Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spring Break 2014

These pictures are not a month late, not quite. For Spring Break we went to the Puget Sound. Plantboy and I honeymooned near Port Townsend almost fifteen years ago. There was no way to swing a visit up on our own over our actual anniversary (once upon a time that was the plan), but this was a pretty good alternative. We found a house on Marrowstone Island to rent for the week and had a really good time. Not a lot of sun . . . but a good time nevertheless! 

The map is for those like me who have no idea where Marrowstone Island is!




Here is the porch of our house. This is actually the day we left. 


 This was the sign hanging on the little store where we went about four times a day. For a little store in the middle of no where it wasn't bad; I think they shopped at Costco. And yes, I'm unzipping my coat in response to that sign. The funny part about that sign? It was never warmer than about 55 degrees. I cannot imagine a worse place for a nude beach.



My mom joined us also. Here we are on our whale watching tour. Plantboy and I did this on our honeymoon, but it was orca season then. We got the (much) less dynamic blue whales on this trip. It was definitely more watching than whales, but we still had fun. The sun came out near the end of the tour and it was nice to stand on the deck. Thankfully we brought the Uno and Skip-Bo cards to pass the time!




 Getting our sea legs back in Port Townsend. The sun finally came out in time for us to get off the boat. And then it went away. And then it was windy. Then it rained. Then it was sunny again. It must be spring time in the Puget Sound!






On the third morning we took a walk along the beach. We wanted to find the sea lions we had seen from the Glacier Spirit that we could tell were just down the beach from the house we were staying at  on Marrowstone.  Sure enough, we found them, lazy and perched on the same rock. Unfortunately, it was a rather further walk down the beach than expected, as well as colder and wetter. It was quite an exhausting adventure.



What is that phrase?May the wind be always at your back? It wasn't.



Out the back window of our house we could see huge container ships from all over the world spend their days coming in and out of the Puget Sound headed toward Seattle. To say the Jedi enjoyed this is a huge understatement.


 At the north end of Marrowstone is the remnant of an old fort that was considered necessary to defend the United States against the Russians prior to the first world war. There are three such forts around the entrance to the Puget Sound. This one has been preserved as a state park with two replicas of cannons still in place. One of the bunkers was named after a Bankhead from back east. I took pictures of his history because my grandmother is a Bankhead whose family originated in the southern United States. I wondered if there might be a connection.



This bunker was still open all the way around the back, in the creepy darkness. It was kind of U-shaped built into a huge hill. You could stand on one open end and yell and your voice would go all the way around the U. 





Mom watched the kids one evening while Jeff and I went into Port Townsend for dinner. Dinner was marginal--it was still a few days shy of the beginning of "the season" and most places weren't open. After dinner we decided to go hunting for our honeymoon cottage. Here it is. It seemed bigger when it was just the two of us. We would never have fit this week! That is what fifteen years will do. 




View from the honeymoon cottage where I first fell in love with the Northwest. 



The ocean was just a five minute walk from our house. The house sat up on kind of a cliff. I say "kind of" because all of Marrowstone and the Puget Sound islands are made of glacial till rather than bedroom. As a result they are kind of loose and unstable. I would not be surprised if half the backyard we so enjoyed ends up on the ocean within the next few years.

 Every time we went to the beach we found something to enjoy. This is a picture of the bald eagle that spent the week more or less perched in the tree in our backyard. Jedi Knight called it his "sniper post" and we did see him swoop down into the water several times in pursuit of a meal.





This driftwood marker helped us discern where the tide was. The first night it was out of the water by 20 or 30 feet. On one particularly cloudy and blustery day it never got out of the water. Our first day was especially lovely and we got a shot of our marker with a seabird perched on it in the sun. 





Where's Waldo? See if you can spot the eagle in the tree. 


After hunting all over the Internet for Puget Sound kayak trips and realizing they were all a)very expensive, b) not kid friendly or c) not even running yet, we nearly had despaired of getting to kayak until our very helpful landlady mentioned that they did kayaks down at the little store with very cheap rentals. Indeed. The store owner had to scratch his head and look at prices posted from 20 years ago to remember what they were charging. We paddled about the fishing boats in our little corner of the Puget Sound for nearly three hours. 













Admittedly, it was like bumper boats out there sometimes. It was also really fun to race around the bouys. 





The bay in Marrowstone had a lot of crabs in the shallows. We also saw one guy make about about ten runs about with his little speed boat to pick up pounds and pounds of clams or mussels.


Even Grandma agreed to a ride.


Here is one of our whales. We did get a little bit closer than this, but not a whole lot. They can hold their breath a long time and swim a long way and it was hard to gauge where he would be. It actually ended up quite close to that shore there and then exhibited what our driver called "feeding behavior" where it was kind of frenzied and splashing. It was speculated that he had maybe driven a school of shrimp toward the shore and then had lunch. We never got to seen one breach, but we were close enough to see the barnacles they were covered with.





 This is the stellar sea lion rock that was a mile or two down the beach from where we stayed. We boated to it from this side and then later walked to it also. Our captain said these were juvenile males and this rock was like the "frat house." He said that most days they could be found there. It is too bad the tied wasn't lower when we walked on the beach toward them. We could have gotten much closer.


This is about the most activity we saw. Laziest creatures ever.







The morning of our long beach walk actually started pretty nice. That was why we went so far. The return trip wasn't quite so smooth. If you look above our heads to that green roof up on the cliff then you are looking at Stephenie Meyer's house. It was only about a mile down the road from where we stayed. We tried to drive up past it, but she owns a huge property that is all gated. You can't see the house from the road, only from the water side. Even then you can only see the roof. 

My cousin is in Port Angeles and she came down to eat with us one night. She said that when she is actually in town, Stephenie Meyer is in her stake. I don't know why that seems noteworthy to me. I think it is funny that she bought an enormous house in the Northwest, but fitting to. We did not go to Forks. Or see a vampire. Mom did mention she wouldn't mind seeing a werewolf.



A huge stump is always a good photo op.







 The sea lion rock as viewed from the shore.




At Fort Flagler. 




No, Plantboy, as a matter of fact, I will NOT "straddle the cannon." Also, I hope you have noted my fabulous orange coat. It isn't very often that I really feel vain about a clothing purchase, but I have to admit that this coat is a bit of an exception. Plantboy bought this for me with his REI dividend money so I would have a good raincoat for the trip. It was perfect.




And, admittedly, HE is quite perfect. At least for me.




As for what we've created together? Well, they have their moments of perfection too!








This beach was at the north end of Marrowstone, demonstrating that "as the crow flies" or the "seal swims" we were quite close to Port Townsend. Though it took nearly 30 minutes to drive there, it really was just across the Sound. The Youngling picked up this random piece of really gross seaweed and starting swinging it around asking, "What is this??"






 Harbor seal in the sound with Port Townsend in the background, just off the north point of Marrowstone Island.







All in all, a lovely vacation. Originally we were supposed to go to San Diego, but our spring break was cut from two weeks to one and our reservations down there were for the wrong week. In some ways I hope for something warmer next year, but it was remarkable to be a place so pristine with so few other people. I'm so grateful to live in such a remarkable part of the world!