Discovering Unexpected Treasures on Whidbey Island, WA

Crossing the Admiralty Inlet from Port Townsend, we ferried over to our next Washington adventure, Whidbey Island, the longest island in the lower 48 states.  For the next three days we would have our own personal tour guides, Frank and Mary, eager to impart their knowledge of the rich history of the island.  This lovely couple is our winter next-door neighbor and had extended this generous offer before we left So Cal in May, which also included a private “mooch-docking” site in their driveway…sweet!

A beautiful Whidbey Island sunset looking out over the lagoon at Frank and Mary's
A beautiful Whidbey Island sunset looking out over the lagoon at Frank and Mary’s

Whidbey Island boasts five state parks and America’s first national historic reserve, Ebey’s Landing.  And the views of the Olympic Mountains and pristine seas are breathtaking.  Let’s go exploring!

Beginning in the town of Coupeville, where Frank and Mary live, we stepped back into the 19th century as we strolled the finely preserved Victorian downtown and wharf overlooking Penn Cove, one of the only remaining original wharfs and wharf building in the Pacific Northwest.  Getting into the local groove, we dined on world-famous Penn Cove mussels at Toby’s and gourmet ice cream bars at Lavender Wind.   This quaint town, the second oldest in Washington, sits within Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve.

Stunning wharf and wharf building
Stunning wharf and wharf building

Here is a glimpse of what our lovely tour guides had on the agenda for our stay:

1/  Fort Ebey State Park

Once a coastal defense fort during World War II, it is now a state park with a cozy campground tucked in the woods.   We took a hike along the bluff with views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, then down into the kettles, with Frank offering a brief history lesson on these Ice Age geologic formations.

2/  Ebey’s Landing National Historical Reserve

This, the first national historic reserve in our nation, preserves the 1850’s character of its 25 square miles, including farmland, beaches, parks, trails, and nationally registered historic buildings.  A feeling of serenity flowed as we walked the paths and looked out over farmland and shimmering seas.

3/  Fort Casey State Park

World War I gun batteries and bunkers can still be seen in this state park, along with miles of hiking trails, camping and fully restored Admiralty Head Lighthouse.  Fort Casey Underwater Park is nearby for you scuba lovers.

4/  Admiralty Head Lighthouse

Admiralty Head Lighthouse
Admiralty Head Lighthouse

This stately lighthouse, companion to Point Wilson Lighthouse sitting four miles away in Port Townsend, on Admiralty Inlet’s western shore, was deactivated in the early 1920’s. In 2012 a historic reconstruction of the lantern house was installed atop the tower. Student volunteers from three Whidbey Island high schools completed all the work…very impressive.

4/  Lavender Wind Farm

Clouds billowing over a lavender labyrinth
Clouds billowing over a lavender labyrinth

On a much smaller scale than Sequim, Coupeville’s Lavender Festival was still very sweet.  Educational talks, strolls through gently swaying aromatic fields, and walking a lavender labyrinth added to the joy of the day.

5/  Greenbank Farm

Gorgeous Greenbank Farm
Gorgeous Greenbank Farm

Living history Greenbank Farm, a gathering place since its start in 1904, is home to beautiful gardens, café, farm and gift shop, and art galleries. But it is perhaps most known for its Organic Farm School, organic seed project, community gardens, and Naturalist Training Program. This is a place I would love to explore in more depth.

6/  Captain Whidbey Inn

This lovingly restored 1907 historic inn overlooks Penn Cove and the world-famous Penn Cove mussel rafts.  This inn’s rooms are reminiscent of Old Faithful Inn in Yellowstone NP.

Our short stay with Frank and Mary was a whirlwind of activity but what will linger most is the deepening friendship forged.  Early evenings spent on their deck over a glass of wine, dinners revisiting the day’s adventures, Mary’s morning T’ai Chi Chih classes on the deck, surrounded by gentle breezes and soothing music, while eagles soared and kingfisher chattered, these are the memories that fed our spirits. Pure gratitude is what I feel when I think of these two generous souls.

We left after three days, content with the knowledge that there would be many more memories made when we see them again this winter.  A brief stop at Deception Pass State Park, with a hike down to the beach and a walk out over the iconic bridge to peer into the turbulent waters, rounded out our sightseeing on this wonderful island.

We spent a couple of nights at Washington Park in Anacortes to round out our time on Whidbey Island and prepare ourselves to catch a ferry to the San Juan Islands.  As luck would have it, our good friends from Colorado, Kevin and Erin, were in town visiting Erin’s mother Sally.  We spent a leisurely evening at Sally’s home enjoying a dinner prepared by Kevin, our wine, coffee, tea, and foodie connoisseur.  We have spent countless engaging hours of conversation over many of Kevin’s culinary treasures and we walked away once again in awe of his talent.   Although I didn’t capture this time with photos, we will never forget the lovely conversation and generous nature of these two.  So glad we were able to meet Erin’s mother as well, a delightful woman.  Thank you for a wonderful ending to our time on Whidbey Island.

Next Up:  San Juan Island

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