June 23 - Port Townsend to Bellingham, WA: Two Islands and a Ferry

"Well, it's a good thing I asked, because it turns out the first two ferries in the morning are canceled. Something about extremely low tides - the boat can't make it to the dock" Alf tried to soften the news that we couldn't leave PT until 9:15.

"A little shallow water wouldn't stop a Washington State Ferry Captain, would it?", I mused.

Nonetheless, we had to wait for the ferry in the morning mist (very wet air? very light drizzle?). To pass the time, Alf, Steve, and I rode down Main Street. They went into the local constabulary offices to talk shop. I ventured along a neighboring dock, to find an eighty year old tall wooden ship.

Whidbey Island is touted by the local C of C as the largest inland island in the US. I wonder what the folks on Hawaii and Long Islands think of that claim? We had fun, though, twisting along the back roads, peeking views of the sound between farms, firs, and urban clusters. Oak Harbor sort of separated us; some went to Burger King, I went to Taco Time, and others just roared on through.

Our immediate goal was Deception Pass, where treacherous tidal currents are spanned by the muscular arch of the Deception Pass Bridge. While this picture was snapped, a small motorboat approached the pass against the current, tried a few turns into the whirlpools, and quickly spun back out.

We all met up again in La Conner. Pat and Jim, our gourmets, headed straight for their favorite bakery in town, while the rest of us descended on the first food shop (a small deli) we hit when the road ended at water's edge.

Fueled and fit, Tom, Leelee, Margaret and I linked up for the flat run north to Chuckanut Drive. With a tailwind, we sailed through the farmlands. Each field was obligingly labeled with the seeds growing there: "Beets", "Sorghum", etc. After a route check with sag driver Samara, it was six more miles (all up hill, of course), to Larrabee State Park.

Once again, the food ladies were there ahead of us, chips, salsa, peanuts, drinks, and smiles spread out to ease the aches and grumpy mumbles about impending rain. Steve sat upright in his black folding chair, smiling, with his massive tent set up, six foot square air mattress blown up (with the new hair dryer-like contraption he'd brought for just this purpose), and all his gear safely stowed inside out of rain's way. He'd pulled Mike all the way; Mike, ever the dutiful son, had put up the tent for him and his dad, Rob, next door to Steve. Greg, the other early arrival, had commandeered a spot in the woods above these two. The other two sites were filled with the families' cars. With the support vehicles occupying our fourth site, the space was full, and we still had three tents coming in. A quick conversation with the park ranger secured us another site, just in time for rose sniffers Ken and John.

Alf calls Bellingham "home". He went to high school here, and his parents still live in the area. His dad (also Alf) showed up for the evening. Fortuitously, it is his birthday (Jim's is tomorrow). Alf, Sr., is eighty, and spry enough to blow out all the candles on his cake.

Alf gave out presents, including a bear hat for Tom. (You'll have to ask Tom the significance of that.)

After dinner, I walked down to the "beach", 150 feet below the campsite. The path there followed a familiar Northwest fern gully. Doug firs and hemlocks blocked out the sky overhead, and sword ferns were greening up in the forest compost below. The beach consisted of 100 yards of pebbles, and a rocky prow slicing into Larrabee Bay. I leaned back in my Crazy Creek chair, turned on my solar powered radio to soft classical sounds from Bellingham's NPR station, and dreamed of sailing through the San Juans.

John, Steve, and Margaret walked down 10 minutes later, right to the same point, and marveled at the view just as I had. We softly talked about the day's ride, and fantasies we had of going off somewhere, without work or worries. A bike trip will do that to you.

That night, it rained.


Miles: 71.5 Total: 149.5; Vertical: 3200 feet. Flat tires: John (just getting on the ferry)


Back to Main Page On to Next Day