Mount Vernon

...now browsing by tag

 
 

April Bicycle Camping day 6

Saturday, May 14th, 2016

April Bicycle Camping day 6 - King Street Station

sunset—
tears shine in a frog’s eyes
too

-Issa

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
frog
-Issa

 

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

Tour 2010 – day 3

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

Like grinding gears
The cry of the heron.

The morning was foggy and cold, but it was obvious that once the clouds burned off it would be pure blue skies. Walking back from washing my dishes I saw a great blue heron perched, huge and gargoyle like in the trees. It hunched up and flew down into the fog covered river, releasing that mechanical sounding cry as it flew.

Impressions from the road:
On highway 20 halfway to Concrete I saw three empty Bud longnecks and a black Cowboy hat. What’s the story there?

The short order cook at the Hi-Lo Country Bar & Grill in Concrete where I had the best short stack I’ve had in ages has a tattoo of a busty naked woman all stitched up like Frankenstein’s monster proudly, and prominently, displayed on his arm.
It’s Lady Luck, he says, she takes all the bad shots for you.

A white cloud in a blue sky,
Floats over green hills
— a summer breeze

There’s a gravel rail trail from Concrete to Sedro-Wooley, tired of gravel but it’s good to be off the highway. Sunny and warm now, the shade of the trail is another point in it’s favor. When country roads would parallel the trail, I’d switch to riding them as a break, even though their chipseal surface was almost as rough.

At the Skagit River Brewery in Mount Vernon, my first pub this tour, a cold ESB washed down some if that trail dust. An IPA followed then I set off on the the final stretch across the Skagit Flats with their everpresent headwind as the sun was low in the sky.

Camp setup I watched the sunset over my old hometown of Anacortes as the full moon rose in the east. Shortly thereafter I was chased off the beach as the rangers “locked it up.” Can’t say that’s ever happened before.

Some pictures from the tour

Miles ridden today: 55.4
Miles ridden to date: 167.5

Tour 2007 – day 2

Sunday, September 2nd, 2007

After a fairly fitful nights sleep, I finally got out of bed around 8:30. I showered, made coffee, and oatmeal and turning on the TV for some weather got sucked into a fantastic US Open woman’s match that ended in an upset. So again left a bit late but I wasn’t really pressed for time today. Even though I never caught the weather it turned put to be sunny and warm. I road into Mount Vernon with a bit of a detour at some river front parks- I can’t really not take the path less traveled. I made it into the old town portion of Mt. Vernon around 11 and decided to take my bicycle to the shop and have the creaking looked into.

The guys at the shop were very helpful and friendly but a bit busy so I went and wandered town for 45 minutes while they checked it out. Mt. Vernon is a quaint little town and as U wandered the streets I found a farmers market. There I watched a guitar craft style duo and got some great Swedish pancakes with lingonberry butter. More coffee of course. I walked up and down the market enjoying the crafts, baked goods and locally farmed produce. Always a downside of touring that you can’t just load up. It ended up taking about and hour fifteen but eventually I got the diagnosis – a bad wheel build! Disappointing as I had just gotten this wheel built from what I think is the best shop in my area. The wrench thought I’d be okay so I bought some Halt! and headed out.

It now being lunch time I rode the few blocks to the Skagit River Brewery and got a porter and a crab cake sandwich. Both good. I finally left town around 1:30. Crossing the bridge across the Skagit River I realized the wrench had left the seat raised for the stand. No wonder my pedaling was so awkward. I was able to quickly readjust it as my preferred height is marked. From here I was riding across the flats north then west. Turned out a pretty stiff wind was coming out of the north and west. I was feeling a lot better then I would have thought after the previous days ride but the headwind was sapping my will to live. Plus the incessant creaking from my rest wheel was getting to me. Still a nice day and st least it was flat. Since I grew up in this greater area I know the roads out hate si I took frontage roads as far ad I could. Then I jumped onto 20 for the bridge crossing.

Two parallel arched bridges cross the slough that separates Fidalgo Island from the mainland. Riding up these is pretty nice ad there is a separated path for pedestrians/cyclists. At the top I paused to enjoy the view then made the even more enjoyable descent onto the island. I immediately left the 20 onto March’s Point road. This us a great cycling road the wends along the north side of the island. It is marred by the refineries that take up most of the point. I dearly love this island and I lived here for 9 years and the refineries are the one major black spot. Anyway this is a great route with some gentle hills, great scenery of the sound and insane industry (if that’s your kind of thing). The route is even better now as there is no a bicycle path that begins on an old trestle and crossed the bay. Really a cool path and by taking this route you can ride to Anacortes without riding the 20 at all.

In my original itinerary I had planned to eat lunch in Anacortes and linger on the island. Obviously this was out but no natter- I come here pretty often. So I was going to just press on but I did check in at Anacortes Cyclery to see if they could rebuild my wheel. Alas no dice, their wheel builder was not there and it was too late yadda, yadda, yadda. So press on it is. But I needed calories and there happens to ba store with the best muffins I’ve ever had just up the way. A great place, the Store, it looks like a rundown convenience store but inside is an array of amazing muffins. Plus all the stuff you’d expect from little store. And an impressive wine selection. I got water, Gatoraide and two muffins one for now one for latter. I ate the mixed berry one (blue, raspbery and cranberry IIRC). Amazing as always.

I headed out toward the most scenic route off the island. Right past The Store is a short steep hill that drove me into the granny gear. As I was grinding up, rear wheel creaking to beat the band, I was reminded of my chain snapping a few weeks back. Then it happens- it snaps again! It was close nut I unclipped in time and manage to stay upright. I pulled over laid the bicycle down and checked out the chain. It had broken at the Powerlink. I grabbed my spare Powerlink and quickly put it back together. Setting out through the neighborhood, avoiding that climb, I found my handling dramatically poor. Turned out my front tire was under inflated. It’s carrying the most load on this trip so maybe it had lots some air. Or maybe I’m just fooling myself and I have a slow leak. Well I hoped for the best pumped it up and set again.

I took the route that goes past Mt. Erie, Hart Lake and Lake Campbell. A really sweet route through the woods and by these lakes. But my chain seemed messed up like it was bent or skipping- it was making a lot of noise and I seemed to be struggling. But I kept going past the lakes the up a hill to Rosario Drive. This road runs on a ridge on the west side of the island. Some stunning views of the sound with the sun descending toward the water. It also happens to be where the house I grew up is located. I rode past it nor without a bit of nostalgia, but didn’t really stop. I did stop about a mile up the road the put more air in my front tire. Looks like it was the slow leak.

Rosario road intersects with Hwy 20 at Pass Lake. As the name implies I was now at Deception Pass with its bridge, stunning views and throngs of traffic. I walked across the bridge which was a pain dye to the bicycle- it was pretty much the width of the path and the path was fenced on both sides. I waited for a long time to let a wheelchair pass and then took the path. Even with the waiting I had to squeeze by half a dozen folks. Finally across I rejoined the traffic and road on the newly paved raid past the State Park. A bit down then a climb, that’s how this road goes. At the top of the hill I had to pull over at a gas station to see what is up with the chain.

It turned out that I had mis-threaded the chain over one of the metal tabs its supposed to go under. D’oh! I broke the chain, threaded it correctly the put it back together. I stood it back up and as I did I realized the front tire was low again. So I laid it back down and changed the front tire. With the Schmidt hub this is a bit more of a pain but still beats the rear. Finally done I lube the chain and wash my hands. It’s now 6:45 and I know I’m not going to make Port Townsend. I set a good pace with the bicycle back to at least its current baseline. The sun was setting painting the scattered clouds pink and red and as I pulled into Oak Harbor the sky was a dramatic orange.

While I spent my childhood in Anacortes, we moved to Oak Harbor when I began middle school. For many reason Oak Harbor is just kind of a shit hole- a bastion of strip malls, convenience stores and fast food. So while I often visit Fidalgo I always take West Beach Road when I drive on Whidbey – a route which completely avoids Oak Harbor. But it is the most direct route and I was burning daylight so through town I went. It was about 7:30 when I got to the point where Hwy 20 curves out of town and us was definitely twilight now, the sky still a panoply of colors. I needed food but I knew that I’d lose the last of the light if I stopped now. I dithered for a while but settled on getting a motel downtown.

The Acorn Motor Inn was a downtown feature for as long ad I can recall so I thought it’d be amusing to stay there. Plus most the motels were more outside of town. I took a quick shower and changed clothes then went in search of food. Restaurants was never Oak Harbors strong suit so I really didn’t know what to expect. I’m happy to say that they have finally revitalized the old town area a bit – it was nearly vacant last time I was through. Now it had quite a few restaurants, quaint shops and even some classy wine bar and a jazz club! I settled on Thai and had more than I could eat of hot and sour soup and a red curry. I walked around town a bit but I had things to do so I soon went back to the motel. There I washed my clothes from the last couple of days sowed a button onto my seersucker shirt then went to bed.

I rode on this day 44 miles