Park Perks

Free fun for all

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The afternoon was uncomfortably hot and muggy, and a series of annoying phone calls had made me fussy and longing to be anywhere other than my stuffy office.

That was why, when my fella picked me up from work a couple weeks ago, he knew exactly what to do when I got in the car and, still glowering, told him I desperately needed to get out of the city, at least for a little while. It wasn’t an order, but I was hoping he’d see the desperation in my eyes and respond favorably to my plea.

“Chuckanut Drive?” he queried. I nodded my assent, rolled down the passenger seat window, and away we went.

Less than 10 minutes later, my bad mood was dissipating. Not long after we passed Fairhaven Park and entered into the cool shadows provided by the canopy of trees that line a healthy percentage of the 20-mile scenic byway, the temperature became more manageable. Instead of feeling peevish, I took in the mammoth ferns and old-growth trees, smelled the briny air, looked out at the water glimmering below us and was glad to be alive.

Because my guy built and maintained trails in and around these parts for many years and is well aware of the many nooks and crannies lining Chuckanut Drive, our final destination that afternoon ended up being a secret hideaway about 15 miles down the road.

While my savior rummaged around in the forest, I hung out on a perch where a previous visitor had installed a small deck and bolted a pleather easy chair, and allowed my mind to go blank while I attempted to count the ripples of water hitting the shoreline. The one clear thought I did have was that I was incredibly lucky to be living in a place where it was so easy to experience the joys of nature without having to travel too far.

On our return trip, we drove past Larrabee State Park and I remarked that we should set up camp there for a while and pretend to be vacationers from afar. We could hike, bike, fish and laze about on the beach, only going into Bellingham for supplies.

I pointed out that “Mountain to Sea Day” at Larrabee—part of the “Free Fee Days” for Washington State Parks—was coming up Aug. 4, and that might be a good time to show up to plan our Staycation.

Once there, I told him, we could query local organizations such as the Washington Trails Association about the best places to hike or bike and see if they jibed with our picks.

“I’d be into that,” my driver replied. “We’d already know where to go, but we’d have more time to explore.” With that, we started planning our next adventure.

More Outdoors...
Bike & Build
Pedaling for a purpose

A few days before summer became official, recent Western Washington University graduate Sean Petersmark dipped his bike’s rear tire in the Atlantic Ocean in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

By the time he dips “Simba’s” front tire in the Pacific Ocean at Bellingham’s Marine Park on Thurs.,…

more »
Filthy Fun
The dirty days of summer

When I spent summers on Lummi Island as a kid, getting dirty was part of the equation. Blackberry picking by the side of the road often turned into full-scale food fights that resulted in me, my siblings and other assorted youth being covered toe-to-head with pulpy stains—so much so that…

more »
Marmots and Moraines
A walk beside the Easton Glacier

The weather forecast was at its midsummer best: sunshine, blue skies, warm temperatures. We’d set aside a few days for some much-needed R&R in the mountains. Baker beckoned.

We slid into the Mt. Baker National Recreation Area trailhead parking lot in late morning and slipped on our…

more »
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Plover Rides

12:00pm|Blaine Harbor

A Little Night Music

7:30pm|Performing Arts Center

Discover Birch Bay Days

10:00am|Birch Bay Drive

A Swinging Weekend

12:00pm|Fairhaven Village Green

Chuckanut Classic

6:30am|Boundary Bay Brewery

Veterans Breakfast

8:00am|VFW Post 1585

Rabbit Ride

8:00am|Fairhaven Bicycle

Run to Fight Blindness

9:00am|Cascadia Eye

Marsh Mucking

10:00am|Tennant Lake Interpretive Center

Anacortes Open Streets

11:00am|Commercial Avenue

International Concert Series Finale

2:00pm|Peace Arch Provincial Park

Cirque Literary Journal Reading

3:00pm|Mount Baker Theatre

Chuckanut Writers Info Session

4:00pm|Village Books,

Sunday Night Fusion

7:00pm|Presence Studio

Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Andrew Subin
Skagit Tours

10:00am|Highway 20

Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

We Grow Market

3:00pm|Northwest Youth Services

Music Enrichment Project Meet and Greet

4:00pm|Piper Music

Open Mic

7:00pm|Village Books

Get Out More Tour

7:30pm|Backcountry Essentials


8:00pm|Bellingham Public Library


9:30pm|Green Frog

Northwood Steak and Crab Swinomish 2016
Bard on the Beach

12:00pm|Vanier Park

Boating Center Open

12:00pm|Community Boating Center

Hiking Basics


Final History Sunset Cruise

6:00pm|Bellingham Cruise Terminal

All-Paces Run

6:00pm|Fairhaven Runners

Final BIFT

6:30pm|Boundary Bay Brewery

Amnesty International Meeting

7:00pm|Community Food Co-op

Skagit Folk Dancers

7:00pm|Bayview Civic Hall

see our complete calendar »

Bellingham Farmer’s Market Swinomish 2016 Village Books Cascadia Weekly Subscribe Ad 1 Northwood Steak and Crab Artifacts Wine Bar Andrew Subin