We left the old Air Force base which served as home the night before and hit a small coffee shop where I fought a smothered burrito in a hotdog basket with plastic flatware, which tested my patience while Chelsea bit her lip to keep from laughing.
After a few pictures in the town of Birch Bay we continued southward past a large BP refinery as well as lots of dairies and apple orchards. Carrots must be grown nearby as we frequently saw many in the road.
The hills rolled consistently as we maintained 4 mph on the climbs and broke 20 mph on the other side. On the descents, my weight and larger tires enable me to go about 20% faster than Chelsea but she is getting consistently better at drafting behind me and taking advantage of my wind-breaking abilities (snicker, snicker).
We made it to the quiet little town of Bellingham where we stopped for pizza and a local beer on an outdoor patio, keeping a close eye on our bikes below us. After our late lunch we stopped by a little grocery store and stocked up on provisions to take us through the next few meals- eggs, hash browns, sausage, Rice-a-Roni, granola bars, bananas, one can random German beer.
The scenery and topography changed not long after leaving town as we climbed in elevation, entering a completely new ecosystem. The forest was incredibly dense with tall, straight pines protruding up from thick, lush undergrowth. The road often was bordered by a cliff-like rock outcropping above us and a steep forested hill below us which led directly to the sea. Luckily what looked like a CCC-era guardrail separated us from the forest as I don’t think it would be possible to climb up the slope in any circumstance.
The road turned often and cars frequently slowed down behind us to wait for a straight away to pass. The drivers here have all been considerate and patient with us.
We made a sharp right turn and dropped into the Larabee campground, flying past an unmanned check-in office and followed signs to the campground, which held a few future-neighbors. After one quick trip around the campground we settled on a flat spot under a huge pine tree.
I offered to set up camp while Chelsea went to take a shower. She returned promptly, though, as the shower required 50 cents to operate, no Visa accepted. We checked everywhere and could find nothing smaller than a five-dollar bill between the two of us. Chelsea put on her batty-lashes and headed out in search of change amongst our neighbors. She quickly returned with twenty oxidized quarters from her new friend, Walt.
Post showers we went on a walk down to the beach and watched a seal bobbing about as well as two seagulls fighting. Chelsea decided that one bird was picking on the other and we unleashed a hailstorm of rocks to break up the brawl. Neither bird was injured (or scared, for that matter).
On the way back to camp we stopped by Walt’s camp to thank him again for his help in getting us warm showers. I asked if there was anywhere to buy firewood (something I despise) as collecting was not allowed. He offered to sell us a box of dry firewood, which we took him up on since things are more than a little wet around the area. Walt was a kind soul who seemed to have a soft spot for the hard stuff as his breath was undoubtedly flammable. He told us that he was “well known throughout the parts…” (whether for good or bad, we’ll never know). He said he spent 20 days at our campground and then went to a different one where he spent 20 more days. Walt is also the proud owner of the hairiest nose that I have seen in all my years. Not nostril hairy, but bridge hairy. Unique, nonetheless.
After making a stout Boy Scout fire and eating a filling dinner we lounged about drinking tea and talking about the ride. The sun had been down for a while and we couldn’t see our picnic table but heard a loud banging sound coming from it. We both flicked on our headlamps and caught three raccoons having a nude dance party on top of the table. They didn’t really want to leave but finally did upon our convincing. We packed up our edibles and stuffed the in the vestibules of the tent before falling asleep to the sound of rain.
We awoke around 8am, which is still almost dark in these parts. It had rained overnight and we didn’t want to roll up the tent on the muddy ground so we took it to a nearby picnic table since ours was full of gear soon to be packed. While rolling it up we were approached by a woman in her 50s who was parked next to us in a car with a bike rack holding two bikes. She inquired as to where we were headed. Chelsea told her our route and her eyes lit up. “You must be experienced cyclists!” “Well, not really…” Chelsea noted with a heavy inflection in her voice. “But you commute at home, right?” She countered. Again, Chelsea denied any serious previous biking experience. The woman seemed a bit confused about the whole situation.
After the woman walked away, I whispered to Chelsea, “Do we look like experienced cyclists?” while gesturing at our attire. Both of Chelsea’s leg warmers had fallen down around her ankles, I was missing an arm warmer and had yet to zip up my cycling jersey.