Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Last Day

July 11, 2012
I awoke to the sound of the announcement of a ferry arriving.  The fresh air and the sounds of many birds reminded me of waking up at home.  I felt at peace.  Then I started thinking about he day....and the boat trip....and being out on the ocean.  I fought the thoughts as they crept into my head and concentrated on what was around me.
Judy and I decided to get up and go grab a bite to eat.  I packed up the car while she got ready.  I ate a banana while I worked as that is always something that seems to mellow my mind.  Anxiety nibbled at my head so I kept myself busy and when I was done, I walked around, taking in all of the sights and checking out the small breakfast area of the motel.
As we walked to breakfast, we noticed a BND on the back of the car owned by the mother who played soccer with her kids the night before.  They were sitting in the breakfast area where we fixed ourselves some food.  After getting mine, I stopped by their table and asked if they were from Bend.  The woman told me that she had bought the car from someone there.
I then engaged the little boy who was so entertaining the night before.  I told him that I really enjoyed watching him play the night before and encouraged him to continue to practice this fun sport.  He seemed thrilled and you could tell that he was a very happy inquisitive young man.
Then it hit me.  Like a few nights back buy a bit less.  I had to get out of the room.....away from people.  I felt like running.  We sat outside on the sunny deck and I nibbled on my food.  I had lost all appetite and was happy that I had already eaten the banana....knowing that it would help.  I nibbled on a pill letting it rest under my tongue knowing that would get it into my bloodstream quicker.
I was glad when Judy agreed to get going and we drove down to a park at the end of the road past the ferry.  There was a loop road in the park and it was so lush and beautiful.  Deer walked unafraid so close that you could almost touch them.
We then drove up to the large hill behind the town where we had heard that there were overlooks for the surrounding areas.  The semi clear morning brought a good glimpse of Mt Baker to the north that did not show itself that often.
While we looked out over the view, my phone rang and I saw it was Zin.  He asked where I was and I told him Washington.  He said that we were going to have to find someone to run the show that day as he was headed to the hospital with low blood pressure.  My concern for my buddy and the task at hand to inform others so that the meeting would not go without some leadership occupied my mind and actually helped me out.  By the time all of the calls were finished, I actually was relaxed and looking forward to the day and the trip.
We arrived at the pier at 10 just as we were instructed the night before and no one was there.  So we sat down and waited as others began to arrive.  We could see the crew busily preparing the boat for the trip.
30 minutes or so later a small crowd had grown around us.  Three men walked up the pier towards us and introduced themselves as the crew.  The captain asked us all where we were from and found that we had an international group, many from Europe and others from the other side of the country.  It almost made me feel like a local.
We then followed the captain down to the boat and Judy and I were the first to board.  We sat at what looked to be a pretty good spot and noticed that most were going past us and out on to the next level.  I left Judy and walked up to the upper deck to find it an open deck with many comfortable seats.  I knew that once we got out on the bay that it would be much colder there so I returned to let Judy know that she had picked the right seats.
As we left the pier, we stepped outside and watched as we cruised by the ferry port and could see where we had stayed the night before.  I then suggested that we might want to eat as the captain began to head out to more open sea.  My suggestion was the right one as before my sandwich was even half eaten, the announcement was made that whales had been sighted.  Judy left what was left of her lunch and grabbed her camera heading outside while I sat and finished mine and watched her position herself up on the bow of the small craft.
We found a couple of whales who seemed to be fishing for their food.  The captain explained that the whales loved the salmon in the area.  We watched as the swift large animals dove down for their catch and then surfaced for air.
The captain then announced that a breaching whale had been sighted closer to the coast line.  He seemed very excited as we watched the large Orca splash not that far off of our bow.  Two other excursion boats joined us as we rode along with the whale that breached over and over.  I could see an excited Judy taking pictures and I got out my camera and did the same.
I took a few pictures and even a video as the captain explained to us that what we were seeing was pretty special and certainly not the norm for their trips.   Knowing that I had some pretty good pics and that Judy would undoubtedly have quite a few, I decided to just enjoy the show.  I stepped through the boat to whatever side the whale was on for the time and got a show that beat anything that I had seen at Sea World in the past.
Over and over the whale breeched.  An excited captain told us that we had no idea what we were experiencing .  He said in his 30 years, he had never seen such a show before.   We had certainly picked he right day.
I got chilled standing outside and was quite happy that I brought my sweatshirt with me.  I donned it and watched from the warmth of the cabin still able to catch the many jumps of the whale.  The captain surmised that she (the whale...her name was Rhapsody) might have an itch or something as their skin was quite sensitive.
After the show, the captain headed us towards a small island where there were sea lions and we spotted a couple of Bald Eagles as they feasted on another small animal.  Judy saw me and came in to check on me fearing that I was struggling .  I told her that I was doing great but had just gotten cold.  "Good", she giggled, "I am not cold....I am having too much fun.".  She headed back out to her perch on the bow and kept on shooting.
The captain then took us to the north part of Lopez island where he knew of a Bald Eagle nest on our way back to the pier.  He again let us know just how special our show had been.  One of the other captains had counted the breeches.  His count was 52 and he said that 42 of them were closest to our boat.
Judy and I shared our pictures as the boat returned to shore and we prepared to disembark.  We had already decided to head out immediately towards Seattle hoping to get past it before the dreaded rush hour.
We arrived at the pier at around 4 and quickly packed our stuff in the car and took off.  I thought we were just a few miles north of Seattle but found that we were indeed around 50.  I dreaded the thought of getting caught in that traffic.  We had a small magazine that had been given us the first night showing a loop route in northern Washington and I remembered that the lower road came from above Seattle.  A quick look at the map confirmed that and we soon came upon the road to Stevens pass and took it heading inland away from the city traffic.
Judy studied the map and suggested that we stay at this small old logging town a bit up the road just before the pass.  That way, we could go over the pass the next morning and see the sights best.  We exited the road at the small town and were disappointed to see no lodging there other than a very old hotel.
I stopped at the gas station on the road and walked inside to get ideas and suggestions.  The owner seemed to be from either India or Pakistan and gave me a very blank look when I asked him of lodging.  Every question seemed to be answered with a shrug.  A couple of bikers overheard, however and informed me that our best bet was to go on over Stevens Pass and stay at Levonworth.  "You have plenty of time to see the sights of the pass and the accomodations there are excellent."
I thanked them and jumped back in the car.  The pass was shrowded but we could tell that it was quite majestic and we wondered how it would look on a clear day.  I had read about the majesty of Deception falls and was surprised when I almost drove right past it.  There were no large highway signs just a small one at the entrance to the parking lot.
We turned around and were certainly not sorry for doing so.  What we found was an incredible and powerful waterfall that cascaded down the mountain and under the road.  A walking bridge took us just over the top and another metal bridge walked us under the road just inches above it's power and strength.  It was like walking right above Benham falls if you could imagine what that might be like.  The power was incredible and we were so close we could reach out and touch it.
We continued on over the pass and into Levonworth.  A surprisingly large and beautiful town that had fashioned itself after something that you might expect in the Swiss Alps.  Many large motels were there to house the guests there and you could see that they had gone all out to attract the tourists.
As we drove past the town, we noticed a small motel that seemed to be off the beaten path and yet overlooking the river.  We drove down to the small villa and walked into the office finding a receptionist dressed for the area in a Sandinavian type gown.  The price was right and we were tired so Judy went to the room while I moved the car.
As she came out to help me unload, I asked her how the room was.  She grumbled, "Ok", and my heart sank.  We should have checked it out first, I thought. "Got ya", she giggled, "It is awesome!".  The room was rather large with a comfortable bed, a big comfortable looking chair and a large table with two soft chairs around it.  A deck was off of the room, overlooking a rushing river below.
I went out and got us dinner ( now loves their lobster sushi) and we sat on the deck and ate as the sun went down.  We then played around with our pictures.  I downloaded my video and a few of my pictures to Facebook and got immediate responses from them.
We pulled back the comforter on the bed to find no top sheet.  The maid must have made a mistake.  So, I walked on down to the office.  The door was locked and a sign there said to call the sister motel giving us the number.
I dialed the number and informed them that I had no top sheet.  "Yes, we know", came the answer, "That is the way they do it in Europe.".  "Well, I am not in Europe.", I countered, "and I really want a top sheet".  I remembered what Judy had always told me of how many germs you can find on the unwashed top quilts.  "No problem", she said, "Just look in your dressor drawer.  We put them there for the ones who don't want the entire European experience."
A quick shower and I slipped under the fresh sheets, exhausted for the day, happy for the trip, and looking forward to getting back to my own bed the next night.

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