|San Juan Islands|
Being able to race and then vacation for a few days after is the way to go. It's difficult to explore, enjoy and experience the areas you are racing in before the race so plan for time afterwards and you'll be happy! I sure was.
Aaron used to live in the Seattle area so he had a few favorite places and activities he wanted to share with me while we were there......
Monday morning after the race we got into the car and drove to Anacortes to take the ferry out to the San Juan Islands.The San Juan islands are an archipelago in the northwest corner of Washington State. There are 172 islands in the archipelago and the islands are quite hilly (read, lots of hills to climb on a bike the day after a 70.3 is not easy, but it was vacation, we weren't racing and it was fun AND I was getting to experience something new that I had never experienced and it was also something Aaron really enjoys and wanted to share it with ME!!). We took the ferry to Orcas Island which like all the islands was surrounded by freezing cold, sparkling blue waters, deep green forests and peace and quiet. We biked all the way around the island to this cute little Resort and Retreat at Doe Bay. While there we were able to relax and unwind. We spent our time in the hot tubs, dining over the water at an organic cafe and putting our feet up while looking out at the water and islands in the Bay. It was so great to be able to be somewhere with no cell service. We could totally disconnect and recharge. I would go back to Doe Bay in a second, what an amazing start to a great week of vacation.
The next day we got up and decided to bike up Mount Constitution, why not! We're here and who knows when we will be back. Mount Constitution is the highest point in the San Juan Islands in Moran State Park. Basically 2,400 ft up in 4.7 miles. Think Tantalus but 2x steeper in less distance. It wasn't too awfully steep, but two days out from a touch race, climbing up a mountain was a bit of a challenge. The view at the top, it was SO worth the little climb. A stone observation tower stands at the summit and the tower gave us you some pretty amazing views. (One thing I would do differently is not have our TT bikes with Zipps, probbaly better to do this bike tour and climb on touring bikes or road bikes, but you make do with what you have!) You can see the surrounding islands, some Canadian and American cities and since it was a clear day, we could see Mount Baker in the distance. After that we headed back to the ferry and back to home base for the trip...more adventures were waiting for us come Wednesday morning 4am!
Of course we weren't done yet, it's only Tuesday and Wednesday was going to be epic. There was one other place Aaron wanted to share with me while we were on vacation. The Enchantments. I'm gonna pull this right from Wikipedia...."The Enchantments is an area compromising an upper and a lower basin, and the lakes contained within them. The area is located entirely within the Apline Lakes Wilderness about 15 miles southwest of Leavenworth, Washington. The Enchantments is regarded as one of the most spectacularlocations in the Cascade Range." I would have to agree with that statement 100%. It was one of the most spectacular places I have been lucky enough to experience. The Enchantments is by far the coolest, most amazing, stunning, picturesque place I have EVER been to. Pictures and words do not do this place justice. You have to experience it to be able to understand. And I recommend, if you are ever in the area and are fit enough (this wasn't an easy journey, 21 miles in a 8.5 hour day, but it was worth every step! They recommend doing this in 4 days...two days in and two days out. I don't think I would recommend that since you have to carry all your food and shelter for 4 days and that doesn't seem like a whole lot of fun to me, plus it's super hard to get camping permits to stay in the basin) you should definitely look into it. Here's a few pictures just so you can get the idea:
After that it was a couple more days in the Northwest to visit and relax with friends then back home to recover from our vacation. I will say that this was most definitely the best vacation I have ever taken. I am so lucky to get to experience these new and exciting places all-the-while getting to share them with someone who truly enjoys them and lives life to the fullest makes it even better!