For Labor Day Weekend we flew up north to visit friends and family in Washington. Since this blog references trees in its very name, you can bet I was thrilled to visit WA, known as the Evergreen State.
The flight in was pretty magical – we had a beautiful view of Mt. Rainier at sunset, and as we descended through the blanket of clouds covering the whole state, such a feeling of peace came over me. It was dark when we landed, but I swear even at night I could feel the trees and the lush shadows. It was enough just to know that they were there, and we were there and would be able to enjoy them for the next three days! The next morning was equally as calming, when we woke up to the sounds of leaves rustling and birds chirping through the open windows. It seems silly to appreciate something like sleeping with an open window, but it’s a luxury we currently can’t have, and so we enjoyed it immensely.
Our body clocks had us up pretty early, so we snuck out while our friends who were graciously hosting us still slept and walked across the street to Juanita Bay Park on Lake Washington. It was amazing to see the little city of Kirkland come alive and the park fill up with people and puppies alike as they all stretched their legs along the water. I had a hard time fathoming how great it would be to have something so beautiful right in your backyard. Later in the day we tried stand-up paddleboarding, which was a blast! I’ve never done it before and was definitely sore afterwards, but I did manage to stand up once, so there’s that 🙂
After we said goodbye to Emily & Jeremy, it was time to head north on I-5 to Bellingham! We had rented a cute Airbnb near the Fairhaven neighborhood, and it was both the best and worst thing we could have done. Best because the neighborhood was absolute bliss, worst because I left feeling like I want to move there tomorrow! ….seriously. It would have been easier if we visited and felt “meh” about it, but I dare say we fell in love with the area.
The entire weekend from then on was so much fun! We really enjoyed the walkability of Bellingham and the calm beauty of Fairhaven. It’s like living in the middle of a forest, but you’re within walking distance to a fun downtown area with shopping and restaurants, docks and walking trails. Of course we absolutely loved Woods Coffee, a Washington staple and the cutest little coffee shop right on the water in Boulevard Park.
On our way to meet my cousins for dinner, we were walking to the car and trying to figure out what type of fruit tree was in the yard (like total tourists) and all of a sudden I stopped in my tracks and said, “Oh my gosh! That deer statue scared the crap out of me, it looks so real!” Then the deer statue’s ear twitched! It was real! Mama and baby deer, still with its spots, were wandering the neighbor’s yard eating fallen apples. They were only a few feet away, and we stood still and watched them for probably 15 minutes, just enjoying the nature that was right in front of us, in the middle of the city! It was such a special moment.
We had such a fantastic time visiting with my cousins who live in Ferndale, just a few minutes to the north. They made a very convincing argument for living here! I felt so much better when Shannon said that the rain and weather doesn’t really bother her. I’ve always felt that the rain and overcast weather wouldn’t depress me like everyone says it does. I feel the opposite in Phoenix: day after day of harsh sun is absolutely exhausting! A cloudy day always feels invigorating and I love a good dosing of rain, so I actually think I could handle the weather here just fine. I even like my hair better in Washington, hello volume! 😉 As if we weren’t already convinced, Ben was kind enough to pull the boat out of storage and take us all out on Lake Whatcom. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day, spending time with family and getting to really explore the gorgeous area of Whatcom County.
I had a hard time thinking about leaving, and we spent a big chunk of the last day sitting in traffic back to Seattle – the exact kind of environment I want to run from, and yet we were running right back towards it again. The plane ride back to Arizona was really tough for me, and my anxiety was very high. I had finally begun to calm down from the takeoff when the pilot announced that those on the left side of the plane could see Mt. Rainier. This wasn’t a surprise, especially since we had seen it on the way in just a few days before. But this time, the pilot tipped the wing just right to give us the most amazing view of this snow-capped mountain. I felt like I could just jump out the window with skis strapped on and land *poof* in the snow! It was so nice that he did that and I was very grateful for the distraction to snap me out of my flying panic. Thank you Delta Pilot!
I’ve been to Washington several times before, but never through the lens of “Could I live here one day?” It was always just a beautiful place to visit with loved ones, to enjoy the lovely weather and marvel at the greenery. But this time, it felt like every minute was spent wondering: Would this be the highway I drive down for my commute one day? Could this be my future favorite coffee shop / park / date night pizza shop etc.? Is this airport where I’ll fly into when I’m coming home?
It was surreal to think of anywhere other than Arizona as home. But as I thought about it over the course of the weekend, I realized that Arizona is home by default (I’ve never known anything else!), but not home by choice. I’ve always lived here because it was easy, my family was here, and I just had never considered a life anywhere else. As I’m starting to expand my thinking and consider these big life changes, I am realizing that I want to create a home for myself that I choose. Maybe that will end up being Arizona after all. But if it is, I want it to be because I chose it, not because I settled for it out of fear of the unknown.
I don’t know if we’ll end up in Bellingham, or even Washington at all. But I definitely think it could be a fantastic option. The weather, the vast forests and rugged coastline, the beautiful old homes and outdoor lifestyle – it all appeals! I’m really looking forward to the next time we can visit, and for now I’ll just keep looking at all of these photos (and dreaming of Woods Coffee, of course)!