Getting the buzz in Bellingham

Another journey has begun. I travelled from the UK to Bellingham (Washington) on Sunday 4th August, which was nearly a 24 hour journey in total including getting to the airport and wait times. This was a long trip, but one I will not regret. I’m completing an internship at Conservation Northwest as a Wolf conservation intern but I will be helping out on other projects as well (http://www.conservationnw.org/). Jasmine Minbashian contacted me via the blog I wrote reviewing BBC Land of the Lost Wolves, which she was in. We stayed in contact and Jasmine offered me an internship in Wolf conservation. I couldn’t believe it – who would have thought a blog really could be such an amazing networking tool?

A family drive to the airport.

From London to Iceland. From Iceland to Seattle. From Seattle to Bellingham. 2 planes 1 bus.

A new friend to take me to my new home.

It was a late arrival in Bellingham and I was greeted by a grilled cheese sandwich, a peach, tea and instantly welcoming vibes (after a mix up on which day I was arriving, but that was easily fixed by the wonders of free WiFi – the only thing I can thank McDonalds for!) The next day was one of meeting future co-workers and relaxing after such a long journey to get here. I also met my host, Mitch (director of Conservation Northwest) before he left on a trip of his own. I was also introduced to the cats, chickens, ducks and lovely veg garden. I then slept for a while, feeling the jet lag hit me.

Tuesday (6th) was my first day at the Conservation Northwest Bellingham HQ. I have my own work station complete with my own computer and phone – and pictures of wolves of course. I did plenty of background reading for the next few days, became an admin for the Washington’s Wolves facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/WA.Wolves?ref=ts&fref=ts) and generally swatted up on conservation here.

Unexpectedly, I was drawn into going to the Bellingham Subdued Stringband Jamboree (http://www.stringbandjamboree.com/2013/index.php), which I now know is a must-go-and-see if you ever come here! It was a great whirlwind of other people organising someone to house-sit (thanks Barb and Erin!), a ride there, camping gear, and other people to meet while I was there. I travelled with Ann who had a giant sunflower in her car on top of a bike. Not the first thing I was expecting, but it was pretty funny. Although sad as well, since the sunflower was already drooping. Once there, I was put straight to work. Well, I wanted to help that is. Ann was a volunteer for the festival, so I pitched in since we arrived early and helped to set up the merchandise area – “Sub Duds.” I worked for my dinner that day and made many new friends in the process. I set up camp where Ann’s group was to join in the family fun – the whole weekend was full of joyous kids in the dirt and on the stage. It was so hot during the days that most people found shade to cool down in while listening to the music. I met some great people, and I can’t think of a better introduction to Bellingham.

The music at the Jamboree was amazing. So much variety and so much dancing. I recommend checking out all the bands on the line-up (http://www.stringbandjamboree.com/2013/index.php?page=music). Some of my favourites were The Sweet Lowdown (fantastic bluegrass and old-time), The Ames, David’s Drinking Band (new but already awesome), Hot Damn Scandal, The Reverie Machine (incredible vocals here and new to Bellingham), Br’er Rabbit, Crow Quill Night Owls (playing upbeat rags) and Skitnik (played blame it on the boogie folk-style). I could go on since I loved most of the musicians there. It was great to listen in on the jams after the music had finished. I brought my banjo but didn’t feel I could join in; I was happy to enjoy the talent all around me. I joined the Sweet Lowdown’s bluegrass  v.s. Old Time workshop with my banjo – there were loads of great workshops going on from 10am. The music never stopped all weekend.

I got back home midday on Sunday (11th), feeling tired after camping and dancing, before Mitch arrived back late in the evening.

Monday and Tuesday (today – 13th) were spent back in the office, getting up-to-date on wolf and wildife news. My next task is to keep an eye on the Washington’s Department of Wildlife and Fish (WDFW) Wildlife weekly report for interesting news. I’m also putting together newspaper clippings of wildlife news. The communications meeting was interesting, and great to start getting into the swing of things here. I hope to get more involved as I move through the internship.

It’s been a crazy, fun and interesting first week or so in Bellingham and I’ll keep my blog updated during my trip. Also…I’ve eaten so much fresh veg, salad and fruit here! The food in Bellingham is great, and the co-op is an awesome shop selling local, organic, gluten-free, vegan…anything you could ever want. Good food, good music, good people. What more could you ask for?

Remember: Always follow your dreams, since that’s what I’ve done and landed here, working in Wolf Conservation as I’ve always wanted to do (it’s not cheesy, just true).

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