I woke up outside on the futon looking up at a clear, blue sky. I went inside for 10 minutes and came back out to an overcast, gray sky. What just happened? Mike and Michelle told me it was normal for the area.
I said goodbye to the crew and headed for the border a few miles away. People told me that getting into Canada was easy…getting back was another story. US border agents at the Canadian border were infamous for being huge jerks. I wondered if I would encounter an asshole.
I cycled up to the pedestrian entrance at the border and went inside the office. A border agent went outside and searched my bags. He came back in and called me back up with a menacing look in his face. His superior was standing next to him. I looked down at his hand. Shit. My bag of fruit. I forgot I was carrying it. You can’t bring fruit and vegetables across the border. If you are carrying fruits or veggies without informing the border agent, it’s an automatic $300 fine. No no no. I had butterflies. I couldn’t afford that.
His superior asked, “You know you can’t bring this stuff across the border?”
Gulp. “Sorry about that,” I said in a meek voice.
“Well don’t be sorry! Know the rules,” he forcibly said to me as he walked off. Luckily, I received no fine since it was my first time crossing the border back into the US. Whew.
back to cheap food
I was happy to be back in the US. I was getting sick of getting ripped off in BC by restaurants and grocery stores. 30% instant markdown as soon as I crossed the border. I celebrated by stopping at a Little Caesar’s 20 miles into Washington in the town of Ferndale. I ordered a large pepperoni pizza and ate it in about 5 minutes.
My first day of riding in Washington was fantastic. All of the buildings in the small coastal towns were uniform and made of brick. Everyone was out walking around town, and the towns were void of any huge chains. I rode along Chuckanut Ridge, a hilly highway in a forest southwest of Bellingham.
racing the sun
I stopped to call some cyclist contacts I had in Mt. Vernon, 25 miles away. Failure. I had been calling them for a few days and kept having trouble reaching them. Oh well. I’ll leap frog my destination and give Elizabeth a call. She was a friend that I grew up with in Georgia. Elizabeth had contacted me a few days ago letting me know that her couch in Coupeville, WA was open to ugly, tired cyclists from Georgia. She also said I could help out around the organic farm she lived/worked on.
I was happy that she picked up the phone. She told me to come on by. I looked at my map. I would have to do 50+ miles before it got dark. I was up for the challenge.
Before I left the Chuckanut area, I ran into two tourists enjoying the view at a cliff overlook. I talked to them a while about my travels and shared a few of the stories. They were really appreciative that I took the time to talk to them even though I had a pretty tough goal before sundown. Mary and Jim gave me a few snacks, including the coolest chocolate bar ever.
Coupeville was located on Whidbey Island. I would have to cycle out to a peninsula on the coast and cross over the water through Deception Pass State Park. A very cool area. Unfortunately, all of my electronics were dead or near-dead. GPS. Phone. Camera. Sorry…no beautiful picture of the sun setting on the Pacific.
I got to the farmhouse just as the remaining ambient light was fading. I can’t believe I made it in such a short time. I had pushed hard for the past 4.5 hours without a break longer than 10 seconds.
I was pumped to see a familiar face from Georgia. I felt a little bit more grounded as I spent time talking to Elizabeth and her boyfriend Kevin that night. Both of them had hiked the entire Appalachian Trail in six months consecutively. It was a huge accomplishment, and I was eager to hear some of their stories about the trail and how it changed them.
They told me about a few of the good things people did for them along the way and all of the characters they encountered. Their story was awfully similar to mine. Kevin said, “We found out that we really enjoyed meeting the people…that’s what defined the places moreso than the geography.” Sounded familiar. I have been telling people the same thing. Eoin summed it up nicely by saying this in one of his previous posts:
The fun and memorable part of travel is the experiences you have along the way – the people, the problems, and the challenges.
Kevin and Elizabeth had the day off, so they took the time to give me a tour of the farm. Georgie, the farm owner, lets interns stay in the upstairs portion of the farmhouse, which happens to be a ‘historic structure’ of the Ebey Land’s area. Ebey’s Landing is the nation’s first historical reserve, created in 1978 to protect a rural working landscape and community on Central Whidbey Island. It’s home to Washington’s second oldest town, Coupeville.
Not long into the tour, I met Bill, the master of farming machinery. Kevin warned me that Bill would invite me to go sailing. Sure enough, Bill asked if I was up for sailing. It was an invitation I openly welcomed. We made plans to go the next day around 5 PM and grill up some food on the boat.
garlic party…throw your hands up in the air
Georgie was throwing a huge garlic cleaning party that night for any volunteers that would come. Beer and pizza were provided. Kevin did the manliest thing a farmer could do: bake brownies.
We watched possibly one of the worst movies I have seen on this trip. Trust me…I’ve seen some terrible movies along the way. Charles, Georgie’s husband, wanted to watch it pretty badly. No one had the heart to step up and tell him it was not very entertaining. The name of the movie was The Commitments, an early 90s comedy about the formation of an Irish soul group. I’m surprised I even remember the plot line without having to google it. I think I enjoyed cleaning garlic more.
After this huge cinematic letdown, Run Fat Boy Run was placed into the DVD player. I voted for Flight of the Navigator. Willow, Elizabeth and Kevin’s roommate, was the only one who had my back. We were both shut down. Run Fat Boy Run ended up being pretty good though.
intern for a day
I decided to help out around the farm for the day and try to learn a few things about working on a big organic farm. The day’s chores included weeding all the onion rows and planting a bunch of seedlings. It was a pretty tough day, but the weather was quite nice.
We all passed the time by reminescing about really bad 90s bands and singing their lyrics. Third Eye Blind killed about 30 minutes for us.
I’m packed and I’m holding,
I’m smiling, she’s living, she’s golden and
she lives for me, She says she lives for me,
Ovation, She’s got her own motivation,
she comes round and she goes down on me…
I want something else, to get me through this,
Semi-charmed kind of life,
I want something else,
I’m not listening when you say, Good-bye.
And then Smash Mouth killed another 30 minutes. It was the same song Eoin and I obsessed over during our ride in east Texas, and now it was haunting me again. I couldn’t remember the tune or the lyrics until Willow saved me.
And then we made a really stupid rap about broccoli. Kevin was wrapping a row of broccoli seedlings back toward the ‘planters’ (Elizabeth, Willow, and I), and it spawned the worst rap song of all time:
Do the broccoli wrap, wrap, wrap, wrap,
Don’t put them on the map, map, map, map
Put them in the soil to make them feel royal,
So they will not boil, cook them in oil,
Do not toil, do the broccoli wrap, wrap, wrap, wrap.
I was pretty excited to get to Bill’s sailboat which was docked in Coupeville. After working a few more hours outside, we made our way to the docks. His boat was pretty incredible…43 feet with well-maintained wooden structure. Willow got started on the salmon while the rest of us drank beer.
Eventually Bill got drunk and wanted to go sit inside. He appointed me as Captain. I appointed a farm day-worker, Eric, to be my first mate. Tucker was my second mate. Kevin wanted to commit mutiny. I think he was jealous of my position. I sent him towards the front to swab the deck. I would have no dissent on my boat. To speak in such a way was treason.
I became cocky in my Captain position and yelled, “TACK! TAAAAAAAAACK!” Bill came up wondering what the hell we were doing. I didn’t know, so I blamed Kevin, the true experienced sailor. We told Bill we were tacking to change our direction, and he showed us idiots how to change the sail. We tacked successfully, and I felt like a new man.
After relaxing in the hull of the boat for a while, Bill came up and asked, “OK, what idiot wants to steer the boat now?” I volunteered Elizabeth for the job, for I was no idiot.
Another guy named Nate that had worked on the farm that day was also hanging out on the boat with us. We told him about our broccoli song, and out of nowhere he shared a long rap song that he wrote about parsley. Weird, creepy coincidence. His rap was definitely cooler.
We eventually got back to the docks and left Bill at the docks with the boat. He went out to anchor in the water and fell asleep.