Backfill #15: Monday, August 22nd
Last Day: Centralia to Redmond
I commemorate my 1500th post to the tell the story of the last day of this most-epic road trip
Slept well. Excited
, awake, couldn’t wait, got up and prepped the bike for the final time. Rode over to the Country Cousin for breakfast; I was sure they opened at 6 AM, but I think they said they were open at 5 AM. Hmm – I could have started earlier!
Pork chops and eggs with homemade applesauce for breakfast; yum! This was going to be a great day… The waitress asked where I was headed and I gave her the accounting. Happy with that… until that is when the waitress uttered the evil four-letter word that begins with R
and ends with N
; “yep”, she said, “I think that was they forecasted this morning” D’oh – I don’t want to hear it! Cover my ears…
Optimism remained though and I left Centralia
– for the second
time at 6:30 AM, heading northwest on Harrison Avenue (Old Hwy 99SW) with overcast skies, light traffic, and cool though humid. I don’t even begin to think about words that begin with R
; bad juju, sacrilegious, nasty jinxing, superstitious… where’s my good luck charm, my lucky penny, my rabbit’s foot, my binkie?
Harrison roughly parallels I-5 for about 5 miles before Old Hwy 9 peels off to the left heading northwest, and Old Highway 99 SW heads directly north. I am going to make my way via a string of back roads so as to bypass Olympia
and head on up to Shelton
– a place I’m never been. Crossing US-12, this cluster of buildings is called Grand Mound
; it’s not a town per se but a “census-designated place”
(CDP) according to Wikipedia. Hmmm. Traveling one whole block north, the main road takes a hard left (although one could continue north on a smaller street) and becomes 196th Avenue SW. About two blocks down I take a right onto the diagonally-oriented Sargent Road SW which I use as a shortcut to Littlerock Road. It is pleasantly rural and thickly wooded as my mind wanders. At the intersection of Littlerock I had my antennae switched up and took a left instead of a right and went the wrong direction for about a mile before my internal conscience rebooted and confirm my path. Turn around – head northeast; I’ve got it correct now. All good – motor on. There is a nice river bottom to my left and mixed forest on my right for miles as the road trends north up to the hamlet of Littlerock
. I take a left here onto 128th Avenue SW and cross the narrow bottom, less than a mile wide, up the hill and tee into Weddall Creek Road. Going right/north, this route should parallel I-5 although doing so following the base of a low set of interesting mountains, the highest of which is unsurprisingly called Capitol Peak.
These roads are poorly marked and my dumbphone cannot get a signal; maps are not available and it is frustrating my production.
I come to a tee that is completely unmarked other than naming the road that I came from. Great.
It looks like a well-travelled route. Do I go left or right? Going right might take me off-course to Olympia
. I start to go right, but have second-thoughts and end up going left. About 1.5 miles in there is an RV park on the left that looks like a small racing course for quads. Then the road narrows; oh this is not good. Another mile up the road forks, one becoming gravel and the other narrowing again and depositing me into a campground. Nope; wrong turn again.
Turn around and go back. In retrospect and consulting the maps, I was on Sherman Valley/Noschka Road which is a dead-end unless I want to take the Capitol Peak (dirt) Road (no thanks).
Back at the original tee, I keep motoring on forward and this route wiggles its’ way northeast past Lake Lucinda – which is a misnomer cos it’s just a small lily pond. At the next junction is Delphi Road and this I remember even though there is still no connectivity. It’s getting to be around 8 AM; I haven’t travelled very far mile-wise, but the sky is brightening up and there is hope despite being dribbled on from above. I tell myself “It’s just a coastal effect – nothing more.”
Delphi Road passes through some very nice countryside and it is relaxing and calming. There is more traffic on this segment; I must be reaching some development. Hmm, tidal flats on the left, then up a grade and under the freeway – the road pops out and intersects with Mud Bay Road; my goal! I am at the direct western limit of Olympia; one block east and I would be in the city proper. I goes left onto Mud Bay Road and cross over the tidal flats of the same name.
Eld Inlet/Mud Bay, taken from the bridge looking north: The tide is out.
Mud Bay Road changes names to Madrona Beach Road and acts as a frontage to US-101 and access road to businesses and residences hemmed in on either side. I have many beautiful views of the inlet before reaching Schneiders Prairie
(perhaps another CDP?). Locals are out and about; one lady gives me an awe-struck surprised and happy smile as I drive by; I nods back like a knight on an electric steed. Charming.
At the intersection of US-101 there is a small minimart and I stop for a break and grab some Gatorade. Early this morning before leaving I had remounted the rear fender assembly, this time affixing the ends above the pivot instead of below – and now I recheck and tighten those ties making sure everything is in good order.
Fun as this rural path is, I am also consuming my pack more rapidly that I wish due to the hilly nature of the road. Here I elect to forego alternate paths and proceed directly onto US-101 freeway heading north. The sky has opened up and I can see billowy white clouds and blue sky in-between. Neat!
I am making great time now, but there is also a bit of crosswind too though I am not yet worried. The freeway climbs over a large rise and down, then passes left of Oyster Bay, and then Little Skookum Inlet. The highway here is designated as the Pacific Coast Scenic Byway, and I can attest that terrain is certainly different than expected. Coming in towards Shelton
, I decide to save time and stay on the freeway which bypasses the town on the west, although I don’t get much of a view of Oakland Bay this way.
There are three exits to Shelton
; no sooner do I pass the second that I noticed the sky has darkened and the wind is picking up. Hmmm.
The freeway ends and becomes a busy 2-lane highway. Another mile and the road is wet
. Another mile and though it is not <sigh>
raining, my feet are wet
. It’s beginning to look real nasty.
Found a place to pull off and lean the bike against a pole next to a residence and I put on my wet-weather gear, then consult the NOAA website. There is a strong wind advisory and a powerful thunderhead cluster directly north of me passing west to east through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the Olympics. Oh gods – this is not good
; my path takes me right into it. In a moment of indecision I plot out an escape route - just in case. The dumbphone can’t provide me with my precise location although I think I am closer to Skokomish
than I actually was.
The fallback plan would essentially have me head northeast up the Kitsap Peninsula and take the Bremerton-Seattle Ferry across the Sound, rather than follow US-101 up for the next 50 miles to SR 104 where I could take the Kingston Ferry to Edmonds
. Two roads head east up the Kitsap from my position: Purdy Cutoff and Brockdale. Hmmm. It’s a long ways to Bremerton
, and I convince myself that it might be just as easy to continue on, and so I do. Down the road I go. The darkening sky is just beginning to cut loose with midgey rain when a semi-truck blows past me – and in the wash, covers me with gritty road grim. That’s it! White flag; I bail.
This is not going to be fun, I won’t get to see the mountains when I can hardly see 500 feet down this road, and I really hate touring in the rain
Then – as I made this decision, Brockdale Road appears on the right; this exit has my name on it!
Going east now, I can’t really say this is rural countryside; it’s more like humans shaved off the forest here and there, leaving stubble behind as nature struggles to figure out the next recovery. I would hesitate to call it pretty and even less inclined to admit I belong to the same species that did this to my planet, but that’s the way it is on the peninsula.
My plan now is to get to Johns-Prairie Road which will cut over to SR 3 which will take me to Bremerton
. In hindsight, it probably would have been faster and safer to take Webb-Hill Road north to SR 106 which would have been much prettier along the Hood Canal (inlet) than through a bunch of clear-cut eyesores. But I didn’t.
It crossed my mind to take the McEwan Prairie Road instead of Johns, but when I came upon it – the road was dirt and gravel. At least I was in a rain-shadow and the wind was more or less behind me rather than in front. Still, my sense of adventure was diminished; it’s literally not the way I wanted to finish. Backtracking almost all the way to Shelton
, I took a left onto moderately busy Johns-Prairie Road which weaves through rural development and of all things… open-pit mining, at least – that’s what it looked like. The road tees into SR 3 at a scary intersection; I’m stuck here for 5 minutes timing traffic; it’s only a 2-lane road albeit a fast one. A break! I pull out and punch it heading east.
Not a mile goes by when someone pulls up beside me to ask about the bike; I find a pullout next to the tidal flats at the end of Oakland Bay and the guy and his wife animate their interest.
I give them the details and point them to ES. I’m a little cold and a little wet, thinking about food; maybe it showed. They offer up their place just a mile up the road where I could rest up and get fed; nice to offer – though I politely decline. It’s so close - I just want to get home. Really nice people though!
I can’t really say SR 3 was pretty though. As I stated before – there is a lot of clear-cutting and misguided development. But I was unmolested the whole way. It is hilly and it gave me a workout as I passed over the constant ups and downs. Reaching the Case Inlet I came into the town of Allyn
and pulled off at the “Port of Allyn” building; I think it might be a community center. Anyways – I stopped to rest when a guy in his red pickup truck pulls up and inquires about the bike, and we have a long friendly conversation.
The guy says this road will pretty much take me all the way to the Ferry docks. We say good-byes and I motor-on. This is about the halfway point across the peninsula and there’s still a good ways to go yet.
The road crosses over the hill and SR 106 from Skokomish
joins up on the left where I get a brief glimpse of Hood Canal before passing through Belfair
which is but a collection of businesses with a stop light before climbing up the hill and out. My back teeth are floating. Just after the McDonalds there’s a Napa Auto Supply and I pull up to park. I am feeling pretty hungry, but I don’t want fast food so I grab a Cliff Bar at this time. Shaking off the need to use the bathroom, I tell myself that it’s just nerves. Get back on the bike and head on past the Bremerton National Airport and other ugly development – like a golf course right next to an open-pit mine. What’s with that?
Then boom, down a hill and into Gorst
, the Sinclair Inlet is right in front of me as I espy the Naval Shipyard and Port of Bremerton
Borrowed image from Bing-Maps: Bremerton, Washington. North is at the top, aircraft carriers are in the center, and the ferry docks are just below the bridge on the right point southeast. I came up from the lower-left following the inlet.
There are four aircraft carriers moored here: USS Independence, USS Kitty Hawk, USS Constellation, and USS Ranger. I have personally steamed along side the last three when I was but a young squidly pit-snipe
(just don’t call me a swabby
mister or I might put you to work scrubbing the bilge, arrr
). I dig ships, but I don’t miss the make-work. Then I reflect upon the poem “Sea-Fever
” by John Masefield (1878-1967).
- I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by,
And the wheel's kick and the wind's song and the white sail's shaking,
And a grey mist on the sea's face, and a grey dawn breaking.
I must down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
I must down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
To the gull's way and the whale's way where the wind's like a whetted knife;
And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover
And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick's over.
Oh I have been bitten by the sailing bug again: Maybe I’ll convert my cargo trailer into a kayak-hauler – with a sail, and, and… and an electric motor powered by LiPo when the wind blows wrong! Yeah, that’s what I want!
The highway here joins up with SR 16 out of Tacoma
and is freeway. I take it north for a mile and peel off at Charleston Blvd/SR 304 ogling the whole time over the boats in the water. The town of Bremerton
is nice enough and pretty I think in this spot; they did a good job! The road climbs up a hill then turns right/west and climbs steeply even more. Not much room for bikes so I have to take the lane. Down the backside and then at the end is a hard right and down some more to the Ferry terminal. I pull up to the ticket booth and the officers are all smiles as they ask what I have. I tells them it’s a 2WD electric bike, drove it to California and back
. They are impressed! I asks how much to take the ferry and they tells me “For you, it’s free!”
Ha! Can’t beat a deal like that!
I must be special
(well – the truth is I’ve been special
since my Dad dropped me on my head when I was a toddler… but that’s another story
). Coast on down to the line; there’s not much of a line – maybe two rows. Hmmm. Maybe I’ll pull up to the front cos I think bikes are special
like that, and I wuz right.
Bremerton Ferry Docks; arrived after 99 miles.
Other blokes like me.
There’s a concrete barrier so I pull up next to that and peel myself off after traveling 99 miles this morning. There’s one other guy here resting with his back to me; he rode in on an old vintage BMW that looks like it survived Vietnam
. So does its’ rider. I start up a conversation with a provocative statement that gets him to laugh and we end up talking about motorcycles to pass the time. I arrived here about 11:45 AM. The next ferry is at 12:20 PM. More motorcycles show up, each with a different personality in more ways than one. Pretty fun now geeking out with this select group. With a blast of the horn, the ferry announces its’ imminent arrival. Ferry workers pull in close to facilitate unloading and loading; one sees my bike and I tell him it’s electric and that gives me special
(there’s that word again) access ahead of all the riders. This is going to be so cool!
I pulled all the way forward and parked the bike against the side of the metal framework. Ferry worker instructs me to use the rope and tie it down; secured/looks good. I’m off for a wander.
Me bike all stowed away with a little rope barely lashed down. The seas aren’t any more higher than a ripple, though it’s a good practice nonetheless.
‘Nother view from the deck above.
Didn’t feel much like eating this food from the cantina; it’s kind of a madhouse anyways – so I head outside. We’re already pulling away from the dock so I grab a few shots. Ferrys are cool!
Sent off an update to ES
. Time for more pictures. Off to the north is the eye of the storm; it looks pretty dark and nasty. Back towards the Olympic Mountains though it appears the rain has moved off – though it is still pretty dark. I am guessing I made the right decision though; no need to put myself into harms-way like that. Back to the front of the boat – Seattle is coming up close; I better get ready.
Looking back west towards Bremerton
as we’re leaving. I came up from the south which is on the left, and the Olympic Mountains are shrouded in clouds on the right. This is a wide shot stitched from two.
Iconic Mount Rainier to the east: The largest single mountain & volcano as measured from base to tip in the Lower-48.
Looking north at the eye of the storm!
Approaching Seattle. The plane in the sky is the Boeing 787 Dreamliner
; first time I have seen one in the air, it is making an approach towards SeaTac.
The Emerald City of Seattle
, although today it’s not looking so. The Space Needle is out of view to the north (left). The Smith Tower is the tiny white building with the pointy top all the way to the right; it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi after the San Francisco 1906 Earthquake. The Columbia Center (tall black building) to the left of Smith Tower became the tallest at the time of its’ completion in 1985, although today it is the 4th – yet in the Pacific Northwest, it remains the tallest.
Back to the Barn
I wuz thinking of getting some food here in town, but as the ferry docked at 1:10 PM – all I wanted to do was to leave. I know the path well, and with exception to the safety of others I takes it WOT. The wind is blowing pretty good here although it is mainly behind or as a crosswind as I’m heading east. Nothing to stop me now.
Damn the torpedoes, I blast across the I-90 floating bridge WOT. The weather becomes blustery and begins to spit big-drop rain. In Seattle
, we have over 200 words to describe rain, but less than 10 to describe sunshine.
Though not a cold drench, wet is wet
and I want to get out from under it. From the Interstate I travel north on Bellevue
Way to 112th Avenue to Main Street east, across I-405 to 116th Avenue north up to Northup
(no, seriously) going east before taking NE 24th Street to link up with the bike trail when the ebike suddenly dies!
Get off, inspect, looks fine, wiggle the harness, get back on; it works!
I guess the gremlins just had to pull one last stunt before calling it a day. I’ll be damned if I know, but motor-on up the hill and onto the bike path.
It’s Monday just after lunch. I fly on by the Microsoft Studio complex; Softies
don’t know what they are looking at as I tear across the intersection WOT taking the sidewalk ramp as a jump! I am being reckless; keep it together – hold steady.
Past the Microsoft Red-West complex, I bomb down the bike path into the heart of Redmond
proper and around Redmond Town Center (the faux center of town; actually it’s pretty well done up). And then at last - it’s up to where my saucer is embedded into the side of the hill
and through the secret hidden urban bat cave. I made it home, arriving at 2:28 PM in the smiting rain.
Start V = 63.3; End V = 56.3
Distance = 118.1 miles; Total Odometer = 2515.7 miles to California and back again.
Regen = 3.3%; Vmin = 54.5
MaxS = 39.6; AveS = 27.1
Trip Time = 4:21:22
The unloading of batteries and cargo went surprisingly quick and just in time before the sky began to chuck it down. Once inside, I proceeded to separate the trailer, though the hitch was left attached. After my shower after the shower
I put on the gators and headed off to my local watering hole to enjoy a fresh crisp draught of Trumer Pils
And so it is at The End
, I must say:
to all my hosts for their fine hospitality, cheers
to all the drivers that passed me safely, cheers
to my family and friends for putting up with me, and most of all – cheers
to myself for making it back alive!
A long humble bow to you and yours, KF