And the Winner Is…

Bellingham, WA!

WTF? Where is that you ask?

Only in the most beautiful, progressive and amazing place in the whole wide world!

Well, ok, admittedly I have but a small frame of reference in comparison to all the places in the whole wide world.  But I’ve been to some good ones: England, Saint Croix, San Francisco, Austin to name a few.  And, of course, there was the two times in my early 20s (internship and directly post-college) in which I lived in Seattle.

Yes, my dream of the 90s has always been very much alive in me, and I’ve sought and seek out that dream in the birthplace of flannel shirts, Nirvana, rainy and grumpy skies, and in my opinion (and remember…I currently live where you want to retire) the most beautiful scenery in well…the whole wide world.  Take these, for instance:

Sickeningly gorgeous and mystical (Twin Peaks, anyone?) especially with the snow!  And a skatepark for the boys, sailing for me, skiiing/snowboarding for all, and after a recent foray Chris and I had at paddleboarding…we are hoping to do that as well (in wet suits!)

Also, you can’t forget the famous banana slugs!

Yah, they look nast. But I'll probably catch them anyway.

For us, it’s perfect.  Bellingham is an hour from Vancouver and 1.5 hours to Seattle.  There is an Amtrak that will chug you up to BC and all the way down to Portland, stopping wherever you like.  The kids..are..going..to…shit…themselves.  Well, they already do I guess, but you know what I mean.

Overall, I know that Chris is relieved to have the job search over.   After months of interviewing and offers made, we have a place to go.  And that it is the exact place we always hoped to retire is pretty freaking exceptional.  He said that he felt so humbled to have the opportunity to live in the Caribbean and then in the crook of British Columbia in an idyllic town of dreams.  I said he’s a badass, what does he expect?

And now for some stats on Bellingham (direct from Wikipedia, so it has to be true right?)

Nuts and Bolts:

  • Population (2011)-  81,070
  • Bellingham is acclaimed for its small-city flavor, easy access to outdoor opportunities in the San Juan Islands and North Cascades Mountains as well as proximity to the cosmopolitan cities of Vancouver and Seattle.
  • Bellingham’s climate is generally mild and typical of the Puget Sound region that includes Seattle. The year-long average daily high and low temperatures are 59 °F (15 °C) and 44.1 °F (6.7 °C), respectively. Western Whatcom County has a marine oceanic climate that is strongly influenced by the Cascade Range and Olympic Mountains. The Cascades to the east retain the temperate marine influence, while the Olympics provide a rain-shadow effect that buffers Bellingham from much of the rainfall approaching from the southwest.
  • Despite this, Bellingham also has mild, pleasant summers. The hottest summer days rarely exceed 90 °F (32 °C) and the warmest temperature on record is 96 °F (36 °C) on July 29, 2009.
  • Drought is rare  (yes, this is part of the stated information)
  • Bellingham’s proximity to the Fraser River valley occasionally subjects it to a harsh winter weather pattern (termed a ‘north-Easter’) wherein an upper level trough drives cold Arctic air from the Canadian interior southwesterly through the Fraser River Canyon
  • Another weather phenomenon, known as the “Pineapple Express“, happens in the autumn. For most of a day, an unusually warm and steady wind comes out of the south. (now that terrible movie has a context!)

Goings on:

  • The Ski to Sea race[34] is a team relay race made up of seven legs: cross country skiing, downhill skiing (or snowboarding), running, road biking, canoeing (2 person), mountain biking, and kayaking.
  • The annual International Day of Peace is celebrated in Bellingham on September 21. The holiday was instituted by the United Nations as a 24-hour global cease-fire. The Bellingham-based Whatcom Peace & Justice Center publishes a calendar[39] of upcoming activist events with a theme of non-violence, community dissent, and worldwide Peace.
  • The Bellingham Festival of Music[40] is an annual celebration of orchestral and chamber concerts, held in July, hosting musicians from North American orchestral ensembles.  (sooo excited)
  • The Bellingham Wig Out, held each year the Friday before Memorial Day, is a celebration of fun and irreverent welcoming Spring. Events include the Wig Walk, a promenade of Wig wearers through the downtown business district, a Wig Competition, complete with categories from Wee Wigster to the Best Handmade Wig, and a Wig Out Party held at various locations that evening. The Wig Out folks also participate the next day in the Ski to Sea Parade.[42]
  • The scenic splendor of Bellingham and Whatcom County is appreciated by residents and tourists. Whatcom Falls Park is a 241-acre (0.98 km2) large public park encompassing the Whatcom Creek gorge, running directly through the heart of the city. It has four sets of waterfalls and several miles of walking trails, and is a hub of outdoor activity connecting and defining several different neighborhoods of Bellingham. Popular activities during warmer weather include swimming, fishing, and strolling along the numerous walking trails.
  • About 50 km east of Bellingham the Mount Baker Ski Area is home to many of the world’s first snowboarding champions, and it holds the world record for the greatest amount of snowfall in one season (winter 1998–1999). During most years the depth of accumulated snow exceeds 12 ft (3.7 m) and results in the closure of the ski area before the end of the winter months.
  • In the waters of the Georgia Strait and Puget Sound it is possible to go whale watching. Several pods of orcas (killer whales) are known to travel from the open Pacific Ocean into the area, and families of these huge aquatic creatures can be seen swimming and hunting near the local bays and islands.
  • Bellingham is also home to an active writers community, both at the local universities and independent of them. Western Washington University’s English Department publishes theBellingham Review.[53] This year the city hosted the first annual Chuckanut Writers Conference,[54] run by Whatcom Community College and Village Books, a local bookstore.
  • Whatcom Community College and Whatcom Human Rights Taskforce host the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Human Rights Conference on MLK weekend every January. Event workshops, guest speakers, a silent auction and food address the general theme of Human Rights as expressed in the teachings of Dr. King. This event has been held since 1998.[36][37]
  • Bellingham Pride is a gay pride parade and festival held in July each year to celebrate LGBT people and their friends. The parade takes place on a midsummer weekend, passing through the downtown and ending in the public market area.[41]
  • Bellingham also has a burgeoning independent film community, which is supported by the Whatcom Film Association, a local group of film appreciators with over 1500 members[51] and the Northwest film school,[52] a hands-on filmmaking program.
  • Bellingham maintains sister city relationships with five Pacific Rim port cities and Vaasa, Finland.

After making the “official facebook announcement” I was asked “why we move so much” by a curious soul.  The interesting thing is that question never occurred to me.  The idea of living in new places, seeing new things,  and all that comes with it, just seems inherently good  and right to me.

Because we moved to Saint Croix, my kids went from a fear of the ocean to barely needing any help swimming.  And they are 3 and 1.5 years old.  They know words that other kids would have no idea existed. Words like gungalos and mongoose and iguana and mocko jumbie and bush cat.  And because we are in a the minority here, they see no skin color.  They run up and play and talk to all children with excitement and openness.  It has been amazing.

That being said, I have a sneaking suspicion that Bellingham will be a place to cool our heels for quite some time.  And I have to mention how exciting it is to be moving to a blue state…after spending much too much time in red ones with very real threats of freakish policies looming over us.   I am still recovering from being a parent in Texas during the legislation to remove mention of Thomas Jefferson and the Civil Rights Movement from textbooks.

And what of our beloved STX?  We hope to always be able to come visit this beautiful island.  And maybe one day own a time share or condo here.   I’ll miss the amazing people we have met here (including my math teacher who cracks me up for the entire 1.5 hrs of class) but I’d be lying if I said i’d miss sweating in the house because the price of electricity is so ridiculous (well the price of anything really…milk, food), or the absolute lack of seasons, or some of the disgruntled folks who lived here past the point of the sheen wearing off and impose it on you, or the fear that the police (corrupt, it’s said) won’t be there for you if you needed them, the reading of the grotesquely-high crime statistics.  Yes, it’s possible we spent just the right amount of time during the best part of the non-hurricane, cooler-trade-winds part of the season.  Six months of living in a supremely unique and beautiful place.

And now it is onto the next adventure.  Luckily, we will be surrounded by islands where we are going, so the blog will still have a relevant title.

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4 responses to “And the Winner Is…

  1. I LOVE IT. all of it.especially the wigs. happy for you. 🙂

  2. candylach@hotmail.com

    sounds awesome! i am excited for your family. you are finally in my hood, the west! maybe we can really come see you.

  3. Thank you, Megan! I am particularly drawn to the wig event myself! You and yours are welcome to visit anytime…wigs or not!

  4. So true Candace! It shall be done!

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