From Seattle, we headed north again so we could visit our neighbor to the north. Before driving all the way to Canada, we stopped for two nights just outside of Bellingham, easily one of my favorite towns in Washington. We spent a lazy day walking along the water, checking out the downtown, and watching Van play with lots of children on a playground. In addition to being a great town in a beautiful location, it’s within close driving distance of this:
If Bellingham received more snow and sun, it may have made my short list. But one thing we’ve realized is how important snow is to both of us. Not just snow that you can drive to, but snow that falls right outside your front door. And lots of it!
From Bellingham, we headed north to Vancouver. We set up home at the most beautiful campsite of our trip. The site was small, squished next to a number of other campers, and required that we walk all of our belongings in a fair distance, but the views more than made up for that. We camped right beside the beach of a magnificent fjord. Breathtaking.
This view was just steps from our campsite, as you can see below.
I could have spent hours, no, make it days, just sitting along the shore on one of the many drift logs and watching the water.
But, we came here to see Vancouver, so off we went. We parked in Stanley Park beside a very nice neighborhood and took off for a long walk around town. The first few hours of our walk left us marvelling at how nice this city is. Beautiful gardens, nice shops and restaurants, lots of friendly people walking around town. The only time I took out my camera was in Gastown, a historic (and hence, touristy) part of town with cobblestone streets and smaller buildings, so I don’t have much to show from our day in the city.
From Gastown, we decided to head to Chinatown, excited to partake in some delicious food that the city is known for. We didn’t realize that the couple of block stretch between Gastown and Chinatown is not a great place for tourists, especially tourists with little children in tow. I have never, in all my life, seen anything like it. We later learned that this is the most poverty-stricken zip code in Canada and has the highest concentration of drug usage in North America. None of that is surprising after we saw it. There were junkies (and tons and tons of them) everywhere. And there didn’t seem to be too many other people around. Just us, and maybe a stray other person or two. It was very disconcerting and threw us into a hasty retreat to the nicer areas of the city we had been in earlier in the day. But to get there, we wound up running into a few other unsavory situations (a blatant drug deal about three feet in front of Van’s face being one of several things we encountered). Ah, city life…
We spent much of the rest of the day enjoying Stanley Park and checking out some of the other neighborhoods in the city, but nothing to match the excitement of earlier in the day! Reluctant to leave our beautiful campsite, but with no option to stay given that it was fully reserved for the weekend, we headed south for a long day of driving through much Seattle-area traffic to Mount St. Helens. While we didn’t camp at Mount St. Helens (we camped about forty miles away), we spent a beautifully foggy day exploring the area. Once we drove up in elevation, the fog settled in the valleys and we had a beautiful view of the volcano. A fitting conclusion to our month in Washington.