Travel Stage: Finally made it to Whidbey Island!
Date Range: September 21 – October 10, 2016
Summary: Our north-western-most planned destination since the beginning of the year had been Whidbey Island, where Tom was born and family friends still lived. From Quincy, we visit Leavenworth, cross the Cascades, and finally make it to Whidbey. Deception Pass – the only bridge onto the island.
Washington’s Bavarian town is a must-stop for some beer and brats. We were told this by everyone we talked to about driving Highway 2 up and over Stephen’s Pass. At everyone’s suggestion, we planned it so we arrived for lunch, and we were not disappointed!
We ate and drank at Leavenworth Sausage Garden by cured and then walked around Leavenworth for a while to get a feel for the place. Back in Michigan we have a similar Bavarian-style town called Frankenmuth. The similarities were really fun to see. Two major differences: Frankenmuth has the largest Christmas store in the world, and Leavenworth has mountains. Leavenworth also had an entire store dedicated to nutcrackers!
Getting to Whidbey
Driving the Highway 2 pass in the rain isn’t fun, and of course it downpoured the whole drive. It was stressful, but we made it! We stopped for a few days in Stanwood to visit some friends and then we finally arrived on Whidbey. Deception Pass, between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island
Tom was born in one of the cute seaside towns that sprinkle the Island. His father was in the Navy and flew out of the Naval Air Station there. Did I tell you about the jets that we had seen zooming down the Columbia while we were staying at Crescent Bar RV Resort in Quincy? (this deafening thunder would come out of nowhere and suddenly they were gone – it was that fast!) Tom’s dad flew that route before! Navy Jets flying over the Columbia River. View from our campsite at Crescent Bar RV Resort We learned that Whidbey Island lies in the rain shadow of the Olympic Mountain range out on the Olypmic Peninsula. So while nearby Seattle and surrounding areas are notoriously rainy, the Navy pilots and the people of Whidbey Island enjoy significantly less rainy weather!
We stayed with Tom’s family friends, Joy & Dave, and we had an absolute blast there for 3 weeks! Here are some of our adventures:
Joy & Dave taught us how to juggle!
Tom knew basic juggling, but I knew nothing. After two sessions at the Whidbey Juggling Club (and some at-home practicing) I could juggle!
Penn Cove Mussels
Penn Cove is known for their mussels, and we could see the mussel platforms from where we were staying. I had never had mussels before, so we had to get some! We went to Toby’s Tavern in Coupeville for that experience, and they were absolutely delicious.
We got a Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak as a gift and suddenly we were able to explore the open waters! Our craft’s maiden voyage was out on Penn Cove where we saw otters, seals, and lots of jellyfish. We are going to have many fun water adventures with this kayak! Our maiden voyage with our Sea Eagle Inflatable Kayak!
Ferry Ride to Port Townsend
The 30-minute ferry ride was a fun experience and walking around the seaside town of Port Townsend was a real treat. We wandered thru town to the marina and back again (with a coffee break stop at the Velocity Coffee Shop to warm up!)
Dave is a blacksmith and to share the craft with us he took us to a class with a Master Blacksmith to learn how to forge. We made hooks and knives from old rusty nails and rebar. It was awesome! Learning to forge with a master blacksmith
Deception Pass State Park
Tom had told me numerous stories about Deception Pass and its famous bridge. It was so cool to finally be there where the current rushes in between Fidalgo and Whidbey Island in a deceivingly narrow and treacherous passageway.
We pounced on an opportunity to help a Whidbey Island winery, Spoiled Dog Winery, out with their harvesting. They traded us lunch and wine for labor, and honestly we had a blast!
Loganberries are hybrid berries – a cross between the blackberry and the red raspberry. The loganberry liquor is a northwest legacy. When Tom’s parents lived on Whidbey 30 years ago, they had either purchased or received a bottle of Whidbey Island loganberry liquor. They moved this past summer, and in the clean out they found the 30 year old bottle and a few remaining sips. Though way passed it’s prime, we vowed that we’d visit the Whidbey Island Distillery to tell of the tale. That is exactly what we did, and we may have walked out with our own bottle of loganberry liquor! Although there is scarcely a chance it will last 30 years…that stuff is good. The old bottle we tried looked just like the bottle on the right with the gold label!
We took a trip up to Anacortes with Joy and Dave one day to see what all the hub-bub was about. Everyone was telling us about what a cute town it is, and we got to see it for ourselves. A ferry runs from Anacortes out to the famed San Juan Islands, and this seaside town does not lack for charm.
We spent a lot of time exploring the island, for Tom’s childhood park in Oak Harbor, to Langley where a rabbit rodeo went wrong and now the town is overrun by “wild” domestic rabbits. We stopped at a few beaches, took a couple days to lay out in the sun, and watched our dogs play with Joy & Dave’s dogs.
We’ll Be Back to Whidbey
Not only was it super cool to visit Joy & Dave for 3 wonderful weeks, but it was so great for Tom to have a chance to come back and explore the island of his birth as an adult. He hadn’t been there for 15 years! I also loved seeing where his beginnings were, and we were both delighted to rediscover this special place. Maybe it’s “island life,” maybe it’s partly the magic of the Pacific Northwest, but we truly loved our time here and are excited to go back someday soon!
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