Monday, March 28, 2016

La Conner, Swinomish Reservation, and Mount Vernon (2016-03-19)

Wanting to get more of the "good stuff", I took the bus to and from Everett to extend my range further north.

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After only getting to Everett before turning back due to the conditions I faced that morning, I really was hoping to get a good ride in this time. Thankfully, that's exactly what I did!

More after the break…

Part 1: To Bus

I started this ride a little after 05:00, and headed straight for the freeway station to take the bus north to Everett.


Everett Station was creepy as always at night, so I didn't spend much time there.

Part 2: Outbound

I headed north on SR-529 to get out of Everett, but switched over to side-streets as soon as I got to Marysville. State Avenue is not a fun ride.

My route took me along the edge of Arlington's airport, and right around the Smokey Point strip mall center. Avoiding all that traffic was nice, so I think that'll be my northbound route from now on!

Once at SR-530, I started heading west, continuing after it turned into the Pioneer Highway, passing through Silvana and the surrounding farmland.

When the turn off for Norman Road came up, I noticed that the road was closed.

Since I couldn't see why and had no data service on my mobile phone, I called my mother and asked about it. The road was apparently washed out by the Stillaguamish River, which only interested me more. I pressed on and eventually came to a barricade that I carefully walked around.

It was washed out all right!

I then continued riding once past the opposing barricade.

My route plan originally involved taking a small road to avoid riding on a stretch of Marine Drive, but the road apparently didn't connect to the road I was on (despite what the map showed), so I had to turn back and ride the stretch of Marine Drive after all.

I then made my way to Stanwood, and stopped in the eastern downtown adjacent to the train station.

I stopped at a shop for cupcakes and water, and asked about which of the two downtowns was the original. (Something I've noticed is that a lot of towns previously moved their downtowns in response to railroad or highway changes.) As it turns out, Stanwood was originally two towns.

According to the cupcake shop owner, one town was one Scandinavian nationality and the other was a different one, and they were at odds with each other for decades.


Leaving Stanwood, I took old US 99 to the Pioneer Highway, then continued on the latter all the way to Conway.

Unlike past times, however, I left Conway heading west rather than north or east, which took me across the Skagit River and past a local church.

The riding out there was really nice and peaceful, going by farm after farm. Traffic wasn't bad, and the roads mostly had generous shoulders.

After a bend in the road, I saw a bunch of cars parked on the shoulder and wondered what was going on. It didn't take long for me to notice, as a field was completely covered with snow geese!

Talking to others taking photos, I learned that the geese overwinter there, among other spots.

Continuing along, I started my the first real climb of my ride to the Rexville Grocery, where I met a small group of cyclists.

They were stopping there for lunch, as the shop is known for delicious sandwiches. One was riding a Co-motion disc road bike and another was riding a Surly Cross-check with a porteur rack. The guy with the Cross-check was also from Crown Hill (near where I live). The group was headed the opposite direction, so I didn't stick around much longer to chat.

Shortly before I left, a tractor rolled through.

I eventually caught up with the tractor, and was stuck in a line of cars behind it for a while. Eventually, we all passed it, and I made a left onto a another road to head toward La Conner.

It was a nice little town.

I then stopped at a grocer for some fried chicken and a cold beverage.

And then went to a nearby public restroom to take care of business.

I proceeded a little bit further into town until the street ended at a square.

From there, I could see the bridge I needed to cross in the distance.

Taking a close look at my GPS, I found out that I had overshot my intended route, so I had to backtrack a bit, then climb some hills. I ended up making a few wrong turns trying to find a shortcut, but eventually made it to the highway again, so I could cross the bridge. The crossing provided some spectacular views, too!

Part 3: Inbound

After crossing the bridge, I rode through the Swinomish Village, then crossed to the other side of the Fidalgo Island and the Swinomish Reservation. The riding out there was pretty hilly with trees everywhere, much like riding back home.

After all that effort, I made it to SR-20, where I had to cross a busy intersection without a crosswalk button. A sign told cyclists to wait on a line, but there weren't any lines on the pavement that matched the sign, so I just sat where I thought a sensor would be. Thankfully, it worked, and I was able to avoid using SR-20 to get to the Swinomish Channel crossing.

The crossing was familiar, as I'd used it on my previous ride through the area. However, I still made a wrong turn getting to it.

Using it in this direction involves riding on the "wrong side" of the bridge, then looping around on the east end.

From there, I just took SR-520 to SR-536, which got me all the way to Mount Vernon.

When I got there, it was absolutely choked with cars, which didn't sit right with me.

I did find a familiar mural adjacent to the Skagit Co-op, though.

Proceeding south out of the city took me by a bunch of small industry and retail, which gave way to farmland eventually. I crossed the freeway early on, preferring to avoid the roundabouts in Conway.

Climbing SR-534 was difficult at first, but became rather easy after the first set of steep grades. I could feel the wind at my back, and used it to charge down to Lake McMurray.

I then headed south on SR-9, then the Centennial Trail to Arlington.

I got a cold beverage and ate a bit before leaving the city.

The climb up Culpeper Hill was a little difficult with my legs so worn out, but I slowly made my way up. It was pretty easy the rest of the way to Snohomish, though.

Once I got to Snohomish, I did indeed follow the road on the south side of the Snohomish River to Everett, then limped the last little bit to the station so I could take the bus back to Seattle.

Part 4: Return Home


Once back in Seattle, I headed straight home. While I did get home late, it was worth all the hard effort to do this long ride.

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