Tag Archives: langley

Rules of the Road (Trip).

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My magic number is 16. That’s how may road trips I figure I can get in between April and the end of August, over the course of 20 possible weekends, taking into account that some weekends will be overtaken with business or bad weather.

This year, I got in 17 road trips. I visited Lynden, La Connor, Edison, Langley (WA), Birch Bay, Fairhaven, Blaine, Fort Langley, Campbell Valley, Whytecliff Park, George C. Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Squamish, and Shannon Falls. It was a good year for discovering new places, and a few of those I visited more than once (in case you wondered how 13 places adds up to 17 road trips).

There were many times when I woke up early, and didn’t feel like getting in the Jeep and going. But I did, because every year the number of enjoyable weekends is limited. And once that nice weather is gone, it’s gone. And that makes me understand and realize that our whole life is like that–we have a limited number of weekends left and each time I put something off for another weekend, or another year, I take the risk that the remaining weekends may not afford me the same freedom as the one before me.

We’re this strange species that acts as though we’re going to live forever. Sure, we know of our mortality. We know how fragile we are, and how fleeting life can be–when it comes to other people. And maybe the way we cope with that is that we don’t acknowledge our own hour glass of time running out. I’m no different. I waste time as much as the next person and don’t spend it as meaningfully as I should. But I have discovered a way to live forever–or if not forever to at least feel as though time has slowed down considerably. It helps to follow a few rules:

  1. Point the Jeep in a direction, but be prepared for unexpected results.
  2. Don’t give yourself a time limit. Sure, eventually it’s time to return home, but that time should be fluid not set.
  3. Wave to other Jeeps. In Washington, they’ll wave back. In Vancouver (Canada), they’ll sometimes wave back.
  4. Check out the small town museum. Always.

And lastly, a few highlights from my past summer of road trips (in no particular order):

10. Little Red Caboose, Blaine

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I finally got to have coffee in the Little Red Caboose Cafe. I first discovered it in 2011 when I took my first road rip to Bellingham, but it was never open. Now it’s under new management and is a fantastic place to stop in for coffee and lunch while in Blaine.

9. Birch Bay

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The outdoor bookstore I discovered in Birch Bay. Even though it doesn’t have a name, it’s within sight of the C Shop if you’re ever there. And bring cash, as the cash register is a bowl where you can leave money and take your own change.

8. Campbell Valley Regional Park

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Campbell Valley Regional Park in Langley (Canada). An easy hike with plenty of historical sites, including an old raceway and a one-room schoolhouse. Watch out for horses as it’s a shared path.

7. Sea to Sky Gondola

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The Sea to Sky Gondola at Squamish. The views here are spectacular. What can I say that this photo doesn’t say on its own.

6. Snoqualmie

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The town of Snoqualmie. This was one of the longest drives I made–just over three hours– and while the falls themselves were a bit underwhelming (I went on a long weekend, and I don’t much like crowded spaces) the city was lovely. The train museum is worth the trip itself, but the cafe across the street from it was some of the best coffee I’ve had in awhile.

5. Edison/La Conner

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This was one of my favourite places to visit this year and I went back often. There’s something therapeutic about the Chuckanut Drive that leads to this place, and everyone I met were so friendly and amazing. The Slough for lunch, the Bread Farm for my sour dough, and then to the Calico in La Connor for coffee. That it lead me to learning about Fish Town was just a bonus.

4. Lynden

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The Dutch Village Inn.

I discovered this place in 2011 completely by accident. I was on a road trip with an ex-girlfriend, and we happened upon it. Since then, I’ve been returning here several times a year–mostly for the Lynden Dutch Bakery.

3. Langley, WA

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I discovered Langley by Googling, “Best small towns in Washington” and it showed up on a list. Seemed like an interesting place to point the Jeep, so I drove down there. Not only did I get to drive the Chuckanut, but I also saw Deception Pass, Oak Harbor, and Coupville. Whidbey Island is an amazing place and I return here as often as possible.

2. Fairhaven, WA

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Village Books

Fairhaven is a historic part of Bellingham, and filled with wonderful lunch spots and cafes. Village Books is lots of fun to peruse, and Rocket Donuts is just down the street.

1. That time I met a knight!

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I ended August with a trip to Langley (Canada) for the annual BC Renaissance Festival. I go every year to watch the jousting.

It seems fitting, if you’ve ever seen Highlander, that Princes of the Universe by Queen should be the theme song for this post. And of course, summer isn’t exactly over and there could be a few more road trips ahead. But as September arrives, the weather is far more unpredictable. Although, Lynden is beautiful to visit in October!

James in his Jeep Getting Java – Langley, WA Edition

This is going to be a classic edition of the blog, as these photos are from the several trips I took last year driving down to Langley, Washington on Whidbey Island. While there are many small towns along the way to visit, and I’ve been to almost all of them, today I’m going to focus on Langley as that was where I spent the most time.

First, the Jeep. It’s a 2014 Wrangler, and this is what it looks like those few times when it’s clean. Always good to start the road trip with a clean vehicle, and end with it dirty. Last spring when I made all my road trips to Langley, I was fortunate to have sunny skies and hot weather. So I drove with the top down the entire way playing classic rock on the stereo. The soundtrack song for these trips is Def Leppard, Pour Some Sugar On Me.

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The drive through Deception Pass is stunning. Every time I drive over it, I have to stop to marvel at the view. There are trails for hiking, if you’re into that sort of thing, but if you’re more like me you can still get a good look at seals playing in the water or eagles hunting along the shore. Amazing.

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Along this particular road, I drove through Oak Harbor and Coupville, both of which I stopped and spent some time in. More on them another time. Langley, WA (not to be confused with Langley, Canada, which is another great place,) is a quaint little place on the water that reminds me of Steveston.

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There’s lots to do in this town. There are three bookstores to choose from for one thing. Kids Books & Puppets pairs up a great book and puppet for your little one, Gregor Rare Books specializes in rare books, and Through the Reading Glass has a plethora of used books to suit whatever your taste.

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But a road trip just wouldn’t be a road trip without a great place to get a cup of Java. Here’s where things get strange – the best place to sit and have coffee in this village actually only makes tea! It’s true! Kalakala Mercantile does make a tea that tastes like coffee, but it isn’t coffee. It is, however, darn good. This friendly spot is the kind of place that you can walk into, and have a conversation with the employees whereby you tell them what flavours you like and they will suggest a tea for you. So far, I have had a dozen teas from them and they have been spot on each time.

 

The photo of me in what I think is a red shirt but probably isn’t was taken one sunny afternoon when I was sitting on the tea house’s patio and I met the woman who is in charge of the town fair. As we sat chatting, she introduced me to everyone who passed by us and I wound up having this amazing afternoon of unexpected shared stories. I loved it!

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The best lunch spot in town is the Useless Bay Coffee Co. They have indoor seating, and a HUGE outdoor patio. Their burgers are yummy, and I even quite liked the American Iced Tea (for those of you who don’t know, Canadian Iced Tea is mostly sugar). I return to this spot every time I’m in Langley.

There’s also a great spot to walk along the water and sit for awhile on a bench. And if you see a whale, there’s a bell to ring so the whole town can know and rush to see.

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The theme song: