Whidbey Island to Seattle

9/16/22

Well, as it turned out, I only biked 14 miles today—not the 27 I had thought—although there were definitely some challenging hills in there, especially on the two-mile stretch coming off the ferry into Mukilteo.

This morning, I said farewell to my Whidbey Island Warmshowers hosts Michael and Debbie (hi, you two, if you’re reading!) and glided down the quarter-mile or so to the ferry dock beneath their living room window. As the ferry set sail, I got a text from them that they could see me with my bright trailer on the dock!

The sailing was brief, and then I began my ascent, with several stops to rest.

Today’s cycling was much less visually pleasant than that of the past week or so. I was on a busy highway for about the first ten miles. I stopped for lunch in Lynnwood at a Taco Del Mar, much to my delight since the Seattle-based chain closed all their Portland-area locations some years ago. I had almost forgotten that the place existed, but I used to eat there at least once a week for probably at least ten years, maybe more like twenty! It was fun to reminisce over my spinach-tortilla-wrapped burrito.

Afterward, I got back out onto the busy thoroughfare filled with construction, inwardly groaning that this was the condition of my ride today. Luckily, within a few blocks, I reached the Interurban Trail, a car-free bike-and-ped path that leads much of the way into Seattle. Finally, a pleasant off-road trail!

Sadly, my relief was quickly foiled: after crossing a single overpass, I was met with detour signs pointing me back into unpleasant traffic conditions on surface streets. I wasn’t exactly sure how to navigate the signs, and I wondered when—or even if—I would be able to rejoin the trail. I was already tired of this kind of cycling, and feeling cranky.

But then I looked up, and what should my weary eyes behold but the Lynnwood Transit Center! I wondered if I could hop a bus to take me closer to town.

But then I quickly remembered that I generally cannot fit my rig onto city buses, especially in the afternoon (it was about 3:00) when they might be filling for rush hour. Furthermore, I thought I remembered that in Portland you can’t pay bus fare by cash. Might that be the case here as well? How could I buy a ticket?

However, the situation seemed worth investigating.

Lo and behold, upon closer inspection I found schedules for three express buses bound for Northgate Center, just a bit more than three miles away from my destination!

One of those buses pulled up just then. I asked the driver if I could board with my rig. He looked at it and frowned, and said no.

Argh.

But I had pretty much expected that; I knew it was a long shot.

Time to rethink. I was sure there must be a bikeable way to get the 13 remaining miles to my sister and her partner’s house.

But then I changed my mind again: why not try again for a bus? There were three heading my direction. I took apart my rig, turning the trailer into a pushcart like I do to board Amtrak trains, and folding the bike into its neat, small package.

Then I asked the people standing at the bus stop what the fare was, and how to pay it. They told me it was about $3, and that I could pay by cash.

Wow!

Luckily, I had recently replenished my (very lean) cash stock just a day or two ago, so I had three ones on me.

And just then, another bus pulled up. This driver replied that it would be OK! (I was so glad I had transformed the rig into its transit-ready form, before giving up on this possibility.)

The fare turned out to be $3.25, so I dug out an extra quarter, and after I maneuvered everything through the door and around the corner, we were off!

This express bus ride—only one stop between Lynnwood and Northgate—saved me ten miles, and about 250 feet of climbing.

I appreciated that very much as I disembarked and reassembled everything, because I knew that those last three miles would include about another 200 feet of hills. (This is Seattle, after all.)

After huffing my way up those hills, I enjoyed a nice home-cooked dinner with my hosts, followed by more conversation.

And… wow. This is the last night of my geographic loop. Tomorrow, I will board the train back to Portland. I haven’t set foot in that city—my home from September1990 through September 2021—for a year now. I’m curious how I’ll feel re-entering it, even though I’ll only be staying for about three weeks before heading south again to continue my adventures.

I guess I’ll take it all a day at a time, just like the past year.

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