Bellingham Icons

I can't not (double aren't supposed to do that in writing are you?) continue to write about my awesome "city" I live in.  If you read my post from awhile back about why Bellingham, WA is amazing, I think it needs a follow up. While on a ride the other week I encountered some awesome things, most notably the man I like to call "The Shirtless Wonder".  Now, if you live in Bellingham you HAVE to know who I am talking about.  He is most commonly seen mashing his pedals on Lakeway, no shirt, bike shorts, and on the occasion if it's cold out he will wear gloves (please shirt).  Who is this man?  I have to paint a description for those who have never seen him.  He rides a bike with down tube shifters, he uses clipless pedals, always wears black bike shorts, hardly ever wears a shirt, and NEVER wears a helmet (someone once asked me if he looks like he is from the 80's.  I replied yes).  If he deems it too cold, he wears gloves, and if it's even colder than that, he might put a white t-shirt on (yes that's if it's below 30 degrees).  He hammers his bike around town, his long hair blowing in the wind letting it all hang out (shirtless wonder).  Someone once told me that if you encounter him at a stop light, he will race you when it turns green.  This man baffles me, when I saw him the other week I was riding out on the Lummi Reservation (yes he ventures past Lakeway).  My layers included a wool base layer, a long sleeve fuzzy/thermal jersey, a wind vest, winter gloves (with hand warmers inside them), leg warmers, and booties (with little hotties in my shoes).  He was wearing; bike shorts and gloves, but he gave a great big wave, and so did I.

I hear this man is a legend, a bit of an anomaly, everyone knows who he is, what's his story?  I heard he got trapped in his car in a freezing cold river so his thermoregulation is all messed up, except for his hands, they must not get circulation.  He can be Bellingham Icon #1.

Moving on.

Bellingham Icon #2.  I think his name is Dan ( I could be SOO off).  I hear he lives in a group home, but you can find him on railroad asking for money (I think he is joking..kind of), most commonly I see him spending time at Avellino (the coffee shop down from the bagelery).  You might also find him pedaling (so slow you wonder how he stays up right) an old cruiser bike with a giant basket in the front which holds his lunch box (yes a lunch box that you would think a 5 yr would carry) and a bucket like helmet (might be climbing helmet, I'm just not sure).  I hear he used to tow a lawn mower around asking people if he could mow their lawn.  If you saw him on the side of the road you would think he was homeless, but he has become one of my favorite Bellingham Icons.  I must not be alone in this decision because I once saw a painting of him at Casa Que Pasa.  One time I was running downtown and as I ran by him, he was walking his bike (he does this a lot too, I think he is getting old) he asked for a dollar.  I laughed so hard, this man is very funny, why would I have a dollar while I was out for a run?  He is missing some teeth, but he never ceases to amaze me.  Another time I was with a group of friends outside Avellino about to head on a ride, so all of our bikes where leaning against the parking meter.  He walks out of Avellino and starts pointing at each of our bikes and says "$50, $100, $50" wow I could make a lot of money selling your bikes.  If only he knew.

Bellingham Icon #3.  I think this man has since moved on to another world, because I don't see him around anymore and he was quite old.  I most notably saw him when I was in college (when I was an undergrad).  He spent a lot of time in the Western library, and like Bellingham Icon #2 he would ride his bike around town very slowly defying gravity and not falling over.  This man was a lanky man with a medium-sized beard who I once called "Santa".  My favorite part about this man is that whenever he was hanging out at the library, he never took his helmet off, as a matter of fact he probably slept in his helmet.    His helmet was on 100% of the time.  You could spot this man pedaling down the road because he always wore a yellow raincoat.  He was such an icon of Bellingham, that one year a friend of a friend dressed up as him for Halloween.  You would be surprised how many people actually knew who he was!  After a couple of years of seeing this man in a yellow rain coat he switched to black (must have lost or out worn the yellow one).  Someone told me they once saw him on Franklin street living in a cardboard box, not sure how much I believe that one.  Chris tells me he sees him at Fred Meyer on Lakeway, but I have yet to see him there as of late.

Bellingham Icon #4, the running man.  All you have to say to someone is "have you seen the running man?" and they will know exactly who you are talking about.  This man (okay trend here....why are they all men?) runs every where, literally.  I was once told he lives on Lummi Island and he runs to the ferry terminal (on the island) from his home, and then runs into town from the Ferry Terminal on the Res and will then run back.  He typically wears long loose running pants and a long sleeve running jacket.  Need to go grocery shopping?  No problem, he runs there, and then will continue to run around town carrying his bags.  To the hardware store?  I got it, why don't I run there?  He is as skinny as can be and incredibly fit, this man likes to run!  I do tend to see him around in the summer more often than in the winter.

Bellingham is one of those strange places.  It's cute on the outside, but a deep look in and you learn some strange things about this city (don't worry I still think it's better than where you live).  We have a large variety of people from college kids to retired folk that travel the world, to young couples looking to start a family.  We have liberals and conservatives within 10 minutes of each other, hippie barefoot walking college kids at Fairhaven College, and busy business men walking downtown in their suits during lunch hour.  But this city would not be the same without some of my favorite Bellingham Icons.  If there is anyone else I missed (because I know a lot of time it depends on what part of town you spend time in), please chime in!

Unfortunately for you, and fortunately for my favorite icons, I am not a stalker.  Therefore, I do not have pictures of these people to help you identify them.  Just visual them, and if I did a good job at my creative descriptive writing, then when you see them you will know exactly who they are!

12 Reasons why where I live is far superior to where you live

Let me begin by saying I live in the best place in this whole entire country.  Okay, it's true, it depends on who you ask, but let me tell you why this place rocks. #12:  Mt. Baker is only an hour away, if I loved snow sports it's a close drive from home.

#11:  In the event I need to leave the country (whether I need to move or run from the cops), Canada is only 20 minutes away!

#10:  It takes me a maximum of 10 minutes to get to and from work (by car or bike)

#9:  I can go to the Farmers Market in the middle of Winter

#8:  From anywhere in town I can most likely walk to get a GOOD cup of LOCAL coffee.  Espresso Avellino, only the best coffee in Bellingham.

#7: Buy Local.  Enough said.  Okay, not enough said.  This town supports LOCAL shops and eateries (4Starrs, Sojourn, Mi Shoes, Boundary Bay, La Fiamma, D'Annas...just to name a few)

#6:  Bellingham, WA is home of Western Washington University.  Probably one of the only schools in this country to have anatomically correct statues of little men carrying around the San Juan Islands.  Or better yet, a statue of a man humping a bear (or so it looks).  Not only that, but the book store sells shirts that say MHB, with a picture of the statue.  Liberal?  I think so.

#5:  When in season, I get local organic produce weekly from a farm in Everson.  We call these Community Supported Agriculture boxes, and they rock.

#4:  No matter which direction I ride my road bike (South, North, East..can't ride West) I can be out of town and on quite county roads in 10 minutes or less.

#3:  Within 1 mile of my house I can be on a green way (walking, running, biking) that will take me all through town.  Whether it be to Whatcom Falls or down to the Bay, I can get there on gravel paths.

#2:  I can open my garage door, hop on my mountain bike and within 12 minutes I will be at a trail head that leads to the best single track in Washington State.  Doesn't matter if it's the base of Galbraith Mountain or a quick hop onto the Interurban out to the Chuckanuts, I will be there in a snap.


#1:  The last but not least best reason that where I live is far superior to where you live is....drum roll's beautiful.  Someone created this land just for me to admire.  On a crystal clear day I can see Mt. Baker, the Sisters,the Canadian Cascades, the San Juan Islands, the tip of Vancouver Island and the sunshine!  Sure, we might not get a lot of crystal clear days, but my oh my when we do you wont want to leave. IMG_2255