Posted by: fergy1008 | March 1, 2016

Leap Year Test Ride

After realizing we hadn’t been on an overnight trip for several months, and with big plans for a hearty riding season ahead, we decided to do a “soft opening” weekend ride.  With a bonus day built-in thanks to Leap Day, we headed out for a short 3 day/2 night adventure.

The trip turned out to be really good, not only to blow away some cobwebs, but to learn some new things and remember some past lessons which will be helpful for the rides later this year…

  • While the new Google Maps has some definite improvements, the limitations on number of waypoints and route modifications is going to put a real crimp in my planning routine.
  • I need to double check the order we are visiting locations
  • We need to print our own route map – Google Maps no longer provides an overview map (it’s little maps for every turn or nothing)
  • I need to be sure to label route printout with A, B, C… for locations and make sure name of location and tour info is labeled so we know what we’re looking for!
  • Let Steve know of any special circumstances – ferries, deadlines, etc.
  • Be sure to review any timelines out of our hands, such as ferries, so we can plan accordingly
  • Include pictures of locations (again, so we know what we’re looking for!)
  • We get irritable when we’re hungry
  • Daily costs have risen
  • It’s better if there are fewer stops in the late afternoon
  • Try to build in flexibility for arrival time and/or where we stop for the night

Leap Day Ride Route - NarrowQuick Version
Day 1 went really well (even though I had so many layers on I looked like the little brother from A Christmas Story). We caught 3 ferries with perfect timing, had a great lunch at a place we love and were looking forward to the weekend.  We visited all our locations and made it to the hotel just before evening descended.  There was plenty of time to relax before heading out for dinner at a place within walking distance.

Day 2 went…fine. But just fine.  Not really fun but not terrible.  It wasn’t raining but it was windy. The roads were good and there were views along the way but the day was completely overcast robbing some of the beauty from the scenes.  We skipped two planned locations due to poor scheduling and a map mix up that basically had us going past B to get C then doubling back for B (which we didn’t do).  We got to see the blooming daffodil fields in La Conner but I routed us through all four of them when one or two would have filled the need.  So many turns to track and the constant battle with the wind took some of the fun out of it. And missing location B meant we also missed my planned lunch location so we ended up at Jack-in-the-Box. Like I said, nothing terrible but not great either. The saving grace (no pun intended) was the final location for the day, Clearbrook Lutheran Church, near the Canadian Border.

Steeple Chase LocationThis Steeple Chase was down a nice country road with some beautiful fields and houses to enjoy along the way. A nice bit of quiet fresh air where we took a moment to relax and book our hotel for the night.  The day continued to end well with a simple and uneventful ride to the hotel, where we received permission to park under the portico of the arrival driveway, were given a room considerately placed at the other end of the hall from small children and offered freshly baked cookies.

Day 3 was mostly for getting home to the puppies we were missing.  We made a quick stop in town at the Children’s Church then travelled down Hwy 9 to Arlington where we took a break for refreshments, restrooms, and getting our minds right before facing dreaded I-5 for the final push home.  Earlier reports of slowdowns had us concerned but everything had cleared out by the time we started hitting the cities and we were able to maintain speed all the way home!

The good news was that, even though it was February, we didn’t get rained on at all during the three days.  We heard stories of terrible weather (pouring rain, hail) but we didn’t catch any of it. Overall, a good starter weekend that provided feedback we’ll be able to use to get great rides the rest of the year.

Detailed Version
Left home about 9:30 and caught the ferry from Pt. Defiance to Vashon – we rolled up to booth, he said to pay below and we drove past the entire line of cars to the dock below. The ferry arrived as Steve walked out of the payment booth. Sweet!

We basically drove from the bottom to the top of Vashon, stopping only to catch our first tour photo – “Cool Gary”, a roadside chainsaw art piece for Wing Washington. At the Fauntleroy-Vashon Island ferry dock they had just begun loading and held up cars to wave us on. Ah, another bonus of riding!

Landing in Seattle we headed straight to Red Mill Burgers. Turned out it was a different location than I had meant to choose but it didn’t matter as it’s delicious at any of them!

With our bellies full, we rode on to the Mukilteo Ferry where – guess what! – the ferry was unloading as we arrived and, after paying, we rolled right down Lane 1 to be second on board behind another bike.

Our next photo location was odd – Casey Crafts, a sewing/craft store in a strip mall selected by Wing Washington.  We have no idea what made this location special.  If it was simply to get you on Whidbey, the island has many other more interesting photo sites. But, whatever. By stopping there we did get to see a firefighter in full gear climbing on a Stairmaster for a fundraiser. It looked miserable!! I felt bad for him so didn’t take a picture.


From there we took a winding route along the island, stopping at Burger King in Oak Harbor for a treat, before arriving at our other Whidbey location, Deception Pass State Park.  We walked around enough to get some good photos but didn’t go out on the bridge or partake in any of the available hikes.

Back on board the bike we debated between going to the hotel or pushing on to our next stop, Youngs Park on Guemes Island, another Wing Washington site.  Since we were losing daylight we decided to take the option of catching it in the morning.  We checked in to the Majestic Inn and Spa in Anacortes and relaxed for awhile before heading out on foot to a café we had passed on our ride into town.  The area was quite active – several bars and restaurants with lots of people walking around, coming and going. It was a little breezy but a nice walk to work up our appetite.  The Island Diner turned out to be just what we wanted – basic American food at a decent price. As a bonus, the service was more along the lines of what you’d find at a higher-end restaurant. After dinner we strolled along, peeking into storefronts, on our way to a Safeway a couple blocks away where we picked up treats for dessert and beverages for the evening (just soda and water!). Heading back to the hotel, we crossed the street so we could take in all the interesting little stores on that side. The number of specialty stores was surprising and they all looked like they were doing well.  There were also murals, a Gratitude box to drop in notes of what you were grateful for and a little bronze elephant statue. The Majestic Inn itself had some beautiful features but we didn’t take pictures of any of them. We just enjoyed ourselves in the moment.

The next morning we headed back to the Island Diner for breakfast. On the walk back, looking over our paperwork, we realized that we should have gotten a move on earlier and eaten faster because now we either had to skip Youngs Park or wait 2 hours for a ferry. We skipped it.

Bundled up against the wind we headed out of town back to the mainland and the blooming Daffodil fields in La Conner. In addition to the blooming fields we also enjoyed seeing miniature donkeys, lots of white birds (turned out to be Snow geese), and a field full of rogue daffodils growing randomly instead of in trained rows. The wind blowing us sideways whenever we travelled east/west really bothered me but, discussing it later, Steve said it was no big deal so any wind we felt after that I was much more relaxed about.

Exiting the fields we headed to Chuckanut Dr and on into Bellingham.

From there my intention had been to travel the east side of the Lummi Reservation, take the ferry over to Lummi Island for a Wing Washington photo at Legoe Bay Winery and maybe grabbing lunch at the new Avenue Bread location before heading back across the water and on to the next Wing WA, the Silver Reef Hotel and Casino. However…somehow, when I was creating the route, I switched the order so we drove all the way around the Lummi Reservation to the Silver Reef before we realized my mistake. With the wind battle, the gray day and hunger setting in, we decided to skip backtracking to the winery and just move on.

We ate at JitB in Ferndale before heading down Smith Road to 544 on our way to our only Steeple Chase location for the trip, Clearbrook Lutheran Church. Luckily, the ride was nice and peaceful and I think we were both in better spirits by the time we reached it. After photos, we took a break on the church stairs to book our hotel room then headed back down Hwy 9 and along side roads to Burlington.  McDonald’s for dinner simply because it was the only thing within walking distance then back to the Holiday Inn Express for a good nights sleep.

The next morning seemed to give us a little break in the weather and I ditched my raincoat while Steve decided to forgo his rain pants.  We made a quick stop a couple miles down the road at the Children’s Church, shaped like a giant ark, then continued down Hwy 9 into Arlington.

We stopped at the Stilly Coffee House where we shared a bowl of very good White Chicken Chili, had a couple drinks and sweet treats before facing I-5 for the last leg home.  We put on a PodCast and headed for the interstate. The distraction of the show really helped time pass and before we knew it we were swinging around familiar curves and arrived home, safe and sound!

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