This is the last part of a series that starts here.
Also, since I am still so new at this, please comment anything you like/dislike about this series and anything else! 🙂
This is the day where I learned a lot about the difficulties of this kind of trip.
It started off promising, with a walk from Tacoma to Steilacoom, where I saw the mental institution featured in the book I was reading (which takes place in the 1800s, it’s really still there!) and another nice view of the sound, where I stopped and watched trains and boats go by. As I walked away from the water, I saw a woman come out of her restaurant and feed some seagulls.
Then, I began what I thought would be the worst part of my walk, passing miles of military property on either side. But in reality, it was just a beautiful, secluded forest road with plenty of shoulder and a lot of signs about unexploded ordnance. This part of the day was very very long, and it started raining a decent amount, so I was very happy when I got to town and could stop in a Starbucks to warm up.
Then things went a little south. As soon as I left the Starbucks, Google maps had me entering DoD territory, which was obviously impossible. I tried about 3 different routes before, frustrated, I stopped a cyclist to ask if he knew a way around it. He was very friendly but hard of hearing, so we were yelling street names by the road. He told me he didn’t know of a way for bikes, but that he thought the private roads of the golf course were maybe accessible on foot. I thanked him and headed in that direction, down a convoluted set of residential streets.
I saw a bunch of people putting up Christmas lights with Christmas music booming from their garages. Some kids asked their dad what I was doing. Eventually, I found the tight space by a fence that allowed foot traffic only, and was back on a wooded country road toward the Nisqually preserve.
The shoulder on this road, however, gradually got narrower, and the traffic got heavier. As I approached my pickup point, a bar that would allow a visit to the nature preserve while I waited for Rachel, I was running up a brambly hill to avoid cars that came around the corner. Someone honked. “What do you want me to do?” I wanted to ask. “Google maps sent me here!” But really I should have looked at street view more thoroughly. I tried to find another route, even tried to detour through a Christmas tree farm, but there were fences everywhere I went. Eventually, soaked and a little scared, I saw the bar. I went in a grabbed a table and asked if I could wait for a few hours. The girl said, in a faintly country accent that was unfamiliar to me, “sure honey, but the night girls are a little cattier than me.” I ate my mozzarella sticks very slowly, read, and waited for Rachel. I wasn’t going to see any wildlife in this heavy rain anyway.
The most important part, of course, is that I got to go to my favorite sandwich shop at the end with Rachel. On the last day I learned a lot about route planning, safety, and the absence of the alleged cattiness of night waitresses. Sometimes whole regions are just not walkable and you just have to go around them. I think in my case, I would have needed another day for a prettier, more circuitous route to Olympia. I ended the day with the lessons in mind and with excitement about other explorations of the many islands and peninsulas in the Sound. I bet the walk to Canada is pretty interesting!