PNW2011 – Day 7

Aug 19, 2011 – Managing to get up and get things mostly packed before 9am meant that we had a pretty good chance of getting away early.

On the way out of the campsite, we stopped at the General Store and had breakfast muffins, and checked out the current Vampire Threat!
Not much to worry about – threat level was Medium. The area around Forks has certainly tried to capitalize on the popularity of the Twilight books and movies, there were Vampire references all over.

Escaping the vampire threat, we headed north to Clallam Bay on the Strait of Juan de Fuca Highway. As we got closer to the town, the fog got thicker and thicker.

Stopping at the gas station just outside of Clallam Bay for a bio break, I let myself get talked into going further northwest to Neah Bay – the most NW town in the continental US. I was attracted to the twisty road and the helpful clerk at the gas station insisted that the view was absolutely worth the ride.

As Louise and I discussed heading to Neah Bay or directly to Port Angeles, the fog seemed to get thicker.

But I managed to override Louise’s concerns and we headed up the road to Neah Bay – on a crazy twisted road in the fog. I was happy, but Louise was miserable. Her VStrom wasn’t handling the curves and dips very well and she wasn’t having fun. Add to that the fact that because of the fog, we couldn’t even see the damn ocean not even 15ft from the highway edge!

That was a bust and with Louise now a little grumpy, (and justifiably so), I promised no more crazy roads for a while. Instead of the crazy road to Port Angeles closer to the coast, we went back up to Highway 101.

It became pleasantly warm as we road past Lake Crescent …
with the road still curvy but not crazy twisty. Traffic really picked up on the NE end of the lake and we road through road construction pretty much all the way into Port Angeles.

It was along this stretch of the road that one of the funniest things happened to Louise. While riding slow because of the construction, the guy behind Louise was tailgating a bit, but Louise found a way, accidentally, to make him back off. With the 45 liter panniers on the VStrom, it’s pretty wide, and Louise was weaving a bit in the lane. No problem until “bonk” – she clipped one of the orange safety cones between the lanes, and sent it spinning into the air! The guy behind fell way back and gave Louise lots of space after that!

Eventually the construction petered out and we were in Port Angeles, where before heading to the Black Ball Ferry Terminal, we stopped for gas.

When we arrived at the Ferry Terminal, we found that there was going to be a bit of a wait. So we parked the bikes with the herd …
… and went off to a nearby restaurant for a bite to eat. While I paid for the meal, Louise sauntered off to the tourist information office to see about a hotel in Victoria. Since we were going to sort of “take the weekend off”, the plan was to find a relatively nice hotel for a couple of nights. She settled on the Embassy Inn just behind the BC Legislature Building. Not long after lunch, it was time to board the MV Coho and unlike most other ferries, all the bikes were held back and boarded last and since we were pretty much off to the side of the herd, we were nearly the last on.

A fellow on a brand new BMW R1200GS, tricked out in a brand new BMW riding suit and helmet was beside us in the line and offered to take a picture of us: He was a really nice guy though – he had just recently retired from the US Army where he’d flying Kiowa’s – one of the Army’s Recon/Attack helicopters and was moving to the US Coast Guard to fly helicopters. This was his “between gigs” trip.

Just off shore, there was a really thick band of sea fog. This ship …seemingly just appeared off to one side, looming suddenly through the fog.

The ride across the Juan de Fuca Strait was pretty smooth and clear once we got further away from Port Angeles. On the way into Victoria Harbour we went past a couple of cruise ships docked for the night. These things are HUGE! There’s thousands of people aboard each one of these things!

Being the last on the ferry, meant in this case, we were the last off, and it was a slow grind through the line up for Canada Customs and Immigration.

The Embassy Hotel was literally 1 block from the ferry terminal – straight across the street! However, what the hotel had in location, it totally lost in rooms and ambience. We parked and checked in, then hiked off to our room. It turns out it was on the upper floor of the hotel annex – and no elevators! So we headed up the stairs, then peeked into the “room”. I’m sure you’ve seen on TV the quintessential long-term motel room? Well this was that style – and since it was right over the pool, it was noisy. The final straw was the folks a couple of doors down yakking it up about how much of a party they were planning for that night! Louise said nope, no way. So we went back down to reception.

We walked up to a different clerk than the one who checked us in, and Louise tells him that sorry, but we’re checking out. The clerk gets all panicky and asks why? We told him that we were not impressed with the room, and that we were going to go find another hotel to stay at. With that, the clerk asks if he can offer us another room in the main hotel building, say a nice suite? We shrug, ask how much more, the difference was acceptable, so we took a key and headed on up to have a look.

The room was alright, more like a small apartment than a hotel room – bedroom on the left, living room on the right and galley kitchen, and it was a corner unit. It was pretty stuffy though, and the bedroom would pretty much stay that way the entire weekend. Anyway, we decided we’d take it, and went back down to get our gear. Later on I asked for a floor fan to be sent up so we could get some air moving.

Once we’d showered, changed and got the fan running, we went out to get some food and wound up at Milestone’s for food and drink!

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