If we thought that the drive to Winthrop was hair raising, the drive to the "upper left coast", as they call it here, was heart-stopping. WA-20 is not called the Cascade Highway for nothing. As we left Winthrop, we saw, for the first time, a fire-fighting tent city and staging area though no fires were visible nor did we smell smoke. There must have been hundreds of two man tents pitched in a field and in the adjacent woods to support the fire fighters and along the highway were "Fire fighting equipment entering" signs. The ride up to Washington Pass and over the pass was breathtaking! Pockets of snow could be seen in the mountain bowls and, despite the clouds, tall peaks were visible. The grades were long and steep going up and down which made it an exciting ride. Even Roadie decided that prayer might be in order. We didn't see him, and when I turned to look behind me, there was Roadie "praying" with two paws on the sofa. The road was good and after crossing the pass, we entered the North Cascades National Park and the Ross Lake National Recreation Area, a vast area of virtually uninhabited wilderness broken only by small towns, hiking trails and boat launches. This is a much underutilized spot so, if you get a chance, come here. I had no idea there was a North Cascades National Park and would like to return to explore this area as well.
We stayed in Bow, Washington a little south of Bellingham, at a Thousand Trails park so, it cost nothing for us. And, the location was convenient but that's about all we can say about this park and the other Thousand Trails park we visited. The campgrounds are heavily tree'd and the roads narrow. The sites are not level. Staff at different parks are more knowledgeable about appropriate site availability. Not so much here. When I called for directions from WA-20, only a few miles from the park, the young woman had no idea where we were and there were no signs either. But for the fact that she mentioned that the park was behind the casino, we would never have found it. We had a nice long site but had to use four inch blocks to get level.
The campground was right off of I-5 and we could see and hear cars whizzing by all day and all night. Thankfully, it was only about 60 degrees tops during the day so we kept the windows closed which helped.
But....while waiting for me to meet him, Bob saw a cougar!!!! It was much darker than he expected but, all he could say was: "I saw the biggest frickin' cat bound out of the woods!" He thought he was seeing things at the time, but later, when I went into the laundromat at the park, there were signs up complete with a photo of the cougar, along with a warning to keep small dogs and children in sight at all times. Thereafter, every time we walked Roadie, we'd call "here kitty, kitty" though another sighting was not had.
Another thing about this part of the state...there are blackberry bushes covering every inch of any open space. And...boy were they good though "seedy". According to the park workers, the bushes invade everything and they have blackberry picking weekends from July on. As it was, there were hundreds of ripe and ripening berries and the surrounding farms had vast fields of blueberries and raspberries still producing. I bought some blueberries and raspberries, and picked blackberries from which I made a mixed berry pie. It was yummy! Good ole Betty Crocker and her "go to" recipes!
The weather here is variable; raining one minute and sunny the next with clouds draped between the mountain valleys and hanging on the tops as well. We went to Larrabee State Park, Washington's first, and took a wonderful hike through a western red cedar forest hugging the coastal hillside. And, in preparation for our ferry trip to the San Juan Islands, we drove to Anacortes to check out the ferry staging area. We then had lunch in town at Adrift where they served the absolute best ever Thai tomato soup. It had notes of coconut, cinnamon and curry with a little spice at the end and was absolutely yummy. Pair that with a Dungeness Crab cake atop a spicy marmalade, and we had the best meal of the trip so far.