Bellingham Bonus Ride #2: Edison to Sedro Woolley - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

July 31, 2020

Bellingham Bonus Ride #2: Edison to Sedro Woolley

Today’s ride

[Frank: here’s the warning I promised you.  There’s a snake photo below, so watch out.]

Last ride!  Today we pulled another new ride out of the hat: a loop between Edison and Sedro Woolley that skirts the southern edge of Chuckanut Mountain and the ridges to its east.  It’s a ride I wish we’d have stumbled across earlier because it’s one we’d be happy to repeat.  Maybe next summer?  We’ve been in Bellingham in July for three years running now; so perhaps.

I crafted this route after looking back at the route we took biking from Bellingham to La Conner last summer on our ride home to Portland from Victoria.  I was reviewing it because I was looking for the location of something we’ve missed seeing so far this time: the row of Burma Shave signs near Bow.  I was afraid they’d been taken down  in the last year, but I see from that post that we took a different road into Bow then.  A good example for why it’s worth putting maps in your blog!

So, today’s loop begins with a ride up Colony Road to see the Burma Shave signs again.  A funny thing though - when I biked past the spot I’d remembered them as being at, I didn’t see them.  Neither did Rachael, who at the moment was several hundred yards down the road in front of me.

As she’s prone to do lately, she doubled back and passed me going the other way, getting some extra miles in while she waits for me to catch up after a photo stop.  A few minutes later as I’m climbing one of the only significant rises of the day, I hear a faint, low moaning sound in the distance.  It takes a few seconds for it to sink in, and to realize its Rachael calling me.  I stop, look around, and see her at the bottom of the hill trying to climb and race to catch up to me while yelling at the top of her voice.  

I wonder if she’s hurt herself or has had a mechanical, but no.  It’s the Burma Shave signs.  They’re only visible going the other way, and she’s yelling at me to stop so I can turn back and see them for myself.  Thanks, Rocky!

North on Chuckanut Drive. We’ll turn right on Colony Road just before the base of the mountain.
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Along Colony Road.
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Along Colony Road.
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At Bow North, the trains race across unguarded Colony Road without warning.
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I remember being delighted by the Burma Shave signs when our family moved from West Virginia to Seattle in the 1950’s. They were still fairly common then, but these in Bow are the only ones I’ve seen in over a decade.
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Jacquie GaudetI'd heard of them but until this photo, I don't think I had any idea what they looked like!
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3 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Jacquie GaudetI wonder if this is an authentic original or one created more recently after the company stopped putting them up in 1963, but this is just how they looked - a witticism broken up into four or five signs, followed by one with the name of the company. If it’s original, they’ve obviously taken pains to maintain and repaint it since then. I think the last clearly original one I saw was bicycling in the Southwest a couple decades ago, maybe along Route 66.
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3 days ago
Planter box, Friday Creek Road.
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The Patsy D and it’s mallard mascot.
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Cute!
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For lunch, we stopped at Northern State Recreation Area, carved from the vast grounds of the Northern State Mental Hospital.  We only came this way today because Rachael insisted that I include a well placed restroom in the route, but I’m glad we made it here.  It’s a noteworthy piece of the region’s history and it looks like it would be worth a visit in its own right to explore the remaining older buildings and its cemetery.  As we wheeled off, I contemplated what’s been gained and what’s been lost with the closure of these horrible old warehouses for the mentally ill.  I used to live a few blocks from another of these, the hospital in Salem where scenes from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest was filmed.  Such awful institutions of course, but it’s also horrible that now we’re just leaving these desperate people to fend for themselves on our city sidewalks.

Also cute! On the grounds of the former Northern State Hospital, where we stopped for lunch.
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On the grounds of the old Northern State Hospital.
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The ruins of the old food processing plant. Part of the hospital was a working farm, staffed by hospital inmates.
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Entering Sedro Woolley on the Cascade Trail.
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Toward the end of our ride, biking into Bow again, we were delighted to pass a yard filled with large, intricate creations constructed from pieces of driftwood - giant serpents, mammoths, dinosaurs.  We’ve never seen anything like it.  That’s one of the wonderful things about bike touring - it gets you off the main thoroughfares to discover wonders only a few blocks away that you’d never see otherwise.  It enlarges the world.

We enjoyed an extended chat with the lady of the house, who was tending her garden as we biked up.  A recent immigrant from Chiang Mai, she’s justifiably proud of her husband and his curious passion.  She said she’d let him know how much we admired his work when he returned home.

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Ron SuchanekHoly crap those are incredible! Do me a favor and bring that T Rex one to me.
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4 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Ron SuchanekSorry. Next time. I forgot to bring my X-large panniers.
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4 days ago
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Looks like a Frank Lloyd Wright design.
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On Worline Road, south of Bow.
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On Worline Road, looking east toward Bow Hill.
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Snake! My good deed for the day - I scooted this young garter off the pavement. First live snake I’ve seen this summer.
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This is the end, this is the beginning

The end of July.  The end of our stay in Bellingham.  The end of this journal.  We drive back to Portland tomorrow for a two and a half week interlude to regroup, complete the Portland Heritage Tree Quest (only 21 trees left!) and prepare for what comes next.

And what comes next?  Darned if we know.  We still have our flight to Zagreb and our reservations, and we’re still obsessively following travel news and blogs trying to figure out our best options for getting tested and avoiding a 14 day quarantine when we arrive.  We think we’re going, but there’s still time to change our minds.  You’ll know when we know, but in the next journal.  We’re finally done here.

I awoke to a curious dream last night.  Rachael and I were visiting our friends the Grumbys, watching with bemusement as their two kids (news to them!) were playing with a gigantic black wolf spider about two feet across.  As it scurried off, I was frustrated to not have my camera handy to take a picture of it to show Bill Shaneyfelt for a positive identification.

A few minutes later, Steve of the Grampies stepped into the frame for a chat; and then I looked up and saw Neal, a friend from the past.  A bit shocked to see him here at the Grumbys, I shook his hand and then looked around at a gallery of old friends smiling down at me, handing me a large package for a belated birthday celebration.  I was amazed that they’d apparently organized this so quickly, since we hadn’t known we’d be here ourselves until just this morning.  Deeply touched, I started crying; and then woke up.

Perhaps we’ve been homeless too long?  Thanks for following along again, folks.  It feels like you’re our virtual family.

Also, in case it’s useful to you here’s a link to our collection of rides in this area.

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Bill ShaneyfeltDreams are amazing... I wish you'd had a camera! That spider would have been one for the books! :-)
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4 days ago
Jen GrumbyI was just telling Ron this morning that it would be great to have some grandkids.

Not sure about kids or spiders, but we'd love to host your next birthday party!

I have Rachael's birthday and your anniversary on our calendar, but not your birthday .. when is it?
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4 days ago
Ron SuchanekI keep telling those kids to leave the giant spider alone. They just won't listen.
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4 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen Grumby12/01/46. Don’t tell anyone though. It’s a secret. With a lot of luck we’ll be celebrating it in Crete this winter, but time will tell.
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4 days ago
Jen GrumbyWell if we can go to Greece to throw you a birthday party, that may just give us a reason to have a couple kids and get a big pet spider.

Your dream may come true!
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4 days ago
Andrea BrownThat was some dream. My favorite part is the spider. And then the Grumbys' phantom children. I'm so glad that you guys are just a few blocks away here in Portland. Maybe we won't get to socialize but welcome back!
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4 days ago
Bob DistelbergThanks again for all the entertainment. I'm looking forward to reading about the next adventure. Interesting dream, although I'm not a fan of giant spiders (or even small ones for that matter).
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3 days ago
Scott AndersonTo Andrea BrownThose kids were probably the twins. Be careful with what you let them pick up there in your back yard.
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3 days ago