There is nothing quite like a Sunday drive on a summer day. The Explorer inside of me occasionally needs to go forth and explore. To visit somewhere never visited.
This Sunday drive, we decided to head north, to leave the country, to visit one of our favorite places—Canda. But on a hot summer day we wanted to avoid the crowds in Vancouver so we headed east. We took the scenic drive from Bellingham, through the farmlands of Lynden and Everson to cross the border in the small town of Sumas.
The line to cross the border is right on the main street of Sumas. With a forty-five minute wait time, we had not much else to do but look outside the car window at downtown. Sumas did not have much going for it. Most of the buildings were run down or closed. The only businesses that seemed to be thriving is the Shipping/Mailbox business. There is quite a number of them within a few blocks of each other.
Once we crossed into Canada, being Americans and from Washington, our first priority was to stop at Starbucks. We were in much need of a bathroom break, a cold drink, and a snack.
We headed east on Hwy 1, our destination was the area just north of Harrison Hot Springs, but a sign on the highway caught our fancy and we immediately took the next exit. That's the good thing about Sunday drives, there is never a plan, it can be impulsive and adventuress. The sign was for Cultlass Lake. We looked it up on the map. It is nestled in the hills of the Northern Cascade, right by the U.S. and Canadian Border. Next to the lake is an Ecological Reserve. It sounded peaceful and quiet.
Our first clue it may not be quiet and secluded, was the large Water Park and Amusement Park by the lake just as you approach it. Swarms of people were enjoying the hot weather on the rides. Business was booming at the various ice cream shops. And cars were parked wherever they could find a spot. We traveled on, hoping the further south we went, the quieter it would get.
We finally found a parking lot to pull into. It was quite large and quite full, but luckily we found a spot right away. It was late afternoon and on a Sunday, how busy can it be? As we descended down the hill and caught our first glimpse of the lake and the beach, I was shocked at how crowded it was. And noisy. People were everywhere. Boats were zooming around the lake at full speed. Children were yelling. This was not a quiet spot to stop and contemplate Mother Nature and enjoy nature's peaceful existence. And the smell! Instead of fresh mountain air and nature's divine floral aroma, the air was filled with gas fumes from all of the toys on the lake and lighter fluid from all of the bbqs.
We strolled around a bit, but we weren't exactly dressed for a hot day at the beach. And the noise and smells did not encourage us to kick back and stick around. After a few photos and a quick stroll, we decided to get back into our car and head home. We wanted to beat the traffic before all of those people left the park.
It may not have been a quiet day, but was an adventure. We found some new places to visit and enjoy in the more off season. The country side around Chilliwack and Vedder River was a beautiful place to take a drive. The farmlands interspersed with towns was a nice mix of old and new. Next time we visit, we may explore the Vedder river more and the hillsides. For there will be a next time.
When the sun calls you outside in the Pacific Northwest, you answer. After days of being cooped inside, it's a welcome pleasure to venture out on a daycation. With so much to choose from it is fun to explore and find new hidden gems. Today's call was a drive north from Skagit Valley to Whatcom County. Just an hour north of Anacortes, Bellingham and Whatcom County has a diverse offering of beaches to mountains. Today it was the foothills that beckoned us for our drive. First stop, something to curb our hunger and sweet tooth, a favorite espresso stop...Wake n' Bakery in Glacier, WA for coffee and their most delicious cardamom cookies. This popular coffee shop is must-stop place for skiers coming back from the Mt Baker Ski Resort.
Hunger abated, sweet tooth satisfied, it was time for our next stop, a park hidden amongst the foothills of the cascade mountains–Silver Lake Park.
Just north of Maple Falls, off HWY 542, is a gem of a park and campgrounds, shrouded by mountains and sitting on the edge of a lake. Silver Lake Park is close to the border of Canada and hidden amongst the trees where you can relax and commune with mother nature. Trails, bridges, wildlife, playground, picnic tables, cabins, and boating on a quiet lake, all you need to enjoy the great outdoors and relax in fresh mountain air.
When you leave the park, instead of turning left and returning the way you came, turn right out of the park and follow Silver Lake Road as it travels through Peaceful Valley. Logging and farmlands scatter through the landscape as the road leads you back to Hwy 547 where you can turn right and continue your journey north, or left to Hwy 542 and return to Bellingham.
To end a lovely day driving through the countryside we had dinner at Fiamma Pizza in Bellingham and no trip to Bellingham is complete without stopping at Trader Joe.
Peaceful Valley, Silver Lake, and Cardamom Cookies…A great answer to the call of a sunny day in the Pacific Northwest.
Bowman Bay is a small slice of paradise on Fidalgo Island. The perfect place for campers, kayakers, boaters, hikers, and people looking for somewhere to just kick back and have a picnic. Once home to a large Samish village, then a a military reservation, it is now a state park rich in history and beautiful and idyllic scenery. You can read more about the history here.
Bowman Bay is a great place to hike. Trails wind through and lead you to different vantage points with awe inspiring scenic views that will take your breath away. Secret coves or little hideaways to explore. Wildflowers and wildlife may pop by for a view. Hike over to Rosario during low tide and explore the creatures beneath the sea. For more information on the trails click here.
Five Fisheye Views of Bowman Bay
The day started early, the sun was just starting to peek over the Cascades. We left Anacortes at 5:30 a.m. Fog shrouded the foothills and early morning light brightened the Skagit Valley farmlands. We had an 8:00 a.m. seaplane to catch in Renton and two-hours of morning traffic to get through, there was no time to dawdle and take photographs.
We were providing taxi service for a 93-year-old woman who was flying on a seaplane to Princess Louisa Inlet in British Columbia with friends. We arrived at 7:30 and waited for the captain and the other passengers to arrive. It took four of them to help board the 93-year-old, but once onboard and everything was secured they taxied out on Lake Washington and ascended to the sky at 8:30 a.m
This was the start of our 9 hours to kill.
Tired from not much sleep and getting up so early we decided the daycation needed to be mellow, easy, and not much driving involved.
How to kill 9 hours in Renton? Here is what we did...
1. Eat Breakfast. First order of business…food. Thanks to Yelp we located a breakfast place that was close by, The Countryside Cafe in Renton. With the help of SIRI we got directions and we were there in no time. Located in a Strip Mall, outside the place didn’t look like much. But we were hungry, the reviews on Yelp were good, their website was helpful, and we didn’t want to drive around.
Inside was homey and bustling. All the booths were full so we seated ourselves at a table. The friendly owner whizzed around, greeting people, talking with regulars, and making sure everything was in order. Tony ordered the California Benedict and I ordered 2 eggs, 2 links, 2 bacons, hash browns, and 2 pancakes. The food came in large portions, you would think we were starving.
OMG was it delicious. Believe it or not we ate almost every bite. The hash browns looked like regular hash browns but they were soooo good. And the pancakes were so light and fluffy it was hard to control myself. The scrambled eggs were good, but not something to write home about and the links and sausage were good.
An hour killed… only 8 more to go!
2. Too full to do much, our next event needed to help digest all that food. We went to Cedar River Park, just off I-405 on Hwy 169. The park has a water park and swimming pool, community center, theater, and the Cedar River Trail. The trail follows a historic railroad route goes from Renton to Maple Valley. Since we were on foot, and full from breakfast, we only did 2 miles of the 17.3-mile trail.
Another hour killed… Only 7 more to go.
3. It was morning, the sun was shining, and it was already heating up to be a hot day in Renton. For our next event we went to the 11:00 a.m. showing of Transformers: The Last Night. Inside a dark and air-conditioned theater we could stay cool and get our adrenaline high from a action-packed, blow-em-up, Michael Bay movie. The movie itself was okay but the newer Regal Cinema at The Landing in Renton had comfy seats to spend some time in.
2 ½ hours killed… Only 4 ½ hours left
4. Since we were being lazy, we just hang around The Landing for the next few hours. Around 3:00 p.m. breakfast started to wear off and we looked for a someplace to get a small snack. We found Happy Hour in the bar at the Wildfin American Grill. We ordered:
This was a most delicious way to spend an hour and half. The fondue dish was addictive and enticing. You could not get enough of it. The Wagyu Beef in the Wildfin Street Taco melted in your mouth and had just the right amount of flavoring to tantalize your tastebuds. The atmosphere was relaxing and invited us to just hang out for a while, which we gladly accepted the invitation.
3 ½ hours killed… 1 hour left
5. We killed the last hour at the Renton Municipal Airport watching the small planes take off and land, eagles, great blue herons, turtles, and other wildlife. A cool breeze wafted off the water keeping us comfortable in the hot sun.
Finally our little old lady returned… happy and very tired. She had an exciting trip to Princess Louisa Inlet by seaplane, an adventure she will cherish. We had a comfortable and relaxing daycation in Renton. Time flew by and we managed to stay entertained, enjoy great food, and stayed awake.
by Karla Locke
Short Stories of passion, of life, of people.