Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Bellingham by way of Ocean Shores

The shoreline with a jetty view from our RV Park in Ocean Shores.

After Forks we drove down the eastern side of the Olympic Peninsula, we headed west to the coast to spend a few days at Ocean Shores and see our friends Liz and Mike Carrico and their three lovable pups. We had a wonderful time in Ocean Shores which is a narrow piece of land that has the Pacific Ocean on one side and Grays Harbor on the other. The weather was sunny and the beach beautiful to walk on. Each afternoon we got together with Mike and Liz and took all five of the pups for a long walk in the woods and they all got along very well. In the evenings we enjoyed some good meals over a few bottles of Two Buck Chuck and a lot of conversation. We look forward to getting back together again!

Grays Harbor, Washington

Liz is British and she seemed to always be amused as the Captain talked with her using his interpretation of a British accent.

Mike, our happy host, just smiled as he listened to them.

This is Midnight, their sweet black Lab.........

........along with Jack, the wise French Brittany who loves to hunt.......

....and Daisy, a Lab-Chow mix who loves to eat, but then don't all Labs.

After leaving Oceans Shores we headed up to Bellingham which is north of Seattle and not very far from the Canadian border.

Mt Rainier in the distance as we passed by Seattle.

We debated on cancelling our reservations in Bellingham because the weather forecast was predicting rainy days and cool temperatures.  But we went ahead and drove up there and are glad we did because we wound up with a week of sunny weather and temperatures in the upper sixties to low seventies with no humidity.  Bellingham and Fairhaven, just south of it, are basically towns that are blended together and they were one of our favorite areas that we visited in the Pacific Northwest.

While in Bellingham, we visited the local grocery store and saw signs everywhere, as of August 1st, that both Seattle and Bellingham no longer supply paper bags for your groceries (plastic bags were already banned) when you check out at the register. One either has to bring their own bags, do without bags and just carry everything loose to their vehicle, or pay 5 cents for each bag they fill with purchases.  We only forgot to bring a bag in from the car twice......but then we only stopped at the store twice :).

Another interesting thing was that Bellingham was only about twenty miles from the Canadian border.  Everytime we went into a shopping area we saw cars with British Columbia license plates (sometimes half the lot) until we finally mentioned it to a fellow RVer where we were staying.  They told us that the prices in the U.S. were so much cheaper that it was cost effective for the Canadians to drive down here, purchase their groceries, buy gas, and go back over the border.  The local Costco store in Bellingham sells more gallons of milk than any other Costco store in the United States.  They even have a special cold chilled room in the store that houses nothing but milk.  Many of the locals from Bellingham are upset because the influx of Canadians is huge and they think there should be special hours or a special day that is for Americans only........right!  So I guess our prices are high here in the states but nothing like our neighbors to the north.

Bellingham Bay has a dynamic marina with hotels, wonderful restaurants, shoppes, and a great walking trail.

Boats of all sizes were docked there with Mt. Baker in the background.

The trail along the marina was filled with flowers.

Bellingham Bay.

The Captain enjoying the sun.
This little 'boy toy' was selling for a million plus!  It wasn't close to being the largest boat in the marina.


While in Bellingham we also hiked a few trails to give the pups some exercise.  This trail took us up a thousand feet to an area called Fragrance Lake. 

Tree roots climbing over rocks to get to the soil.

A view of the San Juan Islands from the trail.

The lake was very pristine but cold.  Lucy jumped right in for a swim, Max stuck one paw in and decided that was enough.
We also drove down to the town of Fairhaven south of Bellingham.  Fairhaven has had some tough times but the city fathers were smart enough to transform the town into an eclectic spot filled with artwork, restaurants, and a city park that had music being performed each day we were there.  A lot of the shoppes were off beat along with breweries and wine tasting venues.  It definitely had a young professional vibe to it and would be a great place to live if you were just starting your career.  

Fairhaven is also on Bellingham Bay so there were ships anchored there.  This was a two-masted sailboat.

Some artwork on the beach in the harbor.
There is also a wonderful 2.4 mile hiking trail between Fairhaven and Bellingham.  Bikers, joggers, people with dogs or strollers, were on the trail.  We walked it and one side had the water and the other was covered with large trees and bushes that were filled with wild blackberries.  People would stop along the path and grab a handful as they went on their way.  We enjoyed them, too.  
Our other big adventure was to hike the Chain O' Lakes Trail up near Mt Baker.  
This Douglas Fir, at the park ranger station,  is 730 years old with a diameter of over eight feet.

The drive was 60-70 miles up the mountain to the trailhead.  This was the view in the parking lot.  The temperature was 63 degrees when we started.

A view from the trail.  They told us we would come across some snow while we were hiking.

What a view!

The trail was minimal because there was a great deal of rock slide.

Water dripping down on the trail from the melting snow.

The Captain leading the charge.

Trying to keep up without falling and breaking something.

We finally got to the snow and they weren't kidding.  Walking was treacherous.

The pups having fun in the snow.  Notice the clouds developing in the background.
Lucy sliding down the snow ledge.

We arrived at the first lake and Lucy, as usual, jumped in.  Max not so much...... 

The water from the lake flowing down the mountainside.

There was a rustic campground by the lake and this was the outhouse.  About two feet high with no cover, hmmm,but it was hidden behind some bushes.

Time to head back and Max is looking at the snow trail in front of us that we had to climb back up.  The little dots in the snow was another family of four coming down.

This is one of the marmots that live in the area.  As we walked by they would send out a high pitched whistle to tell other marmots that a dog is present.  On the way back, the Captain heard one and started whistling back at it.  He was able to spot it and take a picture.  The marmots are brown, black, and grey about the size of a  raccoon.  They live underground in tunnels.  When this one got tired of the whistling he climbed back into his home and we were amazed at how large it was.

When we arrived back at the parking lot the temperature had dropped to 46 degrees, it was cold, and visibility was minimal.  We were glad to get back into a warm car.  Surprisingly, there were still people heading out on the trail. 

While in Bellingham we stopped at a local brewery.  It was in a neighborhood with homes and stores and apartments.

The restaurant food laws are difficult in Washington so many breweries and wineries offer a food service outside rather than  serving food in their establishment.  This brewery had arrangements with a different vendor every day.  You go inside and purchase your beer and then outside to get your food. 

We had a box of fries ($3.00) with our beer.  We had already devoured half by then.
One of the neighborhood pups sitting outside with his owner.  He got some fries, too.

Across the street was a fruit stand with really good prices so we stopped there on the way home.
Our final sunset in Bellingham.
Our next stop is Leavenworth, WA.  It is a Bavarian inspired town with beer and brats and other touristy type stuff.  Sounds yummy.  Peace!

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