Packed up and drove out down along the Alaskan Way Viaduct (wanna vi a duct?) over to west Seattle, and enjoyed the day's clear skies, fresh air, and harbor views. We then continued "round the Sound", heading down to Tacoma and over the Narrows bridge, and then back northward on the western shore. We passed the aircraft carriers parked in a row along the Bremerton waterfront, and lingered a while for lunch at Dodge's Eatery in downtown Bremerton, enjoying the hearty food and the Navy memorabilia lining the walls.
From here it was a short drive up past the submarine base and over the Hood Canal into the Olympic Peninsula, and we were a bit thankful we were heading northwest, and weren't in the bumper-to-bumper traffic trying to make it over the bridges and ferries back into town at the end of the holiday weekend. Before long, we were rolling along past the blue waters of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and on into Port Angeles, our port of call for the evening.
We settled into the Flagstone Motel, and then dropped by the Red Lion Hotel down the street to check out the location of tomorrow's AASHTO Technical Committee on Nonmotorized Transportation meeting at that hotel. This year, Richard's here to make a presentation on the task force he's chairing that is trying to get the US Numbered Bicycle Route network going again. We saw old friends and met new ones, and enjoyed the charms of this working town.
Puget Pix - the Tacoma Narrows bridge, and parked carriers at Bremerton
This day began with Richard wandering down to the Red Lion Port Angeles for a full day of AASHTO meetings, while Suzanne relaxed by the shoreline and watched the seals at play out in the harbor. After lunch, we put Truckasaurus in line for the 5:15 M.V. Coho ferry to Victoria - it's a very popular run, and we wanted to make sure our vehicle wouldn't be left behind. The meeting broke up with enough time for us to scamper over to the truck and drive it into the cavernous vehicle deck of the Coho, tucked in tightly among a hundred other cars, trucks, semis, and RVs making the trip across the straits.
The ferry ride from Port Angeles to Victoria was quite smooth and scenic as we strolled the deck, braced ourselves against the brisk sea breezes, and viewed the mountainous panorama of the Olympics, the Cascades, and Vancouver Island. We were also mildly surprised by the sight of another voyager in the straits - a ballistic missile submarine (those things are big!) glided across our bow on its way out to its post in the open sea. We cruised smoothly into Victoria's Inner Harbour and docked along the waterfront right by the British Columbia Parliament Building. Since the truck was packed in tightly belowdecks and Suzanne would have some difficulty getting in the side door due to her "condition"*, she decided to walk off the boat and we'd meet up after Richard drove the truck off the boat.
This didn't go as smoothly as expected.
The Canadian customs officials gave Suzanne a bit of a hard time, but this was nothing compared to the "special" treatment that Richard received due to his being in a big truck, alone, with Arizona plates (and we even took off the Bush/Cheney and NRA decals before loading up in Port Angeles!) After quite a few minutes of assuring the polite but relentless Canadian officials that we were not smuggling firearms, explosives, fruit, small fuzzy animals, or other contraband into their country, we fortunately avoided a full tear-down inspection of Truckasaurus and were allowed to proceed. We wound our way through the streets of downtown Victoria to the Hotel Strathcona, our home away from home for the next 5 days.
* If we hadn't mentioned it earlier, Suzanne is indeed engaged in a construction project of her own right now - she's building a small person inside her at this time. This has made the trip a bit more interesting and eventful, but she reports that everything is going fine, and that mom-to-be and baby-to-be are both having fun.
Ferry 'cross the Fuca
This day began early with Richard walking down to the Victoria Conference Centre to attend the 2004 ProWalk/ProBike Conference. Nearly 600 professionals and advocates from across North America and beyond were also in attendance. In the afternoon Richard made a presentation on the 2003 US Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the traffic control standard for the United States, in which he'd had a little bit of involvement in creating and developing. The presentation sparked a lively discussion on traffic control and bicycle travel, and as Suzanne joined the group as it made its way to the APBP reception, the discussion continued among the refreshments and snacks. After the reception, a group of us went to dinner at one of the many ethnic restaurants strewn about the center of Victoria, and the Thai food was exceptionally good as we socialized with old and new friends. After dinner, we broke away from the gang and strolled the narrow streets of Victoria together back to the room, enjoying the cool wet weather and charm of British Columbia's capital.
Richard has a new name - "the person in the obnoxious shirt". More on this below.
Another early start as Richard did a bike ride along the roads and trails of Victoria, ably led by a volunteer from the Greater Victoria Cycling Coalition. Many interesting sights were seen as he traveled the Galloping Goose Trail in the cool breezes and mist of the early morning. After the ride, he headed back to the room, changed into a comfortable and festive Route 66 shirt, and headed back to the conference. Later that day at PWPB, during a lively discussion on the appropriateness and effectiveness of signs and other traffic control devices at path-roadway intersections, Richard signaled that he would like to make a comment. The presenter referred to him as "you - the one in the obnoxious shirt" - and the name (although we'd personally use the term "festive shirt" instead) seems to have stuck.
Meanwhile, Suzanne was blissfully ignorant of this entire shirt-related brouhaha, instead enjoying herself window-shopping at the many interesting merchants in this city. Not much purchased, except for a rewarding trip to the local bookstore and a few new cute clothes for our family member-to-be.
In the evening, we got back together again to attend the ProWalk/ProBike party at the British Columbia Museum. As always, NCBW put on a great event, and we enjoyed strolling through the exhibits and chatting with friends and acquaintances from across the country in such a pleasant setting. After the party wound down, we walked back along the Victoria waterfront past the BC Parliament building, lit up like a giant Lite-Brite with thousands of sparkling bulbs. Then a final push through the throngs of clubgoers and partyfolk at the hotel to relax and prepare for another day.
BC Parliament shining brightly
Today was the final day of ProWalk/ProBike 2004, and the conference wound down pleasantly and quietly with a few more interesting sessions and presentations, and the attendees making plans to do it all again in Madison, Wisconsin in 2006. While this was going on, Suzanne was seeing stars (well, starfishes, actually) at the Pacific Undersea Gardens in the harbour, contemplating the octopi, eels, crabs, and other interesting ocean dwellers.
After the last bit of bicycle-based bombast was done, a few of us decided to do the scheduled afternoon bike tour of the city. When no official ride leader showed up, a few of us intrepid souls consulted our maps and headed off anyway to again enjoy the sights and roads of this pleasant community. We rode along the shoreline past the cruise ships and seaside sights over to the adjoining Oak Bay community, where fancy flowers and stately estates lined the winding roadways. Up and down the seaside slopes the group rode, enjoying the cloud-shrouded vistas of the Olympic Mountains and San Juan Islands of Washington. About the time the gang got up toward the UVic neighborhood, those clouds decided to have a spot of fun with us by providing a thorough soaking as we pedaled back toward Victoria proper. The wetness didn't dampen spirits, though, as the wheels spun through the puddles back to the hotels. After a toweling-off and some rest, we two went out for a cozy dinner and a final walkabout on Victoria's streets, enjoying the wet weather and cool breezes of the evening.
Yes, you are here
Today was our sole full day set aside for actual sightseeing in Victoria. So, after a satisfying rest, saw the sights we did. We started by retracing the route of the previous day's bike ride in the comfort of Truckasaurus, enjoying the newly-sunny weather and stopping at the viewpoints and garage sales that lined the way. After a bit more moseying through the Victoria neighborhoods, we popped out on Highway 17, where lunch awaited us at a roadside restaurant/boat rental on the shores of Elk Lake.
After lunch, we walked around the side of the building and discovered a mini-golf course hidden in the woods alongside. As it's our standing policy not to miss such an attraction when time permits, we rented some colorful balls and clubs and proceeded to putt through the cleverly placed hazards and curvaceous Canadian fairways.
After the final hole was filled, we were back in the truck and off down the winding, cow-lined roads to the Victoria Butterfly Gardens. This attraction boasts hundreds of species of brightly colored fluttery fliers in a climate-controlled greenhouse, along with birds and other fauna that help keep at bay those bugs that might want to munch on the butterflies. We watched the little flutterbugs go back and forth and even had some land right on us looking to see if we were as interesting as the previous bunch of tourists.
After lingering for a while in the company of these colorful characters, we hopped back in truck and made the brief trip over to Victoria's signature attraction - the Butchart Gardens. We went from afternoon until evening wandering the paths and trails of this century-old, world-famous mega-flowerbed, enjoying the riotous colors and amazing designs of the floral finery. Tuckered out from all the fun, we plopped down for dinner at the local Smitty's restaurant, and rested our legs as we recounted the day's fun. Then a drive back to the Strathcona - and time to start packing up all our junk for the long trip home.
The day began with bidding our fond farewell to Victoria by hauling our stuff out, tucking it into place somewhere in the truck (in the knowledge that the customs folks may want to thoroughly disassemble it again), and heading down to the waterfront to catch the ferry back to the good ol' USA.
We figured we were doing well by arriving at the ferry terminal nearly two hours ahead of schedule. Alas, when we got there, the loading bays were full of waiting vehicles, and we were told that we'd be put on "standby", with about a 30% chance of making the 10:30 ferry. We amused ourselves in the meantime by searching through our cooler and food bags and making interesting snacks out of all the "contraband" food (meat, fruit, etc.) that we weren't supposed to take back across the border.
The Coho showed up right on time, disgorged its cargo of folks and wheeled things, and began taking on the waiting vehicles. We watched anxiously as all those big vehicles rolled into the Coho, hoping they could get packed in just tight enough for us to tag along. At the end, they began to allow the standbyers, and to our relief we made it on the boat - as the 4th from the last vehicle, with many more stranded on the shore.
The ride back to Port Angeles was much more rollicking than the trip out, with a steady swell rocking the Coho from side to side as we made our way across the Strait. Our stomachs survived in good form, fortunately, and we made it back to Washington with little ill effect. We rolled out of the ferry, slapped the political stickers back on the truck (pleasingly matching the buttons on the ferry staff) and rolled into the US Customs shed to have a pleasant conversation with the Homeland Security officials. Surprisingly, they waved us through with little trouble, and we were back on US 101 ready for more fun.
First stop was at the Olympic National Park headquarters south of Port Angeles to see the exhibits and stamp Suzanne's National Parks Passport. Then to Dairy Queen downtown for food, and then a very rewarding trip to Swain's General Store, a good old-fashioned variety store - sort of like a Yellow Front or Yates (remember these?) on muscle-builders. Found lots of useful items there you can't typically find at Malt-War or the local hardware store, and also some 25 cent popcorn to snack on on our way out of town.
Speaking of leaving town - well, it's 3:30 PM and we're still in Port Angeles. Time to hit the road - just in time to also hit some heavy rain as we rolled westward on US 101 toward the Pacific coast. We went past miles of forests - some National Park rain forests, others "managed" forests of tall Douglas firs, some third-generation that have been logged twice, owned by the local lumber companies to serve the demand for wood products around the world. Out and around and down through the little towns of Forks and Humptulips, and down around Grays Harbor to the city of Aberdeen, where we found a pink-themed room (pink door, pink tub, pink toilet, pink etc...) at the Travelure Motel.
Rainbow over Victoria
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Latest Historical Revisionism 01 April 2005Scripting: Richard C. Moeur