I have written two blogs about things that surprised me about Bellingham after my first year here. This one…..then this one. Since then I have continuously thought of other things I should have added to those lists, so here it goes AGAIN, more things that are different about Bellingham. This time I am going to include things that are maybe less factual, and more opinion based, or more my personal experience based. I will be curious if others can relate, so please let me know in the comments.
More ways Bellingham is Unique
You can wear whatever you want, wherever you want. I adore this about Bellingham. There are places here that are more upscale than your average brewery or coffee shop, but you can still go there directly from your long sweaty hike, and no one will give you a second glance. Makeworth is an upscale coffee house, so is Camber. The Fork is on the north side of Lake Whatcom, and a perfect place to stop and eat after walking the Hertz Trail. I have heard that some people hate this about Bellingham, they would like to get dressed up every once in a while. Not me, I love it. I love that I am not judged by what I am wearing, or my appearance in any way. Some people dress better than others, and sometimes your neighbor could be mistaken for a homeless person.
Gray is everywhere here! In my first blog I wrote about the abundance of red haired people in the area. There is also an abundance of gray haired peopled as well. In my past experience, anyone with gray hair was old, or definitely in the later part of middle age. Not so here. There are very young people that dye their hair gray, but there are also lots of 20 or 30 somethings that have gone gray prematurely…and they rock that gray hair. I have combed my memory for ANYONE, no matter what age, that I knew before moving here with gray or white hair. I can only thing of very few, and none under the age of 70 years old. Here, I have had to learn to judge a person’s age by other things besides hair, and it is STILL confusing to my brain occasionally. As my temples are coming in completely white in my late 40’s I enjoy thinking of just letting what will be, be. Again, no judgement, and it is wonderful.
Your car isn’t a reflection of…anything really. People’s personal vehicles don’t seem to have anything to do with their personal finances or what they do for a living. The few attorneys I know ride their bicycles everywhere, and from professors at Western to doctors…everyone seems to drive one of a very few types of vehicles. What kinds of vehicles will you see here? Lots of Toyotas…mostly Prius’ and Tacomas. Lots of Subarus, lots of Hondas, and the occasional Tesla. I have a Nissan, but not the fully electric LEAF which is more common than my Altima. Also, if you get in a fender bender, scratch your paint, have a dent or two…no reason to repair them it appears. Everyone drives vehicles with scratches, dents, and missing paint.
Dogs seem to be more important here than, (dare I say it?), children. I am ok with this, kids are super annoying and dogs usually aren’t. Just kidding, kind of. But for all of the focus on buying local and rescuing dogs….it sure seems that most of the dogs here come from a breeder. There is every type of dog in the world here, mixed with a poodle, for sale for several hundred dollars. Mixed mutts that were found wandering the street half starved and dying of thirst like my own don’t seem to be the rescues that people are rescuing here in Bellingham. No judgement, poodle mixes are usually wonderful dogs. Dogs are welcome here in businesses, restaurants, fairs, tours….just about everywhere. Just make sure you bring your poop bags, and you dispose of those bags correctly.
The tides. Maybe I learned about this in school, but I don’t remember it, and I didn’t realize how significant the tides are here. In Hawaii, and in California, tides change the water depth by a foot or two. Here in Washington, especially up in Bellingham and Blaine, it is like all of the water has been sucked away and you can now walk where it was once the bay. You can see the water lines at the marina and entire beaches come and go with the tides here. When tides are low you can explore the mud flats, go clamming, and see sea stars. It is amazing, and interesting, and just so very different than anything I have ever seen before.
The bay, or the water that borders the western side of Bellingham, is not called the coast. It is not called the ocean. It is called the bay. This is a rule I wasn’t familiar with…and I still find myself stumbling to find the right word to describe where the water meets the land here. The water is still and flat, not like the ocean….but it is still the ocean. Right? I don’t know, I guess not. Because the water is protected by the land and islands west of us, this water is NOT considered the ocean, it is the Puget sound, or the bay…but not the ocean. I don’t know, it is still confusing to me.
Dance everyone, DANCE!! Local bands, or even bands traveling here are, of course, favorites of Bham peeps. In the summer there are concerts in the parks, and Downtown Sounds. Boundary Bay has lots of live music shows, as well as other breweries around town. What I love the most is the dancing. Everyone here dances when the bands are playing. Age doesn’t seem to matter, you’ll see Bhamers from 21 to 91 dancing next to each other here. Other than at weddings I can’t remember ever seeing such a range of ages enjoying the same show, or dancing together. I don’t dance, but I adore watching others dance….and I adore this more in Bellingham than anywhere else.
Traditional isn’t really a thing here, and its awesome! Stereotypical job for males and females fall into traditional stereotypes far less here than I have seen elsewhere. I know that men can teach elementary school, and women can be electricians…but seeing these previously gender specific roles be handled by as many of the opposite sex as the traditional gender. Here you will see road workers that are female, and hosts that are male. It is really wonderful to see “traditional” gender roles fall by the wayside here.
Where can I stop to figure out where I am? GPS is slow here. I swear it is. It will tell you to turn as you pass the street. It is difficult to learn your way around Bellingham, of this I am sure….every new resident agrees with me. What makes things more difficult is the inability to pull over on the side of the road in sooooooo many places. There are culverts along the roads to collect the rain water, so there is really no shoulder to pull over and look at your map on your phone or to make a phone call. I am used to Arizona’s wide roads so this has been difficult for me to get used to. Therefore I often show up places late because I drive in circles for while.
There aren’t the “usual” radio stations. I know everyone just streams their music, but for old people like me, I really miss the radio when driving. Now, I know there are some stations…but they aren’t what I want to listen to. There’s no hip hop or current music stations. You can usually hear Canada’s music, but the signal is weak.
These are all I can think of this time. I am sure once I hit publish I will think of a few more. I’d love to hear your surprises about Bellingham if you’ve relocated here. If you are considering relocating here, I’d love to help you find your next home. Below are what is currently on the market in Bellingham.