Goodbye Canada – Hello United States

At Hope campground with some tall Douglas Fir trees

After spending the last night in Canada camping under some tall Douglas Fir trees along the Fraser river I needed to ride from Hope to Chilliwack and then to Sumas. One of the two choices on that route is the Trans Canada Highway 1. While it is perfectly legal to ride a bicycle on this highway in most sections, it is not exactly a pleasant or very safe experience. I felt like riding on an Interstate, with the deafening noise of passing trucks being the most annoying aspect.

Not the best place to ride - Trans Canada Highway 1 between Hope and Chilliwack

By contrast, once getting off the highway, the road leads through idyllic farmland, with the sounds and smells of summer everywhere. The occasional blackberry bush satisfying my cravings for fresh fruit and sugar.

Sweet blackberries ripe for the picking along rural roads

After 60km I reach the town of Chilliwack and stop there at the visitor center. I take a long break at a Best Western restaurant for a late lunch and to do email. I also meet Rill and Marvin, a couple passing through on vacation, who take interest in my bike and journey.

I continue on via the smaller roads zig-zagging through farm fields towards the SW and the border town of Sumas. A few dogs chase me, but only one Rottweiler comes out to the middle of the road and forces me to stop. Maybe I’m getting some use of the Bear spray after all?

It’s already getting late and the sun is sinking lower and lower – seems like I’m getting a bit rushed due to the fading daylight after all. At 99km I reach the border. A friendly customs agent asks me a few questions and does some paperwork. 10 minutes later I’m back in the US and continue riding South. The sun is setting now with a nice display of a red ball sinking down in the corn fields. I still want to reach the campground in Lynden some 10km further to the West. It’s 9pm and nearly dark when I get there. Luckily there is a plaza with restaurants not far from there, so I get some pizza and a glas of red wine there to celebrate the completion of the Canada section of my ride.

Celebrating the completion of the Canada portion of my ride with Wine and Pizza

I spend the next 1 1/2 days riding South on Highway 9 towards the Seattle area. There are a few rolling hills, some lakes and not a lot of traffic until you get to Everett some 50km North of Seattle. The ride is uneventful and relatively easy (not a lot of hills, except towards the end in Bellevue). I stop frequently for fresh breakfast, to pick backberries right next to the road, and for good lunch or coffee. Each day it seems to get another 5C cooler and wetter. On the last day I start out in very low, thick clouds with light drizzle – good thing I can warm up on the first 80m hill right after my start in Arlington.

Cool start of riding day with light drizzle in Northern Washington

I’m using the iPhone GPS for navigation into the city. A nice stretch comes along the Samamish River Trail, where there is no motorized traffic. At last, on Friday (Aug-7) noon I reach my friend Karl’s place in Bellevue – haven’t seen Karl in about 2 years… Great to finally be here! And I still find it hard to believe that I rode every single meter all the way from the Arctic Ocean down to Seattle!

Now I look forward to a 2 week vacation with my wife Jill out here in the Seattle / Vancouver region. Some kayaking and hiking will provide a welcome change from the strict bike riding regiment. My recumbent bike will be resting at Karl’s place, waiting to resume the long ride South in 2 weeks…

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