Tuesday, August 6 – 74 miles today/223 miles total
One thing about city parks that include a variety of recreational activities…they tend to keep the lights on all night for security purposes. We all know this isn’t a problem for Jay but Janet woke a number of times thinking the day had started without her approval!
Today’s plan was to ride US 30 about 10 miles west, take the ferry to Puget Island, WA, then west on WA 4 and finally head south on US 101 to Cape Disappointment State Park for the night. On paper, this was to be our longest ride of the trip.
As crazy as traffic had been yesterday on US 26, we weren’t too excited about 10 miles on US 30. After stopping at the local hardware store for a yellow bottle of HEET, our replacement fuel, we pedaled out onto the highway and were pleasantly surprised. Although there was only one lane for each direction, the pavement was smooth, the shoulder was wide and we, again, rode with a tailwind for the first 5-6 miles.
The morning spin felt so fast and easy. Janet noted we were riding at a steady 18-19 mph and we had a long day ahead of us. DOH! Before we finished with our first leg of the day on US 30, the headwind returned for the last couple of miles to remind us we were on tour and not necessarily in charge of much.
Arriving at the little town of Westport, OR, we turned off the highway and headed for the ferry dock. A bit of research told us that it departed Westport at :15 past each hour on its rounds to Puget Island and back. We had about 20 minutes to relax so out came a snack picnic and the cameras. We had the entire area to ourselves for some time and watched a male osprey circle the waterfront until it turned and dove steeply. After a mighty splash, he climbed up from the water with a fish tightly in his talons, screeching his success to his hunting partner.
Right on schedule, the small ferry came around the bend in the river and tied up quickly. After the Oregon bound cars passed (all 3 of them), we rode down and boarded along with a motorcycle, a truck and a car. The bicycle fee of $2 each seemed fair and the operators were very helpful. It’s a short but scenic ride across one arm of the Columbia River to Puget Island followed by a quiet 3 mile ride through farmland and then a pedal over the bridge to Cathlamet, WA.
Now we are looking for our second breakfast and Cathlamet has only a small handful of restaurants on its main street. We checked out a couple of menus and settled on the Thyme Square Bistro, primarily because of its outside tables and the incredible selection of french toast on the menu. Jay kept with his favorite ice cream theme and ordered the Chunky Monkey french toast…banana walnut bread with chocolate drizzle while Janet stayed a bit more traditional…thick bread with a banana and cream cheese filling topped by fresh fruit compote and custard! Fuel would NOT be a problem today.
Although state highway 4 is the only route in Washington along the Columbia between Vancouver and the coast, the traffic was sparse and very polite. There wasn’t much of a shoulder to ride on but the drivers passed with lots of room to spare and, unlike a few previous rides, nobody swore at us or gunned their stinky diesel just as they pulled even.
We rode past the Julia Butler Hansen Refuge for the Columbian White-Tailed Deer, through the lovely waterfront village of Skamokawa and up for our only real climb of the day, a 3 mile 760 foot slog up to KM pass…yes, that’s the name of it.
After the climb, the afternoon passed pleasantly as we rode through Grays River, past Rosburg and into Naselle. With blue skies, a slight breeze and warm temps, it was a wonderful and peaceful ride.
In Naselle we decided to leave the highway for the last 5 miles or so. Parpala Rd runs parallel to WA 4 but on the opposite side of the Naselle River. There are a few homes and farms on this backroad but nearly no traffic and gorgeous scenery. WA 4 runs along the opposite hillside so the perspective is a bit limited compared to the expansive views from Parpala Rd. They each meet US 101 about 5 miles west of Naselle at opposite ends of the bridge spanning the river.
Heading south on US 101, we picked up another tailwind and cruised along Willapa Bay towards our accommodations for the night. It was a smooth and easy ride but we finally hit the coastal clouds about 5 miles from Ilwaco. From that point in, it was a bit cool and damp to ride, enough that windbreakers were brought out.
On arrival in Ilwaco, we bought groceries for our last couple of meals. Only a few yards beyond the market was a sign indicating 3 miles to the state park. As it turns out, it is actually a loop road between Ilwaco and the park. Following the sign takes you through the heart of the peninsula, the way we went, while an unmarked left turn at the same intersection follows the waterfront less than 2 miles to the same spot, the way we returned. A short, final descent from the intersection and you’re there.
A small market sits across from the entrance but we’d already picked up everything we needed. The hiker/biker site was an open, grassy area along the roadside and cost $6 per person. The bathrooms and showers were about as far away as they had been at Nehalem Bay State Park a few days ago. The big difference was you had to feed quarters to these showers, 25 cents/3 min.
To be fair, Janet put one quarter in and the water never stopped so I just tried the faucet and it worked just fine. Dinner included the pasta we’d carried from day 1 with a few fresh veggies and the last of the cream cheese added to the sauce. This lightened Janet’s load considerably! The sound of the ocean stayed in the background throughout the night providing enough white noise to allow for a good nights sleep.
JP & JS