Merge & Al's Excellent Adventures

7 min read

Deception Pass and Fidalgo Island

Day 10 — As we headed north from Oak Harbor this morning, we made a couple of stops. One, to get a photo of the great “Welcome to Oak Harbor” sign on the north edge of the city. Whidbey island is home to a naval air base for the United States Army, and what you see here are two of their mothballed planes. The second was at the K&R Market Farm stand, and Merge was VERY excited because they had Rainier cherries!

Once these very important tasks were done it was on to exploring. We were heading north towards Deception Pass State Park. Deception Pass State Park is actually part of a larger park system of four components, all managed by Washington State. Rosario Beach is on the north end of the larger park system on Fidalgo Island. Deception Pass is on the south side on Whidbey Island. The two islands are connected by a bridge, and the bridge is anchored midway on an island called Pass Island. Since we were coming from the south, our first stop was Deception Pass State Park. Once we parked, we hiked the short distance down to north beach. As the name indicates, this is the beach that looks north towards Rosario Beach, and where we had a fantastic view of the bridge connecting the two. $10 for a Discovery Pass that covers parking in all state parks for one day.

In this map of the Deception Pass area, north is to the left
Looking east from the north beach, that’s the bridge behind Merge that connects Whidbey to Fidalgo
Looking east from the north beach, that’s the bridge behind Al that connects Whidbey to Fidalgo
Looking west from north beach, that’s the Rosario Strait behind Merge

We climbed back up to the parking lot, and drove to the bridge that would take us to Fidalgo Island (the one we saw from the beach). But before we drove across the bridge, we stopped once again (in a very conveniently placed parking lot) and walked across and under the bridge to get some even more spectacular views.

That’s north beach, where we were, now looking down from the top of the bridge
North beach again, but this time looking at it from Fidalgo Island end, underneath the bridge
Another view of North beach from the Fidalgo Island end
Another view of North beach from the Fidalgo Island end

Not surprisingly, our next stop was Rosario Beach on Fidalgo Island. The beach is lovely, quite shallow with lots of tide pools that you can explore. We didn’t spend any time there though because we were ready to hike up to the Rosario Head lookout. We did make a quick stop at the famous statue of the Maiden of Deception Pass. Her Samish Indian name is Ko-Kwal-alwoot, and there is a very interesting legend about her that is documented on interpretive panels around her base.

Rosario Beach behind Merge with the tide pools to the left
Ko-kwal-alwoot — The Maiden of Deception Pass
On the way up to Rosario Head lookout
On the way up to Rosario Head lookout
At the top!

By now, we had worked up an appetite, so we headed up to the town of Anacortes which is on the northern tip of Fidalgo Island. As we drove into town, we saw this whimsical sign on the side of the building that houses the visitor information center. Turns out that in the early 1900s, Anacortes was the salmon canning capital of the world. Unfortunately times change, and the last salmon cannery here closed in 1998. Today, it is known for being the ferry gateway to the San Juan Islands and Sidney (on Vancouver Island). Note that service to Sidney was cancelled during the pandemic, and as of 2022 it has still not resumed. It is anticipated that service will resume in the summer of 2023. For lunch, we made our way to a popular restaurant called the Calico Cupboard Old Town Café. As we had expected, lunch was delicious!

T’was …
The Calico Cupboard Old Town Café
Our delicious lunch was a sampler – a turkey chutney half-sandwich, green salad, and clam chowder – for Merge; and a loaded veggie sandwich with kettle chips for Al

After lunch, we wandered through town and explored some of the shops and the marina. We came across an unexpected find — The Cat ‘s Meow Adoption Centre. Those of you who know us know that we love cats, so this discovery warmed our hearts. As we wandered around towards the side and back of the building, there was an entire Disneyland for cats in the backyard. And about a half dozen of the cats came running up to say hello. 😻

The Cap Sante Marina behind Merge
These life-size figures of famous people from local history were all around the historic downtown, usually in front of Heritage building.
The Meow Cat Adoption center. Note the cat food pantry in the cupboard by the front door. It says ”Take what you need, leave some if you can”.
This is what the back of the cat adoption centre looks like. A veritable Disneyland for cats! The Centre calls it Kitty Harbor

It was time to get going as we had a few more things we wanted to get done before the day was over. Our next stop was Cap Sante Park. This is a forested area high up above old town Anacortes, and reputed to have a great marina views. Merge didn’t think she could do any more hiking that day, so we drove up to the point. And the views were indeed fabulous. Free.

From the top of Cap Sante park, looking down to the Cap Sante Marina
The view in another direction

Before we left Anacortes, we wanted to make another stop at Mount Erie Park. Mount Erie park is in the centre of the Anacortes area, and according to Merge’s research, also known for spectacular views, particularly to the south. So off we went. There were two lookout balconies there, very easy to get to, but the trees have grown so tall and dense in the area that we couldnt actually see beyond or through them. Merge’s research was obviously dated! but we could see other trails through the trees and so we followed them. We found the views, but be aware, some of the climbing was a little steep and unsteady. Free.

Looking south from the top of Mt Erie Park
Looking south again, this time you can see part of Campbell Lake on the left

Happy after a full day of exploring, we headed home.

Today was day 10 of our 11-day road trip which means that tomorrow we’ll be going home to Victoria BC. When we originally planned this trip, the return to Victoria was going to be very easy. We were simply going to catch the ferry from Anacortes through the San Juan Islands to Sidney BC, which of course is just a 35 minute drive to downtown Victoria. However, Washington State Ferries cancelled the Sidney stop on this route during the pandemic, and it has still not been reinstated. So instead, we will be driving all the way back to Port Angeles to catch the Coho Ferry to Victoria, exactly the way we came 10 days ago. Well, I guess its called a road trip for a reason 😀.

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