Since December 2008, we have been taking part in group events through Meetup.com. There are all different sorts of events posted such as hiking, cycling, kayaking, camping, walking, running, games etc. You search for your area and your interests and get a list of events to keep you busy. Before we started spending most of our weekends in the US, we would do 2 to 4 Meetup events per week, one each on Saturday and Sunday, and another 1 or two on weekdays. I actually had to cut myself back as there were some weekends I would sign up for one event during the day and another at night and it became too much. I’ve known some people who will go from event to event, doing 3 or more in a day.
Bellingham has a Meetup group but it can’t compare to the multitude of what’s available in Vancouver, so we’ve had to get used to doing more on our own. I still keep an eye out for any events taking place near us so I was excited to see the Vancouver Bicycle Meetup Group was planning to cycle from the border, down to Fairhaven and back.
We arranged to meet the group at 9:50am on Saturday morning in Birch Bay but they were a little late so we waited about a half hour. We had planned to take Toonie, our Chihuahua, on the back of my bike but it was overcast and cool so we left her at home. We saw the group coming from a long ways back, since there were 19 of them, so we were on our bikes and ready when they arrived.
First along Birch Bay Drive, then through the State Park. The road is so nice there since it was all torn up and repaved this winter. I love the speeds I can get on that section. Turning off the road, we traveled along a closed road owned by BP Oil … yes, those bad oil polluting guys … to Cherry Point. Other than the Oil refinery further in, this is a very beautiful area. It first runs south before turning inland, becoming Aldergrove Road. We followed the road up to Kickerville, then traveled South to Rainbow, then left on Mountain View Road all the way into Ferndale.
We stopped at Ferndale for a bio-break, then rode to the river where there is a beautiful little trail running alongside. We followed this for a short distance until it ended, then continued down Ferndale road to Marine Drive. Marine Drive became Eldridge, and we turned off at Seaview and Roeder, which took us to the port where we rode down along the seawall, before getting back on Roeder and into downtown Bellingham.
Turning right on Cornwall, which is more like a lane than a road, we continued south for a few blocks before turning off and up to Boulevard Street which took us right into Fairhaven.
There were just too many of us to descend onto one restaurant so we separated for an hour and a half. Harold and I had brought PB&J sandwiches and fruit but with the cold, wet weather, I was really wanting a bowl of soup. We chose Skylarks Hidden Cafe because it had soup and sandwiches, and a covered patio so we didn’t have to take the panniers off the bikes. We shared a sandwich and both had a cup of Italian Chicken soup, which was very yummy. Then we raced over to the wine shop to buy a bottle of Distant Bay Cabernet Sauvignon as it’s the cheapest place we’ve found that particular wine.
Worrying that we might be late, we rushed back to the meeting spot, to find there were still a few people missing. They arrived a few minutes later and we took off again, up along Old Fairhaven Parkway, then a left on 30th street, right on Donovan, and left on 32nd street. We took this for a way down until we hit Fielding, turned right and came in behind REI.
REI is an outdoor gear store, organized as a co-op. You must purchase a membership and each year you receive dividends you may use for purchases. They are almost identical to the Mountain Equipment Coop store we also belong to in Vancouver, with comparable prices and items.
Harold and I had just been down to REI the day before, and the weather had suddenly cleared up, with brilliant blue sun filled skies, so we opted to stay outside and have a frappucino, while watching people go by. This REI is right by Western Washington University so they get a lot of school kids here. Bellingham has a definite outdoorsy, hippie, grunge quality to it, so you see a lot of messy hair and dreads, and messy, unmatched clothing. This can only be carried well by the young. Once they’re over about 25 it just looks like they are homeless.
There is one couple who seems to live outside here, begging for money. I find them most memorable because of the beautiful Golden Retriever they have. Back in February, they almost got my money because I saw the woman alone with the dog with a sign that said “Cold, Sick and need a motel.” and my heart went out to that dog … then her dreadlocked husband came up to Harold and was putting a ton of pressure on him for a handout and it changed my mind. Since then we’ve seen them there everytime.
We all got back on our bikes, to ride North along N. Samish Highway, then left on E. Maple Street, right on Ellis street, right on N State, and left on James Street, bringing us to Trader Joe’s. This is another favorite store of ours. We went in to sample some food, and coffee, and purchase an Indian meal kit we love. Coming back out, I saw an older woman with long white hair, wearing those big see-saw heeled shoes companies are flouting as the best fitness shoes. I asked how she liked them and was rewarded by a long sermon about the wonders of her particular shoes, which are MTB brand, and are much better than the copycats such as Skechers.
The group was all back together so we took off along Alabama street, then right on Cornwall, and right on Northwest Avenue. We went up under I5 then followed this road for a long way until we reached W Smith Road, where we turned left, and waited for the group to meet up again. Someone asked me whether we lived in Birch Bay and after telling them that we just spend our weekends down there, it was agreed by everyone (except us) that next time we were to supply breakfast and an ending bbq for the group.
We took Smith Road back under I5 and turned right on Hovander, then left on Main Street, into Ferndale. Our path crossed over for a few blocks then we turned right on 3rd. Half a block in we saw a Chihuahua Mexican Grill and Cantina. I made a mental note to return here for dinner sometime. Up ahead we came to new roads and bike paths but they didn’t go on for long. We took a right on Washington, then a left on Portal and went straight under I5 yet again.
Portal Way took us all the way up north, back under I5 again, through Custer, and up towards the Birch Bay turnoff. A few of us broke away and raced ahead, enjoying the beautiful day with relatively little wind. At Birch Bay-Lynden Road, we stopped and waited for everyone to pass by, saying goodbye to them and letting the leader know we were headed off. Then we headed out towards the ocean, against the wind, of course, and cruised back into Birch Bay from the northwest.
All in all, a great day.