Hi, I'm Adam.

Adam Parkzer   •   30   •   Las Vegas, USA   •   5'10" (178 cm)   •   152 lbs (69 kg)   •   Korean American

I was originally in law enforcement and planning on becoming a criminal prosecutor, but then I put everything on hold and moved to the Pa­cif­ic Coast to pur­sue my hobby as a full-time career. Now I help run Tempo, a game development and production company; I am the Direc­tor of Cor­po­rate Op­er­a­tions, pri­ma­ri­ly overseeing legal, finance, and hu­man re­sources ad­min­is­tra­tion. You can find more details on my curriculum vitae.

My main interests include criminology and forensic psychology. In my free time, I like to write, train martial arts, and de­vel­op new prac­ti­cal skills. I used to be a competitive gamer, but now I just play casually. The easiest way to get to know me better is to read about INTJs on the Myers-Briggs Type In­di­ca­tor. I'm split between a Type 5 and 8 on the Enneagram; my CliftonStrengths Top 3 are Deliberative, Learner, and Analytical; and my top Big Five per­sonality trait is Con­sci­en­tious­ness.

I don't use social media much anymore, but my profiles are @Parkzer on Twitter, Adam Parkzer on LinkedIn, AdamParkzer on Flickr, Parkzer on Last.fm, Parkzer on Twitch, and Adam Parkzer on YouTube. If you want to write me a letter or send me a package, you can ship it to PO Box 2222, Las Vegas, NV 89125-2222, USA (though keep in mind that I'm on a cross-country road trip until late 2022, so it might be a while before I see it).

Below, you can find my blog where I document my adventures, organize my thoughts, and share snippets of my life. You can browse in re­verse chron­o­log­i­cal or­der, or you can sort by these popular categories: Travel | Hiking | Food | Finance | Cats | Best of the Best

 

—§—

 

Investment allocation breakdown for 2022 Q2, comprehensive edition

Disclaimer: I am not a registered investment advisor, nor do I have the proper qualifications to become one. The information contained in this blog post is intended to be strictly anecdotal as a means of personal storytelling, and it should not be construed as financial advice. Everyone’s situation is uniquely different, so do not blindly copy my strategy; instead, consult with a certified professional if you have any questions or need proper guidance.

 
After doing these investment breakdowns quarterly for over a year now, and each quarter, building upon the previous quarter’s breakdown, I realized that it’s not very realistic to ask people to go down the entire rabbit hole of all of my past investment allocation breakdowns in order to understand the full context of anything new that I’m sharing. Because of this, I have decided to do a “comprehensive edition” of my investment breakdown at least once a year in order to “reset” the trail of breadcrumbs and provide a new standalone anchor point from which readers can start.

Because of this, this particular comprehensive edition of 2022 Q2’s investment allocation breakdown is going to be a lot more detailed and will contain lots of repeated information from previous posts—which is the entire idea here, as the main point of me doing this is to be able to compact everything im­por­tant into a single article so readers won’t have to navigate back in time.

Now, with that having been just said, I think this may seem pretty silly, but I direct you to a blog post that I published in the past titled “Investing US$10,000.00 in the stock market – Parkzer vs. DougDoug’s Twitch chat.” In that post, I discuss my current outlook on the market; it will give a general explanation as to why I seem to be so focused lately (within the past half a year or so) with portfolio diversification and alternative investment classes.

Cash

I subscribe to many safe-investing principles, including the idea that time in the market is better than timing the market, and how you should always hold minimal cash—only enough to cover your emergency fund. If anything makes you heed my disclaimer above a­bout how I’m not an investment advisor, it should be this—I am at an all-time high in cash holdings, and I am being a hypocrite and not following my own advice.

I didn’t recently sell investments in preparation for making a major purchase or anything—I just don’t feel comfortable dumping a bunch of money into the stock market right now until I see some modicum of stability return to the charts. I am losing a substantial amount of value from my money due to high inflation by just holding it in cash, but that is a trade-off I’m wiling to accept to avoid losing even more to a crashing market.

My bank account of choice is the Discover Online Savings Account. I’ve been a Discover customer ever since I was 18 years old and got my first credit card; Discover has always been reliable for me, and because it is an online bank, even though the interest rate on the savings account is tiny, it is still astronomical compared to traditional brick-and-mortar banks that may offer less than a tenth (or even a hundredth) of a percentage point.

 27.19%

Domestic broad market index funds

For the money that I do still have in the stock market, a large portion of it is in domestic broad market index funds, namely Vanguard To­tal Stock Market Index Fund Admiral Shares (VTSAX) and Vanguard High Dividend Yield Index Fund Admiral Shares (VHYAX).

I use Vanguard as my primary brokerage, but I also have a Fidelity account for account types that Vanguard doesn’t offer—namely a Health Savings Account and a regular brokerage account that supports incoming transactions of over-the-counter securities (which Van­guard recently stopped supporting in late April) (I also hold my 529 College Savings Plan with Fidelity because the sign-up proc­ess was much easier than Vanguard’s). Within my Fidelity HSA, I hold my money in the form of the Fidelity ZERO® Total Market In­dex Fund (FZROX).

Although I’m hesitant in current market conditions, domestic broad market index funds are my favorite category of investment. Each calendar year when limits reset, I max out my tax-advantaged accounts, and all other investments into the stock market generally go into brokerage accounts in the form of broad market index funds.

 17.84%

International total market index funds

For the purpose of diversifying outside of the United States of America, I also own Vanguard To­tal International Stock Index Fund Ad­mi­ral Shares (VTIAX).

I don’t know much about countries outside the United States, and I am probably grossly uneducated about international matters, but I know for a fact that the United States is not the only successful country in the world, and I want to make sure that I have exposure to outside markets in case something horrible happens to the United States and/or something incredible happens to a foreign country.

Beyond that, I don’t really have much further insight here; I just picked out a broad market index fund specifically focusing on non-US companies (as opposed to worldwide index funds) such that I don’t have any overlap with domestic index funds I already own, and can control and proportion my exposure to global markets.

  5.29%

Target date funds

In my retirement accounts, specifically my Roth IRA and SEP-IRA, I like to purchase target-date broad-market index funds. Spe­cif­i­cal­ly, I have my money split fairly evenly between Vanguard Target Re­tire­ment 2055 Fund (VFFVX) and Vanguard Target Re­tire­ment 2060 Fund (VTTSX).

The premise of a target date fund is to pick out a year in the future for when you think you are going to need to start making with­drawals, and the index fund manager automatically adjusts the holdings of the fund to optimize growth up until that point. For ex­am­ple, if you are expecting to retire in 2060, these funds will invest heavily in high-risk, high-return stocks for now, but as it gets closer to 2060, the fund will progressively shift holdings into low-risk, low-return bonds such that your money won’t suddenly plum­met if a stock market crash were to happen close to your retirement year when you need to start making withdrawals.

Due to annual contribution limits set by the government on these tax-advantaged retirement accounts, a majority of my investments are in regular brokerage accounts. Thus, by putting all my tax-advantaged retirement savings into target date funds, I’m only putting a relatively small percentage of my investment into these automatically-adjusting portfolios, and I am manually managing everything else outside of these retirement accounts.

A reasonable question I often get is why I don’t manually self-manage all of my investments (including retirement savings), instead of en­trusting my IRA contributions to Vanguard’s fund manager, considering how involved I already am with investing and wealth man­age­ment. The main reason is so it can act as a safeguard in case something happens to me in the future where I am no longer able to ac­tive­ly manage my own money. Of course, I imagine that the likelihood of that actually happening (and then my caretaker also not being able to actively manage my money) is inconceivably low. However, for my personal risk tolerance, I feel like I already have plen­ty of other investments such that I’m willing to sacrifice a bit of money on an automatically-managed target date fund with a slight­ly higher expense ratio so it acts like a makeshift insurance policy for my retirement, in case the market crashes right when I need the money.

As a side note, I also recently started taking advantage of another tax-advantaged account, the UNIQUE 529 College Investing Plan. I set one up with Fidelity, and again, for the sake of convenience, and because of how small of a fraction of my total portfolio this ac­counts for, I was comfortable just putting the money into a target date fund. Based on the fact that I may use this money myself for further education (as opposed to passing it onto my children), Fidelity selected the NH College Portfolio (Fidelity Index) as my fund.

 20.53%

Real estate investment trusts (REITs)

If you ask people how to best diversify your investment portfolio, the go-to answer from most people is usually going to be real estate. Unfortunately, traditional real estate has a relatively high barrier of entry—not only do you have to go out and find a physical prop­er­ty at a rea­son­a­ble price with good potential for positive cash flow, but you also need to put a chunk of capital down to purchase the property, even if you’re loaning money from a lender.

Luckily, there are some alternatives for real estate investment that don’t involve purchasing an actual building, facility, or plot of land. The real estate investment trust is an investment vehicle that allows you to invest in a company that, to put it simply, acts like a land­lord on your behalf and shares their real estate profits with you. A vast majority of taxable revenue from income-driving activities, such as collecting rent payments from leasees, are distributed to REIT shareholders in the form of dividends.

Because I personally am not at a point where I feel ready to commit to purchasing physical real estate, 100% of my real estate investment exposure is through Vanguard Real Estate Index Fund Admiral Shares (VGSLX).

 11.72%

Bonds

I have been relatively fickle with bond holdings because of how young I am and how much opportunity cost there is to investing in bonds instead of in stocks, considering the amount of runway I have prior to needing to withdraw from my investments. With that being said, upon the full onset of the COVID-19 pandemic and the relief efforts the United States government took to print an absurd amount of money out of nowhere, it was fairly obvious that inflation was going to skyrocket.

This was less well-known before, but I’m glad that this information is much more commonplace now—the United States Department of the Treasury offers a special bond called the Series I Savings Bonds that acts as a hedge against inflation. As of this writing, the in­ter­est rate on these bonds is 9.62%, which is earth-shatteringly high considering that many people are losing double-digit per­cent­ages on their portfolios by investing their money elsewhere.

An overwhelming majority of my bond holdings are in the form of Series I Savings Bonds. It’s a great way for me to retain as much of my money’s existing value as possible for now, and then once the market stabilizes, I can sell the bonds and reallocate them back into higher-risk stocks.

  6.77%

Cryptocurrency

I started investing in cryptocurrency primarily as a way to diversify my portfolio, but part of my interest also came from the fact that I saw many other people getting rich off buying into cryptocurrency early, and I wanted to join in on the gamble.

Tempo Games is going to be integrating blockchain technology into one of its upcoming game releases. Even though I oversee cor­po­rate operations and am not directly involved in game design or technical en­gi­neer­ing, I still felt like it would be important for me to be familiar with the concept. One of the best ways to learn is to accrue experience through first-hand, hands-on exposure and ex­per­i­men­ta­tion, so I have been making active cryptocurrency investments a lot more in the past few years.

I own a decent chunk of Bitcoin and a little bit of Dogecoin and Shiba Inu token, but a majority of my holdings are actually in the form of the Grayscale® Digital Large Cap Fund (GDLC) and the Bitwise 10 Crypto Index Fund (BITW). These are over-the-counter securities that represent underlying cryptocurrency holdings held by the firms and packaged into a single share, the convenience of which is paid for via a 2.5% annual management fee.

There are three distinct reasons why I own most of my cryptocurrency in this form:

  1. This is less applicable now, but when I first started purchasing cryptocurrency, I was not confident in my ability to manage my own wallet, and I had a mild concern that I would make a mistake that could render all my cryptocurrency useless or gone.
  2. At various times throughout the life of these funds, the market price per share was lower than the actual value of the underlying holdings. For example, on December 31, 2021, GDLC was trading OTC at US$24.25, but the cryptocurrency that each share rep­resented was valued at US$32.18, which means I got a nearly 25% discount on the cryptocurrency I purchased that day.
  3. If there were to be a situation where I suddenly die, my estate would then be distributed amongst my survivors. Because I have no spouse and no children, my parents are next in line to receive my assets. Considering my past experiences with watching them try to use emerging technology, I do not want tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of my assets to be locked behind a mo­bile app that they are going to have to figure out how to swap for United States dollars through a cryptocurrency exchange.
  2.87%

Individual stocks and private companies

I went through a phase when I was younger when I was very interested in researching companies and picking out stocks. In the past few years, I was also a participant of the retail investor movement and buying meme stocks. Since then, I’ve waned down my in­di­vid­u­al company holdings substantially, and instead just stick with companies that are meaningful to me.

I own Marriott International, Inc. (MAR) because they have functionally been my landlord for over a year now after I transferred out the lease to my condo in Las Vegas and traveled across the United States and Canada. I am an Ambassador Elite in their loyalty pro­gram, which is the highest tier achievable through their Bonvoy system; throughout this incredible volume of travel, as well as ad­di­tion­al research I’ve done on other hotel chains, I believe Marriott takes the best approach to lodging out of all the major brands.

I also own Cloudflare, Inc. (NET) and T-Mobile US, Inc. (TMUS) because they are two of my favorite companies to work with. I use almost all of Cloudflare’s available services to support my website, and also used them for Tempo’s corporate needs as well, up until we hired a new IT team and they took over that aspect of the company. I’ve been with T-Mobile ever since I left my parents’ AT&T family plan. I have never faced a single problem with either of these companies. In my opinion, both of these companies take an un­com­mon approach to business, in that they prioritize quality products and high customer satisfaction above anything else, and de­pend on those two aspects to naturally improve cash flow.

Finally, I purchased a nice batch of Stellantis, NV (STLA), the company behind my favorite auto brand and pickup truck, the Ram 1500 Rebel, as well as some other auto companies I’m a fan of, like Alfa Romeo, Maserati, and Jeep. Stellantis has shown great acumen towards advancing vehicle technology and implementing it in previously unestablished ways. I’m looking forward to seeing the Ram all-electric pickup truck, and there is a high chance that it is the next pickup truck that I’m going to end up purchasing.

Note that my holdings for the $10,000 investing challenge with DougDoug are not included in this line item (or in this investment al­lo­cation percentage breakdown at all), as I consider that more of a special project, and also want to avoid people trying to reverse en­gi­neer numbers to calculate my net worth. Instead, I have a brief section about the investment challenge at the end of this blog post.

  4.71%

Precious metals

As a way to even further diversify my portfolio, I took the recently-falling stock market trend as an opportunity to buy into some gold. I’m not really in a position right now to purchase solid gold bars and store them safely with me as a physical hedge against the market, but I found the Fidelity® Select Gold Portfolio (FSAGX) that I can buy from my existing Fidelity brokerage account, which comes close enough.

One thing to note here is that I’m not investing in gold because I’m particularly passionate about it or know what I’m doing; this is mostly a “why not” scenario where I am putting in a tiny fraction of my portfolio into something that I’ve always heard could be use­ful to have during market turbulence.

  1.20%

Fine art, and other collectibles

And finally, as a way to really diversify my portfolio, I began investing in fine art and other collectibles this quarter, and will continue doing so in increments in the future.

There were three factors that set me over the “tipping point” to begin investing in fine art:

  1. I always knew that fine art was something that only rich people invested in, and because of how I believe in the concept of “the rich get richer” (i.e., don’t work for your money, make your money work for you), I wanted to get in on this investment vehicle.
  2. With how “abstract” money has felt in the past few years, primarily caused by the United States government just printing a ton of money out of nowhere during the pandemic and making me question the core principle of the value of money (and, to some extent, how a radical move by the government could theoretically bring the value of my paper money down to zero), I realized that possessing “stuff” is more useful in the long-run than hoarding dollars.
  3. Although I can’t outright purchase fine art at my current level of wealth, I found StartEngine Collectibles Fund I, LLC’s Reg­u­la­tion A+, in which StartEngine has securitized fine art and is selling them as shares. This massively lowers the barrier of entry in­to fine art investing, even if the fees are fairly high. (To be clear, this is not a paid endorsement, which is why I linked to the SEC filing instead of their website; if you’re also interested in this type of investment, you should do your own research and con­sid­er all the options, rather than just blindly using the same company I did.)
  1.88%

 
As promised, to wrap up, here is a breakdown of how my $10,000 stock investing challenge with Doug Wreden is going:

My portfolio is weathering the stock market decline relatively well with a balance of $9,137.88, managing not only to beat Doug and his Twitch chat’s port­fo­li­o, but also the S&P 500 and even the bond market. Doug’s portfolio is at $7,944.67, rapidly re-approaching its all-time low. However, if it’s any con­so­la­tion, I guess he and his community can at least be happy that they didn’t go all-in on cryptocurrency, which would be down to $3,805.97 by now.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Lethbridge Viaduct and Old Man River in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada

After spending two weeks in Calgary, I started making my way back down to the United States. I wanted to break up the drive as much as possible, and I found a Fairfield Inn & Suites in Lethbridge, Alberta, so I decided to spend a night there.

The drive from Calgary to Lethbridge was only about two hours, and with the long days and late sunsets in the summer, I was able to go exploring during the evening of my arrival in Lethbridge. The thing that Lethbridge appears to be known for is the Lethbridge Viaduct, so I drove over and went for a short hike.

As I got closer to the viaduct, I saw an increasing number of teenagers loitering. At first I was a bit confused, but then I realized that, due to how the viaduct is a bit out of the way compared to the rest of the park, it was likely the “cool kids hangout spot” for the teens of Lethbridge.

After walking for a bit parallel to the viaduct, I connected onto Indian Battle Road South and saw a long flight of stairs leading to a gazebo at the top of a hill.

Of course, I went all the way up, my efforts of which were rewarded with vast, sweeping views of Indian Battle Park.

Overall, my hike was a little short of 2 miles (or a little over 3 kilometers). There were some smaller trails cutting through the center of the park, but I opted to stay near the perimeter with less shade coverage because I ended up with around eight mosquito bites.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Studio Bell: Home of the National Music Centre in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

A lot of Calgary’s interesting tourist attractions are either outside or involve some form of hybrid outdoors walking. Not wanting to lose all my ex­plo­ra­tion time to the relentless rain that has been pummeling (and on some occasions, flooding) Calgary since my arrival, I decided to find an indoors ac­tiv­i­ty and stumbled across a music museum inside Studio Bell, home of the National Music Centre.

One of the first sections by the entrance was closed due to a special event, but the rest of the museum was open. The museum was a fairly traditional mixed-media interactive museum, with a lot of displays, lots of audiovisual material, a lot of opportunities to go hands-on, and a lot of text explaining the history and science behind the various musical topics.

There was a little section about the early 2000s in a chronological timeline that featured Avril Lavigne, which I obviously got very excited about because of how obsessed I was with her as a teenager. It’s not often that Avril Lavigne gets an entire spotlight to herself, but then I realized and remembered that it was because she is Canadian and was born in Ontario.

Unfortunately, the day that I visited happened to coincide with what appeared to be an elementary or middle school field trip, so the museum was flooded with children the entire time I was there. This was unfortunate for some of the hands-on activities, as there were always kids occupying all the stations. When I did manage to find an open station to play a guitar, the guitar was greasy… so I promptly put it down, upon which a hawk-eyed little girl swooped in and immediately took my spot.

I definitely would’ve enjoyed the museum more if I had a bit more peace and quiet to thoroughly experience everything that was available, but it was still a nice visit, and definitely something unique and uncommon when it comes to topics of museums. Admission was “pay what you can”; I paid the recommended CA$15, but if you take a visit and have unlucky timing like I did, they would let you in for free for a subsequent visit to pick up where you left off.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Pearce Estate Park and Prince’s Island in Calgary, Alberta, Canada

On the rare days that it wasn’t raining, I squeezed in a few walks around the downtown Calgary area. It actually reminded me a bit of my walk around down­town Spokane, in that there was a lot of nature directly surrounding downtown, and it was designed in a way that made it very pedestrian-friendly.

For my first walk, I went to Pearce Estate Park, which isn’t quite exactly in downtown, but was nearby in the Inglewood neighborhood by the zoo. A short walk from the parking lot on Bow River Pathway led to some nice views of the Bow River. I am assuming it was because it rained a lot recently and it washed a lot of dirt into the river, but the water was unusually brown, opaque, and muddy.

Continuing northbound on the shoreline made me end up at the Harvie Passage Lookout, a nice structure surrounded by flowers that had an elevated view of the Bow River, Hughes Island, and the surrounding area.

After going as far as I could on the sand, I cut back into the park and explored the winding paths and smaller trails in the center of the park. There were a few small ponds and waterfalls, as well as some open areas where people were having picnics. The landscaping crew was also out maintaining the park, so large sections of the park had the nice, refreshing scent of freshly-mowed grass.

For my next walk, I wanted to get a bit closer to downtown. As is expected for a downtown area, parking was paid, so instead, I parked on 1 Street North­east (yes, apparently Calgary names its streets with numerals, rather than cardinals like 1st, 2nd, 3rd, etc. like the United States does) over by Rotary Park in a free parking zone. From there, I cut through the park, crossed Centre Street North, walked down Memorial Drive Northwest, and went onto Prince’s Island.

With a t-shirt, gym shorts, sneakers, and white above-the-ankle socks sticking out, I don’t think I could’ve looked more like a tourist. I ended up getting stopped by every single solicitor asking me to buy something from their business or donate to their charity. I felt like I had been walking pretty briskly the entire time, but according to my GPS tracker, my mile split times were comparable to climbing up a mountain because of them.

On my way back to Rotary Park where I parked, I stopped by Mt. Pleasant View Point and got a nice shot of the Calgary skyline.

The GPS tracking map probably isn’t as interesting for these walks as they usually are for real hikes, seeing as I was just walking on paved roads and tak­ing a lot of stops to capture photographs and tell solicitors I’m not interested in what they were offering, but here they are anyway:

 

—§—

 

Hello, Boulder Mountain Lookout Trail and Moses Falls in Revelstoke, British Columbia, Canada

To put it simply, visiting Canada has been an amazing experience so far. I will have a dedicated blog post about traveling into Canada and my long-term stay in Calgary, but until then, here’s a hike I did near Boulder Mountain in Revelstoke, British Columbia, one of the stops I made along the way to Cal­ga­ry.

I started the first trail on Westside Road at the base of Boulder Mountain, just before the bridge across the Jordan River where it meets with the Co­lum­bi­a River.

Some areas were still muddy, but because of bridges, tree stumps, and tree trunks that I could walk on, it wasn’t too difficult. After about a fifth of a mile, I arrived at a clearing where I was able to get a nice view of the Jordan River.

From here, I got a bit confused and thought that it was already the end of the trail… which made no sense, because I had looked up this hike on AllTrails prior to arriving, and it was at least a mile and a half. I started wandering around in confusion, going off-trail to find where the path was, until I noticed a long rope coming down from a cliff.

Hikers on AllTrails had marked this as “easy,” so I questioned whether climbing the rope up the cliff was the correct path. Fortunately, as I was looking around for an answer, a family of hikers coincidentally arrived at the same time. They had previously done this hike before, so they confirmed that the correct path forward was to climb the rope, and they demonstrated that the rope was indeed sturdy enough by climbing up themselves.

The rest of the trail up wasn’t too bad—it was steep enough that I would get out of breath if I went too fast, and some areas were pretty muddy, but I made it to the summit without any further issues.

On my way back down, I found a slug (and, considering how bad my eyesight and depth perception is, I’m impressed at myself for noticing it and not step­ping on it).

Because this was a relatively short trail at about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) round trip with about 620 feet (189 meters) of elevation gain, I continued driv­ing northbound on Westside Road to a second short hike.

I eventually made my way to a parking lot near Moses Falls. Part-way to the waterfall, I met a nice older lady who was trying to get to the waterfall be­cause she saw it on Google Maps, but was a bit concerned that she would get lost and not be able to make it back up the relatively steep terrain. My pres­ence there instilled enough confidence in her to follow me to the waterfall, where she asked me to take her picture, then offered to take mine.

She retraced her steps back to the parking lot, while I went deeper down towards the base of the waterfall.

Eventually, I made it to the bottom where the waterfall emptied into a small reservoir that connected into the Columbia River.

To the northeast of the Columbia River, I could see where it passed through the Revelstoke Hydroelectric Dam.

Unfortunately, because I went on this hike after I had already spent the day driving from Kamloops to Revelstoke, it was later on in the evening, and the Revelstoke Dam Visitor Centre was already closed.

When I plan out what cities I visit and for how long, I usually go by hotel prices to ensure that my travel is as cost-effective as possible. However, after trav­eling through this area, I’m realizing the major flaw in that strategy. Especially during the summer months, the nicest, mountainous areas in the north attract a lot of tourists, resulting in relatively high hotel prices. However, I think the high lodging prices are worth it for the great experience ex­plor­ing these areas.

 

—§—

 

Hello, Fragrance Lake Trail of the Larrabee State Park in Bellingham, Washington

On my way up north from the Seattle Metropolitan Area to Canada, I decided to take a stop in Bellingham, a city on the north-northeastern corner of Wash­ington. Like usual, I wanted to break up the monotony of driving too much in a single day, but I also spent a few nights in Bellingham to meet up with one of Tempo’s former employees, and to see if there was good-enough weather for me to squeeze in another hike.

Luckily, there was some good weather on the day I was driving up, so instead of going straight to Bellingham on Interstate 5, I exited early onto Wash­ington State Route 11, also known as Chuckanut Drive. This followed along the coast of Samish Bay and eventually led me to the Larrabee State Park. I parked right outside and across the street from the entrance to the main campground area and hiked Fragrance Lake Trail.

The trail itself at a macro level was fairly normal for what I would expect, but there were some very interesting smaller details to the area.

After crossing the intersection with the Whatcom County and Bellingham Interurban Trail and going deeper into the trail, I came across the Trees of Life, a group of trees whose roots were growing on top of and around a large boulder.

The next point of interest was at the Fragrance Lake Trail Overlook, where I had a nice view of the forest below and the Wildcat Cove and Bellingham Bay in the distance. I also saw some land in the distance; I’m not certain, but based on superimposing my perspective on a map, it seems like they were the Portage and Lummi Islands.

As I retraced my steps back from the overlook and went back on the trail to continue deeper towards Fragrance Lake, I saw a miniature version of the Trees of Life, this one having its roots growing over and around the trunk of a dead tree.

The deeper I hiked and the closer I got to Fragrance Lake, there was more green growing everywhere.

Eventually, I made it to Fragrance Lake.

There continued to be more unique vegetative life appearing as I got deeper. As I was walking around the lake, I saw some mushrooms growing dec­o­ra­tively around a tree trunk.

Once I got to the opposite side of Fragrance Lake as the previous photos, I saw the Fragrance Lake Lookout Tree, which is exactly what you’d expect it to be—a literal tree extending into Fragrance Lake from which you could look out into the lake. I didn’t walk onto the tree, not only because I didn’t want to lose my balance and plunge into the lake, but also because there was already a man on it fishing, and I wasn’t sure if me walking on it would cause us both to lose our balances and go plunging into the lake.

This was technically the end of the trail, so I had the option of circling around and going back to the parking lot. But, when I poked around on the map, I noticed that there was a waterfall a bit further away, so I decided to go a little deeper. I connected onto Two Dollar Trail and headed north.

Eventually, I made it to the Lower Fragrance Lake Waterfalls.

From the waterfall, I noticed that completing Two Dollar Trail would result in an additional three-mile round trip being added to my hike, so I decided against it and thought this would be a good time to turn around and head back to my truck.

I had poor GPS and 4G LTE connection throughout the whole hike, so it seems like my tracker had difficulty monitoring my movement. It says that my total distance was 4.75 miles, but because of a late start and a few sections that it didn’t catch, I think it was closer to about 5 miles. As for elevation gain, only hiking the Fragrance Lake Trail clocks in at just shy of 1,100 feet, so with my detours to the overlook and the waterfall, I’m guessing my total hike was closer to about 1,300 feet.

 

—§—