2009-03-23 47 -122
In a left turn pocket on the main road of Port Ludlum, Washington.
This geohash is 230 kilometres from Robyn's home, and it's a coldish rainy day, plus it's my birthday, so I slept in and only started planning at eleven in the morning. It was probably too late to bike that far before midnight, given my current fitness level. But the geohash was on a peninsula in Puget Sound and that meant either driving all the way south to where the peninsula met the mainland or getting on a ferry. Ferries are cooler, so I dragged the route west until Google agreed that I was going on a ferry. The ferry website warned that vehicle space was very limited, so my tentative plan was to drive to the ferry, park, take the bike across the ferry, bike 30 km to the geohash, bike another 30 km back to the ferry, and then put the bike back in the car and reverse the rest of the trip. I printed off the ferry schedule and the Google Maps instructions, and set out.
After a quick try for a warm-up geohash on the way, I continued south for what was probably a guaranteed success. Unless the road was closed for a police incident, I was going to reach a geohash that the hybrid view in Google puts right on a road.
As I exited the interstate looking for state route #20 there was construction in the area. Quite a lot of construction, such that I got sucked into the gravitational field of the town and had to drive around and around it faster and faster until I achieved escape velocity and intercepted highway 20 west. The area west of Seattle is all little islands, some of which are connected by bridges and some by ferries. It's all set up to allow cyclists, with those little miniature bicycle-sized highway signs and plenty of signs warning drivers to watch for cyclists, but it's really quite a horrid cycling area. Narrow, twisting highways with poorly surfaced, debris-strewn shoulders, in some cases narrower than my handlebars, and high bridges over windy passes. Plus it rains almost every day here. I really don't recommend cycling in the San Juan Islands. Ride straight down I-5, exiting to take the bypass routes where legally required to do so and then take public transit (I saw plenty) to the islands.
The ferry I planned to take was at 3:45 p.m., but as I meandered along highway 20 I began to realize that that wasn't happening. I'd line up for the 5:15 and then ride around and explore. I should have taken a short cut from highway 20 to the ferry, but as I was on #20 and so was the ferry it seemed safer than following a dubious Google printout into the unknown. My route took me past an airport, so no loss.
There were a lot of signs saying that the road was going to be closed tomorrow and then a sign saying this bit of the road, the bit leading to the ferry, was going to be closed at 8 p.m. tonight. That was about the point that I remembered that seeing as it's my birthday my driver's licence expires at midnight tonight. Hmmm. I have two deadlines. There was no way I was going to be able to ferry across, bike 60 km, get another ferry and get back through this stretch of road before 8 p.m. And if I went all the way around to Olympia, it might take six hours. I was already formulating a back up plan that involved parking the car at midnight and cycling home.
When the ferry came in sight, I wasn't allowed to turn left to it, but had to follow signs that took me a mile past it, through what looked like the residential area of an army base, and then to a little loop designed especially for ferry passengers. It probably makes more sense in the summer, when they are busier. There were a number of moulting deer at the base, but I didn't stop to photograph them.
I reached the ferry tollbooth at four and asked if there was standby space for the 5:15. There wasn't a 5:15 ferry, but there was a 4:30, and lots of room for me on it. I had read the ferry schedule backwards. This called for some recalculations, but I still wasn't going to be able to leave my car here and come back yet still get back before the road closed and home before my licence expired. So I drove onto the ferry. Those who travel by BC Ferries will no doubt be amused to learn that the total fare for me and the car for a 35 minute trip was $8.90. I extend my gratitude to all Washington State taxpayers. I think that's about how much it costs to walk on a ferry carrying a kayak in BC.
During the ferry ride I looked around trying to find a map so I could work out which highways to take in order to get around south of the sound without being caught up in rush hour traffic and so as to get home by midnight. I found a ferry route map which did show highways, because ferries are part of the highway system here. And even better, I also found a ferry that would give me a great shortcut back to the I-5 north, skipping Seattle and Olympia all together.
The geohash was right where it was supposed to be and I ran across the road a couple of time to see zero on the GPS, but didn't stand in the middle of traffic to photograph it, so the photographs show the view from the side of the road. I'm afraid the only game I played was "let's see if I can make the 6:30 ferry" (I won) and "let's see if I can get on the correct highway going in the correct direction" (I won that too).
So I only achieved my 41st successful geohash on my 42nd birthday. But I had fun. And I have a March 29th ferry schedule for when thepiguy and I do this again for his birthday. I guess I forgive him for not coming to my party. Do you think he did it deliberately to deprive me of the geohash designation?