Exploring the Pacific Northwest in the Springtime - Part II

Squishy sand, stunning flowers, and towering mountains were all part of the second half of our springtime trip to the PNW, but our son was not. Military duty called and he jetted out for some training, leaving our little foursome to explore on our own for the second half of our trip.

The first day dawned rainy, as is to be expected in this region, so it was raincoats all around and off into the wet world we went. We made a short foray to Lummi Island, and upon returning we headed to the shore on the mainland. Descending a steep flight of steps, we emerged onto the rocky beach at low tide. The rain had stopped and everything was damp and smelled of the sea. The decaying remnants of a dock were well-exposed now, and the sea could barely be glimpsed on the horizon, with nothing but squishy mud in between us and it. While Dave and I wobbled over the slippery rocks on the shore and unearthed small crabs, the girls ventured far out onto the normally water-hidden land. Julia says it was one of her favorite moments of the trip and described it as "like another planet" out there. A small waterfall burbled down to the shore and ran across the rocks and out into the sea. We all loved our time casually spent at this piece of shoreline, as it seemed a truly PNW experience.

Another day. Another raincoat (just in case). Another ferry. Canada, here we come! While there are many options for travelling by ferry to Vancouver Island, the scheduling gets tricky. We found it best to take the early morning ferry out of Anacortes, WA and then leave Vancouver Island from Sidney with a Canadian ferry to Vancouver on the mainland and then drive back to the U.S. (Just a bit of a PNW travel tip, if you're trying to figure this out too.) This ferry ride was just as beautiful, with a bonus of being of longer duration than the ferry on our first day. There were puzzles and dogs and snacks (and a nap for me). Along the route, we passed Spieden Island, a once private game preserve where exotic species still lives. Our captain called the deer that live there "spiedalopes", but that's unverified information. (Read more here.) We then docked on Vancouver Island, on a bright and sunny day.

Our destination was the stunning Butchart Gardens, acres of cultivated gardens in all their springtime splendor. We wandered the paths for hours admiring the flowers and the work, dedication, and vision involved in creating such beauty for people to enjoy for generations. The Sunken Garden is built in what was once a rocky quarry, and a placard told of how Mrs. Butchart would be lowered in a sling to fit plantings into the crevices of the rocks walls. We passed through the Rose Garden (not yet blooming in mid-April) and the serenity of the Japanese Garden before coming to my favorite, the Italian Garden. I definitely regret not making lunch reservations at the restaurant overlooking the manicured lawn. Outdoor dining with no traffic noise is absolutely bliss to me, and this would've been ideal. But we passed through the arbor, whimsically placed in an enormous hedge, and had gelato while resting in the sunshine instead. Before leaving, we simply had to detour into the staff parking lot to gawk at the enormity of this hedge, That's a hedge! I napped (again) on the return Canadian ferry, so have little to report from that other than to say it was less like a ferry and more like a tiny cruise ship (no puzzles provided).

Our last day in the Pacific Northwest found us driving into the mountains and "Sasquatch country". There was much tittering and laughing about the latter, as we kept our eyes open for "him". We even passed through a town which holds an annual festival in his honor. I asked the clerk at the general store if he'd seen him, and he stared hard at me through narrowed eyes (not unlike you might imagine Clint Eastwood) and replied, "Not lately." Hmm. Escaping Sasquatch's grasp (ahem), we went higher and higher into the mountains. The rivers were rushing with the spring thaw and the waters all looked ever so icy cold. The views were simply spectacular on the way to and at our top destination of Mount Shuksan. Simple astounding! We felt as though we must be in the Alps, the mountains rose to such heights and still had so much snow for mid-April. Parts of Mt. Shuksan looked like an avalanche waiting to happen, and I found myself wondering more than once how real a possibility that might be, how far it would flow, if it would cover the road and strand us, and why we hadn't brought food and more water. But all's well that ends well! We weren't attacked by Sasquatch or buried alive in an avalanche -- just another beautiful travel day in the Pacific Northwest!

Helpful travels links to the Pacific Northwest...

Washington DOT for ferry service out of Anacortes, click here.
BC Ferries for ferry service from Vancouver Island to Vancouver, click here.
Butchart Gardens, click here.


  1. Again, such beautiful photos and such a fun post! Do you know the name of the Bellingham beach in the low-tide photos? What a fun place that would be to go exploring with our four young kids!

    1. Hi, Anna. I'm pretty sure that was Locust Beach. It's a fabulous place to explore!


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