This is the first morning that I have the glory of sitting in front of a computer with every finger touching a keyboard. It feels foreign and familiar, and I’m suddenly aware of how long and uneven my fingernails have become on this journey. I’m sure the fluidity of my typing will return as I try and recount the past few days, and obviously I’m starting to get confused to what day it is and how long we’ve been gone.
I love that feeling.
Day 9: Washington Coast to Seattle
We woke up on Long Island Peninsula, in our tent while hearing the spitting sound of rain drops mixed with pine needles falling on our tent. Our first bit of moisture on the trip so far, we were actually excited to wire up our heated gear and test out the waterproofness of our Aerostich outfits. Well wouldn’t you know, they work amazingly well! We only had a few minutes of actual testing with the water, but it feels so good to be nice and warm and look out of your visor at the blustery conditions and feel a bit smug, feeling like you’re getting away with something by being so comfy…
On a morning like this we chose to eat breakfast out. There was a great family-owned diner that served breakfast all day, which was good because somehow it was already noon! I continued my Aw Shucks adventure by ordering Fried Oysters with a side of eggs and hash browns. I’ll elaborate more on that in a separate post, but they were good.
We continued up the 101 and decided to follow Kurt Cobain’s route to Seattle. Aberdeen to Olympia to Seattle…they’re not too far apart from each other, and it shortened our route and allowed us more time to share our evening with family. The weather that day was just gorgeous – by the time we reached Olympia we could not have been more excited to ditch our heated gear and fleece – we were downright hot! The crystal clear views of Mt. Rainier were stunning, and sometimes distracting from the road. Fortunately we were able to keep our concentration and have the best of luck and timing in avoiding the accident that some crazy driver caused in front of a bus two lanes over…
That’s one thing about riding a motorcycle that becomes more apparent the more we ride – there are SO many distracted and dangerous car drivers on the roads! People actively involved on their cell phones, eating, drinking, or just straight-up not looking in their mirrors or side windows… it’s seriously a wonder how they make it from point A to point B every day…
So the best we can do is continue to look many cars ahead, try and see the best line of action, and maintain our own sense of safety and speed. There’s a movie that Bear and I saw before we left that showed this concept so well — I think it was called Premium Rush — they did a fantastic job of visualizing that.
We arrived in Seattle around 5 in the evening, with plenty of time to shower, eat, and relax before a long and comfortable night’s sleep. We were also so stoked to receive care packages from Bear’s sister, who knows the value of spare zip-lock bags on a trip like this 🙂
Day 10: A short ride to Canada
After sleeping in and vegging out to Tosh.0 we were ready to hit the road. We’ve driven up the 5 many times to Canada to take the Tsawwassen Ferry to Victoria, BC, so we decided to go a different route this time. Driving to downtown Seattle at noon is a easy jaunt to the ferry terminal, and we rode up just as the boat to Bainbridge Island was loading. What timing! We rode right on, and I was giddy with excitment for my first motorcycle ferry ride. This boat was small enough where they didn’t have back hatch doors to close, so we stood at the back of the boat taking pictures of the steadily shrinking city.
It was another stunningly clear day – Mt. Rainier was glistening white in the background against a bluebird sky, Vashon Island was slowly drifting by, and we were getting that much closer to Canada.
Bear and I love Canada so much, for different and similar reasons.
I was born just two hours south of the border, in a very small town in North Dakota. When I was a little girl we took a road trip up to Winnepeg for our birthdays (my brother and I both have birthdays in November) and I remember it being such a great trip. We had this big old blue Dodge – it was from the 70’s, and had two gas tanks. The silver round gas tanks on each side always looked so shiny to me, and we called it the Blue Bomb. This truck had a camper on the top, and us kids would ride in the sleeping bed up top, watching the traffic and the road the whole way. I’m pretty sure this is illegal now, but God bless the 80’s for the “how did we survive that” mentality.
Bear has come to Victoria for almost 10 years now, first with his band to have their records produced and recorded, and now to find respite, relaxation, and inspiration. Canada brings smiles to both of our hearts, and we couldn’t wait to get there.
We wound our way through densely wooded forests on single-land highways and sometimes double-lane roads, inching closer to Port Angeles. I could tell that I am now a “Californian” with how impatient I was getting with the local drivers — they follow the speed limit to a T, often going just 1mph slower than the posted limits. Yet when a passing lane would come, they would all speed up to 10mph faster, while blocking both lanes. Oooh I was frustrated!
There’s a lot of things on a journey like this that test your patience, and it’s never flattering to have those come out. For me, bad drivers are apparently a hot button.
As things would go, we all got to the ferry terminal at the same time, and on time. We met up with a group of Harley riders that were showing their German friends their favorite spots between Utah and Canada, and boarded the boat. This time, we would need to tie down our motorcycles for the hour and one-half ride.
I have never done this before, Bear has once, and showed me the ropes. (Literally). You park your bike along the edge of the boat, near the wall that has rails with ropes on it, and park your bike on it’s kickstand. Then you grab a triangular-stepped block of wood — imagine a one-foot square block but instead of a straight diagonal cut through it, it is stepped in 2 or 3 inch increments. This block gets wedged on the right-hand side of the motorcycle, under the engine frame. Then you tie a rope from the wall railing to the handlebar, and if you have an extra bit of webbing or rope, tie another one to the rear bit of the frame. I used my luggage rack for this one.
I stood back, looked at my bike, went back up and tried rocking it a bit, then stood back, and nervously walked away, hoping I’d done a good enough job. Bear was convinced that I had, so I believed him and we walked up to the passenger deck.
Bear did what Bear does – grab his camera gear and start taking photos from the boat, from every possible location.
I did what I do – grab my snacks and leftover food, and start eating.
This was also a great opportunity to finally check my email, since I had all bars on the network and would soon be leaving America’s cell space. A tweet or two in, I felt the ferry boat heave and roll. Good thing I was sitting down, because it was quite a movement. Then I felt the boat roll and heave some more, but this time accompanied by some knocking sounds. There were some moaning sounds too, then some loud boomy sounds, and I started to get so nervous. Images of Titanic and the theme “My Heart Will Go On” came to mind, and I had to work extra hard at staying calm.
Was my bike tipping over right now? Was our ferry boat breaking in the middle and taking on water? I imagined how cold the water might be, and came up with a game plan of how I would remove my boots and suit first, so that I wouldn’t sink in the water… “Come on, Steph! Don’t think about these things! Think good thoughts, and that it’s all going to be OK!” I kept trying to remind myself.
My god, I am so good at getting worked up!
“Where’s Bear? Has he fallen over the edge? It looks windy out there, and I haven’t seen him in a while!” My nerves got the best of me, so I got up from my chair and started to walk around the ferry to look for Bear.
Each step I took was one that nearly made me fall – the boat was rolling and I was wondering why all of the other passengers looked so calm. Some of them were even drinking beers and reading books! How could they be this relaxed before our imminent death!?
I made it to the front of the boat, then walked around the front to the back, with no sign of Bear. Oh no – he must have fallen overboard!!! I had to go outside to check. I braved my way through one of the outside doors, and it was so heavy to push open against the wind. I walked around the back of the boat where I had seen him last, with no sign.
I tried to tell myself it was OK, to just calm down and go inside and be patient. So I sat down at a table again, and finished eating my leftovers. Boom! I heard the outside door slam shut! I looked up and out the window, and it was Bear! He had just gone out the door in front of me, and we didn’t see each other! Quickly I threw away my empty dish, grabbed my thermos and went outside to follow him. As soon as I pried the door open, he was gone again! I walked up towards the front of the boat, I could feel the sea mist spraying my face, I had to hold my beanie on because the wind was so fiercely threatening to blow it off, and I clenched the side rail to not fall with the rocking of the boat. Oh no, he’s still not in sight! Had he actually gone around the front of the boat! I followed, and was nearly blown off my feet. It was SOOOOO windy, I felt like I was in the gnarliest blizzard! I imagined the inside passengers laughing to see me leaning into the wind, almost horizontal.
This was it – I’d had enough. I pried the first door open that I found to the inside, and looked up. Bear was standing right there. “Oh Bear!!! I’ve been looking everywhere for you!!! I was so scared!!!”
He was fine, the boat was not breaking, and we decided to sit down so I could chill out. I realized that I’m not a sea-person at all, that I really have no idea what it’s like to be on a boat. I’m pretty sure this was all very low-level activity, and I’m such a newbie. I have no idea how the people on Deadliest Catch even handle this.
We continued to float into the Victoria harbor, and were amazed at how beautiful the weather still was. We were finally in Canada! Proud to have ridden this far on motorcycles, and we were finally at our favorite respite!
— Side note: I just realized I’m pretty hungry right now, so I might take a little food break and come back to this. Please excuse this intermission 🙂 —