I have lived in Bellingham, Washington for almost four and a half years now, and I hadn’t yet made it the hour-long journey it takes to get to Vancouver, BC. I was told on Friday that I get Monday off as an extension of the Easter holiday. While I wish they had told me earlier that I had a day off (so I could plan for a more epic trip), but with a couple days to think about it, I decided that I should finally cross that item off my bucket list, and go up north, even without a travel-mate.
I got up early to make sure I could beat any traffic over the border, and of course, with my luck, leaving early didn’t help, because I got stopped at the border. Apparently, as a solo, female traveller, with a camera, I looked suspicious, and was taken inside for questioning, and my car was searched. Overall, it only took an extra 30 minutes of my day, but it was really inconvenient and made me think about how this might happen once I get over to Europe for grad school. Since I actually enjoy going places by myself, and don’t need to rely on companionship to have fun in a new place, it’s probably going to look weird to other people, especially border agents. Journalists are also looked at with suspicion, as well as anyone with a camera and no set plan for the day. I’m assuming they thought I was going up to Canada to make some money off my photography, but I wasn’t planning to do that, so I had nothing to feel guilty about. Next time I go somewhere alone though, I will have a more specific sort of plan to tell the border agent, because a lone woman without a course of action probably looks like it might rouse some sort of detainment in the future.
A little bit shaken, I got back on the highway and made my way into downtown Vancouver, where I parked and then decided to explore. My trip wasn’t too exciting in terms of things that happened. I just did a walkabout for about 4 to 5 hours, which was plenty of time for me to come across interesting places and things that I thought would make good photographs. I took my new Lensbaby Composer lens with me and used it 90% of the time, and got some great photos (as posted above). I am excited to take it to Europe with me, because if I got as good of photos as I did in Vancouver, then I am bound to get some career-defining shots while abroad.
Today was the first time since I got back from LA that I journeyed somewhere alone, and I have to say, I really enjoy the simplicity and relaxed feeling of traveling alone. While it can be lonely and makes it a bit awkward to go eat at a restaurant or something, the ability to go at your own pace and not have to wait around for someone else is really liberating. It can feel a little dangerous sometimes when creepy people on the streets try to approach you, but as long as you hold your head high and act like you know what you’re doing, then people will hopefully leave you alone. People can actually really surprise you. I was headed down a sidewalk, and this homeless man who looked sketchy, warned me not to take my beautiful camera down the street or else it might get taken. When I looked forward to where I was walking, he was right! There was an entire horde of homeless people taking up much of the sidewalk, and it probably wouldn’t have been best to walk straight through there with my camera and purse full of valuables. There is good in everything.
Now I’m back in America, with way too much Canadian money left, and hoping to make it back to Victoria, BC, once more before I leave the Pacific Northwest. I am going to try to make the most of the four months that I have left in Washington, and take little trips around the area that aren’t too expensive. I am a wandering grad, not someone staying stuck. There’s so much to explore, even within a 50 mile radius of where you are, and sometimes the most magical things are right in your backyard!