Old friends, new friends, and abundance in all things…
The day we left Vancouver Island (and Canada) was one of very few rainy days we’ve had this entire trip. It wasn’t just raining though, it was pouring and there were incredibly strong gusts of wind – not ideal when driving 3.5 hours in an RV. Luckily we had left plenty of time to make it to the ferry terminal and took it slow. When we arrived at the ferry, we were informed they were severely delayed due to high winds in the channel (we had previously heard delays of the ferries are very rare). We’ve learned to take such scheduling issues in stride, but I was relieved when we boarded early enough to ensure we’d make our reservation in Anacortes, if for no other reason than because it was one of the most expensive places we’d ever booked. For the most part, the crossing was uneventful and we didn’t experience any rough waters. While grabbing a quick dinner on board, we spotted a vivid rainbow through the windows. Why is that rainbows are so comforting?
Upon disembarking, we had a 30 minutes drive to the border in Blaine. We chased that rainbow the entire way, and then pulled up to the customs booth at twilight. We were prepared for anything this time around; we figured it was too easy on our way into Canada, so surely something would happen returning… they’d take issue with the dogs, or our temporary Jeep tag being expired (oops), or want to examine every inch of our rig. Well, once again, it took less than 10 minutes – they did not board us, did not ask one question about the dogs, and after asking what veggies or fruit we had, confiscated a lime and 2 roma tomatoes. The Blaine crossing is equipped with x-ray and radiation monitors, so beyond their fancy technical advantage, the officers must work entirely on instinct when it comes to who they are going to harass. All I can hope is they are in tune and trust their inner voices.
So just like that, our 5 weeks in Canada was over and we were once again Stateside. I was ready to be back in The States, too. Canada is lovely, and the exchange rate was in our favor, but some things were wearing on me… like the wife/data availability, even when on grid, and it was harder to find accommodations in Canada because our RV is considered massive (compared to average). Plus I was picking up an accent and ending just about every sentence with “eh?” so it was time to go 🙂
As we entered Fidalgo Bay, we immediately noticed the aftermath of the storms that had come through. Most lights were out or malfunctioning and there were trees and limbs down everywhere. No wonder they delayed the ferries – we realized how lucky we were to have crossed at all! The power at the campground was out too (and thus the internet), and had been all day, so the office was closed, but we made it to our site in the pitch black and just went to bed after a long travel day.
The sun was shining the next morning, so we decided to take advantage of the weather and booked a last minute whale watching tour! I still don’t know how we managed to get both kids ready in time, pack lunch and get there in time, but I’m so glad we did! Just being on the water, smelling the sea, feeling the sun and breeze on my face made the trip enjoyable. I’ve been whale watching a couple time before and never saw any whales, so I didn’t have high expectations, but I did have high hopes! About 2 hours in, with London sleeping on a bench, Nina taking pics and selfies to stay occupied, we spotted a Minke Whale. Then minutes later, we came upon Orca. Not just a 1 or 2 though… we came upon an area where 3 pods we playing and gathering! It was incredible! We couldn’t even choose which side of the boat to witness them from, as they were literally all around us! The guides were very informative too and were able to identify several individual whales, so we learned that the largest male, the oldest female, and newest calf of the pods that frequent that area, were all there in the mix before us. I was giddy as I watched, seemingly spinning in circles to see them all. I wished there were a way to take a panoramic picture showing just how many were breaching at once! Clearly, it was a very worthwhile trip!
Soon after returning to the RV, London had an accident I’ve feared since day 1. He recently learned to open the screen door, so when we leave the main door open to enjoy the breeze, we are constantly asking London to leave the door alone. Well, we were distracted as we settled in after a long day on the boat and leaving the dogs for so long, and London managed to FALL OUT of Gypsy from the top step… landed on his face… on gravel. Oh my poor boy! Luckily he received only minor scrapes, though many of them, including one on his eyelid. For several days following he resembled a prize fighter, but thankfully he healed fully and quickly.
Just as we had calmed London’s intense screams, I answered an unexpected knock on the door to find our new friends, Tina and Debbie! We had been keeping in touch since our time together in Duboix, WY, and I had mentioned we were headed to Anacortes knowing they were nearby in Seattle, but I hadn’t heard back from them. I’m not always a fan of surprises, but it was a wonderful surprise and we enjoyed visiting with them and hearing about their travels since we last saw them. As Tina said to me, we have different goals for our trips (they are newly retired and looking to chillax, and we are cramming too much into a 4 month sabbatical), but there is such a special camaraderie between travelers following similar paths. We drank too much wine (again), and the following night they endured a dinner out with us and our crazy (yet charming) kids. We even had donuts for breakfast together and they took the kids to the playground (it really is amazing how much we can get done in a short amount of time without the kids)! Though it was only a couple nights of visiting, I enjoyed their easy company and conversations about our travels and future plans and the kids became quite attached to them and have been asking for them ever since. Hopefully our paths will meet again!
Anacortes was a very worthwhile stop overall, though the rain made it difficult to full explore Deception Pass and the fabulous waking/biking trail from the campground into town. The morning we left there was a break in the rain so I walked the dogs down the waterfront path and saw a curious seal playing off-shore and checking me out, as well as a blue heron/crane of some kind, many bunnies, and large scary spiders. Really, the only bad thing that happened during our stay was that Gypsy got her first boo-boo as Raj pulled her out of our site… unfortunately, he clipped a slightly hidden railroad tie with our exterior back tire and it split and shot up to smack our bumper – left a surprising amount of damage, including cracking the side reflector cover. He’s still beating himself up about it, but as far as I’m concerned, accidents happen, that’s why we have insurance, and at least nobody was injured.
I went to high school near Seattle and also went to the University of Washington my freshman year, so I was excited to visit a former home town. Of course, there were people I wanted to see, and places I wanted to visit and show my family, but it had been an astonishing 16 years since I’d been there! It feels disconcerting to drive into a place you once called home – that shaped who you are – but to not fully recognize it or remember your way around. I also had to force myself to let go of self-inflicted pressure to show Raj a good time there and accept that my fond memories were from a time when I was a different person. Once I approached the city as a tourist, I had a much better time.
Our first night there, we drove to Sammamish to find my old house and high school. The school looked just as I remembered (but surely those kids walking out of soccer practice weren’t high schoolers!!!), but I had a heck of a time finding my old house! Luckily my dad has a crazy memory and after a quick text sent me the address and soon enough we found it, which looked about the same, but without all the lovely gardens my mom tended to! The area though was unfamiliar, as it has grown exponentially as Amazon and Microsoft have exploded. I was shocked to see how different it looked and felt.
We spent the next day downtown at Pike Place Market and enjoyed the crazy energy and buying snacks (my favorite was a trail mix made from cheeses, jerky and pepperonis). We also decided it was about time to get Nina her first proper haircut, as I couldn’t handle butchering it any longer. It was easy to find a place and Nina was so brave and patient throughout the entire process – I was so proud. SHE was so proud when it was done and couldn’t stop looking at herself in mirrors and pictures! After the haircut, we had the fortuitous opportunity to meet our friend, Chris Bowers, from Atlanta who was in town visiting his own family! Though we only spent a couple hours having lunch and wandering around, it was nice to see a familiar from home!
One of my favorite places in the world is located less than an hour from Seattle – Snoqualmie Falls. I sought refuge there during the inevitable hard times faced in high school, found my sense of spirituality there, partied there, found solace there… I went there a lot during my years in the area. I’ve visited in my mind hundreds of times since – even using it as my “safe place” when mentally preparing for the births of my children (hypnobirthing is awesome, btw). Snoqualmie Falls is changed since I lived there – it’s more of a tourist destination than it used to be and the once hidden road that only locals like myself knew before is now an advertised, even recommended, place to park to avoid hiking down to the falls (we still hiked it as we need exercise every chance we can get). Additionally, once at the end of the boardwalk, there are now impenetrable bars blocking rebellious souls such as myself from climbing down closer to the base of the fall. I was surprised and disappointed by the changes, but still… being there… felt like visiting an old friend. The same energy was present – powerful and vaguely mystical. Though I’m not sure Raj and the kids were impressed beyond the obvious beauty such a large waterfall possesses, I enjoyed sharing the moment with them.
Seattle is considered one of the most dog-friendly cities in the world, with more dogs than children and our dogs were incredibly grateful for the off-leash dog parks we found! In addition to one near our campground (aka parking lot) we also went to Marymoor Park, which I remembered fondly from my time there, but appreciated even more visiting with kids and dogs. They have over 40 acres of off-leash paths, including along a river for them to swim in! Of course, any trip to the park for dogs must include a stop by the playground!
A significant portion of our time in Seattle was devoted to catching up with high school friends. We took a trip to Capitol Hill to reunite with my long-lost and dear friend Melissa, who I consider a spiritual teacher and our friendship was always centered around exploring our spirituality. I was thrilled to finally meet her wife, Alex. We were able to chat first while the kids ran around a wonderful playground and then they took us to a bar called RGB (Rachel’s Ginger Beer) for drinks made from homemade ginger beers (Moscow mule anyone?). Then we had a fantastic sushi dinner (even though they rushed us through to clear the table for a reservation) and found a place to get coffee and ice cream. Melissa mentioned early in the evening that Alex is a kid-whisperer, and after spending a couple hours together, I attest that she was absolutely right – the kids had a blast with her. She’s a capoeira instructor from Brazil, too and convinced me I have to find a place to enroll the kids (and myself) when we get home.
Justin Murta also lives in the Seattle area again after living abroad for many years as a DJ. In fact, when Raj was in Vietnam for his Executive MBA international residency, Justin was kind enough to meet up with him, though they hadn’t met before. Justin was a friend that always made me laugh with goofy humor and an infectious laugh, but he also has the ability to be profound, cynical, and lighthearted at the same time. I’m not sure I’ve ever known anyone else quite like him. He now has a gorgeous wife and 2 babies, though one of them was ill so we weren’t able to all meet up as a family, but Raj gave me a hall pass and I met the four of them at a Red Robin in suburbia (times have changed apparently – I would have expected to meet Justin at a club, even with his kids ;p). Despite a brief reunion, it was great to reminisce and hear about what he’s been doing for the past decade and a half! OMG!
Our time in Seattle left me reflecting about friendship. I’m not the same person I was in high school (thank a goddess for that!), and neither Melissa nor Justin are the same either. And yet, it struck me that the same underlying energy that initially attracted us to each other – to being in each others lives- was still present. It really makes me wonder why people become friends in the first place – why person A and not person B? Or more importantly, why do we stay friends, even when life takes us in different directions? We all have friends like this I think… sometimes as we grow apart, changes create conflict, but often, though we share fewer mutual interests, the friendship remains strong and intact. Whatever it is, relationships fascinate me and I love that we can morph as individuals, but that something deeper still connects us.
Fidalgo Bay Resort (Anacortes): 3.5-4 stars. We stayed 3 nights in a cabana slot. We didn’t have a typical experience because major storms moved through the morning we arrived and took out the power and internet and the office (and most of the island) shut down. But we did find the grounds to be lovely, with mostly nice views of the water, yet there is an oil refinery visible from many locations. Lots of bunnies around. Favorite part was the walking/biking trail right into town. Lots of room to walk dogs but no off-leash area, great playground and wonderful location. Would stay again, but the cabana slot was too pricey (just all they had available for us with a last minute booking).
Trailer Inns (Seattle/Bellevue) – 3 stars. This place is literally a parking lot, but from the options, it’s a great location with easy access to the city, dog parks nearby, and right on I-90 (yes there’s noise). Our full hookups worked just fine. There is no wifi at the site but there is in the office ( in a city, really?). If you don’t have high expectations for a city site, you’ll be fine.