Late Friday afternoon, Rich and I picked up our motor home in Mount Vernon, loaded it with food, clothing, and a newly purchased inflatable canoe, then set out for Deception Pass State Park. Rich had made a reservation weeks earlier so we simply needed to drive to our campsite, connect the water and electricity, and enjoy a candle-lit dinner of rotisserie chicken, baked potatoes, salad, and kalamatta olive bread dipped in roasted garlic olive oil.
With a sliver of sunlight remaining, we quickly cleaned up then walked to the beach to gather rocks – mostly white and cream-colored quartz – and listen to the waves crashing on the shore. The beaches in the Pacific Northwest are rugged with rocks and pebbles instead of sand, and huge piles driftwood from fallen trees and branches.
There were several elaborate lean-tos, built from the driftwood, on the beach. Rich and I crawled into one then realized if it collapsed, no one would hear our cries. We envisioned being featured on a TV show or Website as one of the dumbest ways to die.
Coming to our sensed, we scurried back to our motor home, using a dirt trail instead of the well-lit road. We had to strain our eyes to see the boulders and roots in the path. We could have easily stumbled and been featured in the dumbest way to break a bone.
The next morning, we hopped on our bikes and rode to another beach. We thought we could ride on the sand, but it was too soft and akin to pedaling in gooey mud… not fun and lots of hard work. Nevertheless, we got to watch several people in sea kayaks practice flipping over and righting themselves up. I now have no desire to ever go sea kayaking. The idea of being upside-down in frigid water, teaming with Orcas whales, and struggling to flip myself over, without slithering out of the kayak, doesn’t appeal to me.
Our walk/ride on the beach ended by the Deception Pass Bridge (below). Built in 1935, the bridge connects Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1982. Before the bridge was built, travelers had to hit a mallet against a metal lumberjack saw to summons a ferry boat captain who would take them from one island to the other.
Crossing Deception Pass is a tricky feat even in today’s powerful boats. At peak current of 8 knots (9.5 miles per hour), almost 900 million gallons of water pour through the deep and turbulent channel that connects the Strait of Juan de Fucas with the Saratoga Passage. The only boat that I’ve seen go through the channel is a high-speed tour boat. And supposedly, several gutsy Navy pilots from the nearby base have flown under the bridge.
After dragging our bikes from the beach up to the highway, we decided to ride on a “perimeter” trail. At first, we encountered several large boulders and roots, which forced us to walk our bikes. The trail then evaporated into a narrow foot path that zigzagged along a rocky slope. In certain places, Rich had to carry my bike because I didn’t have the strength and balance to hold the bike up while clambering up the rocky boulders.
Nevertheless, the view and the surrounding flora were spectacular. On the sun-baked slopes was pale green succulents interspersed with delicate red, yellow, white, and purple wild flowers. In the bay below, the tide was completely out, leaving a dozen or so boats resting on the muddy bottom. Several blue heron took advantage of the receding water, prodding the mud with their long, sharp beaks for morsels of food. Of course, we didn’t have our camera!
Once we got back to our motor home, we ate a quick lunch then laid-out the canoe, which was flat with a multitude of zippers, tubes, and baggy canvas. I was pleasantly surprised as Rich pumped it full of air. As you can see in the picture, it’s fairly large and amazingly comfortable. Once assembled, we were able to easily carry it from our campsite to Cranberry Lake, a 15-minute walk. The lake had once been filled with sea water, but natural springs in the area eventually flushed out the salt water, leaving a calm, trout-filled lake.
We gently placed the canoe in the water and eased into the seats. Rather quickly, we discovered that the canoe was best powered by having me paddle with one half of the kayak paddle and Rich with the other. In this manner, we balanced out each other. Plus, it gave me something to do.
I was amazing at how easy it was to paddle around the lake. I can’t wait to try the canoe in other waterways, such as Lake Sammamish by Microsoft and Lake Union in downtown Seattle… and so many other places that will be fun to see from the water!
Because the weather was so perfect, cool with clear skies, after canoeing, we headed back to the beach to watch the waves and hordes of people also enjoying the evening. With summer solstice two months away, the days are getting long in the Pacific Northwest with dusk arriving around 9 o’clock.
Sunday morning, we awoke with no aches or pains so we jumped back on our bikes and did more sightseeing and rock collecting. Around 1 o’clock, we sadly headed back to Mount Vernon to unpack the motor home, run some errands then head south to Kirkland and our workaday lives.
From canoeing to enjoying time together in the motor home, it was a fabulous weekend!