8/27/04 9pm Amtrak Train enroute Vancouver-Seattle

What is it about circles that are so irresistible? To return from a trip the same way you came seems like a failure of imagination. Even better if you can vary the mode of transport as well as the route and pickup multiple destinations for at least a figurative circle. Back in my brief career as a travel agent, I was always trying to sell my clients on open jaw routes. They’d come in seeking a ticket in and out of London with some cheap hostels tacked on top for their 3 month first time in Europe backpacking adventure. And I’d try to send them into London and then back from Rome. Why backtrack? More often than not I was disappointed to find my world view was not shared or did they just not get it?

My trip last winter was the grandaddy of all open jaws. Seattle to New York (free stopover) to Madrid. Returning Madrid to Guatemala. That’s about as open a jaw as you can get, short only of that of a 15ft alligator. Of course I ended up onward ticketless in Guatemala. I suppose that would scare some folks. It did seem to bother Madrid airport security.

But what does all of this have to do with the price of rice in China you ask? Well because I’m embarking on a revisit of one of my favorite local circle trips: Vancouver – Seattle – Victoria – Vancouver. This is a good one since each leg offers so may transport alternatives: boats, trains, helicopters, seaplanes, etc. I’m doing train then bike (+ferry) to Victoria and car/ferry back to Vancouver.

9/4/04 6pm MV Coho ferry enroute Port Angeles – Victoria

The 2nd leg of the circle is almost complete when this boat docks in Victoria. After a week in Seattle visiting with friends, I’ve completed the most physical leg of the trip by cycling from Seattle to Port Townsend and then Port Townsend to Port Angeles. About 110km each day, on the scenic route. Impressed yet? Well Adam met me at the mid point and did it in one day from Seattle. In years past, these distances would’ve been a breeze, but given that these were the 2 longest rides of the year for me back to back, I’m just happy I made it. Speaking of breezes, there was a bitch of a head wind for the last 30km into Port Angeles that almost killed me.

Port Townsend impressed me mightily. What a great little town: historic brick buildings on the waterfront, Victorians on the hill, great restaurants, coffee shops, an art house cinema, bike paths all over town. What a contrast to Port Angeles. As I was cycling into Port Angeles, battling that wind, I was convinced that downtown and the ferry terminal was still miles away. But alas, even downtown looks like a strip mall suburb. The main entertainment seemed to be hanging out on the sidewalk in front of the Dairy Queen smoking. Not sure what you do when you’re over 16.

9/7/04 Queen of Something-or-Other Ferry enroute Victoria – Vancouver

The circle theme continued when we went to the Sooke Potholes park this morning. No, it’s not a section of badly paved road after a rain but a beautiful river which falls in a series of crystal clear swimming holes. Refreshing! We were all coveting Russell’s shorty-wetsuit but the sun was out so it felt…refreshing. It did feel like a day stolen from fall rather than a return to summer though. Victoria certainly reflected that labor day weekend end-of-summer vibe. Tourists out and college students in. I think it was the latter’s partying that made the streets full of crowds, police and, it looked like, fights on Saturday night.

With the end of summer, my thoughts definitely are turning to new trips, new circles. Perhaps Vancouver – NY – Montreal – Vancouver for the fall. Or Seattle – Miami – Mexico – Guatemala – Costa Rica – New York – Vancouver for the winter. Whatever happens, you can read about it here.

Share and Enjoy:
  • Twitter
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • Mixx
  • Digg

Discussion »

  • #1Charly T.

    Interesting perspective on travel. I have always taken the circle route in the past, I guess because it’s generally easier to book tickets that way with the way many travel sites are set up.

    I think I will try it your way next time though. See how it goes.

  • Add Your Comment

  • The Guy: I think Dave and Jodi raise some very valid points and they are consistent with my perceptions based on over...
  • Jay Daviot: Epic list! There are some great blogs there. Would love to see a few more blogs from photographers though...
  • John: I’ve always wanted to hitch hike across the USA.
  • Sara Wikoff: I found your post very interesting. I am just a Freshman in college and I have not decided my major yet....
  • John: Great advice, I always buy charcoal tabs in case I get an upset tummy.
  • Recently Featured Travel Blogs

    • A Girl and Her Thumb

      The thumb. A very useful part of the anatomy, especially when you decide to head out into the world, hitchhike and use other modes of transportation. For Jo Magpie, it (both actually) have served her well in her travels – always heading east. She’s once again on the move. Yup, east.

    • Home and Away

      Naomi, David and their two sons are ‘on a slow roam around the world’. Though both successful, David didn’t want his children to view him as the dad who was always working. So, with the business and house sold, possessions relocated – the four set off to explore. Their style of travel allows them to live/work in comfort while spending quality time with Lucas and Easy (Ezekiel).

    • Kiwi Blog Bus

      In 2008, the Annison family moved from the UK to New Zealand and bought a boat. In 2010, they upgraded to a camper van to explore the country. Though the cats stay home to help the elder son with the yard work and house, the remainder of the family (including the dogs) traverse the open roads of Kiwidom, searching for hidden treasures.

    • More of the best travel blogs