Whidbey Island

I visited Whidbey Island in May for a reunion of friends who were in Vietnam with me and while I was on the island just part of a day I longed for more. We found a couple of days free loaded up the van and off we went to reacquaint ourselves with island life.   Whidbey is really very close to home so why hadn’t we camped there?

It is a long (55 miles) thin island set in Puget Sound and just a 20-minute ferry ride from Mukilteo to Clinton where we began our trip across the pastoral island of rolling farmland, small towns and beautiful views of Puget Sound.

First stop was the quaint little town of Langley on the south end of the island; Langley overlooks Saratoga Passage and is where I spent many a Friday evening picking up my son where he lived there with his father I remember those Fridays and how after long workweek I could always feel myself decompress as I drove off the ferry, islands have a way of doing that.

Langley hasn’t changed much, the buildings are the same, they have been repainted, the shop owners have changed, there are more flowers and more art than in the late 1970’s and with that more tourists but it has remained small and retained its charm. This was George’s first visit so we walked the waterfront, poked our heads into some of the shops and managed to find the ice cream shop.  The main street is lined with cars on both sides making good photos impossible, darn those tourists.

We had reserved two nights at Fort Ebey State Park, the first visit for both of us. The park is near the northern end of the island and the town of Coupeville. It was originally built as a coastal defense fort in World War II and the remnants of the gun batteries remain but we were interested in the 28 miles of hiking trails and the possibility of biking.

This lovely greeted us at registration

After we set up the van we headed out to explore the trail system and specifically to find the bike trails. It was confusing at first, many trails heading off in different directions but they were all well signed and after about an hour we decided this was really mountain biking territory, large roots in some places made even walking precarious, some steep hills coupled with the narrow trail and we decided it was not our kind of biking so we gave up on that idea and just enjoyed the hiking which was fabulous.

Coming out of the forest, not far from the campground, we found our way to the gun battery hill with a beautiful meadow of freshly cut grass sun dried creating a patterned carpet sweeping down to the edge of the bluff, beautiful against the blue of the water and the sky!

The Bluff Trail

Gun Battery Area

The next morning after breakfast we had seen a trail leading to a beach access and headed north on the Bluff Trail to near the northern border of the park. It didn’t look like a long hike but gadzooks the ups and downs were numerous and some quite steep with most of the ups waiting for hikers returning from the beach ugh.  It was a really nice hike despite the ups, made up of a mix of forest with openings to views of Puget Sound; we finally made it to the beach access point where we walked the short expanse; it was rocky, the tide was out and the panorama of Puget Sound was awesome. I looked up at the cliff, thinking about the climb back up and noticed a bald eagle atop one of the tree snags just sitting contentedly. I would have loved to capture him in flight against the blue sky but he did not seem interested in moving.

Bald Eagle

There was a lake nearby but my legs were tired and when we started downhill again to the lake all I could think of the uphill hike back to the van so we skipped it for now and began the uphill slog.   At a rest point we looked out to see another bald eagle perched in a fir tree, such a majestic bird.  The return trip wasn’t really as bad as I had imagined but I admit to a few “water” breaks.

Ravenous after our hike we drove into Coupeville for lunch.  It is a small town in an idyllic setting on Penn Cove, well known for its mussels.  Today the cove was filled with sailboats so we walked the pier to watch for a bit . . . oh I do miss sailing sometimes especially on a beautiful day like today.

Like Langley Coupeville hasn’t changed a lot other than the buildings being prettied up and more tourists but it is still a fun place to wander around.

Coupeville Pier and Marina

Downtown Coupeville

 

A friend had told us we must eat at Toby’s Tavern and obedient little children that we are we found Toby’s, it wasn’t hard in this tiny town and at 3 p.m. it was not crowded so we took a booth by the window to enjoy the view.   Once inside I did recognize the place from former visits, many, many years ago, I just hadn’t remembered the name. We sat by the window and watched the sailboats enjoying lunch and adult beverages, very pleasant afternoon.

Toby’s Tavern

Toby’s has a lot of history and the walls are adorned with all sorts of memorabilia. Above our table hung an old 5 man racing shell built by George Pocock for the University of Washington back in the early fifties, it has been raced all over the globe. Small world, I had met Stan Pocock, George’s son, on a snorkeling trip in Belize and did not know his history until late into the trip. Coincidentally he and his wife had lived within blocks of us in the 1970’s.

Pocock Shell

The back bar was brought around the horn in 1900 and was a presence in other businesses in the area before coming to rest at Toby’s.  Sorry, didn’t get a photo.

 

Back at camp, we were stuffed from lunch so no need for dinner just time to relax and maybe a hike later in the evening.   Around 6 p.m. we heard “hello neighbor” and our camping neighbor invited us over to share their fire that evening. We accepted and had an enjoyable evening in their company and the company of their dog Max show who made himself right at home in my lap.  It was a pleasant evening and after 4 hours of hiking I think we will sleep well tonight.  Sweet Dreams.

 

 

 

 

Deception Falls

On the west side of Stevens Pass there is a hidden gem of a waterfall.  We’ve stopped there many times to stretch our legs but never at this time of year, after a major snow melt.  This rather ordinary but pretty cascade becomes a spectacular torrent of water crashing down multi-tiered waterfalls, culminating when the falls slam into a granite wall – making an abrupt 90-degree turn to the right before joining the Tye River.

Deception Falls

Right Turn

George

 

Leavenworth

On the return home we stopped in Leavenworth, a cute little town in a stunning location, you feel like you are in the Alps.  There is a beautiful river walk behind town, the trail winds along the river, through quiet forests with little beach areas for a cool dip in the river but on this day we were forced off the river by a blizzard of cottonwood!

We still wanted  to walk so we strolled through town, much quieter than it was on Sunday when we drove through.  After our walk we had  a really good lunch at Pavs Bistro, one of our favorite little places in town.  It was always our “go-to” place for crepes after skiing.  They have expanded their menu to include salads and a few signature dishes but have not skimped on quality, still a favorite.

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Lake Chelan

With Memorial Day behind us and the kids not yet out of school it was the perfect time for a visit to Lake Chelan, a summer haven for kids, and adults, with all forms of water sport, hiking, wine tasting, good restaurants and guaranteed sunshine, the hills are still green and the weather warm.

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Lake Chelan

Friends had just moved into their new home above Lake Chelan so we headed east for some fun in the sun and a visit with former neighbors.

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Chelan River

 

Flowers along the river walk

We had dinner at Sorrento’s Ristorante  in the Tsillan Winery where one of our friends is lucky enough to work.  The winery and grounds are beautiful and dinner was delicious, a must stop if ever in Chelan.

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Tsillan Winery

 

Astoria

One more night on the road and this one in a hotel overlooking the Columbia River and listening to a chorus of sea lions who had taken over the floating docks of the fishing marina.

Home tomorrow.

 

No room at the inn

Sunshine again!

It wasn’t long before the sun was out again hip hip hooray!

Longing for a walk we stopped at Heceta Head and walked up to the lighthouse and on up a trail behind the lighthouse for a better look at the light and for a drop dead gorgeous coastal panorama. It is a beautiful day!

Trail to the beach

Heceta Head Lighthouse

Heceta Head Lighthouse Keepers House

Heceta Head

Next stop was Cape Perpetua where we hiked down to some tide pools, not much activity there other than the crashing waves;  we continued along the coastal trail. Gorgeous, gorgeous, gorgeous day!

Coastal Trail

Coastal Trail

Florence

Rain, Rain, Rain, more rain, we are done with rain and have decided to turn back north and work our way home, hoping for a few sun breaks along the way. This has been a very wet trip and we’ve decided to cut out losses and head north toward home. We drove in the rain until Bandon when the sun came out; we stopped for lunch at the Creamery and then walked through town soaking up the sunshine before continuing on to Florence.

Florence Riverfront

We had a fabulous meal in Florence at the Waterfront Depot, a small restaurant on the riverfront, starting with crab stuffed mushrooms, filled with sweet Dungeness crab on a creamy dill sauce, delicious!  George ordered a Dungeness crab Caesar salad that was piled high with crab and I had crab encrusted halibut on a bed of chili cream sauce, the best halibut I’ve ever had.  As if that wasn’t rich enough we had dessert, a slice of tres leches cake.  We waddled back to our hotel and collapsed.

Waterfront Depot