After spending June in eastern Washington State, we drove through North Cascades National Park to the “west side” and the quaint, seaside town of Anacortes just in time for the Fourth of July. It felt strange to be in the deep, green, fern-covered forests of western Washington after so many months in the open sage lands and pine forests on the eastern side of the state.
We set up in Washington Park, a shady park with a boat launch operated by the City of Anacortes on the western tip of Fidalgo Island. The park is set in a mature douglas fir forest along the shoreline of Rosario Strait, the salt water channel between Anacortes and Washington’s San Juan Islands. To the west Washington’s Olympic Mountains rise to glacier-covered heights over the Straits of Juan de Fuca, an arm of the Pacific Ocean that separates Washington State from British Columbia Canada. It’s a beautiful spot but seemed crowded after our long stays in remote areas on the eastern side of the state. This would be our home for the next two weeks.
At $26/night Washington Park is a good deal for western Washington State where everything is expensive. We picked one of the few private sites, #26, with 30a power and water hookups (no sewer hookups, but a dump site in the park). The roads through the park are narrow, our site was steep, and we had to add a ten-foot extension to our 30-foot long power cord to reach the power outlet. But, there is a central bathroom with flush toilets and showers, a strong 4G Verizon cellular signal, and our site was very private (although most others aren’t). We set up and went to town for fish and chips and a micro-brew.
We immediately took our inflatable kayak to Bowman Bay just south of Anacortes and paddled over underwater forests of giant sea kelp while harbor seals kept a wary eye on us from a distance. We soon found the trail system through the forest surrounding the campground and hiked them, watching ospreys and great blue herons nesting in the trees along the shoreline. I rode my mountain bike through the forest along the trails and backroads.
When the weekend arrived, so did our old friend Matt who lives in Everett, just an hour south of Anacortes. With Matt we hiked and biked around Washington Park even more. On Saturday night we went to a local park in Anacortes for a free concert by a local folk-rock band, and they were excellent. We had been in Anacortes less than a week and already felt like locals.
The next two weeks flew by. We started a routine of walking the two-mile Loop Road around Washington Park every morning while afternoons were spent mountain biking the local trails or paddling our kayak around Rosario Strait. Each Saturday night we went to the free concerts in Anacortes hearing excellent local groups play. The Brown Lantern Pub in downtown Anacortes became our regular hangout with its excellent food and micro-brews. And the sun shone every day, all day.
We drove down neighboring Whidbey Island to the historic seaside town of Coupeville and our favorite seafood bar, Toby’s Tavern, for steaming bowls of fresh Penn Cove mussels. We discovered the hip small town of Mount Vernon just 18-miles inland from Anacortes and admired the street-art murals and went to free riverside concerts there. Anacortes and the north Puget Sound was even better than I remembered it, but also more crowded and industrial. Still, we were already planning to spend future summers here.
We had come to love our quiet camp in Washington Park, but our 14-day stay limit was up. So, we reluctantly moved to Pioneer Trails RV Park just west of Anacortes on highway 20. We had made reservations to stay there for the next month. From Pioneer Trails we planned a number of overnight side trips and wanted a secure place to leave our trailer while we took our tent and camping gear to camp along the Olympic Coast, around Mount Rainier, and go to Seattle. Plus, there are many good launch points nearby to put in our sea kayak and paddle around the bays and islands of northern Puget Sound. Pioneer Trails made a good base for all of that.
We’ll report on that in our next post. Until then, it’s time to put the kayak in at Admiralty Inlet and paddle out to the big water channel there.