Cruising to the ferry dock at Port Townsend, Washington.
Summers are short in the Pacific Northwest, which makes those rare, warm and sunny weekends all the more precious. It was just such a fine day that my cycling pal, T-Bone, and I embarked on a 3-day bicycle tour of the Kitsap Peninsula and Whidbey Island.
We started from my house in Shoreline, rode down to the ferry dock at Edmonds and caught a westbound boat for Kingston on the Kitsap Peninsula.
Taking a break at a country store on the way to Fort Flagler.
It was mid day but sunset wasn’t for hours so we took our time pedaling to Fort Flagler about 36 miles away. Fort Flagler sits on Marrowstone Point, a narrow finger of land jutting into Puget Sound and surrounded on three sides by water. It’s an old Army installation established to guard the entrance to the Sound, the shipyard at Bremerton and the cities of Seattle and Tacoma.
The fort never saw combat and it’s now a state park, though much of the original military structures still survive.
Oh darn...crab cakes for dinner again?
We got a great campsite set back in the woods a short walk from the bluff overlooking the water and the nearby town of Port Townsend. The weather was fair and I napped on my sleeping bag while T-Bone cooked up one of his specialties, crab cakes and Caesar Salad.
After dinner we set up our tents and hit the hay. We were up early the next morning and had a breakfast of oatmeal, loaded up the bikes and struck out for our next destination; Port Townsend. It’s a short 16-mile ride to town and we arrived just as the sun made its way over the yardarm. “The drinking lamp is lit,” T-Bone said as we pulled up in front of our favorite Port Townsend watering hole. We found a table on the deck, ordered lunch and beers, then, settled in to watch the wooden boat regatta taking place a few hundred feet off the shore.
Watching the wooden boat regatta from the deck at Port Townsend.
We were tempted to while away the day on that deck, but we had another ferry to catch so, reluctantly, we gathered up our belongings, got back on the bikes and headed for the Port Townsend Ferry Terminal.
The Prohibition-era ferry that used to run from Port Townsend to Keystone on Whidbey Island has since been replaced with a modern boat, but the day we made the crossing it was on the 80-year old ferry, Klickitat. The Klickitat was a small boat, carrying only 75 cars and a maximum of 600 passengers, but there was something charming about the old girl that the newer super ferries just can’t match.
A leisurely crossing from Port Townsend to Whidbey Island on the ferry, Klickitat.
The trip across Puget Sound took about an hour on the Klickitat and we arrived at Keystone in the early afternoon. As bicyclists, we got to disembark first, and we took advantage of the lull in traffic to enjoy a few minutes of car-free riding across the flat wetlands. Soon, though, we were cranking up a steep hill, it was hot and the going was tough. In a few minutes, we had reached the main highway that runs the length of Whidbey Island and we turned right and headed toward South Whidbey State Park. I’d never camped at this particular spot before and we almost missed the turn off. We rolled into camp and registered at the ranger station. $14.00 for a hiker/biker site is kind of steep compared to Oregon where it’s only $5.00, but we paid up and selected a site overlooking the Sound. It was my turn to make dinner so I whipped up my smoked salmon with pesto pasta dish and we washed it down with a nice bottle of red we’d picked up in Port Townsend.
It had been a short day; only about 28 miles so we sat around the picnic table playing poker with M&Ms till the dark drove us into our tents. That night I was awakened by the sound of rain on the tent fly. The dry summer weather we’d enjoyed for the last 2 days had turned ugly.
I was up and out of my bag by 7 and had breakfast and tea going in half an hour. T-Bone and I gulped down our food, packed the bikes and headed out for Freeland, 6 miles south. We rolled into town a little before 9 in a pouring rainstorm. We stopped at a bakery along side the road for second breakfast and to try to wait out the weather.
We had hot chocolate and pastries and chatted with the owner and a couple of regular customers who just shook their heads when we told them we’d be going back out into the downpour to ride the 10 miles to the ferry terminal at Clinton. “I’ve got a truck, I’ll give you guys a ride,” said one of the customers, “no use you getting soaked.”
T-Bone and looked at each other; it was tempting but we declined. What kind of bike tourers let a little rain get in the way of an adventure? “We can only get so wet,” T-bone said.
The rain didn’t show any signs of letting up so we donned our soaked rain gear and ventured out into the maelstrom. What the heck, we figured; it’s only 10 miles.
Donning rain gear on the homeward leg to Clinton.
The ride from Freeland to Clinton is fairly flat on good shoulder a lane wide.
There was lots of traffic and we got drenched by passing trucks more than once, but even with all the discomfort, it was a good ride.
The last 3 miles to the ferry at Clinton is downhill and we zoomed along at more than 20 miles per hour. The rain lashed us and the wind tried to topple us but we coasted into the terminal with time to spare, whizzing past the bumper to bumper cars to take our rightful place at the head of the line.