It was one of those clear, brisk and breezy fall days. I was planning on playing hooky from work to head up to Tacoma for an urban rambler ride, but when I got to the bus station, there were already two bikes on the 605 Express’s bus rack. Damn!, I wish Intercity Transit had more of the racks with three slots (like a lot of the Seattle buses have). O well, I thought to myself as I kept riding by, 5 or so seconds of “what to do now” rallied in my head, as I pulled over to the curb to decide upon my fate. I scratched my head, and noticed that the Shelton Route 6 bus was sitting there in bay L, with an empty bike rack. It struck me as odd for a second as this was not the proper time for it to be departing on a Tuesday, but then it dawned on me that it was Veterans Day, and it must be running on its weekend schedule. Hesitation should be expected, if not be mandated when considering the idea of heading to do an urban rambler in Shelton, but I didn’t hesitate a bit and let fate take it’s course, 5 minutes later I was heading westward for one dollar and fifty cents.
Sitting back, chilling with my headphones, the drive was beautiful with the trees and clear weather. The wind was heavy, as was reflected by the driver’s weaving nature & Totten Inlet had a certain clear darker hue about it and was strewn with small white caps as we passed the Kennedy Creek estuary. Several dozen fishermen lined the mud banks here on this cold day for this late falls Chum Salmon run.
“Where to go?” once arriving in downtown was the question now. One cool thing about the Mason Transit Authority buses is that they are actually free 'within county' (they only charge a fare if you are traveling across county lines). So I took advantage of this and hopped on the route 9 bus for a free ride up the hill, which placed me on the outskirts of town to the northwest. Upon getting off at the route’s terminus, I was in the sea of the outskirts of town’s wall-mart and burger king-ville. I needed a restroom break, so I opted for a stop at the taco bell. One bean cheese and rice burrito and a questionable bathroom break later, I was on my way for some exploration. Across the street was the wood-ramp skatepark, & went over to reminisce on my decade agos bmx stomping ground, but I arrived only to find the gate locked with the ramps in disrepair.
Instead I headed west over the highway 101 bridge to see what was at the end of Wallace Kneeland Blvd. Upon arriving at a gated industrial warehouse entrance I noticed a little path to the right, and I realized that this was the entrance to the exploration factor that I was looking for on this day.
Remember way back when going XC mountain biking wasn’t about going to an established trail system, but was instead about just heading out into the woods and exploring? This was my theme for today. The little path off to the right turned into ATV track and then entered into an old gravel pit area where the locals looked like they must have had a lot of fun. Gravel berms and ascents riddled this little dirt bike and 4x4 playground. All of a sudden I was a kid again, a familiar heaven of my youth and the exploration just got a whole lot funner. I hiked-a-bike up the main line up the steepest hill, and kept going, off into the countryside.
Soon after the gravel pit wasteland, I was looking around and there were several lakes and outstanding vistas of the Olympic Mountains. Several quad-track paths lead off in different directions, can’t wait to come back here sometime and explore all of the hierarchy that this countryside has to offer, just south of the Shelton airport/fairgrounds.
The thoughts I was having about what I am/or where I was headed for the day came into fruition. The slight hangover and doubts lingering in my head about what words that had gone down with my landlord from the previous night had vanished. There was a big smile on my face, I was stoked on being in the middle of nowhere, for no reason. Thank you Pacific Northwest I will forever call you home. Thank you Shelton. Thank you Olympic Mountains, the rural areas of your majestic views are a self-grounding experience.
The ride back to downtown Shelton was a “wind not in my favor” journey, but it didn’t matter. I took roads and alleyways and zigzagged my way through neighborhoods that I have never been through before..
Soo many of us - including me, have only traveled through Shelton on
highway 101 or highway 3, on our way to somewhere else, but getting our
tires on unfamiliar ground is what our bikes are made for.