Monday, July 7, 2014

Anacortes, Washington

June 29 - July 7, 2014:

It rained like crazy last night, woke me up a few times and so damp (dripping wet) in the morning.  We are not used to this humid, wet, damp climate.  After drying our outside items slightly and stowing them we hit the road.  It was route 20 about all the way, mostly flat along the Skajit River which was racing downhill to Pugent Sound.  I stopped at the small town of Concrete where many of the downtown buildings are made of concrete.  I did a quickie tour, and found a few picturesque items.  We then came down into the valley and into the town of Sedro-Wholley where there was a lots of wineries, farms and farm markets.

Like the sound of the Concrete Theater, but the "Hub"
appears the be the interesting place in Concrete
The Pioneer Trails RV Resort in Anacortes, Washington was easy to find and our first impression was good.  We have a full hookup site for a full week as we have been pretty much roughing it lately and need a good cleaning and pampering !  We love to boondock and dry camp but after a couple of weeks it starts to get a little funky.  

The town of Anacortes is most interesting with a nice old downtown area.  Twinkles is thrilled to see two quilt stores !  They have done something special in their downtown with murals and art work depicting local town characters, store owners, town history and all the street side trash cans are painted like old Salmon can labels.  Salmon canning was a major industry in Anacortes and they claim to have been the Salmon canning capital of the Pugent Sound in days past.  The decline of the Salmon eventually forced all the canneries out of business.  There is a beautiful waterfront park and massive marina, Cap Sante, in the area where the canneries and other early industries once stood.

There are over 100 murals like this throughout town

Harbor Light Salmon label

Salmon Canning Capital of the World

Every town here has at least one massive tree
cross section on display, that's all that's left

A classic fishing boat in the harbor

The "Sally Ride" under construction in the shipyard

We sort of lucked out on this campground and location, I knew there was good stuff to see and do in this area, but it's way better than expected, I love it when that happens !  So much of the time, things don't quite live up to the hype. Anacortes is on Fidalgo Island a short bridge away from the mainland.  It has a Ferry terminal where you can travel to the San Juan Islands (San Juan, Orcas, Shaw and Lopez Islands) and to Sidney British Columbia, Canada.  You can also drive from Fidalgo Island over the Deception Pass Bridge to Whidbey Island.  Also several nice towns on the mainland a short distance away.

On Monday we checked out the Deception Pass Bridge over the water between Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island.  We parked at a roadside pull off and walked across the bridge on the very narrow walkway, along with all the other tourists, with the cars and trucks whizzing past us with inches to spare.  The motion of the vehicles passing along with the narrow walkway really accentuate the dangerous height of the bridge above the water.  The view is incredible, worth the risk and we even saw an Eagle sitting in a tree from the bridge.  We then continued on to the town of Oak Harbor, that is the site of a navy base and has that transient look of most military towns.  It took a while, but we eventually did find the small old downtown area which is really quite nice.

The walkway across the bridge

It's quite a view and a drop to the water

The Deception Pass Bridge from underneath

A bar sign in Oak Harbor

On Tuesday, we drove to the highly recommended town of LaConner to explore.  It is situated on the mainland along the Swinomish Channel which winds it's way out to the Pugent Sound.  There are boat marina's lining the shore line, a scenic boardwalk and a beautiful old downtown filled with quality artistic shops, clothing stores, bars and restaurants.  Also a classic bridge spanning the channel that is much photographed and painted.  The Swimomish Indian reservation is on the opposite side of the channel.  The Swinomish tribe has lived in this area for thousands of years.

They had the best hanging flower baskets

Dirty Biter the dog is a local legend in LaConner

View from our lunch table

This is good advise

A great Action Comic cover at Antique shop

Wednesday was a visit to the Anacortes Museum which resides in a beautiful Carnegie Museum.  They had a special exhibit on the WPA and their work in the building of Deception Pass State Park and the Deception Pass Bridge.  Lots on interesting stuff on Anacortes history and the local Indian tribes, the Samish and the Swinomish, whose existence was nearly wiped out after the white man came and started cutting down the trees, diverting the river waters and disrupting the Salmon runs.  We then went to the Anacortes maritime museum with more great exhibits and the restored Snagboat, the W.T. Preston.  An amazing boat with all it's original steam power equipment intact.  You might wonder, what is a Snagboat, as we did ?  It is a type of boat created to patrol the rivers to remove logs and snags to keep them navigable. It was a steam powered paddle wheeler with a huge crane on the front to lift the Logs, Snags and other debris out of the river channels.  It operated from the early 1900's to early 1980's and amazingly was saved.

The museum sign

The W.T. Preston

The Engine room controls

Then time for a beer break at the "Brown Lantern Ale House" which has become a favorite place in Anacortes for us to find refreshment. 

Thursday's plan was a ferry trip to Friday Harbor, however when we arrived at the Ferry Terminal there was no parking left, it was super congested so we canceled that plan.  Plan B turned out to to a drive to Whidbey Island and to the town of Coupeville.  Along the way, we saw a freshly mowed alfalfa field with many Bald Eagles foraging in it, then a scenic view point at Ebey's Landing with a very interesting old cemetary.  The area around Ebey's Landing and Coupeville is part of a National Historic Preserve, the first one in the country, started in 1978.  There were trails going to a bluff area and to the shoreline and the farmland in the area has been preserved to prevent development.  At Coupeville we found a very quaint little seafaring village with several restaurants and stores.  Of interest was a small ice cream shop that was the very first "Seattle Best Coffee" store, started in 1969.

Farmland that is saved by the preserve

Historic Blockhouse in the cemetery

The view at the shore line

An Eagle in the tree, they are all over here

The Coupeville wharf

Old Indian made canoe's

Fourth of July was a ride to the town of Sedro-Wholly for their Loggerrodeo parade and July 4th festivities.  It is primarily a July 4th celebration combined with a rodeo and a lumbering festival that has been going on since 1886.  The parade lasted close to two hours and everyone for miles around appeared to be either in it or watching it.  There was a family group with many children on the curb in front of us armed with water guns who were blasting people on parade floats and those on the floats had water guns also to return fire.  Lots of candy and other advertising freebies being thrown out to the crowd, we even got new tooth brushes from the Atkinson Family dentistry !    It was a pretty great parade all in all.  We didn't see the Rodeo, the Logging Show or the beard contest, but the woodcarving competition was enough, it was Olmypic quality.  They claim to be the chainsaw carving Capital of Washington and they just might be right.  I am kind of tired of all the carved bears though, a little more creativity would be nice.

Loggerodeo poster

A Mountain Lion

The saw dust was flying

Logging trucks are common here

Lots of horses too !

And Big Tractors
Big rig race trucks on parade 

A complex wood carving

It is the Pacific Northwest and it started to rain about 2 PM, but did not interfere with the fireworks in Anacortes at the marina area. A big crowd with preliminary music culminating in a Neil Diamond impersonator show.  

Saturday we did the Ferry trip adventure to Friday Harbor.  These are large Ferry Boats operated by Washington State Ferry that take walk on passengers and also cars, trucks, bikes, motorcycles, even RV's.  It was about an hour ride, we did not take the Jeep as we planned to just walk around the town of Friday Harbor.  There are so many Islands in this area accessible only by boat or sea plane, but houses can be seen on almost all of them.  Friday Harbor was great, it was crowded with people, lots of shopping, restaurants and a beautiful large boat marina.  We shopped, had lunch, then stopped for a couple of beers at a outside patio with a harbor view, then ice cream cones, and finally caught the 6:30 PM Ferry back to Anacortes.  A great day trip !

The Friday Harbor Ferry terminal

Local Indian carving

This was a group of people playing music in the park
who were simply great, very cool !

Old Boat in the marina, this place was filled with hundreds
of boats from row boats to mega $$$ yachts

The Ferry on the return trip

Another view from the upper deck

A passing Ferry

Sunday we went to breakfast at the highly rated Calico Cupboard in Anacortes.  The service started off sort of slow and the look and vibe, to me, was a little too refined, sophisticated and gourmet to my liking.  Of course, dinning partner, Twinkles, totally disagreed.  I'm a basic "Jersey Diner" type of guy at heart, no latte's for me at breakfast !  Then the food arrived quicker than expected and it was truly great, it was a big heaping plate full and I ate it all.  So with slight reluctance, I will add it to my list of great breakfast spots.

The local Indian Casino

Large fireworks sales at the Casino

View from highpoint on Island, Mt. Erie

Old wooden ship overgrown with brush and trees

View from Cap Sante viewpoint in Anacortes

Twinkles with berries

All aboard, the next stop is Poulsbo, Washington.
Twinkles and Slick

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