We are back to camping; these last few days have been spent at deception pass on Whidbey Island. Yesterday was our first full day on the island, along with being a rare day where we had three cooked meals. After a delicious French Toast breakfast, we spent two hours working on our capstone projects and reading the course reader. Another warm meal of grilled cheese and tomato soup was for lunch, then, we headed off to Fort Casey State Park for the afternoon. Fort Casey was built in the 1890s as the main defense for the Puget Sound area and was used until the end of World War II. There, we spent some time exploring the underground bunkers and pitch-black tunnels. Zack and I took a walk down to the beach and saw some seals in the water. We ended with a heated ultimate frisbee game where Talon jumped over Jack for the winning catch. Dinner was arguably the fanciest meal of the trip: salmon (with salad for the vegetarians). The night concluded with a discussion around the campfire mainly about land ethics and ecosystem decay.
This morning began with a 7:15 wake up. Breakfast consisted of avocado toast and eggs, and after, we rushed off to catch the ferry to Port Townsend. We arrived about an hour and a half before we were scheduled to meet at the Maritime School, so we had time to explore the old port town filled with fascinating Victorian-era architecture and local shops. We explored a few bookstores, a record store, and got food from a cafe. The group was split into two for our time at the Maritime School. I started out in a rowboat traveling along the coast towards the town, where I stopped for a while and listened to a local man play his trumpet. On the ride back, our expert waterman George happened to capsize his boat attempting to grab something out of the water. Only a few seconds later, however, I looked back over and saw him standing soaked in an upright vessel. Looking back on it, it was absolutely hilarious (George thinks so too). Next, we spent time learning some extra information about the Salish Sea and using scientific instruments to test its pH, salinity, and temperature. We continued with a walk along the beach where we had time to ourselves to make observations about and appreciate our surroundings. We are now back on the ferry headed to our campsite.
Well, George fell in the water today, as you probably guessed from the image (thank you, Hannah). It was a perfect culmination to the past several days which we have spent in the San Juan Islands and the surrounding area. Oh yeah, and Cassy and Emily had to get pulled to shore because they couldn’t row their boat. But anyway, back to the beginning. We left our Airbnb in Seattle after having spent a fun day in the city. Driving a couple of hours north, we got on a ferry which dropped us off at Orcas island, in the San Juan’s. On the islands, we were privy to magnificent views from our oceanfront cabins. We were also lucky enough to see a variety of marine life including river otters, seals, porpoises, and what were probably Minke whales. We also saw a ton of bald eagles, seer, and a couple of king fishers and woodpeckers.
On our first day on Orcas Island, we took a trip into town. Hannah finally found the book she had been searching for (Beyond Words) and the rest of the group grabbed stickers. The highlight of the next day was sea kayaking. Sally conquered her fear of the ocean-yay! We also saw a bunch of seals and stopped off at a cool lookout spot. There was also use of the kayak bailer pumps as water guns (somewhat unsuccessfully) and Hannah and Cassy kayaked for a long time without the ability to turn (due to a pranked rudder). Other high points from Orcas Island included finds on the beach, prank calling Eli, and tricking Sally and Hannah into thinking the boys cabin was the only one with electricity (;))
After a few days on Oras, we took the return ferry and set up our tents on Whidbey Island for what might (?) be our last time camping (sad). It was also Halloween so we celebrated in style with our pumpkin costumes (our orange shirts from cougar tracking + some sharpie faces) and $15 worth of candy from Walmart (approx. 250 pieces). With no fire that night (forgot wood) we all ended up sleeping pretty early, especially because it’s getting dark before 5:30 these days.
The next day, we took a trip to an abandoned military bunker that Carsten knew about. It was so much fun exploring the bunker, seeing sea lions, and then finishing off with a cake of ultimate frisbee (thanks Carsten). Unfortunately, Eli was still sidelined from frisbee with a sprained ankle. This night, the group was able to make it past 9:30 pm, despite it getting pitch black at 5 pm (thanks to daylight savings). The darkness made it especially hard to cook our ambitious meal of salmon and potato, but we prevailed. Then we had a great discussion about our course reader articles from the past few days about Native American land ethics. Anyway, with the help of our fire, Floyd, the group, save for Jack, extended their bedtime by almost two hours.
Still, everyone eventually went off to their own tents which brings us to today. Invigorated by our new leaders (Ian and Zack), and ignoring the imminent election, the group headed to Port Townsend. There we walked around town for about an hour and then began our activities at the Maritime Center. Over the next four hours, we took out rowboats (Sally again conquered fears), took water samples and readings, and observed the environment of the beaches. As previously touched on, highlights certainly included George capsizing his rowboat and Cassy and Emily needing to be pushed all the way in their boat. Other ones were definitely the beautiful views of Mt. Rainier, the North Cascades, Mt. Baker, and the mountains of the Olympic Peninsula, learning about the region, and watching everyone struggling with their boats. We capped off the day with pizza on the ferry back to camp. Tomorrow we will have to pack up so we can start our journey to Sahale learning center and then Hawai’i!!!! So very exciting 🙂