After a week of playing in the mountains near Winthrop, it was time for Betsy to hit the North Cascades Scenic Highway. We headed west over the highest elevation at Washington Pass (5,477′) all the way down to 26′ in Anacortes. Our ears were definitely popping on this drive!
Driving on mountain roads is always challenging in a large rig, but we caught a break this time as we came upon a road crew repainting the lane markers. They kept us at a nice slow speed for many miles going down the mountain, and all of the drivers behind us could focus their frustration on the workers and not on us!
After driving up and down the North Cascades we made it to Anacortes. This is our second visit; the first happened in 2012 as we prepared for our first-ever foray into Canada and onward to Alaska.
This time Betsy would take a ferry ride to Vancouver Island for her last visit to Canada. We took care of a few things before crossing the border, including replacing the car’s cracked windshield and failed power door lock on the passenger-side door. We also ate up all of our fruits and vegetables, and wrote an inventory of food and alcohol we were bringing into Canada.
We fell in love with Pioneer Trails RV Park right away as we settled in, even though getting into our site was a bit challenging. The site was level and spacious, the facilities were decent, it was very quiet and we were actually in a forest! We were happy to give up our satellite TV reception to stay under all those trees:
Between car repair appointments we visited our friends Ben and Leizel, who had moved from the Bay Area in California to Bellingham a while back. Ben happens to be our financial advisor, and over the years we’ve forged a friendship with him and his family. They love their new hometown, and didn’t at all mind trading an hours-long Bay Area commute for a short bike ride to the office. And they just happen to have a million-dollar view of a beautiful bay and marina from their back yard!
After completing our to-do list we had one day remaining to attack a trail, and we decided on the Sugarloaf Mountain and Mount Erie Loop Trail. The two highest mountains on Fidalgo Island are Sugarloaf at 1,044′ and Mt. Erie at 1,273′, and they provide spectacular views from their summits. We combined two trails that connected to both mountains, clocking a moderate 5-mile roundtrip trek.
The scenery was in stark contrast to the most recent hike we took at North Cascades. Here the color theme is green moss-covered trees and lush ferns in a great forest setting, classic Pacific Northwest terrain:
We left the campground super-early the next morning, filled both vehicles with the last “cheap” fuel we would get for a while, and fell in line for our ferry ride. The fee for this ferry was based on the total length of Betsy with the car attached, 59′. The trip back to Port Angeles will be based on the size of each vehicle separately, so the ferry companies here have their own way of charging. This was Betsy’s 6th ferry ride, so she’s familiar with this mode of transportation and being in tight quarters with other vehicles big and small:
It was a smooth 2.5-hour cruise over calm waters, as we passed the fog-covered San Juan Islands. We went by Lopez Island, where our adventurous friends Eric and Laurel had spent their summers for the past seven years. They prompted us to visit Vancouver Island, after having spent five weeks there last fall. Their description and pictures enticed us to see and experience for ourselves what the island has to offer, and in fact we copied most of their itinerary!
We watched the motorhomes ahead of us being questioned by the Canadian Border Patrol Officers, and after a few minutes they were on their merry way. We were fourth in line and our turn came up next…
…and that’s when things got ugly!