Is This The Place?

Sail boats enjoying an August evening on Bellingham Bay - Bellingham WA

Sail boats enjoying an August evening on Bellingham Bay – Bellingham WA

A few hundred yards from my comfortable perch on the shore of Bellingham Bay the sailboats look to be racing for bragging rights or microbrews as the sun nears the horizon and the mountains across the way take on a blue hue . On the lawn surrounding the coffee shop people throw balls to obsessed dogs that are willing to chase endlessly after their saliva soaked chew-friend. Other park visitors are grilling hamburgers while the young woman nearest the water just chills. She is lying on her back, her eyes hidden by sunglasses while her ear buds block out the dogs and people as she softly sings along with her music.

One of the best parts about this evening is that the lawn, park benches and even this fantastic coffee shop could accommodate many more people than are here. There is a feeling of comfort and peace with having the right amount of elbowroom.

Finding the right amount of personal space is like Goldie Locks looking for the right size chair; too much room and you feel lost, too little and you feel confined. With the right amount of personal space you feel “just right”. Bellingham Washington feels pretty good.

Our first night at home - Bellingham WA

Our first night at home – Bellingham WA

Although we bought a home in Bellingham eight years ago this is the first night we have slept in it. The initial plan was to retire here but before we made that commitment we wanted to do some long distance hiking, biking, foreign travel and see what it was like to live in Upstate New York and Williamsburg Virginia as well as sunnier, warmer and drier St. George Utah in the Mojave desert.

A high point in the Sehome Hill Arboretum - Bellingham WA

A high point in the Sehome Hill Arboretum – Bellingham WA

A hiking trail that Model T's once traveled near Western Washington University - Bellingham WA

A hiking trail that Model T’s once traveled near Western Washington University – Bellingham WA

After four years of experimentation, discussion and soul searching you would think it would be easy to settle down in the town we thoroughly researched and that ticked all our boxes – it’s not. The last four years have primarily taught me that there are a lot of great places to live filled with a lot of great people.

No place in North America has a perfect climate twelve months a year but that can be overcome with good outer wear and fenders, having a variety of outdoor interests like biking and snow shoeing and a few indoor hobbies like reading, writing and swimming. Also if the area has topography that allows you to climb a couple thousand feet to escape the heat or find good snow or roads that allow you access to the drier side of the mountains then that brings it pretty close to perfect.

One characteristic that is difficult to describe and quantify is “the vibe” of a place. St. George Utah has a very clean, wholesome, safe vibe with only a few bars, no casinos and a drunk driving incidence that is less than half the national average. A comforting statistic if you like to road bike. Bellingham Washington has a younger more vibrant alternative-culture vibe. They eat more organic foods, are more gluten sensitive, embrace tattooing, believe bicycles are real vehicles just like cars and are working hard to change the status quo.

A young reader at Village Books - Bellingham WA

A young reader at Village Books – Bellingham WA

Another unique feature of Bellingham is it’s independent bookstore, Village Books. It is three floors high with a coffee shop that overlooks the bay and supports writers and hopeful writers more than any bookstore I have ever visited. Typical of the Northwest the city has numerous microbrew pubs and live music venues and this year Washington State began allowing the sale of marijuana for recreational use – not just medical. Fortunately they also have lots of off road bike paths.

Bellingham Bay near the Community Boat Center

Bellingham Bay near the Community Boating Center

Watercraft options and storage at the Community Boat Center

Watercraft options and storage at the Community Boating Center

So is this the place? I don’t know. But I like the elbowroom and it has a good vibe.

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Categories: Travel, Writing

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

13 replies

  1. That photo at Village Books– Breathtaking. I could stare off into that nostalgia forever.

  2. I lived in Washington in the late 70’s. I visited Bellingham and the area around there several times. Of course the concern then was being able to work in a place since it was a long way to retirement. It is beautiful, as you have shown here. I hope you enjoy living there.

  3. I don’t know a soul who doesn’t love Bellingham…so yes, I bet it’s the place!

  4. Hi Tom,

    Are you two in Bellingham? We would love to get together with you since you are in town. Do you have any free time?

    Lisa and Jason

    From: brickthomas’s Blog Reply-To: brickthomas’s Blog Date: Thursday, August 14, 2014 11:36 PM To: Lisa Hann Subject: [New post] Is This The Place?

    WordPress.com brickthomas posted: ” A few hundred yards from my comfortable perch on the shore of Bellingham Bay the sailboats look to be racing for bragging rights or microbrews as the sun nears the horizon and the mountains across the way take on a blue hue . On the lawn surrounding t”

  5. Oh, my…..it sounds wonderful! You were making us feel like St. Cloud was a pretty good place, but it pales compared to Bellongham! It will be interesting to see how you feel as you settle in. By the way, congrats on your first night there!

    Let us know what your address is. I think I have a hat and sunglasses that belong to Sue. But I think we will be here in Texas until Oct. 12 taking care of babies! 🙂 We feel useful and needed here! We take care of ourselves too: we don’t take any night shifts and get at least an hour to exercise each day.

    Enjoy your new digs! Val & Phil

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

    • Hi Val and Phil, This is a pretty cool place so far but it will be interesting to see the what the winters are like. Can you email us a photo of the hat and sun glasses before you send them, no rush. It looks like you will have your hands full for awhile. Enjoy your time in Texas with the little ones. I’ll email you our new address also. Have fun!

  6. Once you’ve ventured all over the world as you and your wife have, it is tricky to settle into one venue. But the good thing is, being experienced travelers, you’ll know when and if it’s time to move on. Beautiful photos here, Brick. 🙂

  7. Bellingham, Washington with Village Books, off road bike paths, mountain views, proximity to the coast, and your positive vibe feelings sounds splendid!! Your comments about not rushing to fill up your newish home with “things” reminds me of a blog posting about a 2013 Thru hiker couple (Dumptruck & Clever Girl) who left a NYC apartment to thru hike the AT and afterwards moved into a Tiny House in Maine.

    http://trailkit.blogspot.com/2014/06/94-living-in-tent-tiny-house-edition.html

    A few weeks ago, I met Mike/Dumptruck (2013 AT Thru Hiker) while I was hiking down the Bigelows and he was hiking up. I was close to exhaustion from my morning climb & the rocky/rooty descent , but after a 10 minute exchange with Dumptruck, I immediately got a 2nd wind, boosted & energized by this delightful and supportive young man. Mike is a professional photographer(National Geo credits, etc. which I found out later) and was there to photograph the Bigelows for an article which will appear in Down East magazine in the summer of 2015. Dumptruck told me that he thru hiked with his wife (Clever Girl) who I was somewhat familiar as I had read bits of her 2013 AT Journal. When I returned home from the AT, I immediately began reading Clever Girl’s blog & reviewing Dumptruck’s photo website. I think you might enjoy her blog & his photo website, as Clever Girl’s writing & Mike’s photography is exceptional, thought provoking and full of joy and laughter. Clever Girl is still blogging — current//reflective thoughts about long distance hiking.

    • Hi Zigzag

      Thanks for the heads up on Dumptruck ad Clever Girl. Hearing the name Bigelows immediately put a smile on face, that was one of my favorite stretches of the AT. It was a rugged section but we had decent weather and some magnificent views.Thanks for the flashback. Happy hiking!

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