Saturday, September 8, 2007

Day Three - Roadtrip 1

We rise with the birds and it was the same on day 3 of our trip. We headed out early to check out the island bathing in the morning light. The weather was chilly and air clear. Our first stop was at the Deception Pass State Park, probably the most photographed place in the island. It is a sight to take in, pristine waters, tall trees and the hanging bridge.

The famous Deception pass bridge that connects Fidalgo and Whidbey islands

As we drove around the island, we realized that most of the island is mountainous and the vegetation is far from the tropical beachy island types. The coniferous and ferns doted the area making it feel like those summer destinations of Ooty and Kodaikanal which we used to frequent as kids.

We were back at the Heron House for breakfast and the it was a view to take in. Its located along the western side of the island and is on the water. The foggy water with herons, gulls, ducks, loons and geese dotting the water, it was just awesome. A wonderful breakfast and we were off.

Early morning view from our Bed and Breakfast

Our plan for the day, was to head to the Olympic Peninsula and take in as much as we can. It was a big plan as the only way to reach the Olympic Peninsula was by means of the ferry. A good 60 minute drive along the Fidalogo and Whidbey Islands to Keystone for the ferry, 30 minutes on the ferry, another 1 1/2 hours drive to reach Port Angeles - the closest town to the Olympic National Park and back by nightfall to Heron House.

The drive along the islands to Keystone starts along the western coast of the Fidalgo island and then crosses over the Deception pass bridge into the Whidbey island as we head south on Hwy 20. Whidbey island in contrast to the Fidalgo island is considerably flatter, with a more rolling terrain and agrarian land. The main town on this island, Oak Harbor seems more like a regular suburban town than the touristy Anacortes. After an hour long drive, we finally arrived at the Ferry station. A short wait later, the ferry arrives and we are loaded in. Parking the car, we climbed up to the passenger deck to take in the views of the strait as ferry pulled away.

Climbing aboard the ferry to the Olympic peninsula

In about half an hour, we had reached Port Townsend on the Olympic peninsula and were quickly back on the road towards Port Angeles. The nearly 50 mile drive took about an hour and a half due to the twisting and turning road. The strait runs on one side of the road, and the lush hills adorn the other side all along. There are numerous lavender farms and wildlife viewing areas along the way, but we kept going as time was limited this trip. At Port Angeles, we turn towards the mountains and get on the road to Hurricane Ridge.

The Olympic National forest is known for it interesting mix of ecosystems, with rainforests, beaches and high mountains thrown in. Our first destination was the mountains. Climbing the road to hurricane ridge, we first pass through miles of lush forest and as we ascend, the vegetation changes to conifers and lush grassland with a lot of wildflowers.

Conifers and grassland on the climb to Hurrican Ridge

As we reach the top, at about 5500 ft above seal level, the fog was thick, visibility was really short and the brisk wind is chilly. Shortly, however the fog lifts ever so slightly to reveal a beautiful vista of meadows and peaks. On a clear day, we should be able to spot Mt. Rainier, but the fog is thick enough to deny us that sight.

The fog rises ever so slightly to reveal beautiful meadows and peaks

A few photographs and a hot cocoa at the Hurricane ridge visitor center later, we are back on our way down. Back at Port Angeles, we grab a quick lunch and decide that we need to head back to Port Townsend to catch a timely ferry back to Anacortes. We missed the rain forests and famed beaches of the Olympic Peninsula but there is always the next time. We make it in good time for the ferry and trace our way back to our B&B. This is when the realization strikes that the trip is coming to an end and we are to fly back to Houston the next day!

A relaxing dinner and packing of our suitcases we were all set for the next day.

Day 3 ends and H-town here we come!

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