Picnic

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A Winter Picnic

Saturday, February 28th, 2015
A Winter Picnic - Space Needle and FerryCascades, Space Needle, Seattle across the sound

Way back on the 8th, in this abnormally warm February, I took advantage of a Sunday afternoon to ride to West Seattle for a picnic. Not much of note to really report on the ride – it was all pretty familiar territory I’ve ridden (and written about) before. But I did end up riding behind the Macrina Bakery and was drawn in by the smell of fresh baked bread and thus acquired a baguette. Later on in West Seattle I rode up a super steep winding hill up the shopping area where i went to a Metropolitan Market. There I got some nice soft cheeses and a bit of noodle salad. I descended back to where I had climbed up on an even stepper road down. Possible the longest, steepest climb I’ve experienced in the city proper. I rode around Alki, whose trail was packed with Seattle-ites enjoying the warm winter weather, until I was to Lincoln Park. There I secured a picnic table and boiled water for tea and ate my lunch. I continued through the park and across West Seattle until I was down by the Duwamish from whence I made my way back to Beacon Hill via Georgetown. Here are a few pictures from this enjoyable Sunday afternoon. As always all my pictures can be found on Flickr: A Winter Picnic photoset.

A Winter Picnic - Crossing the West Seattle BridgeCrossing the Duwamish on the West Seattle Bridge

 

A Winter Picnic - Seattle from the Space Needle to the Columbia Tower
 Seattle from the Space Needle to the Columbia Tower

 

A Winter Picnic - Atlantis, tree, soundAtlantis, tree, sound

 

A Winter Picnic - Picnic lunch (food and drink)Picnic Lunch

 

A Winter Picnic - On the beachOn the beach at Lincoln Park

 

A Winter Picnic - Olympic Mountains across the water with container ship
 Olympic Mountains across the water with container ship

Last Ride 2014

Friday, January 2nd, 2015
Last Ride 2014 - Beachfront Atlantis framing the OlympicsMy favorite recent Atlantis shot

The end of the 2014 has been marked by unusually wet and warm weather (pineapple express!) interspersed with unusually dry, clear and cold.  Sure it’s not the approaching absolute zero of the midwest or what have you, but it’s been cold. However I wanted to get in one last ride for 2014, plus I needed to get some ingredients for a New Years potluck and I’ve had those coffee outside plans hanging fire so on NYE’s I set out for a little jaunt around the city.

Last Ride 2014 - I-90 Tunnel with the Cascades in the distanceI-90 with the Cascades in the Distance

As always I set out late, so I rode across Beacon Hill, stopping only once at a stairway that gave me the above view of snow speckled Cascade Mountains.  It’s only been four months since my summer tour in the mountains, and I have to say I’ve been pining for them a bit.  Both the Cascades and the Olympics, snow covered, but well below average, are really looking lovely on these crisp, icy blue days.

Last Ride 2014 - The Olympic MountainsOn the Waterfront

After this brief photoshoot I rode down the hill into the ID where I picked up Spicy Tofu Bánh mì for lunch at the always great Chu Minh Tofu & Vegetarian Deli. From the ID it was a short jaunt though Pioneer Square and the interminable construction to the waterfront where I had a wintery picnic.

Last Ride 2014 - Spicy Tofu Banh MíSpicy Tofu Bánh mì

On the water there was stunning views of the Olympic Mountains across the Sound and Mount Rainier to the South, somewhat obscured by the Port and haze. While I was eating a train that was just five engines steamed up the nearby tracks.  After lunch I took some pictures on the beach, but the cold air and fell winds soon pushed me back onto the bicycle. It was one of those days where you long for the climbs to warm you up and dread those icy descents.

Last Ride 2014 - Port of Seattle framing The MountainThe Mountain

I rode up the Elliot Bay Trail and then did the a clockwise loop around the Magnolia neighborhood. This begins with a good climb up to Magnolia Avenue which hugs the bluffs above the sound. Some nice views south and west of the Sound, West Seattle, the Peninsula and the Olympics.  I kept moving though and when the road turned inward a bit I took a residential road that dived down right to sea level and then pretty quickly followed was a steep climb out. This brought me to Discovery Park which I pretty much just rode across and through until I was back on the scenic loop route.

Last Ride 2014 - Atlantis makin' coffeeMaking Coffee above the Ballard Locks

I cut over to the Ballard Locks and as I was about to descend down to the locks proper I noticed a little secluded picnic area.  I decided to pull off over there and finally have make my coffee out of doors. Third time is the charm!  It was much cooler in the shade (and it wasn’t that warm to begin with in the sun!) so I was pretty happy when the coffee was bile’d and I sat for a spell enjoying it in the company of Ryōkan.

Last Ride 2014 - Coffee out of doorsCoffee and Ryōkan

Even though this was a pretty isolated part of the park a few people did come through.  A homeless guy came through and I chatted with him a bit. Mainly about the cold weather, but he was also curious if I’d seen his buddy on a ten-speed. I had not. He wandered off and I read this poem:

In town I finish begging for food.
Content, I carry the cloth bag,
wondering which place to call home.
Could that be my home near the white cloud?

Last Ride 2014 - Ballard LocksThe Spillway

My coffee drained I was rapidly cooling down, so I packed up and headed down to the locks. There were people out at all the parks I visited on this day. It may be cold, but it is sunny and many people are off – I’m not the only one wanting to get outside.  The locks were active as I was down there, a series of boats cruising into one of the locks and then slowly rising up as they are brought to the level the lake. A series of announcements from the Lock commander gave everything a bureaucratic edge.

Last Ride 2014 - Still waters run deepStill water in the lock

I walked my bicycle across the locks and through the park grounds and I was back on my bicycle. I rode through town and onto the Burke-Gillman Trail, which has a new separated bikeway in one of the previously more dangerous spots in Ballard. I took the trail to Fremont, where I stopped at the PCC and took care of that shopping I had to do. I loaded my groceries into my front basket – my saddlebag had my cooking kit and daybag in it – and in the now setting sun I began to make my way home.  I took a mix of the BGT, waterfront roads to the U-District where I was able to take my old commute route.

Last Ride 2014 - foam

The sun had set as I climbed up Capitol Hill but there was this layered yellow-orange-red glow outlining the Olympic Mountains deep in shadow above the Space Needle and the Seattle skyline. Glorious.  Since the traffic seemed fairly low on this NYE’s I rode on broadway and the entire length of the newish cycle track. There was still a glow in the sky behind Sodo and the distant mountains as I crossed the Jose Rizal Bridge and began my climb up to Beacon Hill. I arrived home around 5:25 in nearly total darkness after having ridden just over 25 miles on this cold, New Years Eve.  A fitting end to 2014.

 

See and realize
that this world
is not permanent.
Neither late nor early flowers
will remain.

 

More pictures from this ride can be found in my Last Ride 2014 photoset.

Winter Picnic (and beyond)

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Shadow Rider

Shadow Rider

January was pretty bleak this year with some quite cold weather here in Olympia. I can’t deny the impulse to hunker down and hibernate in these conditions. The rains came back and it warmed up a bit but while I’m always game to ride in the rain it doesn’t really inspire one to all day rides. As the month waned I began to do a few more lengthy rides including a near all day ride in the rain. But word that Groundhog Day would be dry, partially sunny and in the low fifties got me itching for a more ambitious ride. What I wanted to do was ride into the woods and have a picnic.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - The State Capitol Dome in the distance

Capitol Dome in the distance

I cobbled together a route using a SIR permanent with some tweaks and alternates and I managed to get myself on the road before noon (always the big hurdle for me in the winter – the days just aren’t long enough). I took one of my typical routes through Olympia, Tumwater and around Black Lake. From there it was nice backroad riding to Capitol Forest. Not too far along I encountered Waddell Creek Road and with some quick consultation with Google Maps I decided to abandon the rando route.  This was a good choice as Waddell Creek road takes you into the eastern edge of capitol forest and while more hilly is a lot more scenic then the section of Delphi Road on the route.  It also took me by Mima Mounds Natural Area where since it was already after 1pm I decided to have my picnic lunch.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Lunch

Picnic at Mima Mounds

The Mima Mounds are an interesting natural feature – prairie land with irregularly spaced and sized mounds. The theories behind their development are varied; check out the linked Wikipedia article for a survey of them. The natural area preserve has a paved trail through a section of mounds plus a picnic area. It was at the latter where I took a break, ate my lunch and read some Chinese poetry.

To be shown to the monks at a certain temple
 
Not yet to the shore of non-doing
it’s silly to be sad you’re not moored yet…
Eastmount’s white clouds say
to keep on moving, even
if it’s evening, even if its fall.
 
– Chiao Jan

Keep on moving I would have to do if I wished to make it around Capitol Forest before night fell.  So while I had a nice picnic I did not linger overly long. Back on the road I wended in and out of the Capitol Forest until I reached Bordeaux road. There I entered the forest and cut across it’s southern extent. This would turn out to be one of the best rides I’ve done in Thurston county – a narrow one lane road with minimal traffic, entirely in the forest mostly following streams.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Atlantis in Bordeaux

My Atlantis at the Bordeaux entrance to the Capitol Forest

This route into the woods began on Bordeaux Road which then splits to head more southernly toward Cedar Creek Corrections Center or Northwesterly. I chose the latter route which then continued on to about two miles of climbing. There was a decent amount of clear cutting in this section (this is sort of what Capitol Forest is for; it’s not just recreation its a “working forest”) but still mostly wood and alongside little cricks.  Eventually I came to the top of this climb and while roads went off in several directions I stuck to this paved road.  I do want to get back here soon and ride on the various hardpacked gravel roads, but it’s been very wet and the days are still a bit short for that kind of wandering.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Clearing

A clearing in Capitol Forest on this beautiful winter day

The day had been foggy and grey but it had began to break up not long after lunch. Now it was completely clear and sunny and the sun would shine through the trees and fully open up in the clearings. The road then preceded to descend and this was some mighty fine riding. The road was single lane and not much wider than some of the rail-trails I’ve been on and at least this time of year almost deserted; I think I encountered three cars total the entire time I was here. It followed Cedar Creek for a good piece and there were several campgrounds (closed this time of year) right on the river. Definitely a place to come into for an S24O as they open up.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - brook

Forest brook

Since I was once again off the map (the rando route didn’t go through the forest at all) and I wasn’t really getting data on my smartphone I didn’t really where I was going to exit the forest. It turned out to be on Hwy 12 about 13 miles from the tiny town of Porter. I’d ridden a bit on hwy 12 and frontage roads on my ride to the ocean last autumn and while fairly trafficked it’s not a a bad road. It has a large shoulder and is along the Chehalis River and the river valley.   I was able to make good time on this road which I took advantage of as the the sun was dipping toward the horizon and I had many miles to go.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Randos!

Rando's at the Porter Grocery

When I reached the tiny burg of Porter, where I’d turn northward on more country roads, I stopped at the first store I’d seen since Black Lake. There I found a pair of SIR riders taking a break from a permanent that they were riding. They asked if I was riding with SIR and I said I was just riding. We talked about their ride a bit and at one point a commented that I found randonneuring too organized. And thinking about it I think that is true. I great respect the randos and I use their routes all the time. But just think about this ride – I deviated from the permanent route three or four times where the road was more interesting, the scenery more compelling; in short I followed the inexorable exhortations of my soul. Not to mention that I set out at 11:30 in morning and so much randoneuring starts at the crack of dawn. I definitely can see the value of it all and I can see myself getting involved with it, but my mindset is that of a cyclotourist and of “bombing around” like I did as a kid.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - pasture land

Magic Hour: pasture land and Capitol Forest in the distance

It was now magic hour with the sun casting long shadows as it prepared to bid farewell to these parts. I still had a ways to go though I wasn’t really sure how many. Google Maps steadfastly would not let me use the bicycle routing with Hwy 8 in the mix. But that bit was on the permanent route and I’d ridden this section heading the other direction on my 2012 tour. So I’d just let my route end at that point as I didn’t need directions. But before I arrived at the highway there was about 8 miles in a valley alongside Capital Forest. Another excellent section of country riding in this valley, studded with farms. The road was chipseal and less of a good time but the traffic wasn’t too high and the scenery was very fine.  But soon I was on a frontage road along why 8 and then 8 itself.

Circumnavigating Capitol Forest - Frontage Road

Frontage road on hwy 8

The sun was setting now and after a few miles of twilight I spent the rest of the ride in the dark. Luckily I have a good set of lights, there was a wide shoulder and I was nearing the end of the ride. At one point I looked back in my helmet mirror and saw a set of headlights clearly on the shoulder and slowly gaining on me. I picked up the pace slightly and kept looking back and checking the bailing out options. But it wasn’t really gaining on me anymore. Then the lights jogged into single file and I realized it was those two rando’s I’d encountered earlier.  As it became fully light their lights were a constant rearward pressure pushing me on and then after they pulled off no doubt at a control I was again on my own.  But now it was just a scary merge with hwy 101 and then the exit onto Mud Bay road and I was done with highway riding.

cold winter air –
keep on moving
keep on moving

It had been fully dark for a while and riding at night reminded one quickly that it is still deep in the winter. I was well protected with my wool and my rain coat but as the temps dropped I definitely felt it. The big hill up Mud Bay Road warmed me up and then I was in West Olympia. From there it was simply a matter of riding through west Oly, descending into downtown and then climbing up toward the Capitol where I live. I arrived home right around 7pm after riding a hair over 68 miles (109km). A great winter ride with everything I enjoy in a ride. It’s good to do rides that push you this time of year as one begins to emerge from hibernation.

Check out all my photos from this ride.

Map of the Ride