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Pacific Northwest Excursion - Day Eight

Day One - Tacoma
Day Two - Hood River
Day Three - Hood River
Day Four - Depoe Bay
Day Five - Depoe Bay
Day Six - Cannon Beach
Day Seven - Port Angeles
Day Eight - Friday Harbor
Day Nine - Orcas Island
Day Ten - Seattle

Wednesday, July 18, 2001

We were told breakfast was served at 8:30 so we got up early enough to allow us to shower and pack our bags so we could leave immediately after breakfast. We had a full day ahead of us with two ferries to catch, so we wanted to get as early a start as possible. Breakfast did not actually begin until 8:45 and was served in multiple courses. First was a plate of cheese and bread, and then a plate of fruit. By that time it was 9:15 and we knew we were going to be in trouble if we did not leave soon, so we skipped the main course of crepes and took off.

Maggie had the capability of mapping routes to ferry terminals, so we programmed in the terminal at Port Townsend, WA. We had ordered ferry schedules ahead of time and had studied them at length before we left home so we would know exactly what ferries we needed to be on. This is highly recommended, especially in the summer and/or the weekends. We had been forewarned to leave ourselves plenty of time, which worked fine, but there is waiting time involved. We had never driven a car onto a ferry before and did not know what to expect. We were pleasantly surprised and amazed by the Washington State Ferry System, which is the largest in the world. It is extremely well organized, and is very clean, considering it is public transportation. It is also Washington's most popular tourist attraction, drawing millions of riders each year. We purchased our fare (be aware that cash or travelers' checks are required, and credit cards are not accepted; we knew about this from ordering information ahead of time) and were told which line to go in. It was fairly simple; when the ferry was ready, we were told where to drive and to park on the boat.

We parked the car and went upstairs to the passenger area. We were taking the eastbound ferry from Port Townsend to Keystone, Whidbey Island. This was a relatively short crossing (about 30 minutes), but we had time to walk around upstairs. There was plenty of seating, and a dining area with food and beverages, including beer, which surprised us, but we realized not everyone on the ferry was driving as passengers could walk onto the ferry as well as drive on.

The crossing was uneventful, and we disembarked on Whidbey Island. Originally our plan was for a leisurely drive up Whidbey, but we had caught a later ferry than we intended (and still had another one to catch), so we decided to drive all the way (20 miles) up to Anacortes, on the north end of the island, where we would catch our next ferry for San Juan Island. We did stop at Deception Pass, which is a very high bridge over the water, for some pictures. Once we reached Anacortes, we stopped for lunch at the Olympian Restaurant which was on the main street. We both got sandwiches, and Keith loved his feta fries (it was a Greek restaurant).

After lunch we stopped at Compass Wines. They had just opened the previous weekend and were stocking the shelves as we entered. They told us they still had 10,000 bottles to unpack and stock! They were very friendly and asked us if we were looking for something in particular. We had pretty much accepted the fact at this point that this was our champagne vacation, so we asked them for something sparkling. We told them we were hoping to drink it in a few hours, so one of the owners suggested we go with something already chilled (we told them we had a cooler). We told him our price range, and he recommended a French champagne that was originally for the millennium that he had purchased afterwards at what he felt was a "steal." We took his recommendation, bought the champagne, and headed for the Anacortes ferry terminal.

Maggie was dead on in her directions. We got in line at 1:30 for the 3:10 p.m. ferry, and noted we were about 2/3 back already. Although the ferry lines are exposed to the weather, there always seem to be accessible public bathrooms avaliable at the terminals. It was a warm, sunny day, so we parked the car in the line where we were directed, and got out to walk around. This is where it is extremely important to plan ahead, especially if one is travelling with children. We had spring water in the cooler, which we drank while in the sun (there was no nearby shade).

A car parked nearby let out the dog on a leash, and Keith was thrilled to see it was an American Eskimo, one of his favorite breeds. We petted the dog and spoke with his owner for a little. The sun was pretty relentless, so we decided to sit in the front seat of the car and play trivia (we had brought cards exactly for this).

Make sure you have things for the kids to do, and plenty of hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen if you will be outside waiting for the ferry. At last the ferry arrived. We had some anxious moments wondering if we were going to make it on - if we missed this one, it meant we would not reach our destination until around 8 p.m. that evening on a later ferry.

Alas, this was a large ferry with double decker parking, and we made it on with plenty of spaces to spare. This was a one-hour ferry ride through the San Juan Islands, so we went topside and walked around, trying to find the perfect spot to take in the views. Although it was warm on the land, it was chilly on the water, and we were glad we had our sweatshirts. As we pulled it into Friday Harbor, it was a quaint sight. We disembarked and followed the directions our hostess had sent us to our inn, which was a 7-mile drive on the west end of the island.

The directions were precise, and we found Highland Inn without any problem. We had a pretty good idea what to expect, as the website had great descriptions and accurate pictures, and the inn had been featured in the March/April 2001 edition of Coastal Living magazine. The inn is owned by Helen King, who previously owned the Babbling Brook Inn in California and is now semi-retired to San Juan Island and this inn with only two guest suites.

The house seemed to be in harmony with its surroundings, as a large tree blended into the front entryway. The innkeeper has an interesting past and holds a record for deep sea fishing, having caught a 270-pound tuna with 50-lb. test line. It is proudly displayed in the entrance hall. We hadn't noticed it on the way in and asked her if she had it mounted, and she proudly showed it to us.

Helen greeted us and showed us to our suite, the Haro Strait Suite. It was decorated in neutral colors, with plenty of windows overlooking the hill down to the water. There were a set of sliding doors out to the enormous deck, which stretched the length of the house. There was a wood-burning fireplace in the room. We could smell the lingering scent of a recently kindled fire. There was a sitting area in front of the fireplace, and a satellite tv. Keith always loves it when he can get the Game Show Channel, which he got with the satellite tv.

The bathroom had a huge vanity and Jacuzzi. We didn't think it was as large as our whirlpool at home and immediately decided we would take turns. There was a separate compartment that contained the toilet and shower, and Helen showed us how the steam shower worked (there was a bench within). Lori was thrilled because she finally had a shower with enough room that she could shave her legs while showering.

Supposedly three pods of Orca whales lived around the island, so we opted for an early dinner, hoping to see the whales in the evening, when we had seen so many of them before in Depoe Bay. Helen recommended a few restaurants, and we chose a new Italian one - Vinny's, in downtown Friday Harbor. She called them and snagged a table for us, but we had to get there in the next 20 minutes. We quickly changed and got in the car. The nice thing about the Pacific Northwest is that nearly everything is extremely casual. Lori hadn't bothered with make-up yet.

We found Vinny's on West Street (Helen had kindly marked a map for us). The restaurant was simple and elegant with ample windows overlooking the harbor and the ferry landing. We ordered a bottle of local wine, a San Juan 1999 Reserve Chardonnay (when in Rome...). Lori chose the manila clams as an appetizer, and the pasta from hell, which was indeed spicy, but very good. Keith had the mozzarella martini (Lori kept stealing some cheese) and the veal piccata, which consisted of three large pieces of very tender veal, some of the best veal he has ever had. We finished off the meal by splitting a brownie. Keith ordered some Remy Martin VSOP and Lori stuck with her tried-and-true Sambuca on the rocks. The service was very attentive.

We headed back to our inn, hoping to see some whales. Lori opened the champagne and Keith busied himself relaxing in the hammock on the deck. We looked for awhile, but we didn't see any whales. We decided to take a dip in the spa, which was located on the deck of the nearby guest house. We warmed up in the spa for a little while, then headed back to the room, where we took our turns in the Jacuzzi.

It was supposed to be a Jacuzzi for two, but they would have to be two very thin people to fit into it together. We were all for seeing if we could both fit into whirlpools, but this one had us beaten. A large jar of lavender baths salts sat next to the tub, and it smelled wonderful in the bath. Afterwards, we relaxed on the sofa with our feet stretched out on the fluffy rug - a nice touch.

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