Last Trip North Before I Head South

It’s hard to believe I’ve been in Washington for a month already. With the exception of a few excursions I’ve been anchored in my home town of Longview, just soaking up some lovin’ and family time. As I mentioned before, I’ve made it a point to venture out to a few of my favorite places while home. While he was in town for a visit last week I took my friend Eric north with me for a lovely drive up Hwy 101 to Port Townsend, and beyond to the San Juan’s. The drive up 101 could not have been more colorful! Autumn at its best! As usual on a windy road, there were few opportunities to pull off the road at the most picturesque places, but we enjoyed it just the same. Port Townsend is a delightful town on the northeast tip of the Olympic Peninsula. The buildings along it’s main street are all refurbished, as are most of the Victorian homes on the hillside. Since it’s off season scoring a waterfront camp site was not difficult, and I delighted in watching the ferries come and go through the Puget Sound with the Cascade Range as a backdrop. I often wonder if the people who live in these beautiful places can even begin to appreciate the beauty that surrounds them in the same way us wayfarers do.

Fort Worden, background to "Officer and a Gentleman".

Jefferson County Courthouse

From Port Townsend we took the ferry to Coupeville on Widbey Island, and ventured north, crossing to the mainland through Deception Pass. Crossing this bridge was one of the few OMG! moments I’ve not had to experience alone. The long span of this relatively narrow two-lane bridge is approximately 180 feet above the water, and all the more awe-inspiring from the extra height of a 12.5 foot high motorhome! Eric and I looked at each other in amazement as we crossed and, in unison, decided we MUST pull over. Thankfully there was a turn out big enough for Zippy AND The Beast not too far from the north end of the bridge. We parked and walked the entire span back to the other side, stopping countless times to gawk at the water (and TREE TOPS) below. We hiked from the other end down to the beach below, gawked some more and then back across the bridge. There were several trail heads beckoning us to explore further, but it was getting late and my brother Eric and his family were awaiting our arrival in Burlington.

From Deception Pass Bridge

Hard to appreciate how tall these trees are until you look at the next image.

We planted “The Beast” in the quiet cul-de-sac in front of Eric’s (the brother) home and were immediately greeted by the smiling faces of Davis, Jackson and Sydney. While camped out at my brother Tom’s place a month ago, with most of my nieces and nephews present for a family gathering, I conducted several tours of my “home on wheels”. The kids, of course, were in awe. I promised these three we’d do a camp out next time I saw them. Judging by the look of anticipation on the boys faces it was clear they had not forgotten my promise. After a fun dinner out at The Skagit River Brewery in Mt. Vernon the boys grabbed their sleeping bags and climbed aboard for the night. Sweet!

The next morning we did a day trip to the San Juan Islands. I could spend weeks on these islands, so fitting everything I wanted to share with Eric (the friend) into one day was quite a challenge. Arriving by ferry in Friday Harbor (San Juan Island) we headed across the island to Roche Harbor. This quaint harbor was once the home of the largest “lime works” west of the Mississippi and a few of the lime kilns are still standing. Whether looking outward to the marina and beyond or inward to the lovely renovated buildings, the views here are stunning. The entire island was beautiful, especially with all the turning colors.

Mt. Baker from the Puget Sound

Roche Harbor, San Juan Island

Original lime kilns

For me, the jewel of the San Juan’s is Orcas Island, so we hopped the next ferry and spent most of our day there. Orcas has it all. Rolling hills and farm land dotted with cattle and sheep. Several harbors, bays and marinas. Always an abundance of deer. And my favorite spot on the island, Moran State Park and Mt. Constitution. On a clear day you can see the North Cascades and Olympic Range, all of the surrounding islands, and well into Canada from the top of the mountain. Walking into the lush forest on this mountain is like walking into a grand cathedral… truly a spiritual experience! It’s always hard to leave this place, but each time I do it’s with the knowledge that I will return.

Mt Baker from the top of Mt. Constitution

Surely "The Beast" couldn't do this! Could she??? 🙂

Little Black Tail found a treat!

The following morning we walked the kids down the road to school, and headed south toward Longview. Since Eric had never been there, a side trip into downtown Seattle was a given. I lived in Seattle while attending the University of Washington, and know just how narrow, steep and busy those downtown streets are. I had no desire to navigate them in The Beast, so we exited at Northgate and found a quiet corner in the mall parking lot to leave her behind and take Zippy into the city. Limited on time once again, I chose Pike Place Market as the “must see” spot for the day. This place is so cool… filled with fresh seafood and produce, you can make a meal of the scrumptious “tastes” that are thrust at you by the numerous vendors as you walk through. Seriously! I was nearly full when we bellied up to a lunch bar and ordered a yummy blackened shrimp sandwich and clam chowder to share. I repeat… YUMMY!

Jackson, Sydney and Davis on the way to school. Precious!

Navigating late afternoon traffic through Seattle is not fun in a car. It might have been unbearable in the RV if not for the joy of seeing one of my favorite cities shining brightly in the sunshine. The entire drive back to Longview was lovely!


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