Monday, July 16, 2018

Our Anniversary Trip

I'll try to make this blog as brief as possible and include more pictures than stories.  There were way too many photos and experiences to include everything.  My husband and I will be celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary next month.  Many people suggested having a big party, but I am uncomfortable being the center of attention and don't really enjoy parties.  Our daughter was planning a trip to Seattle, Washington with her family and asked if we wanted to come along.  That was quite an undertaking with three kids and two old people, but we said yes.  We would consider this trip our celebration.  There is no way we would ever make a trip like that on our own.  I wish we would have done it twenty years ago because Seattle is not a city for older out of shape people who are short on stamina.  We walked for miles and miles during this vacation, and it was all uphill (well almost).  They rented a house in Port Ludlow on the Puget Sound.  One side of the house was all windows facing the Sound and the mountains.  Our bedroom faced the water and we woke up and went to sleep with this view.  The sunrise was about 4:30am and it set around 10:00pm so it was really bright from early morning to late at night.  The owner provided sleep masks because there were no curtains or blinds on the windows.

From every window we could see a view of Mount Baker.  It is the third highest mountain in the Cascades of Washington state.  It is an active volcano that has a thick glacial cap.  Mount Baker gets about 650 inches of snow every year.  We could see two more mountains in the distance, but I don't remember the names.

A sunrise view of Puget Sound 
Or this view because they had no drapes on the windows.

We didn't have much time so we hit the ground running or at least walking really fast.  After we got settled for a day, we packed an overnight bag and headed for a whale watching tour and an overnight in Friday Harbor, Washington.  First we drove to a parking area on Bainbridge Island and got on the Bainbridge ferry.  This is one of several ferry's that carry tourists and commuters to the city of Seattle.

The views from the ferry were really nice.  It was very relaxing to travel across to the harbor.

When the ferry landed we walked about thirty minutes to the whale watching boat.  There are no guarantees about seeing whales.  The numbers have diminished greatly.  The balance in the ecosystem is out of whack.  The salmon population is down because of the over population of sea lions and salmon farming.  You wouldn't think farmed salmon would have an affect, but it does.  The resident whales will not eat the Atlantic salmon.  In Canada they raise Atlantic salmon in fenced off areas in pristine places in the ocean.  They are packed into pens in high numbers making it easy to transmit diseases and parasites.  When that happens, they need to treat the diseased fish with antibiotics and pesticides which pollute the environment.   The wild salmon can easily pick up the infections which kill them.  At times many farmed salmon escape furthering the contamination and invading the breeding grounds.  Uneaten food and feces from these farmed fish build up in the sea bed killing more wild salmon and other fish the whales eat.  Don't buy farmed salmon.  It isn't healthy and spoils the balance of nature.

My grandkids were actually getting along and happy to be getting on the whale watching boat.

The whale watching tour proved to be successful.  We saw a group of Orca (Killer Whales).  It turned out they were transient whales and not the locals who usually spend the summer in those waters.  Transient whales move from area to area.  We talked to other whale watchers, and they were not so lucky.  One lady paid for travel into Friday Harbor on a seaplane, took a tour which broke down and she had to return back to shore without seeing anything.

Can you see the little Orca baby? 

After the tour we spent the night in Friday Harbor.  Of course, it was a walk uphill many blocks to get to the hotel.  We should have taken a shuttle, but we didn't realize how far it was.  It is a busy island which relies a lot on tourism.  They had different forms of transportation on the island, but we opted for a trolley.  The trolley had drop off places at several spots along the route, but we had a goal in mind.  We were headed for the Lime Kiln lighthouse.  One of the former professors at Ripon College does research there every summer.  He studies animal behavior, in this case whale behavior.  Since both our daughters and our son in law attended Ripon, they knew him.  My youngest daughter has been there twice, once on a school trip and once on her own.  Each time she saw whales everyday, but the last two years it has been a different story.  As I mentioned before, the food is gone and so are the whales.  This summer, since May 20th, they have spotted whales on only 6 days.

They spotted the same transients we saw out on the boat.

The lighthouse was small and looked out over beautiful scenery.  You could actually see Canada from this point, it was only 10 miles away.  During our whale watching tour we also entered Canadian waters.

Mike, Sarah and kids climbed over some difficult terrain to get to this cove.  I started out but turned back when I saw this sign.  I could picture me falling and the stress that would be involved in getting my body out.

My husband was smart.  He didn't even attempt that part of the hike.  He took the time to rest up.

We waited for the trolley to return and enjoyed the sights back to Friday Harbor.  After a few hours, we got back on the boat and returned to Seattle.  On this return trip we saw eagles, harbor seals and a humpback whale.  The trip took a little longer because word was out that this whale was in the area and the boat took a little detour to find it.  Thank goodness we saw it.  It's really hard to take pictures of whales because you never know where they will pop up.

Mount Rainier could be seen on the way into Seattle as well as the harbor views.

It was late when we arrived back to Seattle and needed to get to the ferry and back to the car. By this time my husband and I were dragging, but we had to keep going to get to the ferry on time.   I was amazed at all the people milling around at night.  My grandson told me that it was busy because it was a city that never sleeps.  I think he heard of the movie Sleepless in Seattle and made that assumption.  There were also a lot of homeless people and panhandlers.  The sunset was pretty and after a long two days, it felt good to get back to the calmness of the house.

The next day was a bit of a down day.  We visited local things.  We found a beautiful trail and waterfalls.  We got some groceries.  I don't know about the entire state of Washington, but the small towns in this port area were big into organics and natural grown foods.  It was easy to find healthy food even though food signs were mixed in with large signs selling marijuana.

The next morning we headed back to Seattle for our final day.  We went to the sights like Pikes Place, the space needle, the pop culture museum, the first Starbucks, and the garden and glass museum.  The space needle was so busy we didn't actually go to the top.  We didn't want to waste time standing in line for hours.  My daughter and family went into the Pop Culture museum instead which they really liked.  We sat outside.  There are all kinds of people in this world, and we saw a big cross section.  We saw two men sharing a joint and then give what was left to a homeless man.  We saw a woman panhandling with a tupperware container.  It was the only time I was hot during the whole week.  Most of the time the weather was perfect.

After another long walk to the ferry, we headed back for the final time.  We stopped at a small Scandinavian town called Poulsbo, WA for dinner.  Scandinavians settled in Poulsbo because the area was so similar to the fjords of Norway.  It's another town with the nickname "Little Norway".  This town had a great view of the Olympic Mountains.

That night we packed our bags and got ready to leave in the morning.  Everything went smoothly.  The tail winds got us to Milwaukee in 3 hours and 10 minutes as opposed to 4 hours and 25 minutes going to Seattle.

Waving goodbye to Seattle Washington

It was a good trip, and we kept up as best we could.  I have to thank our son in law for taking care of everything.  He drove in horrible traffic, he took care of getting all the tickets and keeping us fed and watered.  It was not easy to have us along, and we really appreciated it.  I am very happy to have seen this area in person for the first and last time. I took so many photos that I can't possibly include every one in this blog, but they will be a good reminder of the trip.