Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Port Townsend Tour: Day 2 Fay Bainbridge Park to Kitsap Memorial State Park

Christine is still nestled in her warm sleeping bag, what she calls her cocoon, but this morning I'm awake early, watching the sky shift slowly from black with icy stars to something more purple. Sure as the earth turns, what was dark and cold brightens and warms with color. As dawn unfolds, the stars and the lights of Seattle are outshone by our home star, its light and warmth burning through the morning haze.

On a tour like this one, where home is few pounds of well-engineered nylon and when the road rises up to greet you the proper response is "Oh Lord, another hill!" and a timely downshift, one of the great luxuries we have is time. Time to take all this in, time to contemplate the workings of stars, of men, of spiders.

This spider spun a web below the light outside the camp bathroom. There's a sign here, warning of a toxic algae bloom, steering humans away from eating the shellfish. There is no such warning here readable by bugs, and they swarm in the night, attracted by the light. In the morning the web is filled with dozens of tiny desiccated carcasses and one very plump, satisfied spider.

The sun rises to warm the day. I fire up the kettle for cocoa and coffee.

We breakfast slowly, letting the sunlight dry most of the dew from the tent before packing up and then rolling down and up the various hills of Bainbridge Island.

Not far down the road we have to stop and photograph and contemplate Frog Rock. This colorful landmark has a lovely history and it's just the kind of roadside wonder that reminds me that there are a lot of fun people in this world. Some of them paint rocks.

While Frog Rock is green and friendly, Christine has to face down another green monster, the especially "bitey" Agate Pass bridge. It's narrow, often quite windy, and the trucks boom by awfully close. But it has a tiny sidewalk and she walks across, eyes straight ahead, not looking down.

We ride a few miles on SR-305 and then turn left to follow the somewhat quieter Lemolo Shore Drive into Poulsbo.

Poulsbo is a gem of a town, settled by Scandinavian immigrants who found its geography quite similar to the fjord-lands of the old country. The harbor is beautiful, and the downtown has bookstores, cafes and coffee shops and what just might be the best bakery on the planet.

Christine and I spend several hours wandering around town, buying little although Christine does discover a very cool bead shop where she buys some small charm beads including a tiny spider and a heron. Bike tourists by necessity travel light and beads make excellent, tiny souvenirs. We also load up on food at the bakery, enough butterhorns and trollhouse cookies to fuel us for the next few days.

We take the Bond Road out of town and then follow the pastoral Big Valley Road north. At the end of Big Valley Road we take a very brief left onto SR-3 followed almost immediately by a right into Kistap Memorial State Park.

Kitsap Park is right on the banks of the Hood Canal and the hiker/biker sites are so secluded we had to ask the campground host where the sites were. Campground rates have gone up in the past few years, with government at all levels having to cope with budget shortfalls. Here, the regular campsites are $21 per night, while the hiker/biker sites are $12.

One of the more striking things about this trip is the quality of the light. There is something about the low angles of the autumn sun and smoke from various wildfires burning elsewhere in the state that gives a glow to the mornings and evenings.

We make camp, make dinner and watch the sun set over the Olympic Mountains. If you measure your day in miles, a sixteen mile day may seem short. But if you measure time by spiders and sunrises, by bridges and butterhorns, by the smell of trees and the sound of waves lapping on the shore, it's been a day filled with all the best adventures.
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