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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Why Bellingham has become our new home base

Every RVer needs a home base. For us, we're happy to say that our home base is now Bellingham, where we moved last week.

We've had home bases in Spokane and the Seattle area. Now it feels like Bellingham will usher in a new chapter, one that will allow us to spend even more time traveling in our RV while also giving us a cool place to hang out when we're not on the road.

If you've never visited the northwest corner of Washington, please consider putting it on your list. Here are a few of the reasons we love it.


Sweet memories

This chill city not far from British Columbia is where we first met way back in the 1980s. We both graduated from the journalism program at Western Washington University, John staying on a couple years to work at the Bellingham Herald.

Ever since, we’ve talked about the possibility of returning to the Ham to live one day, but we had careers and homes elsewhere. In the last two years, we've downsized, and when our dear friends -- former Spokanites Ted Barnwell and Virginia de Leon -- offered to let us stay at their condo while they were away teaching school in Vietnam, it seemed like destiny.


Larrabee State Park

This gorgeous chunk of land off Chuckanut Drive — Washington’s first state park — was where we first began talking seriously about making the shift.

Its stunning landscape truly captures everything we love about the area, from the rocky seashore to the hiking trails climbing to views of the Salish Sea from the Chuckanut Mountains that make for Instagram-worthy photos.

In recent years, we’ve camped there a couple of times and had fantastic experiences. That said, campers should be aware that train tracks travel right through the park, so the peaceful vibe is occasionally interrupted by lumbering locomotives, a small price to pay for such a cool spot.


Parks and trails

Speaking of railways, the former tracks of a line that ran from Bellingham to Mount Vernon more than 100 years ago are now part of the extensive Interurban Trail around the city and beyond.

It’s possible to easily walk, bike or run from our new home base in the historic Fairhaven neighborhood to downtown and beyond without ever crossing paths with traffic. We’ve both logged enough miles getting around that we have our favorite routes in the city, meandering through forests and past ancient fish ladders along Padden Creek.

Portions of the tree-lined trails can feel like you’re in a leafy tunnel, offering shade on a warm summer day and protection from the elements when it's raining.

Our favorite neighborhood parks include Fairhaven Park, the sweet little green space in Happy Valley and Sehome Arboretum near the Western campus.


Farm fresh

If you’re like Leslie and judge the merits of a city on its farmers market and produce stands, Bellingham earns high marks.

Beyond the excellent Saturday Farmers Market, there are lots of opportunities to buy direct from producers if you head north toward Lynden or south to Skagit Valley, where summer berries are spectacular.

John, on the other hand, appreciates a different kind of farmer, which he wrote about for EverCannabis, The Spokesman-Review’s weed-centric publication.


We’re so close

Even though we’re tucked up into the Northwest corner of the state, we’re not far from Canada — when the border opens, we’re ready to travel. And we can easily take a day trip to Seattle.

The ferry to the San Juan Islands is only a short drive away in Anacortes and the same goes for the crossing to Lummi Island.

We’ve already used the home base as a jumping off spot to explore the North Cascades National Park and the beautiful area around Deception Pass on Whidbey. We’re looking forward to more trips that take in the best of this spectacular region.

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.