Day 02 Mount Vernon to Seattle
Posted by Mike
Estimate: 68.7 actual: 75.43
We took some detours to avoid busy roads and then we had a bit of messing about in Seattle – all added some extra miles.
Avg speed: 13.2 – another day when our 15mph target wasn’t met. I think (hope!) it’s a consequence of so much stopping and starting at junctions as we ride through built-up areas. We do seem to manage 18-24mph on the flat open roads without too much difficulty.
We left Mount Vernon a little later than anticipated as we now need to try and find alternative accommodation in Portland on Monday and Tuesday. The early part of the journey was really nice – Skagit City and county and around Skagit Bay – lovely looking small towns – and a long train.
We were riding on quieter roads that ran along either side of the freeway: Interstate 5. There is a huge urban area north of Seattle – it maybe continues from the centre northwards for about 35 miles. So traffic really became busier in North Marysville and there was no respite from quite busy roads.
Marysville, Everett, along Evergreen Way (hardly any green!), east of Snohomish Airport, through Lynwood, (which had been our original destination for the day – but on reflection we thought that it wasn’t far enough south at about 60 miles from Mount Vernon), so we pressed on to Aurora on Pacific Highway, route 99. We turned west off this road just before N 155 Street towards the Seattle Golf and Country Club and the traffic seemed to almost disappear. We had a really enjoyable ride into the city, along Greenwood Ave North – into Greenwood; then on in to Phinney – a really nice-looking and slightly bohemian suburb – it felt a bit like home in Southville, Bristol. Joy of joys – we started to see people on bicycles! You can be pretty sure that you’re in a nice place with good people when the local people are on bicycles!
As we came down the steep hillside to come into Seattle over the Freemont Bridge, we caught our first glimpse of the Space Needle – one of the iconic buildings of Seattle. It was thrilling! The Space Needle will be very familiar to anyone who has watched Frasier – it was clearly visible through the windows of his apartment. **Spoiler alert** – any Frasier fans might want to stop reading until the end of this paragraph. We found out today that Frasier’s apartment doesn’t actually exist – and couldn’t exist, as there are no buildings in Seattle that provide the view out of Frasier’s apartment windows that audiences of the tv show see. That view was a photomontage … disgraceful! So that’s another piece of media innocence gone! So any of you who dreamed of living in Frasier’s apartment one day can forget it. One more thing, it turns out that Kelsey Grammar, the actor who played Frasier is a member of the Republican party – that was enough to deter Mike from buying the complete series box set on DVD!
Otherwise, Seattle was everything we hoped for – a really good place – cycle lanes almost everywhere, impressive buildings, wide open expanses of water and snow-topped mountains in the distance.
We came across a ‘ghost bike’ on Dexter Avenue North – a bicycle painted white and decorated with flowers in memory of a cyclist who was killed – Michael Wang in this case. It was a sad moment, and reminds us how vulnerable we can be – even in a cycle-friendly city like Seattle. RIP Michael Wang.
We debated whether to visit a Starbucks’ or not – they were founded here in Seattle and so it seemed a shame not to, so two iced green teas and oat biscuits in the original Starbucks Seattle! We’re not really tempted to visit those other two big Seattle exports – Microsoft and Boeing … well, Mike is extremely tempted, but Matthew wouldn’t stand for it!
We headed off to meet our Warm Showers host, Aaron, at his bicycle shop – but just before we arrived we were spotted by him and his son, Braxton as they cycled home from the shop! We were easy to recognise, apparently! It’s a shame we didn’t get to visit Aaraon’s Bicycle Repair Inc. We were especially keen to meet the two resident cats: Presta and Shraeda.
That’s something else to add to the list of things to do when we’re next in town. It looks and sounds like a really cool cycling establishment – check it out at: http://www.rideyourbike.com
So it was back to his lovely house for supper and a chat around a big open fire in the garden.
Braxton was quite interested in the differences between US and British English – it started when Mike talked about lorries – Braxton looked a little blankly and said “What?”, so Mike said it was English for truck! We developed a long list of words that just go to prove how much the British and Americans are separated by a common language!
One more thing … Aaron had a set of scales in his bathroom, Mike can never pass up an opportunity to feed his body weight obsession, so it’s 141.8lbs/10st 01 … all this cycling hasn’t brought him under 140lbs/10st yet – more’s the pity. Maybe fewer cake on the cake stops … or even ‘No cake stops’ perhaps?!