My plan was to ride a Spring tour on Skyline Drive and a Summer tour from Seattle to San Francisco. I may consider modifying my plans though because my daughter is thinking of taking the Summer off before grad school and joining me for some kind of Summer adventure. Bike touring, sailing, and maybe backpacking the likely options.
If we go with the bicycle touring option, the complication is that she will probably have little or no saddle time when school lets out and she isn't crazy about climbing (or descending). She will climb, but it isn't her forte and likewise she will descend but kind of slowly. So the Pacific coast sounds like it may be too hilly unless she is really motivated to do it.
I would be interested in hearing about possible tour routes where the first week or more are pretty flat to allow us to ease in to it since she may be starting with very little base mileage under her belt. Time frame is mid-late May to mid-late August or some portion of that period. Duration will depend on a lot if factors that have not yet gelled and could range from a couple weeks to the whole Summer. I was thinking continental US, but Europe or other travel are not ruled out.
Spend a week in the San Juan Islands of Washington. Mid-late May is just before tourist season, so you should have the place to yourself (OTOH, be prepared for rain).
Easy ferry service between the islands, hills are moderate, scenery is breath-taking, and (shhh, don't tell) the weather is much nicer in the San Juans than it is in Seattle. There are 4 islands with regular ferry service.
Lopez Island is the flattest and easiest to bike--maybe 1-2 days. I recommend hitting this first as a warm up. You can also rent kayaks in Fishermans Bay on Lopez which is nice.
Shaw Island is pretty small and I'd skip it.
San Juan Island is nice, but the busiest (although in May or even June it won't be bad). Once you get out of Friday Harbor, you're biking on country lanes with rolling hills. I really enjoy San Juan Island. Lots of sights to see, too. I'd recommend going counter-clockwise on the Island. Make sure you hit Roche Harbor, English Camp, Lime-Kiln State Park and American Camp. Really enjoyed the camping at Lakeside Resort (private campground). If you stay there, I *HIGHLY* recommend grabbing a nice dinner at Duck Soup Inn. It's a couple of miles from Lakeside--you can shower at the campground a have an easy down-hill ride to the restaurant--best food in the Islands. Lakeside also has a nice lodge if you want to relax and take a break from camping, soak in a jetted tub, or catch up on all that wine you've been meaning to drink.
Orcas Island is the largest island and well worth spending some time. Lots of folks love Deer Harbor--I didn't find it anything special, and I'd skip it. Spend your time in the middle and Western side of the Island. Nice climb to the top of Mt. Constitution, too--beautiful views into Canada, Bellingham, WA and the puget sound from there. Also, Orcas Island has a lot of amazing pottery shops. If you're into that kind of thing, I'd recommend going to Orcas Island Pottery and Crow Valley Pottery--you can buy at the store and they'll ship it for you. Nice souvenir waiting at home.
Once you've spend a week in the San Juan's, take the ferry to Port Townsend, WA and then head south (either on the Eastern shores of the Puget Sound or head West and go down the West side of the Olympic Penninsula) and continue on down the pacific coast. Also note: if you're flying to Seattle, a lot of folks start a tour of the San Juans from Seattle. Just take the ferry to Whidbey Island, ride north on Widbey Island to Anacortes and catch the ferry to the San Juans from there.
If you have the whole summer - have you considered cross-country?
Mid to late May is a great time to start from the east coast - i.e. where you are.
What about starting out at Cape Henlopen and spending the first two days on the Delmarva?
That would be easy riding for a break-in period.
Then you could have a friend meet you to get you across the bridge -
You can also plan to start off doing motels, biking light - then adding more gear in Annapolis.
(I guess you'd have to treat him/her to lunch in Annapolis.)
Then do the C&O trail to Cumberland. Have you done the C&O?
The bike camping is the best there is in the region.
Then you could continue on the ATA or a number of other options. http://www.atatrail.org/
The Youghiogheny section is stupendous.
Although you would be off-route as far as Adventure Cycling routes go - there are a zillion ways to cross the Midwestern states and the Great Plains safely and easily. Then you could plan on hooking up with one of the AC routes in the West. Again, saving the tough riding and best rewards for dessert. The Western Express would be pretty hot in late July / early August - plus it's pretty remote in places in Nevada. It's hard to go wrong with the TransAm. Or - you can take the TransAm to Yellowstone - US 89 (A really sweet ride thru Montana) up to Glacier - and finish with the Northern Tier out in the San Juan Islands. The San Juans aren't exactly flat - in fact - the hills on Orcas are pretty tough. My favorite is Lopez;however, the county campground on the west side of San Juan Island has great ocean sunsets.
Spend a week in the San Juan Islands of Washington. Mid-late May is just before tourist season, so you should have the place to yourself (OTOH, be prepared for rain)...
Spending some time in the San Juans and then continuing down the coast sounds like a GREAT trip. I will keep it in mind. It sounds like a good way to make the Pacific coast trip work for us.
Originally Posted by jamawani
If you have the whole summer - have you considered cross-country? ...
Yes, the notion of cross country has occurred to me. It is something I planned to do after retirement, but given the opportunity to do a cross country trip with my daughter, I would jump at it if she is interested. I have dreamed of doing a cross country since 1976. To do a trip like that with your kid is the sort of opportunity not too many folks get.
The available time we will have is still up in the air. So it all depends on a lot of things. She could do research and make some money again this Summer if she chooses. If she decides to do that we will only have a few weeks. Right now she is considering taking the Summer off (a smart choice IMO). I think it may depend on what grad school she winds up at, whether her advisor convinces her to continue her research this Summer, and so on. So I am guardedly optimistic, but not positive what will happen.
So for now I am just exploring possibilities that might work without really knowing which are feasable schedule-wise. If I wind up solo this Summer I will probably do the Pacific coast and will definitely consider the San Juans option.