We truly enjoyed the last two weeks on the Olympic Peninsula and the exploring the Olympic mountain range. Knowing we have more mountains in our travel plans down the road, we made one last stop to visit the sea. Our original plans were to stay on Whidbey Island and the Navy Base there. We have friends living in the area and had set our sights on visiting with them, exploring the extreme northern coast of Washington and exploring the islands. But given the craziness in this wild year of 2020, we were forced to change our plans. Our RV park at Whidbey called and told us they could no longer accept us as they were limiting camping to active duty military only. Fortunately, we found a nice place along the bay, Fidalgo Bay Resort and RV park on Fidalgo Island. Just a hop, skip and a jump across Deception Pass and Whidbey Island. As things turned out, it was a much more convenient location for our stay and saved us about a thirty minute drive every day. Guess things have a way of working out in the end.
Our main plans were to see friends, take day trips to explore the island and area, and have a little more time along the water. The adventure began with us once again pushing our comfort zone and doing something new. The route from our stay near Elwha to Fidalgo Bay has two options. One is to drive down and around the peninsula and then through Seattle and across a bridge onto Fidalgo Island. The other is to take a 40 minute ferry from Port Townsend to Coupeville on Whidbey Island and then drive across Deception Pass Bridge to Anacortes. Well, we have done the drive through Seattle before and it is a mess, not to mention Seattle is a little crazy right now – so we pulled up our suspenders, got brave and elected to try the ferry. It was actually pretty straight forward. We simply drove the 50 miles over to Port Townsend, got in a line, and waited until our boarding time. Then they guided us on, in the motorhome by the way, right into the vehicle bay of the ferry. We were fortunate to get a front row seat in the middle aisle and just watched out the window of the motorhome while the boat sailed across to Coupeville. It really was a pleasant trip. The water was smooth, the skies had cleared, and you could see Mt Baker in the distance. Even Jennifer, who does not like boats, said it was the preferred way to go.
We spent a good part of our time exploring Fidalgo Island. It really is a beautiful island with so much to do. The town of Anacortes is a quaint village with that small-town feeling. Tons of great restaurants, harbors, marinas, parks, hiking, and shorelines. We also did our best to eat plenty of seafood and tried out multiple restaurants, even finding a great brewery/restaurant in “The Rockfish Grill”. Our favorite was “Anthony’s Cabana”. We went there on the recommendation of our friends Brian and Kelli and had a wonderful time. Great food, with outside seating, a nice breeze and it is right on the marina! We also found the “Secret Cove” with great views and even a seal out in the water to entertain us.
We had a lot of fun hiking and touring the island. Washington Park is a small peninsula on Fidalgo Island full of hiking trails, great overlooks, picnic areas and beaches. We spent a day walking a fun 2.5 mile loop road. There were tons of Madrona trees, which are a favorite of ours. They have a red bark that really stands out in the sun. There was the perfect picnic area on the west side for us to have lunch and watch the boats.
Just up the road from our dinner at “Secret Cove” is Cap Santee Park. We took a walk up after eating. The views were spectacular. A clear blue-sky evening with 360 degree overlooks of the marina in Anacortes and the various surrounding islands. Tons of sail boats out and a great place to watch the sunset. As we were returning to the motorhome, the sun was shining as it was setting on Mt Baker creating some wonderful colors.
Fidalgo Island is also home to Mt Erie, its highest point. There is a small park there with a winding road up to the top with great overlooks. We could see all the way to Mt Rainer one direction and the Olympic mountain range the other.
As I mentioned, this was our last stop along the coast, so we decided to take a day trip up the Chuckanut Scenic Byway. The byway follows the mainland coast up to Bellingham. We made a small detour through the town of Edison and stopped at “The Breadfarm” bakery for some wonderful pastry snacks for our drive. There were lots of stops along the way to view the coast and the beaches. Fairhaven is a beautiful part of Bellingham with lots of old Victorian buildings and shops. We found a great spot for our picnic at Boulevard Park right along the bay and watched boats and listened to the waves and grabbed a delicious decadent coffee concoction for dessert at Woods Coffee. The drive passes through Larrabee State Park where we got out and walked along the shore one last time on the way home.
The Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest and Mt Baker Scenic Byway is about a two-hour drive from Anacortes up to the top of Mt Baker. The road ends at Artist Point, which is an overlook so close you can reach out and touch Mt Baker. On the way, we added the short drive a little further north to the town of Lynden. Specifically, to visit a Dutch bakery. The town is an old Dutch town with a wonderful little downtown, complete with a windmill. Unfortunately, the baker was closed, and they were using an alternate location. We stopped, but they did not have the Dutch Letters we were looking for. The detour gave us a peaceful and pleasant country drive around the cities and got us as close to Canada as we were going to get.
The Mt Baker drive was simply spectacular. The day had started kind of foggy and overcast, but by the time we left Lynden, the skies had cleared and were deep blue without a cloud to be seen. We stopped at Nooksack Falls on the way. The falls are a pair of drops into a deep canyon and you cannot even see to the bottom.
Heather Meadows visitor center is built on a rock ledge overlooking the Bagely Lakes. It is closed right now but the area and the lakes were beautiful with great views of the mountain.
Our favorite evening of this leg of our trip was dinner with our friends Brian and Kelli. We have known them for 35 years and we were stationed together multiple times in our Air Force careers. When we were last in the area, a couple of years ago, we got to see them and we were so excited to get to see them again and visit with Kelli’s Mom as well. They really spoiled us with a dinner of fresh grilled salmon, homemade bread, and homemade blackberry ice cream but I think it was Kelli’s fresh picked blackberry pie that really topped my list. We had a great time with them out on their deck overlooking the Anacortes Marina and Mt Baker and just catching up on kids, grandkids and life in general. We look forward to our next time together. As we concluded the evening, the Full Corn Moon was rising in the east, completely occupying the sky.
Hard to believe that our time on the coast has come to an end and it is time to turn east and continue our trip inland. We still have lots to se