Whipping Through Whidbey Island, WA
As with every first-time experience we were all a bit nervous. Would we fit? Would “the beast” get sea-sick? Do they really know what they’re doing when they pack everyone like sardines on those things? I mean after all, we were putting our precious home on a boat and in the hands of complete strangers to cross a half-hour stretch of ocean. Not exactly an expedition mind you, but enough to give us the jitters.
In the end, of course, there was really nothing to worry about.
We drove the easy 4 miles to the ferry crossing at Port Townsend with ~45 minutes to spare before our reserved** 12:30 ferry time. We parked “the beast” in the appointed lane and waited like excited children for the boat. The operators squeezed us in with barely 5 inches to spare, the big boat cast off and we were sailing!!! As an added bonus we’d been placed at the very front of the ferry so we had a wide-open ocean view for the passage. Feet on the dashboard, blue seas ahead….
Yeah, it was pretty sweet!
Our destination was the island of Whidbey. A lanky 55 miles (89 km) long stretch of land, it forms the northern boundary of the Puget Sound and is home to a massive Naval Air Station. This not-so-little island packs in alot of history from the original Native American tribes who inhabited the shores to the “modern” exploration of the Island in 1792 by George Vancouver. The Island boasts several impressive forts, cute, historic towns, no less than 5 State Parks and….wait for it….a lighthouse!!!
Sadly this was just going to be a pass-through drive for us. After a month of runaway freedom travelling the OP we were gearing up for our new workamping gig on Orcas Island starting Aug 1st. So, we had just 2 small days to pack it in and see what we could. We squeezed (and I really mean squeezed…egads it was tight) into our site at Deception Pass State Park and went exploring. It was not more than a touch, but this is what we saw:
Deception Pass Bridge
Probably one of the most iconic landmarks on Whidbey Island is the 180-foot high Deception Pass Bridge that joins Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island in the north. Opened in 1935 and spanning 976-feet across a narrow gorge with water that rushes dangerously through the pass below it’s an impressive sight and a massive tourist draw. We hiked with pooch the short 2 miles from our campsite to the bridge on a clear day and stood gawking like all the other tourists for 20 minutes before we headed back. Yup, it’s cool.
NOTE/ Deception Pass Bridge and Deception Pass State Park are all entirely dog-friendly including ~40-miles of trails in the surrounding area. State Park fees are $10/day or $30 for an annual pass.
Admiralty Head Lighthouse
For those who know us you’ll know by now that where there’s a lighthouse, there’s Wheelingit and this little baby was one of our biggest reasons for stopping here. The beautifully restored Spanish-style building sits around half-way down the Island as a navigation point marking the eastern end of the Straits of Juan de Fuca. Originally lit in 1861, it was re-built in 1903 and served the area until 1922. The lighthouse shares its spot with Fort Casey and long stretches of pretty beach. We spent a good hour at the structure, most of which I used trying to persuade the volunteer coordinator to implement an RV hosting program (you never know…)
NOTE/ Admiralty Head Lighthouse is open for tours 11-4PM daily in summer. Dogs are allowed everywhere in the State Park except for inside the lighthouse. State Park entry fee is $10/day or $30 for an annual pass.
Founded in 1852 this little spot on the East shore of Whidbey is the second oldest town in the State of Washington. The historic downtown waterfront sports old wooden buildings, cute little shops, a great ice cream spot (Kapaw’s), several little eateries and even a lavender farm (just up the hill). It’ll take you about 15 minutes to walk the downtown or a little longer if you follow the historic homes walking tour. It’s a cute little outing and well worth the trip to see.
Brews & Fish In Anacortes
Anacortes is actually not part of Whidbey at all (being on the northern Island of Fidalgo), but we couldn’t resist a brew-tasting at Anacortes Brewery or the lure of delectable smoked fish at SeaBear Smokehouse, both only ~10 miles from our park. The food at the first was decent (standard fare), but the beer was excellent especially their Pilsner, Imperial Stout and the totally unique Klosterbier. The smoked fish at the second…yummy!
NOTE/ Anacortes Brewery has a very pleasant outdoor seating area that is dog-friendly.
And that folks, is about all we managed. Oh yeah we DID squeeze in a delectable lunch with a lovely blog reader who lives on the Island (mange tak C!), but sadly didn’t make it out to see the artsy town of Langley nor the huge hiking area around Fort Ebey nor even the many wineries (oh, woe is us). Soooo much left to see and do, but time is up and work calls. By the time you read this “the beast” will have sailed another ocean, climbed another mountain and (hopefully) be set-up in her new workamping site at the top of Mount Constitution. And yeah, you bet we’re excited!!
**For those of you considering the ferry trip from Port Townsend to Coupeville, pets are allowed on the crossing and may be taken out of cars/RVs, but only onto the car-deck area. If you’re coming across in a big rig in summer it’s highly recommended to BOOK ahead so you can be sure you’ll get a spot.
- Whidbey Island – General info on visiting Whidbey HERE.
- Admiralty Head Lighthouse – Info on the Lighthouse HERE.
- Deception Pass Bridge – Info HERE.
- Coupeville – Info on the town HERE and the self-guided historic homes walking tour HERE.
- Washington State Ferries – Link to ferry schedule and online booking HERE.