There I was, sitting in the supermarket parking lot next to the bike rack with my scruffy, abandoned look, and half a baguette jammed into a mostly empty jar of peanut butter.
Two nice people biked up with a dog in a carrier. The dog, Rudy, noticed my peanut butter and we became fast friends. Less than an hour later the tent was pitched in their front yard, overlooking one of the most spectacular views on earth.
What had happened? How had I gone from sleeping on rocks next to the Persian guys who’d partied until four a.m. to the lap of luxury overlooking one of the natural wonders of the world?
Two days before I’d done a leg-breaking 65 miles, leaving Belfair State Park in the drizzling cold. It was one of those mornings where your legs feel like hard chewing gum and of course the road begins with lots of uphill. It was a long slog all the way to Bremerton, where I stopped, got coffee, and got lost.
Going through the town I saw a sign that said “Loans and Guns!” Seemed smart; use the one to get the other, then use the other to get the one. Two great tastes that go great together.
The pace never picked up and I went through a lot of highway/backroad combos, finally tapping into my inner hoarder when I wheeled into a Big 5 Sporting Goods and bought two cans of unneeded propane, pair of sandals, and adopted a bungee that I found laying in the road. Ya never know!
After Bremerton it was beautiful waterway after waterway. Lakeside roads, inlets, port towns, and finally the giant Hood Canal, which is spanned by a pontoon bridge. If you were in a cage, you had the pleasure of a 50-minute wait to reach the stoplight that let you cross the bridge. If you were on a bike, you blew past everyone and zipped right across, with muchel angry stares as you passed.
The state weed of Washington is the blackberry, and I stopped to pick fistful after fistful, eating so many that it seemed like I couldn’t eat another one … until discovering the next giant ripe cluster.
The day’s destination was Fort Townsend State Park, where the hiker-biker site was set amidst huge old-growth pines and firs and the people with the junk-hauling trailers had to “camp” on gravel underneath scrawny saplings.
One of the fellow bikers was Richard, a fellow in his 70’s on his way to Santa Monica, where he’d lived as a child. His goal was to find some sunshine. “Get tired of all this rain up here in Seattle,” he said. It seemed as if he’d recently lost his job and home and was in the early stages of homelessness. I wondered how he was going to survive the brutal freeway traffic of the 101 along the Oregon and California coasts, the RVs buzzing him, the careless logging trucks, the angry local traffic … but the pull of the sun is strong.
After a long exhausting day, I fried up some sausage, cheese, and veggies for dinner and called it good.
The next morning it was raining so the start was delayed. I went to the ferry in Port Townsend and loaded up, sharing floor space with giant RVs. Before the ferry left I had had hour to kill, so pedaled into town, waited 30 minutes for a cup of coffee on the beach. Once the ferry left I watched people get out of their RVs with giant folding chairs sitting in the bow theso they wouldn’t have to exercise by standing.
Once on Whidbey Island I rode to Deception Pass State Park, and got to ride to the grocery store with no panniers. It was like I’d been given an extra 200 watts. Although the campsite was one of the best yet, I shared the park with the Persian Alcohols, a merry group of travelers who had crammed trucks, trailers, tents, and endless gallons of alcohols into their campsite. As part of their alcohols they had brought a pool table and they serenaded the park with belly-dancing music and cue balls smashing as loud as if shot from a cannon.
The revelry was astonishing until about one a.m., at which time it became annoying, and then at two a.m., at which time it became maddening, with silence finally reigning at four o’clock. I was up at five, secure in the knowledge that the Persian Alcohols would be greeting the day with an amazing cacophony of pounding hangover migraines.
In addition a finding a cadre of newbie children mtb’ers who I ushered up the trail, the camp included s’mores, a real camp fire, and a late-night raccoon attack that wholly depleted the marshmallow stores.
While the Persian Alcoholers were groaning in their cots I packed up and got underway early, reaching Bellingham by 11:30. The ride along Chukanuk Road is one of the prettiest on earth, and wends along a cliff side that puts you up in the canopy of 150-foot firs and pines.
It was in the supermarket parking lot that I got adopted in the parking lot by Jeff, Susan, and Rudy Palmer as rescue cyclists who were obviously headed for the Abandoned Cyclist Shelter and eventual euthanasia.
Jeff and Susan, avid cyclists, not only put me up in the prettiest front yard on earth but smoothly integrated me into their garden party which included a sumptuous feast of Caesar salad, loaves of Jeff’s sourdough bread, and a New York double cheesecake topped with raspberry sauce from homegrown raspberries, courtesy of Bill and Kathleen Mirand.
One night the hard ground, the next night a yard softer than any feather bed, due to nothing more than the serendipitous kindness of strangers.
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