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Scootin’ Old Skool, in the sticks

October 19, 2010

The term “Indian summer” is not commonly used in this neck of the woods, but the weather is forecast to be warm and sunny until Thursday. I would be a shame to waste it, I thought.

I’ve been meaning to check out a possible shortcut to Conway. Other than I-5, that is.

My usual route south is the twisty part of Chuckanut Drive to the Skagit Valley floor. Take a right to Edison, snake through downtown (such as it is), then follow Farm to Market/Best Road to Fir Island Road. (Click on the “Road Trip Maps” tab and look for the Seattle to Bellingham link.)

Chuckanut Drive (aka WA 11) begins in Burlington. It’s a straight shot, and a wide, smooth road through pastures and fields. And alpaca ranches.

Raise alpacas in your spare time!

Alpacas are like llamas, but with denser, softer fur. That fur makes nice sweaters. This might be a good destination for a group ride, I think.

There’s not much traffic, and I’m zipping along at the 55-mph speed limit.

I arrive in Burlington about half an hour after leaving home. A new roundabout includes an easy entry to I-5. A possibility if I were really pressed for time, but the idea here is to see how long the trip might take going through Burlington.

Negotiate two more roundabouts, cross a bridge, and you’re in Mt. Vernon. You won’t mistake this place for George Washington’s pastoral estate.

Mt. Vernon. Or Burlington. I forget which...

Neither town synchronizes the traffic signals very well. The clock is ticking. The trip from my place to Conway takes 50 minutes. Stopping at yet another red light, I spot a railroad crossing a short distance ahead—and all the red lights are flashing. I’m at T-plus 45 minutes, and nowhere near Conway.

Okay, I found out what I needed to know. Mt. Vernon and Burlington might be a good alternative route home in the dark, since their main drags are well-lit. But the fastest way turns out to be my usual way. No train tracks to cross. I hang a u-turn and head back.

Scootin' Old Skool. In the sticks...

It’s gotten quite warm, and there are many bicyclists on Chuckanut Drive. I must admit, if I could still ride a bicycle, I’d be one of them. Favicon


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