Days 114-120: Washington

I get an early start out of Portland with a full battery, which is good because it‘s cloudy until late morning. Rob guides me out of the city and we part ways. I ride north 80 miles cross the Columbia River to Seaquest State Park in Washington state. Bye-bye Oregon.

The hike/bike area consists of three tiny, secluded “primitive” campsites. I am the only one there and the buildup of leaf litter on the picnic tables suggests that no one has been here in a while. After the hustle and bustle of Oregon hike/bike sites, I welcome the quiet night’s rest.

Riding along on a busy Washington state road, I hear a gunshot and think, “Oh, there must be a vineyard nearby.“ I’ve heard these before. They use some kind of percussive noisemaker to frighten away birds who presumably eat the grapes?

The single gunshot develops into a rapid staccato rhythm. “Is there a firing range nearby? Are automatic firearms somehow legal in this state? Oh, wait…those are fireworks.” It’s July 1st and someone is practicing for the July 4th celebration. Celebrate the independence of your country by blowing up a small piece of it!

I get my first truly cloudy day since San Diego. Fortunately, there are no big hills to climb. Trying to find some gratitude in the moment, I keep repeating the mantra “at least it’s not raining, at least it’s not raining, at least it’s not raining.”

The next hike/bike site is across the road from the loud, crowded car-camping site. I get my own private beach filled with oyster shells.

I wake up to find that my rear tire has gone flat overnight. The culprit is a metal staple. Third flat of the trip.

The forecast calls for overcast conditions all day and I’m starting the day with an empty battery. A steep hill right at the start of the day means I have to get off the bike and push. It’s only the second time this has happened in 60,000 miles (100,000 km) of riding. The first time was also in Washington state.

The next hike/bike site is tucked away in a remote corner of the campground. It’s occupied by a homeless guy. It looks like he’s been there for a while despite the “one night only“ policy. As soon as I walk in, he identifies himself as a “disabled veteran“ as if that was his name. Easy there, buddy. I’m not here to ruin your day.

In Port Townsend, I catch my first ferry since San Diego. Near the ferry terminal, I meet John who is running a small ebike rental operation using a large trailer with solar panels on it for charging the bikes. Very cool.

In Bayview State Park, I camp in the exact same site I used when I stayed here 10 months ago, closing the loop on the tour I started in Vancouver. The next site over is occupied by three guys who are just starting the Pacific Coast route heading to San Diego. Such fresh faces.

In Bellingham, I pick up packages with new clothes and parts I’ll need to complete repairs in Vancouver. My Warmshowers host, John, makes a great pasta dish while I attempt to replace the shifter cables on my Rohloff hub. With so many miles on the bike, maintenance is a never-ending task. The cable housings are damaged so I will need to finish the task at a bike shop in the morning.

My host informs me that he knew the Covid situation was turning around when the local Costco in Bellingham started filling up with cars from British Columbia once again. In spite of the unfavorable currency exchange rate, stuff is still cheaper in the US.

I finish the repair at Café Velo (@cafevelobellingham) in Bellingham with the help of Andy and his wife who run a coffee shop/bike shop and are open at 7 AM! The sun comes out just as I finish and it’s smooth sailing all the way to the Canadian border.

3 Replies to “Days 114-120: Washington”

  1. How was the experience crossing the border while riding an e-bike?
    It looks like you are pulling a trailer with your solar panels. Does it recharge your batteries enough so you can ride using throttle only for your ride?


    1. I have just enough solar panels to achieve the average daily distance goal that I wanted. This is by design because caring any more panels and not fully utilizing them would make the bike needlessly heavy and cumbersome. I am almost always pedaling. Maybe one day out of 20 I may let the motor do 100% of the work for an hour or two if I have lots of sun and I am very tired.


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