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Day 98-105: 17-24 Oct 2008: ferries & friendly people, from Vancouver, CA, to Seattle, USA via Victoria

17 October 2008: to Victoria, 75 km

The weather gods did not want us to leave Vancouver, maybe they thought I should rest more. Wind and rain pounded on us when we made our way to the ferries in the Southwestern point of the mainland of . we had taken the monorail East first as the direct route would have led us through the George Massey Tunnel, off limits for cyclists. The shuttle for cyclist had stopped for the season and we did not think that any bus could take our heavy bikes on their frontloading rack. we could not lift them up there anyways :)

After about 30km through mainly flat and wet land we ended up at the ferry, just in time for a 14.00 departure. It takes about 90 minutes to cross the Strait of Georgia to , the largest island on the West side of North America.

The Lochside Trail, turning into the Galloping Goose trail later on, starts right outside the ferry terminal and is a great way to see a bit of the island. It is an old rail track, sometimes unpaved, sometimes crossing roads and even wooden trestles but always very scenic for all its 35km. We saw deer along the car-free trail, many flocks of geese and fields full of pumpkins. we enjoyed it so much that we ended up entering in Victoria in the dark…

We stayed 2 nights with our great Warm Showers list hosts, Mark & Cathy. They took us to a nice little Farmer’s market, one of the last of the season. It is nice to see that more young people are supporting the local farmers and eating healthy produce, even though it costs more than the preprocessed and mass-produced ‘food’ from the larger supermarket chains. I feel that our generation (at least a part of it) realizes that we should value fuel for our own system more than that for our cars…

It was nice to walk and cycle around town and into the parks without all the luggage, one of the great advantages of staying with trustworthy hosts. We relaxed near the harbour and did the first real maintenance on our bikes: as we had cycled 5000 km, we had to replace the oil inside our Rohloff back hub. It was very simple: open the screw, inject cleaning oil, cycle for a few minutes, (mainly in 3rd and 5th gear, so you use all parts inside), pull out the cleaning oil and dirt from the hub and inject clean lubricating oil. As easy as changing a tire and we are now good for the next 5000km!

Ivana’s Argentinean flag, on the back of her bike, again proved to be very effective and helpful as we suddenly heard some voice in Spanish behind us. We looked into the friendly faces of Estela and David, who lived nearby and were about to go for lunch, just like us. They wanted to hear more about our trip and invited us for a nice lunch and for an ‘Asado’ the next evening.

So even though we had planned to leave Victoria this day, there was no point trying to head out now, as Ivana was getting excited at the thought of Argentinean-style meat and some Spanish conversations :)

We ended up staying 2 nights at their place as the thought of another piece of David’s chocolate cake was enough to vaporize any ferry plans that day…

22 October: From Canada to the !

Immigration was surprisingly simple when we headed to the ferry the next morning. Just a few short questions and we received our permission to stay 6 months in the US! The ferry ride was nice, our bikes strapped together on the outer deck, together with the bikes of Russ, a friendly cyclist from Bremerton in the Seattle area, and two from German cyclists, also on their way South. We had a nice dinner together in the local Mexican restaurant; the first burritos, I assume many, many more will follow on our trip.. That evening we slept in the attic of Tristan & Julia. Tristan was a friend of a friend of our friend Andy. He had left for Seattle when we arrived but Julia and her cat took us two strangers in her house and made us feel at home. It s still a very pleasant surprise to see how hospitable people can be towards travellers and strangers.

Some biketravellers choose the Western route, but we went East of the Olympic park as we wanted to visit our friend Andy in Seattle. From Port Angeles, we took another very nice biketrail, the Olympic trail, through Sequim. This also followed part of an old rail bed, but also contained some strange loops and short steep hills. It starts near the sea and Ivana urged me to look for otters, as she never saw one before.

‘You have to look for otters, ok? I want to see them!’

‘Ok, how about those 3?’

Just when we she asked me, 3 otters danced through the waters, disappearing in the direction of faraway Mt Baker…

The track continued over autumn leaves and through sunny fields. Unfortunately it stops quite sudden and you have no choice but to choose between busy roads with narrow shoulders. It had been a sunny day and we had enjoyed the quiet parts with its wildlife (bald eagles) and blackberry bushes. The plan was to get to Port Townsend, but darkness was coming to soon and we settled for a garden in Port Hadlock after 75 km of cycling, it felt strange and good to be on the bike again…

23 October: Port Hadlock to Suquamish: About peanut butter & underwater treasures

The roads were quite nice, though not all had shoulders, but traffic was easy. After passing the picturesque town of Port Ludlow, the first challenge was the Hood Canal Bridge, a long and busy metal construction with no real space for cyclists.

Once crossed, we chose the less busy route which took us through the quaint antique town of Port Gamble. A few miles ahead we noticed a small sign “Fresh Peanut Butter!”. We checked it out and found that the small local company roasted organic peanuts and if you wanted some PB, they would make it on the spot. Especially for all biketravellers, he told me his secret recipe:

Very Secret Old Fashioned Peanut Butter recipe:

Ingredients:

– Peanuts

Tools:

– Peanut cruncher

Instructions:

– Fill top of Peanut cruncher with organic peanuts.

– DONOT add preservatives, salt, sugar, oil, or other natural or unnatural substances.

– Switch on machine.

– Collect fresh, tasty and pure peanut butter in jar at bottom end.

Apparently, he was having a hard time selling the delicious peanut butter. Not only because cheap brands filled with sugar, oil and preservative cost less in the supermarkets, but also because many schools are banning students from bringing PB sandwiches. Why? Because of the out-of-control claim culture combined with growing allergies for natural foods. So many children are now developing allergies, and as the lawyers are ready to sue schools for everything they (do not) have, the schools have to be cautious.

It is still not sure why the last decades this has risen so much in first world countries, but scientists suspect that too clean living environments (children can no longer play in the dirt and stuff things in their mouth and hands need to be washed 10 times a day with antibacterial ‘soaps’) the natural immune system gets messed up. Another thought is that the allergy is a result of all the creams (many containing peanut oil) that we are supposed to rub on our children, something that kids in Africa and Asia do not need…

Andy had given us another address to stay; from his friend John Williams, a fellow filmmaker, specialized in underwater photography. John was a very friendly host and it was nice to see some of the amazing footage he shot. It looked like it was taken on far away reefs, but all of it was shot just in the nearby Puget Sound, a strong reminder that beauty can be very near our homes and that we should protect it…

We had noticed that traffic was increasing, and just a few more miles separated us from one of the largest metropolitan areas in the USA: Seattle was waiting for us….

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