Sunday, 29 July 2012

Mille Bornes - The Olympic Peninsula Ride Part 3

Wet start to the road home
So why "Mille Bornes"? There was this card game I used to play when I was a kid - and the point of it was to go 1000 milestones or 1000 km or before your opponents - so I guess it was a race. This trip almost ended up being 1000 km so I thought it fit.

Last time, I was at the Olympic hotel in Aberdeen, Washington. This is a hotel that would be good for the Lobsters - that group of guys I cycle and hike with - or my fishing buddy Craig.  However, I would not suggest it for a family or even a spouse.

It was clean but smelled like a rehabbed smoking room - I did ask for non-smoking - meaning that it had recently been changed to non-smoking but the curtains, carpets, and, indeed, walls, still retained a nicotine and smoke aroma. It was clean but shabby. The furniture was comfortable but old and well worn. The shower was a bit grungy but clean enough. The room was certainly roomy but you didn't really want to look to closely at the carpet. The sheets were clean but the bedspread looked a bit grungy. You get the picture.

I had a surprisingly good continental breakfast where they had a waffle maker and batter - and I've only seen that once before. The coffee was good and the milk was real - not some crappy oil product - and I settled into a nice breakfast. The other guy in the room, another guest, was watching the news and then piped up about how the public sector unions just didn't get it because they weren't willing to take cuts. Everyone else was so the public sector was full of idiots. As a teacher who just grudgingly settled for a 0% increase contract after losing 3 days to a strike, I thought of starting an argument but, in all honestly, the situation may be quite different in the US than in Canada. Still, anytime people take a pay cut, their standard of living goes down - heck, that even happens when you get a zero increase - inflation ensures that you can do less with the same amount of money....

Leave Aberdeen - 8am - 537 km

I left Aberdeen just as the rains came. It wasn't a torrential rain but light which made things a bit cool and wet. I slowed down my driving a bit but everything seemed to perform fine on the road. Although the weather wasn't that great, I  thought the scenery was better here on the south coast than on the west coast of the peninsula. I continued on until I needed a quick break at the Elma (Elmo's sister?) rest stop. It was a good stop - clean toilets and large area - and there was a sort of concession stand at the stop. Operated by a vet, it was coffee by donation. He was nice guy and we had a bit of a chat while I drank my coffee.

Elma Rest Stop
Interestingly, the rest stop had a sign posted declaring that there was a 9 hour time limit at the rest stop - usually this would seem laughable to me, but thinking of the homeless people I had seen at other American rest stops on the way down to California last summer, it was actually a bit sad.

Betwixt and between good and bad weather
Half way along the south part of the road, I came upon some sunshine. In fact, I stopped, and it seemed as if there was an actual dividing line between the crappy weather I had come from and the sunny weather where I was going.

A pretty spot along Highway 12
I really enjoyed this part of the ride along Highway 12. The weather was nice, the scenery was beautiful, and the traffic was very light. I stopped a few time to take pictures on the way. I eventually connected up with Highway 101 and headed up towards Port Townsend.

Grey view from the Port Townsend ferry
Port Townsend - 11pm - 735 km
Finally, I arrived in Port Townsend. I gassed up and then made my way to the ferry. Again, I lucked out, arriving just a few minutes before the ferry left. By this time the weather had changed back to cloudy and grey, as can be seen by the photos I included. This time, the snack bar on the ferry was open and I realized that I had a bit of a chill. I grabbed a hot coffee and a wonderfully warmed pretzel for a snack.

When I got off the ferry, I took the wrong turn and ended up on the mile long U-turn route for getting on the ferry. I pulled an illegal U-turn and prepared to blast off when I saw something wonderful - a fawn wondering in front of me, out onto the road. I slowly rode back, making sure that people knew about the deer and wouldn't hit her. Sometimes taking a wrong turn is the best way to go.....

Deception Pass - 783 km

Parked near Deception Pass bridge
With the Olympic peninsula behind me, I felt I could take more time. This time, after I crossed the bridges that go over Deception Pass, I stopped and took a look around, taking a few photos wheel I was at it.

Deception Pass Bridge from the East 
I think it's a pretty marvellous bridge - construction dates back to 1935 and the bridge looks great today. Lots of other people were stopped as well. I thought of wandering down the steep path but decided to move on.

La Conner - 806 km

Pretty La Conner - near the Olive Shoppe
The next stop was La Conner. I've heard of the place for years - the town, or places in the town, used to run TV ads when I was younger but I hadn't heard a lot about it lately. I thought it was time to finally check it out. I took a slight detour to get there and was glad that I did. It was a pretty waterfront area with a variety of stores selling many different things. I went into one store called the Olive Shoppe which had a huge variety of olives including my favourite, hard-to-find olives, picholines.

View from Pier 7
There were also a nice variety of restaurants and my stomach was telling me it was time for lunch. I ended up at the Pier 7 Restaurant. They had a great patio overlooking the water. I went for my favourite guilty pleasure, the rarely eaten fish and chips, and they were superb! The batter was nicely seasoned and not greasy. The fish itself inside the batter was tasty so I was able to leave about half the batter behind. This was accompanied by one of my favourite American brews, a Fat Tire.

Fish and Chips and a Fat Tire Beer - Tasty!
Back on the road again, I worked my way past Burlington and this time took the more easterly route until Sedro Woolley until I reached Highway 9. Once on 9, I had this distinct feeling of deja vu as I had taken this route before on my LX50. Once again, it felt so nice to nimbly scoot along the curves, stretches and twists rather than slog along, always aware that some truck or SUV would be up my butt, hurrying me along.

Acme dilapidated but awesome house
I made a quick stop at the Whatcom Lake Railway but, unfortunately, it was closed. Could have been fun. I then came to Acme and had to stop and take a couple photos. It seemed that Acme is an old town and the buildings are old - not wrecked or broken but not well maintained either. I loved the way the houses looked.

Van Zandt - 880 km

For some reason I stopped at Van Zandt and recorded my mileage. Not sure why as I didn't take any photos and can't find anything about the town. Hmmmm.

I continued north along the highway and then cut across to Lynden and then to Guide Meridian. I went north until I hit the Edaleen Dairy. I often stop there to pick up cheese on the way back to Canada. Their prices are so cheap compared to Canada that I always want to pick up the biggest hunk of cheese I can find. They also serve fancy coffees so I ordered a shot of espresso to keep me alert for the final stretch. The girl behind the counter was amazed that I actually ordered just an espresso - and told me just that!

At the border, I was asked a couple of questions of where I'd been, showed my passport, and then sped off.

Back in the land of kilometres, outrageous gas prices, and socialized medicine, I zipped along north until I returned home.

Time was around 4pm

Total km - 954 km - not quite Mille Bornes, but close enough!

Some thoughts on the trip 
- the scooter performed really well - especially day one where it ran for 10 hours!
- I liked the ride except that from Port Townsend to Aberdeen on the 101 is just too long. A better plan would be to stay on Port Townsend 2 nights and do a loop of the peninsula for day two and return from Port Townsend for day three.
- Aberdeen wasn't the best place to stay. Ocean Shores would have been nicer - ya, it costs more but you sure get what you pay for
- I'm not nearly as interested now in stopping at casinos
- the seat if my GTS is actually quite comfortable
- not having a windshield was great when it was hot but, because of the wind on the peninsula, my neck hurt, just from holding my head up
- Port Townsend and La Conner must be two of the prettiest towns in Washington state.
- maybe next year I'll have to go two night!


David Masse said...

Welcome home Dave! I think I enjoyed your trip almost as much as you did. Really glad your bike performed so well.

The Philosophical Fish said...

I followed your blog back in 2009 when I bought my scooter, but then you stopped blogging. On a whim I looked you up again and was so happy to see your activity, and you travel many of the routes I do. Thanks for some great reading, I'll watch for you on the roads!

Dar said...

Glad your new scoot did well! Looks like it was a wonderful trip. I took my windshield off my bike and it's going back on, neck does get sore from wind buffeting.

Scootard said...

Cool RR. We just came back from a trip to Whidbey, which included a side of fresh Port Townsend.

If you haven't tried breakfast a the Edison Cafe, it's awesome. You take a left on Bow-Edison road and the cafe is just before the intersection where you turn left to go up the Chuckanut Drive, another
awesome little stretch of road which ends too soon.

Janet Ndinda said...

I bet you had a glorious trip. Your scooter did a good job. Am glad that you are posting. I get some tips for my scooter and riding experience. Michelin Motorcycle Tire