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Puget Sound Islands TR Dec. 8-12 - forts, ferry rides and pizza pie

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Puget Sound Islands TR Dec. 8-12 - forts, ferry rides and pizza pie

Old 12-11-05, 08:30 PM
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With a forecast showing nothing but blue skies for the weekend, I packed up the Long Haul Trucker and caught Thursday's 8:55 AM ferry boat to Bainbridge Island, just across Puget Sound from Seattle, for a four day bicycle tour of historic forts, ferry boat hopping, and lots of pizza.
edited to add, Thurs Dec 8 through Sunday Dec 11, not 12 like in the thread title! Stupid Bek, stupid!

I hit the road out of the Bainbridge ferry terminal with sunny skies, reports of 'black ice' and about 37 degrees (all temps in farenheit.) 2 hours later I pull ahead to the front a long line of traffic stopped on the Hood Canal Bridge, which was open for ship's passage. One the bridge reopened, I led the whole line of traffic across the draw spans. Score one for Human Powered Transport!

By 2:30 I rolled into Port Townsend, a historic victorian town at the conflux of Puget Sound and the Straights of Juan De Fuca. Head off to Fort Worden, my camping destination.
I played it by ear and wound up using the fort as a base camp for the weekend.

Fort Worden is where "An Officer and A Gentleman" was filmed. The movie didn't really do it justice. Fort Worden has a huge array of batteries and gun emplacments dating back to the late 1800's to protect Puget Sound commercial shipping. There are a series of forts and gun batteries all along the Washington coast, and Fort Worden is the largest one.

by 5:30, in total blackness, I had set up camp and brewed up tea and some dinner before hitting the sack about 8. Winter camping dictates a four season tent with no mesh panels. A full double wall design provides a good degree of insulation from the figid weather. Add a candle lantern and you get quite a toasty tent for the evening.

A winter season camping bonus not appreciated by the uninitiated is major down time because of the 14 hours of darkness. This calls for some serious hours of tent bound slumber. You can sleep 10,12 hours a day or more. So, with a warm sleeping bag, the right tent accessories and a good book, winter camping is a lot like being cooped up in bed at home, except the 50 degree temperature difference and the lack of creature comforts.

After 12 hours of rest, Friday morning I got up about 8, cooked breakie and hit the fort for a day of videotaping and photography. I was alternately playing Louis Gosset giving Richard Gere a hard time up in the bunkers, pretending I was a Swiss bike mountain troop on advance reconnaisance of the US, and shooting a lot of pictures and video with my new waterproof digital camera. There's a whole series of tunnels and bunkers you can ride thru.

That afternoon, into Port Townsend for some killer pizza pie. I went back to the fort before dark, but by 8 friday night I was hungry again, so headed off to town for some grub and some live music at a pub till about 11.

Saturday morning, about 30 degrees and hard frozen fog in spots, but off on the 9:30 boat to Whidbey Island for a day of great senic road riding around Ebey's Landing Historic Preserve, by Penn Cove and its world famous mussel farms, then off to Oak Harbor for lunch. Some roadies pulled me in, then I joined up for a couple of miles on these great roads along Penn Cove with no traffic. About 5 or 6 roadies, and me on the LHT with semi loaded full panniers. I took some pictures but need practice with those on-the-fly shots.

I didn't make it to the Starbuck's the roadies recommended, instead going for a cup of independant joe in old town Oak Harbor with sunshine and 40 degrees. Back on the road again to catch the 3 o clock ferry back to Port Townsend and some more great pizza slices. Back to the fort, and hit the sack by 7.

Up this morning at 6 to brew coffee in the predawn darkness, up and packed up by 9:30 AM and hit the road in fog just the warm side of frozen. Out of Port Townsend by 10AM, with thick fog all the way to the Hood Canal bridge, crossed by 1, and got to Bainbridge just in time to roll on the 2:55 boat back to Seattle.

No idea how many miles, maybe 175 total, didn't have any real plan before I left besides a little December bike touring.

Beautiful weather. Great riding, great roads, too many great small things to mention.


And a couple of tips, and observations for winter touring.

Candle lantern to heat tent. Hanging coffee cup holder for tent (mine is a Sierra Designs.) I bring a small AM/FM/TV/Weather radio w/ headphones to listen to music and the weather report.

I wore all wool the whole time, i didn't even bring a waterproof jacket, just a pertex windbreaker and pants I wore around camp at night for a shell layer. Riding I wore the same thin long sleeve wool undershirt, 2 ss thin wool bike jerseys, one being 1 full zip I took on and off to fine tune the layering, and a Ibex wool softshell jacket. On my legs I wore a pair of wool tights over a pair of padded wool Ibex cycling shorts. Never so sweaty I had to change, and wore the same clothes the entire time, changing mostly socks and adding extra warm layers at night for sitting around camp.

One thing I discovered on this trip, the inside of a Goldfish crackers bag makes a great candle reflector. I made one and used it with a loose candle to illuminate my campground.

Be prepared for long hours in your tent, and winter bicycle touring becomes a secretly relaxing vacation insulated from the outside world.


Pics, top row left to right: 1)Penn Cove and mussel beds. 2) Ebey landing road, road continues along the coast in the center of the pic. 3) Port townsend from the Whidbey island ferry.
Pics, bottom row, left to right: 4) Tent and bike at night with candle lantern. 5) one of the pics from a Fort Worden spotting tower, looking out over Puget Sound. 6) porthole shot on ferry.
Attached Images
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penncove.jpg (15.4 KB, 8 views)
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ebey-road.jpg (28.2 KB, 12 views)
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porttownsend.jpg (9.1 KB, 7 views)
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tentbikelite.jpg (11.7 KB, 28 views)
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embattlment.jpg (9.3 KB, 7 views)
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porthole.jpg (17.3 KB, 10 views)

Last edited by Bekologist; 12-12-05 at 07:17 PM. Reason: pics
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Old 12-13-05, 09:38 PM
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Is that Ebey Lagoon just outside of Coupeville in the background of picture #2 ?

How is it on Whidbey these days ? I haven't ridden out there in years. Did you ride along the main highway to Oak Harbor ? I remember that there were quieter back roads on much of the island that allowed you to ride away from the main highway.
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Old 12-13-05, 10:18 PM
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good eye PM Seattle. that's the bay by coupville. The main highway S out of Oak Harbor is definetly busy. There's a wierd, underutilized, mossy MUP path to the side of the road between Oak Harbor and headed s of coupville turnoffs, I don't know how continuous it is, but was a nice to get off the highway for a stretch.

the back roads around the Coupville Bay and around Penn cove into Oak Hatbor were wonderful, as well as all the roads in Ebey's landing.
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