Day 8: May 16; Centralia – County Line Park, Eagle Cliff, WA; 61 miles

One week on the road! And we can see Oregon!! It’s teasing us. We’re camping along the Columbia river and Oregon is right across the river, staring us straight in the face. It’s not that we dislike Washington, it’s beautiful and has been treating us super well (weather, warm shower hosts, friendly strangers, not too too bad hills), but we’re ready to move on to new scenery. Plus Washington is super hard to navigate, what with all the inlets, bays, and ferry’s… we spend at least an hour a day trying to make heads and tails of maps. Who knows what Oregon has in store for us, but we’re excited.

We left the hotel today energized and ready to head to Longview. However, after a message from a warm shower host who couldn’t take us in warned us to not even consider staying in Longview, we scrambled to come up with a new plan. He said that the locals are unfriendly and advised us not to camp because of a high concentration of homeless who would likely act hostile towards us. Every day we have been out here we have been warned not to leave anything we own unseen, including bikes. After hearing so many stories about bikes being stolen from people on tours, we have gotten quite paranoid. In fact, last night we decided to take an Uber to dinner instead of riding our bikes 0.5 mile and lock them up. Even though the Uber was more expensive than dinner, it was worth it to make sure Ol’ Bess was safe and sound. We opted to completely bypass Longview and head to a park just outside of Cathlamet.

Although we got an excellent night sleep (I slept so well I woke up in the middle of the night thinking I was in my apartment and when I realized Addie wasn’t there I nearly cried) Sheena required some espresso to really wake up. Sure enough we found some 12 miles into the ride and she waited in line in the drive through.

We also got an amazing donut. Sheena and I are both trying to eat as healthy as possible, but we also want to support local businesses and taste local fare! Totally justifies total indulgence.

The first 37 miles of the ride were amazing. Rolling hills with a little mist, not nearly as cold as yesterday. It mostly looked like what I remember Kentucky looking like, including the poverty. We were chased by our first dog, coal dusted for the first time, but also met some really friendly people. We passed by one house with a cat on the front porch, to whom sheena praised with compliments. Within seconds, about 20 more cats ran out of the house to see us. Needless to say, Sheena will be moving in soon.

We stopped in Castle Rock to pick up some groceries and eat lunch. When we rolled in a gentleman exclaimed, “gosh you ladies move fast! I passed you 5 miles ago I can’t believe you made it so quickly!” That made us feel good, maybe were starting to pick up the pace?

Nah, it’s not that. Cause after lunch the rollers and good timing ended abruptly. We hit some lengthy and unpleasant hills that took a lot out of us. After 14 miles of that nonsense, we hit pretty flat terrain along the Columbia river. Sounds great! Except that the road we had to take was heavily trafficked with barely a shoulder. With windy and blind turns, it took us a great deal of time to get to our final destination. The road is used a lot by logging trucks speeding along and impatient pickup trucks who pass entirely too close. We had to stop at every turn out to prevent an anxiety attack and collect ourselves from escaping death countless times. Luckily, there is a construction light that held up traffic for around 2 minutes. Knowing this information, we knew that cars would come in waves. We timed our riding with the waves and were pretty successful for the most part. With only 2 miles left, we stopped for a bathroom break at an especially large turnout. An older couple pulled up and asked us where we were staying tonight. We said County Line Park, and a huge rush of relief washed over their face. “Oh good, we thought you were going to stay here and we couldn’t let you. Unsavory people come here late and you girls wouldn’t last the night”. Oh great, how reassuring! They told us that we had already cycled the worst of the road and the shoulder reappears. Sure enough they were right so we hot tailed it to the park to set up camp.

We’re staying in a nice campground on the river. After a good home cooked meal, we’re turning in early from pure exhaustion, likely from those last 10 miles avoiding death. We still have another 10 miles left on that road, but hopefully we leave early enough to avoid the worst of it (seriously – I don’t think we can handle another 10 miles of that same traffic!)

Day 7: May 15th; Shelton – Centralia WA; 57 miles

Today started with a bang… literally. I fell down an entire flight of steps. Now yes, I know I’m super clumsy, but- to my defense- the Parkins live in a 1920 style bungalow, meaning that the stairs are steep and shallow. That paired with just waking up, having my hands full, and wearing socks, was a recipe for disaster. So after slipping on the very first step, I had the entire flight to wake up. As did the rest of the house, and likely half the neighborhood. But I came out of it unharmed, with just a few more bruises I can add to the arsenal of bruises I’m already collecting all over my body.

Sheena and I rolled through 27 miles pretty smoothly, with the exception of mist and rain. The heat wave has definitely ended. The morning was a stark difference compared to yesterday.

I am not a fan of the cold or rain. So at our first rest stop I was grumpy and cold. We decided to take a short cut to shave off 10 miles. As we rode I warmed up and the grumpiness melted away. The route was pretty flat (compared to the previous few days) but heavily trafficked with logging and gravel trucks. There was a good shoulder, but still some trucks came a little too close. Thankfully we have some guardian angels on our side working overtime.

We rolled into Centralia around 1pm. We set up at a Starbucks to decide whether to keep going an additional 30 miles to a state park or stay in Centralia for the night. Because we spent 2 hours just sitting at Starbucks puttering around being lazy, we decided to stick to the original plan and stay put and get a hotel. While mulling over the decision, we spoke with someone who recognized the ACA maps. We talked briefly and turned out he’s running for Congress. Best of luck Dave! Great meeting you and Sally 🙂

After much debate, we finally decided on a motel in town. Nothing crazy, but definitely nice to be indoors when we know it’s going to be a chilly night tonight!

Also, as we head out in the morning (usually before 6:30am), our warm shower hosts have been taking pictures before we pedal away. We get a kick out of how miserable we look, despite getting a great stay and a great night sleep. Early morning grumpiness is a very real thing, we need to insist on taking the picture when we’re fully awake!

Day 6; May 14th: Silverdale- Shelton WA; 53 miles

After an incredible night’s sleep, the MacFarland’s greeted us with breakfast in the morning. We set out for Shelton early to beat traffic and the forewarned heat that was sure to strike in the afternoon. After getting lost a few times in Bremerton (seriously, ACA, these maps are confusing), we finally found our way and cruised through some good 17 miles before stopping at the cutest gas station convenience store and for the first time this trip, I succumbed to my chocolate milk addiction. I also made a friend with a dog who purely only wanted to hang out with me for my banana and donuts. Oh well, I miss Addie so much I’ll take whatever dog interaction I can get!

After the gas station pow wow, we moved on. We decided to take the advice of Gary and alternate from the ACA route to take a flat and shaded route by the water (rte 106). We are so happy we did! Not only was the route gorgeous, but we were shielded from the heat and traffic wasn’t so bad. Gary told us that Bill Gates owns a house on that street, though you’ll never know cause you can’t see it from the street and he even has a secret underground entrance. He was right cause we surely passed right by it without even noticing it. I guess if you’re Bill Gates, you can afford being super secrete!

Eventually 106 dumped us onto the all too famous hwy 101! Because we knew we only had 10ish miles left, we took a long lunch by a fish hatchery and literally took a nap in the gravel. Naps are one of those things where if you need one, better take it any way possible! After all, we knew we had a guaranteed shower at night, so being caked in dirt wasn’t the worst thing that could happen.

We knew we had a guaranteed shower cause once again we were using warm showers to host us. We found Larye and Judy who were kind enough to let us stay with them for the night. Larye is a retired software engineer and Judy is a retired nurse. Sound familiar to any parents I know? Hmm…

They are super sweet and made us dinner and an amazing dessert. They told us all about their love for touring and all about their family. They have great-great grandchildren, which I thought was pretty cool.

But alas, it is way past my bedtime and I’m falling asleep as I type this, so forgive any grammatical errors I may have made! We are really hoping tomorrow’s ride is just as enjoyable as today’s!

Day 5: May 13th; Fort Ebey State Park – Silverdale WA; 52 miles

Happy Mother’s Day! Especially to my mother. She is the prime example of selflessness, unwavering support, and demonstrates without fault dedication to family. Should I ever bless this earth with my own offspring, I hope to be 1/2 the mother she is… then I know I did well. Love you mom and miss you!

Despite all the trash I talked about last night’s campsite, I had the best nights sleep in the belly of the forest. Which is perfect, cause we woke up at 4:45am to catch a ferry into Port Townsend. The morning ride wasn’t bad and got to the ferry just in time. On the ferry, we got coffee and saw they had Marionberry yogurt, so we just had to have it. Sheena and I both heard of this berry, apparently it only grows in the PNW, from different avenues. If you ever seen Portlandia (again demonstrating my glorious taste in Tv) then you understand why I needed to try it. Decent stuff, nothing special. We spent some time in Port Ludlow for lunch and debated whether or not to have a “shorter day” or a longer one. Due to where we decided we’re going tomorrow, we planned on going the shorter route and stay in Silverdale.

Silverdale doesn’t have any campgrounds, nor does the town up the road Bremerton. Due to this, we decided to resort to warm showers to see if we could stay with anyone on that app. If you’re not familiar with warm showers, it’s an app where people (usually cyclists) advertise that they’re willing to host fellow cyclists at their home free of charge. They usually provide a bed, shower, and especially generous folks will cook you dinner. While practicing good caution, it can be very a useful and cheap alternative in a pinch. We were so lucky and got a few people willing to host us!

The ride into Silverdale just wasn’t fun. It was hot, the sun was super intense, and there were hill after hills. We rode on a lot of no shoulder roads, yet motorists weren’t the worst. Except one guy. I was taking a breather a top a hill (I admit, it wasn’t the smartest place to stop) but I was pretty far off the road. I heard a truck coming full Speed up the hill and saw him before he saw me. He was literally swerving onto the shoulder so I stepped back to avoid getting hit, not realizing I was stepping into a ditch. I fell backwards and Ol’ Bessie fell right on top of me. Super embarrassed (and mad at the truck driving idiot who nearly killed me), I found superhuman strength and lifted the bike off me and jumped out of the ditch. Which I realized after I got up was full of thorns that cut up my entire right leg. I had blood pouring down making for a grisly scene. I’ll spare you the picture cause it even makes me queasy. It’s all cleaned up now, so it just looks like I got into a nasty fight with a cat. And the cat won.

We did ride on what is called an engineering masterpiece, a floating bridge. Apparently it’s made of floating concrete and was a huge development in engineering cause it rises and sinks with the tide. Or something like that. I’m not really sure, cause I fell asleep after the short explanation…. it’s just a bridge.

We eventually rolled into Silverdale around 4:30pm and hauled up a huge hill to our host’s Janice and Gary house. It is a beautiful home with a gorgeous view of the water and is directly west of Seattle. On a clear night you can see the city. They were just wrapping up a huge Mother’s Day party and had lots of leftover food they offered us. We. Ate. Like. Kings. It was unbelievable – salmon, lobster tail, beet salad, asparagus, chips and dip, and the crown jewel – German chocolate cake with ice cream. It was spectacular. They offered us their shower, laundry, and Gary even helped properly fit Sheena’s bike seat. He is a fellow physical therapist who took a CEU course on biking and is a super smart guy. Janice owns a Pilate studio and is retiring this week. Lucky! The MacFarlands are super nice and an extremely interesting couple. As a family, they took a year off in 2003 to cycle the entire globe. At the time, their daughter was 18 and son was 14. Kudos to them for dealing with teenagers on a trip like that… I know at that age I would’ve been a total brat! Since then they have done a lot of other tours, including the Eerie Canal, but nothing to the globe magnitude. They even offered us advice for tomorrow’s ride and the best way to avoid traffic, hills, and heat. Western WA is experiencing a heat wave right now and we’re not loving it. No matter how much sunscreen we apply, we’re getting burnt. The sun is just super intense over here.

In order to avoid the heat, we’re waking up early again tomorrow to get most of the miles in before the heat really hits and fries us to even more of a crisp. We both have our own rooms, so we’re looking forward to what we hope is a good night’s sleep.

Little Addie even got me a Mother’s Day card… gosh I miss her.

Day 4: May 12th; San Juan State Park – Fort Ebey State Park; 40 miles

Ah, I had finally fallen into a deep sleep when I was abruptly awoken by a terrifyingly loud noise and bright lights. In a sleepy stupor, I thought it was a farmer’s tractor headed right for my tent! Ready to bolt out, my ears and brain harmonized and I recognized almost immediately the all too familiar unmistakable low gurgling sound of a Volkswagen Vanagon engine running right next to where I was laying. I am very accustomed to this noise, as that is the vehicle of choice my family used for road trips growing up. I looked at my watch and realized it was midnight and that a good night’s sleep was likely impossible at this point. After attempting to park for 15 minutes (I was about to go out there and park it myself), they killed the engine and my guess that it was a Vanagon was solidified. I recognized the sliding door slam immediately (I’m pretty sure I heard it slam more last night than I ever did in the almost 30 years I’ve known our Keane Mobile) and the sing song notes of the driver’s door opening with the keys still in the ignition. The owners were talking loudly (I guess they missed that quiet hours had started 2 hours prior to their arrival…..) so I decided to make my presence known by popping my head out of my tent in an aggressive manner, which looking back on it, was probably more comical than aggressive. Sure enough there was the van not 10 feet from my head! All my suspicions were true! Not really sure if they noted my presence, as they continued to talk loudly AND BUILD A FIRE. Ugh. But what I did notice were all the stars in the sky. It was overwhelming almost. I decided to stare at them for a while and caught 2 shooting stars and a satellite. Reason #48284 why I’m happy I got LASIK.

Well, enough about me complaining about the Vanagon people. I did eventually fall asleep and woke up a few hours later. As we were breaking down camp, we got an “ahem!” from the van folks – can you believe it?! It was almost 7am, when quiet hours ended. Apparently us talking between ourselves was more offensive than their obnoxious engine running right next to our heads. But I digress, for real this time.

We rode the 10 miles of more Appalachian type hills back to the ferry terminal. We made good time and had a delicious breakfast in town and walked around, making a stop at the farmers market. While waiting for the ferry we talked with a young man from Germany who moved here with his wife 6 months ago “just cause”. He was really sweet and really interesting to talk to. He has worked as a paramedic and a zookeeper and currently works on one of the islands as an internet technician.

During the ferry we did some planning for the next couple of days. We’re kinda itching to get out of Washington, so longer days are in our near future.

After the ferry we decided to bypass our original plan of just 10 miles to Deception Pass to add on 18 additional miles to Fort Ebey State Park. Before the ferry, we were fiddling with this plan and asked The German for his opinion. He said, “us Germans are very efficient. It’s a nice day out so you should take advantage go to the farther park.” Ah, perfect advice so we took it.

We passed through Deception Point quickly. It was insanely packed and traffic was a nightmare. It was seriously as busy as Yellowstone in mid July. We snapped some pictures and got out as quickly as possible.

The rest of the ride was not so great. We decided to follow google maps and not the ACA maps. We now know why ACA chose the roads they did. We were stuck on a pretty busy road without a shoulder for entirely too long. We rode on the sidewalk and eventually detoured to get ourselves off it.

The roads into Fort Ebey were nothing but hill after hill. The ranger who checked us in was super sweet and took us up a massive hill to the hiker biker campsite. Thanks Corey! We got to camp around 6pm, giving us plenty of time to shower and cook dinner. The sun doesn’t set around here till close to 9, so there’s lots of sunlight till pretty late.

Now let me tell you about this campsite. I don’t like it. It freaks me out. They stuck us in the middle of a Black Forrest type of unnerving setting with mossy trees all around us. Gives me the creeps. Especially when 100 meters up a trail is a beautiful open vista view area similar to where we stayed last night. And the bathrooms are 1/4 miles up the road after a huge hill. Guess I’ll be practicing getting ready for the JMT around here! But it’s only one night, right? Here’s to hoping Bigfoot doesn’t come trudging through our campsite in the middle of the night!

Day 3, May 11; Bay View State Park – San Juan County Park; 40 miles

Today we woke up early and broke down camp quickly knowing we had to catch a 9:30 am ferry to San Juan Islands. We rode the 17 miles to the ferry in good time, making it with 30 min to spare. I think our legs might be getting used to this whole ride for 12 hours type deal. We’re happy about that.

The ride to the ferry was pretty. Mornings in the PNW tend to be gray and dreary, but like I said, it adds a magical undertone to the whole experience.

When we got to the ferry, we thought we had plenty of time to relax before boarding. Guess again. As I was grabbing some warm clothes from my pannier while Sheena was waiting for a breakfast sandwich, I had who I thought was a stranger ask if I wanted a water. I turned around ready to decline the offer and realized it was Tom from yesterday! As an aside, yesterday when he talked with us he gave us seltzer water in exchange for conversation, so he gave us more today. He explained that he was picking up his aunt from Bellingham and saw us this morning riding and followed us to the ferry. We talked briefly about the San Juan Islands and I met his Aunt Biddy, a super sweet woman, but the conversation took a lot of time and we had to get our bikes on the ferry. I said goodbye and he reassured me he wouldn’t be following us again, and ran to meet up with Sheena, who was still waiting for her breakfast sandwich. We rushed the kitchen staff and got the sandwich and ran to get our bikes on board. We almost missed it, but we got our bikes on right in the Knick of time. We tied our bikes on rather precariously and got to sit down and relax for the hour ride. The ferry was a gorgeous trip, although a bit cold. Didn’t get to see any whales just yet! However, on the ferry was a woman on a show I consider to be a guilty pleasure. Dr Pepper (yes that is her real name) from Married at First Sight (like I said – it’s a guilty pleasure show, I have trash taste in TV) was on there with her husband. I spoke with her briefly. I’m pretty sure I’m the only one who recognized her, but cool sighting none the less!

After the ferry we deboarded and spent some time in town. We had to grocery shop, where I finally got a hold of the pack supply folks for the JMT (phew, one less thing to worry about), and started our ride to Lime Kiln. Along the way, we were told by multiple people to beware – the roads are narrow and there are lots of hills. Reassuring! As we were headed down one such hill, Sheena lost a riding glove. We were debating in a driveway whether or not to dump our gear and go back up the hill to retrieve it when the owner of the driveway talked to us – again, warning about the hills. We explained that Sheena lost her glove and that we were just gonna forget it and move on. We did just that and after almost forgetting about it, that same guy stopped next to us and gave her her glove! Really made our day!

San Juan is a pretty big island off route, but a very gorgeous place to explore. Nicknamed the Orca watching capital of the world, we came in hopes of seeing a whale. No such luck, as the ranger told us it was too early in the season for whale watching. Darn.

But regardless, it was a gorgeous ride. We pulled off at one particularly breathtaking view labeled private property. Before stopping, we were planning on trespassing and take a few quick pictures before going on our way. We didn’t realize there were people standing looking at the empty lot, and I quickly assumed they were going to buy it to build on it. “Geeze,” I thought, “these people sure are loaded. Wonder what they do.” After looking them over for a little, I realized it was Dr Pepper from the boat! We got on our bikes ASAP cause I didn’t want her to think we were mega creep stalkers and file a restraining order. Thus, dashing all my hopes of being on the show and any hope I have of finding my future husband! (Sarcasm).

We were told that the road we took around the island was the most beautiful road in the world. Though amazingly scenic, the jury is still out on this rather obtuse statement.

We arrived at Lime Kiln at 2:45, giving us plenty of time to relax and look for whales. Guess again! This particular state park does not allow camping. So, we had to move on. Luckily, there is a county park 2 miles down (or should I say up…) the road. Because google maps said those 2 miles would take 20 minutes, we knew we were in for a rough ride. And we weren’t wrong. We haven’t seen hills like that since the Appalachian days of the Transam. We weren’t thrilled, but we made it to San Juan County Park in one piece with still plenty of time to relax.

The campground we’re staying in is seriously amazingly beautiful. We’re close to the water and even have our own private beach. Definitely worth the 2 extra miles to get here.

Although we didn’t see whales, I did see an otter! He was adorable and I wish I could’ve snatched him up so Addie could have a brother. Unfortunately, my shrieking at how cute he was scared him off (as it would any normal creature with working ears) and he sprinted as fast as he could back to the safety of the water. Darn, sorry Addie!

Tomorrow we’re riding around the other half of the island and taking the ferry back to Anacortes where we’ll meet back up with the official route. After tomorrow (and all these San Juan hills) we’re hoping our biking legs will be ready to go so we can start tacking on more miles!

Day 2,May 10; Birch Bay State Park – Bay View State Park WA; 45 miles

Hello soreness and no sleep! Needless to say, after all the events that happened prior to bed, we did not have a restful night’s sleep. It rained on and off throughout the night, but we woke up to a rain free morning with birds singing. Cannibalistic birds. We attempted to hard boil eggs last night, but in the midst of all the confusion, the eggs were left behind. However, they were still edible. I ate 2 and am still living to tell the tale. We left 4 out as we got ready in the bathroom, and came back to a crow devouring them, leaving a mess. Oh well for that idea. We packed up our wet gear and got going for the day.

The morning was rainy and a little chilly. Our legs are sore from yesterday as they are still in the process of getting used to long rides. Again, I underate and practically destroyed a bag of gummy bears I bought yesterday. We stopped in Bellingham for some super fancy coffee and grocery shopping.

Washington is very similar to Western Oregon we experienced the last few days of the Transam. Dreary and wet, but still extremely beautiful. The clouds rolling into town are pretty magical and definitely add a nice ambiance to the environment. I knew I fell in love with the pacific north west 2 years ago during the Transam, today reminded me why.

Roadkill is again back in our lives as are saddle sores. Just gotta hold our breath and apply more Chamois Butt’r.

The people out here are extremely nice and friendly for the most part. They are truly interested in what we’re doing and wish us a ton of luck. I mean, even saying “we’re riding to Mexico” sounds like quite the undertaking to me. Although all these people are nice, it does take up quite a lot of time talking with them. For example, today we had a conversation with a really nice guy named Tom who talked to us for an hour about his trip down the pacific coast years ago and spots to see along the way. Although super friendly – it again took an hour. We gotta cut back on encounters like that if we want to tack on additional mileage down the road to complete this trek on time!

Today was one of the most beautiful rides I’ve been on. Yet with beauty comes danger. We were riding on a windy road without a shoulder with an abundance of cars. The cars were extremely respectful and gave us plenty of clearance, but still a little nerve wracking.

The views along the road, Chuckanut, were breathtaking. From pacific scenes straight out of a fairytale to views of the bay, it was hard to pay attention to the road. But we did and survived! In the picture below, you can see the mountains we biked through. Even from the outside it’s beautiful.

We arrived at camp much earlier today and were able to afford a much needed shower (still require quarters). We ate, set up camp, and planned for upcoming days all with plenty of sunlight AND without getting kicked out of the campsite! It’s quiet and peaceful here without the threat of rain. Hopefully we sleep better than last night.

Mosquitoes are horrible around here, for only this week apparently, adding an annoying beginning and end to our day. But, another day in the books and another beautiful sunset to end the day with!

Also, here is Addie the navigator helping with directions. Where was her wise guidance yesterday when we could’ve used it?!