Travel guide 1/3: Lummi Island, Bellingham, North Cascades National Park

Trying a little something new here with a more detailed version of my trip itineraries. It's something I love doing just as much as baking bundt cakes, and I'm happy to share my plans and reflections with whoever is reading along (ask me for my Google Docs!). I broke a recent trip into three parts to give some in-depth info about these areas! Starting off, we stayed on the elusive Lummi Island, just off the coast of Bellingham, Washington, with a population of 822. It's a tiny fishing town that has been mainly built up along the water for breathtaking foggy views of the Puget Sound.

From our home base, a little studio cabin sitting along the water, we ventured across the Sound (on the Whatcom Chief ferry) to places like Bellingham and North Cascades National Park. Bellingham is surrounded by parks and state forests that put the Wissahickon to shame. Swimming holes, waterfalls, and moss-covered trees become expected as you weave through the local woods. We chose to swing by Whatcom Falls Park, which is a lot like a local natural preserve that families and dog-owners stop by for an afternoon stroll. It is covered with a few miles of hiking trails, a huge set of falls, and a place to plunge off of rocks into cold, clear water. Stimpson Family Nature Reserve is a bit more secluded, and has gorgeous boardwalk bridges and a beaver pond. We did both of these hikes before an early dinner at Aslan Brewery, an industrial space full of tropical plants with the tastiest rice bowls, brews, and waffle fries. Bellingham seems be covered in small breweries, and their food is way above normal pub standards.

It was usually in the mornings and after dinner that we got to really explore Lummi Island. The island is a truly peaceful place where time barely moves at all and no one is really around to see how little you do. It's a place to stare off into the endless waters and imagine what sorts of boats and whales have passed through. We were lucky enough to have bikes at our cabin and did some sunset exploring along the northern half of the island (mainly to stalk The Willows, which I just couldn't justify the price for... but seriously do it if you're ready to throw down $500/couple.).

The island has some sort of magic trapped in it. It's quiet and perfectly lonely, yet there are faint signs of beach campfires as if someone just like you was enjoying that same spot only moments before. The Baker Preserve is a steep (but short!) trail up to a magnificent view of the San Juan Islands. We saw one other human walking her dog to enjoy the view together. Do this at sunset, bring a flashlight for your way back, and don't step on the banana slugs!

If you're up for a drive (thankfully I have Dillon), the North Cascades National Park is only two hours from Lummi Island. And even though we went on a foggy and somewhat rainy day (but isn't the PNW better in the fog?!), it was totally worth seeing silhouettes of trees way atop mountains. We interrupted a bald eagle who had been chomping down on a big old rabbit along the Skagit River. We drove all the way through the mountains and even had time for a hike at Diablo Lake. The Thunder Knob trail isn't anything to write home about, but the views of the Lake from the top definitely make it worth it.

I was super bummed to find the one casual eatery on Lummi Island closed on our last morning. Make sure to check their hours and make it to the Beach Store Café! Instead I ate a hot-dog at 10am before getting on a huge ferry, but I'll save that story for another day. We were off to Olympic National Park. Part 2/3 soon to come.