Friday, September 19, 2008

Whidbey Island

Chris' sisters, Megan and Alex, are both at the University of Washington this year, which starts next week. Bob and Cherie were down to get the girls off to school and see family. Chris' brother Greg and his girlfriend Katherine already live in Seattle. It seemed like a great time for a family vacation. Katherine very kindly offered the use of her dad's vacation home on Whidbey Island and Greg planned a fabulous weekend, complete with activities and great food.

Once we arrived, we took a tour of the house, the yard, and the incredible beach. By the way, if you're looking to visit the Seattle area (or need a nearby weekend break from Seattle), consider staying at this vacation house! It's huge, has four bedrooms (with private bathrooms), a fantastic view of the ocean, and access to the beach. The website, along with photos of the house and reservation information, can be found here.

What do boys do at the beach? Why, have stone-throwing competitions, of course. Bob, the former baseball player, had the best record.
Ahh. Vacation. Desperately needed after a very long, stressful, and exhausting (but good) week.
Playing with potato bugs.
We spent the first afternoon hanging out and playing badminton and volleyball.

The next morning I took a lovely stroll along the beach at sunrise. We should probably point out that getting to the beach is a nice workout in itself.
Clams. Yum. Any ideas as to the species?
Katherine showed us the crabs hiding under the rocks.
Mine wasn't too happy about being removed from his comfy rock house. He bolted.

Clam art. I'd be lying if I told you that I found them like this.
I have no idea what this thing is. But it ambled past as I was taking pictures of clams.

View from underwater.

On Sunday, we strolled down to the beach for some clamming. Very, very fun. There is something immensely satisfying about obtaining one's food using methods that don't involve a trip to the store. It's the same as harvesting from the garden. The jury is still out on hunting though. Fishing, yes (although, and Bob, can attest to this, it took me a long while to be ok about committing fish homicide), hunting, maybe.

Alex digging.
Check out our giant snail.
More digging.
Greg found a sea star
(which he tossed back!)
Megan hard at work
Chris washing off our catch
Sweet! Dinner! These larger clams (species unknown) were made into chowder, which we heard was good (but missed out on, due to an early departure date)
Sunday afternoon we drove over to Deception Pass

Walked across the bridge (Bob, Chris and Alex)

and went for a hike down to the water.
Megan and Alex, watching the stone-throwing competition
Awww. This is where the rest of the family makes fun of the fact that I stand on tip toes when taking a picture with Chris. Otherwise I don't even reach his shoulder.
Can you spot the harbor seal in this picture?
Afterward, it was off to a local fruit stand to stock up on dinner provisions and get some ice cream.

And then we did another nice hike in a park that I cannot remember the name of. It was a former military post, complete with abandoned bunkers and gun mounts. (see picture of Megan, below)
The picture was taken in complete darkness. Yay for the flash.
We didn't get any pictures of the entire family. Here's the best I got: Cherie, Greg (hiding behind Bob), Bob, Megan, Katherine, Shelley (Katherine's Mom), Alex, and Chris' arm.

Megan and the rest of the team, getting ready to break the rules and head down to the beach!
Baseball, beach style

Alex and Chris, scouting ahead
Couldn't get the darn bird to hold still. As a result, the picture is probably much more visually interesting
Cherie and Bob
That speck on the hill behind them (click for a close up) is my husband, going off-road and trying to find the way back to the car

After our hike, which was made more interesting by the fact that we couldn't find our way off the beach or back to the car, we went back to the house for dinner. Megan's boyfriend Eric, and Katherine's mom Shelley joined us for dinner and a great time was had by all.

I went for a sunrise walk on Monday too, going the other direction
And happened across this deer, sitting perfectly still on the beach.

Sunrise over the hills.

We took a walk through Langley: quaint and cute

And made it back to the house later for some croquet

Cherie, what is this plant again?

Greg discovered this garter snake's big brother and this guy came out for a chat in the process. I tried to pick it up but completely chickened out. How is it that I can pick up 8 foot boa constrictors but can't catch a 10-inch garter snake?
snake shed.

Greg, Katherine, and Cherie made the most incredible BBQed clams. Chris and I usually do them in a pot, steamer style, but we're converts to the bbq method now.

So that's it for pictures. Katherine, Cherie, Megan, and Alex also took a ton of photos so I encourage you to check out their blogs and facebook pages for more awesome images. Next time I'm going to try to get better pictures of family members: I didn't have many of Cherie and Katherine but tons of Chris, Megan, and Alex. Good thing we had five cameras between the nine of us!

Thank you for the wonderful time, everyone. It was great to see you and we're looking forward to Thanksgiving.

Sonja and Chris