Pacific Coast Route

Day Three – Ft. Casey Historical State Park to Bremerton, Washington

Day Mileage: 55 miles (4 accidental detour miles)
Total Mileage: 193 miles

Whoever can fit into one of those snug sleeping bags all zipped up and not have a problem with it is a liar.

I had no problem sleeping at Ft. Casey as I’m top 3 sleepers west of the Mississippi. My plan was to wake up around 7:30 and take my time getting ready for the 8:45 ferry over to Port Townsend. I woke up at 6:32 and the first ferry out was at 7:15. I rushed around to pack my stuff up. I went to go shower with my two quarters but there was someone occupying it. I passed on the shower noticing that my hair wasn’t terribly greasy and threw on all my clothes from yesterday (Day 3, everyone, can’t imagine it gets better. Strap in). I made it to the ferry with 3 minutes to spare and I was the last one on.

After the 30 minute ride, I made my way for breakfast since I didn’t have time to make my own this morning then I was on my way. The fog was heavy off of Port Townsend Bay. I rode about 20 miles to Port Ludlow. During that 20, I didn’t take the correct turn so I had to stay on a State Road for a little longer than I needed to. Turned out, that was an awful idea. Heavily trafficked and very small shoulder to ride…. My nerves were wracked by the time I reached the next turn to get me on route.

I stopped for some coffee and wifi and I was back at it. I had about 30 more miles to do and it wasn’t even noon. The one thing I’ve learned in my quick experience with riding fully loaded, 30 miles doesn’t seem like much, but it isn’t short and to make time worse, these hills are legit. So from noon to 5pm, I rode those 30 miles stopping ever so often to check the map, grab water, take pictures.

When I reached Bremerton, I headed to the city center which involved steep climbs and an awesome downhill, only to find that I needed to turn around in order to get to the hotels. I know it’s only day three but the distance between Ft. Casey and the next State Park was too great and I didn’t want to get stranded without a place to stay.

Day Three Bonuses:

  • morning coffee on a ferry
  • FaceTime
  • riding in a long sleeve shirt
  • sunscreen
  • a couple from Port Orchard taking their picture with me after a 15 minute conversation at lunch (they’re suppose to send it to me.. I’ll post when they do)

Day Four – Bremerton, WA to Elma, WA

Day Mileage: 71 miles
Total Mileage: 264 miles

Today was hard. Today felt like work. I’m glad to be done with today.

I’m currently at a local diner in Elma, Washington rethinking the events of today. There wasn’t much going on in my recollection. The sights were not as rewarding as previous days. I left the inland waters and took off west toward the coastal waters today. It won’t be until Saturday or Sunday until I reach them, so I need to get my mind right.

I woke up in the hotel room at 6:15, not my planned 7:15. My legs were sore, I was still tired, I had 65-70ish miles ahead of me. It was tough to get going. I grabbed breakfast locally and watched Master Chef, pretty much my only show, on hulu. I packed correctly this time unlike my hurried pack job in order to catch the ferry the morning before. I finally got packed and out the door and began pedaling at 8:27am. Like I said before, it was tough to get out the door.

My first town to hit was Belfair, and then on to Shelton. Thus far into my trip, I’ve completed the majority of my miles before noon. The way the sun works out west is different than back home…. Or maybe I’m just get ready to be finished after 2-3pm. By the time I reached Shelton, it was 1:00pm and I was 40 miles in. That was a good thing. I took advantage of where I was and had Dairy Queen for lunch, including a dipped cone. I took off my long sleeve and was ready for the rest of them which I knew would be 25-20 miles.

Once I began the journey to the camp, it got hard. Today was the hardest by far. I had a headwind the rest of the way. I had to tackle quite a few loooooong hills and the scenery wasn’t what it was the past 3 days. I stopped about 12 miles out from Elma at a little mart for a Cream Soda. That rejuvenated me a bit and the last stretch into town was easier compared to where I had been. My plan is to take a rest day once I get to Oregon. That may come sooner… Who knows. Physically, it was work today and mentally, it was even more.

Day Four Bonuses:

  • hotel rooms
  • my very random phases I’ve been through throughout my life….. iPod on shuffle is always a treat
  • dipped cones
  • odometers and maps

Day Five – Elma, WA to Toledo, Wa

Day Mileage: 66 miles
Total Mileage: 330 miles

Much, much better.

I did not know how I’d feel when I woke up this morning. The good thing was, I had plenty of sleep. I jumped in my tent at the Elma RV Park around 7pm. I made plans for a phone call at 8pm. I woke up at 8:35pm. Apparently I was tired. Had a very good phone conversation with Megan and I was out of it again only to wake up at 6:30am.

I’ve told a number of people this but the cycling has been the easy part. It’s night time that is bad. And I shouldn’t give the entire nighttime a bad name because I love sleeping in a tent. I love being outdoors even if it is on a plot of grass in an RV park. It’s typically the hours between 6-9pm that are rough. I sit… And eventually begin to think. I have so much time to myself on The bike, but you’re going somewhere. You really only have time to mess up lyrics to songs, read the map and pedal. When you get to camp, you are in one place, typically by yourself and your mind begins to wander. I think about being back home and doing what I would typically doing at night, missing all the people I’d see on a daily basis. I knew I’d be by myself during this trip, but I didn’t realize how much of a mental workout it’d be….. Camping.

I got on the road this morning at 9:24 after breakfast. My plan was to make it to Lewis and Clark State Park which was 50 miles down the road, a short day considering. When it came time to stop, it was 11:30 and I had done 29 miles at a 14.9 mph pace (yesterday’s ended up being 11.1mph). I was feeling great and the roads were flat. I was stopped by a man and his two kids. They warned me about two pit bulls up the road about 3 miles. He said he pulled his gun on them and was ready. Better them than me. A few years back, I was bit by a pit bull. I’m not a huge fans of unchained,ravenous dogs. For the next 3 miles, I rode with the tool I bought on Day 1 that I’m now using as a club. He told me the mile marker and I was looking. I saw the dogs sleeping in the driveway and quietly scooted along never disturbing them. Victory of the day right there.

After Centralia, I was going to push it a little more than I had originally anticipated. I was going to push for Toledo, maybe more depending on how I felt. Again, I had to battle a few hills in the afternoon so a Toledo was my final destination. Thanks to my little extra effort today, I have a few options for tomorrow. Maybe, just maybe… I reach Astoria tomorrow night.

Day Five Bonuses

  • avoiding pit bulls
  • flat roads
  • cell phone service
  • knowing so many people are enjoying the blog and rooting for me

Day Six – Toledo, WA to Astoria, OR

Day Mileage: 79 miles
Total Mileage: 409 miles

Yesterday, I reached my first milestone. Completion of the first map of the Pacific Coast Route. It was a fun moment.

I packed camp up really quickly around 6:45am. I was camping on a river a little bit away from the bathrooms so I made the decision to get everything loaded up before heading for the showers. I made good use of the free, un-timed shower and was able to charge some of my electronics. I had great motivation for the early start because Astoria was within reach, 80 miles or so.

I didn’t know the terrain and that was going to be a large factor rather I reach Astoria. The first little bit of the day wasn’t terrible with only a few steep climbs but no long ones. Once I reached Coal Creek, I had twenty miles left until I entered Oregon. I could see Oregon but still had to reach Cathlamet before taking the ferry over to Westport, OR.

It was 12:23 and I had just reached the ferry. I had 26 miles left to Astoria. I needed to wait for the 1pm ferry and still needed to get lunch before making the final push. When I crossed into Oregon, I don’t know what I expected, a parade maybe. But nope, just an little old road sign that read, “Welcome to Oregon” on top of a stop sign. I looked to right and all I saw was an incline that didn’t end. I chose left and got a bite to eat.

I had already done 53 miles for the day and it was nearing 2pm. I had 26.5 left and what looked like some big hills ahead of me. Turned out it was my largest climb yet. From sea level to 676ft. It was about 3 miles of uphill and it took about 40 minutes. I’ve had a good outlook on these hills as the week progressed. First I usually curse them. Then I go for it. Doesn’t make sense to stop pedaling so you just keep going, mostly with your head down, and you slowly make progress. Eventually, about an hour and 50 minutes later, I reach Astoria and smelled the water in the air and I was able to check off map 1 in my journey.

Day Six Bonuses:

  • water, both to drink and see
  • deer and wildlife I’ve seen on the road
  • David Gray’s “Slow Motion” mocking me as I go up the biggest climb of the trip
  • real pillows and rest days

I’m glad I waited to rest in Astoria and not Elma, WA.