August 2: Port Gamble to Seattle, Washington - The Great North American Sticky Bun Hunt - CycleBlaze

August 2: Port Gamble to Seattle, Washington

On the waterfront: Seattle from near the ferry terminal.
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SEATTLE IS A lovely city. We are there now after leaving Rick by the road that passes his house and then a hilly turn to the right that climbed and dived through light woods to emerge at a casino and a "full service" sauna.

We needed sticky buns and we took our time at a filling station beside the casino on the edge of an Indian reservation. Barely anyone paid us any attention. It was a relief. We are flattered when folk start a conversation and we're delighted at their interest. Every civilian who realises

Yessiree, that's the club for me.
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that the army of cyclists is made up of individuals just like them, if sweatier, is another parent who will encourage or at any rate allow a son, daughter, nephew or niece to try it himself. Or if not even that, simply treat cyclists with respect on the road.

But there are only so many questions and so many answers. There are only so many acceptable ways to agree that, yes, we get "great gas mileage", that yes, we are probably "in great shape." There are only so many ways people can say "Holy cow... you did that on a bicycle?" when we've explained our route. And there are only so many ways to sympathise when our new friends say they could never dream of doing the same because of some ailment, usually dodgy knees real or imagined.

Untroubled by all these things, we rode on over lesser hills and down to the Bainbridge Island ferry. Bill has his office in the main street and there he urged us to interrupt him. "I love to be interrupted at work," he said, without actually saying that perhaps the wet fish trade can have its less absorbing moments. And so, once interrupted, he arrived in shorts, on a bike, and seemed in an impressive lack of hurry to get back to the herring and cod.

Bill is a Sticky Bun Man after my own heart. Our chosen venue was simply not good enough, he insisted. There was better, and indeed there was. And there we churned over calories before being led through a park to the ferry for Seattle, pronounced Sea-Addle.

The city runs right to the water's edge. There is no shabby waterfront. There are no abandoned warehouses of cracking concrete propped up by men trying to look like Marlon Brando. There is, it is true, a sign on the boardwalk along the front that reminds visitors that it is unlawful to camp or light fires there but the rest is a mix of concrete and glass spaced in a human dimension.

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A bike path runs much of the way along the water's edge and this morning it was all that was moving. The rail line to the container port to the side of the ferry terminals, where doubtless there are lots of Marlon Brandos and worse, is just a hundred metres in from the shore. Container trains are a mile long. We know that because some weeks ago we rode beside a stalled one and measured it. It was 1,750 metres long, more than a mile. And today one had come to a halt on this stretch of road and for a long time showed no sign of moving. It was there when we arrived and it was there as we left.

Seattle's Space Needle, well-preserved monument from the world exhibition way back when. Cycling cop in the foreground to make sure nobody walks off with it.
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Looking one way from the Space Needle...
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We left but nobody else did. A train that long crosses many roads and traffic on all of them had been stopped by a wall of steel on wheels. But, I add smugly, not us. Just as the seafront road swung inland to cross the blocked track, the bike path ran straight on, smooth, enjoyable and breezy with salt air. Heaven smiles on cyclists some days.

...and now looking the other way.
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We have another reunion today. We are staying a couple of days with Mark and Lindi Taylor, a couple we met when Mark asked a question on the internet about taking tandems on French trains. A friendship followed and both came to see us and another friend in France, Bernard Menou, a couple of years ago. They are a lovely pair, Mark a whizz at putting up and styling the insides of buildings, Lindi a librarian at a posh private school.

Mark Taylor: we met over the internet and we've stayed friends ever since.
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There were nine of us for an outdoor meal tonight and the guests all arrived by bike. Joe, the younger son, dressed à la John-Boy in dungarees and entertaining shirt, rode the TransAmerica Trail a few years ago and enjoyed it all except the stretches where his father joined him and demanded they ride 100 miles a day.

Our tiredness, I fear, may not have made us the scintillating company the others deserved.

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