From Seaquest State Park, we headed East on Highway 504 (Mount St. Helens Hwy). The morning was cool, the road was quiet, and the scenery was amazing. We passed Silver Lake, with a floating fishing dock. We caught stunning views of Mt. St. Helens in the distance. We stopped for coffee and a coconut cookie along the side of the road and talked with the owner who had seen us huffing and puffing up the hill the previous day.

And, after rounding a corner several miles down the highway, we stopped with a lurch, stunned by an entire herd of deer (or possibly antelope?). They were in the brush, no more than 15 feet away – at least 20 bucks, does, and fawns – and they were huge! We watched in awe, but kept our distance (so we didn’t get trampled when they all ran across the highway).

Leaving the deer behind, we turned onto Highway 505 and headed North, through the small town of Toledo, where we met a young man touring the country on motorcycle. We camped at Lewis & Clark State Park, a small park tucked into a little pocket of trees. The Hiker/Biker site was right next to the restrooms and the water and the camp host, yet was remarkably quiet. We took the opportunity provided by a shorter ride day to do some laundry and catch up with email and call it an early night.

Day 20, we rolled out of the campsite fairly early, turned out onto the highway and started up the hill before Russ’ bike decided to implode. Or, rather, the cable housing on his left shifter decided to, quite literally, explode. So we spent a good half hour or more, on the side of the road, trying to jerry-rig the derailleur so that he could ride the 15 miles into Centralia. Luckily, the road was relatively flat, and it was possible to ride into town without using too many gears. We found a bike shop with a very very strange owner and made the necessary repairs before rolling into downtown and stumbling onto McMenamins Olympic Club. We lunched and charged our batteries and hid from the 95-degree heat – all while knowing that our bikes were perfectly safe, because the McMenamins folks had let us roll them right inside the building.

After lunch, we plodded the rest of the ride up to Millersylvania State Park – hot, but glad that we had escaped the worst of the heat. At Millersylvania, we were pointed to the Hiker/Biker area behind a white fence that said “Do Not Enter” – perfect for keeping out the RVs. We had our pick of a half dozen spots in a beautifully-wooded area, complete with a water spigot. We set up camp and rolled down to the lake, where we were excited to find a snack bar that stocked some of the best fudge bars ever! We put our feet in the water and ate our snack and soaked in the feeling of being very very content.

Day 21 started with a short ride into Olympia and a little bit of city life. I have the pleasure of having my work shown and sold at a new gallery opening in September (Matter!) and we stopped by the space so that I could meet the owner, Jo, in person. Russ was thrilled to learn that she had made a big leap in deciding to open the gallery and had left a decade or so of work in the healthcare industry. Being Russ, he jumped at the chance to do a quick interview, so hopefully we’ll get that up shortly. Thanks Jo!

From Olympia, we headed North-East, rolling down Highway 101. The heat wave kicked up a notch and we sweated and panted in the sun, until we hit the town of Shelton, where we turned off and gave in to the lure of Dairy Queen. Russ had never before had the pleasure of a DQ, while I remembered all the times I had been to one as a kid.

After Shelton, the traffic on Highway 101 died down significantly and, while it was still ridiculously hot, it was much more enjoyable. We rolled through the Skokomish Indian Reservation, where Russ was delighted by the local folk art on the fireworks stands, and finally reached our camping destination, Potlatch State Park. Potlatch is a small park, right along the highway, but we found a nice spot under a canopy of trees and next to a small stream. And, after watching the sunset over Hood Canal, we enjoyed a long campfire with dinner and a cup of tea.