Sunday, September 29, 2013

Wedding Bike Ride to Port Townsend

Two weeks ago some friends of mine got married. While most people just drive to out-of-town weddings, I was inspired by Tessa Hulls to ride my bike. She is a friend in Seattle who rides her bike most places, whether around town, to a mutual friend's wedding outside Portland, or coming home from a trip in Alaska. (She is the one who gave me a great run-down on her bike touring packing list right before I did the Oregon Coast bike trip.) My boyfriend had already left town on Friday, so on Saturday morning I set out solo to ride from my house in Seattle out to Port Townsend on the Olympic Peninsula.

I'm north of the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry, so I decided to take the Edmonds-Kingston ferry and not have to backtrack. In the grey morning light I got on the interurban and pedaled north, barely giving myself enough time to make the intended ferry. I got to the ferry dock after all the cars were loaded and the boat was full, and I looked pleadingly at the ferry worker, "Can I still get on?"

"Go grab a ticket!" he replied, to which I bolted in and out of the terminal. I rode down the dock past all the cars, onto the full ferry, just before they pulled away.

It was a beautiful, foggy crossing on Puget Sound. It had been forecasted to be sunny, but it was fairly mild and very misty. A lot of small boats were on the water, and I watched a salmon jump over and over.

From Kingston I hopped on 104, which is a somewhat busy but pleasant enough road with a wide shoulder. The Hood Canal bridge was pretty to cross, and pads had been laid on the sharp grates on the shoulder for bicycles.

Just after the bridge I got to my favorite section of the ride. For about 2 miles, you can take the parallel Shine Road, which goes along the water, lined with cute houses and yards and fruit trees.
The rest of the ride went smoothly, with long gradual hills. About four miles before Port Townsend, I got onto the Larry Scott bike trail. It was a peaceful, wooded bike trail that eventually will go all the way to Neah Bay. But for now it was just nice to have a separate bike trail coming into town.
Once the trail got closer to the city, it opened up to the coast. I could see the ferry, lots of sailboats, and a half-sunken mini-ship.
I arrived at the wedding venue of Fort Worden State park just within my comfortable time limit. I was an hour early, and I'm glad I wasn't any later! I had just enough time to take a quick shower at the main house and throw on a dress that had been rolled up in my pannier. Dangly earrings, leather flats, a little mascara, and no one would suspect that I had just arrived sweaty, in bike shorts. Last time I checked, that does not make for the best wedding attire.

There was a drinks and appetizers happy hour before the wedding. I'm a big fan of the pre-event cocktail hour- weddings go so fast that it gives the guests more time to chat, and slows the day down a bit. It also gave my ravenous stomach a chance to normalize.

The ceremony was outside, which the bride had been adamant about. Even if it had ended up pouring rain, the wedding would have taken place outside. Luckily, the sun came out and it was a profoundly beautiful afternoon. Here's the groom and officiant waiting for the bride by a huge pacific madrone.
The ceremony was heartfelt, funny, and original. The chairs for guests were arranged in almost a complete circle. I like the inclusive, community feeling of that shape more than the straight, spectator rows. Then the bride walked down the aisle (well, across the field) to a live electric guitar Jimmy Hendrix-esque version of Here Comes the Bride. The couple wrote their own vows which were incredibly beautiful. There was also no shortage of humor with lines like, "I will always be there for you. When you are cold, I will keep you warm. When you are hot, I will take off your clothes." Also, instead of a flower girl, they had three "flower knights", who were all brothers in medieval costumes and capes, throwing petals. Later they came around before dinner to hand out little roses to all the guests.
After the ceremony it was happy hour before dinner, but I couldn't bring myself to stay inside. The light was incredible, warm early evening light with unexpected layers of coastal fog.
We climbed around on the old military bunkers, watched the water, and played with little kids until it was time for dinner. The rest of the evening was a blast- trivia about the couple, cake, lots of dancing. I know it sounds cliche, but those two really do make a fabulous couple, and I wish them the absolute best. I'm so happy for them that they found each other, and happy for me that I had a fun destination for  a longer bike ride.

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