Border towns have a unique flare to them. Many people from many places are passing through, or coming in and out to do business. It's not just Americans and Canadians either, people from everywhere come to cross the border or deal with immigration matters. Stores usually have dual cash registers and work with two currencies. Law enforcement, especially ICE, is in abundance, and surveillance efforts are all around. Cameras, informants, and plain clothes surveillance helps keep a lid on illegal border crossings and smuggling.
You just never know what is going to happen in a border town.
Quick Guide to Blaine, Washington
Blaine Washington is a small town in the extreme Northwest corner of the lower 48 United States of America. It is part of Whatcom county and has a population of 11,000 in the larger Blaine area, including 4,115 within the city limits of Blaine.
I-5 terminates in Blaine and Hwy 99 in Canada starts just across the border. The city is next to Drayton Harbor which is popular for fishing and clamming.
Blaine is home to not one, but two border crossings. The Peace Arch crossing is beside the famous white Peace Arch sitting astride the border in a pair of parks beside the Pacific Ocean. The Truck Crossing also allows cars but sits a little to the East of the Peace Arch Crossing.
Just to the North of Blaine is the City of Surrey, BC with Vancouver BC about a 30 minute drive North. Bellingham WA lies about 30 minutes to the South of Blaine. The Bellingham Airport is the closest airport but the Vancouver International Airport has many more connections to distant destinations than Bellingham. However if you are flying into the US Bellingham is often a cheaper option that YVR.
When heading North or South, consider taking a break in Blaine. There are several good places to eat (try some Mexican food just "south of the border"), a nice trail along the bay to stroll along, and the the International Peace Arch Park to visit.
Quick Guide to Sumas, Washington
Sumas, Washington is a sleepy little border town nestled close to Abbotsford, British Columbia. Home to just a few hundred people, many properties in Sumas are Canadian owned. Travelers heading North into the Fraser Valley and East into the interior of BC find Sumas to be a handy crossing point.
Gambling, drinking, smokes and gas used to fuel the Sumas economy. The casinos are closed now due to increased gambling opportunities in British Columbia. Most of the bars closed along with the casinos. Smokes still sell, but the changes in gas tax rates and increased lines at the borders have made gas runs not as good a deal, eliminating a lot of the convenience store sales.
Cherry Street in Sumas has a half closed look to it. Driving down the street you see a string of closed gas stations, other empty commercial buildings, closed bars and eating establishments, and vacant lots.
There are a few businesses that do well in Sumas, WA.
1. The hub of activity (after customs and immigration) is the Sumas, Washington post office. Postal station 98295 has about 3 PO Boxes for every man, woman and child in Sumas. Maybe enough for all the dogs too! Most of the boxes actually serve Canadian clients looking for a small presence in the USA. The post office only accepts American cash and major credit cards.
2. There are 3 private shipping services serving the cross border trade. UPS, FEDEX and other private freight carriers service these store front locations. They also offer private PO Boxes, or will just receive packages for a fee.
3. El Nopal Mexican Restaurant serves many Canadians hungry for Mexican food not found North of the Border. El Nopal is really just South of the Border for Canadians.
4. Bob's Burgers and a Chinese Cafe provide alternate eating opportunities.
5. There is also a small IGA Market and a small town drug store beside each other.
6. Various Gas Stations serve the constant flow of North/South traffic.
7. Sumas Self Storage offers large and smaller storage units for rent, as well as a package receiving service.
8. A dairy store rounds out the main businesses.
Sumas has a library, small park, tiny police force (they love to catch speeders in town so be careful), City Hall, and industrial park. There is also a go cart track for amusement. Sumas residents look to larger Bellingham for larger shopping trips.
Location of Blaine, WA
Blaine, WA, USA
Blaine, WA, USA
Location of Sumas, WA
Sumas, WA 98295, USA