Saturday, February 9, 2008

Photo Archive Memories #4

In 1990, Karen and I took a trip to Washington state, visiting Snoqualmie, Mt. Ranier and the San Juan Islands, with a brief side-trip into Canada to Victoria. It was still early in our marriage and we were childless and adventurous. As usual, I took a healthy number of photos, a few of which I have lately scanned to my flickr pages.

We had booked ourselves into a guided bicycle tour of the San Juan Islands. Before joining that group, we planned a quiet few days in the nearby mountains.

We started at Snoqualmie, where we acclimated and took a hike in mountain woods. We visited Snoqualmie Falls, where we watched a man fight for what seemed hours with a Salmon that he eventually hiked away with. We visited Mt. Ranier and hiked on the upper trails for a few hours. It was foggy and overcast, but we caught a few glacier glimpses when the wind cleared things out.

We then joined a small group of tourists on bikes, starting from the port of Anacortes and traveling by Ferry from Island to Island in Puget Sound. On each we toured by bicycle and stayed in various inns and hotels.

Neither Karen nor I were (or are) accomplished cyclists. We had some time to train, but riding around coastal Sussex County, Delaware, where highway overpasses are the highest hills, is not truly sufficient training for even the moderate rolling hills of the San Juan Islands. So, it was a challenge. We faced it bravely though, and while we weren't the fastest or strongest riders, we had a great time and saw mountains and water and boats and countryside. And that was why we had come.

On one island, we visited a hippie-run resort that offered sea-kayak tours. We paddled out into the Sound and saw eagles' nests and more cliffs and natural beauty. On the way back, we were paced by seals, that liked to pop up behind us and watch our backs. A guide showed us a way to fool them by paddling backwards. I wish I had had my camera, but it seemed wiser to leave it on shore.

I remember changing from my bathing suit back into biking clothes in a nathroom near the kitchen of this resort's main building. There was some truly tasting-sounding live Dead being played by the kitchen staff. This was in the days before the internet archive Dead collection and even before the Dead's "From the Vault" series, so it was a rare and enticing treat.

To end the trip, we crossed into Canada at Sidney, on Vancouver Island, and rode to Victoria by way of Butchard Gardens, a played-out quarry converted to a very floral garden. It is a lovely spot near Tod Inlet and Brentwood Bay.

Victoria was very nice as well. It was the first place I've ever been where drivers stopped for pedestrians trying to cross the street. That was a level of politeness that surprised and pleased me.

Victoria was our final stop. From there we took a high-speed ferry back to Seattle, flew from Seattle to Chicago where we spent most of an uncomfortable night in O'Hare Airport before a final flight home.

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