Caryl and Brian's World Bike Tour

Bellingham, WA to Bellingham, WA

Home Up Next


Date: Fri, 14 Jun 1996 17:17:53 -0400

Copyright (c) 1996 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.

Chapter 21 - May 9 to May 22 Bellingham, WA to Bellingham, WA - 8052 miles cumulative

It's been about 3 1/2 weeks since we pulled into San Diego and started a long period living like "normal" folks. Yet it wasn't 3 1/2 weeks of rest by any measure. We went to REI 4 times, Perormance Bike shop 2 times, Sports Chalet 3 times, Target and Kmart 4 times each, Wall-Mart once, several thrift stores and Charles Schwab 3 times We bought a new tent, sleeping bags, Thermarest mattresses, shirts, pants, socks, underwear, mittens, stove parts, bike parts, water filter, convertible fanny pack, eye glass lenses, and other miscellaneous stuff. We replaced our camera, visited Bonnie, Ed, Jan, Dave, Anne, Charlie, Harry, everyone at SDRC and NCCOSC, visited dentists, optometrists, and dermatologists, squeezed in one bike ride, a walk along the beach, a Friday night happy hour and an Aerobics class, reformatted the newsletters for hardcopies, made maps for the WWW page, found travel advice addresses on the WWW, wrote letters, sent post cards, developed film, and, oh yes, did taxes. Whew!!! But I suppose when one spends 9 months on continual "vacation" a few weeks of work will be needed once in a while.

We had wanted to get a "driveaway" car to take to Seattle. Those are cars that folks pay some company to have driven from one spot to another. But, as it turned out we were ready to go and there were no cars going where we wanted to be. It was strange that just the week before there were six available and then there were none. We've concluded that the "driveaway" option really only works if they happen to have a car right when you want to go. Otherwise you may end up waiting.

So we looked into other options; train, bus, plane, and rental car. Amazingly we discovered that apart from the bus a rental car was the cheapest way to go. Hertz did not charge any drop-off fee and had minivans available for $62 per day, unlimited mileage. So we loaded everything in and took off on a two day, marathon drive from San Diego to Bellingham, WA where we began the next phase of Caryl and Brian's World Wide Bicycle Adventure.

Arriving in Bellingham on May 8, we had two weeks to amuse ourselves before catching our Alaskan ferry on May 24. For years other bike tourists have asked us if we've "done the San Juans". That's the way bike tourists talk. Have you "done" the San Juans? Have you "done" the west coast? Have you "done" this or that? I suppose it's our way of indicating that you don't just ride, you do and experience. Well, up to now we hadn't "done" the San Juans. We also had tried to visit Victoria many years ago, but couldn't catch the ferry due to heavy fog. So we headed off from Bellingham to go "do" the islands and to finally see Victoria.

>From Bellingham we rode the short distance south along the Chuckanut road to Anacortes where we rolled aboard the San Juan ferry. Those of you who are familiar with our previous bike touring experience know that 8 years ago we took off on our very first, 4000 mile coast-to-coast tour right from Bellingham. The Chuckanut road was one of the first roads we took before turning inland to follow the Skagit river into the Cascade mountains. The memories came flooding back as I recalled that overcast, misty, gray August morning so long ago when we set out for Bar Harbour, Maine. On only our second day out Brian commented "This could become addictive." Little did we know just how addictive.

What a shock it was to transfer from a dry, semiarid climate to wet forest practically overnight. For nearly 3 months we'd been riding through the desert starting in Texas between Kerrville and Del Rio. We'd gotten used to seeing the browns of dirt, rocks, and dead looking plants broken only by occasional gray/green plants that happened to have leaves or maybe an occasional splash of magnificant color from the infrequent blooms. Even driving north along I5 you spend hundreds of miles in the desert. Not until just a few hundred miles south of Oregon near Lake Shasta does the highway finally head into the mountains and leave the desert brush behind.

We were greeted by overcast skies that were shades of white to dark gray. Rain, of all things, lightly fell on our first and third nights. Mountains surrounding Puget Sound are covered with 50 ft tall pine trees and the undergrowth was thick with bushes, ground cover, and vines. Since it was early May, the trees, grasses, and all deciduous plants were covered in shades of that pretty light yellow/green that only newly formed spring leaves carry. I love this color as it is a sure sign that winter's storms are past and the long lazy days of summer are fast approaching.

Puget Sound is a huge bay that would be a boater's paradise. With hundreds of islands ranging in size from mere rocks to the huge Vancouver Island, it offers thousands of small coves and inlets for isolated moring. Yet one can also find more excitment and hustle/bustle simply by docking at any one of the small towns that dot the islands. The variety could be endless and I can see why people would want to spend a summer or even 50 summers on the waters of the sound.

Puget Sound was glacier made. In most places its coastline is embraced with mountainous landsapes and steep cliffs all covered by that endless sea of greeen pines and undergrowth. Only few locations are flat. It is here that rivers have deposited their loads of silt forming enormous and very fertile deltas. The mouth of the Skagit river has formed one such delta. Through the use of earthen dikes designed to keep out the salt water from the sound, early settlers (those who came across the Oregon Trail in the late 1800s) have created great farm lands. The dikes still stand and more recently bike trails have been built on top of them.

Washington and Oregon are perhaps the two most biker friendly states, at least the western coastal region is. All of the roads we've ridden are extremely well maintained, even those out on the tiny San Juan Islands. Most have wide, paved, shoulders that are generally free of glass and debris. Many have bike lanes and I understand there are tons of bike paths laced throughout Seattle. There's a heavy use of those yellow, diamond shaped, warning signs stating "Bikes on road" or "Bikes on bridge". We've even been told that in Oregon there will be push buttons for flashing lights that specifically tell drivers there are bikes on bridges at that moment. We are quite anxious to see these.

Nearly every state and county campground sports one or even several hiker/biker sites. These are sites reserved for people who come in on foot or bike. The theory being that hikers and bikers can't go as far or fast as car drivers and, consequently need a little extra consideration when arriving at camp late in the day. Bike shops and bike riders of all types are everywhere. Even in this very early spring season, we were amazed at just how many riders were out for the day, weekend, or longer. And my hat's off to the drivers. We have yet to find anyother place in all our travels where the drivers will wait so patiently behind even the slowest moving rider until he or she feels it's absolutely safe to attempt to pass. Even the log truck drivers seem a bit more gentile than their southeastern counterparts. We're in heaven and simply can't help riding down the road with big grins plasterd across our faces.

Ferries to the four major San Juan Islands and the town of Sidney, BC leave from Anacortes. The fee structure is rather unique. There's an initial fee, $7.70 for rider and bike, to get onto any of the islands. Once there, though, ferries between islands or back to Anacortes are free. An additional fee is required to go to Sidney. Thus, once on the islands it's easy to hop from one to another at any time. The riding is relatively easy, except for the more rugged Orcas Island. Distances are short, these are small islands after all. The scenery is incredible, rocky islands crowned with forests of evergreen pines. Traffic is light, people are friendly, and we've even learned that the islands are shadowed by the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula. Consequently the annual rainfall is about half of what Seattle gets. Even after only a couple days on the islands we can now understand why so many bikers "do" the San Juans.

The variety of plants in the dense undergrowth is fascinating. Most I don't recognize. Of those I do recognize, most bear fruit. I see small three leafed wild strawberry plants bordering the hiking paths. At this time they are only sprouting their small white flowers. But in just a few short weeks there'll be strawberries begging to be picked. Blackberry and razzleberry bushes seem to grow wildly along the roadways. Their prickly branches and maple shaped leaves are a familiar sight to me. Unfortunately their berries won't be ripe until late August. And Brian and I already discovered the Huckleberry and blueberry bushes that cover the mountain peaks in early September. But, again we're too early. I wonder if we'll find many berries during our return ride from Alaska.

I discovered another ground cover plant that I couldn't help but examine. Most unusual, these plants consist of small stems from 1 to 6 inches in length. At the top of each stem sits a single horizontal, flat, platter like leaf ranging from 1/4 to 1 inch in diameter. Centered in the platter is a smallcluster of green stems and tiny, tiny white flowers. These small plants are incredibly prolific and quite literally cover shady hillsides. I had to wonder what kind of insect these plants were trying to attract for pollination. Obviously some sort of flying insect since the flowers and leaves point up. But, what insect could be so small to perch on these delicate plants. I have no idea.

Back to the islands. We started out on Lopez Island. We chose this as our start for no other reason than the ferry stopped there first and the campground would be close to the ferry landing. After so long off the bikes, we needed a little time to get our butts reacquainted with the bicycle seats. It's an island with a permenant population of about 1800, it's about 16 miles from end to end, and easy to bike all around in one day with lots of short walks along the way. With two bike shops, four or five restaurants and cafes, two small markets, and a few trinket shops, Lopez Island is one of the least visited of all four ferry serviced islands. There's a quiet, easy pace to this island's lifestyle that is highly contagious. You simply can't fight the desire to relax on one of the many roadside picnic tables and stare over the gray/green water to the other mound shaped islands, or wander along the coast looking through the multicolored beach pebbles that have been sanded smooth by years of grinding in the glaciers, or watch the black crows trying to steal someone's picnic lunch, the hummingbirds magically floating in air sipping nectar from a newly emerged bud, or the blue herons wading in the swamps searching for yummy goodies in the murky bottom. For the first time in weeks we relaxed, slowed down, and "smelled the roses".

A short ferry ride with a 5 minute stop at Shaw Island and we found ourselves deposited on Orcas Island. Orcas island is the most unique of the four ferry serviced islands. It is more rugged, relatively speaking, and it's shaped like an elongated horseshoe. The ferry stops on one end, the small town of Eastsound is in the middle of the shoe, and Moran State Park is on the other end. The highlight of Moran State Park is the 2400 ft Mt. Constitution which offers a 360 degrees view of the San Juan and Vancouver Islands, Bellingham, and Vancouver. It's known as the most spectacular view in the Pacific. It was a little cloudy when we visited, but I could easily see how it would be incredible on a perfectly clear day.

Eastsound is a tiny, pituresque village that clearly caters to the summertime tourists. Gift shops, restaurants, inns and resorts are the main businesses. Oh and of course the ever present real estate offices. It also has a great supermarket. We were awed with the quantity, variety, and quality of food we could buy. Certainly this store would rival any big city counterpart. The people occupying the village seemed to be an eclectic mixture ranging from the conservative retiree to middle aged hippies who now have become part of the "establishment" to the 1990s version of punkers wearing "dread rag" hair styles and many forms of body piercing. They seemed to be peacfully coexisting, but I had to wonder if the differences in backgrounds and cultures doesn't cause tension.

Artists naturally tend to gravitate toward this type of community, I think primarily because the summer tourist trade provides an easy outlet for selling their wares. One artist created the most unusual group of metal wind mobiles. To advertise in a highly subtle way, he or she hung these mobiles along the road entering the village. Each is over 6 ft tall and has circular, triangular, globular appendages that twist and turn in the wind creating a different image with each relative position of the pieces. One looked like a graceful angle with what appeared to be mother of pearl wings. Another looked like a long brass needle with a smaller brass globe attached to the bottom. And my favorite was a tall silver needle enclosed in a silver cage having 8 corners. Hung from each corner was a tear drop of folded metal. The entire sculpture would turn in the wind and each tear drop turns independently. Having my head in the stars, I imagined this structure to be a huge spacestation where humans lived out in the rotating cage.

It was on Orcas Island that we finally met a couple of long term bike tourists like us. Scotty and Robert from Australia were sharing a camp site with Hilga from Germany whom theyD met just the day before. Hilga was out for a short 2 weeks tour before having to return to Germany. But, Scotty and Robert started their adventure last year at almost the same time we started. They first flew to the U.S. from Sidney, Australia to partake in the Iowa RAGBRAI (Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa). It struck us as being quite coincidental since we rode across Iowa following a very similar route about 2 to 4 weeks later. I can still recall all the folks in the small towns telling us about the huge RAGBRAI crowds. Scotty commented that teling the U.S. officials upon their arrival that they were coming to the U.S. to ride through Iowa was quite amusing. The official said, "No one goes to Iowa." Nobody except some 10,000 crazy bike riders.

>From there they went to Europe and cycled several countries in both the west and east. They just recently returned to the U.S. for another 3 months cycling before returning to Australia. They'll then prepare for 3 months in Asia, sans bikes, after which they'll settle down, get jobs, have kids, and get back into a "normal" life.

They did have a most interesting story to tell about a very unusual traveling companion they had in Europe. It was a Teddy bear named Trav L. Bear. Trav L. Bear was the creation of an elementary school teacher in Sacramento. She bought the bear, attached a list of instructions to its tummy, and sent it off with the first person she met headed out on a plane to somewhere, In a nutshell the instructions state that while you have the bear you should send postcards to the students in her class from the bear. They should be from major cities and show a photo of some clearly recognizable landmark, like the Tower of London for example. When you're ready you pass the bear onto the next traveler you can find. The whole idea is to teach the kids geography by having them sort of participate in a worldwide journey. What a great idea.

Scotty said that the kids had lost track of one of the first Trav L. Bears. It finally reappeared when some Tibetan monks wrote to ask if they could keep it. The children in their school had never seen a stuffed animal of any sort before and had grown quite attached to it. Imagine the amazement of the kids in Sacramento when they got a letter like that from Tibet.

Scotty and Robert traveled with the bear long enough to send 3 postcards. I wonder if we'll ever come across something involving school children like that.

One more short ferry ride and we arrived on the largest island, San Juan Island. The largest town is also located on the island, Friday Harbor. It boasts not only the usual touristy shops, and restaurants, but it is also home to no less than three variety stores and one very well stocked grocery store. We had to wonder if residents of the other islands would take either the ferry or their private boats shopping on San Juan or Anacortes. Otherwise the other islands have few services to offer.

San Juan island provides an opportunity to learn about a little known squabble between the Americans and British back in 1859 known as the "Pig War". Earlier a treaty had been signed between Great Britan and the U.S. (the Oregon Treaty of 1846) establishing the boundry between Canada and the U.S. There was an area of ambiguity in that the treaty placed the boundary along the channel separating Vancouver Island from the mainland. The problem, there are two separate channels Haro Strait to the northwest of San Juan and Rosario Strait to the southeast. So naturally the ownership of San Juan Island was an issue to debate.

While unresolved both the British and U.S. tried to exert control. The state of Washington incorporated the island and U.S. settlers moved into the area and established farms, considered illegal and squatting by the British. Yet British Hudson's Bay Company had been established in the area since 1845 and had a well established sheep farm. And both governments tried to collect taxes from everyone.

The whole issue came to a head on June 15, 1859. A settler, named Lyman Cultar, had moved onto property that the Hudson's Bay Company considered to be their's. He set up a small cabin and planted a vegetable garden. Unfortunately one of the Hudson's Bay company's pigs decided the potatoes in Cultar's garden were far tastier than its own food. In a rage of anger, Cultar shot the pig. Upon presenting himself to the Hudson's Bay Company representative to pay for the dead pig, the company proclaimed that Cultar was a treaspasser and the pig was actually worth 10 times what Cultar offered.

Tempers flared and letters of indignation were written. All would probably have been forgotten if it weren't for the muddling of Brig. Gen William Harney of the US and Sir James Douglas the govenor of Vancouver. Harney acted rashly and sent a brigade of soldiers to occupy the island. Douglas, upon seeing the US soldiers, sent Rear. Adm. Robert Baynes on the Royal Navy ship, Tribune, to the harbour directly off shore from the US camp. Harney reinforced the US position. The Royal navy reacted with its own reinforcements. Fortunately Baynes refused to follow Douglas' orders and did not attempt to land troops. He figured that London would not look favorably on a war being started over the killing of a pig, smart man. Meanwhile, when folks back in Washington learned of the mess they sent Gen. Winfield Scott to take care of things.

Scott managed to negotiate a reasonable truce with the British. The agreement, they would both occupy the island with no more than 100 troops until a treaty could be worked out. The Treaty of Washington was finally signed in 1871 and the fate of the San Juan Island was left in the hands of an indepentent arbitrer, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germenay. Wilhelm sided in favor of the US and the US/Canada border was firmly established. And the battle of 1859 between the British and US came to be known as the war where the only casualty was a pig.

In the meantime, just whet did those troops do out on San Juan. Well, they partied. Lots and lots of parties. The US and British troops got along quite well and they saw no need to go shooting at each other. So anytime there was a cause for celebration, Fourth of July, Queen Victoria's birthday, Christmas, one side or the other would hold a big party and invite everyone. It's rather ironic. During these years when the fate of San Juan was in question the US went through the Civil War. Horrendous battles were happening in the east while parties were the norm in the northwest.

The buildings used by both the US and British troops were originally constructed as temporary shelters. No one expected to stay for 13 years. So they were of pretty shoddy construction. As a consequence the only buildings still standing were those used in later years by local citizens. The rest of the parks two sections are nice grassy fields, good picnic grounds.

We did come across an odd coincidence at the American Camp. There's an earthen redoubt, called by the soldiers of the camp Robert's gopher hole. It's construction was supervised by Henry Martyn Robert of "Robert's Rules of Order" fame. Turns out he was an engineer working for the US military at this time. It's hard to believe that just last December we rode through his birthplace, Robertsville, SC. These military types did get around a bit.

Embraced by tall pine trees atop a small hill overlooking the Roches Harbor Resort is one unusual memorial dedicated to the McMillin family. To access this mausoleum you wander along a primitive dirt road amongst pines, ferns, and vines. Just a pleasant stroll along a wooded path. Suddenly a stone gate appears before you. The kind of gate one would normally think of as being the entrance to very excusive estate grounds. Beyond the gate about 100 yards are stairs leading to a circular shaped platform. The platform is crowned with 8 Roman style pillars, one of which is broken. The tops of the pillars are connected with a circular, crowned shaped attachment (ah to have more knowledge of architectural terms). In the center of the circle is a marble table with 8 chairs having the names of the MacMillan family, birthdates, dates of death, and various accomplishments such as the Masons inscribed on the backs. A larger space between chairs was placed between the two in front of the broken column. Since there was no extra rubble I assume the column was intended to look broken by the designer.

We were quite awe strucken by this strange display. My feelings were mixed. On the one hand, the setting was so calm and peaceful. No noise except the soft twitters of woodland creatures, the sunlight filtered through the new green needles of the pines, and some of the most beautiful yellow flowering trees lined the platform. The draping style of the trees seemed like they belonged to a park setting. Yet I couldn't help but wonder about the personality of a family that would go to such measures to memorialize themselves. Did they truly feel they were that important. I also couldn't help but think of the Roman ruins we saw in Greece. There it is not uncommon to come across amazing ruins at the turn of the road, sitting in some forgotten field, totally neglected. So much like this mausoleum.

While waiting for the ferry headed for our last destination prior to Alaska, Victoria, we ran across an absolutely wonderful woman whom I had previously met on Orcas Island. Tammy, from Griffen, GA, is a recently retired school teacher whose been in nearly a constant state of motion since. Standing about 5' 5", of medium build, with short cropped red hair, and well defined facial features. With a heavy Georgian accent and an unbelievable bubbly and optimistic personality I could easily see this woman making friends, very close friends where ever she goes. I hesitate to admit that she reminded me of that Ernst from the Ernst and Vern commercials. Her contagious sparkling personality and even her appearance, in a feminine sort of way, is so similar.

Tammy is also one independent lady. She's not married and has no children. She's always been doing outdoors activities, like hiking for 2 months along the Appalchian trail alone, canoing, horse riding, fox hunting, tennis, golf, and a totally eclectic range of sporting activities. She even bought several acres outside of her adopted town and built her own log cabin. I really had to admire a woman with the guts to do all this by herself.

Arriving in Sidney, BC we found ourselves with a bit of a dilema. We didn't really have enough time to explore the whole island, yet we weren't sure about how costly it would be to stay near Victoria. It was a situation where we really had no definite plans, the type of situation where we really have trouble deciding what to do. So instead of immediately getting on the bikes to go somewhere, we just wandered around Sidney for a while trying to decide what to do next. We finally decided that since we came to Vancouver Island to see Victoria, we should go to Victoria and forego any further exploring. Let's face it, we like to travel but we don't like to aimlessly wander.

It's funny, if we had been blindfolded and then dropped in the middle of Sidney or Victoria we would have immediately known that we weren't in the U.S. anymore. The differences are so subtle it's hard to put a finger on just what triggers our feeling. Of course, there's the obvious English and French on most packaging and many signs. Beyond that there seems to be an overall neatness or orderliness that one generally attributes to people of more recent British connection. There's very little graffiti, almost no litter. Shopping malls seem to have a unique structure to the placement of the stores that is perhaps more logical than a U.S. counterpart. Individual yards are neat and ordered even if the stuff within the yard is still junk. In the U.S. this stuff would be strewm about haphazardly. The people are extremely homogoneous. No peoples of color and few Asians. And there's an ever so slight British accent remaining in the speech. The indications are there and I guess since we've spent so much time traveling we've become more sensitive to them.

Victoria is a beautiful little city situated at the southernmost tip of the very green, very wet Vancouver Island. It's main businesses are tourism and government. It happens to be the BC provencial capital. The primary area of interest for us tourists is the walkway along the harbor and the few adjacent blocks. This is where the beautiful Empress Hotel, the tiny 2 block long Chinatown, the Royal Canadian Museum, Thunderbird park with its many totempoles, the parliment building, the old fashioned cluster streetlights, several English style gardens, hanging floral baskets, street venders and actors, and the ever present panhandler is found. It is said, probably by the Victoria tourist bureau, that Victoria is more British in appearance than most cities in England. I guess it probably depends upon your definition of what a British city should look like.

We spent the better part of one afternoon walking throughout this downtown area. Starting with Chinatown on one side of the bay, coming around to the parliment building on the otherside. The sights and sounds were quite impressive. of tourists for quick round Victoria island flyovers, a mere $69 per person, or for the more extravagent minded a tour of the entire island for $159 per person. We were treated to the sound of marching bands playing on the warf and in front of Parliment. Dressed in school colors of orange and green to play traditional marching music or more formal black and white to give a rousing round of Glenn Miller big band. It was the celebration of Queen Victoria's birthday, the long dead queen for whom the town is named, and the town was putting on a show.

Wandering through the Empress Hotel we had to go see the room where they put on their most famous "high tea". Tea is held in the oldest section of the hotel in what appears to have been the original lobby. Having been built in the late 1800s the old lobby has beautiful hand carved wood paneling and pillars painted in light peach, pink, and ivory. Delicate crystal chandeliers hang from the ceiling and antique tables and chairs crowd the room providing ample seats for as many folks as possible. Not exactly private, but quite profitable. The large windows overlook the bay with the colorful boats, street hawkers, venders, and foot traffic. But your attention seems to be drawn more toward the activities in the room. Tea is served on in siler tea pots and fine china cups. An interesting four tiered tray containing tiny cookies, cakes, and finger sandwiches is also served. All this for a mere $25 Canadian per person,

My father made an interesting comment about this famous "high tea" and upon closer inspection I had to agree. Here are all these people dressed in fine suits and dresses at one o'clock in the afternoon trying desperately to look like they're getting some sort of meaningful experience or maybe even have a little fun. After all at $25 a pop you'd certainly want to get your money's worth. Yet they only succeed in looking terribly bored and uncomfortable. I got the feeling most would rather toss on some blue jeans, a sweat shirt, and head out to listen to the High School marching bands. I could just imagine the thoughts of the guys, "Geez, why can't she just finish the sandwich so we can get outta here." And the woman, "I've got to try to relish every bite to get my money's worth." But, the Victoria tourist bureau says you just gotta do tea in the Empress, and by God that's what they'll do no matter what. We simply looked, shrugged our shoulders, and aimed our bodies toward the museum.

Ah the Royal Canadian Museum. For $10per person, this was an investment well worth every penny. The displays range from the natural landscapes of Vancouver island, indian artifacts from all of B.C., and representations of various early B.C. industries like fishing, logging, mining, and farming. There was even a temporary display called the B.C. Heritage Faire. This was a room where window boxes were provided to all the small town museums of B.C. By looking at each window you got a snapshot of what that particular museum features. I especially liked the one about the can manufaturer, cans being so important to the fish canning industry. They quite literally stacked 4 pallets of shrink wrapped, empty cans in the room. What better way to get your point across.

All of the displays are superb. You can wander from room to room finding yourself in a mining camp, then Vancouver's ship the Discovery, then on a farm high up in the alpine mountains, then on an 1800s main street, a saw mill. an Indian chief's home, and finally on the Vancouver Island seashore. All are so realistic and the amount of descriptive text is just enough to not get you bogged down in reading. We spent a full day there, entering at 10:30 which is just a half hour after opening and were shooed out by the guards at the end of the day. One day was almost enough. But we could have used another half day to really finish properly.

The indian artifacts were most interesting. Much of what was shown were works of wood, maska, shields, spinning whorls, and the huge totem poles. The descriptions talked primarily about the differences between the designs. The sizes of the eye orbs, lips, cheek bone, and foreheads of the figures were compared. It's interesting how people living so close come up with slightly different artistic techniques that render works that are very distinct. One thing I noted was that the wood carving of the northwest Pacific Indians seemed so similar to the carvings of the Maori in New Zealand and the Hawaiian Island natives. I don't recall seeing this kind of wood carving, in particular totem poles, in any other North American Indain group. I'm convinced there's a connection.

They also spent a fair amount of time discussing the impact of white man on the Indians. In this case the impact was not so much a matter of subjucation as with the plains Indians. The main influencing factor was disease. In one short season from fall to spring more than half of the northwest's coastal Indains were killed by Small Pox. Notes taken by European captains say that one French doctor was attempting to vaccinate, but with little or no help from the local officials, this one doctor's efforts could not stem the tide. In such a short time the Indian culture that was atually thriving under the benefits of trade with the Europeans came shattering down.

One more place on our "must see" list before we headed back to Bellingham, the Butchart gardens. Located just north of Victoria is hundreds of acres of some of the most colorful, and well maintained gardens we've ever seen, and I do love gardens. It all started back in the 1917 time frame when Mrs Butchart converted the open limestone pit left from her husband's cement factory mining activities into a splendor of walkways, raised flower beds, lawns, and bordering trees and bushes. Tons of rocks and top soil were imported for this project as shown by photos taken during construction. Eventually this sunken garden done in the informal country English style was joined by a very formal and symmetric Italian garden (replacing the tennis courts), a large Japanese garden, and a rose garden that is said to be the best and most extensive in B.C. It was a drizzly, rather dreary day but the weather could not begin to dampen the colors of the flowers. Spring blooms of tulips and dafodiles were just a little beyond their peak. But the azaleas and rhodedendrums were shining in all their splendid colors.

We spent hours in the gardens, shifting from one dry spot to another, taking time to sit and just observe. Trying to take in all the colors and the peaceful surroundings despite the gloomy day. A well designed garden should delight the senses of sight, smell, and hearing while providing surprise at every new turn. The Butchart gardens succeed on all account.

Time to take one last ferry and ride to the mainland and back to Bellingham, the first time in a long, long time we've actually ridden back to a starting point. It rained, again, most of the way. I suppose if we had ridden up from San Diego rather than driven we wouldn't have found the change in climate so shocking and distressing. But, as it was we were really looking forward to moving further north where the weather is supposed to be dryer. Alaska here we come at long last.

P.S. If anyone has some frequent flyer milage that will expire within about a year that they can't use for some reason and might like to donate to a couple of bike tourists we'd sure appreciate it if you'd consider donating. We'd like to head to South America next winter, but don't have enough milage ourselves.

Appendix A - Route


Chuckanut Rd to Rt. 20 Rt 20 to Anacortes Ferries to Lopez, Orcas, and San Juan Islands


Ferry to Vancouver Island Rt. 17 to and from Victoria Ferry to Tswassen Back roads paralleling Rt. 99 to Blaine


Backroads paralleling I-5 to Bellingham

Appendix B - Camp sites


Larrabee State Park 2 nights ($), Spenser's Spit State Park on Lopez Island 3 nights ($), Moran State Park on Orcas Island 3 nghts ($), Travel RV Park on San Juan Island 2 nights ($),

Vancouver Island

MacDonald Provincial Park in Sidney ($), Holiday Court Motel in Victoria ($), MacDonald Provincial Park in Sidney ($)

($) indicates fee camping


Birch Bay State Park ($), Larrabee State Park ($)


Copyright 1995-2011 by Caryl L. Bergeron - Distribution for personal use permitted. Distribution for other uses with written permission.



We'd like to thank my father, Charles Johnson, whose diligent mail forwarding and other logistical support make this journey far easier than it could be otherwise.


Wendy Strutin Riedy for archiving the newsletters on her WWW site,

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