Friday, January 9, 2009

Our Weekend in Bellingham

Instead of giving each other Christmas presents this year we decided to save the money for a weekend away. We also wanted a way to celebrate our 3rd wedding anniversary, which officially was on December 30th. So the first weekend in 2009 we headed north to Bellingham, WA. We both had heard good things about Bellingham. This city is very near the Canadian border and home to Western Washington University. It had a classic, old downtown feel with a definite college presence. While we wanted to make sure to hit a couple of areas in Bellingham, we didn't have a huge agenda. It was supposed to be a weekend of relaxation and go-with-the-flow fun.

On Friday I worked all day and after my hour commute home, we drove another two hours north. We checked into our hotel (the Best Western Heritage Inn -- amazing hotel and good price) and went straight to dinner. Then we headed straight to Rudy's for dinner. I would say the deciding factor in visiting Bellingham, for our first weekend away since our mini-honeymoon, was to go to Rudy's. Robb's favorite pizza restaurant when he lived in Kansas was Rudy's. He even used to have a pet bird named Rudy. He hadn't eaten Rudy's pizza in over 6 years and still missed it and talked about it often. A friend from Kansas told him that Bellingham had a Rudy's. Apparently Kansas natives moved to Bellingham and missed Rudy's so much that they contacted the owners and opened a restaurant in Bellingham. So two places in the world have Rudy's: Lawrence, KS and Bellingham, WA. So that's the first place we had to find in Bellingham. And we were not disappointed. Robb was very pleased to find it tasted almost the exact same. And I was impressed with the pizza as well. I'm sure we'll go back to Bellingham again when Robb needs another Rudy's fix. On Saturday we started the day in downtown Bellingham. We first needed to find breakfast. We walked by a couple of places and were drawn into Little Cheerful. This tiny restaurant was packed and had a definite college, independent vibe. Breakfast was phenomenal. I had a hashbrown combo that included "browns," mushrooms, onions, spinach, tomatos, avocado, sour cream, and a fried egg on top. It was one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. Robb had the special of the day: eggs benedict with huge hunks of wild salmon, artichokes, asparagus, onions, and mushrooms. We left breakfast stuffed and very happy. We then walked around downtown Bellingham to check out the turn-of-the century architecture and independent shops.
Our next stop was the Radio and Electricity Museum. This museum chronicled the beginning of electricity, telegraphs, and radios. It had one of the first lightbulbs created by Edison. There were also some electricity demonstrations. The volunteer presenting these demonstrations said that I had the best hair he'd seen all week! I definitely learned a few things and enjoyed myself, but Robb is a lot more interested in those types of things and probably would have bought a year's membership if we lived in Bellingham. Late in the afternoon we headed to Fairhaven, a miniature district of Bellingham that everyone said we had to go to. We got there and are sad to say that we weren't incredibly impressed. The neighborhood seemed very upscale and sterile, rather than the Bohemian feel we expected to see. Most of the stores were closed, even though it was only late afternoon/early evening on a Saturday. And none of the restaurants really interested us. We stopped in the bookstore for awhile and then went back to downtown Bellingham for the rest of the evening. (We were really disappointed in Fairhaven after all the hype, so we decided to give it another try Sunday mid-morning. Again, weren't really impressed. We got a good view of the water and found a statue of "Dirty Dan," one of the founders of Fairhaven. But other than that, didn't find much different than the afternoon before.) Saturday evening we went to a gastropub for dinner called the Copper Hog. A gastropub is essentially a bar with more upscale food. So instead of regular hamburger sliders, I got bison sliders. It was a nice pub with good food and we enjoyed ourselves.
On Sunday, after our failed second trip to Fairhaven, we went to downtown Bellingham for lunch at Bandito's Burritos. As a burrito connoisseur, I rate the burritos as a little boring. However, the salsa bar was amazing and that really saved the burrito. Then we visited Whatcom Falls. Bellingham is known as "Hiking Town, USA." The city is known for the extensive hiking trails within city limits. So we stayed in town to experience one of these trails. Whatcom Falls was stunning and in the middle of the city. An old stone bridge overlooks the falls and had brilliant green moss covering it. We walked around the trails for awhile taking pictures of all the different water views. It was a beautiful area. Before heading out of town we stopped at Mallard's. This ice cream spot is famous for their homemade flavors. Robb was especially impressed with the chai flavored ice cream. The woman who scooped the ice cream told us that the store mixes their own spices to create the chai. No mixes for them. Instead of driving on the interstate all the way back to Federal Way, we took the scenic route out of town. Chuckanut Drive (or Rt. 11) had been closed for about a month in November/December. There had been landslides and boulders the size of cars were in the roads. We were told not to really go on the road if the weather was bad or at night. It could be somewhat dangerous. But we left Bellingham early enough in the afternoon so that we wouldn't be on the road when it got dark. The road drives along cliffs overlooking Puget Sound. The day we went, the weather was still mostly clear, but starting to turn (by the time we drove past Seattle, on the interstate, snow was coming down hard and we got about 3 inches of snow before rain melted it away the next morning). So while we were on Chuckanut Drive, the roads weren't yet wet, but it was incredibly windy and snow was spitting out of the sky every once in awhile. This led to some amazing views. We would stop at viewpoints and get out of the car to look into the Sound. Waves were crashing, trees were whipping in the wind, and the sky was very gray. The day was just this incredible feeling of raw, wild, unforgiving nature. People have told me that it's best to see Chuckanut Drive in the summer. But I am so grateful that we saw it on a blustery, winter day. The pictures truly do not do it justice. I wish I could convey the power I felt that day. We were incredibly impressed with that drive and most of our trip. I'm sure we'll go to Bellingham again one day, because Lord knows, if nothing else, we need to have Rudy's and Little Cheerful food again!

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