Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Larrabee, Birch Bay, and Peace Arch State Parks

Washington's first state park was the destination for our August getaway. On our way up north, we stopped off in Sedro Woolley to share a peach pie with The Big Guy's Onkel Bernie and Tante Hella. Unfortunately, we neglected to get a group photo, but we had a nice visit just the same.

The campsite picnic tables were inset with these warnings. We did not encounter any raccoons.  

As always, after getting the RV settled, our first mission was to walk the park and, as always, there was a tunnel. This one went under the railroad tracks. There is a sign in the park that warns of "excessive" train noise in the area. I found that to be oddly judgmental wording for a sign. There certainly was train noise since the train runs right through the park, and it certainly was loud, but excessive? Keep your opinions to yourselves, sign makers!

This way to the beach!

Wildcat Cove, which used to be safe for swimming, but due to the pesky raccoons and their poo, bacterial levels are too high for that. 

Part of the beach and some 'modern hieroglyphics.'

There are a couple accessible rock outcroppings that make lovely places to relax and take in the views.

The Big Guy relaxes while Zuzu watches for whales.

We came back later in the evening to catch some of the warm sun,

and a pre-sunset view of the San Juan Islands.

The next day was time for our hike up to Fragrance Lake. While the sign seems to indicate it's not really all that far, we had to leave the Forest Pig in the comfort of the RV while we ventured out. 

After a night of much-needed rain, the morning started off sunny, with perfect, cool, hiking temps.

This little critter posed for a picture, but as soon as I took it, scampered off, loudly chastising me. 

Pretty reward. Unlike the shore below, Fragrance Lake can be swum in, but it was not hot enough for us to want to give it a try. 

We met a nice local fellow who asked us to take his picture and kindly returned the favor.

 The loop walk was very nice.

  Literally, very nice!

 On the way down, we took the spur view-trail. In total, the whole hike was about 6 miles. 

After some lunch back at the campsite, we collected the Pig, and set off to find Clayton Beach. That wasn't very fun, as it turns out. The trail signs and map were confusing, and once we did find the right trail, it was very difficult, requiring scrambling and climbing, which is hard for short people and old dogs.

There was a nice view once we did reach the shore, though, but I don't know if that climb out was worth it. I don't really like when I have to use my arms as much as my feet to hike.

After dinner, we walked down to watch the sunset and took some selfies on the outcropping while waiting.

Goodnight, sun. See you when you come back to make morning.

Saturday morning brought a tide low enough for proper tide pool exploration. Here are some aggregating anemones. 

 Snail shell. Hard to know if it houses a snail or a crab without plucking it off the rock, which I did not do.

The heron had no such compunctions about plucking up sea life.

Neither did The Big Guy, who showed me how to properly pick up a snappy crab. But would I see any star fish that I was so hoping for?

YES!!! There they are in all their purpley splendor!

Aren't they just the prettiest color? 

Here is another kind (maybe an ochre version of the purple star, maybe a type of blood star) communing with a little hermit crab. My vacation could've been complete right there, but we had more to do. Besides, the tide was coming back in, and while I liked the star fish, I did not want to live with them.

The Bellingham Interurban Trail runs through the park, and we set off to ride into town. All of my research on the trail lead me to believe it was like this picture most of the way. A long, but flat, ride.

I was less than happy to find that midway through, it became single-track true mountain bike trail. What's the problem, you ask? It's not like I wasn't on a mountain bike and hadn't ever ridden such trail before, right? Well, yes, but it's been two years since I single-tracked it, and I just didn't have the confidence built up to tackle all of it. To say I was grumpy during this section is an extreme understatement. Passing runners assured us the trail became flat again, so we persevered instead of turning back, and made it into south Bellingham (Fairhaven.) The end of the trail took a detour onto city sidewalks, but we found our way to the grocery store where I got us some
and then I felt a little better. 

On the way back, since I knew what to expect, I was able to ride a bit more of the single-track and not be so crabby when I had to walk. 

 In the afternoon, we took the long way around to the boat launch area.

There was a perfect spot underneath a tree to sit and enjoy the view.
That pretty much concluded our time at Larrabee.
But we weren't done checking state parks off the list for this trip.

Sunday morning we headed further north to Birch Bay State Park. This picture is deceptive because there were a lot of other people around doing some shellfishing. I don't know how I managed to get a photo without more of them in it.

I found another perfect sitting spot under a tree. It's my new special talent.
See how hazy it is? That is smoke from the fires in the eastern Washington.

One more stop before we were through. This one all the way up to the Canadian border. It's a bit strange, this park. All you need to drive into the park is your Discover Pass. There are border guards around, but no one to really stop anyone from just walking across the lawn that becomes Canada on the other side of it. We wondered aloud why people bothered to wait in the long car lines when they could seemingly just sashay on over. Not having any reason ourselves to sashay into Canada illegally, we kept to the confines of the park.

The view of Canada through the arch. Howdy neighbors!

Thanks for being peaceful with us!

And thank you, readers, for coming along again. See you again in a few weeks!