Thursday, June 11, 2009

Touring around Whidbey Island

Did you know Whidbey Island is the largest island on the continental United States? No, I didn't know that either. Because it's not true. It's the fifth largest. But people on Whidbey will tell you it's the largest, so that's good enough for me.

Today, we didn't have meetings until after lunch, so we set off after breakfast to do a little sight-seeing on the island. On the north end of the island lies Deception Pass, which is a stunningly high steel span bridge crossing a treacherously deep and rapid current of water. Apparently, people die all the time jumping off this bridge. If the 185 foot fall doesn't kill you, the undercurrents and eddies will suck you under long enough for the 50 degree water to stop your heart and brain function. These were precisely the thoughts running through my head as I walked out and across the bridge on the narrow sidewalk, separated from the highway by a thin steel rope, while "oversized load" dump trucks whizzed past at 60 miles per hour.

Deception Pass is quite pretty, though, filled with wild roses in bloom, some kind of yellow-flowering legume shrub that grows all over the island, and wild rhododendrons and pine trees. There are scrabbley paths that lead down to the water, though I didn't much feel like making the trip back up the hill back to the car, so we never went down.

After Deception Pass, we headed over to Fort Casey State Park, which is an old gunnery fort that protected the inlet from marauders. The fort sports several very large cannons that would blast the crap out of passing ships--that is until World War I, when the invention of the airplane bomber rendered the fort obsolete. Now it is a bird and wildlife sanctuary, which suits me just fine.

For lunch, we met up with some of the navy chiefs and petty officers at the Chief's Club on Whidbey Island. This club has a spectacular view of the bay and the runways of the Naval Air Station. I don't know which I enjoyed watching more--the scenery, or the EA-6 Prowlers doing touch-and-gos.

Finally, after our meetings, we traveled south on the island, this time taking the Mukilteo Ferry back to Seattle. The ferry ride was a quick fifteen minute jaunt across the water, but very enjoyable.

Tonight, it's a quick sleepover in Seattle before heading back home tomorrow, first thing in the morning. I can't wait to get home!

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