Finished! Anacortes, WA

We made it!

Last night was, well, different. It sure felt good to get a room with a shower.  That’s all but a necessity, I’ve found.  If you don’t, you can try to wash off all the sunscreen the night before, as I did up in the park, then put on DEET to keep off mosquitoes (and flies, and yellowjackets).  The result is powerfully strong goop.  Although I washed my face and hands, I hated to touch any other part of my body.  So washing all that stuff off, as well as cleaning out my hair, was a blessed relief.  I found a bank, too.  Hadn’t seen one since Twisp, and my cash reserves were getting low.  That’s why I had to buy the Hagen-Daz ice cream bar the other night, to get the total up to where I didn’t feel guilty charging the total purchase.  That’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!

Our motel was a ways out of the center of town, so there weren’t too many nearby options for dinner.  We chose the wrong one; Papa Murphy’s sells pizza kits, basically, where you’re supposed to take them home and bake them yourself.  Oops.  They were very nice about refunding my money, fortunately.

This cool, overcast morning we took our time getting up, ate all we could at breakfast, and coasted down Rte. 20 to Burlington.  According to the map, we went through town of Sterling.  It all looked like one long suburb to me.  We found a UPS Store to ship back some stuff — sleeping bags, pads, and the stove and gas tank (I washed it out last night).  Very nice guy, and considering what we’ve been spending at the post office, not terribly expensive.  Not at all what I’d have thought if I were at home with boxes and tape, but my perspective has changed.

The store was on a road that went over the interstate, so we crossed it, figuring we could find our way back to the main route.  Well, the road teed into a car dealership, so I turned north, and it teed into another road.  Headed west, and we hit the right road.  I love it when a plan comes together!

We crossed Rte. 20 again, which by now was a four-lane highway with nice, wide shoulders.  We kept going, although I had some second thoughts.  Found the official route, and it was a lightly traveled chip-seal special.  Oh, well.  Two miles down the road there was a stretch of 8% or so — we’re in the flat land near the ocean, and I’ve got to go to my granny gear?!  With the occasional truck rumbling up that third of a mile, and zero shoulder, I think I should have stuck to 20!  We made it over without incident, and saw the ocean.  Hurrah!

Turning south, we looked for the official bike path along Padilla Bay.  Found it, but they don’t want anything but bicycles and people on it.  Unfortunately, that seems to include loaded bikes.  Wonder what would happen if somebody brought up ADA to the powers that be?

No room to get through!

We got off the official path again, staying on the road.  A couple on a tandem (that did fit) went through behind us, and we saw them at the south end of the path.  The detour led us by a blackberry patch, and the blackberries were all ripe.  Yum!  A bit south, and we headed west to March Point.  I think the railroad isn’t being used, since they leave the bridge open to boat traffic.

It's hard to get a train over the bridge when it's like this!

Over on the west side of this point, we got a good view of the refinery.  We’d seen a smoke plume from this from the other side of I-5; it looked almost like a tornado from back there, but it was too calm to worry us.  Much.

They’ve turned the old railroad trestle and berm into a multi-use path, and a very nice MUP it is; well paved, well maintained, and it gets lots of use from cyclists, pedestrians, and seagulls dropping shellfish onto the pavement.  It was low tide, so the mud flats were exposed, with that sharp, pungent, salt smell that makes me glad to live in the mountains.

MUP with refinery in the background

Padilla Bay from the west side. Note tankers off-loading to the refinery.

We climbed up the east side of Anacortes and went through town.  The last 2.5 miles seemed like the longest of the trip, as we were looking for the ferry terminal, and climbing slowly.  Finally we found it, and rolled down.  The map says the trail ends at the terminal building, so I made sure to bump my front tire against the wall. 4,440 miles — done!

Anacortes Ferry Terminal. Can you guess what was on our mind?

Virginia was excited.

As it was just before noon, we watched the ferry unload, then load, while eating lunch.  Heated waiting room, decent food, a high from finishing the trip – this was a very good lunch!

Naturally, the sun came out as we ate.  We headed back to town, and the bay looked completely different in the sunlight.  Figures!

Looking north in sunshine

Maybe I should clarify about the 4,440 mile thing.  That’s the trip distance from my cyclocomputer odometer.  The daily mileage I’ve been posting is truncated, rather than rounded.  It sort of keeps me honest, so I don’t ride around the parking lot for 0.1 mile to juice the daily distance up.  I think I’ve made two exceptions — one was a hard day, when I took Virginia’s distance instead of losing that last 0.06 mile, and the other was a day I forgot to reset the trip odometer until a few miles down the road.  And it takes off the 2 miles that were added when the bike shop was truing the rear wheel for the last 900 miles.

For the first time in almost three months, we’re not sleeping with bikes within a few yards.  Iron Pig and Virginia’s un-named bike are in the bike shop, to be disassembled and shipped home (or to Wisconsin, where Virginia will be waiting).  Things seem different somehow.

We’re headed toward Seattle via limo tomorrow, and home in a couple days.  No more 40-80 mile bike rides to look forward to every day (sometimes with dread, sometimes with anticipation).  It’s almost 8:00 as I post this, and pretty soon I may be able to stay up past this time.  It’s a funny cycle; you ride most of the day, fall asleep at 8:00 or maybe 9:00 if it’s late, which helps you get up at sunrise to beat the heat and headwind, doing the same thing tomorrow.

I plan to post, in the next week or so, some random thoughts and things I’ve learned about bike touring.  Part of that may be things we wore out — it still seems ominous that the first thing was the bike itself!  And I’m thinking of posting an unpacking list.  Lots of folks have posted packing lists, but I think it may be more useful to see what we carried all the way than things we thought we might need when we started.  Although I hardly ever used the GPS, hardly used the long sleeve t-shirt, and never used the long finger gloves.  I expected to do some pass descents in cold rain, but somehow we never had to do that!

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