20 November 2012

Talk about a challenge

After leaving Lopez Island a little while ago now I headed further North, arriving at a town called Bellingham, Washington state for another HelpX stay. It is about 1 and a half hours drive South of Vancouver, Canada, which is my eventual intended destination actually so it was the perfect location to stop for a while.

This marks my forth HelpX experience now; the first being the Bed and Breakfast back in California where I stayed for a very long time (not sure why now that I think about it), the second was a short stop over in Olympia, Oregon at Leeann's house, and the third HelpX was the farm on the amazing Lopez Island.

My first order of business upon arriving at this new house was to join the Halloween festivities, sweet. The stereotype of Halloween being quite the big deal in America is definitely true, they even hold pumpkin carving parties! My pumpkin carving attempt is shown below, of which I am quite proud of actually. I kind of just carved a bunch of random styled and shaped faces around the entire thing:

On a completely different topic of note, I have come to the conclusion that the entire North-West of America holds arguably some of the most beautiful environments in the world. And I say that because it isn't just 'certain areas' that are quite nice, because really my impression has been that the entire of Oregon and Washington state is nice where ever you go, still managing to hold some impressively pristine and undisturbed environments despite being a highly developed area of the country I have yet encountered. If only the rest of the cities in the world could be so green.

Right down the road from where I am living
This for example is the street that I am currently living on, with every single street in the entire town looking just as green and natural.
Although there was little time to enjoy the scenery or explore the town, there was work to do! And a lot of it too. This current HelpX is tougher than all of the previous three HelpX hosts combined. I'm working six days a week, with my first project being to help build a concrete block wall... what a breeze! (sense the sarcasm...).

These concrete blocks literally weigh half of what I weigh but thankfully my HelpX host Todd lifted most of them, while I was on 'fill buckets with gravel, carry said buckets over to said concrete blocks, and fill said concrete blocks with said buckets of gravel' for about 4 hours straight a day duty. It's been about a week of this now and somehow I've seem to have made it through, although it really was grueling work. Every single night I would get into bed with huge aches over my entire body, my muscles all strained and my back a mess really, eventually falling into a deep slumber only to wake up and do it all again the following day. Working in the rain and cold didn't help either.

Concrete and gravel are heavy...
But alas, despite all signs to the contrary, the day came that I at times thought never would... we actually finished the wall! The picture below only shows half the wall (some polishing touches still required of course) with the remaining of the wall of out of shot to the right. It was quite the accomplishment I realized when I thought about the effort put in, so that was cool.

After 5 days the wall is complete!
With the wall finished my remaining week was doing other random jobs like building fences, pruning trees and the like, none of which are really worth writing about. Thankfully none of them were quite as challenging as the wall, but they were definitely all very varied and I learned quite a few new skills in the process.

Hmm... well, there was the very last job, one in which I was really paranoid about to be honest.

Todd (my HelpX host), his son, and I were to be digging out these two medium sized trees from one of Todd's friends houses and transporting them via a trailer back to one of Todd's rental houses. The digging them out of the ground was the same back-breaking work I was now accustomed to, but then came the interesting part of tying the tree to the back of the truck and winching them out of the ground, transporting them onto a trailer, driving over to the rental house, and then somehow getting them back off the trailer again. All valuable skills to witness I am sure, although you can't blame me for stressing that something may go wrong.

For starers... Trees. Are. Heavy.

I was going to come back to Australia with something broken I was sure of it.

Thankfully this last month of HelpX challenges has made me noticeably more fit than before, so I was able to handle the tree fairly well. Long story short we did manage to transport both trees out of the ground and over to the other house while still keeping all of our limbs in tack, relief!

When not working however I had an extremely slow and relaxing time really. I was usually finished work by mid afternoon which gave me the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted... which when you have no friends you know around, no car, it is cold and often raining, and it is only a medium sized town, the choices of entertainment were slim. The vast majority of my time was spent reading, which became easy with my complete failure to restrain myself from continually buying new books despite how heavy the are to carry around!

This is my current collection, and is only this size after giving away the 'Alchemist by Paulo Coelho', book number one and three of the 'Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams' (books two and four are in the pile still), and trading a few other small books away also.

Books are heavy, so why do I keep buying them!
A lot of time was spent at the dinner table having absolutely amazing meals cooked by my host, Todd. I learned so many tips from him, and every single dish he made was brilliant! It was easily and by far the best I have eaten on my entire 8 months abroad, which was great because I definitely needed the nutrition with all the physical labour done during the day.

There was also the day where I got invited along to see a high school play, which seeing as my stance on plays has always been that they are ridiculously boring and I hate them, I was torn because my number one rule while traveling is that I must be up for absolutely anything that comes my way. I figured I had nothing to lose and went along.

Surprisingly it turned out pretty cool actually. While I probably won't see another one any time soon, by far the most entertaining aspect of the night was the talent of the young adult actors whom were all simply incredible and damn impressive to say the least. So that was a great experience that I am glad I agreed to.

Shortly after the play I also got invited to a 'Contra Dancing' night... which I had no idea what it was but as per the rule mentioned above I said yes anyway just to see what would happen. A decision I do not regret in the slightest! It was one of the most fun times on my entire trip to be honest haha.

It is a group based dance where, while you have your primary partner to dance with, you have to spin, swing, duck, swerve, side step and clasp hands with all the other pairs in the room too, all while keeping with the beat of the music and choreographed moves. So basically the entire room becomes one big mix of dancers, constantly moving around the room and flinging from one dancer partner to the next... it was awesome to say the least. Although I admit it is most likely 'you had to be there moments' to appreciate it, so just take my word that it was awesome.

And that my readers was my two weeks in Bellingham, Washington. It was physically exhausting, but the family I stayed with were awesome and it was a pleasure to be around them and in their home for sure. I felt very welcome, comfortable, and was fed extremely well with Todd being an amazing chef.
The point of coming to Bellingham in the first place was because of its location really, that being just below the Canadian border which worked out perfectly as I planned to slowly make my way to Vancouver, Canada. Yet another destination that I originally had no intention to visit what so ever, but by just going with the flow and hearing what fellow travelers have to say, further North seems to be the best place to be at this stage.

Wish me luck


S. Love said...

I just want to say that the North EAST is quite beautiful also. I'm a bit biased but most people agree it is breath taking. Of course, now everything is covered in snow...so maybe not anymore. Glad to see you're still having fun despite all the setbacks!

Azz said...

Oh don't worry S. Love, plans are in the making ;)

Stay tuned!

Post a Comment