Anacortes Revisited

After my three day weekend in the San Juan Islands, I arrive back to the Anacortes Cap Sante Marina.   Already the place seems more welcoming as Jim and Gayle, Debbie, and Kim have all arrived, and Karen and Hailey are on their way.    The friendly faces and laughs help ease me through the “back to work blahs.”IMG_0301 IMG_0304

All the mud puddles around my rig and my psyche from three straight days of rain last week have disappeared. The rain has done wonders to settle the dust from the boat trailer traffic.   The weather forecast for the week couldn’t be better.   I have moved my rig up to Site #2, with only one other rig in between me and the marina.  I can see hundreds of gorgeous sailboats from my bedroom window.  So things are looking up here.  I have settled in, and committed to seek out the beauty of my surroundings.

View of the Cap Sante Marina

View of the Cap Sante Marina

Hauling in the nets

Hauling in the nets

Grandpa raised him right.

Grandpa raised him right.

I start with a little “retail therapy.”  Anacortes has one of the largest West Marine stores I have seen, like a giant Toys’R Us store for grown-ups.   I buy a new pair of Sperry Topsiders, so I can feel like I am on a boat, even when I’m not.IMG_0286

The rains last week  kept me indoors, so I am eager to explore the Tommy Thompson bike trail.  At 6.5 miles round trip, the trail follows the waterfront, cuts through a boat yard, and runs across an old railway trestle across Fidalgo Bay to March’s Point.  The trail was named for a local railway enthusiast.IMG_0363

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I love that part of the trail runs right through the boatyard!

I love that part of the trail runs right through the boatyard!

Nothing lifts my spirits like a lighthouse, and I had passed up a beauty on my way from the Port Townsend Ferry, not wanting to stop while towing.  So I backtrack to Fort Casey to tour the Admiralty Head Lighthouse.   Like Westport and North Head, this is another Carl Leick creation, only this one is built in a very different non-traditional lighthouse style.   Built in 1093, it is more along the lines of a Spanish mansion.    Admiralty Head sits directly across from Point Wilson, the lighthouse in Port Townsend’s Fort Worden, both guiding ships through the Strait of Juan de Fuca.DSC_0839

I stop on the way back in the cute little town of Coupeville, built right along Penn Cove.  The town was founded in  1852, and is the second oldest town in Washington.  DSC_0840

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Though small, it has lots of historic buildings, including Toby’s Tavern, built in 1890.  Toby’s is known for their Penn Cove Mussels, some of the most famous shellfish in the PNW.  Tonight’s offerings are white wine and basil or spicy steamed in five different peppers.   I request “half and half.”   Paired with Toby’s own “Parrot Red Ale” from the Anacortes Brewery, this makes the perfect “last supper” along the seacoast.

Toby's Tavern, established in 1890.

Toby’s Tavern, established in 1890.

Famous Penn Cove Mussels

Famous Penn Cove Mussels

Anacortes has been a significant destination for me since I first began heading northwest.  Not only did it come highly recommended by friends, coupled with the fact that it is the premier yachting gateway in the PNW.  But it has felt like a noteworthy milepost as I have been exploring the Pacific NW coastline since early May.   I am now out of coastline, and must turn east if I am to make it to Glacier National Park before the Going to the Sun Road shuts down.  So this final week in Anacortes will be my last week near the ocean for who knows how long.   I am not yet ready to leave, so it is a bittersweet goodbye.   It may not have been a love affair, but I could sure move in and stay awhile…

Deception Pass State Park

Deception Pass State Park

Sunset taken from Deception Pass Bridge

Sunset taken from Deception Pass Bridge

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“It isn’t that life ashore is distasteful to me. But life at sea is better.” — Sir Francis Drake

Suppose You Were Stranded on a Deserted Island…

You know that old game, “If you were stranded on a deserted island, who would you pick to be there with you?”    My answer these days would include Wheeling Nina, because I know if there is a lighthouse on the island, she would most certainly find a way to it!  ;-)

There are two lighthouses in the San Juan Islands which are not accessible by car or ferry;   Patos Light and Turning Point.   The only way to reach them is by private charter.  Nina and I have been exchanging emails on how to make this happen, and I tell her if she can find the charter, I will find a way to make it, no matter what day.   Then mid-week, the email comes…”If you decide to stay until Monday, I have managed to arrange a charter to see Patos Lighthouse.”   Oh, she’s goooood…

Since Nina is volunteering at the Mount Constitution Interpretive Center, she is considered one of the “Friends of Moran,” the volunteer force that helps support Moran State Park.   So in support of the volunteer efforts, Outer Island Expeditions offers a familiarization trip on  their island expeditions.   Since Paul will be doing the volunteer shift on Monday, I get to tag along as Nina’s guest!   Oh, I am about as high on the “happy scale” as I get!

Patos Island, Spanish for “Duck Island is a mere 200 acres in size.  It was named by a Spanish explorer back in 1792.   It is beautifully wooded in the center, with pebbly beaches and a gorgeous protected cove.  There is nothing on the island except the Patos Lighthouse and a State Park with some of the most idyllic campgrounds I have seen.

Idyllic cove with the perfect campsite or mooring.

Idyllic cove with the perfect campsite or mooring.

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There will be five of us on the trip, three volunteers, one other solo traveler Joanne, and me.   The owner of Outer Island Expeditions himself will be conducting our charter, Beau, a handsome man of the sea, not yet turned “salty old sea dog.”  ;-)    Anticipation is high as we all board the small skiff, Kodyak, bound for Patos Island.

"There's a lighthouse out there.  I have a job to do."

“There’s a lighthouse out there. I have a job to do.”

Captain Beau

Captain Beau

Perfectly calm seas

Perfectly calm seas

The sea is flat calm, but looks are deceiving, as this is “Boundary Pass,” some of the most active water flow between the US and Canada where currents flow down through the Strait of Georgia, parting around the little Patos Island.  There is a very distinct line of demarcation in the surface of the water, which Beau explains as “tidal currents.”    Beneath us is a vast drop-off.  On one side of the boat, the water is a mere 7 feet deep, but on the other side, it drops to over a hundred feet.  This is where large pelagics have been known to hang out, waiting for their dinner to swim up over the wall.   As if on cue, we see porpoise jumping across the surface.

Beau is going to motor us close along the shoreline first before we stop to disembark.  We see sea lions lazing on the rocks.  As we approach, they all begin to dive beneath the surface.

Sea lions asking, "Can we get a little privacy here?"

Sea lions asking, “Can we get a little privacy here?”

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Note eagles nest above right

Note eagles nest above right

Soon, as we round the corner, a collective sigh can be heard from Nina and me as the beautiful little Patos Light comes into view.   From the sound of the camera clicks, you would think it was a paparazzi boat.  Way out at the end of the promontory she stands, gleaming white against the cobalt blue sky, with her little red Dutch roof gable turndowns accenting the picture perfect postcard.DSC_0748DSC_0755

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Beau drops us off via ladder in the calm cove, and we all set off to explore, with Nina and I beating a path down the half mile trail to the lighthouse.   We have her all to ourselves for the good bit of time we are allotted on the island.   I think between us, we photographed every angle possible without the aid of a helicopter.

If I were a painter, I would paint this and call it "Nina's Picnic."

If I were a painter, I would paint this and call it “Nina’s Picnic.”

Beau gives us a little time to enjoy the beach and soak up the sun before it is time to motor back across the strait to Orcas Island.   DSC_0794

Note well camouflaged tent and beautiful wooden kayak on shore.

Note well camouflaged tent and beautiful wooden kayak on shore.

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I say goodbye to my “lighthouse nut” friend Nina, with the promise to meet up again further south this winter.  I don’t think there will be any lighthouses there, but if there are, Nina will surely find them!

Moran, Madrones, and Marley — San Juan Islands, Pt II

I awake early to the campground sounds, for which my tent offers little insulation.  It’s not like the Winnie where I can close the windows and sleep in.  It’s not yet 7:00am, and the neighbors have already started breakfast.  I have no cell signal in the campground, which makes me even more restless, so I pull out my paper brochures and begin to do research for my next destination, Orcas Island. Continue reading

Island Getaway — San Juan Style

I am excited to arrive at Anacortes for many reasons, none the least of which is its proximity to the San Juan Islands.   I have budgeted two weeks here, so I can spend the weekend island hopping.  As an avid sailor, I have heard many tails of sailing the San Juans;  short-distance cruising between forested islands, lots of marine life, and idyllic emerald green coves with mooring balls so you don’t have to anchor.   I would give anything to be on a sailboat charter!  But if I can’t get to these islands on a sailboat, at least I can get there by ferry! Continue reading

A Love Affair with Architecture and Ambiance

I am not so naive as to think my love affair with Port Townsend wasn’t tinted through sky-blue glasses.  The weather was nothing short of perfect by my standards.  Waking up to chilly mornings under the down comforter, looking out across the Sound blanketed in a soft, willowy layer of fog.  Long before the alarm starts to shriek, I am awakened by the haunting sound of laughing gulls echoing across the Point.   Continue reading

Boats, Books, and Brews!

I always manage to find something I love in every town I visit, which is why my friends have often told me before, “You should write travel brochures, because you always make me want to go there.”    But in all the places I have visited, I can’t recall ever being in a town where I have found so many of my passions all in one place as Port Townsend.  I am falling for this little town, and falling fast… Continue reading

This is How I Roll…

After a very brief overnight stop at the 7 Cedars Casino along Hwy 101, I roll into Port Townsend on a brilliant sunny Monday.  I have reservations to stay at the Point Hudson Marina, yet another find that I lifted from the Wheelingit blog.   I arrive during the midday heat, the marina smells of low tide, and there are enough laughing gulls to make a Hitchcock fan think they have arrived in the midst of a remake.  Continue reading

Highway 101…Eastbound

I’ve now driven just about all of Highway 101 from south to north through three states, starting in Arcata, California in mid-May all the way to Forks, Washington, where the highway soon begins to turn eastward.   This feels like a significant milestone after traveling in a northwesterly direction for so many months. Continue reading

I’ve Gone About as Far as I Can Go…

Cape Flattery is the northwestern-most point in the Continental United States. It is at the end of the tiny tip that protrudes off the upper left corner of Washington State, seperating the Strait of Juan de Fuca from the Pacific Ocean. This point was named by one of my heroes of discovery, Captain James Cook, who wrote in his ships log, “there appeared to be a small opening which flattered us with the hopes of finding an harbour … On this account I called the point of land to the north of it Cape Flattery.” I am fascinated by the courageous exploration of Captain Cook and his accuracy for navigational charting. In fact, one of my favorite books was “Blue Latitudes,” where the author, Tony Horowitz humorously retraces the voyages of Cook in attempt to honor his legacy, (syphilis and murderous ending withstanding, of course.) Continue reading