Copyright 2013 John T. Reed

At first, I thought Americans would need to get out of the U.S. if we had hyperinflation here. The reason is store shelves would empty as a result of the combination of hyperinflation and the price controls that politicians always impose during high inflation.

Leaving the U.S. requires two things: foreign currency pre-positioned abroad and a country that will let you enter.

Generally, if you have a current U.S. passport, you can go to most countries and get an automatic 90-day tourist visa just by arriving there. Australia requires that you get an ETA in advance but that is typically just a formality. During U.S. hyperinflation, I expect the border guards will demand proof that you have stable (non-hyperinflated) currency sufficient to support yourself in the country in question. They will probably have some guideline about how much you must have per day of your stay.

But do you actually have to move to a foreign country for 90 days? How about just moving to a U.S. town near the Canadian border? There are about 15 such towns in the US that are across the border from a Canadian town that would have shopping areas. They are:

Tswassen-Point Roberts, WA

Huntingdon-Sumas, WA

Douglas-Blaine, WA

Osoyoos-Oroville/Boundary Point, WA

North Portal-Portal, ND

Rainy River-Baudette, MN-Sault St. Marie-Sault St. Marie, MI

Sarnia-Point Huron, MI

Windsor-Detroit, MI

Fort Erie (near Toronto, Canada’s largest city)-Buffalo, NY

Tonawanda-Grand Island, NY

Niagara Falls-Niagara Falls, NY

Prescott-Ogdensburg, NY

Rock Island-Derby Line, VT

You might add Victoria-Port Angeles, WA. Port Angeles is a ferry ride away from Victoria but only that one $16 ferry ride.

From June 26th to July 4th, 2013, I explored both sides of the U.S. Canadian border between Vancouver and Abbotsford on the Canada side and Point Roberts to Sumas on the Washington side.

I went to Point Roberts, Blaine, Ferndale, Bellingham, Lynden, and Sumas, WA.

First, I went to Bellingham. This is the “big city” among the six towns—population 82,000. It is 14 miles from the Canadian border. I parked my RV overnight in the Walmart parking lot for free, but the Walmart where I went to use the bathroom and buy some stuff and use the McDonalds free wifi was a bit creepy. A young man was playing a video game by himself on his cell phone and growling. Another had such bad body odor when I was entering the rest room and he was leaving that it remained until after I left. Strange looking recent third-world immigrants were slowing the lines trying to use checks that would not pass muster. But only a short distance south on the same road was the Bellis Fair Mall which was nice and full of seemingly nice people.

I did not become an expert on Bellingham in 24 hours, but I would say it appeared to be a city where you could get pretty much whatever you needed during normal times. During hyperinflation, you would mainly use it for housing. Generally, housing is significantly cheaper on the U.S. side of the border. During hyperinflation, that would be a good thing for you. Plus rent control would probably be imposed in the US.

Should you buy or rent there now in anticipation of US hyperinflation?

No. It may not happen for years or never. Plus, if and when we get it, I expect it will only last 6 to 24 months. So you could not amortize the transaction costs over a long enough holding period. When the hyperinflation ends, and it always ends—overnight—any boost the Washington borders towns got from the hyperinflation and there nearness to Canada would instantly evaporate.

Probably the best thing would be to scout the area now, then go there to rent an apartment on a one-year lease the day after The Day the Dollar Dies. Americans will all figure out instantaneously that they need to convert all their US dollars (USD) to hard assets. There is a chapter about that called “Advance purchase and sale” in my book How to Protect Your Life Savings from Hyperinflation & Depression, 2nd edition.

People laugh at its advice now, but they will all be frantically following it the day the dollar dies even if they never heard of me. However, it will probably take them a couple of weeks or months to figure out the benefits of foreign currency and nearness to Canada. During that period, I expect you could sign a one-year lease in a near-Canada US town. Not long thereafter, the US government would impose price controls nationwide including rent controls. That will be a good deal for you.

Then you just shop in Canada using your U.S. passport to cross the border. You should also get a NEXUS card, although that is a little time-consuming and expensive (for travel to the interview near the border) if you do not now now live near the border. You MUST MAKE SURE YOUR U.S. PASSPORT IS NOT EXPIRED! If it is, or you don’t happen to have a U.S. passport, even though you are a U.S. citizen, GET ONE NOW! It takes months to get one and you sure do not want to be trying to do that during a hyperinflation panic.

Here is an email from a reader about the time it takes:

A data point for you:
I just renewed ,my passport (filled it up, and I'm a year out from expiry, so no benefit to getting extra pages). Since I travel for work, I can expense it. I paid for expedited service, and overnight postage to and from. I am a Global Entry guy, so it's possible it's easier to process me.

You mail it to Philly for renewal.I handed it to the guy in the Boise, ID post office on Thursday at about 2pm, and the following Saturday (~10 days) I had my new passport in my mailbox.

Obviously this will not be as easy when more folks decide they need a passport, but that's a data point for renewal service.


Note, Chris got an early renewal, not a first passport or one to replace an expired one and he was a GOES member (trusted traveler program).

Remember, just living near the Canadian border and having a U.S. or Canadian passport is not enough. YOU MUST ALSO HAVE A SUBSTANTIAL AMOUNT OF CANADIAN DOLLARS (CAD) OR OTHER STABLE FOREIGN CURRENCY TO SPEND WHEN YOU GO TO CANADA!

If you live near the border, have a passport that the Canadians will let enter Canada (They may not let you in if you only have some squirrelly, crazy, third-world passport.), and have stable CAD or other non-hyperinflated currency to spend there, I expect that you can go up there once a week or so to buy groceries, gasoline, medicine, and other necessities like toilet paper, soap, toothpaste, and so on. If you can do that, and live in a rent-controlled apartment in the U.S., you should weather the US hyperinflation pretty well.

Capital controls will probably prevent you from spending your CAD in the U.S. That’s too bad because those who are allowed to spend CAD within the US will probably get huge discounts even compared to current prices. Who would that be? Canadian citizens and permanent or temporary residents. also, some US residents would probably be somewhat exempt and allowed to receive CAD because they work in Canada or in tourism or in export/import. The details of that are hard to pinpoint now.

But I gotta tell you that actually being in those communities along the border makes me think the US government will have great difficulty banning Americans there from possessing and using CAD. Those Americans have been using CAD and the Canadians on the other side of the border have been accepting USD for a couple of centuries. I expect they would laugh at some law out of Washington, DC telling them they are suddenly not allowed to do that. Plus, it would be rather impractical for millions who are used to treating the two currencies interchangeably to suddenly only use one. Right now, both sides of the border have lots of each currency. At the KOA in Lynden WA, the laundry machines worked with either USD or CAD quarters. 60% of the depositors in Sterling bank in Blaine, WA are Canadians holding USD in their Blaine accounts. They need USD to buy stuff in the US online and when they come down to buy our currently much cheaper gasoline and food and airfares.

Border areas are more blended than distinct

If you have never been there, you probably think north of the border are Canadians and south of the border are Americans. Ha! F’get about it.

The way it really goes is like this. Both sides of the border are full of natives of each side. Both sides have married couples in which each is from one of the two countries. Many couples have one or more dual citizenships (Canada and the US). Many residents of Canada work daily at jobs in the US and vice versa. There is a special visa for that called a TN-1, if they are not already dual citizens. Half the property owners in Point Roberts, WA are Canadians. The librarian who helped me in Lynden, WA was born in Canada, as was her husband. He works in Canada. Both are citizens of each country.

Most of the businesses in northern WA fly both the US and Canadian flags. I did not see many US flags in Canada—the overshadowing of Canada by the US is a sore point in Canada—but I did not get any sense that Canadian border area businesses are any less eager for US business than US businesses south of the border are. They just do not fly the US flag north of the border.

North of the border I did not meet many Americans, but I did meet a surprising number of recent immigrants from Europe and Asia. In the US we have a lot of recent Asian and Latino immigrants, but I saw very few Latinos in Canada.

My main point is that while the actual border may be distinct in terms of federal tax laws, gas and food prices, and crossing the border delays and interrogations, the area around the border is less Canada and the US than a blend of the two. Northern Washington is more Canamerica than America. And the area near the border on the Canadian side is full of people who like to go to the US frequently for shopping, vacations, business travel.

The area just north of the border did not seem like Amerinada. The American presence there is muted because of Canadian sensibilities. But Canadians there consider America their backyard and shopping center and sunny vacation spot and they will not be happy about any diminishing of that.

During hyperinflation, Washington DC will try to impose capital controls on Washington State and the rest of the US, but I expect they will have great difficulty enforcing them there.

Smuggling is ever-present along international borders because they almost always have differing laws. For example, Canadians want guns that are more easily obtained in the US as well as cheap cigarettes, liquor, gasoline, groceries, shipping, and airfares. Many who want to go to the US try to sneak in through Canada because it’s easier for them than going directly into the US from their home country.

During US hyperinflation, the laws on each side of the border would become radically different thereby creating monster incentives for an enormous increase in smuggling especially of US dollars out and Canadian and other foreign currencies into the US.

Border residents seem to make light of the ever-present smuggling. I drove past a Smugglers Inn Bed and Breakfast. I think the owner of it is the head of the local chamber of commerce. But make no mistake, smuggling is against the law. Those who snitch on smugglers may be violently attacked. Smugglers and border guards sometimes die in shoot-outs between them—even though the two sides have known each other since kindergarten. Smuggling is a crime in spite of being victimless.

Observations about each town:

Bellingham: big city (60 miles north of Seattle) suburb, lots of choices

Blaine: poor blue-collar town that’s seen better days, main streets have sidewalks, street lights and storm sewers; side streets have none of the above; extremely bare-minimum house on relatively large lots indicating low real estate values. Right on the border. High school calls its students “the Borderites.”

Ferndale: between Bellingham and Blaine physically and demographically; Indian casino town

Lynden: very pretty nice little town with much Dutch heritage in evidence; would be a tourist trap with a little more promotion like Solvang, CA pushes its Danish heritage; more expensive housing than the other nearby US town but still only in the $300,000s and maybe less than comparable homes across the border in Canada; tree-lined streets; Hollywood should be using this town to shoot small-town America scenes. If I end up moving to Washington state during hyperinflation, it will probably be to this town or Bellingham.

Sumas: Has a high school but seems little more than a strip of shipping stores, restaurants, duty free shop, and gas stations on the street leading to the border crossing.

Point Roberts: I was only there after dark so I did not get an adequate look at it. I informally set up parking my camper overnight at their county park, but when I arrived at night, it was all locked up and there were no lights. So I had to leave. I just got a book about Point Roberts which I will read and probably report to readers on. But at the moment, I think it is too weird to consider. It can only be reached by water or air unless you go through Canada to get there. It has tiny and very limited stores and services. You need a passport of a plane or boat ticket to buy most goods and services. It is interesting, but I doubt that it is useful for protecting your life savings from hyperinflation or depression. The Canadian counterpart to Point Roberts is Campobello, New Brunswick, Canada, a Canadian exclave that is most famous for being an FDR vacation spot. We probably should have traded Point Roberts for Campobello at some point.

Point Roberts, the book

I found there was book on Point Roberts when I was up there. I just got a used copy of it and read it. It was copyright 1980 so it is somewhat out of date but it covers the couple of hundred years before 1980 and we might have to wait another two hundred years for an up-to-date book.

The fact that Point Roberts is US territory probably happened because those who drew he boundary did not know it existed where it was. When they figured it out, Canada tried to buy it to fix the mistake. The US said no. That was probably another mistake.

It was originally a place where Indians fished using crude nets to trap salmon on their annual runs. Early white settlers did the same plus subsistence farming, growing hay, and dairy farming. When civilization reached the area in both the US and Canada, it became a smugglers area as well. In the early years, there were a number of murders and shootouts with border police.

It is a 25-mile one-way drive to Blaine, WA, the nearest US territory if you want to go by land. That makes Point Roberts a royal pain in the ass for those activities which require US-based goods and services not available in Point Roberts. Those are numerous and important: jail, Medicare, Medicaid, lawyer, telephone line repair, electric line repair, water line repair, US law enforcement beyond the small number in Point Roberts, and maybe most importantly—public school. There is no sewer utility in Point Roberts. Everyone has to have a septic system. I am not sure the soil there is great for that method of treating sewage.

Dangerous criminals arrested in Point Roberts must be taken to the mainland US by water or air. They are not allowed to drive through Canada. Everything that is brought from the mainland to Point Roberts costs someone more: mail, packages, goods not made in Point Roberts (practically everything), visitors, and so on.

Since 9/11, the border crossing is a pain. It used to not even exist almost. Now it reminds me of Checkpoint Charlie in Berlin which I crossed in 1967 when the Berlin Wall was still up and the Communists ruled East Berlin and East Germany. Very large steel structures to make sure you cannot barge your way in or out. There appear to be waits to cross the border much of the time, especially on weekends and in the summer.

Point Roberts has morphed into a beach and boating recreation area and a retirement community mostly for Canadians. The soil is poor far farming and the entire town is too small—4.9 square miles—to allow the scale of farm now prevalent and required for profitable operation. For them, civilization is less than 25 miles away—albeit requiring passing through “Checkpoint Tsawassen.” in both directions.

At present, it is advantageous for Canadians to live near Point Roberts—to get cheaper food, gasoline, liquor, cigarettes, and shipping in Point Roberts, WA USA. But there appears to be no advantages to Americans to live in Point Roberts. During US hyperinflation there probably would be an advantage to living in a US town near the Canadian border, but there is no need to put up with the various incoveniences of Point Roberts to avail yourself of the advantages of proximity to Canada. To put it another way, it appears you can can get virtually all of the adjacent-to-Canada advantages of Point Roberts in 25-miles-away Blaine with none of the many disadvantages of Point Roberts.

I noted looking at pictures of Point Roberts in a prior article that it looked like there was so much driftwood on the beaches that you could rely on it totally to heat your home. The book says the early Icelandic settlers there—yes, Icelandic—built their homes out of the driftwood. Speaking of odd foreign countries getting involved with Point Roberts, they also had trouble with Austrian fishing boats taking too many of their salmon. Austrian!? Austria is landlocked. I think maybe they are talking about some old large empire that included Austria.

One line in an old newspaper article seems to capture Point Robers succinctly.

[Point Roberts] is in the United States, but not of it.

Remember: passport that is not expired, proximity to the border, and stable, non-inflated currency to spend when you get to Canada.

Any non-inflated currency will work

You could use almost any other non-inflated currency. For example, I have money in Australia in Australian dollars and in New Zealand in New Zealand dollars and I have Swiss franc cash in a safe deposit box in Canada. I could use any of those to shop in Canada during US hyperinflation.

That is not to say you can use those currencies in Canada. You would have to convert them to CAD. To do that with my Australian and New Zealand dollars, I could just stick my Australian or New Zealand debit cards into a Canadian ATM and it would automatically convert those currencies to CAD. Or I could wire money from my Australian or New Zealand bank accounts to my Canadian bank account which would also convert them to CAD. Or I could take the Swiss francs to Vancouver Bullion and Currency Exchange whence I bought them, or to American Express, or maybe to a regular bank to convert them to CAD. And of course I can spend the money I already have in CAD in Canada without any currency conversion cost.

If you have nothing but US currency to spend, the Canadian border guards may not let you into their country. I cannot emphasize that enough.

Would they ban us all?

Might Canada ban all Americans from coming into their country if we had hyperinflation? Almost certainly not. Economic contractions are contagious with trading partners. We are Canada’s biggest trading partner. If we have an economic contraction—which hyperinflation certainly would be—Canada would also have a painful contraction. But hyperinflation is NOT contagious. Your central bank has to “print” too much money to cause hyperinflation. The Canada central bank seems quite opposed to that. And watching us suffer hyperinflation on their TV news would probably cure them real fast of any inclination to follow our monetary example.

So Canada will be hurting when we are suffering from hyperinflation and as such should welcome anyone coming from the US or anywhere else with real money—not hyperinflated US dollars—to spend.

A boom in Northern Washington State, too

Understand also that there will be a boom in Northern Washington and other US states that border Canada. Why? We will sell everything to Canadians for CAD at huge discounts when we are starved for stable foreign currency. Our government will not prevent them from coming here to do that because we will need all the real money we can get our hands on. But our government will not let Americans spend CAD or any other foreign currency here because if they did, the US dollar would disappear off the face of the earth overnight. No one would accept it for anything. They would demand foreign currency instead. It’s called Gresham’s Law. The US government has to prevent them from doing that to get away with hyperinflation for s long as possible.

The US government are the perpetrators of US dollar hyperinflation. They cannot get the money they have promised to spend from taxing any more. Too much political resistance. They can no longer borrow it from Americans or other countries. Both Americans and foreigners have stopped being net purchasers of new US government bonds for years now. Only the US Federal Reserve “buys” US government bonds in the last year or so. So the only way the US government can keep paying social security and federal pensions and so on is to “print” the money to do so—legalized counterfeiting. They cannot do it forever. Eventually no one will accept US dollars for anything because there will just be too many of them. But the main way to prolong the period when they can get away with just “printing” more US dollars to pay the government’s bills is to outlaw Americans from using any other currency for as long as possible.

So during hyperinflation, the action will happen on both sides of the US-Canadian border. Canadians will swarm into the US to get huge discounts. Canada may even pass a law against it at the behest of Canadian merchants. France did in the 1920s with regard to hyperinflated Germany. Then people still came to at least fill their bellies with food and wine and their cars with cheap gasoline. And Americans who have or can get foreign currency will swarm into Canada to be able to buy food and other necessities that are only available within the US to foreigners who are allowed to spend foreign currency in the US.

Are you having trouble envisioning this or making sense of it? Join the club. It makes no sense. It is politicians trying to hold on to power by bamboozling the voters for as long as possible. It is what happened in Germany and Austria during the early 1920s and dozens of other countries in Latin America, Eastern Europe after the Soviet Union, and so on. It is happening right now in Venezuela, Argentina, and Iran. Visit one of those countries and see for yourself.

Here are some facebook posts I put up while exploring northern Washington:

I am in Blaine, WA. That is the westernmost US-Canada border town not counting the odd exclave of Point Roberts (a tiny US peninsula that sticks off the bottom of Canada and can only be reached by air, water, or by driving through Canada. Also, I am not counting the Alaska-Canada border when I say “westernmost.” But there's no there there—no town of any size on the AK border—long though it may be.
In my efforts to experience the full spectrum of RV overnight parking places I spent last night in the parking lot of the Silver Reef Casino in Ferndale. Casinos are a good, free place for RVs to park. Not all allow it though. Unfortunately, there are about three dozen little fireworks stands across the street from the RV parking lot at Silver Reef. Today, July 1, is Canada Day which is when Canadians set off fireworks. And July 1st started at midnight last night.
Why are we celebrating Canada in the US? Well, remember yesterday I said there was a 90-minute wait at border crossings southbound? Those were Canadians going to the US for the long weekend. So the stands across the street from the casino parking lot don't just sell fireworks, they shoot them off—all night long. And probably many Americans were “celebrating” Canada Day just for the excuse to raise hell.
It reminded me of spending nights at Firebase Wade in Vietnam in the spring of 1970. That artillery base was 5 km from the Parrots Beak part of the Cambodian border. And it was before we invaded Cambodia so the area was full of enemy North Vietnamese Army guys. Every night our 8-inch and 175mm self-propelled howitzers pounded away firing into a continent if I may borrow a phrase from Joseph Conrad. Last night’s barrage was not quite as loud although two of the explosions were so powerful they set off one RV’s car alarm twice around 2:30 AM. This was more of a Francis Scott Key experience—the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air—than a mixed-heavy-artillery battery barrage in Vietnam.
I can already see that the border is less distinct than you might think. Many commercial establishments have huge garrison flags and they are both the US and the Canadian flags. Basically, those flags are answering the question, “Which country’s residents do you want as customers?” Both.
I have told readers that hyperinflation is accompanied by capital controls which prohibit Americans from possessing foreign currency. Good luck enforcing that along the US-Canada border. These folks have been using both currencies interchangeably for centuries. I doubt they would comply with such a law. The US government would probably have to assign a bunch of currency Nazis here to try to stop it and they still probably could not.
So instead of this being a place where you could easily go across the border to Canada to shop during hyperinflation, actually standing here on the ground it looks more like a place where the border is a sort BLEND of the two countries. And that was visible about 22 miles south in Bellingham. I expect that as conditions and laws in the two countries became more different—as they would during US hyperinflation but no hyperinflation in Canada—the blended zone would become wider extending down to Seattle or Tacoma because the financial and starvation-avoidance incentives would be greater.

This blended border area is also a place with a 225-year history of continuous smuggling. Rat out a smuggler and your barn would likely burn down mysteriously in the night. Smuggling is a victimless crime, a mere assertion of capitalism in a place where the government has decreed socialism will be the law. If you doubt my depiction of the local attitude toward smuggling, book a stay at the Smuggler’s Inn Bed and Breakfast in Blaine. So the history and tradition of smuggling would increase the blending as opposed to distinct border nature of this area especially during a US hyperinflation crisis.
I don’t mean to suggest smuggling is no big deal here. There are shootouts and such between authorities and smugglers. But the community are clearly on either side. the fight is between the smugglers and the federal government, not the locals. Also smuggling now involves guns and terrorists and liquor and drugs. During hyperinflation it would be formerly perfectly inane things like Canadian dollars and food. I expect support for the federal authorities would drop dramatically. And the federal law enforcers are typically people who grew up here and live here.

I decided after three nights camping for free—called dry camping—that I should do another night of hookups. Also, I was heading toward Sumas, which has no obvious free parking spots like Walmart or a national forest in the immediate vicinity. There is a casino but they charge to park I read. And Mount Baker National Forest is within sight, but some unknown driving distance. I think you have to kind of arrive early to search for national forest parking sites. No street lights. Treacherous off-road hazards. Anyway, I was going to stop in Lynden for supper after a day in Blaine when I passed a KOA sign. Heard of them all my life. Never stayed in one. What the heck.
I have been hot and sweaty most of the day from walking around Blaine between two comfortable session in the library. KOA Lynden has a pool. As I arrived around five it was mobbed with kids. I asked if there was an adult pool. No. But from 5 to 6 was adults only. After plugging my camper into the electric, I spent most of the time from 5:20 to 6PM totally submerged.
Gorgeous perfect day. About 75º here it seemed. Many shade trees. This campground is idyllic squared. The last time I had that feeling was when I took my oldest son on a campus tour of Pomona College. “This feels like a movie set,” I commented. It was that perfect. Later, they gave us a viewbook about Pomona College. In the back, it listed all the Hollywood movies that had been filmed there. I had seen a number of those movies. That's why it felt to cinemagenic. You get that same feeling when you tour Universal Studios—–“I have seen this place before.”
If Hollywood has not yet filmed any moves at KOA Lynden, they need to start. I am currently sitting on a patio overlooking Dawson's Creek, which looks more like a small lake. There are paddle boats docked in front of me. The lake is surrounded by weeping willow trees. They have some log cabins that are too cute to exist in real life. You have to book those well in advance. There is a small light about thirty feet away, but mainly my light is the glow of my laptop screen.
I thought this was an RV park only. Not at all. You could stay here if you only had a car or only a backpack with a tent in it. Apparently some people live here in their RVs year round. There are spots with full hookups, just water and electric, no hook-ups, tent and picnic table only, you name it.
A couple of complaints about this RV way of life. I smelled a hint of propane in my camper several times yesterday and this morning. Since I had not turned on the stove or oven I looked around, found no problem, and shrugged it off. There is a propane detector near the floor under the range and oven. Propane is heavier than air. it never went off. Today, I discovered that one of the burners was turned on slightly! Apparently I brushed against it with my hip.
Jesus H. Christ on a crutch! I thought those knobs had to be designed such that you had to push them in and then twist them to turn them on, like childproof medicine bottle caps. I also thought that gas valves had a dead man’s switch—that if there was no flame, a spring would force the valve shut. If there was a flame, a metal spiral like in a thermostat would resist the spring thereby letting the gas continue to escape into the flame. I was apparently saved by the flames in my camper—refrigerator and hot water heater—being up near the roof while the flammable gas was on the floor.
Then I notice that my meter panel keeps saying my truck battery is in need of a charge How could that be!? It’s plugged into a damned 30 amp outlet. I also plugged my cell phone and laptop into camper outlets to charge them. The cell phone charge made no progress. The laptop charger indicator showed neither an orange nor a green light. WTF? I finally looked at the breaker on the post into which you plug the camper. It was off. I flipped it it on and everything got better.
Damn, you have to double check everything in RV land. You cannot assume that burners you never turned on are off or that a plug you just paid $40 to plug into is live.
Now if someone could tell me why my fresh water level keeps falling, as you would expect after three showers, but I cannot get any water to go into the tank when I try. You’re supposed to fill it like a gas tank. But it instantly tops off as if full. Yet the electronic monitor says it is more and more empty. I’ll call the damned RV rental company tomorrow about it, and read the manual again tonight.

I could not articulate the impression of KOA Lynden last night then I thought of it. This is Mayberry RFD circa 1955. 99% white. I saw a couple of 10-year old boys on bikes go by yesterday here. One black, one white, both speaking perfect American English. You also see occasional Latinos and Asians but apparently the fully assimilated kind who were born here and who are more interested in the Super Bowl than Cinco de Mayo or Chinese New Year.
When we were kids, we lived on our bikes in the summer. We had no bike locks. Never had one until grad school. Here at KOA, people leave bikes, lawn chairs, all sorts of stuff outside while they swim, sleep. The idyllicness of the place stems to a large extent from the absence of hostile blacks or exotic foreigners who act like they are willing to be here but not of here. There is a small-town,“good morning,” let the kids play unsupervised, go fishin' in the private lake, vibe. Very pleasant—sort of human comfort food.

John T. Reed