Memorial Day on Whidbey Island

Memorial Day on Whidbey Island

I packed the car yesterday, so all I had left was to load the cooler, collect my clothes, and head out the door. Usually, I would drive to Anacortes by way of I-5 to get to Deception Pass, but I felt like riding the ferry today. So, I drove to Mukilteo to catch the ferry.

I got lucky and only had about a 10 minute wait to board the ferry to Clinton. As we were pulling out, I snapped a few shots of the lighthouse, then settled back to enjoy the ride. I opted to stay in my car rather than go upstairs since the ferry ride is only about 20 minutes. I spent the time checking in on and reading Facebook news.

I arrived in Clinton, which is on Whidbey Island. Whidbey Island in Washington state is always calling itself the “longest island in the United States”, or “the longest island in the continental United States”, or, sometimes, “the longest saltwater-surrounded island in the continental United States”. This phrase and its variations are so often repeated that most Washingtonians repeat it as if it were gospel. In fact, the captain of the Victoria Clipper announced it was the largest as we passed by it on the way to Victoria some weeks back. If you count Alaska and Hawaii, Whidbey ranks #26 for size. Take Alaska and Hawaii away, and it’s till only #4, being beat by Long Island (NY), Padre Island (TX), and Hatteras (NC).

As I drove from Clinton to Deception Pass State Park, it alternated between sprinkles and deluges of rain. I really hoped the rain would end in time for me to set up my tent.

I arrived at the park around 2pm and proceeded to set up camp. And I got lucky – the rain had stopped! This was the first time I tried to set up my large tent by myself and it was surprisingly easy. Next was the canopy, which is very hard to do by one’s self, but I managed it. Luckily, there was no wind to make things difficult.

After the campsite was set up properly, I went exploring. I headed around Cranberry Lake towards the west beach of the park. The skies had really turned blue with big, billowy, white clouds. I walked around for a few minutes, then sat and enjoyed the view for a few more before heaind in another direction to explore.

I headed out of the park and stopped at the convenience store across the highway. I needed to pick up a few supplies, plus I saw a sign advertising fresh shrimp. The shrimp had been caught in the area and were only $5 for a whole pound, plus they were already cooked. I decided to take them back to west beach to enjoy them with the view.

While chowing down on the shrimp, including sucking out the heads, Scott called to say he had arrived. He’s one of the Mountaineer photography persons joining me on the hike tomorrow and he ask if he could park at my campsite (he planned to sleep in is truck since it had a canopy). Finishing the shrimp, we headed to north beach where we could see the famous Deception Pass bridge up above. There were also several people fishing from shore, catching herring. After about an hour, I headed back to camp and Scott headed out to explore.

The shrimp were just an appetizer (they were pretty small), so I made myself some dinner of sausage and fried potatoes. After I finished eating, I set off to explore again.

First, I checked out the location I selected to meed tomorrow. Then I crossed the bridge and turned ontl Rosario Road. I saw on my map that there was a lighthouse and though it might make a nice hike tomorrow. First, I ended up at Rosario Bay, which is a lovely part of the park. There is a totem pole there that is carved to look like an indian woman on one side and a woman of the sea on the other side. There is a lovely legend about the Maiden of the Sea that inspired this totem pole, carved in the 1980s by someone from the Indian tribe. The park also includes Rosario Head – a spit of rock that juts out from the mainland. I walked up the trail in spite of a sign warning of a danger area. The walk was fine, but I can see why they had the warning. If you tripped, you could easily roll right off the cliffs into the ocean. The view was amazing. There were rabbits everywhere and even a huge bald eagle up in the tree above me. I sat there to just before sunset – I didn’t want to try to walk back down in the dark and fall of the cliff.

I went back to camp and made a fire in the pit, where I toasted marshmallows until the fire started to die down. I had just climbed into my sleeping bag when Scott returned and asked me to move my car over so he could level out his truck and not have to sleep on an incline. I think I fell asleep around 10:30pm, but woke every couple of hours. There sure was a lot of noise until the wee hours of the morning. People just don’t realize how much their voices carry when they are camping and it’s quite annoying. Barking dogs are another pet peeve I have about camping – if your dog barks a lot, be courteous and don’t bring it!

Day 2

I woke up at 4am, having to pee something fierce. I was just about to the restrooms and saw a man with a small dog. The dog was excited to see me and got in my way, so I ended up accidently stepping on the poor thing. I almost didn’t make it to the toilet!

Back in my sleeping bag, I had trouble falling back asleep. I finally started dozing around 5am when someone’s car alarm went off, waking up the whole part. Then I woke around 6am when it started sprinkling the rain hit the roof of my tent. I finally gave up around 7am and got up, making myself some bacon for breakfast. I also had a delicious raspberry bar that was dairy and egg-free from Irwin’s Bakery. Yum!

Scott woke up around the time I was dressed and drinking my coffee. I took off a bit before him and headed to the parking lot by the bridge to await three other photographers that would be joining us. Chao-Ching was the first to arrive, then Scott. We waiting until around 9:15, but the other two still hadn’t shown up.

We started hiking the Goose Rock perimeter trail, but it was muddy and had nothing interesting to photograph. We headed back to the parking lot and decided to check out Rosario Head and Bowman’s Bay since I had scouted it out. There was a 3/4 mile hike at Bowman’s Bay to Lighthouse Point and we thought we’d check it out first. The trail was easy at first, but then we had to ascend a good distance before descending back down to a bit of beach that separated the Sound from a marsh. My knees were really bothering me after the climb, so I told Chao-Ching and Scott to proceed and I would wait for them. While they pressed on, I saw two fishermen walking along the strip of beach and figured out that they had skirted some rocks instead of doing the climb. The tide was coming in, so I made my move before it was too late. It was the easiest thing to do, skirting those rocks…I have poor balance due to my knee injuries, plus the rocks were slippery with algae and were covered in barnacles, which can really tear up one’s skin (I know – I fell on some once). I then saw on the beach and waited for my companions to return.

I got tired of sitting, so I walked along the pier and snapped some photos of some swallows. I noticed some kayakers pulling in and followed them. There was a small stand that offered kayak tours. The price for an hour and a half tour was only $35, so I signed up for the 2pm tour.

When my companions returned, they told me there wasn’t much of a lighthouse – just a small block with a light. But, they did say there was a good view of the bridge from there.

We drove back to the convenience store I was at yesterday and got fish and chips for lunch. We then headed to west beach to enjoy the meal. I had enough time after eating to head back to my camp site and change my shoes for sandals, then headed back to Bowman’s Bay for the kayaking tour. Chao-Ching and Scott went off exploring on their own.

I was really disappointed. A group of nine had signed up for the tour and they had nobody to pair up with me in a kayak, nor did they have any singles. So, I didn’t get to kayak after all.

I headed back to camp where I decided to take a nap before dinner. There were several kids in the park that kept screaming at the top of their lungs. I know kids aren’t exactly quiet, but parents should teach them to be considerate when they are in a public place.

I no sooner started to get a good snooze, when Scott returned and hollered, “Are you awake?” Thanks a lot, Scott!

It was still only late afternoon, so we decided to drive to Fort Casey to explore. I had been there before and knew they had a nice lighthouse as well as lots of bunkers and guns left over from the cold war. Scott thought it would be a great location to take medium format, black and white photos.

While he took his photos, I walked along the length of the bunkers. Though the sky was still blue, the temperature dropped a bit and I was starting to get cold. I had on sandals and no socks and only a polar fleece vest, so my arms didn’t have much cover. Plus, it was 6:30pm and I hadn’t eaten dinner or taken my meds yet. I was starting to feel cranky, which is one sign my blood sugar was dropping, so I went in search of Scott. I knew I wouldn’t be able to last until we got back to camp (about 20 miles away) and cooked dinner, so we stopped at Burger King where I got a chicken sandwich.

We ate while we drove. Scott wanted to be sure to be in position for the sunset and he had found a vantage point at the top of Mount Erie, on the other side of the pass (near Anacortes). He loaned me some socks, a jacket, and some gloves since I was freezing by this point (low 50s and windy on the mount). The sunset was amazing!

Scott dropped me off at camp afterward and proceeded to drive back to Olympia. I was so tired, I just crawled into my sleeping bag and fell right to sleep. Unfortunately, I was constantly awakened by some clowns partying until 2:30am. Not only were they hollering and talking loudly, they were chopping wood that early in the morning! Drunken bastards! People just don’t have common courtesy these days.

I got up at 7:30am and decided to pack up everything and get a bite to eat down the road. It took me until 9am to get the car loaded.

I stopped in Oak Harbor for breakfast. While eating, a group of seven senior citizens arrived and sat at tables near me. One woman was saying she was in a bad mood because some club she belongs to has her pay $5 each month for some game. Apparently, she almost won the prize and was ticked that it was snagged away at the last moment. She thought $5 was too much money. When I checked out, I bought a $40 gift certificate and told the waitress to apply it to that table’s ticket. Hopefully, that put the bitter woman in a better mood.

I made a few short stops on the way to the ferry in Clinton and was home by 12:30pm. I had a great time, but I’m always glad to be back home.

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