I promised a long post about vacation so here it is, with a few photos. Despite the way the trip began it turned out to be a nice vacation. So, without further ado, I’ll start at the beginning…
Day 1: LAX to Seattle
We drove up to Camarillo the night before and stayed at my mom’s. Luke spent the week at my mom’s (and a couple nights at my brother, Matt’s, place). We got up early to drive down to LAX. Traffic wasn’t bad at all so we got there over two hours before our intended flight. So much for best laid plans…We went to check in at a kiosk with our e-tickets and discovered that our 11am non-stop flight had been canceled. United kindly decided to reschedule us on an 8:30pm flight with a connection in San Francisco, arriving after midnight. Since this was clearly an unacceptable alternative we got in the line to talk to an actual person. Thankfully the lady at the counter was nice and helpful and she got us on an Alaskan Airlines flight at 1:55pm. We went to the Alaskan counter and got checked in and by 10am we had checked our bags and headed to the gate. After some very overpriced Burger King (yuck) for breakfast we settled in for a long wait. It wasn’t so bad for me as I brought Alpine Seasons to work on. Tom resorted to buying a newspaper but that only occupies so many hours. We had lunch at the airport and finally our flight took off around 2:30pm.
We landed in Seattle and went to baggage claim and three of our bags promptly arrived at the carousel. The fourth bag, the bag with my clothes, didn’t. It turned out that four hours is too long for LAX to put your bags on the correct plane so my bag went to Vancouver instead. The airline said I’d either have it by 11pm or first thing in the morning. I wasn’t amused but what can you do? At least the woman at the counter was nice and did the best should could to amend the situation. She even had the decency to warn me that the toothpaste and shaving cream tubes in their emergency toiletries pack were very similar (bet that was an unpleasant mix up to someone in the past).
We went to REI in Tacoma where I bought a change of clothes to sleep in and then headed up to Port Hadlock where my Uncle Mike lives. At least by this time it was so late that we’d missed most of the rush hour traffic and miraculously there was no problem with our rental car. We stopped in Gig Harbor to eat dinner and at least it was a pretty spot:
Day 2: Long drive back to airport and first day on the trail
We woke up the next morning and I called the baggage counter at 6:47 to check on the status of my bag. It’s always pleasant to get an automated recording saying to call back “during our business hours of 6am to 10pm”. I’m afraid I lost it a little bit at this point as it was REALLY not funny anymore. I finally got an actual person on the phone around 7:25am and she said they had my bag and it would be delivered but not for at least 8 hours. That would have meant we wouldn’t be able to get on the trail until the following day so we drove to the airport (4 hours roundtrip) and got the bag. The airline gave us a couple discount vouchers but oh what a pain in the ass. We got all of our gear ready and were finally at the trail head ready to hike at 4:45pm. At least it stays dark until 10pm…After about a half mile on the trail my spirits were greatly improved. We hiked about 3 miles or so and then set up camp. The campsite was perfect; big and flat and right next to Royal Creek. I had been dreading this day for awhile because it was my dad’s first birthday after his death. I can’t think of a better way to have spent it than with his older brother out on the trail.
Day 3: Hike to Royal Lake, second night on the trail
It’s never a bad thing to wake up with this view:
This is a picture of our campsite; I’m drinking hot chocolate and that’s my uncle poking his head out of the tent in the background.
Despite the fact that I really hit a wall on the hike to the lake it was still a good day. Really the worst part was the mosquitoes when we got about a mile away from our destination. They were just horrendous and drove Tom into the tent well before sunset. Here’s my uncle with his backpacking guitar (and he wonders why his pack is over 40 pounds!):
Cooking dinner with one of the many resident deer in the background:
And the sunset:
Day 4: Last day on the trail
We didn’t spend very much time at Royal Lake but this is what it looked like:
Our campsite was around a bend not in view of the lake. We got kind of a late start considering we had almost 8 miles to cover but it was largely downhill at least and a lot of it looked like this:
We finally reached the trail head around 4:30 I think:
My uncle’s car had a flat tire but fortunately he had a pump with him. The road to the trail head was very rough and bumpy, and we took a wrong turn on the way back, but we did eventually make it back to my uncle’s. After showers we went out to dinner and had the best meal of the trip at Cafe Ajax.
It was 8pm and I was totally exhausted but there’s nothing quite like a good steak dinner after three days of backpacking. There was good like music and it was a really fitting way to end the first part of our trip. We drove down to Bremerton and checked into our hotel pretty late at night and slept very well!
Day 5: Seattle to Whidbey Island
After breakfast we took the ferry from Bremerton to Seattle. It was an interesting trip with a fabulous view:
We walked around downtown and went to the Pike Place Market where they throw fish. It was cool. We had lunch at an Irish pub with some, er, interesting clientele. The one who most stands out would be the nose ring guy with the denim Utilikilt. This was actually NOT the first Utilikilt we’d seen that day as there was a guy on the ferry with one. The only thing I regret about the day in Seattle is that we didn’t look into the underground tour sooner. Guess we’ll save it for next time. We drove up to Anacortes to see where we’d be whale watching the next day and the spent the night in Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island.
Day 6: Whales!
Island Adventures knows what they’re doing with their “guaranteed” whale tours. We spent five hours on the water and they nearly made a beeline to the J-pod. I took a ton of pictures but here’s one of the better ones:
It was a fabulous experience and I highly recommend it. This was definitely a highlight of the trip. The naturalist on the boat was intelligent and enthusiastic and we had a great time. After the tour we drove down to Langley where we stayed at this bed and breakfast for two nights: Island Tyme . It was fabulous; the food was great and the room was comfortable. We went in to Langley for dinner and had the most fabulous Dungeness crab cakes at Café Langley.
Day 7: Whidbey Island
We intentionally planned nothing for this day. My only objective was to have a piece of pie at some point. We went up to Greenland Farms and, to my dismay, the café that was famous for their pies was closed for the day. We checked out a few towns on south Whidbey and then went back to the B&B and relaxed. We had dinner in Langley again but I was disappointed. At least I had a decent piece of pie for dessert, though! It was really good that we took a day to relax at the end of the trip; I think I’m going to try and plan in a day like that every trip from now on.
Day 8: Boeing, lots of travel, home!
This was the last day of the trip and one of the most interesting. Over breakfast at the B&B we learned that the other guest who was staying there, Ann, had been a nun in England for 18 years. It was a fascinating conversation and one of the most memorable things about the trip. It was definitely a big plus about staying there instead of at a big hotel where you don’t really talk to other people.
We took the ferry from Clinton to Mukilteo and did the Boeing tour in Everett. It was fascinating to see 747’s being made. There were a lot of interesting facts that we learned on the tour. Two of my favorites are that the paint on a plane can add 400 pounds of weight and that the building is so large that it once created its own weather system. As an engineer it was really something to see engineering on such a different scale.
Our flight back to LAX was uneventful and all four bags made it there safely this time, although it took an excruciatingly long time for them to make it to the baggage claim. We drove up to Camarillo to pick up Luke and then made the journey home. I think it was about 12:30 when Tom dropped us off at home; I tried to stay awake in the car but was unsuccessful.
So, that was my vacation. Overall it was an excellent trip and over too quickly! I have definitely learned to keep a small bag of toiletries and a change of clothes in my carry-on.