Sunday, June 17, 2012

Oh Bellingham, Oh Bellingham...

We made it to Bellingham!!  Notice... the pouring rain.  Ha!
Yesterday evening around 5 pm we made it to my home turf - Bellingham, WA.  This city's unofficial slogan is "the city of subdued excitement", and that pretty much sums up our final full day riding.  We were excited, yes, but subdued by the drenching rain.  So very different from our first full day riding in southern California!  Tomorrow we will finish the trip by riding the final 30 miles to the US-Canada border, but first I'll fill you in on what has happened since Cashmere. 

On the shore of Lake Chelan

North of Cashmere is an amazing lake called Lake Chelan, where we camped for a night.  In future years (when we live closer), I hope to return here for some backpacking trips.  You see, the lake is a filled in glacial fjord type thing.  It is about a mile wide (at its widest) and an amazing 55 miles long.  It is also the third deepest lake in the US.  Wow!  It goes from central Washington wine country to deep in the Cascade mountains.  In fact, there is a tiny town deep in the mountains called Stehekin that you can only reach via float plane, foot, or boat.  They only got land line telephones in 2007!!  You can hike into this town from the Western side of the mountains, and then take a boat out and finally a bus back around.  Someday...  There are always so many places that we find on bike tour that we want to come back to.  The list is getting longer and longer.

Rinsing of Rainier cherries makes them look like goldfish
One of the perks to riding in Central and Eastern Washington is the availability of fresh produce.  Growing up in this state, I had no idea that the inundation of incredible cherries, apples, pears, and berries was special to this region.  Luckily, we were able to catch the very beginning of fruit season here.  We saw vast fields of cherries and pears, apples and apple packing factories.  We've been eating cherries from fruit stands and strawberries from the lowlands. Yum!  When on bike tour, it's hard to not eat massive amounts of the cherries.  Trust me, as I learned on a past tour in Eastern Washington, eating more than a pound of cherries in one sitting is NOT a good idea!

Winthrop - a 1900 themed town
  After riding north for a number of days, we hit the town of Winthrop.  This is the town where my parents had their very first date!  Actually, the town is hilarious.  It's been re-done to imitate a western town at the turn of the century.  The sidewalks are really wooden boardwalks,  and all the storefronts look like the wild west.  We were lucky to hit town on a perfect day of clear blue skies.  Once we left, we headed due West to tackle the final pass of the trip - the North Cascades.

Water gushing next to the road
Even after having ridden the incredible mountains of California, I still have to say that the North Cascades is my favorite pass of the trip.  I know, I know, Yosemite was epic, but the Cascades are so incredible, and the snow and jagged peaks continue for so many miles.  Take a look at the pictures to see!
Jason on the east side of pass - the mountains are
getting closer!

Near the high point of the North Cascades Highway.  A stunning
view of the snowy mountains.

We were incredibly lucky to ride the pass under clear blue skies.  There was still large amounts of snow next to the road, and the streams were all gushing with the snowmelt.  There were more than a dozen waterfalls next to the road, some of them very very high and impressive.  What a fantastic pass to finish the trip with.  
We descended to the West side of the mountains and rode alongside the Skagit river for many miles.  We could tell that the ecosystem was vastly different - so much green!  In fact, Washington is home to the only temperate rainforest in the lower 48.  The next day we experienced it.  Rain!

At first it was a drizzle.  Then it was a downpour.  

Jason on the road near Concrete, WA.  Notice the water...  everywhere.

Riding through the rainforest

Taking shelter from the rain with a cup of coffee.  Yum!

Our final full day of riding was bittersweet.  I'm on familiar roads now, where I've ridden countless training rides in my racing days.  For Jason, the roads and scenery are still new and exciting.  The rain did little to dampen our spirits, as the temperature was comfortable and we had very good rain gear.  It's just strange to reach the end of a trip.  Our goal, once so lofty and distant, is within easy reach.  That is exciting, but the reality of going back to the real world is staring us in the face.  I like my work and my friends in PA, but I love this West Coast so!  It's hard to go from the unrestrained freedom and adventure of bicycle touring to a cubicle and weekend adventures.  We'll do it though, because every day I'll be putting money away for the next BIG adventure.  Yes, it's already in the planning stages.

Wet. Wet. Wet.

The strawberries are giant in the Skagit river valley!
We are resting and enjoying Bellingham today, and tomorrow we'll take a quick jaunt up to the Peace Arch at the border, completing our border to border adventure.  What remains you ask?  The coast to coast sequel!!  
Enjoying laughter with my family.

1 comment:

  1. Oh my gosh -- can't wait for the sequel!! This was such an amazing journey to follow! Thanks for posting it guyses!