Although the appeal of cheap gas and dairy products draws many Canadians across the border, the immense wait times are enough to make me steer clear. With the Canadian dollar down, people like myself can finally breathe a sigh of relief. Having explored almost every nook and cranny within an hour or two’s drive from Vancouver, the land beyond our border has only been lightly tapped for it’s potential adventures. With great trepidation and the dollar hovering around 90 cents, we ventured into Washington state, with a mere 15 minute wait at the border. Having experienced wait times of up to 3 hours, this seemed almost too good to be true.
Our destination for the day, was Bellingham to visit James’ cousin Jess, and get an insider’s look at the city. Driving through the residential streets of Bellingham, you gain a real appreciation for the lack of Vancouver Special’s and monster homes. The houses are craftsmen style, well kept and have great big yards—the kinds you dream about when crammed in a tiny apartment—and they’re probably worth half the price. In the historic downtown, we went for brunch at the aptly named “The Old Town Cafe”. The place was packed, and we had to kill some time perusing one of the many antique shops that seem to grace almost every street. It was worth the wait though. The menu was pretty extensive, and it was difficult to chose, but in the end, we were all pretty satisfied with our choices. On top of that, they source a lot of their ingredients locally, the staff are friendly, and the atmosphere, cozy and relaxed.
With full bellies, we went to check out an exhibit at the Whatcom Museum. Their current exhibition was Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art 1775-2012 and featured an original Group of Seven painting. The Lightcatcher building housing the exhibition would have been at home in a much larger city with it’s modern design, LEED certification and green roof – very impressive!
Last stop, the Elizabeth Station. At one time, this unassuming place was a corner store. It still maintains a healthy supply of sweets, but the store has been converted into a beer lover’s mecca. With fridges full of a wide range of both local and international beers, and taps to boot, you can either get your beverage to go or take a seat and do some sampling.
Oh did I say last stop? I forgot, and how could I? Trader Joe’s. I know, only minutes ago, I was moaning about cross border shopping, but come on, it’s Trader Joe’s. And one can’t realistically make the journey across the border, without making a stop at Trader Joe’s, can they? They have perfected the art of snacks, and although I am not usually of the snacking persuasion, somehow Trader Joe’s reels me in with it’s peanut butter filled pretzels and pistachio chocolate covered toffee. This is one store, that I am glad to say does not exist in Vancouver, except in ‘pirate’ form.