Early morning #5 billion. After a near miscommunication mishap with the Bismarck baggage agents, I successfully picked up (stole? it was so easy...) Jeff’s luggage before heading east to Fargo. We arrived within a few minutes of each other and booked it across the state of Minnesota in an attempt to arrive at the kayak shop by 4pm. 9 hours later, we arrived at Living Adventures Inc kayak rentals in time to pick up Pierre, the yellow Canadian Current Designs Storm. In Bayfield, we grocery shopped and discovered that Wisconsinites don't eat hummus or pitas (disaster!!!). We noted the intense humidity to which neither of us is accustomed. We went for a 2 hour evening paddle, launching from the Apostle Islands Marina and paddling south along the peninsula to Pikes Bay. The sandstone cliffs here are nearly vertical and bright red.
After a quick bagel breakfast with Devin and Ginny, during which Devin attempted to make espresso with a broken machine (no luck, resulting in another steamer), I hopped in the car and headed east: destination Bismarck. I only made a brief stop in the Badlands (Medora, ND), where the gas station attendants were amused by my inability to operate an old-fashioned gas pump.
After a work-related conference call on the side of the road in Missoula, I drove the 3 hours to Bozeman. Devin was home from his hike and we went for another “hike” along the trails and hills near his mom’s (Ginny's) house. On the way home we stopped at the new Bozeman Public Library, where Ginny works, but she had already headed home.
When we returned, Ginny was starting some dinner and together we sipped a delicious Argentinian white sparkling wine called “New Age,” which is apparently very popular in Argentina. Ginny made a fantastic dinner of butternut squash soup and stir fry with veggies from her garden. We sat in the backyard listening to the adjacent babbling brook and admired the view of the “M” on the side of the mountains (there’s a similar one in Missoula). After dinner, Devin and I walked to downtown Bozeman where the weekly "Music On Main" was just wrapping up, and the streets were filled with a rainbow of teenagers, college kids, and the old ones like us. Devin was almost run down by a fleet of 4 police cars when we weren't paying attention. In accordance with our elderly status, we went to the coffee shop and I ordered chamomile tea while Devin ordered a peppermint steamer. Back at the house, we were greeted with ice cream, berries, and delicious gluten-free chocolate chip cookies.
“beep beep beep beep” Sara’s watch alarm beeped quietly inside her sleeping bag. I was already awake, as often happens during 5:45am wake-ups. My phone alarm rang minutes later to a much louder tune. We packed up camp, loaded our damp kayaking gear into the trunk, and departed for the 7:15am ferry on the other side of Orcas Island. This time my car was loaded next to a massive lumber truck on the left and sewage truck on the right (previously it was a flammable liquids truck). Apparently when you have kayaks on the roof you are lumped with the big ones.
When we arrive in Anacortes at 8:15 we'll drive down to Seattle and return Sara’s kayak Renaldo. They've become close over the last 5 days and it will be a tearful goodbye. In Anacortes I'll be careful not to speed, as Bridget was awarded a $200 speeding ticket after disembarking the ferry a couple days ago. We'll be mailing Bridget’s sleeping bag, sun hat, and some other goodies back to Oregon after we return Renaldo. After I drop Sara off at the airport, I’m headed east towards Spokane.
Don’t know where I'm sleeping yet tonight! I’m going to try to get as far east as possible today. Rya, a friend that I met in Santa Cruz back in my hostel-staying days, lives in Colville now, 1.5 hrs north of Spokane. She offered her couch to me, but I'm struggling with adding 3 more hours of solo driving. I may just camp in a field tonight! I just got word that Devin will be in Bozeman when I'm there tomorrow night, so that’s a nice surprise! Our last meetup was during my previous cross-country road trip with Marika a few years ago, before I moved to California and Devin and Anna moved to Vermont.
Okay, the ferry is arriving in Anacortes shortly so time to close up and head down to the car!
Next morning update: Yesterday went more or less as planned. After I dropped Sara off at the airport I drove east to Spokane, where Rya and I planned to meet for dinner. I was early, so I blogged at the Rocket Bakery, which had speedy internet and delicious lemondade:
Rya's truck broke down (likely overheating - it was 102 degrees!) north of Spokane, so I drove up to meet her at Twigs. It was fun catching up - she's engaged and in the middle of building a cabin by a lake in Colville. I couldn't stay long as I was headed to Missoula (3 hours away) for the evening. I ended up solo camping at a National Forest campground an hour outside Missoula. Some views from the drive...
I slept in a couple hours longer than Sara to try and rid myself of a standard migraine (which usually lasts through 2 or 3pm the next day). Around 10:30 we headed into town (Eastsound) for some coffee ands discovered pistachio fig chocolates and mint ice cream. Mmmm breakfast! At a little park on the north end of East Sound, Sara made some phone calls to work and Southwest baggage. Southwest informed her that her second bag, which contained all of her camping/hiking/running gear, was considered permanently lost. Southwest agreed to reimburse her for the cost of the items, with depreciation, but it’s not clear exactly what that means. It’s a sad day :(
Monday morning we “slept in” and made a dinner-breakfast of spaghetti with tomato sauce, supplemented with mushrooms and chard – yum! Sara and I packed up our tents and left camp earlier than the rest of the crew. Everyone else was headed back to Anacortes later that morning, but we were headed to Orcas Island to continue the second half of our San Juan Islands trip. Even after multiple calls to the Southwest Airlines baggage counter (at 3 different airports), there was no indication that Sara’s two checked bags would be delivered, so we headed into Friday Harbor to replace some of the lost items. A 45-minute shopping spree later, Sara was the proud owner of some new chacos, underoos, paddling gloves, and other items. We made the usual stops for water, ice, and coffee before boarding the inter-island ferry.
Another (attempted) early start! At 6:50am (only 20 minutes late) we departed the campsite, made a quick-ish coffee stop in Friday Harbor, and continued to our second San Juan Island kayaking destination: Haro Strait. This strait runs along the west side of San Juan Island and is known as the best location for orca whale sightings. The main public put-in site is at Smallpox Bay in San Juan County Park, which is apparently where a number of Native Americans plunged into the icy cold water to rid themselves of smallpox and instead died of pneumonia...
5am: it’s time to wake up for the earliest ferry! In classic Nena-style we (Nena/Sara/Bridget/Ale/Alex/Maria) took the first ferry from Anacortes to Friday Harbor at 6:25am. We were directed to Lane #4 where we parked, ate yogurt and cereal, and watched a gorgeous sunrise. We wandered into the waiting area and found a Seattle’s Best coffee machine, which delivered wonders for $1.50. “Now boarding the 6:25 ferry to Friday Harbor.” Oh crap, we return to the car just in time to board the ferry, parked behind another pair of kayakers and next to a massive flammable liquids truck. The ferry to Friday Harbor lasted ~1 hour.
The park was strategically located 20 minutes from the Anacortes Ferry Terminal where we were scheduled to depart at 6:25am the next day. We drove over Deception Pass at sunset and took in the gorgeous bridges and views for a few minutes before continuing to our expensive/tiny campsite.
We fashioned a bed for Sara out of miscellaneous items in the car and attempted to sleep for a couple hours before Bridget and her crew arrived at midnight with the sleeping bag. All in all, a preparation day for our exciting kayaking trips ahead!
After a quick cafe breakfast with Juliette and Simeon in Portland, I drove up to my company's Seattle office. The Seattle office is wonderful. There are free drinks in the glass door fridge (almost like it's Facebook! ...) and there's a view of Puget Sound from the windows. Everyone is very friendly :). I did a couple hours of work and I have to admit: I might already miss my job. Luckily I can still keep working! There is no shortage of that.
The Seattle office Birthday Barge celebration (in which the month's birthdays are celebrated with beers/snacks on a floating dock in Salmon Bay next to the office) was relocated to the conference room due to impending rain. I thought these PNW people were unphased by rain! I was ready to tough it out with my rain pants and yellow umbrella. Instead, we celebrated in the common area, and Danielle and Allisa took me down to the water for a quick barge visit and Canada goose viewing:
After the birthday celebration was over and people started trickling out, Danielle and I drove to Capital Hill (her neighborhood) for dinner at Smith (yes, that's the name of the restaurant). Delicious cider and salmon! Now I'm perched in the top floor of my tiny AirBnB rental, ready for my first solid night of sleep in my own bed in over a week. Sara's flight from Richmond was delayed/cancelled twice, so she will no longer be arriving in Seattle tonight. This means that I am residing in our AirBnB house solo. The good news is, Sara has notoriously bad luck with flights, so we had preemptively scheduled an extra day in Seattle. It looks like I'll be doing the camping errands alone tomorrow, which means we'll probably be eating rice and beans all weekend.
This is a blog about exploring the outdoors (mostly by kayak), traveling, trip planning, and coastal engineering. It currently focuses on kayaking in the Netherlands and Belgium, but previous posts cover Upstate New York, California, and much more. See the Complete List of Blog Posts for a history of the site. Looking for something specific? Search the site here.
In addition to the blog, check out the Water Nerd section, where I write about coastal engineering and hydrology.
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