Pacific coast ride Part I: Bellingham-Vancouver-Vancouver Islands-Seattle-Portland ( approximately 820 Km’s)

After arriving in Bellingham I de-toured a bit to visit Vancouver where I met up with Jayakumar from British Columbia Thamil Cultural society whose family cooked a lovely dinner which included more than 10 different varieties – hospitality as described in some Tamil literature. I am grateful for their kindness.

I was talked into visiting some of the islands around this area so I went Island hopping and cycling to reach Seattle after three separate ferry rides and some 400 Km’s cycling over for four days. Vancouver Islands is an excellent holiday destination due to its pristine beaches and lovely hiking trails. I cycled in this islands for two days, the scenery and the weather of which reminded me of cycling in Cape Town. Even though I have seen some of the British Columbia coast line in the BBC documentary ‘The Great Salmon Run’, to see the tall ice capped mountains rising directly above the sea, for real is something different. However, I did not enjoy the cycling part in Vancouver Islands. The road I took was quite busy, the constant whizzing of motors cars was deafening. After two days and about 180 Km’s I arrived in Victoria. From here I took the ferry to the Olympia peninsula in the state of Washington, USA and then crossed to Bainbridge island via a bridge from where I took a ferry again to Seattle, the home of Starbucks whose wifi comes very handy during my travel.

I stayed in Seattle for three nights and then rode the famous Seattle to Portland cycle route (202 miles). Coincidentally the Seattle to Portland bike ride was happening on the weekend I arrived. Some people do this distance over two days while some brave souls do this in a single day! I am touring not racing so I decided to do it over three days. The route goes through some nice countryside but nothing dramatic.

The heat wave in Washington was the highlight of this part of my trip. I was warned about the rainy and misty weather in Washington but the weather god had different plans for me. I had 30 plus (degree Celsius) every single day ever since I arrived in the lower 48 states. I was very lucky. On the first day when I left Seattle I arrived in the small town of Rainier where I went to have a dip in the river nearby. It felt like a Caribbean holiday to take a dip in the water, after having cycled in the hot sun – life felt very good. However, I did not venture into the river beyond knee deep water, unwilling to challenge my swimming skills, since my legs were too tired for it.

I enjoyed trying to pronounce some of the names of the towns in this region (Sequim, Chimacum, Yelm, Puyallup, Chehalis) named by Native Americans I presume; Puyallup was my favourite. This was a welcome change from the repetitive colonial names such as Dawson, Dalton, York.

After all the drama, I only slept for 3 hours. I left early morning on the next day to Portland. When I was about 30 miles before Portland I saw a truck pulled over on the shoulder lane. The driver Chris got off the vehicle and waved for me to stop. He asked if I needed money. I was surprised but he took his wallet out to give me some money. I refused. He is aware of bike touring through his son Chris Junior who was also on a bicycle trip somewhere in New Mexico. I took a bottle of Powerade and a mars bar from him instead. Chris came into my life for only less than two minutes but I will always remember him and this incident. I was so shocked by the random act of kindness that I had to stop for few minutes and digest what happened before I could continue, although my brain did not stop the philosophical inquiry for few hours…

I am currently in Portland which is known for its bike friendly roads and excellent quality food. I am loving the food here.

I stayed with several Warmshowers hosts in this part of my trip and my sincere thanks to Mel, Whitney, Zoé and Laura for accommodating me.

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