A couple weeks ago I texted John and said if “I don’t get out of here or have some sort of spa day I may lose my mind”. In a totally unexpected move, John suggested that we leave town… the next day. I fully admit, John and I are not spur of the moment people. Doing something like this was downright crazy in our minds. So where did we go? Bellingham.
Depending on where you’re from, you either just heard the sad “whomp whomp” noise in your head or sat at the edge of your seat, wanting to read more. John and I have met several people who have either grown up in Bellingham or attended college there. It’s such a great place! they said. You’ll love how cute it is! they told us. So John and I had pretty high expectations on what we would find there, expecting an idyllic college town. I made the mistake of looking up the population of the town before we left… 85,000 people. How could that be a college down? That’s smaller than the town I grew up in!
We woke up Saturday morning with a start. John sat up at 4am and announced “I left my car in a construction zone!” He sprung out of bed and sure enough found that his car had been towed. Somehow, John had avoided getting his car towed in Seattle for the past 9 YEARS… which I found really impressive (in SF I feel like this happens to people at least once a year) but he was really annoyed. We picked up the car just fine, but there was a hefty bill for him to pay. So… not the best start to the weekend.
We headed to Bellingham in stop and go traffic, and feeling pretty exhausted. It was such an odd feeling driving into Bellingham. We kept expecting some indication of a city or suburbs, but up until 1 mile away from the town we saw dense forest on both sides of the highway. We stayed in the Sheraton in town and were really impressed by the hotel, it looked new, was incredibly clean and was pretty stylish too! The only downside was that the pool was in an atrium and echoed a ton when kids were splashing around.
John and I immediately headed out to explore downtown and by the recommendation of the concierge, we went to the farmers market first. Oh my it was a cute farmers market! You know that episode of Gilmore Girls were there town is taken over by competing troubadours? It was JUST like that! And as adorable as Stars Hallow too. Every 5 feet or so there was some new person or group singing, usually white, hippy-looking, and singing some bluegrass music (lots of fiddle). The sun was shining. The food looked incredible. Everyone looked happy. Part of the farmers market was even in a covered plaza and heated! I think the crowds and music was a little too much for us in that moment, after waking up so early and then sitting in traffic for such a long time. We decided to leave to find something to eat. So we walked. And walked. And walked. Downtown was cute, but fairly small. We kept thinking we’d run into SOMEthing that looked tasty, but we were mostly unimpressed with the options. Want pizza? Bellingham is the place for you! Finally John said, “I have a good feeling about this block” and we turned and saw Fiamma Burger. At that point we were famished and anything would have tasted good, but we really lucked out because Fiamma Burger was really cute, had a great selection and the food tasted really incredible. And again, everyone seemed happy and friendly!
With our newfound energy, we decided to walk to the college campus. “I think it’s that way” and we headed in that direction. The weather reports had repeatedly told us that Bellingham would be cold, windy and rainy. Instead, it was sunnier than Seattle has been in 6 months! I peeled off my jacket, then my wool sweater and was sweating through my cotton long sleeve. I was really regretting my wool socks and Gore Tex boots! After walking along a path for two miles, we realized that the campus was actually up a ginormous hill! We walked two miles back to downtown and decided it was time for a nap. We did a quick drive along the water (I bet Hotel Bellweather views are beautiful) and drove up the campus (so tiny! but the trees were really nice).
We had intended on grabbing dinner in Fairhaven or on the waterfront, but we ended up being so sleepy that we only left that night to get snacks at the Whole Foods across the street and ordered room service. We fell asleep watching Chopped (we are such boring old people, I know). We woke up bright and early, feeling super rested and I was so excited to be taking John on a hike. For those who know us well, I know… but John really did hike! I had heard of a short hike near waterfalls that was just 2 miles from our hotel and knew we had to make a stop. It ended up being absolutely gorgeous and words can’t really express it. If anything, it was a scenic walk and Whatcom Falls would be a great hike/walk with kids or for a date.
After the hike, we decided to grab brunch in downtown Bellingham, giving it one more try. John loves Cajun food, so we decided to give Bayou on Bay a try. The interior was pretty funky, and John loved his brisket and blackened alligator, but mine was comically terrible. Literally every part of my meal was inedible, my gravy was super spicy, my meat was so overcooked it was too tough to chew and my biscuit was whatever the opposite of fluffy is, and it was cold! John, sweet man he is, tried my food and offered for me to take his instead, but I refused. I actually ended up loving the fried okra and ended up just eating a bunch of fried okra for breakfast.
I bet Bellingham is a great place to grow up, but I have a tough time seeing it as a college town… it was just way too sleepy. I think we were hoping for a little more good food options, and maybe a few cute stores. Most people we met were very friendly, it was actually kind of disorienting coming from cranky Seattle! It was really nice to get out the city, see some sun, and escape for a little bit. All in all, we saw what we needed in Bellingham.