2008-09-27 48 -122
Today's Bellingham, Washington point was located in a farm yard, between the towns of Lynden and Everson in northwestern Washington State.
Robyn attended, riding Успех (bicycle) and carrying T-Rex (plastic dinosaur), her usual geohashing contingent.
A Tale of Three Bridges
I started off by following Kingsway, a road that cuts across town diagonally, and then headed down the hill to get on the Queensborough Bridge. Construction has finally been completed at the on ramp there, and I was able to go straight onto the cycle lane of the bridge from Seventh Avenue, right by the Skytrain Station. It was the easiest bridge access I've ever done, and the bridge was well-signed for cyclists, too.
Coming off the other end of the bridge, I remembered to turn left at the vandalized sign, and to ignore the car signs for the Alex Fraser bridge, just drive past and follow BIKE ROUTE signs that look like they could be the bike route to the middle of nowhere. You follow the signs, which have you turn left under a bridge, and then there are no more signs, and you're certain you're lost, driving through an increasingly narrow and poorly-paved residential area, until suddenly the road ends at a T-intersection, and when you look right you can see an access ramp for a bridge, that's the second bridge, the one that gets you to Annacis Island. I somehow got onto the wrong sidewalk, which fed me to the wrong sidewalk for the next bridge, the big one, but there was only one cyclist coming the other way and he didn't give me the evil eye, so I was okay. At an hour and a half into my trip I was coming off the Alex Fraser.
I then made the same error I always make, because every time I can't believe that there is a bike route this bad, and I think that if I only pay closer attention I will get on the real bike route. There is an occasionally-paved multi-use path by the railroad tracks through Surrey that is signed as a bike route to 72nd Street. Surrey roads aren't all that pleasant to begin with, so a dedicated bike route sounds great. But it's just a dog walking path. It is sometimes paved, sometimes not, with huge holes and level changes at discontinuities in the pavement. At one point I rode through a 15 metre stretch that was flooded in water deep enough that I got my feet wet riding through it, even though I never took my feet out of the pedals. To escape from the path, I literally had to ford a river carrying my bike. That at least got me onto normal Surrey streets which eventually hooked me up with King George. I celebrated two hours into the trip, and about halfway on distance, on King George just before Highway 10.
I then raced down King George, letting the speed go up to 59 km/h even though I was riding the brakes, and I think the speed limit is 50. At the bottom of the hill the road goes over a bridge over highway 99, past a little airport (an airplane was low on final across my path) and continues to the border. There was a police officer at the side of the road with a radar gun and he pointed it at me and called out my speed (37 km/h) as I went past. I grinned.
At the border I was asked more questions than I usually am crossing by bike. "Where are you going?" was the starter.
"Evanson, just past Lynden."
"To meet up with people from an adventure club."
"Are they all coming by bicycle?"
"Some probably." I was hoping for thepiguy or srs0. "Maybe some by motorbike." Maybe Garyuko would come. "Or car, there are no rules."
"How do you know about this?"
A question that I was confident in answering, "From the Internet."
"From the Internet? Really?"
"Yeah, it's a meetup. Every Saturday. It can be anywhere. Last weekend I went in a rubber boat."
I think he believed me, but I don't think he'll be joining us any time soon.
I crossed the border 2h 45 into the trip.
On to the Geohash
After the border the route was pretty straightforward. Left on H Street, follow H Street almost to the geohash, with a few zigs and zags at the end. I even had time to stop for a restaurant meal, ten kilometres from the geohash. Well almost time. I took the last half of my sandwich to go and then zipped through the zigs and zags, arriving at the appropriate farm at four minutes to four. I had hoped that this particular farm would be selling things, so I could go in and buy some eggs or raspberries and wander around a bit while I was there. They weren't advertising any produce for sale, so I went to plan B which was to ride up the driveway and ask for a refill for my water bottle, and then just decide to take my picture by the cow barn. Who's going to say no?
I headed up the driveway past a Beware of Dog sign, and the dogs were pretty smart, because as soon as I passed that sign, they came out barking. There was a black one and a yellow one, but I spoke nicely to them and pulled up the bike at the end of the driveway, waiting for their racket to bring the people, so I could explain my mission. They did not attempt to bite me, but no people came out. It seems that the dogs were here on their own. I turned on the GPS, but it's been flaky lately and while it revealed I was 3.5 m from the geohash with 7 m precision, it went into strange vertical line mode and stopped displaying anything useful before I could see the direction. I tried removing and replacing the batteries (the only thing that will get it out of that mode) a few times, and took a few steps in the right direction, but there didn't seem to be any point annoying the dogs over it. When I got out my camera to try to photograph it, suddenly black dog, the most persistant one, stopped barking and sat down smartly, at attention. I think someone gives this dog treats out of a ziploc bag like the one I keep my camera in. Or maybe he smelled the uneaten half turkey-bacon-club sandwich. Yellow dog was still barking, so I just snapped a few of the bike and the yard and went back up the driveway. They stopped barking as soon as I was the other side of the Beware of Dog sign.
I made a few chalk drawings, took a few more photos, and waited by the gate until 4:25 p.m., but no one else came. And I thought Bellingham had some geohashing activity.
The trip home was quick, because I took a different border crossing, to get the Aldergrove bus back. The Canadians even let me keep my sandwich, I suspect because they didn't have any place in the pedestrian inspection area to throw it away. They only wanted to know where I had been, and what was in my bike bags.
Total cycling was 114.9 km.
Most of the photos taken with the disposable camera did not work out, due to things like me putting my fingers in the wrong places or having plastic bags block the lens.