Travel has allowed us to experience things not possible in an armchair. We were excited to see two bald eagles one day, to spend time with a favorite cousin we hadn’t seen in 30 years, to take in the reflection of light on water and leaf. Travel is a pleasant balance of moving about and staying put, of taking care of necessary chores and relaxing with a book or a walk or a nap or a conversation.
It was in Sandpoint, Idaho that we saw the first eagle. It was sitting on the branch of a dead tree beside the road, watching for prey I suppose. With no way to get a picture, I tucked the image away in my mind. Later, driving along Priest River in the panhandle of Idaho, another took flight beside us and continued in parallel for a distance.
Gifts like that can’t be planned. They just happen.
When we exchanged Idaho roads for Washington roads, we first explored Coulee Dam and spent the night at Spring Canyon campground beside Roosevelt Lake, meeting a couple from western Washington camping next to us who invited us to park in their driveway in Western Washington for a couple of days. I marvel at the friendliness and generosity of people we’ve just met, bound by the common denominator of travel.
While the name “Leavenworth” conjures stark images of barbed wire and prison walls, the Leavenworth in central Washington is anything but stark. A Bavarian village that sprang up in the ‘60s after mining went bust, it has become a weekend attraction for many. Nestled in a valley amid the beautiful Cascade Mountains, Leavenworth boasts Bavarian-themed architecture, lots of cute shops, good eating, beautiful scenery and bountiful flowers along with its seasonal ceremonies, including Oktoberfest and Christmas tree lighting. We spent a pleasant mid-morning there, strolling the streets, stepping into the shops, and eating at Louie’s where a young girl waited on us whose mother, the restaurant owner, was there in the ‘60s when the town made its transformation.
Rain greeted our arrival to the western coast of Washington and, with windshield wipers acting up, we quickly settled for the night, choosing Kayak Point as our campground. It was expensive ($40 per night), but they offered electric and water and it was right next to the beach in a thickly treed area.
In the morning, we drove an hour by Jeep to Anacortes, catching the ferry to Orcas Island, a place I’ve dreamed of visiting for years. The crossing took about 30 minutes with a stop at Lopez Island for some to debark.
One main road on Orcas connects the various hamlets and we drove it in 2-3 hours, including stops. Passing through peaceful farming communities right off the ferry, we noticed the names of side roads with charming appellations like Slanted Apple Lane, Otter’s Lair Lane and Loon Song Lane. Shaped like a saddlebag, the other side of the island was mountain and forest. Driving, to the top of Mount Constitution, we found a medieval tower built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 from which we could see panoramic views of surrounding islands, the Cascade Mountains, and even some Canadian and American cities. If winter wasn’t giving signs of arriving, I would have liked to visit more of the islands – San Juan, Shaw, Lopez; there are more than 400 in San Juan County, 128 of them named.
Should you decide to travel by motor home, trailer, or 5th wheel, knowing a bit about the campground system would be helpful. I’ll talk about that in my next post.