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It wasn’t supposed to be 66 degrees and sunny

May 3, 2011
The GTS at Valoo Villodge

Orin O'Neill photos

It’s always a nice surprise when you see fluffy white clouds and blue skies instead of the rain that was originally forecast. A day not to be wasted, for sure.

The local alt-weekly recently published its annual “Best of Skagit” edition, and the Value Village in Mount Vernon was proclaimed “Best Thrift Store.” It’s better than the one in Bellingham, said the reviewer.

I guess I need to check it out.

That’s what’s nice about a scooter: when the price of gas is above four bucks a gallon, something that gets 75 mpg or better means you can go somewhere just for the hell of it.

Off we went, the GTS and I, down the twisties of Chuckanut Drive to the valley floor. I had to keep reminding myself not to turn right at Bow-Edison Road; I’d continue straight to Burlington.

Straight it is, at approximately a 45-degree angle. The alpacas were out grazing, as were the cows and the horses.


There wasn’t a safe place to park to photograph the alpacas. The alpaca ranch offers tours, so one day I’ll have to do that.

Chuckanut drive ends at a newly-constructed roundabout. It’s pretty slick, with one corner an entrance to southbound I-5. The state of Washington is going for roundabouts just about everywhere outside Seattle.

You negotiate a couple more roundabouts in Burlington before crossing the bridge to Mount Vernon. Value Village isn’t right out next to the main drag, so it might be a bit tough to find if you’ve never been there. The nav app on the iPhone was helpful here.

Value Village figurines

Somewhere, I heard someone refer to items like those above as “dustcatchers.” Value Village prices them very reasonably.

Value Village plastic-bag stuff

The store walls are covered with odd items in plastic bags. Again, quite reasonably priced, but rather random in selection.

Value Village arranges everything by color

I don’t know if it’s a company rule, but every time I go to Value Village the t-shirts and sweaters are arranged very carefully by color, and by shades of color, from one end of the visible spectrum to the other.

The store in Mount Vernon is larger than the one in Bellingham, though the Bellingham store is preparing to move to one of the other buildings in the ghost mall out back. But it didn’t seem to have a better selection of merchandise, at least not enough to justify a special trip. OTOH, there are two other thrift stores in the same building, so a thrift-store expedition can be quite productive. And that seems to be the key to uncovering the screamin’ bargains. I’m still getting used to thrift-store shopping.

But I don’t need anything at the moment, so after filling the GTS’ gas tank ($4.299, a full 20 cents cheaper than in the ‘Ham), I headed for home.

Great view, huh?

But not without stopping to take in the view on Chuckanut Drive. Favicon

  1. Brendan permalink
    May 3, 2011 7:42 pm

    Is Gordo’s Tacos still going in Burlington? It kicks ass.

  2. May 3, 2011 10:53 pm

    I thought I saw a sign that said Gordo’s, but there was a banner next to it that said “Same owner, new name.” So, I don’t know…

  3. Jack Riepe permalink
    May 4, 2011 9:50 am

    Dear Orin:

    The first time gasoline hit $4, back in 2008, public reaction suggested it was the end of western civilization as we knew it, and US drivers managed to trim 10% off the nation’s fuel consumption. At the time, I said this was a test to see how far the US consumer could be pushed. I also said it was the bump to prepare everyone for the rough ride ahead. Now with gasoline either at the $4 mark for regular, or well over it for premium, no one is throwing themselves off rooftops over the price. I have yet to hear one dire prediction as to how badly higher gas prices will cut into summer resort revenues as people stay home. Further more, I have yet to hear boatowners screaming about $400 or more to fuill their tanks.

    I guess the new threshhold is $5 a gallon, and I’m hearing we’ll be there by the summer’s end.

    This is about the time that people start saying they’re going to get a motorcycle to save money, never realizing that tires only last between 4,000 and 12,000 miles. And that dealer service on a motorcycle is a lot like open heart surgery.

    I will be riding my bike as often as possible this year, as it gets 47 miles to the gallon and fills up at $21. The Saturday afternoon ride in the truck is nothing short of a major investment.

    I liked your ride report, though I have yet to hit the thrift shops. Oddly enough though, I only buy used books on Amazon these days.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad

  4. May 4, 2011 10:54 am

    Jack, I’m hearing business is picking up at the scooter and motorcycle dealers in my neck of the woods, but I’m thinking the same good intentions that caused people to buy the scooters that ended up on Craigslist after being ridden once or twice back in 2008 will be at play here, as well.

    Knowledgeable scooterists will once again be rewarded for their patience…

  5. May 4, 2011 3:15 pm


    our regular is already over $1.409 / ltr = $5.33 per US gallon premium is another $0.45 / US gallon extra and still people drive SUVs with a heavy foot.

    If the border line-ups weren’t over 2-3 hours, I would be down in Bellingham much more.

    on the easter Friday the border line was over 6 hours. You just never know how long that line will be, and I have Nexus. The last time I came through the Nexus line it was over 45 minutes of pushing my 550 lb bike nearly a mile, in 6 foot increments.

    Riding the Wet Coast

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