Have you followed this whole journey from the beginning? Follow this link to find all the episodes of our North American Cycle Tour – 2019.

Friday 12th July: Anacortes to Coupeville (Washington, USA): 49kms

Ride Time: 3hrs 30mins / Av Speed: 8.75mph

We sat, enjoyed a hearty breakfast with Stephen and Diane, and watched a bit of the Tour de France on TV. A keen cyclist, Stephen follows the event each year. After eating, he showed us a shortcut through Anacortes to get us to Deception Pass Bridge and onto Whidby Island.

Fidalgo Bay at low tide with Mt Baker in the background.

We rode up 32nd Street to D Avenue and over to Rosario Road. It seems there’s always a price to pay for taking a shortcut, and this way was no different. We had eliminated a few kilometers only to find ourselves tackling some pretty steep hills, one that we both had to walk the bikes up!

Rosario Road empties out onto the busy 20 again, forcing us to mix it with the traffic again. This bought us to the Deception Pass bridge which we had crossed last year in the opposite direction. The bridge is too long and narrow to safely cycle, as we’d just be holding up the traffic. So, once again, we had to negotiate the very skinny walkway across. It’s so narrow that our rack packs dragged against the fence on either side.  Everything was going fine till we were almost across. With about 100m to go, a number of tourists wandered out onto the bridge and began with the usual selfie barrage. They could easily see us approaching, but couldn’t work out that we would have to try and push past them somehow. I had no intention of standing there like stuffed dummies in some Mexican Standoff and pushed my bike into them. It was incredible, they just let me squash them into the fence without a  single comment or reaction whatsoever. Nor were they helpful, so we just barged past, excusing ourselves as they were crushed against the fence, our panniers grabbing at their clothes as we went. Talk about zombies!

The busy Deception Pass Bridge joins Fidalgo Island to Whidby Island, part of Highway 20.
Looking out to the Salish Sea from Deception Pass Bridge.
The narrow walkway on Deception Pass Bridge. Too skinny for loaded bikes AND tourists!

The shoulder on the 20 came and went, but the traffic remained constant – thick and fast! About halfway to Oak Harbor, we stopped for a coffee and a rest at a roadside service station. It was a timely stop as the road was about to become slightly lumpier.

In Oak Harbor the shoulder disappeared altogether as the road turned into two lanes either way. Things got a bit hairy when a plumber’s truck nearly ran us into the curb in his hurry to make the next set of lights before they changed. It was all I could do to stay on the bike as I nudged the curb. I wasn’t impressed! Head down, I set off after him at full tilt. He made the light and turned right, but I lost sight of him. As I reached the corner, I pulled onto the footpath and scanned the shopping center carpark for him, but he was nowhere to be seen. I was still seething and frustrated that I couldn’t vent my anger at him, he could have killed or badly injured us.

I used my anger to get me up the next big hill that led out of Oak Harbor. We rode on the footpath as much as possible, as the traffic still looked extremely unforgiving.

There’s no escaping the hills on Whidby Island!

Up over the hill and down around Penn Cove we rode till we reached Coupeville. Although we hadn’t come so far today, the hills and the traffic had tired us, so we decided to call it quits and find a room. The Tyee Motel on the south end of town was almost booked out as there was some kind of long-distance running event, but we were lucky and decided to stay two nights. We were in no hurry and Coupeville was supposed to be some quaint tourist town.

After some rest and a shower, we wandered back up to the Penn Cove Brewery for a couple of craft beers. Their Madrona Way IPA (6.5%) was pretty darn good.

Saturday 13th July: Coupeville (Washington, USA)  – Rest Day.

We had a late breakfast at the restaurant/bar attached to the motel. The motel carpark was full of eccentrically dressed people who looked like they worked for a circus. We were told they were part of the Ragnar Race, and the reason the accommodation in town was nearly booked out.

By mid-morning, the carpark and most of the town were empty again and sleepy little Coupeville returned to normal. As Shazz had a bit of work to do, I took the opportunity to walk into town and down to the jetty. Being Saturday, the downtown area began to fill up very quickly, the footpaths abuzz with families strolling by the colourfully painted historic buildings, juggling massive ice cream cones and stopping randomly to take yet another picture of the outdoor flower arrangements that decorated the streets.

Downtown Coupeville, bedecked in flowers.
Historic Coupeville Wharf, worth a look!
Coupeville’s old buildings are well preserved and presented.
The historic main street was lined with tubs of colorful annuals.

After a lap around town and visiting the wharf, I dropped into Toby’s Tavern for lunch. The place was packed, and I was lucky to find a solitary empty stool at the ornately carved bar. Mussels from the cove are the specialty here and nearly everyone seemed to be partaking. I ordered a burger and a beer and tried, without luck, to strike up a conversation. It seems just having an Australian accent isn’t enough to create any interest here on the west coast.

On the way back, I had one beer at the Penn Cove Brewery, then bumped into Shazz on her way there. So we turned around and headed back to the brewery to listen to some live music and enjoy a few of their beers.

Penn Cove Taproom. Don’t mind if I do …

Dinner at the Tyee Bar and Restaurant, adjacent to the motel, turned into an event with the locals giving their best for the Karaoke. Thankfully, there were some pretty good singers there. But the night belonged to a bloke with a rather boozy rendition of “I’ve Got Friends in Low Places.”

I got friends in low places …

Sunday 14th July: Coupeville to Everitt (Washington, USA):  46kms

Ride Time: 3hrs 20mins / Ave Speed: 8.1mph

We avoided the 20 this morning and took the much quieter Fort Casey Road out of town. This took us down through some very pretty farming land with views of Puget Sound till we turned left onto Wanamaker Road. We eventually arrived at the bottom end of the 20, which terminates at the Keystone Ferry Landing at Fort Casey. We’d followed the 20 from one end to the other and tried to avoid it as much as possible!

The pastoral elegance of Whidby Island as you look toward Pt. Townsend and Puget Sound.

The 525 led us south towards the Clinton Ferry landing. This would take us over to Mukilteo on the mainland. At the tiny town of Greenhills, we stopped for lunch and a rest at the Chevron Service Station. The hills had kept coming and we’d be glad to be finally off the island. There was little to be happy about, though. We still had to negotiate our way through the busy streets to Roger and Sarit’s place in Everitt.

The last few kilometers on the island were all downhill to the ferry landing. As it was Sunday, the whole way was lined with cars waiting their turn to board the ferry. They would be there for up to four hours as we sped on past them and down to the landing, it was a great feeling. We didn’t have to wait long, nor did we have to pay – bikes go on for free!!!

Sharyn’s bike, “Sakura,” all tied down for the ferry crossing back to the mainland.

Shazz texted Roger and Sarit to let them know when we thought we’d be at their place, but Roger said he’d come down and pick us up. We weren’t sure if we’d fit our bikes and gear into their car. But hey, it would beat navigating our way to their place.

Roger pulled up in front of us as we exited the Ferry Terminal. Somehow, we managed to find a way to fit the bikes into his car, and we set off – up a very large and long hill. Shazz and I looked at each other. Glad we didn’t have to negotiate that one! We were also relieved to see that we didn’t have to ride all the way to their place. It was way longer than we thought and way more convoluted than it looked on Google Maps.

Sarit awaited us with a big hug and was eager to introduce us to their new dog, Bonny the Pomeranian. Their last 2 Pomeranians we looked after last year had passed on, so now Bonny was the sole object of their affection.

Sarit and Roger with Bonnie at their place in Everitt.

We got cleaned up and went out on the deck for a beer while Roger cooked some steaks on the BBQ. It was the first steaks we’d eaten in ages, and Roger had cooked them superbly. It wasn’t long, though, before I had indigestion. Our habit of eating out of service stations had not prepared us for such a rich and delicious meal, unfortunately.

It was great to catch up again with these interesting and enthusiastic people. We’ve been fortunate to have made some new friends while housesitting and have enjoyed some amazing hospitality.

We still have more friends to catch up with on this trip. Next up – Up Hill and Down South: Cycling from Everitt to South Hill