Fort Worden Adventures

Last Saturday, Dad and I took Benji on an all-day adventure to Fort Worden, a ferry ride and a couple hours’ drive away. Fort Worden is one of three forts that were built around the turn of the 20th Century to protect Puget Sound. This included excavating extensive underground or partially buried batteries for gun emplacements, as well as barracks and other supporting buildings. Today, all three forts are state parks, with parts of the buildings open to explore.

When I say “open to explore,” imagine hiking through the woods to suddenly find a cement wall, pocked with stairways, doors, and balconies. Inside, you find mostly empty cement and cinderblock rooms and passages, some extremely narrow, all pitch dark. Graffiti covers most walls, but no animals nest here and mercifully people don’t use the corners as urinals, so overall it’s pretty clean. Hallways connect in strange ways; echoes bounce back. You carefully avoid trenches or raised platforms in the floor and holes in walls that clearly played some part in the military activity at the fort, but now just add the frisson of excitement that only comes from the possibility of breaking an ankle on something in the dark. You wander the passageways and pop out in unexpected places. You climb hair-raising stairways, narrow, steep, and utterly without soft, modern safety features such as railings. You approach the edge of multi-story drops onto cement pads where enormous guns used to hide, again with nothing between you and a fall besides your own acute terror. You peek from spotting towers that once commanded a sweeping view, now obscured by a full-grown forest. Continue Reading >>

Carpe … Sun

Day’s Verse:
All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel!
2 Corinthians 1:3

Yesterday the weather gave us a break in the form of one of those rare, perfect Seattle summer days. They don’t come often, at least not in June, but when they come it’s glorious. Fortunately, Dad had already planned on taking the day off, so we decided to seize our opportunity and do a bike ride somewhere we never usually ride. We decided to ride from Kingston to Port Townsend and back, a route that looks like this:

We didn’t really rush to leave super early in the morning, because it wasn’t that long of a ride and we started fairly close to home. Actually, a little more rushing would probably have worked out a bit better, since we ended up arriving just in time for the 9:30 ferry. Our original plan called for parking in Edmonds and walking our bikes on the ferry, a much cheaper proposition than driving on. But we arrived in time to purchase our car passage onto the ferry and then drive on, one of the last two or three cars on board. If we’d parked, we would have had to wait for the 10:40 ferry. It worked.

On this trip, I tried out my phone’s camera, and it’s okay. Not great, and I learned that I should never zoom in. Zoom is pure digital, and as it gets “bigger” the image just degrades. I can crop for size after the fact if I want less in the image. Without further ado, here’s what we saw.

The view of the Olympic Mountains from the ferry:
From the Ferry

Once off the ferry, we parked (another hassle of having the car) and got rolling fairly quickly. It was a gorgeous day, sunny, warm, and only very lightly breezy, hardly any wind for being on the water. Part of our route took us across the Hood Canal Bridge, which had a nice wide shoulder suitable for biking. The only downside was that periodically the cement paving was broken by ridged metal grates, which had been covered over in a 2-foot-wide section along the edge for bikes. I’m glad it was dry. In wet weather, I would’ve felt downright nervous about riding across that long expanse of slick metal. But on this day, the views from the bridge were spectacular.

On Hood Canal Bridge

We avoided the highway as much as possible, sticking to side roads. Mostly that worked fine, and we had minimal traffic on the way out to Port Townsend. Along the way we went through Port Ludlow, a bizarre planned community that seemed like Suburbia West. No retail or anywhere to work, just extremely large, expensive homes in planned developments for retirees nestled around the bay. It kind of creeped me out, in a way.

Just After Port Ludlow

Anyhow, we made it to Port Townsend and along the way met another group of cyclists, who Dad rode with for a while:
In Port Townsend

Here’s Dad on the dock in Port Townsend.
Dad in PT

And here’s me (on the other side of the dock).
Katie in PT 2

The view from the dock itself was spectacular, and my phone does have the very neat “panorama” feature that let me capture it, at least a bit (zoomed in, the quality is rather poor, but it still gets the point across).
From the Port Townsend Dock

We took our time and split a pretty decent mini-sized pizza at a place that had country music playing, car racing on TV, and bikes hanging from the ceiling. The mini pizza was 8″, four slices, and we agreed that even not on a bike ride, I couldn’t imagine wanting more than half of that anyway.
Pizza Place

This was an out and back ride, so the good news is we knew where we were going on the way home. The bad news is that we had a spectacularly exciting, and fortunately totally bloodless, encounter with a large (70 to 80 pounds, I’m estimating) dog that liked chasing bicycles. The summary story is that we rode by a house and saw a dog come streaking out at us. It dashed perpendicularly into the road right in front of Dad, who actually hit it with his front wheel. I was behind Dad and off to the side, already slowing down because upon seeing the dog, I immediately predicted it would do that very thing. So Dad hit it, but in a demonstration of excellent bike handling skills, he managed to swerve and stay upright. The dog, when hit, pivoted on its rear legs and streaked back to the safety of its yard, fortunately away from the direction of Dad’s swerve. I was far enough back that I was never in any danger. To add to the excitement, a car going the opposite direction slammed on its brakes so hard that it filled the air with blue burned rubber and that exciting squealing noise. We didn’t even stop to see what happened once Dad regained his balance, but just kept on going. I think Dad wanted to give the dog’s owner a piece of his mind, but it was better to keep moving on. For all we know the owner could’ve been mad at us for hitting his dog.

After that, Dad got his heart back into his chest and the ride resumed its more normal, uneventful pace. By the end I think we both felt fairly tired of the short, moderately steep rolling hills that characterize the Olympic Peninsula. Overall, though, we had fun riding somewhere different, not for speed or intensity, but for simple enjoyment.

We arrived in Kingston in time to get ice cream, walk around a bit, and join the queue for the 5:30 ferry home. Here’s the ferry pulling into the dock. By the time we arrived back at our car, some clouds had started moving in, foreshadowing the drizzly weekend to come. However, rain held off and the temperature remained comfortable for eating post-ride ice cream.

Ferry at Kingston

Kingston Ferry

Goodbye, Kingston. We had fun.
Goodbye, Kingston

Edit to add: This morning I went out to get my bike ready for a ride up to Snoqualmie Falls and I immediately saw this in my rear tire.

When I pulled it out, it turns out half the thing was actually embedded in there.
In my tire 2
Boy, I’m sure lucky I made it back to the car yesterday. I must’ve run it over just before we finished. I was starting to feel like my rear tire was a bit squishy, but I figured it was probably just that end-of-ride fatigue. Hah! Of course, now I have to wrestle with the darn tire to change the flat.

PS – If you feel the picture of me doesn’t really make me look pregnant, try this one.
Katie in PT 1


Day’s Verse:
The great day of the LORD is near—
near and coming quickly.

Zephaniah 1:14a

The weather online says it’s “breezy” outside. When I came down this morning, our 6-chime windchimes had 2 chimes still attached. The strings holding the remaining 4 chimes had snapped*. I wouldn’t call that merely breezy. Or if it is, I don’t want to find out what they describe as “windy.”

Wind aside, Rachel and I are going to take a ferry ride across to Kingston for lunch today. She’s never taken a real, honest-to-goodness Washington State Ferry (the Alki shuttle doesn’t count) despite having lived here for years. For shame! How could you live here all these years and never see End 1 or End 2? Or lean into the wind on the front of the ferry and almost get lifted off your feet? Or see the other ferry going the other way and say, “There we are”? Yes, they’re a bit shabby and most have seen better days, but Washington State Ferries are an institution that I love almost as much as the mountains. At least if the state has budget problems, the mountains won’t get cut.

*In the interest of full disclosure, one of those chimes fell off a while ago. The other two have fallen within the last couple days.