I always brag that I grew up in the most beautiful place. And I did. But Bellingham, located in Whatcom County in the northwestern corner of Washington, is a close second. I’m fortunate to have spent the better part of 4 years there, and it’s a place I’d gladly go back to.
Do you ever see or hear about something and just know that it’s exactly what you’re looking for? For me, Western Washington University was that something. I knew I wanted to go to school on the west coast. I knew I wanted to keep competing in track, so the school needed to have a team. I had no clue what I wanted to major in, so that wasn’t a consideration. In reality, what ended up making my decision was a postcard.
Yep, you read that right. A postcard. One of those little things you get in the mail from colleges all over the country after you take the SATs. It was a picture of the WWU college dorms looking out over Bellingham Bay. As soon as I saw it, I said, “Mom, that’s where I’m going.” And it was settled.
Despite our trip to check out colleges the previous summer (and the fact that we’d been just a handful of miles from Bellingham), I’d never heard of WWU before. I never even visited it before I accepted their offer of admission. Like I said, I just knew. When August rolled around, it was time for orientation. So my mom and I hopped in the car and began the 13-hour drive to what would soon be my new home. We split it into two days, giving us time to stop at some viewpoints along the way since neither of us had been to western Washington before.
I remember as we drew closer to Bellingham, my mom asked me if I was nervous. I shook my head and said I wasn’t. “What if you don’t like it?” she asked. I shrugged. In my mind, that wasn’t even a possibility. For someone who isn’t very good at stepping into the unknown without knowledge and a solid plan, I’m not entirely sure what inspired this blind confidence. But as it turned out, my instincts were right.
Bellingham is a great town and WWU was everything I knew it would be. The bay is visible from the university. The waterfront is just a short drive (or run) away, with a boardwalk that stretches out over the water, a public park, and a cozy coffee shop with delicious drinks. It’s the perfect place to jog, study, play Frisbee, or sit and watch the sunset. I have about a hundred sunset pictures from my four years there. For the sake of reasonableness, I’ve narrowed it down to just a few.
Don’t go to Bellingham without a raincoat, and be prepared to go a few days at a time without seeing the sun. Also, it’s a coastal town so there’s usually wind… but don’t bring an umbrella unless you want to stick out like a sore thumb. Wind + umbrella = comic relief for those around you.
But when the clouds part and the sun peeks through, grab your camera and get out there. A sunny day in Bellingham is a great day to do some exploring!