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April Bicycle Camping day 5

Monday, 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

Friday, 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

April Bicycle Camping day 3

Thursday, April 21st, 2016


 “Thus, the sage performs effortless deeds and teaches wordless lessons.” – Lao-Tzu

I didn’t have too much riding planned for this day, I primarily desired to visit a few of my favorite spots on Fidalgo Island. But being at Deception Pass State Park – which I haven’t camped at in decades – I decided to explore a bit. The park features a unique dual beach, one side on Cranberry Lake the other on the Sound. From the seaside beach, which is a rare sandy beach, you can see Deception Pass Bridge. The Cranberry Lake beach is the swim area which we used to regularly visit when I was in single digits.

Swim beach at Cranberry Lake

It’s a stiff climb out of the park but once back on hwy 20, it’s a short gently slopping way to Decption Pass Bridge. I rode across to the central island where I parked my bicycle and then walked across the east side of the bridge back to Whdibey Island. Then on the west side back to my bicycle. Stunning views as always. I grew up just a few miles from here and these views just don’t get old.

Looking east from Deception Pass Bridge

There is another shorter span of the bridge and then I was on Fidalgo Island. I got off the busy hwy 20 at Pass Lake and rode the short, but uphill way to the turnoff for Rosario Beach. My favorite beach, I had decided to come here for a picnic lunch. I ate, then sat in the warm sun on the east side beach. I’d slept pretty poorly tonight before and dozing in th host sun was very welcome. I spent a bit of time on the west side beach before departing.

East beach at Rosario Beach

Once again it was a short jaunt (still up hill and steeply so to get out of Rosario) o my next destination – Sharpe Park. This park is only about a mile south of ere I grew up and it was basically built while I lived there. It more o less is a trail out to the very edge of the island. Over the years this has become more built up and easier to find ones way, but either way once you are at the headland it is just my favorite place on the island (and maybe anywhere). Right on these rocks on the edge of the Sound, you can traverse down to a bluff right on the edge of the island. There is soft grass the and I just laid in the warm sun for a good spell. No one else came down ther and I was just me, the bees, and in th distance seagulls and boats.

Looking off the edge of Fidalgo Island

From the park I took my usual, scenic, route into Anacortes. Nice riding but I was pretty beat from the cycling and poor sleep. Onice I got into town I decided I’d prefer to spend the evening in town, so I stayed at my usual hotel there.

before dawn the birds rouse –
the croaking of a lone frog

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 3
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

April Bicycle Camping day 2

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016

Lake, farm and Mountain

“All through the land an unenlightend person is hard to find.”
-Lin-ji (paraphrased)

Overnight I came to the decision that I wanted to sit in cafes, on beaches, in the woods, on the sound just taking things in. This morning dawned clear and bright and was going to be another in this series of “summer in April” days. I took care of business in camp and then rode down into Port Townsend. Now due to leaving spur of the moment like I did it was inevitable that I’d forget some stuff. I did pretty well as I keep all my touring gear in one bag and just need to load up from it. But somehow I forget my backpackers towel and the one thing that isn’t in that bag, my Victorinox knife. So I had some errands to do in P.T.. But first things first: I wasn’t going to visit Port Townsend without a stop at Better Living Through Coffee.

Port Townsend with Mount Baker in the distance

I managed to complete all my errands in PT but I ended up catching the ferry to Whidbey Island petty late. I feel I lingered too long in PT as my mood turned and in the end I was reasy to leave. But things were glorious on the water and once I was riding on Whidbey things were soon sorted. I took my usual route down Whidbey: back roads to Coupeville, Madronna Dr. along Penn Cove, hilly West Beach Dr, past the Gallery Golf Course and NAS Whidbey to Hwy 20. I kept a steady pace due to it being late but did take time to enjoy West Beach.

Penn Cove

As I passed NAS Whidbey jets began flying overhead in series. Having spent my high school years on the Island I knew what was going on: touch and goes.  The navy jets ere basically practicing landing and taking off on an aircraft carrier using a mocked up deck and two or three of them doing this in series. This would continue until about ten pm the boom jets audible throughout the region.  When I was growing up here there used to be a sign that said “Please pardon our noise, it’s the sound of freedom.”

Deception Pass State Park

Amidst the pervasive  sound of the jets I made my way up Hwy 20 to Deception Pass State Park. While I went here many times in my youth this would be my first time in the hiker/biker sites. And what great sites they are! A bit above Cranberry Lake, you take a short trail into the woods and there are six or eight sites off this trail. Once again I was the only occupant so I had my pick of sites.  I setup, cooked dinner and cleaned up. By then it was dark and the waxing moon was shining through the trees as I retired.

bright moonlight
shattered by trees
shines on my tent

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 2
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

April Bicycle Camping day 1

Monday, April 18th, 2016

Port Gamble Park


spring comes simply
with a pale blue

No-thinking; just tour

I was heading out late Sunday morning for a ride and as I was about to board the light rail for a bit of a head start I decided that I should take advantage of the unseasonably warm stretch ahead and go out on a short tour. So I left the light rail station and went across the street to the grocery store to pick up some supplies. Then back home where I packed up, did some tinkeri get on the bicycle, printed out an initial route and headed out.
Sailboat & Mount Rainier
I took the ferry to Bainbridge Island and it was such a fantastic day on the water: clear and windy the sailboats were out in force. Views of Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, the Olympics, Seattle, the Cascades &c. Stunning.  I was leaving late (of course) and I had decided that I was going to head to Port Townsend and then go from there. So I took a pretty direct route, going straight across Bainbridge. Not the most scenic route, but a good wide shoulder the whole way. But once across Bainbridge I was on backroads to Port Gamble.

Fort Towsend
I have have to say I immediately felt free and relaxed once I was on those backroads. Right into the touring mindset. I just wanted to be in the woods, on the water, lingering over coffee and just being out there. After Port Gamble it was into Beaver Valley which I’ve ridden in many times and always enjoy. Rolling hills along the farmland, it ends in Chimicum where I stopped at the farmstand for a bit of a break. But I needed to press on if I wanted to get to camp before dark. Happily from there it was less than ten miles to Fort Townsend State Park where I onc again found myself the only occupant of the hiker/biker site. I setup, cooked and cleaned up in deep gloaming. Shortly thereafter I retired, happily back on tour.

alone in the woods
half-moon shining
through tall trees

Photos from this day: April Bicycle Camping Day 1
Photos from this tour: No-Thinking Tour

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 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