Chuckanut Drive

DSC03236Last weekend, Rob and I were invited to Larrabee State Park for the weekend to celebrate the birthday of our friend Steve.  We drove up from Seattle on Saturday morning and arrived to the park around mid-day.  Larrabee State Park is well suited for a variety of people:

  • It is a manageable size: not nearly as large as other National and State parks)
  • Easy to access: easy drive in from I-5, pull your car or RV into the site parking space and setup camp – you’re done!
  • Very accommodating: there are toilets and warm-water showers (for $0.50), all wheel chair accessible.  They have a welcome booth, staffed with people and pamphlets, with information about how to enjoy the park.  They also sell firewood in case you forgot yours.
  • Many features to enjoy: there is a park with covered picnic areas and an amphitheater; as well as several beaches within walking distance of the campgrounds.

DSC03242 Since it was a surprise party, we managed to learn when other friends of Steve arrived to the park.  We met Jenny (of Jenny and Tom), Jenny and Patrick and set out for a hike to the beaches.

There is an amazing amount of history, archeology and ocean life to take in just from the coast line near the park.  We saw layers of sediment worn away by the ocean – it was almost as if we could see sand being made before our eyes.  We saw purple star fish (above) and baby crabs (below).  A lot of cool driftwood and other assorted beach treasures. 

There was a particularly cool rock with a face carved into the side (left).  We couldn’t tell if someone had carved it out of the rock or somehow molded it into one of the craters of the rock.  Either way, it was freaky and cool to discover.

DSC03241 From the beaches you get amazing views of the San Juan Islands and oyster farms along the coast.  One of the easier walk/hikes to do is the Interurban trail: it is a wide, flat trail (with exception of one part that drops off on to the beach).  It has a nice canopy of trees so you stay well shaded, even on a hot day.  The park appears to be pet friendly as we saw many with their dogs.  The beaches were all small and covered with blankets of kelp and seaweed.  We managed to find a plot of warm sand and take a nap in the afternoon sun.  There is also a train track that runs along the coast and you can see trains going by from time to time.

We met up with Rondelle in the park with the amphitheater.  Her brother and family and some friends were there.  Many friends arrived on bikes they rode from Bellingham.  And we all awaited Steve’s surprise arrival.  It was a fun evening of BBQ, tight rope walking, volleyball and the most AMAZING chocolate cake I’ve ever had in my life.  Apparently this cake is from the Mount Bakery in Bellingham, WA and well, let’s just say that I had an emotional and physical reaction to this cake.

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I’ve eaten other delectable food at the Mount Bakery before (like eggs benedict with fresh crab and asparagus) and never really knew about this chocolate cake thing.  If you make a trip to Bellingham for any reason, this is worth it!

Rondell and Steve (with his new gift: a walker)

After the main festivities we settled into our campsite, made a fire and cooked up s’mores and adult beverages.

On Sunday, we packed up camp and Rob and I took our road bikes for a tour of Chuckanut Drive, which despite it’s cool name, is famous in it’s own right.  It’s a beautiful stretch of road that connects Skagit Valley to Bellingham and crosses through some great towns.  My favorites, in particular, are Bow and Fairhaven.  First we rode north from Larrabee until we made it to Fairhaven.  Fairhaven is a town dating back to the 1880s that still has a ton of historical character despite the renovations to keep it’s main area in good condition.  This is a great place to mill around for a weekend.  They have a double decker cafe bus that serves fish and chips out the window, a quad lawn where you can enjoy music followed by a film on Saturday nights (in the summer) and a stretch of trail for walking and biking all along the coast line.  We had spent the day in Fairhaven once before and fell in love with it.  Today, we just passed through and then tracked back south, past the park again, as well as several of the Oyster restaurants along the coast until we got close to where the woods end and the farm land began.  At that point we turned around and headed back to the park.  All told we did about 25 miles.  The road was really fun to ride – rolling ups and downs, nothing too extreme and great ocean views.

We hit the showers at the park and got in the car for the ride home.

On the way toward I-5 we stopped in Bow for lunch at the Rhododendron Cafe – another amazing restaurant.  Head to this place with enough day light to sit in the back patio at dusk and get views of the garden with beautiful mountain backdrops.  The food is also amazing.  Most of our meals were topped with Nasturtium flowers – which are not only gorgeous, delicate and fragrant flowers, but also EDIBLE!!We completely indulged and got dessert after our lunch: brownie sundae and lemon pound cake with fresh blueberries from their garden.

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This was one of our best Seattle excursions since we’ve moved here.  Can’t wait to go back again!

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