I left home at around 2:30PM on Thursday evening to catch the 3:00 ferry to Bremerton. Made it there a few minutes before they started loading. Rode on, parked, went upstairs to the deck and took a few photos of the gorgeous skyline with the Space Needle in the distance.
The ferry ride was about an hour spent in silence and contemplation. Finally for a long ride by myself, I think. Alas, fate had other plans for me.
Got off the ferry a little before 4:00PM, rode off and promptly missed the turn to 403 and got hopelessly lost. Google Maps stopped working so my GPS fob was useless. Finally made it back on the freeway in 15 minutes, thinking – “Away I go! To freedom! The open road! The wind on my face!”
And got stuck in a bumper to bumper traffic for the next 1.5 hours in 80 degree weather and a rapidly overheating bike, not to mention a slowly cooking me.
Apparently the Hood Canal bridge closing up north was forcing a lot of people to take a detour south and head back north via the route I was on. To think that the only reason I hadn’t taken it was because I wanted to avoid the gridlock in Tacoma. :|
At one point the heat got so unbearable that I pulled off the side of the road. I saw another bike stopped a little ways ahead and rode up to her to see if she was okay. She was, we chatted a little, then got back on the road and rode side by side for a little while. Her name was Dina and she rode a Harley Sportster. She was a typical Harley rider in leather jacket, chaps and a half helmet – the kind I never dreamt I’d be chatting up, but bad traffic makes for strange bedfellows. She was pretty cool too so I invited her to stop with me at the next rest stop where I planned to wait until traffic got better.
Finally we reached Belfair and I saw a McDonalds which appeared to be an oasis (a clear first indication of a heat stroke), I turned off the main road and went in to get ice cream and a long drink of cold water.
We waited in there and chatted about our biking adventures. She had had an interesting life – she had lived in England, New Mexico, and all over Washington state. She rode and camped a lot.
We sat there for about an hour by which time the traffic had subsided. I was beginning to have doubts about ever reaching Astoria before 10:00PM (when the hostel said they would be closing) especially with the Memorial Day traffic heading down 101 towards the coast. The heat had sapped a little bit of my strength and I wasn’t looking forward to riding another 200 miles before dark.
I decided to ride with her to Olympia and then south towards Kelso, where I’d decide to either head south to Portland or west to Astoria.
It was dark by the time I got to Kelso, so Portland it was! Portland, and Sarah, and a pint and a soft, warm bed for the night.
And so here I am, getting ready to load up the bike again and head on south to the Deschutes area in central Oregon. They say there is an obsidian flow that you can walk through. More on that tomorrow.