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Hello, Washington!

August 17, 2013

Canada and Washington – Tuesday, August 6

When I woke up in the morning, I discovered that 3 other people with campers had also used this pull-off as a rest stop for the night – apparently it’s a popular stopping place, and there are people who drive even later than I do!
We were back on the road in no time, and I soon came to an old ranch from some of the early days that had been turned into a historical site. There was a big, beautiful log cabin barn, and a log church and log schoolhouse and all, and some old gold mine equipment.

Then it was time to put on some miles. After the ranch country, I went through some pretty arid land, covered in sagebrush, and not quite as pretty as what I’d been driving in. And then I was back in the mountains – some of them were steep and there were canyons and pretty blue lakes. We stopped at one of the lakes to walk around and stretch – it was a steep walk down to the beach, but that didn’t stop people from heading down there with all their inflatable toys! I went through the Hell’s Gate area which was really steep, and there was a tram to take visitors up the mountains for scenic views. I didn’t go on it, but the place was crowded. By now I was actually getting closer to the Canadian/US border, and the road changed from a 2-lane road to a 4-lane highway heading to Vancouver, and the traffic got heavier and there were lots of people.

After driving a bit more, I was getting close to the border, and there were several crossings to choose from. There were signs saying how long the wait was at each of the crossings, and I was just going to take the one into Washington that was closest – I didn’t want to go into Vancouver at all. Despite all the time I’d already spent driving in British Columbia, it was still getting to be late afternoon before I was finally in line to cross the border. There was a bit of a wait, but I got through just fine – no one ever asked questions about having a dog, and I hadn’t done any shopping in Canada so I breezed through.

And then I was in Washington – State #43! I’d had plenty of time to soak in my Alaska and northern Canada adventures, and was really excited to be back in the States – I can’t wait to resume my normal days of donations and walking. With only a quarter of my journey left, I will be savoring every moment. But first things first – there were suddenly berry stands all around me, and I stopped to get a half-pint of fresh blueberries. What a treat! It was too late today for a “normal” day, and I hadn’t been able to start any research about donations or anything, so I will “officially” resume the journey tomorrow. But I stopped in the town of Nooksack (because I liked the name!) and Tula and I did our first mile and a half of Washington walking. This area seems to be some good agricultural land, and there were all kinds of fruit and veggie stands, and after walking I drove around a little, and saw a really unusual piece of farm equipment with stacks of crates on the back. Nooksack was the name of an Indian tribe which had lived in the area for ages, and now there also seems to be a big Hispanic population up here – many of the little shops in Nooksack had signs in both English and Spanish. With all the big farms in the area during harvest season, I’m guessing there’s a good-sized migrant population. I was able to see Mt. Baker clearly, in the Cascade Mountains, but it was too far away to drive toward today.

Eventually I headed toward Bellingham, where I was going to stop for the night. After camping all through Canada and Alaska – 19 of the past 20 nights – I was ready for a motel room to get cleaned up and back into a more civilized mode! With all the camping (and a handful of free nights at NOLS and at pull-offs) and relatively simple eating, my visit to Alaska was completed on a shoe-string budget – it is possible! I was looking forward to some computer time to plan my Washington week and look into donation opportunities, and my sister lives in the Seattle area so I knew I’d be seeing them in a few days – I can’t wait to kick off the final quarter of Expedition 56!!

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