Starting any trip from Bellingham is a delight. A mix of well preserved victorian buildings and and modern, arty builds, strung along a busy waterfront, makes this a tourist destination in itself. Add a nice food scene, the lovely Western Washington College with 30 outdoor sculptures, and nearby Chuckernut Drive and Larabie State Park for hiking, there’s a lot to do, even staying in town. However, Mt. Baker looms and the Northern Cascades call…
After some hikes on the southern flank of Mt. Baker, we explored the Northern Cascade Mountains, home to over 300 glaciers representing 1/3 of those remaining in the lower 48 states. These are the steepest mountains in the U.S. and Highway 20 leads you through them in style. Lots of beautiful lakes, too cold for swimming yet, but they make nice reflections of the surrounding mountains, provide electricity to Seattle via the hydroelectric dams below on the Skagit River, and make this a kayaker’s paradise. Next time we plan to stay at the lakeside North Cascades Environmental Learning Center (great food!) and take a mushroom foraging and identification class…..emphasis on the ‘identification’. Furthermore, the 270 archeological sites here trace the human presence back nearly 10,000 years.
The heat is building up even at this elevation, and without the tree cover or cloud cover, the steep hiking is very hot, and UP UP UP on countless switchbacks. Best to sit by a creek for most of the day because….we have neither a working generator to run the motor home air conditioner, nor dashboard AC as we head east to cattle ranches and cherry farms in our next leg on the eastern slopes of the Cascades. The foodie town of Twisp (we just can’t say it without lisping it…”Twithp”….) is a cross country haven in winter but way too hot in summer, even with a visit to their municipal swimming pool! The answer is an RV park to plug in for 50 Watts of electricity for the AC, instead of our usual dry camping, while we wait for a new condenser for the AC. Why not plug in at The Wenatchee River Bluegrass Festival in Cashmere, WA?
Not only is there a concert every day with professional musicians from Tennessee, Georgia, and Kentucky, but the absolute best part…we are surrounded by campers who almost all seem to pluck something…and really, really well. Even the teenagers in camp are excellent musicians. Check out mandolin player, 19 year old Tristan Scroggins on a music search sometime!!!! Watch your back David Grisman! We are loving the free sharing of music and culture in this campground with all manner of rigs, from the behemoth rock star buses to families in tiny tents. Everybody is welcome! It reminds me to express our gratitude and joy today that the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision yesterday to include everybody who wants to marry, regardless of state of origin in the right to legally marry. About time to finally ring out Freedom on this issue! Bravo!
The ethic in the camp is that no one can join a music circle without a nod of invitation. but everyone is expected to pull up their camp chair and set for awhile or wander off to one of the 30 or so other impromptu jams taking place in the campground. One night I was up to 1 AM watching this amazing circle of teenagers jamming in the photo above. Obnoxiously good for youngsters!
We lucked out in being parked next to two couples from Portland ( which has a huge old tyme music and bluegrass scene apparently) who have played together for over 30 years. Every hot player in the park wandered by (see below) to join in at some point. Sometimes a fiddler, a dobro player, mandolin, banjo, bass or guitar, we just lay in bed at night with the windows open, enjoying a private concert of the best musicians in the park. Unfortunately, the condenser replacement repair didn’t give us any dashboard AC so we are racing for the high ground to find cooler weather…on to the slopes of Mt. Ranier, the tallest peak in the state and an active volcano!