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Seattle Bicycle Tour

Seattle Bicycle Tour

September 18th, 2007  · stk

Day 3 - Victoria to Sequim Bay (28.0 Miles)

3h 0m ride time – 9.3 mph avg - 36.3 mph max


We woke up at 7 AM ... at least, Rachel and I were awake. The Oop was still sleeping, sprawled across the floor, half of her off the mattress, with her arm draped over her head. Usually, she's the one waking us, but this morning, we had a bit of a play. Scott reached over and completely pulled her light quilt off of her. This was her only cover and though she didn't stir with its removal, but she immediately missed its warmth and began blindly searching for it, still half-asleep.

"We wake up!" Scott said cheerfully. Rachel chimed in and said, "We hungee!" (We were mimicking the words that Alex has employed, rousting us from a dead sleep, at hours too early than we wished).

"Hey, that's my cover!" she exclaimed when she finally woke up and saw Dad holding it.

"Why is Daddy holding my cover?" she demanded. We laughed and said we were teasing. To this she said, "I got something in my nose". She then stuck two fingers way too far up each of her nostrils. For a moment, she looked like a pig.

Oliver and Sarah were already in the kitchen and we joined them. We had coffee and tea, cereal and soft-boiled eggs for breakfast. There house is odd in that they have a sofa in the kitchen, but it was comfortable to sit in the sofa, eat and chat, being close to the kitchen activities.

There have two cats - "Phoenix" and "Paris". One is quite skittish, but the other is friendly - like a dog. Both were mithering about, looking for a bit of canned cat food (which was apparently forgotten the night before). Oliver fed them on separate platters and we watched them eat. When Phoenix, the larger of the two cats, finished his plate, he sauntered over to Paris' bowl, stuck his face in it and began helping to consume what was left. What a hog!

After we'd eaten, we began 'loading up'. The Oop wasn't too excited about departing, but by about 9 AM, we were on the road to catch the 10:45 sailing of the Coho Ferry.

Following verbal directions, we cycled along residential streets and after about 20 minutes, we were crossing in from the Empress Hotel, headed toward the ferry terminal, which was less than a half-mile away. We cycled toward the automobile line-up at the ferry terminal, but were directed instead, back to the ticket booth and the passenger lounge. This is a contrast to how B.C. Ferries handles bicycle passengers. At first, we thought it was nice, because we had a roof over our heads and were out of the elements. The lounge is small, however, and seating is limited. There's not a sanctioned area for bicycles and our gear was taking up a big part of the lounge. We tried to find a place to put our bikes so that they were out of the way. We ended up propping them against a doorway labeled "Restricted Access".

We had about a half hour to wait before boarding the ferry, so we sat in chairs, played with Alex and chatted with a few of the other passengers. Alex was drawn to a rack full of brochures and pamphlets. She pulled several of them out, handing them to us and an elderly lady sitting next to us. She also made eye contact with a number of other passengers, greeting everyone with, "Hi!" (Alex isn't a shy girl).

Our bikes were out of the way during our wait, but immediately prior to boarding, U.S. Customs officials needed access to the doorway and we a difficult time moving them, because the lounge was filled with passengers and nearly every seat was occupied.

There was a boarding announcement and the passengers lined up for a U.S. Customs inspection, which involved filling out a form and writing down names and nationalities. We went last, mostly to keep our bikes from becoming tangled with other people. (While it was nice to be inside, dry and warm, it was an awkward way to board the vessel. We had to negotiate several doorways, narrow gangways and sharp, 90-degree turns, in order to board the boat. I think it would have been easier for cycle tourists to load and unloaded with the automobiles.)

The Customs inspection yielded the normal questions and raised eyebrows, because Rachel carries a Canadian passport, Scott a U.S. passport and the Oop no passport. The inspector was nice and asked Alex her name.

"Alex," she said.

"What's your middle name?" he asked her.

"Kimler," she said, which was close enough for him. He wished us a good trip and left us to struggle through the next doorway.

On the Coho ferry, bicycles are stored on the bow. There are a couple of bike racks and Rachel leaned her bike against one of the them. Because they aren't bolted to the deck, Scott was afraid they wouldn't support his bike and the buggy, so he leaned his against the gunwale.

Vehicles are side-loaded onto the "Coho" in Victoria and after we ditched the bicycles, we walked over to the starboard side of the ship and watched the loading. We were standing directly over the entryway and it was fascinating to watch large semi-trucks, 5th-wheel trailers and recreation vehicles disappear into the bowels of the ship. It didn't seem like the vessel was wide enough to turn such large vehicles, but obviously, it must be, because they kept coming. The car deck was full and half a dozen vehicles couldn't be loaded. They were turned around and would have to wait till the next sailing, which wasn't until 3 PM.

We stayed on deck, as the ship backed away from the dock and into Victoria Harbor. The ship continued in revers, backing toward the draw-bridge we'd cycled across yesterday. Then, gears were reversed and we were heading forward, out toward the open sea. We had excellent views of the harbor and the inner harbor was pretty, with the Empress Hotel looking very regal. A number of small passenger ferries, which carried only a dozen or so people, from one side of the harbor to the other, were scooting about, as our large ship slowly maneuvered. Leaving Victoria harbor, we saw a very modern-looking glass hotel, a Canadian Coast Guard station, several seals and a cruise ship port. The cruise ship port looked like it could hold two large ships and one berth was filled. The Princes Cruise Lines "Dawn Princess", was berthed. It was absolutely gargantuan!

On open seas, the wind picked up and we ducked inside for a bite to eat. The food was OKAY. We had a couple of hamburgers and the Oop had a sandwich. Dad also got a bowl of chili to warm him up.

The sun came out and we went onto the aft-deck, which was sheltered from much of the wind. It was comfortable on-deck and we settled to do some journaling.

Quite suddenly, the boat heaved 90-degrees to starboard, for no apparent reason. Sirens sounded and for a moment, we thought that someone had gone overboard!

The sirens turned out to be car alarms going off on the car deck, from the violent movement of the ship. We never did figure out why the sudden turn, but we continued on this tack for some time and we had to move and find another sunny spot, out of the wind.

The ship began to roll a bit - sometimes quite a bit! Enough that Scott went to the bow, to make certain that the bikes hadn't toppled over (they hadn't). Rachel started to feel sick. Not a full-on, I've-got-to-barf sick, but she did go inside, abandoning Alex and Scott.

Scott and Alex walked around the ship and then moved up to the bow. There were some kids playing there and Alex ran off to play with them, while Scott sat down to do some journaling. Suddenly, for the second time, the ship did another drastic, 90-degree turn, this time to port. What was going on?

Soon, we were approaching the United States. The ship pulled into port, tied off and then did some fancy maneuvering so that it was backed into its berth. The cars drove straight out of the stern, while passengers walked off the aft section, onto an aerial gangway, straight into a U.S. Customs building. Again, the gangway was a tad narrow and we were the last ones in the Customs line-up.

The Customs officers were very friendly, opening up ribbon gates, so that we could get our bikes through. The gave us directions to the "Olympic Discovery Trail", which they said we could follow all the way to Sequim (pop. 4400), which they pronounced as "skwim".

We didn't spend much time in Port Angeles (pop. 18,500), but we did stop at the Tourist Information building, not from the ferry terminal, along the waterfront. There, we picked up a Washington State road map and an Eastern Jefferson County bike map (unfortunately, they were out of Clallam County bike maps, but Scott had printed parts of one from a PDF file, he found on-line, before we left for the trip).

The county bike maps are great, depicting dedicated bike trails, roads, hills, shoulder-width and average traffic volume, within the map area. They also show services (bike shops, groceries and restrooms), as well as gravel roads and mountain bike trails. They are an excellent biking resource.

We avoided the busy U.S. Highway 101 and opted to take the "Olympic Discovery Trail". This trail will ultimately stretch from Port Townsend to the Pacific Coast, but right now only portions of the trail are complete. The section from Port Angeles to Sequim is finished, and we could ride the trail to a point just east of Sequim. There, we'd have to join up with U.S. 101 (and other highways), to get to our ultimate destination - the Bainbridge Ferry Terminal, on Bainbridge Island.

It was early afternoon when we set out on the ODT, picking it up on the waterfront, just in front of the Red Lion Hotel, on the same street as both the Tourist Information building and the Ferry terminal. We had to dodge a few pedestrians, but within a mile, we had the trail to ourselves.

The section of the ODT east out of Port Angeles was awesome. We were riding on nice, smooth pavement, away from automobile traffic, without pedestrians, in the glorious sunshine and right along the shoreline. We had beautiful views of the water and there were even blackberry bushes, complete with ripe blackberries! It just doesn't get much better than this!

It didn't last too long, unfortunately. Soon, we came to some rough gravel sections and skirted some oil tanks in a circuitous fashion. Then came hills, with lots of sharp, unmarked turns and some very steep ascents and descents. It was a LOT of work with loaded bicycles and while it might be ideal for a Sunday afternoon outing, it was a tad frustrating as a through-route. Still, it beat the prospect of a busy U.S. Highway, so we stuck with it.

As we neared Sequim, the trail intersected a smaller highway and we decided that we might make better time on a better-graded, more direct roadway. The road appeared to be lightly trafficked. Within a mile of leaving the ODT, we encountered road construction. Ugh! The road was completely closed and traffic rerouted. Fortunately, we were able to rejoin the ODT again, right before the construction began. And the ODT now passed through farming country and was much flatter and straighter.

Along this dedicated bike trail, near a small airport, we stopped to take a break and give Alex some out-of-buggy time. We sat at a picnic table, near a portable restroom, and talked with a local mother, who was out with her 4-year-old boy. He was practicing to ride his small bicycle. We also watched a plane take off, enjoyed the sunshine and Alex made use of the port-a-potty.

Rested a bit, we pedaled the remaining way into Sequim, though we were starting to battle a bit of a headwind. Sequim is a bustling town, with lots of new construction and a fairly wide main street. We stopped for a bite to eat at Burger King and then did a some grocery shopping. It was mid-afternoon. We consulted the bike map, looking for campgrounds. The options were limited. There was a campground about 5 miles away, but after that, we'd have to join U.S. Highway 101 and the next campground was another 20 or so miles further on. We were tired from all the ups-and-downs and the headwinds, so another 25 miles was out of the question. So we set our sights on the first campground - "Sequim Bay State Park".

We continued out of Sequim along Washington Street, the main drag, and rejoined the last bit of the ODT. It took us on a nice downhill run and let us off at Whitefeather Way, which was an even steeper downhill that headed to the water. There, we turned right along West Sequim Bay Road. We cycled passed many nice homes and had wonderful views of Sequim Bay. We reached the State Park campground just before 5 PM, paid for our hiker-biker spot and picked up 4 three-minute shower tokens. Boy, did we need a shower!

The three hiker-biker spots are down near the water, hemmed in between the amphitheater and the group camping facilities, just off a campground roadway. We set up the tent and then Rachel stayed behind to lay out the sleeping bags and such, while Alex and Scott did some reconnoitering.

Alex was happy to be out of the buggy. At the amphitheater, she put on an impromptu 'dance', on the stage, while Dad sat in the last row and applauded. She thought this was great fun and kept asking if she could put on another 'show'. Dad insisted on exploring further, so they went down the steep embankment, to the boat launch and wooden dock. There were children's life-vests available, so Dad laced one onto the Oop and then they walked out to the end of the fifty-foot dock, where they scared up a lone sea gull.

Sequim Bay State Park is located in a very pretty area, surrounded by shoreline homes, boats tied up at moorages and a tree-lined shore.

Once back at camp, Scott and Rachel each had a well-deserved shower. Alex surprised everyone by asking to take a shower with Mom (her very first shower!) They returned squeaky clean, with wet hair.

"I had a shower Daddy!" exclaimed the Oop, quite proud of herself.

"The hot water sure feels good," said Rachel.

After Dad took his shower, it was time to cook up a home-made, dehydrated spaghetti dinner. Scott had to cook in the dark and we made a mental note that we should stop a bit earlier than five o'clock, so that we can enjoy the camping more and have time enough to prepare the meal in daylight.

After dinner, we all headed straight to bed. Alex fell asleep quickly. The novelty of the tent had worn off and exhaustion had taken over. Soon, both Mom and Dad were sawing logs too.

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Updated: 13-Feb-2011
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