast.  I was happy to finally reach Lake Sylvia State Park, even with the strap climb up!  There are a pair of hiker/biker sites here and one was occupied. I took the other and had a pleasant evening on the lake.

lost in frog song —
late spring

Photos on Flickr: todayall days


Coastal Contemplations day 1

Written by robert on June 6th, 2016
On Hood Canal

Sunrise on Hood Canal.

larks in the sky
people in the sea…
a holiday



A hot start
I’ve found myself pining for the coast and with another free space I’m back on the road. The weather is again unusually hot with a high of 90(f) on this day. I set myself a short first day, with my destination being Twanoh State Park on the Hood Canal. It was a lovely ferry ride in this warmth, being on the Sound on a moving vessel the temperatures was just right. However once in Bremerton it was quite hot. Deviating from my usual route to the coast I was off the highways more but there was some seriously stiff hills. Tough in this weather. But I was happy to be in the trees where after those hills it was basically a gentle downhill ride to Hood Canal and the State Park.

a red breasted woodpecker —
dead on the road

The day use are was packed with people out picnicking and swimming – it is that hot. The Hiker/Biker site is one of the best; literally right on the water. The only downside being the road right behind the site which was more trafficked than one would hope. After the sun set it cooled down and it was such a peaceful spot. Having gotten in pretty early I just lost myself in the interplay of the gentle surf, the blue skies and the orchestra of the soundscape.

On Hood Canal —
constant lapping of the water on shore
muted laughter from beach goers
dopplering buzz of insects
distant chugging of a motorboat
twittering birds
cars roar by the nearby highway
a splash, as something hits the water
the wake from the motorboat pounds the shore
a crow clacks its beak

Photos on Flickr: today, all days


April Bicycle Camping day 6

Written by robert on May 14th, 2016

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - King Street Station

tears shine in a frog’s eyes


I had to be back this afternoon so I decided I’d take the morning Amtrak Cascades train back to Seattle. To maximize my time I’d chosen to camp at Bayview State Park which is only about ten miles from the train station. The train left around 9am and I wanted to be there half an hour early so I got up pretty early and rolled out of camp by 7:30 am.  It had been a nice night overnight with a chorus of frogs and the nearly full moon. At one point inexplicably there was what sounded like an air raid siren for a spell. It was overcast this morning – the stretch of unseasonably warm weather had come to an end.

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - Looking West Across Skagit Valley

I rode across farmland in the Skagit Valley ending at Hwy 20 which I rode into Mount Vernon a pretty directly to the train station.  I was a half hour early and all I had to do was print out my ticket from a vending machine. The station was increasingly occupied and the people were appropriately strange for a train station: a weird religious nut going on and on about “there is only one sin” which seemed to be negative thoughts. An older man in full native garb came in with a teenager, bought an energy drink from the vending machine and then went into the main (and quite full now) area and began chanting and playing a drum. The train was late of course but not by too much. I had to quickly remove my bags and hand it off to a porter to “roll on” to the train. I was then able to just sit back and enjoy the couple hour ride into Seattle.

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - Barn in the Skagit Valley

I sat across from a teenage who sat with his feet up on the seat next to the window the whole time, so I went up to the cafe car for most of the trip. When I first arrived there a girl who must have just been over 21 bought an Irish coffee and something like a rum and coke. Breakfast of champions! I spent most of the trip going through photos, updating the blog and looking out the window. There was some nice sections along the coast from Everett to Mukilteo and then into Seattle.  Mostly though it was to the east of I-5 in the flats before the Cascade foothills. We arrived in Seattle a bit before 11am and I got my bicycle out, put the bags back on and then rode my usual route back home. Was there before noon!

serene and still
the mountain-viewing


Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 6
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour


April Bicycle Camping day 5

Written by robert on May 9th, 2016

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Cascade Falls (detail) in Moran State Park

in hazy night
stepping into water…
losing my way

It drizzled a bit overnight but by the morning it was dry and grey. As I noted earlier the ferries weren’t really conducive to maximizing my time on Orcas and still getting to the next campground. I had the options of leaving around noon or around five. Three or so would have been ideal, but what can you do?  I was able to do one short hike in Moran State Park this morning to check out Cascade Falls.  A lovely waterfall with the smaller “Rustic Falls” along the way and if I’d been able to spend a bit more time two other cascades.  But time and ferries wait for no man and so I limited myself to the pair of ‘falls and was soon enough back on the bicycle.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Cascade Falls in Moran State Park

It was all downhill from Mountain Lake to Cascade Lake and there was a bit of a climb out of the park.  But most of the way back to Eastsound was downhill or gentle rollers.  It was a lot more effort to get out to the park!  Thus I made it into Eastsound in short order, with enough time to stop for coffee. I also visited the Coop to get some lunch supplies as I’d be on the ferry lunchtime.  Then it was back on the road again.  Once again it was less hilly then the way out, but still this is the San Juan Islands, so hilly.  The clouds were beginning to break up at this point and it was warming up.  This morning was the only time this tour I wore my leg warmers and it was only for the morning.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Rustic Falls

I made good time to the Ferry which turned out to be fortuitous as I’d misread the timetable and had missed an earlier ferry.  So I managed to catch a ferry a few minutes after arriving and this one didn’t stop at Lopez.  It was a nice relaxing ride back, now mostly clear and of course scenic. I spent most of the time indoors this time, eating lunch and just watching out the window.  We arrived at Fidalgo Island a bit after 1pm and I figured I’d do some riding on the island before heading into Anacortes.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - View from Washington Park on Fidalgo Island

Since I was right there I decided I’d ride around Washington Park. This park is where the campground I’ve stayed at a few times recently is where I of course spent many hours in my youth.  It is of an age where of course they’d have to build a road around the whole thing so that it can be driven. The road though is about as wide as a modern bicycle path and at least on this day there wasn’t much traffic. Being right on the edge of the island there was of course plenty of great views. It was a bit windy but warming up and I spent a good amount of time at several lookouts.  Even did a short hike to the memorial for T.H. Havacost who dedicated the land for the park. I’m Sure I’ve seen this before but can’t really recall it.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Looking toward Skyline on Fidalgo Island

Eventually I left the park and it still being fairly early took a longer meandering route back to Anacortes. Always interesting for me to ride on the island and see all the further development.  Sad at times, what with overdevelopment, but some really nice changes as well. The whole preservation and development of the Anacortes Community Forest lands is truly a great thing. Anyway I made my way into town as school was getting out and feeling a bit burned by the sun made my way to the library where I enjoyed the cool air and the wifi.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Looking South along Swinomish Channel

I had dinner in town and thus with no need to cook in camp my my way in the setting toward the mainland.   I took the Tommy Thompson Parkway out of town across the trestle and to March Point. From there it was a pretty much due east to the Twin Bridges then down to the Skagit Flats. Its a flat couple of miles to Bayview State Park would I would camp on this evening. There was a decent amount of RV-ers there, but its a good sized park, recently expanded and the back loop was empty. I was able to find a nice secluded “economy” site which can be used as hiker/biker sites and quickly setup. I made my way to the beach to catch the last of the sunset. That night a chorus of frogs serenaded me to sleep.

April Bicycle Camping Day 5 - Sun setting behind the islands

diffused by thin clouds
the full moon

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 5
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour


April Bicycle Camping day 4

Written by robert on April 22nd, 2016

Ferry, islands and Mount Baker


even for the meadow
the day is long

The plan is to go to Orcas Island and spend some time at Moran State Park.  The ferries aren’t really amenable to maximizing ones time on an island. That is I wanted to go over early this morning and return mid afternoon tomorrow. That’d maximize my time on Orcas. But the ferry was either super early, or late morning.  I opted for late morning.

Orcas Island

Another beautiful day, hot already by 10am when I bordered the ferry. Reall,lovely sailing between the islands, checking out the boats and most tempting to me the houses on the islands not served by ferries. We arrived at Orcas around noon and I set off immediately. Orcas is the hillist of the San Juans and it of course immediately climbed up from the ferry.  Soon after I climbed up Uff Da hill.  Then it was allies and rolling hills to Eastsound.

NFE on Orcas

I had a picnic lunch along the way and there was many tantalizing views of the water, coves and a magnificent large piece of kinetic art.  I didn’t linger in Eastsound, stopping only to get some supplies. I shortly set off for Moran and man was there some good hills on the way out to the park The longest of which was over 2 kilometers.

Kinetic Art on Orcas

I arrived at the park around 3pm and made my way to the primitive campground.  This seemed to be free but was perhaps too primitive. It had a nice shelter, but no water and no water even close by. I thought perhaps there might be another primitively area or at least some nearby water so I continued up the hill.  Once I reached the next campground, Mountain Lake, which appeared to be the closest water supply, I decided t just stay there.  There was only a few sites there and only a few people and the sites were on this spit in the lake. Very scenic.  I set up camp and with my bicycle now unloaded I rode up Mt. Constitution.

Great blue heron

This was a good four mile climb (already having done an additional mile) fairly steep and with numerous switchbacks. Mostly in the trees there were few scenic overlooks with increasingly stunning views. Once you reach ‘Little Summit’ at 2200′ things flatten out with one final climb to the total 2404′. At the top is a tower which once you climb it you are presented with a three quarters view from Canada to the north, Bellingham to the east and the Cascades, San Juan Islands and the sound to he south. Great views.  There was while I was there a couple teenagers smoking and making out.  While I was there taking pics they retired to the lookout cabin for some privacy. All rather uncomfortable really.

Observation tower on Mount Constitution

The descent was of course crazy fast though with the serious switchbacks you couldn’t just let it go. Onc back in camp I made dinner and then wandered around  with a cup of tea. The now nearly full moon rose over the lake, it’s reflections broken up by a gentle breeze. A lovely end to the day.

moonlight in mountain lake
scattered by jumping fish

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 4
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour