Takin’ the Guide
Most people going to Canada from western Washington just get on I-5 and go north. There are other ways. Guide Meridian Road is one of them.
In Bellingham, people call it “the Guide.” The road is as straight as anything you’d find in Kansas; the name suggests it follows an actual line of longitude, though I don’t know that for sure.
Within Bellingham’s city limits it’s called Meridian Street, beginning at Broadway.
There’s a small business district immediately north of Broadway, in what I believe is called the Fountain neighborhood (My conclusion is based on businesses called “Fountain” this and “Fountain” that; I didn’t notice an actual fountain…).
The businesses give way to residences as you get closer to the I-5 underpass. Once you go under the freeway, a transformation occurs.
Where did all this traffic come from, you might ask. British Columbia is the source of a good chunk of it, as a quick look at license plates on surrounding vehicles will often show. This is where Bellis Fair Mall and the other big-box stores are located.
You’ll notice the Shell station scrupulously follows the 10-Cent Increment Rule. Most gas stations in Bellingham are selling regular for $3.999/gallon, so this one is a bit on the high side. But the aforementioned residents of B.C. are probably thrilled—regular gas is over $5/gallon there.
I haven’t tried this place, so I can’t vouch for the wonderfulness of the food. I certainly hope the Health Dept. concurs.
As you travel north the strip malls and used car lots give way to fallow fields and scrub brush. And the occasional McMansion. The “‘For Sale” sign is for a different patch of scrub brush than the one the McMansion was built on.
You’ve been warned. The neighbors on the other side of the road have a similar sign, but the trailer it’s attached to isn’t as nice as this one. It would hold a couple of scooters, at least. Maybe the owner of the trailer will sell it cheap, if the world hasn’t ended.
In the distance, you can see Mount Baker, the northernmost of the Cascade volcanic peaks. It was the one everyone thought was about to erupt, until Mount Saint Helens beat it to the punch in 1980.
There’s actual agriculture taking place out here. This is the time of year you’ll smell manure, which smells nothing like raw sewage; it has a kind of sweet aroma, actually.
The mountains above are visible from Ellis Street in downtown Bellingham. They’re in British Columbia, not too far from Vancouver, actually. I’m afraid I don’t know their names. If you do, feel free to chime in.
Canada is mere yards (or if you prefer, metres) from where the picture was taken. Yes, that’s a duty-free store on the right. Not visible is Boundary Road, which runs along the border, a few yards/metres south of the actual 49th parallel. On the B.C. side there’s a road called Zero Avenue, which is a few metres/yards north. You can wave at someone on Zero Avenue from Boundary Road, but if you try to walk across, approximately a million surveillance cameras will record your action. Just sayin’.
If you’re heading south from Canada, you will be greeted by this sign. After being greeted by a Customs & Border Protection officer, of course.