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In looking back at all the locations of note on our Bellingham map, I quickly realized that the majority of our key spots were restaurants – lots of good eating! While there was more than just eating going on in our short Bellingham stay, eating was definitely one of the highlights. This trip was overall filled with positives, though there were also some insights gained about weather and mood that we will be wise not to ignore. So these lessons learned, as well as some highlights and memories make up this write up on our recent stay in B’ham.
Itinerary: 6 nights in Bellingham
From a high level, travel lessons learned perspective, one of our bigger insights is that we do feel ourselves impacted by the colder, rainier, wintery weather of the Pacific NW. We had a good mix of friends, alone time, work time, play time, and run time during this segment of travel, and there were still some days when we both found ourselves still struggling to feel excited or happy. And as we think through various influences that were impacting our moods, it’s hard to ignore cold and rain as an influence. We say this because there were no major disappointments, no tragedies to deal with, nothing at all of note that would normally make us feel down. And when analyzing what’s changed, what’s different, and what might be influencing our mood, it’s hard to ignore the weather. It’s not a huge deal and we’re not moping around and crying all day, but the general vibe at times was just a little more “blah” than what we’ve felt the past couple months. This leads to less motivation to tackle projects and to accomplish normal life list stuff that we normally love plowing through.
So a possible lesson learned from our first couple weeks back in the PNW is that we enjoy being in summer more than winter/early spring. We’ve said this before and it’s not a novel idea, but it might be something we should take more seriously looking ahead in planning where we spend our time.
It also didn’t help that the hotel we stayed in (Four Points Sheraton) only had indoor facing windows and minimal natural light. We were upgraded to the one bedroom suite, which was fantastic, and a great benefit from having Gold status with SPG, but the room faced a big indoor pool area with a translucent dome roof, and was consequently darker. I can’t complain about this room because it was huge and it was great to have the free upgrade, but less light in an already dreary climate probably doesn’t help the mood.
I don’t want to paint a negative picture about this time though because overall, we had a great time and really positive experiences. This is simply one aspect of an otherwise really good stay. I also don’t want to overlook the mood shift during this period because it’s important. And when we have geographic flexibility, this stuff is something to be paying attention to. Lesson learned!
Now that I’ve talked about the less happy part of things, I can happily share that we overall had a really good time in Bellingham. Here are some of the highlights and memories I hope to keep:
- The Chuckanut 50k was awesome! The weather was actually really good for racing and spectating this year. It was sunny, it got up to 50+ degrees, and we had loads of friends, runners, and coaches to spend the day with. Dionne came up to cheer with us along with good friends Anna, Maria, and Dan. We saw so many good people in a short time period; it felt like a reunion. And our runners from Team RunRun had fantastic races; all around rewarding day! We were exhausted by the end of it all, but well worth it!
- There were so many vegan options in Bellingham. Every restaurant on our list had clearly labeled vegan items on their menus or stated which things could be made vegan. It was easy and we never once had a challenging situation in finding food. In fact, we didn’t even cover all the highly rated places on our Happy Cow app!
- Hanging out with Alex! He is an old friend from our running days in Vancouver, WA. He is now an ICU nurse in B’ham. He had a few days off from work and we ended up spending lots of quality time together.
- He and I tackled a 30+ mile trail run together on the Chuckanut course. Awesome! Anytime I can get someone to run that far with me, and in a gorgeous place, I’m a happy guy!
- He played in the hotel pool and hot tub with me and Paavo – Paavo proudly showed off his “let go” and jumping in. The highlight for him though was hanging out in the hot tub. The water wasn’t too hot and having the bubbles going and getting to hang in “hot water” is a big deal for him.
- We had three good dinner meals in a row with Alex, trying out local pizza (Rudy’s), sushi and ramen (Muto Izakaya), and southwestern US (Pepper Sisters). All good food, and easier Paavo-restaurant management given there were three of us to play/entertain him while stuck in the high chair!
- Always fun to catch up with Alex, share new ideas, talk about old adventures (he hiked the PCT and CDT too), and simply hang out with a cool guy
- Paavo loves veggie sushi. He crushes the nori seaweed part, he says the word “sushi” a lot, knows what it means, and loves when we get him sushi. I think I was well into my 20s before I even knew what sushi was!
- Whatcom Museum Family Interactive Gallery: An interactive play space as part of the Whatcom Museum, this was a good indoor activity for Paavo, and especially good when they offered a discounted entry (check website for which days, but it cut the cost from $10/ticket to $5/ticket). While it was a cool space with hands-on stuff and learning activities, it was small, but certainly got the job done for a morning of entertainment, and we’re glad we only paid $10 total to play.
- Perch and Play: Julie found this gem later in our stay when we were forced indoors. $10 for the day and plenty of play options for Paavo. Two floors of kids’ stuff, trains, slides, stuff to climb on. He was busy the entire time and not eager to leave for lunch and nap. The place also had a good cafe and work area for adults. So Julie and I traded off playing with Paavo while the other worked. Really convenient.
- The weather actually was sunny for our first few days and had us thinking “we could totally live here”. The views of the Bay, the mountains, the trees, it’s a really pretty place.
- Then when the rain started up our last couple days, we thought, “nope”. 🙂
- Boulevard Park was one of Julie and Paavo’s favorites. Windy was the only negative as this play area was located down on the waterfront.
- Our hotel stay was really good. We’ve stayed at this hotel a couple times already and this time, with the upgrade, it was even better. We paid just over $100/night for the six nights and given that right now is a points bonus time for SPG members, we were able to earn a ton of rewards with this stay which will lead to maintaining or improving our hotel status as well as getting more free stays down the road. If you don’t know this about me yet, I love playing the points games with hotels, airlines, and credit cards! It’s such a fun strategy game to optimize these things and this stay was largely a result of me trying to optimize hotel points and credit cards bonuses!
- The running was great! Lots of gravel trails and paths all through the town. The Interurban trail is more than 10k and provided me with a good place to workout. And of course there is the Chuckanut course and all the mountain trails. Julie enjoyed running down on the waterfront on the Bay Trail and was able to rack up a bunch of miles too. There was plenty of running left unexplored by us on this visit. Big positive of this area.
- My foot was hurting again though after a Steady State/Long run combo. After doing a couple of runs that had me hobbling a bit, and a question from Alex about taking time off, I actually decided to end my 2+ year running streak. Feeling good about it, but it was a big decision given that I had run every day of Paavo’s life up to this point.
- Our hotel is right next to Fred Meyer and Whole Foods. We did a lot of breakfasts at WFs and it’s so fun to watch Paavo pushing around the “Customer in Training” small grocery carts. He looks so proud and seems so happy following me around with the cart. And at Fred Meyer, Julie and Paavo enjoy shopping together and looking at toys. He added a few new small Thomas the Train engines to his collection along with a couple more Dr. Seuss books. A new rule was instituted that whenever we buy a new toy, we also buy a new book!
- Morning PBS shows on the big hotel TV were the norm here. “Big movie” in Paavo language was part of the hotel fun here. I like these shows too and feel like they have some good content. Sesame Street, Wild Kratts, Arthur, and Daniel Tiger – thumbs up.
- I got to be part of a presentation “How to Crush your 100 Miler” at local running shop (Fairhaven Runners) with some of our Team RunRun coaches. We had a big turnout and it was great getting together with these coaches. They are a huge part of the growth we’re having as a company, and getting to spend time with them in person (not just online) was awesome.
All in, our 6 days in Bellingham were really good. We had a good hotel stay, tons of good food, running was awesome, we hung out with good people, and Paavo had fun stuff to do. The rain and cold are a challenge, but we’re aware of it and making the best of it. Life is good and we’re loving our travel lifestyle – onward!