(222/366) Past Lives

August 9, 2012 – Whenever I see old derelict cars, boats, barns, houses, I wonder who used them, who lived there, what were their stories, what adventures did they have, when did they abandon this once treasured thing, where are they now and why did this get left behind?

I’ve been by here before, about a year ago, and I loved this old derelict boat then too. If it could talk, what would it tell me?

I had a final exam running this morning, so I stuck around long enough to make sure all my students had entered the exam and then I was ‘outta’ there. I didn’t really have any plans, thought I might cross the border and head into the USA. Maybe sop and pickup something at the shipping and receiving company we use in Blaine. The son of friends of ours is getting married next month and they ordered some personalized M&M’s. Who knew you could get personalized M&M’s? Not me!

Since we buy across the line a lot, we’d been asked if we could pick up the candy since shipping directly to Vancouver was prohibitively expensive. I said sure, and ordered a few things from a US online store for our bikes. My order won’t be in until tomorrow, but it was such a perfect day for a long ride today that I figured I’d cross anyway.

But on the way to the border I started thinking about things. Was it really smart to pick up packages of chocolate and then ride all day with them? Probably not the best plan. So I decided to come back down on the weekend with Kirk and the M&Ms could be safely stowed inside his hard panniers rather than my soft, black, hot tail-bag.

And so when I arrived in Blaine, I just kept on going. When I passed through town a man was sitting on a bench, surrounded by collected items, shaking his fist at the air and yelling at no one.

End of the Road in SemiahmooDown through Blaine, out to Drayton Harbour and Semiahmoo Spit. When I was last here, later last fall, I had rolled the odometer over 10,000km. Less than a year later here I am and I just rolled it over 19,000km. I plan on making that an even 20,000km before the weekend is out. Fun, and yesterday I rode the scoot all day to give it a good long run and rolled it over 5,000km.

I took a few new roads rather than the same old route. I went along Semiahmoo parkway for a change – WOW some big homes and lovely golfing greens up there! When I popped out of there I recognized where I was and got back on my known route. I took another detour near Birch Bay and popped out in the middle of town instead of coming in from the South. Several teenage boys were sitting on a log at the side of the beach as I passed. One made a motion in the air, he was looking for me to pop a wheelie. No likely, the only way that would happen would be a complete and utter accident on my part. But I pulled the clutch in and revved the motor as I went by, it seemed to make him happy. Fenced in

Birch Bay State Park was busier than the last time I was through, but still relatively quiet for such a lovely spot. I headed down through the Lummi Reserve and stopped for a rest to enjoy the view across the bay, and to watch some fishermen pulling in their net. Another rider went by and waved at me as I stood there.

I continued down along the coast and down through Bellingham. I made my way down to the harbour and past the marina. Wonder if there are any boats we might be interested in there…? I took the corner and made my way through Fairhaven and onto Chuckanut Drive, and was lucky to not have a string of slow drivers in front of me. For a change it was an almost clear road ahead. I did catch up to a driver that epitomized every reason that I stay away from the centre line when I ride along semi-blind corners. The driver had no respect for the double yellow line and repeatedly used the entire roadway on blind corners. It was frightening. At the end of the Drive I pulled off for a drink of water and to send a text to Kirk so he’d know where I was. I was hungry, and there isn’t a convenience store anywhere nearby, so I was forced to pull out my emergency ration. I bought a Power Bar several months ago on a ride, and it has moved from bag to bag, ride to ride. Over time it has melted, flattened, and reshaped itself into something that no longer resembles a Power Bar. I wasn’t really sure what I’d find inside that wrapper. Turns out it was something along the lines of peanut butter shoe leather, but it was tasty and full of needed calories, and so I found it pretty enjoyable.

Riding near Lummi

I hadn’t though my way past Chuckanut, but it also wasn’t the first time I’d been down this way, far from it. I thought maybe I’d ride to Whidbey Island, but as I made my way out onto the flats below, the winds were strong and, knowing that the road to Anacortes isn’t really nice to begin with, let alone with a heavy wind added to the always heavy traffic, I figured I’d ride to Edison, along the roads until I hit the road to Anacortes, and then go the opposite direction, wherever that would take me. My choices were La Conner, Mount Vernon, or Burlington. I chose Mount Vernon since I hadn’t taken that road before. As I rode along through the farm lands and the wind swept across the fields I enjoyed the pleasures that the two brought. Winds provide the lift and support needed by several different species of raptors for hovering, and the fields provide ample hunting grounds. At one point I looked to my left and realize a bald eagle was pacing me about 100 feet off and barely above me. It eventually veered off and headed inland.

When I came into Mount Vernon, I promptly got turned around in town, went in a big circle, and then decided to try and find a road that I’d seen riders heading down when we’d ridden around the bottom of Lake Whatcom. The problem of course, was that I didn’t really know exactly where I was, and had no idea how to figure out what that road was from the South. Maps are highly over rated and wreck spontaneity, so I had consciously NOT brought one with me when I left home this morning. I know my cardinal directions easily on the West Coast, so it’s not like I didn’t know where North (and home) was. I rode under the freeway and onto the other side of town, found a few fun curvy roads, and eventually stumbled onto State Highway 9. perfect, I know exactly where that ends up, and even though it wasn’t the road I was looking for, I knew it went in the right direction.

Sort of.

When I came to a junction and ended up in Sedro-Woolley I knew I was off base. Or was I? The Cascades Highway is on our to-do list, maybe over Labour Day, but it certainly wasn’t where I wanted to end up today. So I turned back and headed towards Burlington. And damn, when I look at a map now, if I’d gone just a bit farther I’d have been back on highway 9, or if I’d followed that other rider up Cook Road I’d have ended up on the road I was looking for. But I did neither and hindsight is 20-20, as they say.

When I popped back out into Burlington I looked at the time and just thought to heck with it, get on the I5 and head north. The winds were really strong (no big deal), the traffic was heavy (no big deal), and the flow was about 130km/hr (no big deal). But after a few miles I thought to myself “I am battling wind, I am surrounded by semis in rush hour traffic, and I am doing 130 kh/hr. A twenty minute detour will take me back out to Bow-Edison, and back up Chuckanut Drive. There is no math degree needed to work out that equation. I tucked off at the next exit, doubled back a few miles, and took the connector back over to Bow and enjoyed a second run at Chuckanut. I knew that when I came out at Fairhaven and made my way back up to the I5 the traffic would be lighter and the winds would be weaker, the population and the topography dictated both.

As I passed through Blaine I realized I should fuel up, and I wondered if the shipping company might still be open. What luck! I made it with 15 minutes to spare, and was presented a larger than expected box to consider how to contend with. When I opened it, it turned out that the M&Ms were packaged in a large foil cooler bag with several cooler packs in the bottom. Since I was about an hour from home, and it was now about 5:30pm, I decided they would be safe in the tail bag and shouldn’t suffer too much without the packaging. I tucked them neatly in the bottom, padded them with my hoodie, and tucked my camera on top. And as I rode back out of Blaine I looked over to see the same disturbed man on the same bench, surrounded by his collectables, but a bit quieter five hours later.

From there it was a short haul back to the border, a quick Nexus crossing at Peace Arch “Anything coming back with you?” “Some M&Ms” “Have a nice ride” (she didn’t ask how many (good thing too because I didn’t have a receipt for them) but regardless I was honest, even if she probably thought I was being sarcastic or flippant!!), and a fast run home to a salmon (farmed of course) BBQ and some grilled corn on the cob over a nice glass or three of French Rose.

Pretty awesome day! About 380 km total, the loop is here –> GPX track August 9 2012, and it can be downloaded and opened in Google Earth.

Now if I could just get rid of that knot in my back…

And where will I go tomorrow….?