A Very Cabin Christmas

This post is very late coming, and Christmas now seems like a very long time ago. It’s been a pretty hectic 2014 so far and I’m only just getting round to writing this. Hopefully, you’re still interested in how I spent my first Christmas away from home.

The morning we left to drive down to the cabin did not start well. Dave had a little upset stomach emergency and we ended up rushing him to the vet. Luckily all was well, and we were on our merry way with some pills for a minor bacterial infection, only an hour behind schedule. We just had my brother and his girlfriend in the car with us as our other two friends were coming down after work on Christmas Eve. The initial wait at the border was only about 30 minutes, and Dave was waived through without any questions. My brother was not so lucky, as he hadn’t been into the US in the past 90 days so needed to buy a visa waiver.  We were all asked to get out of the car and line up inside the building with my brother, and Dave and I were directed to a kennel at the back of the building. When I say kennel, I mean 10ft x 4ft concrete cell with wire mesh walls. There was no way I was leaving tiny little 10lb Dave alone in the freezing cold, so I stayed with him. I was plenty warm in my ski jacket and James’ coat, and had my iPhone blasting out my Christmas playlist on full volume. No-one came to tell me I wasn’t supposed to be pacing up and down inside a kennel, so I was still there when the others finally reached the front of the line two hours later. I dashed inside to meet them at the desk, and ten minutes later we were finally able to enter the US.

The view from the border kennel...

The view from the border kennel…

Looking not so happy in the kennel

Looking not so happy in the kennel

Next stop, grocery shopping. We arrived at Trader Joe’s in Bellingham two hours behind schedule, with the world’s longest shopping list. I sat in the car with Dave (theme of the day) while the others tackled the shopping list and the cheap, cheap, cheap booze aisle. There were no whole turkeys to be found, but we improvised with a whole chicken, turkey breasts, sausages, a pork joint, bacon bits and a whole lot of veggies. One Christmas dinner, 200 liters of alcohol and nine blocks of cheese later, we were finally on our way to the cabin. The community of Snowline is just past the tiny town of Glacier, about half way between Bellingham and the summit of Mount Baker. Turns out it’s called Snowline for a reason, and we were so excited to see snow on the ground as we pulled into the driveway of the cabin. We were three hours behind schedule, but it was all worth it the second we walked through the door of the cabin.

The cabin in the woods!

The cabin in the woods!

It was beautiful! There were three double bedrooms, a pull-out sofa bed, fully-stocked kitchen, fridge with ice-machine, sauna, hot tub and huge great room complete with the world’s worst decorated Christmas tree. The complex itself was fairly large, but the cabins were spaced out enough that it still felt remote. The whole situation was very, very festive and exactly the kind of retreat we were hoping for. We settled in to watch Christmas Vacation and celebrate my brother’s girlfriend’s birthday and the start of our first Christmas away from home.

The main room

The main room

O Badly Decorated Christmas Tree

O Badly Decorated Christmas Tree

We spent most of Christmas Eve eating cheese, playing cards, enjoying the hot tub and walking round the area. We were so happy to see snow, and it was deep enough for a mini-snowball fight. James and my brother headed out to pick up the others from Bellingham bus station at about 7:30pm, and by the time we came back we’d prepared a not-so-mini feast of pizza, cheese, bread, more cheese, crackers and even more cheese. We toasted their arrival with some prosecco and got down to some serious cheese eating business.

Mount Baker Highway

Mount Baker Highway

Snowline Community Centre field

Snowline!

Snowline!

Hot tub time!

Hot tub time!

It was a late night, and Christmas Day came around very quickly. CHRISTMAS! We didn’t have Wi-Fi so Skype wasn’t an option, so I called my parents as soon as I was up. Then we gathered around the tree for many rounds of amazing presents (mostly for Dave, who was very grateful), which took quite some time to get through! Next up were phone calls to grandparents, followed by meat in the oven time and another walk in the snow. Christmas snow! There were snowballs and snowmen and a family’s festive Kodak moment that Dave photobombed. We made up for it by taking a great one of our own.

Sibling snowball fight

Sibling snowball fight

Dave's best snowman impression

Dave’s best snowman impression

Bright colours by the lake

Bright colours by the lake

My brother Chris and I

My brother Chris and I

Back at the cabin James marshalled the troops and ordered us around the kitchen, chopping up vegetables and preparing gravy. Two hours later, Christmas dinner was upon us. James did an amazing job, and the pièce de résistance was turkey breast stuffed with cranberry sauce, sausage meat, garlic and goats cheese, wrapped in prosciutto. All the meat was delicious, and the gravy was the best I’ve ever tasted. Yum yum yum yum yum. We were all pretty damn full after dinner, so relaxed in the living room for a couple of hours before a dip in the outdoor hot tub. I’m not entirely sure what happened next, but I know it ended in two half naked men rolling in the snow. One of those nights. Our Christmas ended with a movie, more naps and a few more games of cards. Pretty good going.

Christmas Dinner!!

Christmas Dinner!!

We had to be out of the cabin by 11am on Boing Day, and we packed and ready to go just in time. We broke up the journey with a coffee and a walk in Bellingham, and made it home in time for a late afternoon meal and a very long nap on the sofa. Almost as soon as it started, Christmas was over. It was my first away from home and was definitely very different! I missed my parents, but it didn’t feel sad in any way. Doing something completely different was the way to go as there wasn’t really anything to compare. We made our own traditions rather than trying to re-create those from home, and had great company to make them with. Having Dave with us made the day extra special, especially as it was the first Christmas that James and I had spent together. I’m not sure where we’ll spend Christmas next year (Canada? New York? UK?) but I’m already looking forward to it. Only 343 days to go!

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About MarmitetoMaple

I'm originally from the UK and have been working and living the dream in Vancouver, BC, since January 2011. I am a firm believer in travel, good cheese, volunteering and community engagement.

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