Whidbey Island

Tuesday I spent much of the day out on Whidbey Island, the largest of all the islands in the various waterways in northwest Washington.  I could see Whidbey Island from Port Townsend (only 4 miles and a short ferry ride away) but I didn’t go out there because the wildfire smoke was limiting visibility and the air quality was poor.  From the east side (I am currently staying in Mount Vernon, north of Seattle) I could drive out onto the island over a series of bridges.

First I went back to downtown Mount Vernon to take some pictures with the sun behind me.  When I arrived in town Monday afternoon I spent a good bit of time walking around downtown and along the waterfront (along the Skagit River).

This large piece of art is located along the waterfront.  Many of the Indian tribes in the area utilize fish in their tribal logo and this symbolizes salmon swimming upstream.

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And this area in Washington includes the largest growers of tulips in North America.

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Many of the local fields are bursting with color in April when the tulips bloom.

One of the merchants in town sells items for runners, joggers and other exercise-minded individuals and these “entry numbers” from various marathons lined two of the unused doors to their store:

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Next I headed out to Whidbey Island.  First stop was the town of Anacortes which is actually on Fidalgo Island.  Last year I saw several chessboards outside in various places which consisted of child-sized chess pieces.  This is the first checkers board I saw along the same line, this one at a marina.

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Also, overlook the ships in the marina, a piano for anyone with a sudden desire to “tickle the ivories”.  If my older brother was here he’d have knocked out a few tunes.  Me, I can’t even play “chopsticks”.

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I have seen these in a few places and there were several people at various times playing one when I was in Port Angeles.

Next up, cross the Deception Pass Bridge and start my trek out on Whidbey Island.  The first big town I came to was Oak Harbor.  I drove down to the “historic” part of town overlooking the water but the tide was out and it wasn’t very impressive.  The only excitement in Oak Harbor was when several military jets from the nearby Whidbey Island Naval Air Station made a low, slow pass over the highway as they came in to land.

Next stop, Coupeville.  This is where I would have ended up if I had taken the ferry over from Port Townsend.  The town and harbor are on the opposite side of the island and several miles from the ferry terminal so I am really glad I didn’t take the ferry as a “walk-on” planning to walk into town!  Coupeville has a charming little main street area with restaurants, art galleries and gift shops.  There was also a large building out at the end of a wooden dock with several such shops.  Out on the deck on the water-side of that building was this bell for people to ring when they see a whale.

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I went into one of the gift shops to ask when was the last time the bell was rung and the clerk said it was one day last week.  Evidently Orcas (Killer Whales) are often seen here.  The only action I saw while was standing on the deck looking out over the water were these people kayaking:

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As I was walking back to my car I saw this ice cream shop:

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There was a sign on the building indicating that this was the original location of what would become “Seattle’s Best Coffee”.  Two brothers opened a coffee shop at this location in 1969 and in 1991 their blend was named as Seattle’s Best!

I drove further south, through Greenbank and past Freeland and finally arrived at Clinton.

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I could have taken a ferry there back over to the mainland at Mukilteo (and visited the lighthouse there) but I decided to turn around and drive back north to Mount Vernon.  It was a beautiful day, sunny and with very little wind.  I think the warmest it got was the low-70’s.  The wildfire smoke has mysteriously disappeared.  In fact, when I checked the Air Quality website Monday night I thought maybe it wasn’t working properly because ALL the oranges, reds, maroons and purples were gone!  I don’t know where all the smoke went but at least for now the air quality and visibility in the region is back to normal.  As I post this on Wednesday morning at 840 local time the only orange spot showing up in the state of Washington is in Twisp.  Maybe they’re mad that I have a new favorite town….

I will be driving through Twisp Thursday as I head east to my last stop in Washington, Spokane.  I will be there 5 nights, through all of the upcoming Labor Day weekend.  I know they had a little rain over the weekend which is maybe why the smoke went away but given all the fires still burning in the area I’m sure the smoke will be back.

After I leave Spokane next Tuesday I’ll be stopping in Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and Michigan (both the UP and the mitten) before visiting family and friends in the northeast.