Day 5: Camas, WA to Vancouver, WA and travel day - A quick trip around the Columbia River Gorge - CycleBlaze

September 2, 2013

Day 5: Camas, WA to Vancouver, WA and travel day

We enjoy having short riding days to bookend a tour, and we accomplished it easily by staying in the "gateway" towns of Troutdale and Camas. If we were looking to camp the whole way, it might have been a bit more challenging.

I expected to have nothing to write about the last few miles into Vancouver, but I suppose we turned them into a bit of an adventure by staying off the highway and choosing a route closer to the river. The road we chose is called Southeast Evergreen Highway, and it may as well be paved with cobblestones. It's an interesting area in terms of real estate, too. It has the allure of being waterfront property, but trains still roar by at all hours of the day and night. McMansions defiantly intermingle with run-down cottages. I still think it was a better choice than Highway 14, which quickly turns into an expressway out of Camas. There are also probably some good route choices to the north.

We were looking for a promised waterfront bike trail, and we skirted a nearby gated community onto a narrow dirt trail into Wintler Park. The bike path itself was one of those that felt like it was designed more for pedestrians than cyclists. It soon become just a standard sidewalk with an occasional wayfinding sign here and there. I wanted to switch to the road, but it was only one lane in each direction, with no shoulder and a narrow raised meridian. So up and down we bobbed past the driveways of the many industrial parks in this area.

We pulled off into an interesting little courtyard that served as one end of the Vancouver Land Bridge, which, by gracefully curving over Highway 14, connects Fort Vancouver with the river. Unfortunately for us, Fort Vancouver itself is closed on Mondays. We did get to see what is considered to be the oldest apple tree in the Northwest.

We made it to the train station with plenty of time to spare. We put our panniers in the huge duffel bag I brought along, checked it in, then backtracked a bit into downtown Vancouver in search of lunch. We stumbled upon what we thought was a farmer's market, and some small part of it was, but the midway of this unusual carnival consisted of booth after booth of addiction recovery services. Add to that a fair amount of spillover from a nearby anime convention and a carillon that tells stories upon striking the noon hour, and you have the makings of a surreal experience. All in unassuming little Vancouver. Who'd have guessed?

We grabbed a bite to eat from something resembling a taco truck, bought a few tomatoes and cucumbers to snack on, and returned to the train platform with plenty of time to spare. We were a bit anxious about loading our bikes this time, since this is an intermediary stop on the line and things are a bit more hurried as a result. However, everything went smooth as clockwork, and we were whisked away towards home with no pedaling required.

Our route from Camas, WA to the Amtrak station in Vancouver, WA
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Navigating a secret pathway to Wintler Park, were we hoped to find the end of a bike trail
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Entrance to the Vancouver Land Bridge
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Anime fans dancing and otherwise entertaining themselves and onlookers at Esther Short Park in Vancouver
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Today's ride: 21 miles (34 km)
Total: 209 miles (336 km)

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