Day 1: Redmond, WA to Belfair, WA

August 31st, 2020

41.5 mi / 11.04 mph / 1709 ft. climbing
Staying at Twanoh State Park

Hola amigos! I know it’s been a long time since I’ve rapped at ya, but we’ve been hatching plans. Namely, we just started a bike tour! Our first in 4 years. It’s just 8 days of riding, so nothing super-epic, but hopefully long enough to feel like a vacation and “getting away” from the abnormally small bubble into which our lives have been collapsed for the last 6 months of this COVID-19 pandemic.

Only after I’d completed the planning for this trip did I realize that previous-Neil would have never wasted his time on a mere 1-week bike tour. I’ve done a few 4-weekers, and a few 2-weekers, but always considered the latter to be the absolute minimum. So I was momentarily confused as to why I’d just screwed up so royally and planned a dumb 1-week trip. Then I realized that my previous minimum-requirements had been due to the high-cost of the “buy-in”. If riding out your front door from Chicago, by the time you get out of the suburbs and exurbs, you get a couple of days of cornfields before you have to turn around. Or if you take a train or a plane somewhere more majestic, that’s half your trip spent traveling with something that’s not your bike.

Rett riding across Lake Washington on the SR520 floating bridge

But here, from the eastern suburbs of Seattle, we can ride 40 miles (with an hour-long ferry ride in the middle) and end up at one of the most beautiful campsites I’ve ever been in. We’re at Twanoh State Park, surrounded by some mind-bending old-growth behemoths, on the Hood Canal (a dead-end lobe of Puget Sound), and are set to do a clockwise loop of the Olympic Peninsula. Our route will be marking out the numbers on the face of the clock, and the Olympic Mountains (and the National Park of the same name) will be filling the center of the clock face.

All loaded up!

We took a mostly-familiar ride from our front door in Redmond, across Lake Washington, and into Seattle-proper for the first time since COVID began. Rett, with new panniers, and her relatively new bike (Claire), did a great job of urban navigation and to the downtown ferry dock. We had our packed-sandwich lunch on the ferry at an every-other distanced table during the hour-long crossing to Bremerton. Rolled into camp around 4pm for one of the least-stressful days of bike touring we’ve done together.

The fairly lame Seattle skyline seen from the ferry

A pretty rough-looking aircraft carrier at the Bremerton Naval Base (though even in this state, it seemed more like a huge office building sitting in the water than a boat).

Our old-growth campsite at Twanoh State Park

And then, we had pizza for dinner! Sunday pizza! (a Gregie family tradition!) Rett’s taken a strong interest in camp cooking, and it’s been awesome. Pizza, on a backpacking stove, fueled with gasoline, essentially from scratch. Well, not the dough, but fresh-chopped garlic, tomato paste, cheese, pepperoni, spices, and some wizardry with adding steam to the frying pan to heat the topside and melt the cheese. And a fresh spinach salad on the side! And with those giant trees watching us, and a creek burbling right below. A guy walking on the almost-invisible trail on the slope on the other side of the creek stopped and said “wow, you guys have a great site there!” which is the first time I think I’ve ever heard that from a passer-by. If only he knew what we were eating too!

Sunday Pizza Dinner!

Another view of the giants (note the wine bottle in the base of the tree for scale!)

We finished with a stroll down to the water, with the mobs of Sunday-afternoon beach-goers we saw on the way in now all cleared out leaving mostly just us, the millions of barnacle-covered shells, and the blue-tinged Twilight-like twilight saturating the air.

At Hood Canal

At Hood Canal

At Hood Canal

One of the millions of wild shell-formations