Monthly Archives: April 2013

Bicycle Riding on the Pt. Townsend to Whidbey Island Ferry – Washington

Ferry

Ferry Kennewick

Having recently bought decent bicycles, one thing we have been talking about doing is taking our bikes on the ferry  system. So while vacationing in Port Townsend, Washington, we decided to start small and go on the Pt. Townsend to Whidbey Island ferry.

Nothing we do seems to be without adventure of some sort. We got up on an overcast Friday morning, checked the ferry website to make sure the ferry was operating on normal schedule. It was. Well, OK, the website just didn’t mention there was a problem. We took our car to the Safeway parking lot in town to park. We could have chosen to ride public transit down to the ferry dock but decided just to ride. When we got there we found out the ferry was broke down. They said it would be out the rest of the day and the next day was questionable.

Disappointed, we decided to ride around downtown Pt. Townsend. We had lunch at a little restaurant on the water and when we told the waitress about the ferry, she said, “Oh, yeah, that happens a lot.” Gulp – I’m not sure I want to go on a ferry that breaks down a lot! We continued riding, looking at the detailed architecture of the great old buildings, bought some delicious cupcakes at a little cupcake store, then rode up a hill to look out over the water. There we saw the ferry moving around so we went back down to check it out and it was fixed. David was excited to be able to go on it. I was still nervous that it would break down again. But of course, we bought our tickets.

Pt Townsend

Pt. Townsend

While waiting to get on, I went into the little building that amounts to a “terminal” and saw three young girls just staring at the vending machine. Turns out they had come over from Whidbey Island the day before, planning to spend just two hours there. Anyone remember Gilligan’s Island? Well, they decided to have dinner and by the time they were done, a storm had moved in, kicking up high winds, so the ferry was cancelled. Of course, they had to spend the night in Pt. Townsend. So the next morning they went to the terminal at 6:00am to catch the ferry back. Nope, by then it was broke down. This was now 3:00 in the afternoon. But the worst part? They had left their dogs in the car back on Whidbey. They ended up to be OK, but I’m sure there was a nice mess in the car and if it had been sunny and warm, that could have been disastrous for the poor dogs.

So now I’m really nervous, worried another storm will kick up and we’ll be stranded on Whidbey Island. David said, “Stop worrying, it’ll be fun!” I said, “If  we get stuck over there I am going to be sleeping in the softest motel bed you can afford.”

Sub

Submarine with escort ships

The time came to get on the ferry. We were able to just park our bikes at the front of the boat and head upstairs. It was a great, short 30-minute ride. It was a beautiful day, not too cold and we even got to see a nuclear submarine being escorted down to the Bremerton submarine base. It was interesting to watch several coast guard boats racing up to private boats and having them clear the way for the sub.

Getting off ferry

Ready to get off the ferry

We landed at Whidbey and took off on our bikes up the hill to Ft. Casey. We spent about two hours bicycling around the fort, checking out it and touring the lighthouse. Since it was getting to be late in the afternoon we decided that we better head on back just in case the weather picked up again.

Waiting in line for the ferry we started talking to another gentleman on a bike. It turns out he was from San Diego, had flown up to Bellingham and was riding all the way back to San Diego. He was riding alone and said this was the first time he had ever done anything like this. One of the most interesting things we do is just talk to people. I love learning their stories.

Ferry Bicycle Ramp2

Bicycle Ramp

Back on the ferry, this time the staff said we had to take our bikes upstairs where there are bicycle racks. You can see on the picture that there is a ramp, which works  fine for some people but I wasn’t strong enough to take my bike up myself, Josh had to help.

Ferry Bicycle Rack

Another smooth, short ride back and we were done. We rode back to our car, loaded the bikes on and headed back to our RV and slept in our own bed that night, much to my relief.

Us on Ferry

Nancy and David

Ultimately, the ride was fun, I loved taking the bikes and easily getting on and off the ferry. Eventually we would like to do more of it with the following cautions: NEVER leave animals behind and always be prepared to get stuck on the other side. Then just relax and enjoy!

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Willapa Hills Trail, Chehalis to Adna, Washington

Chehalis Bridge 1

Trailhead in Chehalis

Bike Trail

If you’re looking for a flat, relatively short walking or bicycle trail in southwest Washington then the Willapa Hills Trail will be perfect for you. Part of the Rails to Trails System, the trail is built on the footprints of an old railroad. It actually runs 56 miles from Chehalis to South Bend but at the moment a couple of trestles are not usable and not scheduled to be replaced until 2014. However, this is where the relatively short part comes in. The trail is 5.2 miles from Chehalis to Adna so a round trip is just over 10 miles. Of course you don’t have to go that far if you don’t want to.

Beginning behind the Centralia-Chehalis Steam Train, there is plenty of parking as well as restroom facilities (better than a port-a-potty, less than running water). As soon as you get on the trail you immediately pass over the Newaukum River via an old railroad bridge. If you’re lucky you might see the otters that sometimes frequent the area.

Bike Trail View Field

Chehalis Bridge 2

Chehalis River Bridge

Continue on the flat trail enjoying the country scenery, the flowering trees, and massive green fields of the farms. Pass over the Chehalis River on another old train trestle. Often you can see families down at the river swimming or rockhounding.

The trail crosses a couple of roads, but it’s easy to see what little traffic there is and cross safely. Careful though – if you decide to go as far as Adna, you will need to cross Highway 6. You want to be sure to get near the corner where you can easily see traffic in both directions before you cross. Or if you decide to turn around, you’ve had a nice walk or ride just going that far.

End of trail at AdnaOnce you cross over Hwy. 6 you pass through some nice wetlands where the birds welcome you with beautiful sounds. You’ll pass by a private man-made lake that is used for waterskiing competitions, then behind the Adna High School. Just past the school there is another parking lot for the trail and there are more restrooms at this spot. Cross over Bunker Creek Rd. to the last part of the trail which ends at the unusable trestle.

With such an easy trail, it’s great for taking the kids for a walk, teaching little ones how to ride a bike, going slow and enjoying the views, and admiring the great old houses. On weekends you might even get to see the steam train out for a run.Trail RR Crossing

From I-5 take exit 77. Turn left at Riverside Drive, then a slight left on SE Newaukum Ave. Take a left on SW Sylvenus, then a right on SW Hillberger Rd. to the parking lot. You can also just follow the signs to the steam train, but instead of turning into the parking lot for the steam train, continue south on the road until you enter the parking lot for the tail. You will have passed the entrance to the trail as you enter the parking lot.

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Lewis and Clark Salt Works, Seaside, Oregon

Salt Works SignSalt Cairn Fence

In the touristy little town of Seaside, Oregon, are replicas of the structures (known as “cairns”) where Lewis and Clark’s men boiled sea water to evaporate the water and gather salt to season their food and preserve their meat. These cairns were ovens built of rock and shaped like an upside down “u”. Wood was piled beneath the rocks and a fire built and kept constantly going. Between December of 1805 and February of 1806, three men worked with five brass kettles boiling 24 hours a day, going through over 1400 gallons of seawater to make enough salt for the expedition to use on their return home. They were able to make three quarts to one gallon each day and ended up with over 20 gallons of salt.

Salt Cairn

Replica of Salt Cairn

A Clatsop Indian woman named Jennie Michele, was the one who showed the Oregon Historical Society where the salt works had been located. They built a fence around the area for protection and in 1910 the owner of the property, Charles M. Cartwright, deeded the site to the historical society. In 1955, the replica salt cairns were built by the Lions Club using sketches from the Lewis and Clark’s journals. In 1978 the site became part of the Fort Clatsop National Memorial.

To commemorate the historical importance of the Salt Works, every year during the third weekend in August, re-enactors from the Seaside Museum and Historical Society, provide an opportunity for families to head to the beach and learn about the process of making salt. Kids can bring trinkets to “trade” with the “explorers.” It is also the perfect chance for kids to ask questions about life in the early 1800’s and imagine what it would have been like to live back then. It’s a great experience because they won’t find the actors breaking role, so they won’t talk about iPhones and video games. They can learn the history in a hands-on way, helping to tend fires and boil the seawater to make salt. Once again, any time kids can touch history, they will remember it.Salt Cairn Narrative

Getting there: Take Hwy. 101 to the town of Seaside. Turn west on Avenue G. Follow the signs to South Beach Drive and Lewis and Clark Way.

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The Wreck of the Peter Iredale

2013-03-16 22.17.21There aren’t many places that you can see an actual shipwreck, let alone touch it, walk around it, and climb on it. But in the northwest corner of Oregon, at Ft. Stevens State Park just southwest of Astoria, you can do just that with the wreck of the Peter Iredale.2013-03-16 22.18.07

The ship has been here since October of 1906. A British ship, it had left Santa Cruz, Mexico bound for Portland, Oregon when it hit bad weather just before crossing the Columbia River bar. It ran ashore on the beach, and luckily no one was hurt but the ship was abandoned, never to be removed. There it has sat, slowly deteriorating for over 100 years.

2013-03-16 22.23.18Today it is a mere skeleton of a ship, rusty, leaning, crusted over. It was amazing to see it when I was a child some 45 years ago. I can imagine the crowds that it drew when it first wrecked, and over the years it has seen thousands of visitors. There isn’t as much to the wreckage as I remember, but there is still plenty to get excited about. The nice part to know, as a parent, is that no one was hurt. It’s always a little hard to talk to your kids about these things if you have to explain people were hurt or died. No problem with that here.

It’s a great way to teach your kids about the sea, the dangers sailors faced on a daily basis while trying to cross the bar into the Columbia River. While looking at the pictures it may not seem like much, but any time you can let kids actually touch history (careful – it is rusty), they will remember it. There is still enough of the ship there that they will be thoroughly impressed and will be anxious to brag to their friends that they saw and touched an actual shipwreck. That truly is a unique experience most people don’t ever get a chance to do.

2013-03-16 22.25.22

Off Hwy. 101 south of Astoria, head towards the towns of Warrenton/Hammond. Follow the signs to Ft. Stevens State Park and look for Peter Iredale Rd. Then just follow the signs that say “Shipwreck”. How often do you see that kind of sign anywhere?

2013-03-16 22.17.41It’s very easy to get to, there is a parking area ($5 day use fee) very near it so you can just park and walk out to it. Low tide is the best time to go to make sure you can walk all around it. Or if you want to stay awhile you can camp or rent a cabin at Ft. Stevens State Park which also has great bicycle trails and tons of other military and historical sites to introduce your children to.

So head to the Oregon coast and give your kids (and yourself!) the experience of a lifetime – check out that shipwreck!

Categories: Historical, Oregon, Parks, Roadside Attraction | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

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