Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Port Townsend Tour: Day 3 Kitsap Memorial State Park to Oak Bay County Park

It's a misty morning along the Hood Canal and after breakfast and breaking camp we set out with our bike lights lit and at least one extra layer packed on our bodies instead of in the panniers.

Today's bridge is a big one, the mile and half long Hood Canal Floating Bridge. It's a monster, but Christine slays it with style, riding the bulk of the bridge but wisely walking the slick metal drawspan sections.

As we cross the bridge, I see, but am unable to photograph, a sea lion swimming just north of the bridge.

At the end of the bridge we take my friend Mark Canizaro's advice and turn left to follow Shine Road for a few miles. This small road has almost no traffic and is a very pleasant alternative to the busier SR-104.

Just across from where Shine Road rejoins SR-104 there is Teal Lake Road heading pretty much straight north. I've ridden many of the roads around here in the past, but never Teal Lake Road. Since one of the ideas of this trip is to visit both familiar and new places, I've optimistically added this road to our route.

A good rule of bike touring would note that "the shortest distance between two points is often hilly as hell" or as Mark will later comment when I retell the tale of this day "You took Teal Lake Road? You didn't look at a topo map, did you?"

Christine takes this development in stride, so to speak. "I'm walking," she wisely declares as the road becomes a wall. "Smart woman," I agree as I dismount my bike. When your riding speed is less than your walking speed, only a stubborn idiot insists on turning the pedals. I quote Jan Heine: "It is good, sometimes, to stretch the legs."

When the grade relents for a bit we remount our faithful steeds and creep towards the summit. We roll along the top of the rolling ridge and then coast down a hill that would be a real leg stretcher if we were headed southbound and join up with Paradise Bay Road.

For years Christine has heard me report enthusiastically on the wonders of minimart food. Tales of fine beverages dispensed by coffee robots in tiny towns in the wee small hours of cold mornings, the existential excellence of a hotdog that, like you, has been rolling for hours under less than ideal conditions, cold ice tea consumed in the shade next to a very hot road, these are things whose delightful nature is only truly understood by the ravenous rider.

At the minimart in Port Ludlow, Christine understands. As we feast on chicken strips and chips and ice tea she declares, between tasty mouthfuls, that "Now I feel like a real bike tourist."

We leave the "Village in the Woods by the Bay" rolling north on the Oak Bay Road. It's early afternoon now and the sun has warmed away almost all of the morning mist. And we are at our destination for the day, the Oak Bay County Park.

I've ridden by the sign for the Oak Bay Park a few dozen times over the years, but this is the first time I've turned in to see the park. Confusingly, the signs for camping point both north and south when you leave the main road, so we check both options. The southern area is an exposed spit jutting out into the bay, optimal, I suppose, for those arriving by water or having intentions involving watercraft. The northern area is wooded and overlooks the bay. We opt for camping in the woods.

But first, there is important lounging to be done. Stories are read. Snacks are consumed. Thoughts are thought. Basking happens.

As the day moves towards evening we pitch the tent and make the food. As the air grows cooler, we bundle up.

Before dark all the food goes in the bag that we sling high in the tree. We are cautious of bears but honestly more concerned with raccoons, crows, seagulls and squirrels.

The sun sets on another wonderful day. The birds call across the bay and we settle into sleep under warm layers of down.

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