Vancouver to Portland via Washington’s Olympic Peninsula

I set off from Vancouver on the 19th of July after a great few days relaxing in the city. Highlights were seeing one of my favourite bands, Trampled By Turtles, at the Vancouver folk festival, eating massive sausage and bacon stuffed pancakes at The Elbow Room Café and drinking beer with new friends! I set off alone from Vancouver, being on a tighter timescale than John and Steve who I had been cycling with up until that point.

Briefly my route took me north to Horseshoe Bay just outside Vancouver where I got a ferry to Nanaimo then cycled down to Victoria. From Victoria a short ferry crossing dropped me off at Port Angeles where I headed west then south around Washington’s Coast. I took several detours to visit beaches and villages, especially in the south west of Washington. I dropped into Westport after hearing about the quality of their breweries and wasn’t disappointed. Westport Brewing Co. serve amazing beer from a converted garage and sent me on my way with a fresh caught salmon fillet and salad!!! The generosity I experienced further north in America has been continued with RV owners feeding and watering me as I travel down the coast.

Perhaps because I’m now on my own the miles have increased slightly to the point that I’m averaging somewhere around 70 miles a day. Parts of the Washington coast were tough with westerly headwinds slowing the pace and coastal hills testing the legs. The beaches along the coast have been amazing, Rialto Beach was particularly stunning with gigantic driftwood and friendly otters as can be seen in the photos below. The area surrounding Rialto was where they filmed Twilight the vampire movie thingy. My appearance would probably put me in the werewolf camp, not sophisticated enough to make vampire status.

I took a day off in Longbeach after a hard few days cycling. The rodeo was in town and live music playing at the campsite I stayed at in the evening so it was a worthwhile visit overall. Americans seem to have an obsession with claiming objects as ‘the world’s largest/longest etc’. In the past weeks I’ve passed the worlds largest Oyster, made of plaster, world’s largest Sitka spruce tree (probably legitimate but dying) and the world’s longest beach in…..longbeach, imaginative place names too you see.

On the wildlife front raccoons have been making a nuisance of themselves. One jumped out of a ditch as I was leaving Vancouver and snarled at me, I let out a girlish yell and wiggled across the central reservation of the road before regaining my composure and giving Mr Racoon the finger (yeaaa I sure showed him).  Another night, another raccoon. This time the furry wee creep slid down from a tree to see what I was cooking. When I shone my headlight at him he froze, comically shifting his sneaky bandit masked eyes from side to side until I turned away.

The final thing which I feel I have to report on are fireworks. There seems to be a general (and not unhealthy in my opinion) obsession with them here and they are often sold in gas stations. I cycled past one which had a sign saying ‘do not let off fireworks within 100 m of shed’, the shed being the highly explosive stash point. I laughed at the thought of a firework addict unable to restrain himself from the next hit, buying a rocket then legging it 100 m until he was safe to let fly.

The first few nights camping alone were creepy, the first was spent around the back of a church in rural Vancouver Island. Every little snapping twig or falling leaf began to sound sinister from within my tent, hopping birds became axe murderers footsteps and a simple breeze the sound of a car pulling up to move me on. The further south I move the more populated it’s becoming and the more I’m settling into it.

I spent the night before last in Portland with great warmshowers host’s named Kurt and Krista. They gave me some great routes back to the coast and homemade muffins for breakfast, yummm, thanks guys! Exploring cities alone isn’t so much fun though so after seeing the sights and eating donuts I’ve headed west and am now in Pacific City, Oregon.

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