June 13th, 2010 by mary
Day 4 found us in Paradise, also known as our friend Bridget’s apartment in Bellingham. I have never been so pampered and coddled in my life. It was a surprisingly comfortable cross between a day spa and my mother’s womb. And just the restorative moment we needed after our miserable border experience of the day before. 80 degrees out and gorgeous out, so we headed down to Bellingham Farmer’s Market for some eats.
The market was unbelievable. Food porn everywhere you looked, children with stellar fashion sense (anyone know how I can ask parents to take pics without sounding like a creeper? “Hey. Can I take a picture of your child for my blog?” just sounds off.) and a whole new perspective on hippie chic. We saw an 11-year old street magician busking like a pro to a crowd of slack-jawed toddlers. We bumped into the, apparently, thousands of members of Bridget’s Bellingham Fan Club. We ate and ate and ate. We laughed and talked gibberish and made a lot of fart noises and generally acted a fool. A good time was had by all.
People have a lot of questions about what touring by bicycle actually entails. I’m about to reveal all our secrets here: LOTS OF DESSERT. I know we probably shouldn’t be treating ourselves so much but each town has proffered up her sweet, tender somethings and how can we refuse? To date we’ve indulged in Nuba’s rosewater shortbread, Ralf’s Bavarian nutella-filled soft pretzel sticks, Rocket Doughnuts (maple krueller, chocolate old-fashioned, apple fritter), Mallards Ice Cream (sugar cones with mint cookie and coconut chocolate almond), Calico Cupboards’ lemon sour cream pie and peanut butter chocolate pie and peanut butter bars, s’mores at a bonfire, banana cupcakes, vanilla frozen custard with hot fudge, ginger cookies with maple frozen yogurt, and I think there was a brownie in there somewhere amongst the other things I’ve forgotten in my sugar high. OH, and lots and lots of peanut butter covered pretzels. This may be an indication of more serious problems afoot but for right now we are enjoying ourselves, albeit a little too much. On many of our press releases it says, “Join Nick and Mary as they roll into town!” and I think people will be astonished when they see us literally roll into town, dragging our bicycles behind us.
Bellingham, hidden amidst its deliciousness, conceals a number of terrific thrift stores containing something you don’t see in Portland: cheap prices. Clawing through the 50 cent and dollar racks of cool clothes, Nick and I started to get thrift-fever. That’s when your eyes begin to fog over and you start to rationalize completely ridiculous purchases just because they are cheap (I can rock a tie-dyed muu-muu with palm fronds on it, right?! RIGHT?!!) In a moment, the hill climbs and mountainous terrain ahead were forgotten as we loaded our arms with clothes to add to our already very heavy bikes. If you’re ever in Bellingham, check out Wise Buys. The prices are unbelievable and it profits Lydia Place, which is a non-profit organization benefiting women and children in the area who are experiencing homelessness.
The next day we woke up early and headed for my hometown of Arlington. There was a hill climb out of Bellingham that was nice to conquer early in our day. It continued for a while but the grade was gradual and we were surrounded by a dense forest terrain so we felt pulled up into the clouds as though by magic. The drop down the other side was exhilarating and the rest of the day passed by without incident. Except for poor Nick. Nick has had a lot of technical troubles on the road so far. He seems to constantly have a pannier tearing or his rack falling off or some kind of annoying something that requires us to pull over for repairs. We are both hoping that we are just working out the kinks now and that it will be smooth sailing for the rest of the tour.
The back roads and highways between Bellingham and Arlington are every idyllic American farmland stereotype you can imagine. I think America could really weather this whole recession thing if we realized our number one export is rotten barns and cars. I can see it now; buy a rotten barn, we’ll throw in a rotten schoolbus free! It was strange to roll through the hills of my childhood at a touring cyclists pace. Seeing how things have changed and at the same time not changed at all, I found myself feeling old and wistful.
We arrived at my parents home on Ebey Mountain outside of the small town of Arlington to find a rowdy crew of siblings and friends enjoying a barbecue, bonfire and adult beverages. It was country living at its best. We played with puppies and ate s’mores and watched my dad impress/horrify everyone by sitting on the bonfire. My mom made the starting revelation that she had ‘mad flow’ and began quoting T.I. and ended with some awkward freestyle that I’m still regretting not getting video of. My dad and Nick bonded over his new bearskin on the wall, both of them holding Coors Lights while stroking its fur as my dad rambled on about ‘paying tribute to the spirit of the animal’ and ‘using every part’. Horrified, I shielded my eyes and tried not to point out the similarity between the bear and my dad’s black lab puppies. Then it was off to bed as we had a go time of 4 a.m.
Bellingham and A-town, you always treat me right. I’ll be back soon. Thanks, Mom and Dad and Bridget and Andrew and Jessica and Enoch and A.J. I love you, guys. Now off to Seattle!