Sunday, March 20, 2011

Whidbey Island - Our Five Year Anniversary

On December 30th we celebrated five years of wedded bliss. Every anniversary I am amazed that we've been married for so long; we're still newlyweds as far as I'm concerned! Five years is a big milestone, so we had to do something special for a long weekend (but still affordable). In our constant quest for exploring more of the fabulous Pacific Northwest, I determined that we should visit Whidbey Island. I'd heard the towns were cute and the scenery fabulous. After lots of research I came up with an itinerary and made reservations at a B&B. A few days before we were scheduled to leave, Robb started fighting a pretty serious flu and even missed work he felt so bad. Our reservations at the B&B were nonrefundable at that point and we had really been looking forward to our little vacation, so Robb brought a ton of medicine with him and toughed it out. The first day he still felt pretty bad, but he felt better every day and I think it was good that we were out of the house and doing things. And we were unbelievably lucky with the weather that weekend. It was super cold (well below freezing the entire weekend with some serious wind chill), but sunny and no rain!

On Thursday we headed north to Whidbey Island. There are two ways to get to the island, by ferry and by a fantastic bridge over Deception Pass. I had heard such wonderful things about the beauty of Deception Pass that I knew we should drive the extra distance in order to see the area. Deception Pass is a narrow gap of fast moving water between the mainland and Whidbey Island with long bridges to take you from one side to the other. There are places to park before the bridge so you can get out and take in the scenery. We parked at the first pull-out we saw and thought we would take a short walk to look at the bridge and Pass. We actually ended up spending quite a bit of time there because you could walk under the bridge and see different views of the water and the bridge. We were beyond impressed with the views and so happy we started our weekend with Deception Pass.

We got back in the car and drove a couple more minutes to Whidbey Island and stopped at a beach. We ate our picnic lunch in the car because it was too cold to eat outside. A naval air station was nearby and we were fascinated with watching fighter jets doing training maneuvers during our meal. After we ate we walked along the beach for awhile until the sun started to go down.
We decided it was time to drive to our next destination, the town of Coupeville. The Blue Goose Inn was amazing - our room was really lovely without being flowery/obnoxious, like many B&Bs are prone to be. We hung out for a bit and decided to finally go to dinner at Christopher's. I was so excited to try Christopher's because Coupeville is situated along the water of Penn Cove. This is where Penn Cove mussels come from - which I love. I couldn't wait to try the mussels in this restaurant. We walked to the restaurant and got there a couple minutes after 8:00 to see a closed sign in the window. There were still people inside so we popped our heads in, hoping that the sign was incorrect. Nope, a waitress came over and told us they were closed. We expressed surprise that a restaurant had closed so early and she said, "Well, this is Coupeville." We walked around the main street and saw most of the restaurants had already closed. We ended up going into Toby's Tavern for food and a drink at the bar. The food was okay and it was interesting to be in a small town tavern where everybody seemed to know everybody. But I was pretty disappointed to not get my Penn Cove mussels from Christopher's and to not have a romantic anniversary dinner. In fact, I was so bitter, I decided that Christopher's would not be getting our business at any other point that weekend.
The next morning after a delicious breakfast we went to Fort Casey. The weekend before we had been in Fort Worden with my parents, which is across the water from Fort Casey. Fort Casey was very similar to Fort Worden, but Casey had several cannons still on site. Fort Casey also had a beautiful lighthouse and great Pacific Northwest beaches. We explored Fort Casey for several hours. We saw both a sea lion and harbor seal swimming in the water, deer, and even a submarine being escorted out to sea. We headed back to Coupeville for a late lunch at Mosquito Fleet Chili, which was okay. The location was great, right on the water! The plan was to spend the rest of the day wandering around town to pop into shops. But, as it was New Year's Eve and this was small-town Coupeville, most of the shops had closed by mid-afternoon for the holiday.
Sea Lion
Can you see the cannon pointing over the water on the left-side of the picture?
Since experiencing small-town Coupeville was a bust, we headed over to Ebey's Bluff. There was a trail that went along the ridge of a cliff overlooking the Sound and then went down to loop back around along the beach. We had hoped to hike the entire 5+ mile trail before the sun went down, but as we walked along the bluff we realized we wouldn't be able to make it, the sun was just moving too fast. So we turned back around and got to the car as dusk started to settle in. We ended up going back to Ebey's Bluff the next morning to complete the hike, but we were so happy to see it that afternoon as well. The late afternoon sun bathed the bluff in spectacular glow and we were able to see both Mt. Rainier and Mt. Baker in the distance. That night we got a bottle of wine at a grocery store and picked up Thai food and ate in our room, watching cable (which we don't have at home). Happy New Year's!
Mt. Baker

Mt. Rainier

Originally our plan for the last day was to drive down to Langley to check out another cute Whidbey Island town, visit a winery, and then take the ferry back to the mainland. However, considering it was New Year's Day and we had experienced a small town on New Year's Eve where most shops were closed, we decided Langley probably would be shuttered up as well. So after breakfast we loaded up the car, stopped at the Knead and Feed for some pastries to try later on (ohmigod were they delicious), and headed back to Ebey's Bluff.
After completing our hike we drove back north towards Deception Pass again. We stopped in Oak Harbor (the biggest city on Whidbey Island) for Robb to see a "roadside attraction." He's got this thing on his cell phone that helps him find weird roadside attractions. I let him indulge in this hobby every once in awhile. So we saw the Flinstone's car in Oak Harbor. We went to the BBQ Joint for lunch and were so glad that we stopped! Washington isn't exactly known for its barbecue options and my Kansas husband has been missing it. After our meals we went up and got another sandwich to share because I just couldn't get enough of the pulled pork!
The hosts at the B&B had told us about Mt. Erie and said we just had to take a visit to the top. Luckily there was a road all the way to the top and some great viewpoints. After Mt. Erie we decided to head for home. On our way we decided to stop in La Conner. We had been in this cute town once before and we thought it might be fun to check out the stores again. And of course, Robb found another roadside attraction - a statue of Biter, an homage to a stray dog in the 70s that was apparently well-loved and cared for by the town. (Later that night we made one more stop for a roadside attraction in Everett - a flying saucer.) We didn't spend too long in La Conner, but we did find a beautiful Christmas ornament that we can put on our tree next year. And on our way out of town we saw one of the most incredible sunsets I've ever seen. Several cars ended up pulling off to the side of the road so that people could take pictures. Our pictures don't even do it justice.

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