The Road to Seattle, My Last Stop in North America

Well I finally made it to Seattle, more than a year and 12,000 miles since leaving Miami. This is my last stop in the USA. I will leave for Japan  on Monday July 16. But first let me catch you up a bit.

Leaving Bend, Oregon I headed west into the mountains. I knew the highway would be filled with traffic so I planned to take back roads for several miles. It was brutal. One day I only managed to go 10 miles. I walked my bike all day over sandy, rocky hilly roads. On steep slopes I could only drag my bike 10 feet before resting for a couple minutes, then dragging it another 10 feet, etc. It took an hour to go less than one mile up a steep section of the mountain. My feet were killing me by the end of the day. But it was quiet with some nice views, although it was a bit ugly too: the trees were all dead I guess due to a fire some years back.

The awful sandy road was actually part of the Santiam Wagon Road which was a vital commercial link connecting the Willamette Valley with central Oregon. Built between 1861 and 1868, the road, which closely followed traditional Indian trails, was in use into the late 1930s and made possible the settlement of central Oregon.

The next day was great. I got back on the highway and zoomed downhill for 3000 feet. I went 30 miles in about two hours. The complete opposite of the day before. That’s bike touring for you… every day is different.

Approaching Portland, Oregon I ended up taking a ferry across the Willamette river.

 

Riding through Portland I took a nice bike path through downtown by the river. Nice place.

Washington State

This bridge spans the Columbia River between Oregon and Washington. Not a pleasant ride. Tiny shoulder with constant traffic, including massive lumber trucks.

Arriving in Olympia, I stayed with Bob and Sally, great warm showers hosts.

Haha funny sign.

Saw this by the side of the highway. Drive carefully everyone.

Approaching Seattle I stayed a night with Gary and Janice who biked around the world for a year with two teenagers. They have a beautiful house in Silverdale.

I made it to Bainbridge Island where I caught a ferry to take me to downtown Seattle.

Seattle

View of downtown Seattle from the ferry.

Sailboat in Elliot Bay.

I lived in Seattle from 1986 until 1994 so it was good to be back and see my old friends again. Even after all that time passed we carried on as if I had never left. Seattle has changed a lot though. Amazon, Costco, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Expedia among others have made their headquarters here and have huge offices. They pay well and have hired thousands of smart software engineers who have driven up housing costs. My friend Bill who moved to Albuquerque said that he bought his house for $200,000 in the early 1980s. He sold it in 2016 for $700,000. The guy who bought it fixed it up a bit and flipped it a year later for $900,000. This was a small two bedroom house in the Wallingford neighborhood. Nothing special.

But its the same all over the northwest apparently. Denver has gone crazy, with millions moving there and driving up prices. I heard complaints from people in Boise, Bend and Olympia. Where are all these people coming from?

My friends End and Rodger have a wonderful house in Seattle overlooking Elliot Bay. Here are some geese passing by.

Ena, me and Paula.

Rodger making pizza. He is an excellent chef.

Ena and Paula goofing off.

Here I am with Debbie, another friend.

With another friend named Debbie. I collect Debbies.

Paula and I rode up to the Sun Top lookout near Mt. Rainier, at 5280 feet. It is only about 10 miles from Rainier so there are great views. It’s a nice quiet spot for a picnic. There was a volunteer ranger staying in this little hut.

A view of Rainer from Sun Top.

North America Statistics

For the record, here are my stats from North America:

Start: April 2, 2017, Ft. Lauderdale, FL.

Arrived Seattle July 6, 2018

Total Days: 470 ( one year, three months and 13 days)

Days cycled: 320

Miles ridden: 12,325

Miles per cycling day: 39

Accommodation pie chart:

Places

US States: 24

Canadian provinces: 1

Mexican states: 13