Friday, 16 December 2016

The Road Trip North - Day 15. Seattle WA to Anacortes WA via a ferry, two forts and a lighthouse.

As I sit in our hotel room in Anacortes, this morning in Seattle seems a very long time ago. Probably to do with the fact that Michael had me awake at 6 and out of the house at 7. It was freezing and still dark. We enjoyed seeing the Seattle skyline illuminated as we drove into the city, that is before the sat nav got really confused and changed its directions every time we turned a corner, even though we were doing exactly what it said to do. Finally parked at Pike Place Market, still so early that it is only just getting light, and we have arrived before most of the stall holders. There is a kind of bustle about the place, as everyone is moving with purpose, and that purpose could be just to keep moving to get out of the cold on this chilly December morning.

We wander out of the Market and along Pike Place and past the first ever Starbucks store, a bit of history easily lost in a city that now seems to have one on every corner. We head along a few blocks and then make our way up to the Space Needle. There is a kind of tourist hub around it, filled with museums and attractions, but we are too early, as nothing opens till 10. After a quick look round we manage to catch the Monorail back towards where we started. It doesn’t run very far and we have to walk the rest of the way south to Pioneer Square. Michael explains the history of this part of the city, and that there is a whole network of streets below our feet. Once again, though, we are too early and it is still an hour before the underground tours start, so we make our way back the the Market and into the car.

Once again a stressful negotiation of the confusing Seattle streets to get onto the I5, then up to Mukilteo, where we pay the fare at the kiosk and get in line for the ferry to Whidbey Island. We arrive just in time to see the previous ferry depart, which means we are the first in like to catch the next one, and we have to time to purchase some fries from Ivar’s, which Michael tells me is a famous fish and chips shop in these parts. Once loaded on board we stay in the car for the swift 20 minute crossing, and we are soon making our way through the picturesque island roads. We also glimpse the first patch of blue sky we have seen for days, and before we know it there is barely a cloud in the sky.

We make two stops to see the Casey and Ebey coastal defence forts. Michael very much enjoys exploring the derelict remains and immersing himself in the history, and while I find them somewhat interesting I mainly just get cold. Onto Deception Pass State Park, which for some reason Michael kept calling Desolation Point. It’s really beautiful as the low winter sun reflects off the lake. Michael explains how he used to visit as a child, and how after swimming in the sea they would wash off the salt by swimming in the lake. The beach is covered in huge drift wood logs, and the sound of the small waves breaking on the sand is only spoiled by the F/A-18 Growlers flying circles overhead. We watched three Canadian Geese try to land clumsily on what turned out, to their surprise, to be a frozen lake. Two managed to break the ice while the third waddled around on the cold hard surface, sending strange high pings shooting through the ice. Michael walked over and stepped on the ice and cracked it, giving them enough of a reason to take off and move to the unfrozen portion further on the lake.

From there leaving Whidbey Island via the impressively high Deception Pass Bridge, which leaps from Whidbey across the narrows to a tall rock called Pass Island, where we stopped to read about the female ferry captain who unsuccessfully campaigned to prevent the bridge being built to keep her livelihood. Then across another high bridge that connects Pass to Fidalgo Island, and then to Anacortes where will spend the night before catching the ferry to Sidney, a port on Vancouver Island in Canada, tomorrow.