By the border in Bellingham

Waterfront in Bellingham Just did the most northly stop of the north west tour in Bellingham, a town of 75,000 which is just across the border from Vancover. Despite having to postpone the meeting 24 hours at only five hours notice just over 20 people turned up. It was at the university.

The lunchtime Greyhound I'd intended to catch up from Seattle was booked out when I arrived in the station a couple of hours before the departure time. There were a lot of back and forth mobile calls as we tried to work out an alternative that would get me into Bellingham in time for the meeting but the one one that looked remotely possible would have involved switching between three commuter buses and still would have got me in late so we decided to shift the meeting to the following evening. I would get the evening Greyhound which left me a few hours to kill in Seattle. I wondered around the area around the bus station for a bit before heading to a coffee shop across the road from the station which had wi-fi. I spent most of the afternoon catching up on websites before catching the bus north at dusk. I arrived at Bellingham Greyhound station in the dark, it seemed to be another of those useless stations at the edge of town but as usual I was being picked up so that wasn't a problem. Arriving in a town at night is always quite different from arriving during the day as you can't see the landscape and don't really get an impression for the shape of the city your in. On the journey to where I was staying Bellingham seemed vast but I later realised that was because its strung out along the coast. I stayed in house rented by some students and chatted with them and some friends that dropped over about what was going on locally. One of the issues, Bellingham being near the border, was ICE activity in the area and the existence of a suspected secret detention centre. Otherwise people had been involved in the port blockades that had been happening further south in the state aimed at stopping the loading of weapons onto Iraq bound ships. Bellingham is pretty and the weather was nice some of the time so I walked down The next morning which was a beautiful sunny day I walked into the town where I treated myself to crab cakes for breakfast. I'd noticed there was a waterfront trail so I followed that back and went down to the sea front where there was a small 'beach' made up of stone and large chunks of driftwood. After hanging out here for a while and taking the chance to dip my fingers into the Pacific I followed the trail back. Bellingham gets a lot of rain and you could tell from the vegetation along the trail. Lots of moss and ferns, not unlike the vegetation of a lot of Irish woods. The town used to be quite industrial, at different points it was a supply point for goal mining, there were extensive coal mines and there was the largest fish canning plant in the world. Those jobs are gone and the service jobs that have replaced them pay proportionatly less. Meeting up gain with my hosts we headed into town where we got food at a 'Taco truck.' These are common in the region and consist as the names suggests of a parked truck out of which Tacos etc are sold. The meeting was at the Western Washington University, a little bit out of town among pine woods. I was worried about attendance because we had to shift the date 24 hours at only a few hours notice but it turned out to be a very reasonable 20 including some of the local anti-war activists. According to Wikipedia Bellingham has had the longest running anti-war picket in the US, every Friday for 40 years at a street intersection. I'd come across these long running pickets elsewhere as well and had to wonder at the usefulness of putting such a vast amount of time into something that didn't appear to be going anywhere in particular.

WORDS: Andrew Flood (Follow Andrew on Twitter )

  


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