Chris peered at me. I peered back. “Well?” I gesture toward the truck. “What’re we waiting for?”
We exit the Alaska Packers Association Museum at Semiahmoo Park and bee-line to the Peace Arch State Park in Blaine, Washington. (For background, see Spit-in in Semiahmoo.)
With its two-lane road through downtown, quaint shops and restaurants, upscale residences and beach-hugging real estate, Blaine is about as far north as you can get in Washington State and still remain in the U.S. Blaine borders Canada. Its ocean-hugging real estate reminds me of the beautiful southern California town of Coronado.
We wind our way to the famous Peace Arch, which is both a state park and a national historic site. Rolling in to the parking lot, we adjust our Discover Pass on the rear view mirror, grab our Igloo cooler and step out on to the asphalt.
This park is amazing! Located half inside Washington State and half inside British Columbia, B.C., the park features some of the most beautiful grounds and rolling green hills ever.
“Check out these Rhodies!” Chris points out clusters of flowering blooms as we head toward a picnic table. The Rhododendrons light up the grounds like neon signs.
After lunch we follow the bricked path and signs to a hillside overlooking the Peace Arch. Silver shafts of afternoon sun pour out of the sky, bleaching the arch pearly white. Stately and august, the arch rises out of a trim green lawn smack dab in the middle of the highway, right between the U.S. Port of Entry and the Canadian Port of Entry.
“This is so cool!” I crow. We pause for the usual obligatory pictures on the U.S. side of the arch, dash a few feet to the other side and repeat the process on the Canadian side.
“Look, Ma! I’m in CANADA!” I wave at no one in particular. The arch straddles both U.S. and Canadian borders and commemorates the long friendship between these two great nations and the longest undefended border in the world.
The park is marinated in kaleidoscopic beauty on both sides of the border: trees, ferns, flowers, art work.
After about a million photos or so, Chris ambles back to the truck. I tarry a bit, striking up a conversation with a Border Patrol Agent walking the park on the U.S. side. He’s young, dark haired and sun-glassed. “Excuse me,” I smile and gesture to a saw-toothed mountain range east of Mount Baker. “Do you happen to know what mountains those are?”
He stops, following my hand. “Well, that’s Mount Baker over there,” he points to the snowy colossus to the west. “But I haven’t quite been here long enough to figure out what those other peaks are. You can always Google it.” He fishes out his phone but no luck. I make a mental note to check on-line when we get back to our hotel.
We swap horror stories about threading through Seattle’s horrendous downtown traffic – “everybody hates going through there. What a nightmare!”
“If we could chopper over that whole city and skip the I-5 entirely, we would” I reply, rolling my eyes. I mention that we’re visiting from southwest Washington for our 36th anniversary and this is our first visit to Blaine and Whatcom County.
“Congratulations,” he smiles. Pausing, he adds, “Do you know if you’ll be in the area for dinner?” He checks his watch. It’s mid-afternoon.
“Maybe,” I say. “Can you recommend a good place for dinner?” He recommends several and includes directions. I ask a few more tourist-type questions. He answers. We shake hands and I head back to the truck.
“I wish we had more time. I could spend a week here!” I tell Chris in the parking lot.
Chris nods as he tickles the ignition. ““Amen to that! I just can’t get over how beautiful this place is! There’s so much to see and do.”
“We’ll have to come back when we have more time – and our passports.”
Chris puts the truck in drive and we roll out of the parking lot. “Agreed. That’s going on our bucket list for sure!”
Join us for another “bucket list” adventure as we head to Oregon tomorriw for part five of our June series: 30 West Coast Ways: Celebrating Great Outdoors Month in Washington, Oregon and California.