Day 2 – Birch Bay State Park to Marblemount

This is part of a series of posts written during my cycle from Vancouver, BC to Minneapolis, MN in June 2013. For the most part I followed the Adventure Cycling Association’s ‘Northern Tier’ Route, but deviated where I saw fit. It was a great experience, read on to find out more…

Birch Bay

Birch Bay

I’d planned to have a lie in – considering it well deserved after the antics of the previous evening – but jet lag meant the best I could manage was 7.30.  First thing on the agenda was to stick my toe in the Pacific, before pointing my front wheel east and starting my adventure in earnest. The first 20 miles were undulating, gentle rolling hills to warm up the legs, but the mountains on the horizon suggested that this would not last. After 20 miles I arrived at Billingham where I accomplished two things: eating the most enormous American style breakfast, and buying a US sim for my phone. I got talking to a couple of older guys in the breakfast place and they suggested that I take a different route for the next 30 odd miles to the one I’d planned – never one to question local knowledge I took their suggestion, and as it happens it was lucky I did.

Concrete, WA

Concrete, WA

10 miles outside Billingham I was flagged down by an elderly couple whose car had broken down – they had been there for 3hrs and I was the first person to stop. As it turned out they had no phone and had been unable to calm for help – without skipping a beat I whipped out my phone, not mentioning that it had been capable of making calls in the US for about half an hour! Having called 911 and made sure a police officer was on the way, I pressed on.

The afternoon was fairly uneventful, consisting of a number of gas-station stops as I began to realize that I was entering a remote area – a suspicion eventually confirmed by a ’74 miles until next services’ sign. By the time I saw this sign I’d covered just over 90 miles and was resigned to wild camping – I figured that I’d have a meal at the diner that constituted the ‘last services’ indicated by the sign and then press on, not wanting to set up camp before dark. I went inside and placed my order, but when it arrived I was told another customer had

No such thing as a free meal?

No such thing as a free meal?

paid for it. This chap soon came over for a chat – which would have been great, had he not been steaming drunk. After 45 minutes of fielding questions that did not make sense, being told I was ‘beautiful’ no fewer than seven times, and having my hand shaken 11 times, I had gleaned one price of useful information (supplied by the waitress not the drunk): there was a campsite about a mile down a side road by the diner.

The campsite turned out to be a patch of dirt by a river – but it meant that I could stop and set up camp early, allowing me to have a bit of a rest. I’m going to need it tomorrow – the route profile of which resembles a triangle: 50 miles uphill over Washington pass, followed by 50 miles downhill to the town of Twisp.

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