Beautiful, bountiful, Bellingham

Michael and I have just returned from the tippy-top corner of the lower forty-eight – Bellingham, Washington. A Sunday Funday stretched into a bonus Monday as we hiked and sampled our way through one of America’s spunkiest cities. With seemingly endless mountain trails, maybe more bikes than people, and gloriously crisp weather, it is something of a miracle that anyone ever leaves this quintessentially Pacific Northwestern corner.

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Since we do¬†eventually have return flights home, we worked out an itinerary that didn’t sacrifice scenery for brevity. One must-see for any visitor is Mount Baker, one of the Cascades’ iconic peaks. At nearly 11,000 feet above sea level, this stately mountain lends its likeness to everything from theaters to tattoos to brews. In spite of its apparent ubiquity, Mount Baker is surprisingly elusive. We have been working to finagle a glimpse from the eastern side of Lopez Island and finally managed to catch an evening peek from, unsurprisingly, Bakerview Road. That glimpse was nothing like what we were about to encounter from a mere ~30-miles away in Bellingham, though:

DSCN1861Our hike in the Chuckanut Mountains did not disappoint. We were fortunate that this glacial volcano (does that confuse anyone else?) was easily visible and photogenic from our perspective on the big hiking day. Our friends Maria and Tad were such gracious hosts as we marveled at the vistas and tried to ascertain which islands and peaks were which.

DSCN1874Normally Maria and Tad would have barreled down these trails on one of their daily six-to fourteen (!!) mile runs, but this day the pair took “off” to hike roughly seven miles with us instead. Having relocated from Morgantown last fall, Maria and Tad chose Bellingham largely because of its accessible outdoor activities and mild climate. An injury set her back over the winter, but you can’t keep a good woman down.

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The day before our visit, Maria had competed in and won a six-mile trail race in Washington’s wine country. Not only did she win the entire race, she shattered the previous women’s record by six minutes! In addition to being a competitive runner, Maria is an avid yogi and newly minted registered dietitian, building up quite the momentum in her work in private nutrition counseling practice.

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The two led us through breathtaking forested paths, patiently waiting as I snapped pictures and generally fooled around, taking it all in. Starting at Fragrance Lake, we wound down, up, and around for a memorable day of hiking in perfect weather. In addition to an appreciation for the outdoors, Maria and I have¬† our profession in common and, along with that, a deep appreciation for green leafy vegetables. She and Tad showed us the overgrown version of what looks like spinach, below, and we couldn’t help but ponder how we could cook them up with some garlic and olive oil!

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