Travel Time

Samish Flats and beyond

Wednesday, April 11, 2018

Conditional to my offer of chauffeuring the Lady of the House to Coupeville to fetch her friend at Keystone Ferry Landing on short notice, I insisted we secure an extra-early start from Bellingham so we could also spend a little quality time chilling out and kicking around down there.

Anticipating an easy sell, I was chagrined to find myself embroiled in a bargaining process. 

The Lady had married herself to the concept of prepping our front flower beds that morning, and she wasn’t the least bit keen to divorce herself from the chore. 

Only after agreeing to help her amend the soil and do a round of weeding was I able to finagle anywhere near the allotted chunk of time commensurate to facilitating the desired road-trip vibe. 

Tending her color crop was dirty, tedious work but with our combined labor we departed before noon.

My decision to hit southbound I-5 right off the bat wasn’t popular, but it provided a rocket boost compared to threading the rubberneck gauntlet on Chuckanut Drive.

“Fair enough,” the Lady of the House eventually capitulated as she ogled the shaggy enthrallment of vaporous slopes and sun-glinted ridgetops just beyond city limits. 

“This type of landscape succeeds in emanating its own seductive charms,” she allowed.

My next strategic maneuver was to avoid the perilous Highway 20 interchange, so we exited onto Bow Hill Road and escaped into the glistening, Nubian-goat-dotted countryside.  

After dawdling through the estuarial sweep of Samish Flats we took a sharp turn westward and launched ourselves into ever-more-convoluted and elevated stretches of inter-island pavement.

Fidalgo throbbed with heavy traffic, but its pastoral timberlands gleamed as sublimely and lake-bejeweled as ever. Then, as we rolled out of the forest onto the vaulted deck of Deception Pass bridge, something strange happened.

A hazy beam of concentrated sunlight came radiating through our windows. It was so delusory the entire wrought-iron structure seemed to atomize into the yawning chasm below.

We were floating on air.  

“Sweet Jehovah,” I screeched as we finally touched down on the Whidbey Island side. “Have I gone stark raving batty, or did you feel that too?”

“You bet,” my passenger shuddered. “All 1,487 feet of it.”

A decommissioned pair of war planes mounted on pylons greeted us at Oak Harbor. Neither of us had ever explored the waterfront before, so we hooked a quick loop through downtown and were pleased to encounter the peaceful confines of Windjammer Park.

In Coupeville, we were hankering for sustenance. We tootled down to Front Street and took a refreshing stroll down the old grain wharf in Penn Cove, where we savored mussel chowder and fish and chips at the Cove Café.

A truncated hike along the Bluff Trail in Fort Ebey State Park provided a rousing finale. I could have patrolled those prairies forever. But my chauffeur duties called, and we rushed to meet the ferry instead.    

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