We are in Bellingham, WA, which is about 1 hour+ north of Seattle, and will cross into Canada today. We've decided to avoid Vancouver, since we've been in some cities lately, and spend more time in the parks.

Bolo was successfully retrieved from Eugene, safe and sound. Somehow, I was able to convince Gordon Schaeffer to drive 600 miles with me on Sunday (Seattle to Eugene and return), and we drove his car, to boot! Anyway, thanks very much Gordon. In return, I detailed his Audi - which hadn't been cleaned in 2 years. It took four coats of leather treatment stuff to get his seats looking decent again. I think he got the better of the deal. Anyway, he and his long suffering wife, Saskia, and their kids Nathan and Michael were wonderful driveway hosts. Their daughter Sara is at summer camp.

On the way back from Eugene, Gordon and I stopped in at the Solomon Schecter camp where he is president (outside of Olympia, about 1 hour from Bellevue, their home). This is the camp where Sara is a camper, where his kids have been going for years, and where Gordon went as a kid. He even worked there as an assistant cook when he was older (I heard some good stories about being 17 years old and working at a camp).

What a neat place. We had dinner there and hung around for a few hours. The people were wonderful and the place was picture perfect - on a nice lake, in the woods. I'm ready to park the RV there next summer for a month, and the camp director has already offered us a position as "grown-ups in residence".

While Gordon and I were on our retrieval mission, Saskia and Cordula looked at houses about 20 minutes out from Bellevue - I'm told they found several that would be fine ways to spend the IWOV proceeds.

I also had a chance to do a little bike riding. Hadn't seen the Microsoft campus in a few years - it is just taking over the world. It's like the size of Stanford and spreading like a virus.

We spent two nights in Bellingham. THis is a city that has made its way onto our list as a possible new residence for us. Bellingham is a city of about 60,000, and a metro area of about 120,000. It's about halfway between Vancouver and Seattle and is really pretty. It's the southern terminus for the Alaska ferry and a college town (Western Washington Univ has about 11,000 students). THe town has a lot of history, and in the 1890's, they thought it could become another Chicago (fishing, canning, lumber and other commerce). They built the Fairhaven Hotel - at one time, the largest hotel west of the Mississippi.

The city decayed for awhile, then has really started to come back. Has a fantastic park system, close to the mountains, great views, and most importantly: 2 Indian restaurants, 6 used bookstores, a Home Depot and lots of pet stores, as well as the all important RV repair facilities. It also has a nearby outlet mall. A few Internet companies have started to show up here, mostly trying to avoid the Seattle costs and crowding. I suspect that this town will explode in the next year or two because it has incredible potential. The university is a good base for all sorts of things. Real estate is still cheap, a large hospital looked modern, and there are lots of downtown older buildings now being rehabilitated.

The climate is moderate (summer highs of 75-80 , winter lows of 40-45) with lots of gray and drizzle, although our days here have been gloriously sunny with views of Puget Sound and Mt. Baker.

OK - on to the AAA office to get some more maps, and then over the border! We plan to go across somewhat east of the main Vancouver I-5 cross over, because we hear that there are 3 hour customs and inspection delays there, but if you go 30 miles east (which is where we are headed anyway) it's only 20 minutes. We also hear that they really inspect RVs going into Canada for guns, liquor and other stuff, so we'll let you know if we send the next email from Canadian prison.

Don't forget: if we are missing anyone on our list, feel free to forward this email around.

love to all:

cordula & steve

ALmost forgot: still reeling over the Nat Goldhaber for VP news. The thought of Nat being a heartbeat away from the presidency...