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We woke up to find a new member in our riding crew. Genevieve, Seth’s college friend, had driven up from Portland to ride with him. This was her first tour and she was eager to see what it was all about and with Seth as her riding buddy I was sure she’d have a positive experience. We aimed for the coast from Bellingham and soon found ourselves on the road that Chris had driven us along on the way up to Vancouver. It was a gorgeous road and we soon found ourselves surrounded by cyclists who were out on an MS 150 ride. They were on the 2nd day of a ride to raise money for MS. It was great to see so many other cyclists on the road, even though most of them flew past us on their road bikes.

We got off the back streets and on to US20 to cross on to Fidalgo Island, home of Anacortes where Seth & Genevieve would catch a ferry and we would head south to Whidbey Island. We pulled in to a gas station where our paths split and said our farewells. It had been great riding with Seth and who knows what the future holds. Our routes are so flexible that it’s definitely conceivable that they may well cross again and it will be a pleasure when they do. Until then, I’ll be keeping up with his blog and hoping he finds a great place to winter. Genevieve, on the other hand, would be someone we would be meeting again soon. She lives in Portland and C and her made plans to meet up when we get there.

We’d been with Seth since August 31st in Republic and it was strange not to see him riding along next to C. We made our way down the road towards Deception Pass which would take us to Whidbey Island. Climbing up to Deception Pass was pleasant but the area around the bridge was one of the most beautiful places I’d seen recently. We grabbed a few pictures, but C’s camera was playing up more and more. You can tell which her pictures are, they’ve got the black dots as she somehow got dust on her sensor which can’t be cleaned.

We rode on and got to Oak Harbour. We didn’t have a place to stay, but I had picked up a coupon at the Deception Pass visitor centre for a free ice-cream at Popsies so was eager to go there. We pulled in to McDonald’s to do some planning and looking on warmshowers found a host called John Clark in town with a phone number. We called him on our cell phone but our credit ran out before he answered. I called him using my Gmail account and after asking his wife he said we could stay. He lived on the Naval base and so we rode down there via Popsies.

When I hear about free ice-cream I expect a sample or at best a small cup, that’s not what awaited me at Popsies. I got the Rocky Road and found myself being handed a cone with 2 big scoops worth in. C went in separately as the voucher said 1 per family and came back with an equally large strawberry cone. We rode over to the base in the good mood that only ice-cream can put you in.

Being September 11th, the base was on alert level Bravo 2 which meant that everyone entering would get IDed. We showed our passports and said who we would be staying with and were let in. We thanked them and were told that in future we should be escorted on to base.

Riding up the hill we saw John coming the other way, probably wondering where we were and thinking that we had been delayed at the entrance as I had forgotten to tell him we would be going for ice-cream before arriving. He stopped and told us how to get to his place and we rode over. We met his wife, who was busy preparing a lovely dinner, and two boys who were playing. We cleaned up and were fed before John took us out for a digestive break and a tour of the local area. He showed us the base he worked on and also took us to see a beautiful sunset at the beach where we also saw salmon.

Back at the house we got given dessert and then I stayed up for a couple of hours talking to John. His present to himself when he retires from the Navy is going to be a bike tour and he’s really eager to learn about touring. He was also a really interesting person to talk to about the different places he has lived in the US having grown up in Alabama and also spent time in Pensacola, in the Florida panhandle. It was a really great time and another example of things turning out well when we don’t plan ahead of time.

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