The first leg of our trip started out without a hitch, aside from some cross border banking issues. I did a bunch of research into the best approach several months ago, and we decided to go with a Canadian bank with a second linked bank in the US. What they failed to tell us was that there are no branches anywhere on the west coast, necessary for us to pick up a debit card. In addition some necessary paperwork wasn't submitted, and we were not informed of this despite the fact that we had set everything up more than a month before we were set to depart. I discovered this the morning we left, after several hours on hold with the bank that morning and the night before. Fun times!
After that everything went incredibly smoothly, we breezed through customs on both sides of the border (we took the ferry from Sidney, BC to Anacortes, WA) which was a huge relief as I had heard horror stories of other full time travel families running into issues with border crossings. Going across the border feels a bit like driving by a police car – I instantly feel guilty even though I have done nothing wrong! The ferry ride was a great experience, the gulf islands are breathtaking, and there are lots of puzzles provided by the ferry, which comes in handy after an hour or so with restless kids! We took a walk out on the deck to take in the view, but the wind was really strong (and cold!) so our sojourn outside was quick.
We had decided to stay in La Conner, WA as we are trying out a Thousand Trails membership, which meant we had a half hour drive to make after landing. Thousand Trails is a membership based program with RV parks spread out across the US (and one in BC). We took advantage of a two zones for the cost of one offer at the beginning of January and purchased the Northwest and Southwest zones, meaning we are covered from Washington down to Arizona. The pass covers the cost of your first 30 days, and each day after that is $3.00. Given that we are traveling through California (one of the most expensive spots to stay with an RV, or so we have heard) we thought it would be a good idea. We have booked in at resorts all down the West Coast and will add another zone afterwards if we end up liking it (so far so good!)
The drive through Anacortes was lovely, We would love to come back and spend a bit more time there. The La Conner RV Park is on reserve land just outside of town, and it is gorgeous. The woman at the front desk directed us to some waterfront spots (it's first come first serve) and we made our way over. We ran into a minor hiccup in the form of another tight turn and have a little dent on our bumper to prove it, but I am hoping that by the time we have a few more miles under our belt we should be able to navigate tight corners with ease. I have been so impressed with how kind and helpful the RV community is, as soon as we ran into trouble a really nice guy came over to help us out. There is a real feeling of camaraderie among this community, and it encompasses all ages.In the end we found a breathtaking spot on the beach, and managed to time it so that we were able to fully appreciate a gorgeous sunset while we were at it. Talk about good luck!
We ventured into Bellingham after that, in order to track down an all important SIM card. In addition to the benefits of being able to stay in touch with friends and family on the road, I am also conscious of the necessity of a cell phone if we run into trouble on the road, so this was top priority. We encountered several GPS misadventures, including a clogged freeway that the GPS kept trying to navigate us back to (we arrived during rush hour) and a turn onto a back street completely blocked by a tow truck. We were privy to one of the worst drivers I have ever seen (they just about rammed into our vehicle multiple times) and a rather scary example of road rage, which included another driver getting out of their vehicle to kick the offending driver's car. Wow! We back tracked and took the freeway off the GPS, but it ended up taking 30 mins to go a distance that should have taken 5, thanks to the fact that our GPS has a talent for finding every route that was completely blocked. It didn't help that our collective blood sugar had dropped, as we were anticipating everything happening in a much more timely manner!
We tracked down the T-Mobile shop, which was conveniently located just across from a Fred Meyer grocery store and Black Pearl Asian Fusion restaurant. We went in and had a series of vegan friendly Pho bowls, which were made all the more delicious following an amazing chat with one of the owners about the importance of whole foods and preservative free ingredients! It was a lovely experience, and a great way to finish our night. Our next stop was Fred Meyer to stock up on groceries, and I was really impressed with the store. It is a huge mega mart, with a good selection of organics and healthy products, like kombucha, tempeh, dairy free options and bulk items. They had everything from a garden centre and clothing to a jewellery store! My big find was an organic buddha's hand citrus, some people buy a bottle of wine to celebrate a new adventure, I buy expensive ugly fruit! We have used it tons over the past week, and it has come in really handy. It provides lovely citrus notes, with less tang than lemon (to quote my daughter!)
We made our way back to the La Conner RV park and did some star gazing on the beach before heading to bed. We woke the next morning to a beautiful view, and took full advantage with playtime at the beach and the kids play area (which was conveniently located just around the corner) before heading out.
Bellingham & La Conner Highlights
La Conner RV Camping and Resort – part of the Thousand Trails parks, La Conner RV park is located on First Nations Reserve land, and is absolutely gorgeous. We lucked out with a waterfront view, however all of the spots are lovely as you are surrounded in trees. It is a full service park, with propane refills, showers, a work out room and a Family Center, with games and other activities.
T-Mobile – We were impressed with T-Mobile, there customer service and coverage is good, and for someone coming in from outside the US their hassle free prepaid plans are really convenient.
Black Pearl Asian Fusion Restaurant – I was really impressed with this spot, they have an extensive menu, the food is delicious and I was happy to hear that the chef has a focus on whole foods and preservative free cooking!
Fred Meyer – a local grocery chain that carries everything from garden plants and jewellery to organic produce. We have been to a couple different locations in Washington so far and have been impressed with their organic and natural food sections.