Trip to Bellingham and the Whatcom Museum, Part one

Last Sunday there was a break in the weather so Oola and I headed out in Mom’s Memorial Prius to a show we had wanted to see in the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham WA — a very important and, as it turns out, memorable show of Artist Books.  We also wanted to hear a talk by Sandra Kroupa, Book Arts & Rare Book Curator at the University of Washington (UW).

You can click on any image to see it enlarged.

map

I say there was finally a break in the weather.  But both Oola and I were ecstatic about the snow in the Olympics — which we claim as our back yard.

Oola reveling in snow
Oola reveling in snow

Warm in the car, we drove to beautiful Port Townsend where we caught the 9:30 ferry.

the Kennewick
the Kennewick

Oola had never ridden on a ferry before and was fascinated that this one has a helm in the front AND in the rear.  It never has to back up.

Here we are, packed in and watching the Cascade mountains in the rear view mirror.

Port Townsend to Whidbey Island
Port Townsend to Whidbey Island

Farther up Hwy 20 is a bridge that connects Whidbey Island with Fidalgo Island.  Beautiful and scary, built with the help of the Civilian Conservation Corps in a time when cars were both smaller and fewer.

Deception Pass and Canoe Pass Bridge from the west
Deception Pass and Canoe Pass Bridge from the west
Deception Pass Bridge and Oola
Deception Pass Bridge and Oola
Deception Pass Bridge detail
Deception Pass Bridge detail

The water is deep; the current can be very strong and very dangerous here.  And the whole area swirls with stories.

For example: why the curious name?  Oola is so glad you asked because she looked it up.  In 1792 George Vancouver, British captain of the Expedition to map the northwest coast, thought that the water swirling out of the pass was a river.  Understandable, as this is how it was described by earlier Spanish explorers.  After a couple of tries, sailing master Joseph Whidbey discovered that the pass led not to a dead end but to Skagit Bay and the Saratoga Passage. (see map above)  This was BIG.  And Vancouver was so delighted he named the island, which they had thought to be a peninsula of the mainland, after Whidbey.  Vancouver named the deceptive passage Deception Pass.  Of course, he could do that because he had just claimed the whole Northwest for the British Crown.

Another legend tells of Scotsman Ben Ure who smuggled drugs and illegal Chinese laborers.  The story goes that he and his partner, Pirate Kelly, would tie the men into burlap sacks to make it easier to toss them overboard should they be seen by U. S. Customs.  He eventually got caught and admitted to his evil deeds.  His island, just inside Deception Pass, still bears his name as does Deadman’s Beach where many of the bodies landed.

In the 1920s, before the bridge was built, if you wanted to get from Whidbey to Fadalgo Island you would hit an old saw with a mallet. All five feet of Berte Olsen would show up,  then she would either collect your 50cents and ferry you across, or not, depending on the turbulence of the water.

But I am getting off the track here.  For more about this fascinating place see www.thecoachmaninn.com/whidbey-island-deception-pass-book-chapter-1.html

Oola advises that this post is getting too long. She is sometimes very practical.  I will work on the Bellingham part tomorrow.

 

 

Trip to Hurricane Ridge

Oola has been a bit down in the mouth with all the overcast skies and rain since we arrived.  So when we woke her with the news of a brilliant day, she rolled over and went back to sleep.

Mistake.

The weather can change here seemingly in an instant, so that when Oola decided to get up, the sky was gloomy again.

Still, the radio prognosticators had promised a great day, so we piled into Mom’s memorial Prius and began the 20 mile drive to Hurricane Ridge — the mountains we saw from across the harbor in the last post.

We climbed up and up until the clouds that were covering Port Angeles were beneath us.  At about 5200+ feet we came to a ski-bunny area.  And — WHAAAAT? — no snow.  Our Sequim friend and long time area resident had said that this is very early for the snow melt.

But the air was intense, and the light was dazzling.  It was not hard to make the best of the situation.

Oola soaked up sun for a while.

Oola sunning on Hurricane Ridge
Oola sunning on Hurricane Ridge

I shamelessly snapped tourist/calendar pictures one after another. (Click for image enlargement even though no imagery could do justice to what was in front of our eyes.)

The deep, steep valleys were carved over millennia by water and glacier.  Gazing on them brought to mind “The Sixth Extinction” by Elizabeth Kolbert which I have been reading.  I highly recommend it to you.

Oola soon had her sunny disposition back and began to play in the ski area.  Here is a picture of when she tried out her tight-rope walking skills on the ski lift.

Oola plays on the ski lift.
Oola plays on the ski lift.

Meanwhile I brooded on the absurdity of trying to make poetry of that which is already poetry.  On the way home I saw this,

cherry blossom and reflection
cherry blossom and reflection

and thought it stood a better chance of becoming a poem than all the picts I took at the top of the mountain.