South of the Skagit, North of Lake Whatcom - Northwest passages: riding out the storm - CycleBlaze

July 25, 2020 to July 26, 2020

South of the Skagit, North of Lake Whatcom

Summer is back in Bellingham, and we’ve had two crystalline days in a row - blue skies from sunrise to sunset.  For obvious reasons, Irving Berlin’s classic has been on my mind.  Everyone knows this song of course and probably has a favorite version of their own, but here’s one you may not have heard of.  Listening to it now, it makes me a bit blue in a different sense.  Perhaps fifteen years ago were lucky enough to get to hear Rober Glasper live while he was still a fairly new star on the jazz scene.  And we were lucky enough to see him in an intimate setting, in the late Jimmy Maks jazz club.  Every time I think of walking home from a concert there to our condo a few blocks away, I feel nostalgia and a sense of loss - for the now-closed club, for the condo when we were still full of excitement about living there, and for a time before the homelessness crisis erupted and we still felt safe walking through this neighborhood late at night.

Saturday: the South Skagit Highway

This as another repeat.  We rode this short ‘highway’ about a week ago and delighted in the miles of quiet riding  we enjoyed, with long stretches  of cool, shady forest broken by occasional views of the nearby river.

It was still a fine ride the second time through, but not so much as the first time.  It’s the weekend, and there’s a bit more traffic about; and the second time through it’s just a bit monotonous.  If we lived nearby, or if we were coming this way en route to somewhere, I’m sure we’d welcome riding it again.  I’m not sure it’s enough to tempt us to throw the bikes in the car and drive half an hour to get to again though when there is so much other attractive riding closer in to Bellingham.  Twice is enough, for now.

We saw the abandoned rail bridge across the Skagit last time, but we’d better pause for a last look. My guess is that it will be gone before we pass this way again.
Heart 4 Comment 0
The Sedro Woolley Bridge stands alone, its lines at both ends clipped off and covered with blackberry vines. The bridge dates to 1888-9, when it was built by the San Francisco Bridge Co. for the Seattle Lakeshore and Eastern Railway. The cabin atop dates back to when the structure also functioned as a drawbridge.
Heart 4 Comment 0
I’m pretty sure we saw this scene before too. It’s one of the few places with a clear view through to the mountains.
Heart 2 Comment 0
A typical scene on the South Skagit Highway. Cool, quiet, refreshing. A good spot on a hot day.
Heart 2 Comment 0
The Dalles Bridge crosses the Skagit about a mile south of Concrete. Built in 1952, it is the only three hinged through truss bridge in Washington. I’m sorry to not have a side view of the bridge, but I think you’d have to be floating down the river to see it.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Admiring the Skagit River from the Dalles bridge.
Heart 4 Comment 0
Looking upriver from the Dalles Bridge.
Heart 3 Comment 0

Sunday: Northshore Road

We’re having a hopefully brief heat wave this weekend.  It’s thankfully not as oppressive up here as the 100 degree days Portland is suffering through, but 85 is hot enough.  We decide to get an early start and ride from home in an effort to beat the heat as much as possible.

After staring at the map last night looking for roads-not-yet-traveled, I come up with a loop that follows the north shore of Lake Whatcom to pavement’s end, and then doubles back a ways to the fork at Y Road.  From there we’ll bike north to Goshen before turning back south of Everson and returning to Bellingham on familiar roads.

The north shore of Lake Whatcom is quiet enough but a bit of a disappointment - miles of beach houses, ending at a lakeside park with zero access to the lake.  It’s a base for hiking into the rugged hills, but the lake itself is walled off by private estates.

The rest of the ride is terrific though.  Quiet Y Road in particular is beautiful - a gradual, very steady wooded climb up the backside of Squalicum Mountain finally summits out and is followed by a beautiful descent back to the flats west of Deming.  The highlight of the ride though is the rolling ride south on Noon Road, admiring jaw-dropping views east to the mountains.   

The north end of Lake Whatcom, from one of the few places where you can briefly access the shore.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Crossing a low, rocky divide north of Lake Whatcom Park.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Another view of the lake, from a tiny boat launching site wedged between private lakeside estates.
Heart 2 Comment 0
On Y Road. I was going to say that it’s unusual to see a quilt barn in these parts, but I’m not certain this is actually a barn. Pretty though.
Heart 1 Comment 0
And actually, it’s probably not a quilt pattern either.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Another delight on Y Road. This is a ride that bears repeating.
Heart 4 Comment 2
Jen GrumbyDid you get a close look at the bike in the back?

Looks cool!
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyHere’s a closer look: http://cycle365.life/challenge-of-the-month-august-2020-radiation/

If we bike back again I’ll see if I can get a better look and maybe identify it.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Descending on Y Road, looking north into a saner country that we can’t visit at the moment.
Heart 2 Comment 0
North of Goshen, at the end of Roberts Road. I’m not sure it’s actually legitimate to cross this short unpaved stretch, which is gated but unmarked. Next time we might turn off at Goshen.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Looking back west across the Nooksack from Central Road.
Heart 1 Comment 0
Looking north into Canada again, from Central Road. Mount Robbie Reid and Judge Howay, I assume?
Heart 2 Comment 0
A red brick chimney, Central Road.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Wow. The view of Mount Baker from Noon Road must be the best around. We rode this way before, but on an overcast day.
Heart 6 Comment 0
Noon Road gives us our best look at the Sisters range also.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Actually, Noon Road is plenty appealing just looking straight down the pavement.
Heart 2 Comment 0
A birdhouse with a million dollar view, Noon Road.
Heart 3 Comment 0
Someone’s gone to a lot of work to stage this setting on Noon Road. The least we can do is to pass it around.
Heart 3 Comment 1
Bruce LellmanWe saw vehicles just like this one all over Burma that are still running. They will fix anything to keep it going.
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
Heart 0 Comment 0

The  Croatia Project

Some good news, some bad news.

The good news: once I scheduled a visit with the wound nurse, my leg wound started improving dramatically.  It looks now nothing like it did two weeks ago when I contacted my doctor about it.  It must have felt threatened when it heard I was making an appointment, and decided it had better get to work and start healing again.  I’d feel very silly going in for a visit for this minor scratch, so I cancelled my appointment.

The bad news: prior to booking our flight to Zagreb, we contacted Kaiser about getting COVID tests immediately prior to departure.  No problem, they assured us.  We were told to check back later when we were sure of our departure date, so we could schedule tests for the day before departure.  Results should be available in 24 hours, So we’ve been focused on timing and how to get our results delivered electronically after we’d departed.

Friday I checked back about the test with Kaiser, by submitting a request to my doctor through their website.  I heard back today.  Kaiser has just changed their policy, and no longer performs tests for asymptomatic travelers because the recent upsurge is creating a test shortage (thank you, O Orange One).  There are commercially available options, but it looks like the turnaround time is currently about 5 days - useless to us, since Croatia requires a negative test taken within 48 hours of arrival.  And actually, it’s not certain we could get tested by anyone at all, since we’re thankfully asymptomatic.

So that’s a concern.  We’re going to check back with the Kaiser travel clinic next week and explain our situation - they told both of us we could get a test, and so we booked a flight based on that assurance - and see if they’ll honor the prior commitment.  Otherwise, we may be looking at a two week self-isolation in Croatia until we can get tested there.  Foop.

In a blue mood

There’s no explain such things, but for some reason I got fixated on rhymes today.  Sorry.

Blue: on Noon Road.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Image not found :(
Crew: on Lake Whatcom.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Image not found :(
Loo: at Lake Whatcom Park.
Heart 2 Comment 0
Image not found :(
Flew: on Bayview Edison Road.
Heart 2 Comment 3
Bill ShaneyfeltLooks like most of my bird picture attempts.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Bill ShaneyfeltI’m gradually getting better here, though you wouldn’t know it from this. I’ve learned that I need to back off the zoom to take in A broader field, to allow room when the bird expands. Now I need to remember to be aiming where the bird is going to be flying instead of at the bird itself. Next time, for sure.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Bill ShaneyfeltYou are ahead of me.

Maybe 1 of 10 I take gets part of the bird. Only 10x zoom though, so I'm not reaching out very far... if I can even find the bird in the viewfinder. Tripod would help, but they are so cumbersome.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Blew: at Semiahmoo
Heart 1 Comment 3
Jen GrumbyIf I had my Hoo Koo E Koo
I'd ride to Semiahmoo
To see the Maple Leaf flag
(The Orange Hair makes me gag!)
And I'd play a tune on my kazoo!
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Jen GrumbyHoo Koo E Koo? Sounds like a Hai Koo.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Ron SuchanekTo Scott AndersonThe Hoo Koo E Koo was Jen's beloved Gary Fischer steel framed mountain bike. She "loaned" it to a friend before we took off on our trip and when we returned, she found that the friend gave it to someone else. She should write a haiku lamenting the loss...
Reply to this comment
1 week ago
Rate this entry's writing Heart 9
Comment on this entry Comment 2
Lyle McLeodHope you guys make it over to Croatia without too much (more) hassle. We’ll read along with interest once you get there ... Kirsten and I are kicking around using the EV 8 Med route as the basis for our next trip (hopefully 2021!). Got a good flavour of the Spain part from your last trip and we’re looking forward to seeing your take on the Dalmatian coast.

Just assuming that you will spend most of your time on the coast. On our 2017 trip we spent 9 days in total in Croatia ... but riding from Vukovar to Opatija ... east to west through endless farms and hills, ending on the coast! Nobody does that, and for good reason!

Best of luck and safe pedalling,
Lyle & Kirsten
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago
Scott AndersonTo Lyle McLeodThanks for the encouragement! This is such a terrible time, and our personal travails are so small in comparison to many others; but it is frustrating to still be uncertain whether we’ll be going or not. It’s unbelievable that our country is still struggling with the basics, and we can’t even be sure of being able to get a timely test.

Assuming we do go though, we’re planning a more balanced trip this time - about half in the interior, and half along the northern coast. We really want to spend some time in the borderlands near Slovenia and Hungary, but after that we’ll head seaward for a month in the islands. We rode north through the islands in late August two years ago, but it was still too hot and crowded for our tastes. We look forward to seeing them later in the fall.
Reply to this comment
2 weeks ago