Whidbey, An American Dream

Sitting with a cup of coffee with half and half looking out over the Saratoga passage, there’s no better place to be.

Whidbey Island is located a few hours up from Seattle in Washington state. It’s an idyllic forest haven mostly populated with retirees and holiday homes, with a few towns scattered along it’s length. Spot hummingbirds flitting around the garden and bald eagles hovering around the lagoon. This place is bursting with nature and is the definition of serenity. It’s easy to see why waterfront homes command upwards of a million dollars. Due to some grandfathered laws, these properties own the access down to the water making them even more desirable. Access to the shore allows for oyster and mussel farming, and is the perfect spot to pick up some Pacific razor clams.

Good Old Fashioned Cook-out

We spent one evening being treated to a cook-out. More specifically, a fish fry up with razor clams, Alaskan cod, oysters and shrimp. One of our Whidbey neighbours kindly invited us to sample the fried delicacies and my mum brought the sides. Cooking and eating in the (tamed) wilderness overlooking the water is my idea of paradise, and the food lived up to expectations as we sat by the firepit watching the logs crackle. A ukelele was produced and handed to me (I had been learning a few chords on mum’s basic one), so it was time to play “Over the Rainbow”, or more specifically Israel Kamakawiwo’ole’s cover. After a while spent butchering the classic I was casually informed that the uke I was holding was worth about $2000. Somehow I had gone from a $70 basic model to that one. I treated it a little more gingerly after that.

Fort Casey and the Little Lighthouse

One of our trips out to explore the island involved a trip to Fort Casey and the Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Fort Casey was constructed in the late 19th century as a defensive position protecting the entrance to the Puget Sound, and operated until the 1940s. It was quite novel being able to climb up to the 10 inch guns (referring to the shell size) and we also climbed up a ladder to the top level of the fort. It felt a little treacherous, as though it would be something scarcely permitted with UK levels of health and safety, with no supervision whatsoever. I wasn’t complaining.

After wandering down the beach and admiring the vast quantities of driftwood that seem to be on every beach in the area, we walked back up to Admiralty Head Lighthouse. Now this admiral must have been fairly short, as his head was only about three storeys tall. It’s by far the tiniest lighthouse I’ve seen, and set so far inland that it felt of dubious utility (given that I have no expertise in the field, what do I know). There’s a little museum detailing the history of the lighthouse and containing a few interesting Fresnel lenses, and up a spiral staircase and ladder is the lighthouse itself. There’s no operational light (or light of any kind) but you do get to admire the view from the heady three storey heights. Not for the feint of heart or sufferers of vertigo.

Deception Pass

It’s a tricksy place. Deception Pass was aptly named by George Vancouver (one of the illustrious “George place-name” brigade) as he was fooled into thinking Whidbey Island was a peninsula. Now it’s traversed by an impressive set of bridges and provides access to the North of the island. We had a walk around the surrounding park land and after admiring the vista, we stopped by an 850 year old tree for a hug.

850 years young

Quaint Coastal Towns

Our travels took us to a few quaint spots including Coupeville and Langley. The architectural style of the buildings feels rather old West, but often quirky with brightly coloured wooden facades. Coupeville has an excellent independent bookstore where I picked up a book on dinosaurs for Evie and “The Toaster Project” for myself. We also came very close to buying a huge raccoon puppet, although we (perhaps wisely) decided against it.

Coupeville by the water

The Toaster Project is centred on a design student and his Masters project. Thomas Thwaites decided to try to build a toaster from scratch. That is, he wanted to recreate a modern kitchen appliance by using raw materials available in the United Kingdom, with little of the requiste knowledge or skills. It’s an entertaining (if brief) basic toaster engineering lesson. It could have benefitted from a bit more detail but it was still a really cool idea and he ended up with something that was not entirely unlike a toaster. He did spend over a thousand pounds to get to that point, but I love the can-do attitude. And the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy style notes. If I had the time and inclination, I’d love to build a computer from components. Not just off the shelf, but rather try to build a basic computer using transitors and diodes and other mysterious things I scarcely understand. It might be one of my retirement projects, depending on how bored I am.

Breath of the Wild

Since I’ve had a bit more free time than usual, I started my own game in Zelda: Breath of the Wild. It is an excellent open world game, although it can be difficult at times (not Elden Ring level). It’s easy to wander into an area with enemies who can kill you in one shot, but it’s also easy to avoid those areas entirely and instead follow the safe path of least resistance. It’s a game with a lot to offer and I intend to write about it soon. For now I’ll focus on playing it. Speaking of which…

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