BikeNielsen 2019: Day 2

Surrey, BC, Canada to Bellingham Washington, USA

45 miles today (76 so far on this trip)

                As we sped downhill, John said “mem mme memnmme frah frah” to Berta. “WHAT?” she asked. “Do you want some juice?” he repeated. “YES!” We made a quick turn for the gas station convenience store.  Inside, John had a conversation with the cashier.

“Where you going?”


“Then what are you going to do?”

“Get on the train and go home.”

                She thought that was fabulous. There was a guy behind John with tattoos wrapped around his neck who looked like he had been in federal prison at least once.  “Well”, tattoo man said, “that’s pretty neat! Good luck and be safe!”  John, being the judgmental type, was flabbergasted that he would have such a positive interaction with a prisoner. The guy repeated the same to Berta outside. John brought Grape Juice to Berta to enjoy while he had a Chocolate Milk. Berta looked at the label of her juice, first to appreciate that it was 100% juice, then to marvel that the Best By date on the container was the exact current day. What are the chances? Oh well, down the gullet! It tasted great.

                There are wild berries along both sides of most of the roads we have covered. After many miles that smelled like beer, Berta finally put two and two together. It is late August, and the berries are past ripe. Fermentation rocks! We have been told that a lot of berry vines along the shoulder are sprayed, so we found some berries away from the road today. We rinsed them for good measure and enjoyed them greatly. That was a real treat for us.

                We crossed the border into Washington state with minimal effort. There was a building for pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers who look shifty. We stood there in our bright shirts and helmets facing an empty workstation. There were ten of us waiting in various lines for repatriation.  We stood in a huge government building with all of the border agents wearing dark glasses talking amongst themselves or staring at computer monitors seemingly oblivious that people were waiting. Just as John started to hit the boiling point, a guy called for “the cyclists” from across the room. We cracked the tired joke about “how’d you know we are on bikes?” because that one really never gets old. He ran our passports through the system and clearly only saw in our files that we wear the same clothes every day and tell corny jokes. Nothing to see here. And just like that, we were back in America and John was muttering about government workers like he hadn’t been one just a few years ago.

                The Washington town of Blaine is on the beach right at the border. The umpteen lanes from the border crossing converge into just a few, funneling cars onto the interstate. We took a quick exit and followed the signs to the Blaine City Center. After an extensive two-minute search and one conversation with a guy on the street, we decided to visit the one place we saw that was open and that wasn’t Starbucks. It was The Little Red Caboose Cafe built around well, a caboose. We decided to split a Reuben sandwich and Berta ordered an espresso. And then we waited to find out which kind of local eatery this was. Self-powered travelling often forces us to choose from limited options. We try to avoid the chains. In our experience, most small-town restaurants, especially those with somebody’s first name on the sign, are worth a try. The Reuben we received was just about perfect. Not only did it taste great, the bread was not soggy. We crunched on salty potato chips from a single serving bag and Berta enjoyed her espresso. We chuckled about the several funny sayings on the walls, such as “Friends welcome. Relatives need reservations.