Our re-entry into the United States, was not the casual conversation, plus passport check we’d had on our way north. I could tell by the look on the Customs Officers face as I pulled up, that we’d be enjoying a thorough inspection of our vehicle. Sure enough after a brief chat, we were directed to a nondescript building where we: answered many questions about our Canadian journey, listed the contents of our vehicle, and placed the dogs in an official government kennel while our vehicle was tossed. An hour or so later, we were back on track and heading to our next destination… minus a bag of very threatening seeded oranges.
Two good friends from our Wisconsin days now live in Bellingham, and their family has grown by two since the last time we were together. We pulled up to their beautiful home on the evening of my birthday, and they surprised us by treating the group to a celebration dinner at a delicious pizza+microbrew joint down the road. Over the next few days we took in the crisp Washington air over walks in the amazing wooded parks in their neighborhood. One such afternoon we went on an adventure down Chuckanut Drive. It’s a picturesque Oceanside road that was bursting with fall colors, and it ended in one of Anne’s happiest places… an oyster shack. We walked the grounds of the farm, and spent some time picking out a favorite shell to take back for their collection at home. Before departing we swung into the store, and bought enough fresh-off-the-boat seafood to make your head spin.
We spent the remainder of the time roasting marshmallows by the fire, catching up on each other’s lives, and falling in love with their incredible children. As a thank you for their hospitality, we sent the parents out on a date night, and spent our last evening there watching the kids. I had the pleasure of witnessing Anne’s creative mind entertain their daughter with stories, airplane rides, and was treated to their wonderful musical performance using every instrument available.
Thanks to their recommendation, the next leg of our journey took us towards the 101, via the coastal islands that placed us directly south from where we stayed on Vancouver Island; the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Juan de Fuca has taken on a mythical nature in the van. We know nothing about who he was or what he accomplished, but we revere him and only speak his name in hushed tones, while squinting our eyes and peering in to the distance.
We decided to spend a few days on Whidbey Island, and made our way over the stunning bridge of Deception Pass. Our first night was spent in a state campground that was geared towards large family groups and 30 year olds holding on to high school personas, so we wandered the grounds and headed out the next morning to check out the island. After some exploring, we found ourselves in the town of Coupeville.
A few Native American tribes inhabited the area early on, and the white man showed up in the early 1700’s. It’s long been a stop for fisherman and vacationers as they make their way along the Pacific coast. We found ourselves dining in the town’s oldest tavern right on Penn Cove, enjoying some of their namesake mussels. We agreed that they were both the most delicious we had ever consumed, as well as the most accurately representative of female genitalia (insert blush here). A few local microbrews to wash them down, and it was on to our home for the night, Fort Casey. The retired military battery sits on Admiration Bay, and has miles of grounds to explore. We spent the next two days walking to the lighthouse, wandering trails, exploring the old barracks, and watching dozens of Sea Lions dine and play just offshore.
They are very vocal creatures and each morning we awoke to their snarffles and snuffles. Every night by the campfire, when the tide came in, they sounded like they were close enough to be warming their faces by the fire with us. We spent hours taking turns with the binoculars, pointing out features, movements, and group dynamics. The gray weather had us ready to move on the morning of day three, and we departed on a quick ferry ride to Port Townsend. About an hour before we arrived at the campground, we passed through Forks, WA where the Twilight saga was filmed. We had our fingers crossed, but didn’t spy one single vampire lurking in the bushes.
One drive through Olympic National Park, and it’s easy to see why Washington is “The Evergreen State”. Mile after mile of giant trees lined our path as we weaved around beautiful lakes, over mountain passes, and back to the coastal section of the 101. We had planned our campground destination pre-departure, but thanks to a last-minute Sunset Magazine post, we changed to Kalaloch campground, and boy are we glad we did. We pulled in and grabbed a spot that looked onto a huge stretch of driftwood covered beach right on the Pacific.
We knew right away that this spot deserved two nights, and we made the most of them wandering on the beach exploring giant driftwood logs, hidden coves, and the wildly shaped wind sculpted trees.
After eight amazing nights, it was time for us to wrap up the WA section of the 101, and we pointed the car due south towards the rugged Oregon coast, and the many adventures that awaited us.