Thursday, August 21, 2014

San Juan Islands

I was a lazy tourist yesterday.  But it pays off!  I want to see more of the San Juan Islands 
so I decide to  

What a great trip!

Casting off from Anacortes. 

The crossing is an end in itself and provides several relaxing hours of watching the numerous islands in this exquisite archipelago roll by.

As you can see, the weather is ideal for a 3-hour tour.   A 3-hour tour.  

Many sailors are out enjoying the fine day.

These folks have a nice view of the Olympic Mountains in the background.

The Washington State ferries are very comfortable.  They contain large seating areas,

expansive decks for walking and gawking,

and plenty of picture windows.

I'm not interested in exploring Friday Harbor – too touristy, too crowded.  Too much work!

Fellow passengers waiting to disembark

As always, it's impossible to capture a wide-angle view of any town with my dainty point-and-shoot, so now I’ll be a lazy blogger and share these web images of Friday Harbor.

I stroll around town for a bit but am content to return to the dock within the hour and re-board for the trip home.  

On the way back, the low clouds clear and offer a momentary glimpse of the North Cascades' jagged peaks that make me gasp.  I don't get a good photo of the scene at the time but later that evening, I climb to the Cap Sante Overlook and get this shot of the majestic mountains to the northeast.

This scene intensifies my desire to move on to the Cascades.  Good timing too – as I am there now writing this post! 

This morning I take a last walk about the marina that has provided such a fun and rewarding home-base these past 5 days.  What a memorable stop!  

My pleasure!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Simple Sunset

On the eve of leaving Anacortes, I'll share some views from the Marina overlook - an ideal location for a watercolor sketch.  I can't draw, but I made one anyway.

The reality wasn't too shabby either.

I also want to share yet another brilliant post from my favorite simplicity blogger:  If Life Were Simple.

Hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Wharf Rats

It’s been a blast residing at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes.  The marina is just a few steps from town, an extension of town really.

The marina is bustling this weekend as the boating community clings to what's left of the summer. In addition, there is the Pirate Convention (parlay?) complete with eye-patches, jolly rogers, and even occasional cannon-fire.  Some of the pirates look surlier than usual this morning.  Too much grog last night, I guess.

The Harbormaster's Office is a hub of activity with people checking-in and vessels radioing-in.  

Harbor gridlock.

The facilities are much like a campground with showers, restrooms, laundry, and free wi-fi.  Before this experience, I never considered that mooring at a marina is similar to a campground stay - complete with water, electric, propane, and a dump station.

Jim, Gayle, and Debbie arrive Friday so now we are 4 rigs and 5 people.  

Sophie the Cat has learned to open the door!  Here Gayle attempts to keep Sophie in.  

Our noses lead us to a weekend-long community cook-out.  Naturally we indulge in some barbequed ribs, chicken, and sides.  

And pie.  

Debbie and I select and pay for ours pies, after which we realize Suzanne has gone missing. 

Oh, here she is .... down the alley.  In the pie truck!  Chatting up new best friend pie-man Alan. 

We spend a happy Happy Hour at the Rock Fish Grill and Anacortes Brewery.  After being surrounded by craft breweries for the past 2 months, I finally order a sampler platter.  I like 'em all though the India Pale Ale is my least favorite.   

On Saturday Gayle, Debbie, and I cruise the Farmer’s Market where the usual local fare is on offer.

While Suzanne takes off on a weekend island adventure and Gayle & Jim go cycling, Debbie and I walk some 6 miles through town, out to the bay, and back again.  One feature of this rails-to-trails path is a 0.5 miles trestle bridge.  I'ts pretty, despite the fog and heavy cloud cover. 

On Sunday, the clouds finally disperse!  Maybe now we can see the surrounding islands.  Debbie takes me, Rupert, and Elliot on a trot around nearby Washington Park.

Noble Rupert 

In between dodging cars on the narrow paved path, we do get some views of a few of the many San Juan Islands.

Both pups are weary after the big outing 


but Debbie and I are mainly hungry.  So we stop into Dad's Diner A-Go-Go

We both order gorgonzola-cheese burgers. Tasty!  And thoughtfully paired with bottled Coca-Cola.

The skies should remain clear over the next few days, so more exploring of this beautiful part of the world is in order. 

I can’t believe how the summer has flown!  And that it’s almost Labor Day.  There is a crisp hint of fall in the air here.  Autumn means football.  Football means Auburn.  But temps remain in the low 90’s back home so, in that respect, I'm glad to be on the slow-track home.  

Besides, there is still so much more to see and do!  

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Anacortes, WA

I leave Oak Harbor this morning after accepting the reality that the weather is just not going cooperate for a return to hike Ebey’s Landing.  Here’s the view out my window this AM as I hopefully pull back the curtains to check the sky.

Also disappointing is the fog-encased drive over Deception Pass.  The bridge connects Whidbey and Fidalgo Islands.   

The bridge is something to see, but seeing it was impossible today. So here’s a web photo. 

And my version.

The upside to yesterday's persistent rain and stubborn fog is that I accomplish a lot in Oak Harbor – laundry, haircut, gas-fill, shopping, and even a trip to the post office.  Another benefit is that the steady rain washes away layers of accumulated dust and dirt from the GDB. 
I’m camped here in Anacortes in the marina parking lot. Cap Sante Marina is one massive piece of real estate – the largest marina I’ve ever seen. 

[Follow-Up: I was rousted last night before 11 PM and politely asked to scram by 2 marina security people.  I followed their advice and parked on a quiet level street a couple of blocks away].  

I meet up with Suzanne who has been here all week.  We have an evening stroll along the extensive docks before the rain returns.  Anything nautical always fascinates me and Suzanne, an experienced sailor, gives me some great inside info.  Unfortunately, I forget my camera.  

I don't get any photos of charming downtown Oak Harbor either for the same reason.  Can I be losing my tourist instincts?

Not much to report actually.  My only plan right now is to enjoy these last few days on the Washington coast before heading for the mountains - the North Cascades.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Whidbey Island, WA

Hello from the Oak Harbor Wal-Mart where I'm camped for the night.  After the somewhat limited-services on the Olympic Peninsula, I'm glad to be in a place where I can obtain reasonably-priced provisions and a much-needed haircut.  Plus, it's laundry time again.  But let me tell the tale properly in chronological fashion.

Port Townsend

We arrive in Port Townsend from Sequim yesterday and set up camp at the county fairgrounds.

At $17 per night for water, electric, hot showers, and a dump station, it's a bargain.  Jim, Gayle, Debbie and I arrive to find Karen and granddaughter Hailey already camped nearby. Karen, blog-author of The Back Porch View, part-times in her glammed-up vintage trailer.

She's installed a kitty-door so the cats have safe access to the great outdoors.  Furnished with beds, litter box, and toys, you can tell they love it.

I spend the remainder of the day exploring the photogenic waterfront village and its many shops.

I stop in my tracks, startled to see this window display of one of our favorite wines.

However, fetching as Port Townsend is, the stream of traffic, long lines, and general congestion of the holiday crowds grows old quickly.  Three straight months of dealing with hordes (yeah, tourists like me) is beginning to take its toll.

Now, when do the kiddies go back to school again?  Real school.  Not sailing school.

The result is, I am ready to move on.  Sorry, Port Townsend.  It's not you, it's me.

This morning, I bid so-long-for-now to my travel companions and press on to Whidbey Island.  

By sea!

Sheer dumb luck places the GDB on the bow of the ferry for the 35-minute crossing.

I can't tell you how strange it feels to be behind the wheel just feet away from the churning waters of Puget Sound.  The GDB under full sail!

"Okay, Rookie .... park that thang".

Ebey Landing National Historical Reserve

After disembarking and driving a few miles along the coast, I feel as though I've been transported to the British Isles.  The rural atmosphere is exactly what I need as an antidote for the crush of tourists.

I stop just a few miles from the ferry landing to visit Ebey (pronounced E-Bee) Landing National Historic Reserve.  Ebey is a settlement dating from the 1850's whose 19,000 acres have been preserved intact. It remains rural agricultural land that could make you quit your day job and take up farming.

Thanks to our National Park service, we can all enjoy this unique place.  Otherwise, it would be either an enclave for the wealthy or a golf resort (sorry, honey!).

I'm not expecting to be overwhelmed.  But I am in an instant.  The views of the bay, the mountains, and the meadows draw me closer.  Without planning, I find a gem of a footpath and hike virtually alone for over an hour.

The only drawback is the overcast sky obscuring the mountain views.

The deserted ribbon of beach below

Walking back to the GDB, I stop in to the tucked-away NP office on the historical cemetery grounds in order to stamp my NP passport book.  I ask about the weather forecast because I want to return and do the complete bluff hike under perfect conditions.

The helpful lady staffing the office tells me that trying to predict the weather on Whidbey Island is a wasted effort.  The island has its own micro-climate (amazingly, it receives only 18 inches of rain per year).  And while it may be full-sun on the eastern edge, it can be completely overcast on the west side.

I initially considered Oak Harbor as a convenient way-point on the road to Anacortes, but now I want to stay longer and try my luck with the hiking weather over the next few days.  Here's why: when the day is fine on the bluff overlooking Puget Sound, you can see the Cascades, the Olympics, and Mount Rainier.

Yes please!