Vashon Island – July 7, 2012
While the rest of the country has been in the frying pan Seattle has remained in the refrigerator. Finally, and I say this with trepidation, summer has arrived. We joke that summer never arrives until after the 4th of July. Year after year that joke comes true. It is like stepping from a dark room into the daylight or being under water for just a moment longer than you can comfortably hold your breath then finally breaking the surface to breath air. Then we are surrounded by blue sky, water and snow capped mountains. We made plans to cycle around Vashon Island.
My eyes were disinclined to open when the alarm went off at 5:00 AM on a Saturday morning; the 7:35 AM ferry was waiting. We had 18 miles to ride and a little over an hour to board the ferry to Vashon. We had entered a time trial whether we wanted to or not. If we missed this ferry it was an hour until the next one. It was early and we could course through Myrtle Edwards Park uninhibited by pedestrians. Mount Rainer painted the background, the Seattle skyline the subject and Puget sound was the foreground. The air was a crisp 58 degrees as the sun was still making its way into the sky. We reached a decision point to take a short cut across West Seattle or go around Alki Point to enjoy the scenery. We checked the time and thought if we pushed a good pace we could still make it. The scenic route was just too alluring to pass up.
We were cruising at plus 20 MPH along the trail when we were stopped near the bath house by two people with there arms up waving for us to stop. We stopped and they alerted us that the trail is closed because the Seafair Pirates will be landing. We thanked them for the warning and took to the street. We looked at the clock and had our doubts that we would make it to the ferry. We had 15 minutes remaining as we rounded the point and we still had a hill to climb before the descent to the ferry terminal. To our own disbelief we made it in time. We took in the beauty of the sound and mountains with the ferry in dock. This was too perfect and thought that we should expect a pod of orcas to surface as we made the ferry crossing.
When on two wheels one is greeted to Vashon Island by a good hill climb straight off the ferry, some call this cruel, but the reward of getting onto the island “The Rock” is well worth it. We remarked that some travel great distances to enjoy such sights and we have it within our own backyard. We dropped through a winding wooded roadway that opened to pastoral lands. We saw old red barns and fields with horses, pastures with sheep and yards with goats. The healthy barnyard air cleared the nasal passages and nourished our lungs. The ride is filled with winding roadways, rolling hills and some hill climbs. The pastoral lands opened to the seaside edge of the south end of the island. Again we were pressed by time as we needed to catch the 10:40 return ferry. We stopped for a minute to debate if taking the Burton Acres Park loop would allow time for a coffee stop on the island. The decision to take the loop provided a ride of rolling hills, snappy banked turns, and glorious coastal scenery. The stretch along SW Quartermaster drive was also a treat where we could really open it up to race along the coast with rollers and and gentle snaking turns. We turned north along the coast and saw an empty row of stationary bikes overlooking the Sound composing a make shift spin class. We rolled on along the coast then made the uphill turn back into town. It was almost 10 o’clock and we decided there was time to get a coffee in town before heading to catch the 10:40 ferry. Not knowing where a coffee shop was we asked a person on the street who directed us to The Hardware Store Restaurant which has a coffee bar at the back. Lingering a bit too long the time passed and it was 10:20 leaving less than 20 minutes to board the ferry. We were not sure how far it was but I recalled last time I rode here that it took 15 to 20 minutes to get from town to the dock. Once again we found ourselves entered into a time trial. Fueled by espresso we took off and set a hard pace into the wind back to the dock, we could not afford to miss the boat due to other commitments of the day. We mistakenly were under the impression the road back was all down hill; the long climb off the ferry seemed a short descent back to the ferry. It was exhilarating to be pressed against the clock and we flew down hill once we hit it. We made it just as the ferry was pulling into terminal so we had a few minutes to catch our breath. We were greated by a man with a point and shoot camera asking us to pose for a picture because it was perfect for what he needed. He layed on the ground then snapped a few shots. He apparently is making a movie called “The Weekend” that involves Mickey Rourke. He ran around the ferry dock snapping more photos excitedly.
We landed on the opposite side to make the ride home. Sure enough as we rode along Alki Beach we were greeted by the Seafair Pirates landing and nearly were blown off our bikes as the cannon was fired. It was all against the wind for the last 10 miles of the home stretch. Vashon is a great ride and highly recommended. Next time I want to include Maury Island in the loop.
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