|21st May 1999
We’re sitting in the ferry terminal at Bellingham, Washington State, waiting for boarding to start. The cabins onboard the Alaska-bound ferries have been sold out since the first week of January, and so a queue has formed which will doubtless turn into an ugly scramble for the best-situated reclining seats. At 3pm, we’re still an hour away from the start of boarding, but already people are becoming agitated. Discussions about how the (transparently sign-posted) queue will work. People looking at anyone who even pauses in the space near the queue front, as if to say, “you just dare”.
All of this seems a little out of place. Since we emerged from the aeroplane at Bellingham International (grin) Airport, we’ve met a stream of charming friendly people. Some of this is due to the contrast with New York, and certainly the different pace of life makes it much easier for people to be friendly. For example, bus drivers think nothing of pausing for five minutes to discuss the timetable or the location of local amenities, and their passengers all think that this is perfectly reasonable.
For another example, there is the person who dealt with our luggage at the airport. After a delay at LaGuardia, we had only 13 minutes to make a connection at Washington DC airport, and although we made it, our luggage didn’t. By dint of concern and calmness, our frustration was effectively defused, and we left the airport happy.
For yet another example, there was the friendly taxi driver then took us to the best motel for our purposes in town, economical and clean. We naturally bused into town to look at two alternatives before returning to the place he first thought of… The Aloha motel gave us an enormous suite with lounge, two double bedrooms and bathroom for peanuts.
Mind you, whilst abortively touring the downtown accommodation choices we did eat and drink at “Le Chat Noir” (with English subtitles) and had a fine and cheap meal. In fact it was so good we considered returning at lunch today, before eventually plumping for the Central Bookstore café which was, if anything, even nicer. Both were good value with inventive menus and would more than hold their own in New York, rather putting to the lie to some of the warnings we got from a few Gothamites.
We also visited a local long-term storage facility to off-load around 20% of the contents of our packs. A feature of the last 48 hours has been repeated repackaging of the rucksacks. Unfortunately this didn’t make them one bit lighter or smaller, so we were eventually forced to take the radical step of removing some of their contents.
All in all, Bellingham made a fine impression. It seems a very pretty town, full of nice people with time to spare, and it is set amongst some spectacular scenery. It seems a shame to be leaving so soon, although my excitement at the prospect heading into glacial waters is building steadily.
(click thumbnails for a larger picture) |
Drive through coffee and expresso in Bellingham. Actually a pretty good idea, but the cubicle sized building on the superstore-sized lot just looks a little odd.