Wednesday, May 26, 2021

DESTINATION: Anacortes and Whidbey Island, Washington

For the last few days of our 2021 Washington State journey we stayed in the city of Anacortes, Washington, at the Ship Harbor Inn.  Like we mentioned in an earlier post we chose this location because of its easy access to Friday Harbor but also Whidbey Island.

The Ship Harbor Inn is located within walking distance of the Washington Ferry Terminal and a short drive from downtown Anacortes.  Although the inn is somewhat dated it has been recently remodeled.  We really enjoyed our peaceful stay at the inn and loved the amazing views from our room!

Ship Harbor Inn

Deer roaming the grounds of the Ship Harbor Inn

View from our room

Anacortes is a city in Skagit County, Washington, United States. The name "Anacortes" is an adaptation of the name of Anne Curtis Bowman, who was the wife of early Fidalgo Island settler Amos Bowman.  The entire city of Anacortes is a wildlife refuge. Deer roam freely, not just in adjoining forested areas but in town too, even in yards and across busy streets. 

Cap Sante Park is a forested, rocky, headland jutting out into Fidalgo Bay from the northeast corner of Anacortes.  The name is French for "Cape Health," and was bestowed by Anne Curtis Bowman in 1877.  At the high point, of Cap Sante, you can view Mount Baker and if it is an exceptionally clear day you can make out the summit dome of Mount Rainer, which is over 120 miles away to the southeast.  We spent each evening of our stay in Anacortes watching the sun go down at Cap Sante Park.  It was breathtakingly beautiful!

From Cap Sante looking towards the Cap Sante Marina and Anacortes

From Cap Sante looking east towards Hat Island

On the last day of our journey we drove the entire perimeter of Whidbey Island.  Whidbey Island is in the Puget Sound, north of Seattle, Washington and is the second-largest saltwater island in the continental United States.  The island's rugged terrain spans beaches, hills and farmland.  On its northwest tip is Deception Pass State Park which offers clifftop views, forest trails and freshwater lakes.  To the south is Fort Casey Historical State Park which is home to a lighthouse and gun battery.  The coastal towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley offer boutique shopping, delicious cafes and beautiful art galleries.

To start our tour of Whidbey Island we left Anacortes and drove over the Deception Pass bridge which connects the mainland to Whidbey Island.  Deception Pass is a strait separating Whidbey Island from Fidalgo Island, in the northwest part of the U.S. state of Washington. It connects Skagit Bay, part of Puget Sound, with the Strait of Juan de Fuca. A pair of bridges known collectively as Deception Pass Bridge cross Deception Pass. 

Deception Pass Strait

Deception Pass Bridge

Our first stop on Whidbey Island was the small town of Oak Harbor where we stopped for one reason only, to sit in the Flintstone's rock car at Flintstone Park. Luckily, we also caught our first glimpse of an eagle near the Oak Harbor docks. 

Fred Flintstone, is that you?

From Oak Harbor we drove over to The Ebey's Landing National Historical Reserve.  This rural historic district preserves and protects the historical record of Puget Sound exploration and settlement from the 19th century to the present. Historic farms, still under cultivation in the prairies of Whidbey Island, reveal land use patterns unchanged since settlers claimed the land in the 1850s under the Donation Land Claim Act

From Ebey's Landing we traveled on to Fort Casey.  Fort Casey, Fort Worden and Fort Flagler together were known as the "Triangle of Fire," a trio of strategically placed fortifications defending the entrance to the Puget Sound at the turn of the 20th Century. Constructed in the late 1800s, Fort Casey was equipped for defense and used as a training facility up to the mid-1940s. The fort houses a pair of rare 10-inch disappearing guns. Two additional 3-inch mounted guns are also on display in their original emplacements.

From Fort Casey, we drove over to the community of
Coupeville.  We had heard a lot about the quaint town of Coupeville and were looking forward to shopping and enjoying a delicious lunch.  Unfortunately, we found almost all the restaurants in the historic area of Coupeville were closed on Wednesdays.  We found a pizza joint, not far from downtown, and had a nice pizza lunch before heading out to explore more of the island.

Leaving Coupeville we drove 535 south to where the road literally ends at Clinton, Washington.  From this point you can take a short ferry ride over to the mainland or you can do what we did and drive the backroads, north, hugging the island's shore line to Langley, Washington.
We found Langley, Washington, enchanting and chose to get ice cream and roam around exploring before heading back to Anacortes. Langley is a waterfront village perched on the long finger of Whidbey Island. The town's charming characteristics include: resident artists and performers, farmers, county fairs, beaches, a small marina, and the oldest cemetery on Whidbey Island.

After a busy day exploring Whidbey it was time to return to Anacortes for another good night's sleep and then head towards Seattle to catch a flight home.

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

DESTINATION: Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, Washington

This adventure was the highlight of our whole Washington State trip!  

After visiting the North Cascade National Park we drove over to Anacortes, Washington, and claimed the Ship Harbor Inn as our home base for the next few days.  (We will post a separate blog post all about Anacortes, Washington, soon.)  One of the reasons we stayed at this particular hotel was because it was within walking distance of the ferry terminal to get to Friday Harbor at San Juan Island, Washington.

We woke early to take the first ferry over to Friday Harbor.  After almost an hour long, peaceful, ferry ride, with spectacular views of the Puget Sound, we docked at Friday Harbor.

Friday Harbor, Washington, is a charming, historic, walkable seaport just steps from the ferry landing.  It has small, friendly shops and restaurants, and a refreshing absence of fast-food chains. There's no need for a car to see Friday Harbor. Everything is within walking distance of the ferry landing, and it is easy to get around, including shuttle buses and a trolley to take you around the island, as well as bike, three-wheeled Scootcoupe, and moped rentals. 

We had reserved a Scootcoupe rental from Susie's Mopeds before we left for Washington, so after we exited the ferry we walked over to Susie's to pick up our rental. Susie's Mopeds provided us with a tour map of the Island so we hit the main road to see the sights!

Our first stop was Roche HarborRoche Harbor is a historic seaside resort located on San Juan Island, Washington. Steeped in rich history and surrounded by lush gardens, the village is a short drive from nearby Friday Harbor. 

After a great lunch at Roche Harbor we hopped back into the Scootcoupe and made our way to the English CampSan Juan Island is well known for splendid vistas, saltwater shore, quiet woodlands, orca whales and one of the last remaining native prairies in the Puget Sound/Northern Straits region. But it was also here in 1859 that the United States and Great Britain nearly went to war over possession of the island, the crisis ignited by the death of a pig. The Royal Marine Camp, as it was referred to in the late 1800s, consisted of 27 structures, a formal garden and ample room on the parade ground. The ship, the HMS Boxer, a steam gunboat with shallow enough draft to negotiate the waters of Garrison Bay, called on a regular basis from Victoria, BC,  bringing mail, food and other stores along with passengers going both ways.  After a quick tour we jumped back in "the coupe" and drove over to the Lime Kiln Lighthouse.

Set on a rocky bluff at the west end of San Juan Island, Lime Kiln Point is considered one of the best whale-watching spots on earth. The pods, which also include humpback and minke whales, pass through the area every May through September, with peak times depending on salmon runs. Visitors can see the action from a 1919-vintage lighthouse or from a nearby sea cliff. Disappointed, we did not spot a whale from this point as we had hoped!  Back in the Scoopecoupe we made our way across the island to the American Camp.

Camp San Juan Island, today known as American Camp, was occupied by the U.S. Army from July 1859 through November 1874. The only structures that remain today are the two officers' quarters.  We found the American Camp to be under construction as the island is making renovations that include hiking trails and restroom facilities.

After a wonderful day exploring Friday Harbor and the San Juan Island it was time to make our way back to Susie's Mopeds to turn in our Scoopecoupe rental.  Fortunately, the San Juan Island Brewing Company, was within walking distance from Susie's.  We headed over there for some adult refreshments before hoping aboard the next ferry and returning to Anacortes, Washington.

Our next stop on our world wind tour of the beautiful state of Washington, Whidbey Island!

Monday, May 24, 2021

DESTINATION: North Cascades National Park, Washington

After a great night's rest we were ready for our next adventure as continued to explore the great state of Washington!

Our plan to get to North Cascades National Park was to head from Lynnwood, Washington, to Granite Falls and travel along the Mountain Loop Highway so that we could take in as many sights as possible.  Unfortunately, Mountain Loop Highway was closed just outside of the small town of Verlot, Washington.  Disappointed, we headed back to Granite Falls and then up to Highway 530, into the North Cascades National Park and on to Diablo Lake.  At Diablo Lake we traveled back to Anacortes, Washington, via Highway 20 and going through the small town of Concrete.

Stillaguamish River

North Cascades National Park is an American national park in the state of Washington. At more than 500,000 acres (200,000 ha), it is the largest of the three National Park Service units that comprise the North Cascades National Park Complex. North Cascades National Park consists of a northern and southern section, bisected by the Skagit River that flows through the reservoirs of Ross Lake National Recreation AreaNorth Cascades National Park features the rugged mountain peaks of the North Cascades Range, the most expansive glacial system in the contiguous United States, the headwaters of numerous waterways, and vast forests with the highest degree of flora biodiversity of any American national park.

Diablo Lake is a reservoir in the North Cascade mountains of northern Washington state. Created by Diablo Dam, the lake is located between Ross Lake and Gorge Lake on the Skagit River at an elevation of 1,201 feet above sea level.

The area in and around Concrete, Washington, was the filming location for the movie, This Boy's Life, starring Leonardo DiCaprio!

Concrete, Washington

After a long day of driving but seeing many new sights and beautiful landscapes we headed to Anacortes, Washington, which would be our "home base" for the next three days as we explored the San Juan Islands!