Saturday, October 3, 2009

Whidbey Island, WA 10.3.09

We left Salt Spring early Saturday morning on the 7:45am ferry from Fulford to Schwartz Bay, back on Vancouver Island. It was sad to leave Joe & Deb but we know we’ll see them in a month or so and we hope to cruise with them again! We drove from Schwartz Bay down to Sidney and jumped on another ferry over to Anacortes, Washington via a quick stop in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. This last ferry is part of the Washington ferry system and is not nearly as nice as the B.C. Ferries we’ve been riding on. But again we were greeted with amazing weather, sunshine all around, blue skies with big puffy clouds, calm blue seas, and lots of boat traffic.

Looks like fun! Sailboat coming into Anacortes

We have a couple of minor problems with our Van. Not necessarily problems, just issues that we have had no problem dealing with. One is that the van likes to get hot when it idles….and once hot, doesn’t like to start right away if we turn it off. Now, knock on wood, it always starts but sometimes it takes a few or 10 seconds to start. As we were in line for the ferry in Canada, we left the van idling for the few cars that we were behind so by the time we got up to the border official it was nice and hot. And, of course!, the first thing they asked us to do was to shut off the engine. We chatted with the official and they waved us on. The engine rolled, rolled, rolled….and finally caught, after giving both Michael and the official a little bit of worry time. I knew it would start. I’ve started calling the van ‘Tillie’ as in the ‘little engine that could’. Michael doesn’t like it though….haha!!

Anyway we had a successful travel across on the ferry and got to U.S. Customs & Border inspection and held our breath. We have been searched so many times we’ve grown accustomed to it but hate it anyways and, amazingly, we were waved on through! Woohoo! Of course it helps that we know better now how to answer their questions so that we blend in and not raise suspicion.

On our way to Whidbey Island we crossed Deception Pass Bridge, a beautiful 976 foot span bridge that connects Whidbey Island to the tiny Pass Island, and Pass Island to Fidalgo Island.

Deception Pass

We drove into Coupeville, which is on Whidbey Island to visit with some more cruising friends, John & Gaye from M/V Maestra. It’s a long and funny story how we got to know them and if I’ve explained it before….sorry! When we were first in Mazatlan in early ’08, Michael needed to fly home to California to finish up some business. Getting to the airport in Mazatlan is a pricey taxi ride so many of the cruisers will share a taxi when possible. So Michael announced on the radio that he was getting a taxi to the airport and if anyone wanted to share to get in touch with us. That’s when John called and said he had a rental car and was going to the airport and would gladly take Michael. That was the end of that, we only saw them at one other anchorage, but never got together. Then, this summer, we were contacted by our friends Joe & Deb who said they had a friend who was coming up to Ketchikan where he needed to leave his boat and needed someone to look after it so we volunteered. All the while, Michael is saying ‘I think I know this boat!’. The time comes when we finally meet and the guys are both looking at each other and saying ‘I know you from somewhere…’ After a few minutes of ‘where you here?’, ‘where you there?’, John finally said ‘I gave you a ride to the airport!’. Haha!!! We looked after their boat while we were in Mazatlan and they told us to come visit them on our way down!

Coupeville is a lovely little town with one main street, right along the waterfront. John owns the tavern in town, Toby’s Tavern, which is the highlight of the town!

Toby's Tavern in Copueville

The tavern has been in town for years and is a local hotspot. Outside, the windows are decorated with stickers from all of the servicemen’s unit crests and inside the place is filled with memorabilia from years and years of good times. John looks around the place and can tell you a story from each and every item lining the ceiling, walls, and bar area.

One of the windows at Toby's Tavern in Copueville

Inside Toby's Tavern in Copueville

Toby’s specialty is mussels cooked in a butter & wine broth and they are scrumptious, not to mention the 16 beers on tap at the bar. Toby’s has been used for two movies – Practical Magic and War of the Roses and we’re looking forward to re-watching those movies to see how it looked in the movies. We met John at the tavern and after a quick refreshment, drove out to his house, just a few miles from town. Driving up, John pointed to a driveway for us to park in and parked a couple houses down the street. We were shocked to find out that he owned 3 houses in a row….and we would be staying in one of them by ourselves! Woohoo! It’s nice to stay in a ‘real house’ after a few days in the camper. His mother lived in the house before she died and now he uses it for family and friends primarily.

In chatting with him, he mentioned we were coming to dinner….with about 13 other people! It was a friend of his’ birthday and he was cooking prime rib and lamb and of course we were invited! We interpreted it as a welcome dinner with cake! Haha… The evening was very nice – some great people, amazing food, and fantastic wine. We blended right in and had some fun chats with their guests & even sang happy birthday. The next two days we hung out with both John & Gaye, touring the area, eating, laughing, and relaxing. We watched lots of football – Gaye is a HUGE Huskies fan and was bummed they lost.

Rene and Gaye from M/V Maestra

We went to Admiralty Head Lighthouse & Fort Casey, which served as a base to protect the Puget Sound from foreign warships mainly between 1901-1919.

Admiralty Head Lighthouse

It was used as a training facility once the Coastal Artillery Corps was disbanded and, ultimately, sold to the Washington State Parks. It’s quite an amazing place, the old gun turrets are still in place and a couple of the guns are still there to see as well.

Those are some large guns!

The building is filled with rooms underground to explore and spectacular panoramic views. The weather has been perfect – sunny with temps in the upper 60’s – and the Puget sound was crystal clear. We’re told it’s usually rainy & cold here so we were very lucky!

Gaye and I also went to a lavender farm in town, the boys didn't want to go - imagine that!

Lavender drying

I can’t imagine working there and being so relaxed after a hard day’s work! We chatted with the owners of the business and were given the grand tour. This day they were preparing lavender oil, separating the blossoms from the stems to make a cooking lavender, and ‘starting’ new plants. The ladies were incredibly nice and the grounds were beautiful as well. They had a lavender labyrinth that Gaye and I walked….while eating a vanilla lavender ice cream bar (we splurged…and it was yuuummmmyyy!!) and we checked out the gift store, picking up a few knickknacks before heading back home.

Speaking of lavender, John & Gaye have a cuuute little puppy named lavender who was such a cutie! And who never tired of playing ball, goose, or tug-toy. We miss our dog… :-(

Lavender the dog

After a couple days of relaxing, it was time to get back on the road. The evening before we left, we cooked them one of our specialties – Feta chicken with couscous & squash, and said our goodbyes. It’s always sad to leave friends and John & Gaye are not going cruising this year so you never know when we will see them again.

Gaye, John, Rene, & Michael ready for dinner

More to follow…


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