Day 14, 15, and 16: To the Mainland

We’re back in action! 

If you have been following us avidly, you might remember that last Saturday we had caught two ferries to get to Anacortes from Vancouver Island. We camped the next four nights in Washington State Park, about 0.6 miles from the Ferry port, on the very Northwestern corner of Anacortes on Fidalgo Island. It proved to be the perfect crash pad as we explored San Juan, Orcas, and Whidbey Islands. On Wednesday morning, we decided it was time to move on. We were getting all too comfortable. So we packed up, with plans to head to another State Park called Deception Pass. Wednesday promised to be a beautiful, cloudless day.

Drying out all of our gear

The ride from Washington Park to Deception was short mileage-wise, but the road is peppered with enough hills that it proved difficult, especially with our fully laden Daisy. Thankfully, our granny gear (thanks Owen) and our sunny moods made the ride bearable. Just before Deception is Rosario Beach that has a very small campground down by the ocean, but evidently, one must make reservations to that campsite at least a year in advance. Within a half mile is the rather grand bridge connecting Fidalgo to Whidbey Islands. We rode across the bridge; the view was spectacular. The currents in the water below are so strong and unwieldy, that even at 200 feet above the water, we found them disorienting and vertigo-inducing. The day was sunny and clear, and with the dry breeze blowing away any clouds, we could see far in both directions off the bridge. 

View from Deception Pass Bridge

We pulled into camp at the bottom off a long hill to discover a woodsy hiker-biker area tucked away from the road, as well as showers, bathrooms, and many trails. We spent the late afternoon hiking a trail that led us along the beach and back to the bridge to enjoy the view (without having to navigate our oversized bike). Jackie tells me that in Spanish, the word “Deception” means disappointment, but disappointed we were not! I would place Deception Pass on the list as a very worthwhile place to see for its beauty and shear ruggedness. At camp we enjoyed another delicious Jackie creation for dinner (made possible by Judy’s Thai lime coriander spice mix!), made a fire, and were soon ready for another long night of sleep. At this point we may be averaging 9 hours per night.

Our woodland nook biker campsite at Deception Pass.

Day 15 and 16: Trail Magic!

We woke on Thursday morning on a mission to return to the mainland. We chose a path back up the East side of Fidalgo Island. Although there are rolling hills, none were too steep, and the shoulder was wide. We did have to cross a truly collosal bridge along the 20. The traffic noise was loud for about 15 miles, but we soon were able to take a more bicycle-friendly road. Enjoying sunshine, flat farm land in the Scagit Valley, and a tailwind, we began to make rapid progress towards our night’s lodging. It was called Pilchuk Bridge Campground and appeared to be a rustic campsite. We could find no other information about it, but there it was on the map, and so, with infinite trust in Google, we decided to go for it.

Earlier that morning, we had sent a text message to Bellingham Bob to tell him we were coming through his neck of the woods. Bellingham Bob is a legend of Ready Rider’s lore. He joined Mike and Steve on the 2012 Seattle to San Francisco tour for several days. (In our About page, we named him as an Honorary Member, but we think that this name is no longer apt. In fact, he may be the Readiest Rider out there, and there’s nothing honorary about it.)

Unbeknownst to us, Bellingham Bob is a sneakster. He had ridden his touring bike, very lightly packed, from Bellingham to Anacortes to surprise us, and when he didn’t find us, he road to Deception Pass. He asked around for us, but to no avail. As it turns out, he was ahead of us by about four hours. He rode back to Bellingham, thinking he’d missed us all-together. Mind you, these are no short distances.

When Bellingham Bob received our text, he went into full hospitality mode: he prepared barbecue salmon, potato and ceasar salads, almond brownies, beer on ice, water, and set out to me us at our camp. He arrived early to Pilchuk Bridge Campground, scoped it out, and determined that is was completely unsuitable, for our and Daisy’s needs. Just to get there, you had to climb significantly, and then follow a very steep downhill dirt road for about a mile, before arriving at a single abandoned fire pit, next to a puttering brown water stream.

Meanwhile, along the road to the campsite, Jackie and Steve were stopped in a grassy spot on the side of the road, eating a snacksand texting Bob to tell him we were making good time. Some heckler drove by in a pick-up truck shouting something to the effect of, “Free plastic bags for the homeless!!” The crusty old guy made a U-turn and came back. Steve was thinking, “Oh great, I’m gonna have to tell this guy to move on.” Instead, a very Buff Bellingham Bob jumps out of the truck and offers to take us to his studio in Bellingham where he has a nice flat grass backyard, barbecue makings, warm showers and laundry. Might we be interested?

Loading up Daisy in Bellingham Bob’s truck.

Buff Bellingham Bob is truly a kind fellow. Jackie and I spent the evening with him chatting, barbecuing, and taking a tour of the town. In the morning, we enjoyed breakfast at the neighborhood coffee house, and then drove back down to the trailhead of the Centennial trail in Arlington. He rode the full thirty miles of the trail with us to Snohomish, before he turned around and rode home. Bob if you’re reading this, thank you. Thank you so very much. You were our Trail Angel and our day and a half spent with you was pure magic. You’re an epic storyteller and a tremendous host. (I also want to mention: to those of you that have met Bob, he is looking great, having shed 35 pounds and riding regularly. He’s clocking in some very high pace times all around Bellingham and Mazama.)

Best campground so far.

Bob’s beautiful house and garden are spotted with his and his mother’s creations.

Breakfast at the Starlight Cafe.

At the Centennial Trail trailhead, a rails-to-trails conversion Trail that carried us 39 miles South from Arlington to Snohomish.

Buff Bellingham Bob bids us goodbye.

We’re now writing from a lovely little Bed and Breakfast in Snohomish, which was just 0.2 miles from the end of the Centennial Trail. Unable to locate a campground within 20 miles of us, we decided to finally sleep in a real bed, after two full weeks of camping. We can’t wait. In fact, as we lay in bed typing this, our eyes are drooping and our tired muscles sinking into the fluff. Sweet dreams all.

5 Replies to “Day 14, 15, and 16: To the Mainland”

  1. Not sure you get to call your night in Bob’s grassy backyard a night of full out camping, but you two have earned your B&B night for sure. Great entry, what a welcoming sneakster Bob is! Great pics! Enjoy your ride to Seattle and big hugs to Linda!

  2. Thanks for dropping by you guys put a smile on my face. The Ready Riders are always welcome at Bellingham Bob’s studio or Bob’s on the River in Mazama. I had a truly great time with you and thought of further adventures as I rode north on the centennial trail… life is good in paradise… Bellingham Bob

  3. Just another great testament to some of the truly wonderful people we get to meet while riding bikes. When we start to believe that humanity has gone to hell in a handbag, we can remember kind people like Buff Bellingham Bob!

    Thank you so much, Steve and Jackie for taking the time to thoughtfully share the beauty of this area through your eyes.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.