2013-10-12 48 -122

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Sat 12 Oct 2013 in Bellingham:
48.8059799, -122.5191998

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In the parking lot of Cornwall Church.


Rex Wolf (talk)


I'm totally going to be here for the 4:00 meetup. Holy hash!



The day starts with a trip to Midas for an oil change. While they do that, I grab some breakfast (courtesy of my favorite Scottish restaurant, MacDonalds!) and then drop by Staples to pick up some poster tape. I doubt the church at the hashpoint wants me nailing things into a light pole. Tape will do fine.

Afer picking up my car, I look at the time. I'll be way early if I go now, but that's just as well--I can post the sign, browse around Bellingham some, and then return for the 4pm meetup. So I head straight for the border.

The border lineup is pretty heavy today. 2+ hours, the board says! I'm so glad I have my NEXUS card again (it was stolen back in April). Though by the look of things, it won't be a quick drive up for NEXUS, either.

In fact, it looks like they've devoted all six lanes of the car crossing to non-NEXUS traffic. Two lanes of NEXUS traffic are being pushed around and through the truck crossing, leaving one lane for actual truck traffic. I never cross on Saturdays, so maybe this is normal, but it looks highly unusual to me.

At least I didn't have to wait over two hours. It's nice to have the ease of crossing that NEXUS grants, too--not as many questions to answer.

Once across, I slip on to I-5 and slide down to the Slater Road turnoff. I know from the exit number that I'm not too far out of Bellingham, but it still feels very rural out here. Particularly since nobody's really in a hurry to go anywhere on this road. But then, neither am I. I've got time to spare, so I should relax and enjoy myself.

As I go driving along Northwest Drive, I find myself anticipating the terrain. Apparently my brief inspection on Google Maps was enough to get me acquainted with the lay of the land along here. I recognize the church grounds the instant they come into view, and I swing into the parking lot. There's parking cones set up in my way, but I can easily get my car in between them, and I maneuver across the parking lot and into the hashpoint. Excellent!

Just as I suspected from my pre-trip scan of Google Maps, there's a lightpole right here. Very convenient. I get out and grab the sign...and I can't find the poster tape I just bought this morning. I search some more, but it's nowhere to be found. Growling at myself, I mentally retrace my steps and realize I left it on the counter at the Midas shop. Fat lot of good it's going to do me there!

Well...time to improvise, I suppose. There's no way to secure the sign to the lightpole otherwise--and as I look at it, I realize there's two yellow jackets walking around the base of it, too. Interesting. I guess they just ran out of juice, as foragers sometimes do? Regardless, I have to do something about this sign. Guess I'll have to use my car to secure it, somehow.

The spoiler on the back of my trunk should do, and I tuck the sign securely underneath that. Stepping back to look at my handiwork, it's obvious that the sign won't blow away, and that's good. It's also obvious that I can't move my car if I want the sign to stay put, and that means a good deal of waiting for the meetup, since it's only 12:30 right now. Well...I'll have to think on that.

Meanwhile, I may as well walk around. I go and take some photos of the church sign, and the building itself. It's obvious the church is undergoing renovations; there's heavy equipment outside and the grass has been replaced with what looks like prep for another parking lot. Getting closer to the church building, I take another photo of the cross on the exterior and a window film that displays the church's name. I can't see it worth anything out here in the sun, but I hope it shows up better in the actual photo (it does).

I start walking around the church. They have no office hours, but I happen to know they have a 4:00 service on Saturdays, so it's possible somebody's here already. In fact, I'd say that's a definite, since there's two cars parked outside, one of which has its door hanging open. Walking around to the east side of the building, I'm moderately amused by the rodent poison bait stations placed around the sides. When dealing with religion, somebody always smells a rat.

The offices on the east side of the building are closed. Pity. No way of asking for tape there.

I continue wandering around the church, noting the marks of construction and renovation. When I reach the original western side of the building, I notice that there are additional window films in the ground floor windows. And I am intrigued--I didn't expect a church to have signs celebrating an Explorers League, or restricting the area to a Chem Crew Only. This deserves some documentation, and I dutifully snap all of the ground level films. They're reversed, because they're meant to be read from inside the building, but I can fix that later.

Inspecting the doors near the parked cars, I realize one's been wedged open. I always like to investigate open doors, and I nose my way inside. There's a couple of guys working on renovating the floor just inside the doors, and I cheerfully ask if they know where I might find some sticky tape or Scotch tape. They offer me blue painter's tape because that's all they have, and I accept gladly. The guy who brings me the tape seems confused and unsure about what I want it for, until I offer that I need to tape up something in my car. Then he smiles and is all friendly about it.

Heading out, I smile to myself. I haven't told any lies--I do need to tape up something that is currently wedged into my car. Of course, I need to tape it up to a lightpole, but that's extra detail. Returning to my car, I get the poster taped up to the lightpole and step back to check my work. The sign is secure, it's not fluttering in the wind at all. It will hold.

I'm about to drive off again when I realize I haven't taken a snapshot of my current coordinates or a mugshot of me with the sign. I quickly rectify both of these points, trying to avoid a Stupid Grin™. I'm not sure I was entirely successful, but what the heck.

Driving off down to Bellingham proper, I decide to get some gas for my car, followed by walking a plaza. I nose into the GameStop to see what they have. Apparently, what they have today is a freaking busload of kids and TVs playing Pokemon shows. Somewhat belatedly, I realize that today must be the launch of the new Pokemon game. Ah well. Browsing the shelves didn't locate anything I wanted, so I exit the store.

I'm wandering around when I pass the Puget Sound Blood Clinic. "Walk-ins Welcome," the sign proclaims. I'm not allowed to give blood in Canada (MSM), so I keep walking. But on the spur of the moment, I do an about-face and walk-in. If you never ask the questions, you'll never know the answers.

The receptionist is very eager to get all my details and line me up for a needle, but I manage to slow her down and ask my eleigibilty questions. I am, after all, a Canadian in an American blood clinic. She doesn't know the answer to that one, but a doctor nearby assures her that, while it's a real pain to get the software to accept a Canadian postal code, it does work. Unfortunately, I'm no more able to donate in the US as I am in Canada. I hadn't expected any differently, really, but it's still disappointing to learn. I've always wanted to donate blood, but they just don't want mine. It's "dirty."

(I will note that Canadian Blood Services did note that I might be able to donate to the research-only Dirty Blood Pool for the benefit of science. I wasn't sure whether to be offended or not.)

There's a K-Mart here, too. Gods, I haven't been in a K-Mart since I was a child in Ontario. K-Mart hasn't even been in Canada for a long time, that I've seen. I walk in to just take a peek around. Hey, they have more poster tape. I buy myself a replacement roll, as well as a couple of Lego figures and a puzzle book. They'll make good presents for people I know.

I check that I still have everything in my coat pockets and head back to my car. The pockets in this jacket are prone to letting objects slide out. I once dropped my passport in that way, though I was fortunate enough that it was handed in to the store I was at, so I could retrieve it without a big hullabaloo. My iPhone has fallen out many times, though the bumper has prevented it from any serious harm. So it's a habit now to just check my pockets.

Getting back in the car, I decide to go have lunch at the nearby Panda Express. When I get out of my car, I instinctively check my pockets again...and freeze. My RF challenge coin is missing. I start panicking and root all around the seat, trying to see if it rolled somewhere. No dice. I stop and try to calm down, thinking about what it might have done. It seems likely that it fell out when I got in my car, back in the plaza parking lot. I know I had it when I left K-Mart, so the locations where it could be aren't numerous. I check the car again, without finding it. I consider going in and eating food before going back to check the plaza, but the idea is a non-starter. It's a solid brass coin, and I doubt it would be turned in--and if it was, to which store? Better to go back and start checking right away.

I jump into the car and fire up the engine. Then, on impulse, I check the map I leave in the door's side pocket. There's my challenge coin, buried in the pages. I am relieved, and promptly stuff it back in my pockets. Turning the engine off again, I go in to have my food. Chow Mein, Samurai Surf and Turf, Orange Chicken, Veggie Spring Rolls, and some Cream Cheese Rangoons. Very nice.

Then it's back to the hashpoint for me. I've decided to wait around between 3-5:00, just to catch anybody who arrives for the 4:00 meeting time. I intend to tape up the poster with the proper poster tape, but the painter's tape is holding up very well. I decide to leave it as is--nobody gets offended about blue painter's tape, because it comes off nicely.

I sit in my car for a while, observing the churchgoers arriving steadily for the service. I'm having a grand old time of my own, listening to music and singing along, but nobody's joining me at the hashpoint. Ah well, still lots of time. I also notice a couple of yellow jackets flying around before landing on the lightpole, crawling around the base...and disappearing. Hmm, might there be a nest there?

As 4:00 draws near, I get out of my car to stretch and see if I can get my GPS to actually show the correct coordinates. I give up after a while--it shows that I'm one meter away, but my accuracy doesn't get any better than five. Walking over to the lightpole, I check that there are no yellow jackets present before getting down and peering closely at the lightpole's base. There's a crack between the pole and the metal shield surrounding its bolts, and inside the lower shield I can see wasp cells. Definitely a nest.

Retreating from the lightpole, I walk around for a bit. There's a bench nearby, overlooking a field. I face the opposite direction so I can see if anybody comes to the hashpoint. It's a nice enough place, until I find that the local ants are starting to crawl all over me to investigate. I depart the bench and go back to my car.

Nobody shows up, and I pull out at 5pm. I have a Thanksgiving dinner to attend at a friend's place, so I can't linger any longer. But it's been a fun expedition nonetheless, and I'm pleased I could acquire a holy hash achievement.


Rex's tracklog as PNG.



Rex earned the Border geohash achievement
by crossing the Canada-US border on 2013-10-12 to reach the (48, -122) geohash.
Rex earned the Holy hash achievement
by reaching the sacred (48, -122) location, which is in the parking lot of a church, on 2013-10-12.