September 20 2012 by Jason Fogelson
Last night's fog still hovers over Ocean Shores when I wake up this morning. I've had some interesting riding experiences in heavy fog. This fog won't be a challenge to my riding, but it is a bummer that I can't get a good look at the beach before I ride off, leaving the BEST WESTERN PLUS Lighthouse Suites Inn in my rearview mirrors. I had a wonderful night's sleep last night, with the sound of the ocean wafting across the room from my balcony. One night was not enough in this vacation spot.
I will follow the coastline as much as possible today, in hopes that the fog lifts and I can get some good ocean views. I've got a long ride today, as I'm tracing the outline of the Olympic Peninsula, the largest such body of land in the state of Washington. Cape Alava, the westernmost point in the lower 48 states, is on the Olympic; so is Cape Flattery, the northwesternmost point. A good portion of the Peninsula is still wilderness, including Olympic National Park, over 900,000 aces of land that belongs to you and me. The Park includes some coastline, temperate rain forest and glaciated mountains within its borders. A little bit of something for everyone.
In the persistent fog, I ride north on WA-109 to Moclips, then take the Moclips Highway inland to pick up US-101 again. I don't get a chance to visit the tiny town with my favorite name: Humptulips, made sort of famous by Tom Robbins in his novel "Another Roadside Attraction," but I do drive by a few signs for Humptulips and chuckle to myself. I am a juvenile at heart.
Just a few miles inland from the Pacific, and the fog disappears. I ride through heavily wooded areas down undulating curvy roads, and enjoy every dance move with the Road Glide. I'm so glad that I'm not trapped in a car today. I'd just be wishing that I could be riding.
At Quinault, the 101 takes a turn back toward the coast, and the fog. I stop at the Kalaloch Park Ranger Station for a breather, and walk across the road for a look at the beach. I have my camera with me -- but it fogs up every time I remove the lens cap. I have to capture the view in my memory, which is the best way, really.
Back on the bike, the 101 curves inland again, then turns north. I stop for lunch in the town of Forks at the Forks Coffee Shop. That's when I discover that Forks is the real life home of fictional characters Bella, Edward and Jacob from Stephanie Meyer's "Twilight" series of novels. Twilight is everywhere in Forks -- there is a Twilight store, vampire and werewolf memorabilia, and even a Twilight tour company. I haven't read the books or seen the movies, but I totally understand the fascination that a story can command, and why a fan might want to see the locations that they've pictured in their mind's eye. Forks is a perfectly lovely little town, with a gothic backdrop.
Leaving Forks, I follow 101 until I reach the intersection with WA-113, and then turn west on WA-112 when I reach the Strait of Juan de Fuca, the body of water which separates the US's Olympic Peninsula and Canada's Vancouver Island. The Strait is 95 miles long, and 11 to 17 miles wide, keeping those Canadians up north, where they belong. When I get close to the water, I find myself in the fog again. The further west I go, the heavier the fog. I had planned to ride all the way to Cape Flattery and down to Cape Alava, but I can tell that the ride will be fruitless. I abandon my pursuit of extremes about 15 miles shy of Cape Flattery, and reverse course on WA-112. The road rewards me for my decision. WA-112 between Clallam Bay and Elwha Dam turns out to be one of the most enjoyable motorcycling roads of the whole trip so far. Traffic is light, the pavement is smooth, and the curves are many and varied, with beautiful glimpses of the water revealed at irregular intervals behind the trees. It's a great road.
I stop for a drink of water in Port Angeles. There's a ferry from Port Angeles that will take you directly to Vancouver Island, BC. It would be a beautiful ride on a day like today. The fog seems to have finally lifted, and the sun shines brightly.
I have to gather my energy for the final push of the day. I've already ridden over 220 miles today over six hours of riding, and now I'm fighting traffic and fatigue. I redouble my concentration, and make sure that I'm leaving sufficient following distance, and protecting my lane.
I leave US-101 for WA-104, then cross the Hood Canal Bridge at Port Gamble onto Bainbridge Island. I follow WA-3, and a few turns later I spot the BEST WESTERN PLUS Bainbridge Island Suites. I park in the secure underground garage, happy to know that my trusty Road Glide will be well protected on our last night together. I take the stairs up into the elegant lobby, and check in.
Bainbridge Island is an amazing place, with a myriad of activities available. I'm going to explore the Island tomorrow. Tonight, I feel like I've been wrung out like a hand towel. Luckily, there are several dining options within walking distance of the hotel. I listen to the front desk clerk, and choose the Island Grill, right across the street. I enjoy their mix of Asian and American cuisines, and have a tasty seafood dinner. I am on an island, after all.
Now, I'm back in my room. It's always a little melancholy on the last night of a ride. I will certainly be happy to be back home with my wife and our animals. She has kept me up to date on all of the hijinks while I've been away, and I miss everybody. Especially my wife. But I do love to ride. And this exploration of Western Washington State has just scratched the surface.
Tomorrow, I'll explore Bainbridge Island, then take the ferry to Seattle before returning the bike in Bellevue and flying home. I'll savor every minute.
Miles Ridden: 272.7
NEXT: Western Washington, Day Seven: Bainbridge Island to Seattle and Home Again