Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Forts, Subs, and Islands

Fort Flagler GunHere on the shore of the Straits of Juan de Fuca and Puget Sound, you can’t go far without running into some sort of military influence, either past or present.  We’re on one of the coast defense forts from a bygone era, and on a clear and sunny day decided to visit another fort in the “Triangle of Fire”, Fort Flagler, also a state park.  This fort forms the southern leg of the triangle, and while an island (Marrowstone), is connected to the mainland by a bridge. Fort Flagler Housing It’s much like Fort Worden, except the area is more spacious and it has large areas of green meadows.  It’s a pretty place, with beautiful views of Hood Canal and the Cascades in the distance.

While visiting the fort, we watched as one of the nuclear submarines from Bangor Naval Base passed by on the way home.  It’s an interesting sight – first comes a Coast Guard cutter far out in front, followed by two Navy gunboats also out front and flanking, then the submarine with two specially designed ships, one on each side.  The ships have cargo containers stacked on their decks, filled with something that in the Navy’s words is “projectile proof”. They maintain a position on either side and close in, while in the rear are two more gunboats and another cutter.  It’s an impressive parade, but one that brings home the fact that some of the submarines based at Bangor are “boomers”, or Trident missile platforms that carry 24 thermonuclear-armed missiles, each with eight warheads.Submarine with Escorts

Sub with Escort

Fort Casey Gun LineBehind the ships in the above picture is the shoreline of Whidbey Island, the location of the third fort in the triangle, Fort Casey.  Here also are the large gun batteries overlooking the Sound, and on the main battery is mounted a WWI-era “disappearing gun”, named because when fired, the recoil would push the gun back and down below the battery wall where it locked for loading.  The gun pictured was an original Fort Casey gun that was shipped to the Philippines during WWII and then returned later for display.  Fort Casey LighthouseLike Fort Flagler, Fort Casey has large grassy areas, usually populated by black-tail deer, and on a hill overlooking the water is a historic lighthouse built in 1861.

Exploring Whidbey Island, we visited the Naval Air Station (nice commissary), the quaint waterfront town of Coupeville, and Deception Pass, a narrow opening where the waters of Puget Sound are funneled through a narrow opening during high and low tides.  From the state park below the bridge, you can get a view of the rugged but beautiful area.  And everywhere you go, the view of Mt. Baker fills the eastern horizon.Deception Pass Bridge

Tide at Deception Pass

Deception Pass View










Mt Baker from Whidbey IslandTraveling by ferry here is easy and very comfortable.  Once aboard, you can leave your car and visit one of two heated decks, with comfortable seating, a snack bar, restrooms, and even a few jigsaw puzzles on tables to pass the time.  Although as you can see, just enjoying the view can keep you interested.Ferry with Cascades

We don’t always have a sunny day here in the Puget Sound area, but when we do, the scenery is breathtaking.  Even stepping out the door of the museum provides a great view:

View across Puget Sound

That’s it for now!  We’re finishing up our stay in Fort Worden, and will be moving a bit further west to Sequim (“squim”) at the end of the month, so be sure and visit again to see what we’re up to!


  1. Oh, how this girl raised in a little town at the foot of Mt. Rainier loves the area you are in. Made me smile to see you were going to Sequim. Do you smile too when people pronounce it "Sea Quim" or "pug it" Sound.......Thanks for the beautiful pictures and the history lesson. Brought back lots of memories.

  2. Wow you sure had a beautiful day for your adventure. I love the Puget Sound area and would love to visit again. Thanks for sharing all the wonderful pictures.

  3. What a great post! I especially found the information and pictures of the submarine fascinating.

    And WOW! the scenery. We were there this past June/July and you are having better weather now then we did at that time of the year. Most of the time it was foggy, rainy, and cold....couldn't see the mountains most days!

  4. We only visited (and camped in our car) at Fort Worden; will definitely need to visit the other state parks and forts when we eventually get up there. And yes, when the sun shines in the Puget Sound area, it's a terrific day.

  5. Thanks, everyone, for the comments! We enjoy hearing from all of you!