Monday, November 25, 2013

Fox Island and Vashon Island (2013-11-23)

Visited a couple of islands.

Part 1: To Fauntleroy Ferry Terminal

I started at about ten to five to make the ferry at Fauntleroy with some time to spare.

Rather than rounding Alki or climbing Delridge, I took Avalon. Aside from the poor stoplight sensor configuration for bicycles toward the top of Avalon, it was a pretty good route. After that climb, it was pretty much all downhill, a trait that reminded me of Dexter Avenue on my commute, but scaled up a bit.

I ended up outdoing myself, as my wait for the ferry was a bit longer than last time. Looking at the map, it looks like the route over West Seattle I took is the shortest option, which explained that.

It wasn't actually too cold at this point, but it would get colder soon enough.

He arrived a bit after I did, and really was excited. He also marveled over the saddle I have, as he rides a leather saddle, but it's one where padding beneath the leather supplies support and suspension, unlike mine where the leather itself is everything between the front and back.

(Note: I was unable to locate it over the next couple days.)

Part 2: To Fox Island and Point Defiance

From Southworth, I headed south via the Olalla Valley.

I entered northern Gig Harbor, passing through the roundabouts around there. These were the big kind, with two lanes going around the whole thing in a spiral.

Following a familiar route, I eventually made it to the Cushman Powerline Trail, but left the route in downtown Gig Harbor to head toward Fox Island. From where I left the route to the Fox Island Bridge, there was a lot of climbing involved. The shoulders were nice and wide, though.

As I would soon find out, the island is basically all houses.

As mentioned on an earlier ride, I've been seeing these sorts of shelters along the side of the main road on many of my rides, usually next to a driveway or residential road. After seeing a different one (not photographed) with painted handprints and 'BUS STOP' on it, I came to that conclusion

Similar to the Key Peninsula's 'KPN' scheme:

The endpoint of this portion of my ride was the Fox Island Fishing Pier.

On the way back, I snapped a photo at 'Fox Island Pass.'

I kept seeing them all over the island, too.

After crossing the Tacoma Narrows Bridge, I hung a left and rode toward Point Defiance's ferry dock to head to Vashon Island.

Unlike a lot of the ferries, there's a good deal of time between when this one unloads and loads, so there was a lot of waiting involved.

Part 3: Vashon Island

From the ferry dock at Talequah, it was a bit of a slow climb through something that was like a tall tunnel formed by the roadside trees. The highway then turned a bit east then headed down to a beachfront route similar to SR-106 or North Shore Road.

At Burton (pictured above), I hung a right to check out a little loop road on a peninsula.

And once I rejoined the highway, I headed north toward where Maury Island is joined to Vashon itself.

(According to the Wikipedia article, they were originally joined by a tidal isthmus, which was later filled in to become a permanent one of significant width.)

While there, I ran into an interesting person. I was surprised to see a car pull off of the road right behind me while I ate. (According to her, she was looking for driftwood, which was plentiful on that beach. Though, she was looking for a specific shape.)

We chatted a bit about cycling, and she really seemed to have a lot of experience behind her. Despite having been cycling heavily for thirty years (longer than I've been alive), she certainly looked younger than I would've expected.

From there, I continued east.

(KIRO is a radio station headquartered near my workplace, so what's this little building all about?)

The road to Point Robinson wasn't easy: it was one of the steepest ones on the ride, was covered in moss, and was a bit rough. I was almost doing wheelies due to the power and steepness, but I kept it up. I felt a bit inspired by my chat with that woman earlier.

And after the steep climbing, where was a lot of downhill. My destination was at the upper lot at Point Robinson, but I went down to the lower one anyway to see what was there.

The climb back up the island was almost as bad as the one to get here, but I still kept pushing. I saw a couple different groups of cyclists multiple times on this leg, and managed to pass one going downhill since my setup was so heavy.

I asked one of the other cyclists about the location of the bike in the tree, which really helped out. According to them, it was near a Sound Food store (which itself was oddly abandoned).

When I got there, this little trail caught my eye:

And here it was! Surprisingly not far from the road at all.

From there, I went to go seek some coffee to keep warm and go fast to the ferry terminal at the north of the island. I first hit the Vashon Island Coffee Roasterie, but it had closed shortly before. One guy was there, looking to buy a bag of coffee beans based on word of mouth, and the lady who came to talk to us at the door told us to go to downtown Vashon, just a mile or two north of there, to find a certain coffee shop. (There was also a hitchhiker at the intersection.)

Following her advice, I headed north. It was getting dark, so quick photography was becoming an unavailable option. I just headed to the cafe:

While I have been to Vashon Island before, it was by bus, and I missed so much of the island. Thankfully, I got to experience more of it this time. I'll certainly be coming back again when I can, too.

Despite it being dark, the ride from downtown Vashon to the ferry terminal did not seem as bad as another recent ride in the night, but that was likely due to the coffee.

While I was there, I spoke with some other folks about cycling on the island. Apparently, it's actually quite popular. Despite having gone around it on the outer edges of Puget Sound a number of times, I had no idea.

And while on the ferry itself, I spoke to some other folks who had been riding around the island too. They were trying to get their friend who does live on the island to get out and exercise by bicycle more. They were uncomfortable with the idea of commuting by bicycle, though.

Part 4: Return Home

Like last time, I rounded Alki to get home.

I spoke with a guy who had pulled off into the parking lot who was trying to photograph downtown Seattle across the bay about photography. He was using a consumer-level camera, but I showed him what mine can do despite not being as bulky as a DSLR.

The rest of the ride wasn't eventful; just a typical journey back home.

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