After Ocean Shores we encountered the Hoh Rain Forest east of Highway 101.  Forget all you may have heard or thought you knew about rain forests when visiting those in Washington State.  There are no monkeys or anacondas and it is definitely not hot!  These areas are set aside as natural wonders of evergreens, ferns and moss. HUH!!!  The whole damn state is covered by evergreens, ferns and moss!  Conditions are so right around here that we are even growing some of the moss in our shower and a volunteer fern in the soap dish.  We did manage to locate one unique item in a sea of similarity . . .

After a long day of ushering touristas around the ship, a sailor enjoys a little shore time and relaxation, quaffing a frothy grog with a gorgeous blonde at his side listening, enraptured, to tales of repelling the Barbary Pirates, capturing giant squid and battling man-eating sharks . . .

Our cruise developed into a visual smorgasbord consisting of more than 20 Orcas.  I lost count at 20 and the sheer number of animals in the area made it difficult to know if I was actually counting new groups or the same ones which had circled back for another look at us . . .

Forks was selected by the author of “Twilight” as the setting for her novel simply due to its listing on some Internet site as the “most dismal place in America.”  The indigenous folks seem to believe there is no such thing as bad publicity and have eagerly jumped aboard the vampire bandwagon . . .

In addition to numerous shops and outdoor stands selling just about any Seattle related tourist junk you can imagine, the Farmers Market offered an impressive selection of fruits, vegetables, flowers and seafood . . .

It was mere coincidence that this little excursion coincided with my bunkmate’s birthday.  She always expects that the current year’s gift will be more elaborate than that of the previous year and, since her previous year’s gift was a matching set of monogrammed spatulas, this year’s selection required some extra thought and effort to not disappoint . . .

Breakfast was always something different and delicious and Ilse even brewed a pot of tea for us each morning since we have also given up coffee on our road to insanity.  One of the reasons we chose San Juan Island for this particular getaway were the 3 pods of resident Orcas which inhabit the nearby waters.  My bride, a big fan of everything finny, thoroughly enjoyed our day on the high seas in pursuit of the often elusive Killer Whale aboard the Sea Lion . . .

As chance would have it we had to stop by the local hospital to have some blood drawn to check on our pre-diabetic status after 3 months of rigorous exercise and diets exclusive of everything tasty. The town’s reputation wasn’t known to us at the time but I was somewhat curious when they drained 3 vials and one carafe from my arm.  The test results were also somewhat puzzling: “Aged 65 years in worn and wrinkled American hide.  Full bodied with essence of chocolate, a hint of baklava and a crabby finish.”  On the plus side, I have managed to lose 16 pounds, shave 30 points off my total cholesterol, reduce my A1C count below the pre-diabetic range and cut my blood pressure medication by 75%.  Who’da thunk that Dr. Avakian was right in claiming that diet and exercise could do all that?   I’m gonna have to learn Armenian so I don’t miss any other healthy living tips she may pass along.  We managed to escape the clutches of a number of wannabe vampires in Forks, loaded our mobile command and control center aboard a ferry and based ourselves on Whidbey Island to prepare for our assault on San Juan Island and my brother-in-law’s ex-handler . . .

The peculiarity of some of the things that pique our interest is oft-times nothing short of bizarre. Continuing northward we were soon in the quiet little hamlet of Forks.  This town has long been recognized as the center of Washington’s coastal logging industry . . .

Located a few short blocks from our hotel was the Pike Place Market . . .

We were also quite fond of the view without the addition of floating furniture . . .

Although my bride was angling for an underwater tour around Elliot Bay in Alvin, it was glaringly apparent that anyone larger than a Hobbit would simply not fit through the hatch.

As well as both tame and wild flowers . . .  

Some girls, of course, will simply hang around for the free drinks.  We are now in the process of plotting new targets as we change course and begin our eastward run toward Idaho.  This is about as much notice as any of you are going to receive should you wish to be otherwise engaged when our hungry pitiful forms arrive on your doorstep demanding cupcakes.   Hugs, Chuck and Kalyn

Having spent her high school years as third string cymbalist in the Flickertail marching band, my aspiring musician was pretty excited to try her hand with a complete set of percussion instruments when Turk turned her loose in the forward cargo bay where she demonstrated her talent with a rather unique version of Music Box Dancer on the drums.

Mona proved to be more interested in munching vegetables than participating in our game of cat and mouse and eagerly surrendered Joan in exchange for a bag of carrots.   After 4 days at Friday Harbor we returned to Whidbey Island and our urban assault vehicle only to depart 2 days later for a couple of nights at the Edgewater Hotel in Seattle to celebrate our 25 years of marriage . . . again! Will these festivities never end??!!  The Edgewater gained notoriety when the Beatles were photographed fishing in Elliot Bay from the window of their room in 1964, while in 1973 Led Zeppelin made their mark by throwing everything that wasn’t nailed down through the window and into the ocean below.   We actually liked our room and decided the accoutrements were just fine where they were . . .

Our aquatic adventure was not confined to the singular harassment of the local Orca populace but soon expanded to include Bald eagles, various water birds and harbor seals…

Our friend, Turk, has been a crew member aboard the Atlantis since the first vessel bearing that name was launched back in 1930 and arranged a VIP tour of the ship and their Deep Submergence Vehicle, Alvin . . .

The residents of Octopus Avenue presented her with some other subjects which neither dove for cover nor blew frantically in the wind when confronted by a camera . . .

   Vampires And Vessels                                                  August 23, 2009

Back on land we tracked the Brother-in-Law’s former bride and eventually ran her to ground when she tried to outrun us aboard Friday Harbor’s resident camel, Mona . . .

The Slow Season is a 60’ floating bed and breakfast, berthed at the Friday Harbor Marina, and is a work in progress for her owners, Ilse and Helmuth, a retired Austrian couple.  The boat, though a bit rustic with evidence of refitting from stem to stern, is quite comfortable with the possible exception of our aft cabin which was somewhat like living in the Seven Dwarfs’ home as the ceiling and overhead supports required a series of knee bends to navigate if you were any taller than a Munchkin . . .

WARNING: YOU ARE ABOUT TO ENTER THE TWILIGHT ZONE!!  Having departed the warmth and sunshine of inland Oregon, we made our way once more to the always wet and forever foggy northwest coast.  I simply cannot imagine why anyone would choose to live in a place where, albeit quite scenic, the rare emergence of the sun through the omnipresent cloudbank is a page 1 headline in the local newspaper.  We scrapped our planned stop at the Tillamook Cheese Factory when we saw the hundreds of cars in the parking lot and a line of folks waiting to get in the door to the tasting room.  Perhaps we’ll see it next time.  We crossed the Columbia River at Astoria and were soon immersed in the dank grayness that shrouds the Olympic Peninsula.  We figured that a stop by the ocean might provide our best chance of actually seeing the sun in this part of the world so we headed to Ocean Shores, an actual “beach town” located on its own peninsula and, as the name implies, it is right on the ocean.  Once there, we happened upon an Irish pub, complete with an Irish singer who happened to know one of my favorite Sinn Fein pub songs, “Johnson’s Motor Car.”  We hung out there enjoying the libations, music and dancing until well after midnight and then discovered the difficulty of sleeping with your feet still moving to the beat of phantom music throughout the night.  Our morning walks have always provided my resident naturist (as in nature lover, not nudist) the opportunity to photograph wildlife . . .

But more recently it has become known for something quite different . . .

Our second 25th anniversary celebration also coincided with the Seattle visit of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute’s research vessel, Atlantis . . .

We were told that some of these props actually appeared in the movie although most of it was filmed elsewhere . . .