Thursday, November 20, 2014

Portland (Part I) and Whidbey Island

Wednesday, November 12 – Saturday, November 15 (Days 23-26)

MB’s daughter, Stephanie, joined us in Napa Valley.  The drive from Northern California across Oregon was beautiful, but long and exhausting.  By the time we arrived in Portland on Wednesday night, winds were howling at nearly 40 mph through the Columbia Gorge and forecasters predicted ice and snow for the next morning.  We were not looking forward to our drive to Seattle in those conditions the following day!

When we rose on Thursday morning, the temperatures were hovering at freezing, but not quite cold enough for the expected ice to form.  We watched early morning television as all the school closings were announced and I thought back to those tough decisions when I was superintendent.  Do we open?  Do we close for the day?  You have to make those calls very early in the morning on bad weather days in order to set all the operational changes in motion.  You rely on the best guesses of the weather forecasters who are doing as well as they can with the information they have.  And about half the time, you make the right call.

Unfortunately, those poor guys in the Portland area ended up in the wrong half.  The really bad weather never came, and all those kids (and their parents) got the day off (“Mall Day!”).  We did, however, run into some snow (no ice) on I-5 just across the Columbia River in Washington.  Then, just as we arrived near Olympia, the skies cleared and beautiful Mount Rainier showed itself to our east!  For the rest of our time in the Seattle area, the weather was clear, sunny, and beautiful—but chilly!

We arrived at the Mukilteo-Clinton ferry for our trip to Whidbey Island at around 4 p.m.  The ride over was beautiful, with the setting sun casting the snowy peak of Mount Baker in an orange hue behind us.  We took advantage of the comfortable, warm ride in the upstairs deck and enjoyed the striking scenery.

Whidbey Island is over 60 miles long, with Clinton at the southern point and Deception Pass on the north.  We stayed with friends, David and Ervin, who live in Coupeville near the center of the island.  The views from their home were breathtaking, looking east to Mount Baker and the mainland.

They were gracious and hospitable hosts for our three nights there--such terrific friends!  We enjoyed much relaxing conversation and great food at Front Street Grill

Christopher’s on Whidbey, and a delightful restaurant called Ciao, where I enjoyed what may have been the best pizza I have ever eaten:  a delicious vegetarian pie, sans cheese.  The sauce was fresh and delicious, and we enjoyed visiting with the chef as we relaxed with wine and tunes from a jazz trio.

Stephanie stayed at a quaint bed and breakfast, the Blue Goose Inn.  She enjoyed the antique furnishings and hospitality of her hosts.

David took us on a tour of the island on Friday, made all the more enjoyable by the clear, sunny skies (although temperatures topped out in the low 40s). The views across the Strait of Juan de Fuca and along the shore were magnificent…

…as were the grounds of the Fort Ebey State Park…

…and the historic Captain Whidbey Inn.

Wildlife is abundant on Whidbey, and we saw many deer and even eagles soaring overhead on Friday afternoon!  Late Saturday night as David drove us home, we saw a snowy owl perched on the powerline, and we engaged him in a staring contest.

Early Sunday morning after breakfast back at Front Street Grill, we said our goodbyes to a very peaceful Whidbey Island...

We loved visiting this very special island, and made some very special memories here.  We look forward to our next trip, David and Ervin!

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