Washington State: Part One

It’s been a long time since I wrote or posted anything, in fact, I have not written since I moved from Squarespace to WordPress. Ever since work sent me out to Seattle I’ve been quite enamored with Washington. The Pacific Northwest really is totally different from anything I have ever experienced. Anyways, this trip had two distinct halves: first, a cycling trip on the San Juan Islands with an outfitter; second, a few days camping in North Cascades National Park.

San Juan Islands Cycling

I’m not good at committing to vacations, so part of this one centered around booking something that would force me to do something. I’d been eyeing some of the REI Adventures and finally booked their San Juan Islands Weekend Cycling trip. It was beyond fun and such a unique experience.

The itinerary took us across three different islands with riding on four days. After flying out I had a travel day to get on San Juan Island. The Washington State Ferry was rather uneventful and definitely unique. Once on the island I did some postcard shopping, had dinner, and then grabbed a beer at the brewery in town. Cycling the first full day was quite fun – we did 37 miles and it was probably the most scenic day.

My ride was a Cannondale Synapse, nice to experience but also not something I’d want to own. I’m used to gravel bikes that have some compliance in the frame and this felt every bump in the road. But the bike fit, was reasonably comfortable, and have no regrets. The support van was super nice. It allowed me to drink as much water as I wanted without rationing.

The first day ride was probably the most scenic. Lunch was out on a cape with a view of the Puget Sound: Olympic Peninsula to the south and Canada to the north.

After lunch we rode to a lighthouse in Lime Kiln State Park. This park had a few of the most wonderful postcards that were added to my collection. As you’ve noticed from the photos, I was treated to clear blue skies in the San Juans.

Part of the fun on Day 1 was visiting a bougie harbor on the backside of San Juan Island: Roche Harbor. One of the best highlights was ice cream. Camping the first night was also fun: a balmy mid 50’s night, no wildlife to worry about, and delicious food.

Day 2 included some more deserted fun. Lopez Island was way less populated and we rode past a lot of houses that sent the I-don’t-want-be-bothered message. The midday stop was at Shark Reef Sanctuary (sadly no sharks, just some sea lions from a distance). The highlight of Lopez was definitely my dip into the Sound, looking for the Northern Lights, and seeing Starlink fly over.

Day 3 saw a climb up Mount Constitution on Orcas Island – the highest point on the San Juans. This also had the pleasure of being my largest single climb of around 3000 feet. Orcas Island was definitely the busiest island. It had a lovely farmer’s market that we stopped at for breakfast. The market had a few stands that called my name with food and a pottery stand that I saved off on Etsy.

The cycling trip was both exactly what I wanted and not at all what I expected. The trip description led me to think I wouldn’t be in good enough shape to ride it. In actuality, I was in the best shape of all the trip members – by the end I was leading while a guide swept the group. I really wasn’t expecting the group to be as old; I was the youngest by 25 years excluding the guides. The guides were both awesome. One of them guided on the islands in the summer and was ski patrol in Park City in the winter.

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