Thursday, June 25, 2015

June 5, 2015 - Anacortes, WA TO Bellingham, WA

Note: This is Wayne Sinclair's version of our trip.  Edith asked him to make notes of what we did and he graciously offered to tell his side of the story allowing us to take a break from writing this.
"Edith, you can take a day off from writing your Meandering Notes as I’m happy to oblige for Friday, June 5, the day you and Erwin came up to Bellingham for our rendezvous."

Here goes:

It was a beautiful morning and it would have been a perfect day for boating with Cathy and her husband Bobby, but we had another plan to go meet our dear friend, Wayne Sinclair in Bellingham, WA.

Camping at Fidalgo Bay RV Park
We left Fidalgo Bay RV Resort at 9 am, got fuel at Swinomish Casino/Gas. $2.89 for diesel. While there Edith texted Wayne to make arrangements on where to meet in Bellingham. We could see Glacier Peaks (10,365') and Mount Baker (10,700') while on way to I-5 after leaving the gas station.

View of Mount Baker on our way to I-5 from Fidalgo Bay 
We got on I-5 North from Route 20. While enroute we saw 2 deer grazing on the median!  Then there was one deer running alongisde I-5. 

We took Exit 256 (Meridia Ave), arrived at the parking lot of Walmart at the northern end of Bellingham, Washington at 10:20 am.  When we left Anacortes early this morning it was 56˚, but it has rose to 66˚ by the time we got to Bellingham. Bellingham is the county seat of Whatcom County, the last county before the Canadian border.  The parking lot is surprisingly small for the Walmart standards but we managed to secure a space for our Lil' Home and the jeepy Jeep that loyally follows us around.  

Soon after we secured our Walmart space, our friend, Wayne Sinclair, of Surrey, British Columbia, Canada, arrived in his tiny blue Toyota Prius. We performed the usual rites of greetings and then showed him our new home. “Awesome,” “Wow,” and “Fantastic” were amongst his reactions.  Erwin proudly showed off his famed wood burning work.  Before getting ready to head out with Wayne Edith collected several pieces of her photographic equipment to take to Wayne’s car.

After securing the home-on-wheels on the busy parking lot, we entered Wayne’s minuscule automobile with no coaches, no bathroom, no bed, no refrigeration — yeah, not even a cooler. Still, Wayne was kind enough to show us around the northwest part of the Northwest state of Washington. We went south through Bellingham, and after two or three detours that we encountered, managed to reach the south end of the town.  It is the oldest part of Bellingham, and is called Fairhaven Historic District.

Wayne parked close to the locally famous historical plagues he wanted to show us.  We walked a short distance and saw the first plague.  This one was on the site where the Chinese settlers were not allowed to cross into the city and also revealed that the mayor made an apology very recently (2011). 

Another one marked the site where dogs were to be drowned, yes, the drowning pool for the dogs. 

One more showed the place where Mathew was cut in two by a streetcar. There was a garbage dump, and the accompanying plague stated it smelled like an elephant’s breath.  (How did they know?)

In addition to Edith's pictures, you can see more at

Even palm trees are grown in Washington state!

Then we returned to the historic district itself, and walked around to look for a restaurant.  Wayne explained to Erwin and me that he had other out-of-town visitors (from Ohio) wanting to sample the local cuisine in the historic district.  He obliged and took the Ohio people to a Mexican restaurant.  The visitors objected, saying this was “not what we wanted.”  

Being a Canadian that Wayne was (he is a proud dual citizen), he explained that Mexican food was one of the most popular cuisines in the U.S. “There are almost no Mexican restaurants in Canada,” he explained.

After this little story,  Edith decided to eat in a Mexican restaurant! “I love Mexican dishes."  So we went into the very-out-of-place-in-Fairhaven-Historical-District Mexican restaurant staffed by people very well versed in the art of Mexican cooking.  

Jalapeños Mexican Grill was indeed a delight for all three people sitting outside on a patio upstairs.  The food was great! However, it was not the only reason why it was a delight.  We did not have to pay for Wayne’s fare.

The waitress dropped Wayne’s dish accidentally, and the plate smashed into smithereens with enchiladas and tacos, refried beans, and salad scattered over a chair, part of our table, and the patio. Eventually, another attempt at serving him was successful. The bill for our lunch did not include Wayne’s lunch.  Lucky us! Edith forgot to take pictures of the dishes we all ordered!

After lunch, we wandered about and visited an art gallery showing paintings of totem poles, boats, the sea, and the mountains around the northwest corner of the state. There were several other interesting places but we did not have much time so we returned to Wayne’s 11-year-old car, powered by the still original battery. He knocked on his head.

Watch your hands, Edith!

We got on Interstate 5 and went north.  As we left Bellingham, our heads turned to the right. We found Mt. Baker covered in clouds.  Not very picturesque, Edith thought, so she did not use her camera to catch the state's third highest mountain.  Wayne mentioned that it was the second most active volcano in the contiguous United States after Mt. St. Helens.  

We still travelled further north, with fewer and still fewer miles left in the United States as we approached Canada.  Erwin panicked a little bit, saying, “We don’t have our passports with us.” 

“Not to worry,” Wayne said, as he exited I-5 at Exit 276. the very last exit of the United States of America.  Then we proceeded to the parking lot of Peace Arch State Park, beyond which was a row of average looking houses. “These houses you see are in Canada,” he announced. No fence separating the two countries.  Open space. As they were part of Metro Vancouver, he explained the houses cost over a million dollars each, a huge contrast to the similar but $200,000 houses in the border town of Blaine, Washington, a block or two south!

Houses in Canada - a stone's throw from US/Canada border line
Then Wayne parked his car at a space where we were allowed 15 minutes to roam about.  We rushed to the Peace Arch, built in 1914 to commemorate the 100 years of peace between the United States and Canada. (It was a nasty and silly little war when the British and Canadians burned the White House in 1813 in revenge for the Americans’ burning down Canada’s Parliament Buildings in 1811.) 

 See the difference in the colors of asphalt dividing two countries
Erwin setting one foot on Canada and the other on US
Wayne is in the background

Wayne was very mindful about Erwin’s recent FB post suggesting closing the borders. So he teasingly pointed at “May these Gates Never Be Closed” inside the Peace Arch!  Here is a picture of Erwin and Wayne pointing at these words.

Erwin & Wayne

After walking around briefly at the two parks, yes, two parks, meaning Peace Arch State Park and Peace Arch Provincial Park, and having set our feet on the Canadian grass (Finish touch Canada!), we returned to the car.

We went to Marine Drive in Blaine where we stopped to see White Rock, B.C., across Semiahmoo Bay from us.  It was quite a contrast to the rural setting of the northwest corner of the state; White Rock with a few high-rising condo buildings looked crowded just for being part of the huge metropolitan area.  Then we walked about the marine park and discovered several killer whales and salmon.  Edith took pictures of them.  

Wayne then took us to Semiahmoo Resort as he wanted to show us several laid-down totem poles beside an abandoned boat.  Upon our arrival there, we found no totem poles present, much to Wayne’s dismay! There were the boat and a weathered building so Edith took pictures of them.  She was fascinated by an attention-capturing water tower to she took several pictures of it.  

Then we went to Birch Bay, a popular destination of the locals, meaning those from Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.  There was an attractive campground, and we considered getting a site for our home that evening. We decided against it as it was a lot more feasible to keep our home by the Walmart store.  

We had our lemonade drinks at Shores Restaurant & Bar in Birch Bay, and waited for Wayne’s affectionate and bubbly partner, Janice, coming to us from her work in Vancouver, B.C.

Finally, the four of us entered a restaurant at the beach front. We were seated by a window facing Birch Bay, part of Pacific Ocean.  Several Canadian islands were at the sea’s horizon. The sun was descending from its peak of the day, thus making the quiet sea shining. All of a sudden there was an interruption to the sea quietness. There were splashes caused by a black figure that gave an appearance of a seal.  It was swimming quickly toward a stick. We found soon enough that the animal had four legs. It was a black dog!

Still the view was awesome.  Just a little over two months ago we left our home in Florida next to Atlantic Ocean. We drove diagnocially across the United States from the southeast to the very extreme northwest. With the shining sea just below the sun approaching the horizon, we had travelled From Sea to Shining Sea. 

Via Birch Bay Café & Bistro was a fascinating place to eat; the seafood dishes were at the top.  The salmon was very deliciously flanky.  We consumed everything and became too full for the dessert except Janice. She was the only one who did not have a seafood dish; she had chicken. So she helped herself to an upside down pineapple cake, while we looked at her savouring it.  We did not mind it as Wayne paid for our dinner, smile. Unfortunately for him, there were no accidents.

After dinner, we four had our last-minute chats. Then Janice left to go out of the country into Canada, about ten or fifteen minutes away.  We rode in Wayne’s car to return south to Bellingham.

Good Times, Good Cheer, Good Friends

On the way back, Mt. Baker made very surprisingly prominent its appearance with no clouds blocking the view.  Edith could not help it but took countless pictures of the white majesty, an awesome commanding presence. At over 10,000 feet high, its appearance was startling as we were just above the sea level. The difference between where we were and the peak of the mountain was indeed impressive, so impressive that she could not help but felt paralyzed taking pictures of the mountain uncontrollably. Awesome!

We owe our appreciation to Wayne for showing us around the area.  He was understandable about our reluctance to enter Canada as we had not completed our paperwork for the new home but we do look forward to his and Janice’s showing us around their Canadian southwest corner and across southern British Columbia.

Good night y'all. Resting comfortably at Bellingham Walmart

Written by Wayne

WAYNE'S DISCLAIMER: Because of this iPhone, sometimes words get changed or autocorrected and go through to you in spite of my watchful but 20th-century-generated eyes with assistance from my 21st century eyeglasses. So if the contents don't make sense, don't blame me; blame this Geek's toy. Thank you. 

Miles driven:
LH - 45
Jeep - 0

Today's route:
A: Fidalgo Bay RV Park
B: Bellingham
C: Fairhaven District
D: Peace Arch Park - US/Canada Border
E: Blaine, WA
F: Birch Bay, WA
G: Bellingham Walmart

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