After the success of the first trip, we were ready to try a real campground. There is limited info about where and how to camp by bike, which is part of the reason for this blog. After a phone call to the Washington State Parks reservation line, I learned how to determine which campgrounds have walk-in tent sites and walk-in hiker/biker sites. It was July 4th weekend, so every reservable campsite in a Washington State park was booked. We chose our destination based on a trip that was short enough that we had time to ride home in case camping didn’t work out.
We left my house around 11 am after a lazy morning breakfast and last minute packing and tire pumping. We wanted to be there in plenty of time to get a walk-in spot, but we were also wary of getting there too early in the day and getting bored. We took the ferry from Seattle to Bremerton. The ferry is extra fun by bike on summer and holiday weekends because cars have to wait for hours, and bikes go straight to the front of the line. In this case though, we arrived just as the ferry was loading so we got to squeeze on at the end. Here is a shot of our bikes tied up to railings on the overcrowded ferry.
The ferry went past our whole trip from last week and we remembered each spot clearly. You go a lot slower on a bike than in a car so you notice and remember a lot more of what you pass on your route. On the Bremerton side we had a quick lunch at Taco del Mar while we checked the map one more time to get to Belfair. We had to cross highway 3, and we were just realizing that the route by car was very clear, but we couldn’t ride our bikes on the highway and had to figure out how to cross it.
This was our big lesson in planning. We tried to make it up as we went, and ride on side streets that paralleled the highway, but we kept hitting dead ends. We consulted the iPhone, which is actually really hard because there is no scale on the Google Maps app, so we weren’t sure how far out of the way we would be going. We eventually made it, but it added a solid hour or more on our trip to look at maps and get caught riding up steep hills we weren’t expecting.
Once back on track, we finally felt like we could just ride and worked off our frustration on the long steady incline. The traffic was pretty heavy on 3, but I felt mostly comfortable with the shoulder width. There are no pictures of this because it felt good to finally just be moving forward. I caught a few glances of the Olympics to my right, but the road was too busy to turn my head away for long.
We had scoped out Google Earth ahead of time for a grocery store a few miles from the state park. We loaded up on dinner supplies: deli sandwiches, can of Pringles, oranges, Gatorade, and a 6 pack of Bud Light tallboys. We shoved food into various spaces in our bags, and I strapped the beer to my rack with the cargo net. About a mile down the road I felt dripping down my back leg.
We arrived at the park and I was worried for nothing. We secured our 12 dollar hiker/biker spot which even included a picnic table and fire ring. We met our neighbors and headed out to check out the main event. Belfair State Park is at the end of Hood Canal and the water was the perfect temperature to wade in. I was prepared to swim, but it was too late to get wet and have no sun left to dry off my swim suit.
We bought a bundle of firewood for $5 from the camp host, but it was too wet to catch. So we just ended up staring and poking at a lot of smoke for a while. It would have been fun to cook dinner rather than have Safeway prepare it for us, but we were glad we weren’t relying on that with the crappy wood. We are still deciding if we will attempt a trip with the camp stove because it seems like a lot of stuff to carry, and all the trips we have talked about so far are on major roads that will have food options.
The hiker/biker sites at this campground were right next to a road, and the tent of 3 dudes 10 feet away had a lot of snoring and farting going on all night. I slept for only a few hours. I was comfortable, but it was all too loud for me and I will have to get used to that. I also couldn’t shake the memory of the sign I saw on the way that said “Do not pick up hitchhikers. Prison nearby” or something like that.
Next morning started with a stop at Starbucks where we actually ran into our bike tour neighbors from the night before. If you think overnight bike touring is roughing it, maybe this Starbucks photo will change your mind.
We made it back to the ferry in Bremerton in less than 2 hours. Knowing where we were going saved us tons of time. I was home on Sunday afternoon in plenty of time to do some laundry, cook dinner, and just finish out the weekend doing normal weekend stuff. Since John and I both hate that normal weekend stuff, we are really ready for a longer trip next time.
What I wish I brought: Kindling. It didn’t help that the firewood was wet, but even if it was dry, we had no newspaper for kindling. In the future, it will be easy to pick up some newspaper during the dinner grocery stop.
What I learned: It is not enough to know the main roads to get to your destination. Some highways or on-ramps are not appropriate for bikes (and sometimes illegal). So from now on we will plan our routes in more detail.