For our first full day in the Seattle area we drove to Mukilteo and floated on a ferry over to Whidbey Island. This was my family’s first ferry experience, and my eight-year-old son was especially excited. We enjoyed a smooth, quick ride across the Puget Sound. Soon we were on the island.
When I was a kid I lived in a small three-bedroom home near Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island for over five years, which is the longest I’ve ever lived in one place. I made a lot of great memories there. Right away my mind began recalling things left and right. I was able to point out different places that were significant to me and bring life to many of the stories I’ve told.
Our first stop on the island was Fort Casey State Park. This was one of my absolute favorite places when I was a kid. I loved climbing all over the old military fort. The dark tunnels seemed endless, and it was always a surprise where exactly you’d pop out into the daylight. It’s a creepy and vast playground that’s seemingly made for boys. Plus it offers great ocean views.
My family loved it! My wife was a little reluctant at first, but as we explored more and more she had a change of heart, and it ended up being one of the highlights of the trip for her. The kids still haven’t stopped talking about it.
It was a fun place to photograph. I used to do a lot of abandonment/urban exploration type photography, and this was similar to that (except without the trespassing and much less dangerous). I like that genre of photography (although I rarely do “urbex” pictures anymore), and Fort Casey allowed me to include my family in an abandonment adventure that even young kids could enjoy.
We stayed awhile, touring a large area of the park, yet still left plenty unseen. All too soon it was time to go. After all, it was lunchtime and we were getting hungry.
Next stop, Coupeville. This quaint island town sits right on Penn Cove. The small downtown is full of historic buildings from the 1800’s and early 1900’s. Coupeville is one of Washington’s oldest settlements (some claim it is the second oldest town in the state, although apparently it depends on how one defines “town”). It’s a quintessential Pacific Northwest coastal community, and a must-stop on the island.
We only stayed long enough to eat lunch. We noticed that the town has a lot of cats (a fact noticed by my eight-year-old son who loves cats). It seemed like a place we could have spent some time, looking through the different shops and such, but we had more on the agenda. We wanted to save some daylight for Oak Harbor, the town on Whidbey Island that I used to live near.
As we approached the town of Oak Harbor on Highway 20, many buildings and landmarks became familiar. Some things had obviously changed in the decades that had passed since I was last on the island, but plenty had not. A lot of memories flooded my mind.
After a pit stop and a quick tour of downtown, we found the little yellow house where I lived for several years as a child. We drove around the neighborhood. I pointed out where different stories took place that I’d told my family. We got out of the car and walked down a path that I used to traverse, finding some blackberries that were surprisingly still ripe.
I never had a hometown growing up because we moved all of the time. When people would ask, “Where’s home?” I never had a good answer. Oak Harbor is the closest place to that “home” that I ever experienced, but I hadn’t seen it in over 25 years. I cannot tell you how good it was to go back. My family appreciated this journey, as well.
The final stop on our Whidbey Island tour was Deception Pass State Park. This is such a beautiful spot on the island! We walked the rocky beach. The kids looked for seashells and sea life, and found two dead crabs. They chased the waves in and out. We breathed in the salty and moist ocean air. We had a great time! We were reminded just how much we love the coast.
The sun was getting low. Soon the short November daylight would be gone. We got back in the car and crossed the well-photographed Deception Pass Bridge. I wished that we could have visited longer, but the time we did have was wonderful. I suppose it means that we’ll have to come back.
I used my Fujifilm X100F to capture all of these photographs, which are camera-made JPEGs using my Acros Push-Process Film Simulation recipe and my Velvia Film Simulation recipe. I brought two batteries but only used one. I left the wide-angle conversion lens at the hotel.