Through the Lens of Annelies

Hubby Mike and I are very lucky to have two dear friends, Annelies and Yves, who make perfect traveling companions. Do you know how rare it is to have four adults who enjoy traveling together, in very close company, for two-plus weeks? Really rare. That’s a lot of togetherness.

We might get a little loopy, but that’s part of the fun.

L-R, Yves, Annelies, Me, and Hubby Mike
L-R, Yves, Annelies, Me, and Hubby Mike

We all share similar likes/dislikes when it comes to interests, pace of travel, things to see/do, food to eat, places to stay, things that amuse or or not, etc. Hubby swears that Annelies and I are sisters separated at birth.

One of the things Annelies and I share is our love for photography. Our men are used to the two of us lagging behind, shooting photos. She and I always chuckle when we catch up to them and see them sitting on a bench, log, wall, etc., happily chatting away about one thing or another, as they patiently wait for us. I think “the boys” might enjoy those moments as much as we enjoy shooting pics.

After finishing my vacation re-cap (there’s a listing with links to all of the posts, at the very bottom of this post), I decided to have another look through the images that Annelies captured. I did incorporate some of her pics into my later posts, but I thoroughly enjoyed going through her pics again.

I find it quite intriguing that we travel together, both taking tons of pictures, and inevitably end up with different images of things, unique shots that the other didn’t see, etc. Of course, when we are shooting we’ll sometimes say, “Here we go taking pictures of the same thing again.” So it’s fun looking through someone else’s shots of the exact same vacation and seeing so much different stuff.

I thought you might find it fun, too. So I uploaded about 200 of her images to Flickr and embedded a slideshow below for your viewing pleasure.

You can watch the show on this screen or, if you’d prefer seeing larger shots, click on the link at the top of the slideshow embedded here and you’ll get to watch it on Flickr (photo-sharing site). Don’t see a link? Put your mouse pointer over the slideshow and FLICKR should appear at the top with the link to the right of that. It’s easy.

I hope you enjoy seeing her images as much as I did.

NOTE: If you are using a mobile device, you may not be able to see the slideshow and/or link below, so CLICK HERE to get to the Flickr slideshow.

One thing is certain, the four of us had had lots of fun seeing some amazing things together on two different continents. We’ve shared a lot of laughs and have made some incredible memories. Hubby and I are both very grateful to have them in our lives and anxiously await our next adventures together.

Hugs hugs to you both. We really love you guys!

 


 

TRIP Re-cap

 

Installment 1: In the Beginning (Friday, August 30 – Monday, Sept 2)

Installment 2: Portland Morning (Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 3: Exploring the City of Portland (morning of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 4: Beyond Portland (afternoon of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 5: Olympic Peninsula, Here We Come!

Installment 6: First Rain Forest Hike & Another Gorgeous Beach

Installment 7: Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Installment 8: Madison Creek Falls & Lake Crescent

Installment 9: Hoh Rain Forest

Installment 10: Rialto Beach

Installment 11: Getting to San Juan Island

Installment 12: Enjoying San Juan Island

Installment 13: Whales!

Installment 14: Deception Pass (Fidalgo & Whidbey Islands)

Installment 15: Ebey’s Landing & Coupeville (Whidbey Island)

Installment 16: Family Time

Pacific Northwest – Installment 16

As I said in my last post, after delivering us to Amy’s house, Annelies and Yves left. Their plan was to spend a day in Seattle before flying to Philadelphia to visit some other friends.

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Natural Disaster Awareness

Friday morning, the grand kids headed off to school, and we got to hang out with Amy, TJ, and Shannon. We opted to visit Sumner, a neighboring town, that Amy had told me about.

It was a pleasant morning spent visiting as we perused the various shops lining Sumner’s Main Street. One of the shops is an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint stockist. Amy is interested in learning to paint furniture and stuff. In fact, since then, we visited again and I was able to give her a lesson. If you missed the painting post, it’s here.

Sumner is a nice little town. There were quite a few funky little shops that piqued our interest and gave us something to do for a few hours. We’d tossed around the idea of going into Seattle to see the public market, but Hubby and I were quite tired of touristy pursuits by that time, so we decided to postpone that until our next visit. We really just wanted to spend time with the kids.

Temperatures were mild that day (60s?), but the skies were quite gray. Here are a few images I captured in Sumner…

Wall Mural
Wall Mural

 

Main Street Shops
Main Street Shops

 

Interesting Store Window
Interesting Store Window

 

Family
Family

 

Ironic Graffiti
Ironic Graffiti

 

Shannon, Me, and Amy
Shannon, Me, and Amy

We had lunch then returned to the house for more visiting.

The next day, Saturday, was all about football. Joey and Gaige both had games that day. Joey was quite tickled to have us all there watching.

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Checking to make sure we were watching.

 Click on any image to see a larger view.

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Missed Tackle

 

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Joey (far left) is the smallest kid on the team.

 

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Checking to make sure we were still watching.

 

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The Big Take-down (don’t let his petite size fool you)

 

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Action Shot

 

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Holding

Temps that day were in the low to mid 50s, I think. By the end of Joey’s game, we were all quite chilly. Especially Shannon, who had ended her two-month tour of Central America before flying to Washington to visit with us. But we still had Gaige’s game to see…

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Gaige was not happy that he didn’t get much playing time.

 

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Action Shot

 

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Candid

 

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Brothers

 

Unfortunately, Brianna was under the weather, so we didn’t get to see much of her. She’d stayed home rather than suffering through two coldish football games.

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Joey helped Shannon make dinner.

 

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He’s a good helper.

 

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He helped with clean-up, too.

 

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Pretzel dogs, my favorite!

And that’s it for the September vacation re-cap. Finally.

If you missed any of the posts, there’s a list of links for you below.

 


 

TRIP Re-cap

 

Installment 1: In the Beginning (Friday, August 30 – Monday, Sept 2)

Installment 2: Portland Morning (Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 3: Exploring the City of Portland (morning of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 4: Beyond Portland (afternoon of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 5: Olympic Peninsula, Here We Come!

Installment 6: First Rain Forest Hike & Another Gorgeous Beach

Installment 7: Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Installment 8: Madison Creek Falls & Lake Crescent

Installment 9: Hoh Rain Forest

Installment 10: Rialto Beach

Installment 11: Getting to San Juan Island

Installment 12: Enjoying San Juan Island

Installment 13: Whales!

Installment 14: Deception Pass (Fidalgo & Whidbey Islands)

Installment 15: Ebey’s Landing & Coupeville (Whidbey Island)

Pacific Northwest – Installment 15

After a very long, fabulous vacation, our final day together was upon us. We all had mixed feelings, of course. By that time, we were all ready to get back to our homes and pets. We were also excited about seeing our family at the end of the day. But we were sad that we’d be parting ways. It’s hard having such good friends on a different continent.

It was essentially a relaxed travel day. We’d planned things so that our last night was relatively close to our final destination, Amy’s house in the Seattle suburbs, but also near some sights. Annelies had identified Coupeville as a place to visit and I’d zeroed-in on at Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve (ELNHR). Have I told you that she and I make a great planning team?

We started out with breakfast at McDonald’s, a first for Annelies and Yves, which made for some giggles.

1a_IMG_7697Americans know hot cakes = pancakes, but that confused our friends. Also confusing was the speed at which orders are taken, the staffs’ assumption that you have eaten at McDonald’s previously and understand their menu, know how to tell them how many cream and/or sugars you want in your coffee, etc. Compounding the problem, Annelies and Yves, who both understand and speak English very well, had a hard time understanding the African-American lady from Georgia that took our order.

It was truly an entertaining way to start the day.

Knowing we wanted to lunch in Coupeville, we headed for ELNHR, a rural historic district established to preserves and protect a historical record of Puget Sound exploration and settlement from the 19th century to the present. ELNHR uniquely encompasses a mix of federal, state, county, and private property. There are historic farms still under cultivation, the Victorian seaport community of Coupeville (where Seattle’s Best Coffee was started!), Fort Casey and Fort Ebey State Parks, and even a section of the Pacific Northwest National Scenic Trail.

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Old Barn at Ebey’s Landing

 

ELNHR is actually pretty big. We drove around a bit, surprised no note that the landscape looked a lot like the rolling hills of Central Pennsylvania, if you could ignore the snow-capped mountains in the background. Our first stop was Fort Casey State Park, which features an old gun battery, lighthouse, and lots of beach.

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Fort Casey Gun Battery

 

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Admirality Head Lighthouse

 

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The fog was starting to roll in.

The next two shots are kind of funny. To me, anyway. They’re both examples of how the camera can skew perspective a bit. Look at the size of the lighthouse in relation to the people.

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Big Mike

 

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Slightly over-sized men.

 

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Hubby, living on the edge.

 

Hubby decided to wait in the car while Annelies, Yves, and I explored a bit of beach. I HAD to see the water up close one last time.

Annelies was not pleased that we had to descend this semi-treacherous cliff to reach the water’s edge.

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Annelies was not digging the sandy, unstable cliff.

 

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Love those beach rocks! (Yes, a select few jumped into my pocket.)

 

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Small Dungeness Crab Shell

 

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Yves found a dead fish.

 

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Building our last rock cairns.

 

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Success!

 

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Notice mine is the biggest.

 

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Beach

 

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Artsy flora capture.

 

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The fog was rolling in.

 

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We could barely see the lighthouse.

 

Meanwhile, on the other side of the island in Coupeville…

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Blue sky over the Coupeville harbor.

 

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Coupeville pier (you can see the fog encroaching in the background).

 

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Sadly, we had no time to shop (or luggage space for purchases).

 

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Knead & Feed Bakery and Restaurant (great lunch spot!)

 

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Hubby, waiting again.

 

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Intrepid Traveler

 

The clock was ticking, and we had places to be, so we hit the road, driving south to catch the Clinton-Mukilteo ferry to the mainland, and then back to civilization, skirting Seattle to get to Amy’s house in the suburbs.

For some reason, I didn’t take pics of Annelies and Yves greeting Shannon again and, finally, meeting Amy, TJ, and the grand kids. AND, worse, I seem to have misplaced the pics of Annelies and Yves driving off. Which, really, is okay because it would be yet another picture of me crying at our vacation’s end.

My next and final post will touch on family time!

 


 

TRIP Re-cap

 

Installment 1: In the Beginning (Friday, August 30 – Monday, Sept 2)

Installment 2: Portland Morning (Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 3: Exploring the City of Portland (morning of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 4: Beyond Portland (afternoon of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 5: Olympic Peninsula, Here We Come!

Installment 6: First Rain Forest Hike & Another Gorgeous Beach

Installment 7: Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Installment 8: Madison Creek Falls & Lake Crescent

Installment 9: Hoh Rain Forest

Installment 10: Rialto Beach

Installment 11: Getting to San Juan Island

Installment 12: Enjoying San Juan Island

Installment 13: Whales!

Installment 14: Deception Pass

Pacific Northwest – Installment 14

September 11 dawned bright. We were up and at it early so we had time to clean the house and prepare for our day’s journey, which would take us from San Juan Island, through Anacortes, WA on Fidalgo Island, to Deception Pass State Park and then Coupeville¬† before over-nighting in Oak Harbor.

"Drive" Map
“Drive” Map

The map on the left shows our route. The first leg, from Friday Harbor to Anacortes, was on a very large Washington State Ferry. I thought for sure that the M/V Elwha was one of the biggest boats in the system. But according to the WSDOT website, there are five that are larger. It’s hard to imagine bigger ferries. The Elwha is 382 feet long and 73 feet across!

Unless you’ve seen tractor-trailers, school buses, RVs, etc. boarding easily and walked around its multiple levels and decks, I think it is hard to imagine the size of the vessel. You’ll just have to trust me when I say it is really darn BIG.

We got to Friday Harbor early enough that Annelies and I had time to shop while the boys waited in the car, which we’d parked in the ferry queue. We had time for some pictures, too.

Interesting Flowers
Interesting Flowers

Those flowers were outside the public restroom, inside of which occurred one of the most-amusing moments of the trip.

Let me just say, it’s a little disconcerting when your friend, who has already told you she really needs to use the bathroom, is in a neighboring bathroom stall when she laugh/squeals then exclaims, “Oh my GOD, I have got to take a picture of this.”

My first thought, of course, was an interesting piece of stool, which even I would NEVER photograph. I was very relieved when this was the image I saw…

Interesting bathroom graffiti.
Interesting bathroom graffiti.

That IS pretty funny.

Some other pics we captured in Friday Harbor…

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Mural

 

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Signage at the most-interesting Ace Hardware Store ever.

 

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Photographer in action.

 

We bought some souvenirs and picnic provisions and then headed back to the car as boarding time was imminent.

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Friday Harbor as seen through the ferry window.

 

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Ferry Picnic

 

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View during the passage to Anacortes.

 

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Approaching Anacortes

 

I will never tire of riding ferries, or any other boat, among the San Juan Islands.

After disembarking, which happens surprisingly quickly, we headed to Deception Pass State Park. Part of the park is on the southern tip of Fidalgo Island and the other part is on the northern tip of Whidbey Island. A famous bridge connects the two islands at Deception Pass.

The Deception Pass bridge is actually two bridges, there’s a small island in between the two spans, that connects Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands. In total, it’s 1,487 feet long (Canoe Pass span: 511 feet, Deception Pass Span: 976 feet), with a road width of 22 feet and 3-foot sidewalks on each side. The cantilever bridge is approximately 180 feet from the water (depending on tides).

Currents through the Deception Pass strait are quite impressive. The tidal flow beneath the twin bridges is very strong and the current reaches a speed of about 8 knots (9.2 mph) during ebb and flood tide.

We stopped on the Fidalgo Island side first.

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Beautiful stones. (Yes, some came home with me.)

 

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Annelies and Yves doing a happy dance.

 

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Native American Statue

 

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Beautiful Shoreline

 

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Deception Pass Bridge

 

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Hubby gazing down from the bridge deck.

 

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Look at the rocks below the bridge to see the current.

 

After admiring the bridge up-close, we continued on into the Whidbey Island side of the park.

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Hubby was content to watch the fishermen as we explored the beautiful shoreline.

 

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Deception Pass bridge as seen from Whidbey Island.

 

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My favorite rock cairn photo of the trip.

 

We spent a lot more time at the park than we’d anticipated, so we had to boogie to reach our hotel before nightfall. Plus, we were all getting hungry.

After quickly checking into our hotel and off-loading some stuff in our rooms, we continued on to Coupeville.

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Yummy local dinner spot.

 

We chose Toby’s Tavern based on Yelp reviews which summed the place up as quirky a local favorite with good seafood. That’s where another favorite vacation moment occurred. Yves had ordered mussels. When he grabbed the plate being passed across the table by the waitress, the bowl slid a bit and brushed his hand.

“Ooh,” he said, “it’s hot.”

“Well, yeah,” said the waitress without hesitation, “if it was cold, you’d bitch.”

Hysterical. We all cracked up, then assured the slightly concerned waitress that she hadn’t offended us. We all laugh a lot when we’re together, which is one of the reasons we all love each other so much.

It was the perfect ending to a perfect, but long, day. Sadly, it was our last full day together of the trip.

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Night sky across the Coupeville harbor.

Up next, we continue south and meet up with some family.


 

TRIP Re-cap

 

Installment 1: In the Beginning (Friday, August 30 – Monday, Sept 2)

Installment 2: Portland Morning (Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 3: Exploring the City of Portland (morning of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 4: Beyond Portland (afternoon of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 5: Olympic Peninsula, Here We Come!

Installment 6: First Rain Forest Hike & Another Gorgeous Beach

Installment 7: Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Installment 8: Madison Creek Falls & Lake Crescent

Installment 9: Hoh Rain Forest

Installment 10: Rialto Beach

Installment 11: Getting to San Juan Island

Installment 12: Enjoying San Juan Island

Installment 13: Whales!

Pacific Northwest – Installment 13

After getting a bit of grief recently for never finishing the re-cap of our vacation in the Pacific Northwest in September 2013, I figured it was about time I did that.

My previous vacation post, Installment 12, described a very relaxing day and our wonderful rental home. If you scroll to the very bottom of this post, you’ll find links to Installments 1 through 12.

The day I’m about to describe was the highlight of our visit to the San Juan Islands, an archipelago in the northwest corner of the contiguous United States between the US mainland and Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. The San Juan Islands are part of the state of Washington.

map
Map of San Juan Island

While planning the trip, I told Annelies how much I LOVED going whale watching. In fact, I probably said it so much, she got tired of hearing it. She eould easily have agreed to plan a whale watch excursion, but it’s kind of expensive ($85/person). And flying to the US from Europe for a multi-week vacation is already expensive enough. So we didn’t book in advance. But as soon as she agreed that we should try to take one of the tours, I started searching on-line.

Happily, I found Captain Carli’s Whale Watching. I was delighted to discover that his boat, Soulmate, was small (six passengers is its maximum), but had a head (potty). It was docked in Friday Harbor, which was only a short drive from where we were staying.

When I told the others about this small boat, they asked “how small?” They were hesitant upon hearing that it was only 25 feet long, but I told them I’d seen pictures and thought it would be perfect for us.

It was.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Our tour wasn’t scheduled until about 3:00 PM, so we decided to visit the San Juan Island National Historical Park’s American Camp, which looked like it would be a good place for a picnic. It’s located at the southern tip of the island.

We really enjoy picnicking while traveling, and have enjoyed some pretty cool spots.

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American Camp Picnic

 

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Picnic Rock at American Camp

 

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View from the other side of the hill.

 

After a lovely, relaxed meal, we headed back to Friday Harbor to meet up with Captain Carli.

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Captain Carli’s Soulmate

 

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Crowded competitor’s boat.

 

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Crowded competitor’s boat.

 

The boat may look small, but it was the perfect size. And Captain Carli was fabulous. He pointed out other wildlife and chatted with us as we headed toward the spot where the whales had last been observed.

It wasn’t long at all before we started seeing Orcas. And more Orcas. At one point, you could see whales in practically every direction. Here are some of the images we managed to capture.

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Annelies was very excited, especially after learning that lots of whales had been spotted that morning.

 

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Yves enjoying the ride.

 

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Mike opted to ride in the cabin, out of the sun and wind.

 

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Orcas!

 

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Orcas!

 

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Orcas!

 

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Orcas!

 

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Orcas!

 

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Orcas!

 

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Orcas, with a snow-capped mountain in the background.

 

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Happy ToadMama

Do I look happy? I was thrilled. There’s something magical about whale watching. I will never, ever get tired of doing that.

On the way back to the harbor, the captain detoured to show us an Eagle’s nest. He also showed us some Sea Lions.

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Stellar Sea Lions

 

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Stellar Sea Lions

It was a magical day in a fabulous place. The San Juan Islands may not be in a tropical location, but they are magnificent islands to visit.

We left San Juan Island the next morning, headed to Whidbey Island. I’ll tell you all about that in my next post.

 


 

TRIP Re-cap

 

Installment 1: In the Beginning (Friday, August 30 – Monday, Sept 2)

Installment 2: Portland Morning (Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 3: Exploring the City of Portland (morning of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 4: Beyond Portland (afternoon of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 5: Olympic Peninsula, Here We Come!

Installment 6: First Rain Forest Hike & Another Gorgeous Beach

Installment 7: Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Installment 8: Madison Creek Falls & Lake Crescent

Installment 9: Hoh Rain Forest

Installment 10: Rialto Beach

Installment 11: Getting to San Juan Island

Installment 12: Enjoying San Juan Island

Pacific Northwest – Installment 12

There are many reasons why vacationing with friends is different than vacationing as a couple. I could go on and on with reasons, pros and cons, if you will. But I won’t. I will say I mentioned that because it plays a big role in the type of accommodations we choose.

If it’s just Hubby and me, if we’ll only be in a place for a night or two, we tend to choose cheap and clean chain hotels. But, when traveling as two couples, hotels can be a pain. Where do you hang out? What if your rooms are far apart and/or in completely different wings of the facility? What if one of you has the corkscrew and the other has the wine?

It makes much more sense to rent houses when we are traveling with friends. It’s usually about the same amount of money, if not cheaper, and you can find some really cool places to stay.

We don’t always rent houses. Since we move around a lot, sometimes roadside hotels just make sense. During this trip, we did both. I figured it was about time to talk about the houses we rented, especially since I’m about to show you pics of our favorite.

The Portland Victorian, our base for our stay in Portland, Oregon. And then there was Home Sweet Home, the hub for our Olympic Peninsula visit. Both were lovely homes that served our purposes perfectly. But the Log House on San Juan Island was our favorite.

I never did get a good shot of the outside, so I’ll just borrow this one from their VRBO listing.

Front of the Log House (facing the water)

All of our house were spacious, but this one felt IMMENSE. This hand-made cabin is nestled in the woods overlooking the San Juan Channel of the Salish Sea. It was only a few miles — about a 10-minute drive — from downtown Friday Harbor, so it was quite convenient. We were all happy with the location, size, and comfort of this place.

The Log House is the only rental unit where I actually took interior photos to share.

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Relaxing in the Great Room

 

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Two-sided Fireplace

 

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View into the Dining Room (note the piano in the corner)

 

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Looking Out Toward the Deck

 

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Kitchen Side of the Fireplace

 

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Looking Down from the Stairs Leading to the 2nd Floor Loft

 

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View from the Loft Bedroom

 

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View from the Deck

After a very leisurely morning, which went a long way toward making up for the unGODly hour we had to hit the road the day before, we headed into town.

Friday Harbor is a picturesque town full of touristy shops and restaurants. The shops we visited were all nice, tasteful places. So “touristy” isn’t a bad thing. Many of the shops leaned toward artsy, too. Which I loved.

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Downtown Friday Harbor

 

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Friday Harbor

 

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Horrible Restaurant with Great View

The food at Friday’s Crabhouse was sub-par. So was the service. But it’s a great place to rest your feet while watching the ferry come and go. It was quite interesting to see tractor-trailers and a school bus driving off of the thing. Some of the ferries are HUGE.

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Watching the Ferry Arrive

 

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Ferry Preparing to Unload

 

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Random Art

Our plan was to head out to Lime Kiln Point Point after lunch to look for whales and watch the sunset.

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Best Place to Whale-watch from Land

 

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View from Lime Kiln Point

 

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Lighthouse at Lime Kiln Point

 

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Porpoise! (lower-right)

 

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It Was a Beautiful Spot

 

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Lighthouse

We saw lots of porpoise, but no whale action. And we were too early for the sunset. So instead of staring into the sun for an hour, waiting, we decided to drive up to the other town on the island, Roche Harbor.

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Roche Harbor

 

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Proud to Take Crap

 

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Roche Harbor

Roche Harbor is more of a resort than a town. It was cute, and very quiet, but I’m glad we stayed closer to Friday Harbor.

After a brief visit, we headed back to Lime Kiln Point to catch that sunset.

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Sunset from Lime Kiln Point State Park

 

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Magical Light

 

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That’s All, Folks

 

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Goofing Off

Fun end to a very peaceful, relaxing day.

We didn’t see any whales that day, but were hoping to see some the next day from a boat.

Find out whether we did or not in my next post…

 


 

TRIP Re-cap

 

Installment 1: In the Beginning (Friday, August 30 – Monday, Sept 2)

Installment 2: Portland Morning (Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 3: Exploring the City of Portland (morning of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 4: Beyond Portland (afternoon of Tuesday, Sept 3)

Installment 5: Olympic Peninsula, Here We Come!

Installment 6: First Rain Forest Hike & Another Gorgeous Beach

Installment 7: Hurricane Ridge at Olympic National Park

Installment 8: Madison Creek Falls & Lake Crescent

Installment 9: Hoh Rain Forest

Installment 10: Rialto Beach

Installment 11: Getting to San Juan Island