I never thought I would hear these three words from a German: “Too much beer.” I still don’t believe I heard it but I did. Christoph said it the other morning. I share this because it is simply one of the most astonishing things I’ve ever heard and I can’t keep it to myself. There is a small risk Christoph could lose his German citizenship over this utterance, but I’ll take that risk.
We were camped at Ocean City State Park at the southern tip of the Olympic Peninsula when those words were spoken over breakfast. I will recount the previous day’s adventure to make some sense of it all.
On May 5, we ended our ride at Ocean City, made camp and headed into town to find a pub to have a beer. We found one fairly quickly and ordered two local IPAs. And then another two. With our thirst quenched, our next stop was a grocery store to buy some supplies for the next couple of days, and then we went in search of a restaurant for dinner. It being May 5, we lined up at a Mexican restaurant that was packed to the rafters but the wait was a bit too long. We were hungry. We moved a block down the street to an Irish pub. Can’t really go wrong there, except that it seems possible that one can have too much beer.
We enjoyed a nice meal and some beer before cycling back to our campsite where, as the sun went down, we enjoyed another beer and called it a day. Perhaps to save further shame or embarassment, I think it wise not to divulge exactly how much beer was consumed, but I can guarantee it was not anywhere near approaching “too much.”
We continued our journey south going around massive North Bay and through the cities of Hoquiam and Aberdeen. In Hoquiam, Christoph’s rear tire went flat again, for the third time and, by the looks of it, it the same spot. We checked the wheel and the tire but there didn’t seem to be anything that would be causing a puncture. We changed tubes, pumped it up at a gas station and rode on into Aberdeen. Conveniently, there was a bike shop next to a coffee shop so we accomplished two things at once: coffee and a snack, and a new tube and some rim tape.
It was good to leave the busy roads of the city behind us as we turned west along the south shore of North Bay. After 80 km, we called it a day and made Grayland Beach State Park our home for the night. After some negotiating with the park staff, a very nice young lady agreed to give us a site for the “primitive” rate of $12 instead of $35 for a “full service” site.
The beach along this stretch of coast is massive. It is wide and long and flat. People are allowed to drive on the hard-packed part of the beach, and they happily take their big trucks and SUVs for a tear.
With not much of interest in the skyline, we declined to wait for sunset and sauntered back to our campsite amid the giant RVs and campers. People looked at us kind of strangely as our bicycles and small tents barely took up any space in the site designed for a large RV.
We got an early start next morning and had two hours of blissful, almost car-free, cycling along the north shore of Willapa Bay to the town of Raymond, 45 km to the southeast. We took a break for coffee and a snack at one of the many espresso huts that can be found along Washington State’s roads. We were hoping to get south into Oregon, but as the day wore on, it became obvious that was not going to happen. Not sure what we had been thinking.
We met another cyclist heading south near North Nemah. Faisal is from Seattle and on his first tour, riding to San Fransisco. We chatted for a bit alongside the road and exchanged phone numbers to perhaps hook up later. Christoph and I pedalled on south along seemingly never-ending Willapa Bay, finally ending up in Seaview, a cute little town just north of Cape Disappointment.
We had discussed with Faisal possibly sharing a camp site at Cape Disappointment State Park, but after 120 km or riding, we just didn’t have it in our legs any longer to go 8 km south of town and have the camp site live up to its name. Instead, we found the Sou’wester Hotel, a self-described “hodgepodge of private cabins, vintage travel trailers, suites and campsites.” Not cheap but close to restaurants, grocery store, brewery and our road out the next morning. It was just too quirky to pass up. Besides, we were thoroughly beat.
The Sou’wester is a great collection of eccentricity and love of good food, art and community. There were hot showers (included in the fee), a sauna, free coffee, a community kitchen and a store selling local arts, crafts and regional beer, wine and food stuffs. Most everything worked on the honour system and the place was clean and well kept. We were told there would be a free concert that night, as well as the next night.
We made camp, had showers and walked to the grocery store for some supplies and to check out the town. We had already discovered the North Jetty Brewery. It was our first stop after cycling 120 km. The taco truck outside provided us with a snack and the brewery helped us rehydrate.
We asked a woman at the campsite where we could get a good steak. She didn’t know but went and asked one of the guys “who is a really big meat eater,” and she came back with a recommendation for The Depot, right next door. The place was packed, and it being Saturday night, no table available until 8. We reserved it and went for another beer at the brewery. Well, okay, two beers.
By the appointed time we returned to The Depot and were seated. We ordered steak and a bottle of Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon to go with it, followed by dessert. I had a salted caramel chocolate brownie with ice cream and Christoph a tiramisu. One of the best meals in recent memory.
Completely satiated and quite exhausted we returned to our camp spot amid the old trailers and turned in for the night. It turns out, as the next morning proved, one can indeed have too much beer (and wine). Thankfully, we did not have too far to go to Seaside, Oregon, where we had made arrangements to spend a night with Neil Branson, a Warm Showers host. Even though he said he would not be home, he generously offered for us to just go in and spend the night. Neil is famous on this coast for hosting cyclists and I know he’ll write a book about it all some day.
And so, we ended our journey through Washington by crossing the 6-kilometre-long Astoria bridge into Oregon and are now at Neil’s place with Faisal and two other cyclists, Kendra and SaraMae.
Here is a map of our journey through Washington. Click on it and it will open a new page where you can dissect all the data, if you wish to do so.
Here are a few photos from the Sou’wester.