Port Townsend to Fisherman’s Bay, Lopez Island, Washington: (64kms)
Ricki came down to the ferry to see us off to Whidby Island. From Port Townsend, it was a short trip across the bay and after we let the cars go ahead of us, we headed off in the direction of Coupeville, where we stopped for lunch at a service station.
We chose to ride Highway 20 (the same road we would’ve taken across the Rockies) instead of Madrona Way around the bay. Just outside Coupville, the hills began in earnest. The road was really busy too, but we had a reasonable shoulder and were making good time, so we decided to call into a Starbucks at Oak Harbour to kill a bit of time.
Not far from Oak Harbour, at the top of a long climb, we came to Deception Pass Bridge that connects Whidby Island to the mainland. Here we had to stop and walk our bikes across the bridge on the fenced and very narrow sidewalk. Pedestrians coming in the opposite direction almost had to climb over us to pass. If they’d have had any common sense they’d have waited for a minute or so for us to clear the bridge, but nobody has any of that anymore! The views from the bridge were spectacular and we hurriedly took a few photos.
Having had enough of Highway 20, we decided to turn off onto Rosario Road and head over to Washington Park campground for the night. If we thought the hills were steep on Whidby Island, we were in for a surprise on Rosario Road. The steep, winding hills really tested our legs, but we were equal to them and silently impressed by our strength to get up them in one go. Maybe we could have climbed the passes in The Rockies after all I thought.
At the other side of the peninsula we had a change of plan. We had a chance to take the bikes out to one of the San Juan islands, only for the night, but at least we’d get a quick look. Besides, it was still early enough to get a ferry and get settled in over there. We just needed to get down to the ferry terminal and choose an island.
Down at the terminal, we checked out some brochures and decided to go to Lopez Island for the night. Unfortunately, the ferry was cancelled at the last moment and we had to wait 2 hours for the next one. This meant that when we finally arrived on Lopez the light was fading rapidly. It was 8 kilometres to the campground at Fisherman’s Bay and a decision had to be made. We didn’t have lights for riding in the dark, just our red taillights. Shazz rang the Lopez Islander Resort and Marina to make sure they’d still be open for a late dinner, they said they would if we hurried. So, we made the decision to go for it and head down the road in the near dark hoping we wouldn’t get run over by a truck or car.
With only the light of the moon to guide us, we pedalled like hell, using the last of our energy to push the last 8 kilometres as fast as we could. We were exhausted but fairly elated to eventually arrive at the marina. To our relief, the restaurant would still be open till about 9 pm, plenty of time to set the tent and get back again. We found there was plenty of room at the campground, so we cleaned up, secured the bikes and headed over for a well-earned couple of beers before dinner. There was hardly anybody there by now, but a few locals struck up a conversation with us, wanting to know all about our trip and where we were from.
Fisherman’s Bay, Lopez Island to Burlington KOA, Washington: (54kms)
We woke early and got cleaned up, electing to get something to eat on the way back to the ferry. We stopped into Lopez Village and went to the well-stocked supermarket. A gruff young checkout chick chastised us for parking our bikes near the window so we could keep an eye on them. So we moved them, explaining they wouldn’t fit in the usual bike racks – she didn’t care!
Fortunately, after some coffee and something to eat, we found someone’s wallet with all their possessions still inside. We took it over to the checkout chick and gave it to her, hoping she’d now feel a little guilty about scolding us before – she didn’t!
Back on the mainland, we had to climb a very big hill to get onto the 20 once more and into Anacortes. Anacortes is the traditional start/finish point of the ACA’s Northern Tier Route so it was nice to be able to see it. We didn’t hang around long though, quickly picking up the Tommy Thompson Trail and heading out of town.
Just before the bridge which takes you over Fidalgo Bay, we stopped to get our bearings. There was a split in the trail and we weren’t sure of which way to take. So, we stopped 2 guys cycling in the opposite direction. We ended up chatting for about 15 minutes and they suggested taking the Chuckanut Coastal Drive up to Bellingham. We weren’t so sure though as we’d heard it was quite narrow with a fair bit of traffic. Besides, we had another day to kill before our planned arrival in Bellingham.
Crossing the bridge we saw 4 sea otters floating around on their backs eating kelp and having a good time. At the other side of the bridge we decided to avoid the coast road and head to Burlington on the flat instead. Highway 20 isn’t much fun to ride around here and we made just the one stop for lunch at a service station along the way.
At Burlington, after consulting Google Maps again, we headed north out of town to a KOA campground, a very expensive KOA campground!!! After months of free camping in town parks and Warmshowers hosts looking after us, we had to pay $USD46.50 for an unpowered site which was so hard that the tent pegs wouldn’t go in the ground, I had to tie off the tent to some bushes and a post and hope for the best. At the camp shop a rather harsh-looking and abrupt lady charged us $16.50 for a six pack of beers, I had to ask her if she’d made a mistake – to which she didn’t take to very kindly! It seems people in these parts aren’t quite as welcoming to travellers. It wasn’t quite what we wanted to remember from our last night of camping on this trip!
We managed to talk with Stephanie in Bellingham, she wouldn’t be home till around 3.30pm tomorrow, so with only about 24kms to do, there would be no hurry!
Burlington KOA to Bellingham, Washington: (24kms)
Old Highway 99 was pretty quiet and not that hilly, that is until we reached the shores of the picturesque Lake Samish. From there it was a long, steep and slow climb up to the Interstate where we found a service station to stop and kill some time and get refreshments.
While we sat there we noticed quite a few cars with Canadian plates stop and go into the anonymous-looking shop next door to the servo. My curiosity got the better of me and I went and had a look. Not so surprisingly, it was a “weed shop,” selling marijuana, they had all sorts of it there. You could get half a dozen rolled joints for about $USD9.00, pretty good value I thought, but I wasn’t in the market.
My curiosity fixed, we decided to keep going, crossing over the interstate and heading uphill again towards Bellingham and our finish line. On Samish Way we passed the golf course and turned north uphill once again. A few kilometres further along, we came to the cul-de-sac that I’d often seen on Google Maps when we were doing our planning for the trip. Down at the end of the dirt road was a lovely lowset house set back amongst giant pines.
This was the finish line to our epic adventure, over 4,000kms later we had arrived here still in one piece and full of stories of the road. Stephanie and Rich were soon home and fussing over us, it was great to see them once again. There were lots of questions and a few beers to boot, and a comfortable bed to sleep in once again.
The end of our bicycle trips are always the same, a little bittersweet, a little regretful it was over and a lot thankful for making it. Still, the end is never as exciting as the start, and it leaves us hungry to continue again somewhere else and experience new adventures and meet new and interesting people.
We’ll be leaving our bikes here with Steph and Rich in Bellingham, so we’re heartened to know we’ll be back to get them to kick off more adventures in new places.
Although we never got to ride The Rockies, we got to meet some pretty amazing people and experience some fantastic home-grown hospitality along the way.
So, if you made it this far with us! To all the people we met and helped us in Canada and The States, whether it was just at the bar or in your homes, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for making this adventure a truly memorable experience. The hospitality shown to us throughout the trip can never be downplayed or forgotten. If we ever get the chance to reciprocate it, we would be grateful to show our appreciation and look after you the way you looked after us.
Until we meet again, thank you one and all!