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After going to our first Couchsurfing get together the night before, we were glad to get to sleep in a little and not have to head out until 9. Danielle, our host for our 3rd + 4th nights in town was nannying and her parents had left the house by the time we woke, but Lindsey, a fellow couchsurfer, was there and we got to spend some time with her before leaving.

While we headed south on our bikes we didn’t go too far, Google Maps said it should have been 6 miles but a couple of misturns meant it got to about 8 and then we were at Stewart and 9th and a bus stop. I had been in email contact with Derek & Sara, our hosts for the evening, and they had said that if we got in to Olympia, 30 miles north of where they lived, around lunch time we could have lunch and then get out and explore. The only way that was possible was to take 2 buses, one from Seattle to Lakewood and then one from Lakewood to Olympia. That is how we found ourselves at Stewart and 9th just after 10am for the 10:17 bus.

The bus came and we put our bikes in the rack on the front. The bus on Whidbey had been able to hold 3 bikes, but this one could only take 2. Thankfully, getting on at the first stop ensured no-one else was ahead of us trying to use the slots. We threw our bags on board and set off on a 90 minute journey through the urban sprawl of Seattle. As well as getting to hang out in Olympia, taking a bus meant that we didn’t have to ride through the city. Unless cities are spectacularly planned, they are rarely enjoyable to ride out of. The huge number of hills in Seattle combined with a fair amount of traffic and grey skies to make a bus out definitely preferable.

Within 10 minutes of being on the bus C was asleep and I was on my Kindle. I was closing in on the end of the final Harry Potter book, having started to read them just after watching the last film with Abdul back in Madison, and was glad to have some reading time. The journey flew by and made me wish I’d had the Kindle back when I lived in Korea and took buses all the time.

The bus driver called 512 Parking Lot and we disembarked. There was a 30 minute wait until the next bus so I got my Walkstool out and sat in the sun glad to see some after 4 days of grey skies in Seattle. I was also happy to be using my Walkstool. I really like it, but rarely use it. I’m very comfortable sitting on the floor, so until I get to camping in places without park benches I’m just not going to use it that much.

The 603, our next bus, turned up and the first thing I saw was a road bike already on the rack meaning there was only a single space available for our two bikes, a small problem. I asked the driver if it was possible to put a bike inside the bus, but he apologised and said it was impossible. We tried to come up with a way to get us both on the bus, including the owner of the road bike offering to take his wheels off and therefore make it no longer a bike. The driver said there wasn’t enough space to put it if he did that and we were running low on options. The next bus wasn’t for 90 minutes and I didn’t want to have us both wait and risk the same situation occurring when it turned up. We decided that one of us should get on and C volunteered. We arranged to meet at the Olympia terminal and I waved goodbye.

I stood round for a while trying to work out what to do. My GPS said that even though it was only 20 miles as the crow flies it would be a 40 mile ride over to Olympia. A military base and water got in the way of the route north of I-5 which seemed the shortest. I considered hitching but decided to ride over to the next town and send Derek an email explaining the situation. My ability to email on my Kindle while riding came in handy as I let him know what was happening. Within 5 minutes he had replied and said it was no problem and that he would find C in Olympia and then find and pick me up. Being able to drive on I-5, it wasn’t as huge a detour as it would have been on a bike, but it still impresses me when people go out of their ways that much to help out. Driving distances that would be considered kinda far in the UK is something that happens without thought in the US.

I got to Dupont and within 10 minutes Derek pulled in and picked me up. We threw my bike on the roof and turned back to Olympia to find C & Sara who had gone exploring the farmer’s market. We spoke about the trip and after clearing up the Alix back-story, which had caused a bit of confusion, I got to learn more details about the plan for the day.

Derek and his wife Sara own several beach cruisers. They love riding them around and Sara had thought we might enjoy getting to see Olympia using them. Derek had wondered if we would want to get on bikes considering we’re always riding. We rarely ride on off days, unless we are commuting around a city like Seattle or Vancouver, but that’s because it’s our bikes. Given such a different bike to ride on I accepted gladly and so it was we found ourselves on a pair of quite awesome beach cruisers. C’s was pink and mine was luminous green.

We had a wonderful afternoon riding around and got even more looks than when we are fully loaded. Kids in particular were intrigued by what we were on and seemed to want their own. When we left them outside the shop we nipped in to grab lunch a lady with grey hair at the bus stop offered to guard them for us as we weren’t locking them up but warned us that she only had one cane so she’d not be able to fight too many people off.

We saw the sights of Olympia including the capitol building, a lake where we stopped to eat our lunch, a bridge where we saw a sea-lion and some salmon and the new boardwalk where we tried to find the local celebrity, an octopus, but were unsuccessful. We later learnt that the local newspaper reported its death the year before which just proved to me how much of a celebrity it was.

We made it back to Derek & Sara’s old neighbourhood where the bikes are stored and dropped them off. It had been so different to ride them, they force a completely relaxed posture, and getting to hang out with and talk to our hosts so much on a non rest day was a pleasure.

In the evening we were taken to their house where Sara used her culinary prowess to make some delicious pizzas. We also got to see their pet project which will see them develop the woods behind their house to enable campers to stay in an awesome location, including one with a prime view of Mt Ranier. It’s going to take a lot of hard work and time but I look forward to hearing about its development and also seeing the pictures as Derek takes some stunning photos.

Derek & C on the tandem

Derek’s iPhone pictures

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