The Olympic Peninsula in Washington state is one of our favorite haunts, an area we find ourselves returning to year after year. Each year we do something a little different because there’s always more to do, more places to explore, than we have time for.
This past August, we left our RV on the mainland and drove the Jeep onto a ferry for a short scoot to Whidbey Island. The early bird does catch the worm: in our case, we were able to leave on the ferry scheduled 45 minutes before the one we had reserved. All good!
The morning was perfect for the trip — temps in the low 70’s, and sunshine all around.
Despite the chilly breeze on the deck, I couldn’t resist getting out to snap pics of the pilots zooming back and forth in front of us. You can maybe make out the two jets in this photo:
The Whidbey Island Naval Air Station pilots put on quite a show, and — thankfully for us! — were still in the air when the ferry put in outside Coupeville. With most of the ferry traffic heading one way, we headed the other, found an otherwise deserted spot where we could pull off the road, donned our cameras, and started snapping:
I took at least two dozen photos of these amazing machines, but I’ll share one of the best here:
So close we could wave goodbye to the pilot — time to see what awaited on the rest of the island, which ranged from Oak Harbor, a city with the expected array of big box stores and chain restaurants, to spots like this one, which made us feel far away from the hubbub:
Coupeville is the second-oldest town in the state of Washington, and is picturesque to boot, from its red wharf…
…to its historic waterside businesses:
Driving north from Coupeville (we’ve saved the southern end of Whidbey Island for another visit) we passed through Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve — the country’s first national historical reserve — established in the 1970s “to preserve and protect a living rural community which provides an unbroken historical record of Puget Sound from the era of exclusive native habitation to the present time.”
If memory serves, this means anyone who purchases farmland within the boundaries of the Reserve must continue use of the land as farmland. It made for beautiful countryside, un-interrrupted by commercial businesses.
As we emerged from the northern edge of the Reserve, the countryside changed — military bases and the city of Oak Harbor meant long stretches of traffic and the standard roadside show of chain stores and restaurants. We pushed through onto Fidalgo Island and Anacortes at the northern tip of Whidbey Island.
The creativity in this town is beyond the norm (the norm being a fiberglass cow or horse or pig on every corner, each painted differently). Here, wall murals gave us a bit of town history…
… but other, modern, life-sized figures also made us feel a part of the community:
These two-dimensional “residents” appeared, as the one above, near doorways, but in other, unexpected spots as well. We came upon this trio near the dry docks and wharf…
…while this basketball player is forever making his shot around the corner. The hoop is real, and though the player looks as though he’s mounted away from the building, he’s painted flat against it, the shadow so accurate he appears to be floating. How cool is that?
But, wait! There’s more! In that same neighborhood, we spotted water spouts with a grand sense of humor and scale:
Ever curious, when we glimpsed the blue bow of this gorgeous ship, we had to find out her story. Turns out she’s a Naval research vessel and had just been christened a few days before:
Anacortes is a great shopping town — parking is easy, and the stores that line the main street in the old downtown offer a terrific variety of merchandise. We bought books and beads and had a great lunch — Ellen had the Sweet Potato Hash — at the Calico Cupboard:
With plenty of time to spare before getting back on the ferry, we decided to stop at the Deception Pass State Park. As luck would have it, we happened to be there on a free admission day, so we parked and headed down the trail, passing this picnic shelter that looked right out of a story book:
A stoney beach stretches along the side of the channel…
…while the Deception Pass Bridge loomed overhead, joining Whidbey Island (on the right) to Fidalgo Island (on the left):
The bridge served as a good perch for those who chose not to hike the steep trail down to the water:
Before we knew it, it was time to get in line to drive aboard the ferry for the sail back to Port Townsend.
We weren’t off the boat before we were thinking about our next visit to Whidbey Island!