Sunday, October 07, 2012

Port Townsend Tour: Day 1 Issaquah to Fay Bainbridge Park


"We invented civilization," my son Eric explains, "so we don't have to go camping. Besides," he added, "I have a job I have to go to. You and mom go off and have fun, I'll stay here and take care of the cat." And so, with Inkling left to spend quality time bonding with Eric, Christine and I venture forth into the September sunshine.

Each year we work our schedules so we can take some time off in autumn and this year we decided to take ten days to more thoroughly explore some of the beautiful parks, back roads, forests, islands and towns in western Washington. Port Townsend, on the northern tip of the Quimper Peninsula is one of our favorite towns and would serve as our nominal destination but our intention was to work our way from park to park at a pace that would involve a lot time for exploration, contemplation and good old fashioned fun.

While I've bicycled between Issaquah and Seattle literally thousands of times (it used to be my daily commute), this is Christine's first time riding many of these roads. On previous trips to and from the city, she's popped her bike on the bus rack, but today, despite her nervousness with city traffic and bridges, she's riding the full distance.

"I see how you got so mighty, riding these hills every day," she notes as we work our way up Newport Avenue, a long, slow climb that skirts the northern flank of Cougar Mountain. While Christine commutes daily to her job, her commute is less than 2 miles each way and those miles are all on the flat floor of the Issaquah valley. "I can go for months without shifting," she explains.

She's shifting a lot today and zooms down the hill in Factoria next to a lot more traffic than she's used to dealing with in Issaquah. "It's all bike trail from here to Seattle," I assure her at the bottom of the hill. "Good!" she replies.


We stop on the little bridge over the Bellevue Slough to watch a heron and then wind our way on the trail over the bridge to Mercer Island.



Christine does fine going across the big floating bridge that connects Mercer Island to Seattle although she assures me that she does not like bridges and that they are "bitey". She likes the bike tunnel which is one of Seattle's cooler bits of bike infrastructure and we cope with the busier bits of downtown Seattle (Dearborn Avenue and stuff like that) by walking along the sidewalk.

At the Seattle waterfront we catch the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Riding on Bainbridge is lovely and while the day is hilly, it's not chilly.


By 4:00 PM we're settled into Fay Bainbridge Park, a former state park now under the local control of the island. Our campsite is right down by the beach looking east across Puget Sound to Seattle.


Christine pitches the tent and gathers twigs for the Kelly Kettle. On these trips I'm in charge of water heating, with the first batch of boiling water going into rehydrating the evening meal and the next two batches going into the thermoses for tea, coffee or cocoa.



Tonight we feast on mac and cheese and smoked trout.

There is so much beauty right close at hand. Tonight, camped in this park we're 26 biking miles from Issaquah. The lights of Seattle shine across the water, the waves lap on the beach and the sounds of gulls and crows carry on the wind. I'm here with my best friend and the stars shine down upon us. The most beautiful thing in the world is Christine's smile as we settle into sleep.
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