I published my 12 Surprises when I moved to Bellingham Washington a couple of weeks ago, and since then I have heard from lots of you things that surprised YOU and I also realized several things I left off of my list. So this is a part two, a continuation of my original 12 Surprises.
The SUN. Really, I don’t know how I didn’t mention this one. The sun not only sets earlier in the winter, and much later in the summer than I am used to, it is also completely different here. The color it provides is different. The light is warmer here. The sun is GOLDEN here. It is more yellow maybe? I don’t know how to describe what the sun does here that is so special and wonderful, but it does it spectacularly all the time. Its warm glow has the ability to fill your heart with hope and and love, and to make the common and dreary look beautiful and unique as it passes over it. The sun is special here, which is why people celebrate it and talk about it whenever we have a sunny day.
2. The WEATHER is also a surprise. It isn’t nearly as rainy as I thought it would be, nor as dreary, nor as cold. I am fully aware this is likely at least partially due to climate change, and that of course makes my stomach hurt. But the rainy days are rarely more than a few in a row, and though there may be cloudy days too…there are also lots of sunny days. People talk about the weather all of the time. Good friends will mention the weather to you daily. When it is a sunny day you will die of guilt if you stay indoors all day. When it is sunny the entire town treats it as if it is a unique and special event, and you MUST be outside enjoying it. No one ever mentions that there are often more than a couple of sunny days EVERY SINGLE WEEK of the entire year. I make fun of my friends for mentioning the weather every time they do, but I also admit that those sunny days are hard to ignore. Especially the perfect days, like today, 60 degrees is the high, so warm in the sun, cool in the shade. What could be better?
3. The SUNSETS. I had no idea that Bellingham offered the sunsets that it does before I moved here. Since the sun sets in the west, and we live on the coast, I knew it would be beautiful to watch the sun set….but I had no idea how beautiful. Living in Sudden Valley, which is a forest essentially, we can’t see the beautiful sunsets. But almost anywhere in town you can, and if you’re like me, you will find yourself not going home until you see the day’s show. There are a lot of places to watch this daily event, you’ll find your favorites. Larabee State Park and all of the multitude of trails that lead to the water are probably my favorite places…but there are restaurants and bars that provide excellent viewing and any of the beaches will too. It is a great way to remind yourself how lucky you are to live in this special place every single day.
4. There are BLACK squirrels down town and on Western’s campus. If you ask anyone about the black squirrels you will get a list of different responses that range from them being normal and everywhere around here to them being the only ones in all of north America. I have also heard they were brought over from Europe, or that they are just a mutation of the more common grey squirrel. I have no idea what the real story is, I haven’t been able to find a definitive answer, but there are black squirrels around here.
5. Drivers yield to pedestrians in Bellingham. Crossing the streets in Bellingham is something that still makes me giggle, because if you should be hustling, knees up, because the light is changing, slow down. No one will honk at you. No one will start to drive and push you off the road, and if you even step into the road anywhere cars will halt and let you have the right away. Now , of course, you must always be careful and recognize that accidents happen so it is best to be very sure all vehicles are stopping before you proceed across the street…but here more than anywhere else I have ever lived, chances are you will be able to cross the street on your feet with no trouble.
6. Front yard gardens are a joy that I have only seen here in Bellingham. I like to walk the neighborhoods to look at the unique older homes, but also to get a feel for the vibe of the neighborhoods. One of the coolest things I have seen is the front yard vegetable gardens. People will use every inch of their yard to grow any variety of vegetable that you can imagine. I have not seen an awful lot of thriving back yard gardens in my life, but the fantastic front yard gardens here have blown me out of the water. First of all, doesn’t the food get stolen? Knowing my luck I would be growing an award winning tomato and my neighbor would pluck it for her evening burger….right? I don’t know , but there must be some sort of social rule here that doesn’t allow that to happen. You will also come across vegetable and flower stands that unmanned and ask for donations only. There might be suggested prices, but essentially you are on your honor to pay for what you take. These are my favorite things, and I know I probably overpay for whatever I take, so I hope this is what usually happens.
Top 20 Mortgage Mistakes Home Buyers Make
(and How to Avoid Them)
7. Kindness. Lots of people told me that this was missing from my first list of surprises. People here are KIND. They are gentle, warm, and understanding. They will look you in the eye, and do their best to help you out if you ask a question. There is NOT a hustle and bustle feeling anywhere in Bellingham, so you experience a lot of people that are willing to take their time with you. It is nice. It makes life here feel comfortable, and welcoming.
8. Animal Love. Please don’t take this the wrong way. This means the love the community shows for pets, and for wildlife. People love their pets everywhere, but in Bellingham they are part of the family. There are bars that allow you to bring your pooch, and dog walking is a lucrative gig. People absolutely adore their pets here, but that doesn’t mean they don’t care for the animals that were displaced by us moving into their territory. People care about the orcas in the ocean, the otters in the creek, and the owls in the trees. In Sudden Valley where you see the cycle of life a little more often people are destroyed by injured deer, or evidence of a cougar’s deer meal. Deer rule the roads and eat your flowers, and raccoons feel confident coming inside your home to help themselves to your cat’s food.
9. Canadians. There are a lot of people that live in Canada around you every day. Especially if you are at Costco. Even more especially if you are at Costco getting gas. If you see Canadian plates in front of you in line for gas, find a different line. Most Canadians I have seen not only fill their vehicle, but they usually have several large gas cans in their vehicle they will fill as well. For all of the refineries you will see around the area you would think gas would be less expensive, but it isn’t. So you will wait in line at Costco just like the Canadians to fill up.
10. Visiting Canada isn’t as easy as it is to visit Mexico. You need to be careful about what is in your vehicle, and you should have a reason for crossing the border. I have heard countless stories of people being questioned and detained for short periods at the border. The biggest surprise though is that they don’t let you cross the border without special permission if you have a DUI on your record. I don’t, but it seems everyone I know does. Border crossing is serious business up here.
11. Padilla Bay. This isn’t in Bellingham, but it is close by, near Anacortes. Everyone in Bellingham pronounces the word Padilla as if it is an English word. Saying the two L’s as if they are L’s and not the hispanic way of pronouncing them with a “Y” sound. I don’t speak Spanish, but I know how to correctly pronounce Padilla. Here, if I say it correctly, I run the risk of people not knowing where I am talking about. It is hilarious, and disturbing at the same time.
12. Bellingham’s dress code. I am not sure that I should even include this as a surprise, but one of the best things about the area…or the worst depending on who you are, is the fact that you can go pretty much anywhere dressed in any way. When I go to court for my volunteer work as a CASA I dress work/casual, but in other settings it seems that almost anything is perfectly fine to wear. Yes, I still try to dress well and appropriately to the situation, but I can count on seeing others that look like they just finished a hike, yoga class, or recently rolled out of bed. I don’t mind this at all, and actually prefer it to the other way around.
I had to really work to come up with these last few surprises on this list, hardly things worth mentioning but I am glad to be mentioning some of the important things such as sunsets and kindness that I left off of my original list. Bottom line is I don’t regret for a second my decision to uproot my entire life and start again here in the Bellingham area. I feel lucky to be here every day. I see wonderful things happening here, and I want to be a part of as many of them as I can. Please join Bellingham Living on Facebook and join in the conversation about living in Bellingham. I hope to meet you soon, and if you need help finding your new home here, hit me up!
If you want to buy a home here in Bellingham, but you’re worried about what you DON’T know about getting a mortgage, CLICK HERE for your FREE copy of the TOP 20 Mortgage Mistakes Home Buyer’s Make, and How to Avoid Them!