During a recent trip to the state of Washington and the province of British Columbia, I learned, or was reminded about, a number of things, so here are some observations, in no particular order:

Ziplining is absolute fun. Canadian businesses accept U. S. dollars, but Washington businesses don’t accept Canadian dollars — even when the two currencies are trading at par. Bears have a form of a social system that’s quite fascinating. The best ice cream anywhere is in Whistler (the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics). A person can easily wear only a T-shirt while on top of a mountain in summer, even when walking in the snow. Informally interviewing an intelligent, personable 17-year-old longboarder from the Netherlands about his sport and his background can be enlightening. Great scenery is serene — especially when combined with crisp, clean air. Some “free” concerts are far better than others we pay dearly for. “Small world” means bumping into people from both Crystal and Little Canada in the real Canada. We can’t possibly grasp the size of the largest building in the world — the Boeing plant close to Seattle — without actually being there. The $20 that 240,000 tourists pay each year to see that plant isn’t enough combined to buy the landing gear for just a single airliner. Some of the best, reasonably priced meals are at restaurants that are not parts of chains.

On top of all that, it’s great to be home, partly thanks to a great house-sitter.

JIM BARTOS, Brooklyn Park