Today I started the return trip south, making my way over to the Pacific Coast Highway starting point in Astoria, OR, about 170 south and west of my hotel in Seattle. It was an easy trip and I finally had to break out the rain gear I'd been sure to buy.
Rather than try to navigate the jungle streets of Seattle, I hopped on I-5 south to Olympia (trust me - it's not worth the hassle of riding on Seattle's city streets; I learned my lesson a couple days after arriving). I was able to catch some glimpses of decent views of the inland basin where some of Seattle's suburbs are located. One thing that really stuck out - it was actually chilly. After breakfast, when I was getting ready to ride again I opted for my warmer gloves and zipped up all the vents in my jacket. It had been in the upper 60s overnight since I had arrived, with the exception of the last two mornings in Seattle, and highs had been well above average, so this was welcome.
Once I got to Olympia, I left the jungle behind and hopped onto the 101 and started heading south (well north, then changed highways before connecting back to the 101 south after it had hooked around the Olympic Peninsula). The 101 from Olympia to Montesano is fun. It was chilly, too, but not so bad. The roads twisted through pine, cedar, and fir forests - it was hard to believe the Pacific Ocean was just a short distance in front of me. After hopping onto Highway 107 in Montesano, the road got even more narrow and twisty. And wet. I thought I was catching some sea spray at first, but it was actually raining (barely). I found a good spot to pull off and pulled on my rain gear and lined my jacket for the first time this trip.
Feeling warmer, I took off again and made my way to reconnecting with the 101 and on to Raymond, Washington. This part of the highway was amazing. It was everything I pictured the Pacific Northwest to be (I'd been here before, but not for a very long time). I felt like I was touring all the sets of Grimm and the scenery seemed like it was pulled right out of the show. Shortly before town, the rain broke and I got a spectacular view looking through a channel toward the fog-covered landscape I'd just left.
I continued to wind down the 101, detouring on Highway 4 and 401 in Washington seeing more of the Lewis & Clark Trail and a real live shipwreck on the Columbia estuary!
Today's ride was short and nearly at it's end. I crossed the Columbia at the Astoria-Megler Bridge. It started up high, dropping low over most of the river, then rising again above the deepest channel where a large merchant vessel was making it's way toward the river. After finding a hotel and getting set up for the night, I set out to explore a little bit. No trip to Astoria would be complete without checking out the Goonies house!
I also discovered lunch at the Wet Dog Cafe, where I sampled some of the Astoria Brewing Company's concoctions. Between the Poop Deck Porter, the Old Red Beard Amber, and the awesome view from their dining room overlooking the Columbia, I was pretty happy. I took the boardwalk back to the hotel, then waited for the sun to set.