Saturday, March 23, 2013

Anacortes and the North Cascades


Anacortes MapWe’re in an area of Washington that’s new to us, and are enjoying Anacortes and the Fildago Bay RV Resort.  Anacortes has to be the yacht capital of Washington; this close to the San Juan Islands, the marinas are crammed with large cruisers and sailboats, and although quiet this time of year, we can only imagine how busy the town must be during the summer.  Anacortes ViewThe town works hard to retain it’s seaside charm – no box stores or chain restaurants, but some pretty good pubs and a nice variety of mid to high-end restaurants.   We’ve been impressed with the beauty of the water, islands, and snow-covered mountains – that is, on the rare days that the clouds lift and the rain stops.  But we’ve had a few nice days, and when the skies clear, this is one of the prettiest places we’ve been.  Waking up to clear skies one morning, we loaded up the car with a lunch of cheese, salami, and crusty bread and headed up the North Cascades Highway.  The highway is closed at the highest elevation this time of year because of snow, but we were able to spend much of the day exploring.  Approaching the town of Concrete, we turned onto the road to Baker Lake, a paved road surrounded by towering pines and mountains.  Although clouds were beginning to form on the mountains, we caught a glimpse through the trees of Mount Baker, a magnificently chiseled, snow-covered peak that towers over the landscape at nearly 11,000 feet.

Mt Baker Through Trees

Mountains thruTrees 

Each break in the trees allowed us another view of very cold-looking, snow-covered mountains.   Eventually we came to Baker Lake and parked at the dam where we had lunch while enjoying this vista:



Baker LakeHeading back to Concrete, we continued along the Skagit River to the small town of Rockport where we took a drive through Rockport State Park, another great Washington park with day-use, camping, and nice mountain views along the river.Cascade Mtn ViewCascades Thru Trees Passing through Rockport, the heavy forest kept us from seeing much of the surrounding area, but every now and then the trees would part a bit and tease us with a view.  Continuing on the highway, we finally entered the mountains and began climbing, passing Ross Lake and the brilliant-blue Diablo Lake.  Finally we came to the barriers closing the road (there was only 6-8 feet of snow on the road), pulled into the turnaround, and just sat for a while to enjoy the view.Cascade Mtn View5

Cascade Mtn View2

Returning to the RV Park, we couldn’t wait for the next nice day to explore the other (north) end of the North Cascades Loop, and a few days later hit the highway again.  This time we decided to have a late breakfast in Sedrow-Wooley, and driving through the small downtown area came upon Joy’s Bakery and Café.  Once in a while in our travels we come across a special place, and this was one of them.  Cheerful interior, friendly servers, great menu, and………CRUNCY COCONUT PANCAKES! Imagine a hubcap sized pancake of crunchy, sweet coconut, slathered in butter, topped with whipped cream – and it’s healthy!  Crunchy Coconut PancakeAfter all it has a generous amount of grain (pancake), fruit (coconut – hey, it grows on trees!), dairy (butter and whipped cream), and of course, a side of protein (bacon).  And as a bonus, a half-slice of fresh orange!  The sweetness of the coconut combined with the salty bacon creates a vortex of flavor – who knew?  We drove the 30 miles back the next week for another!

Happily full with our healthy breakfasts (Brenda had the blueberry pancakes – they were also wonderful), we started up Highway 9 to intersect the Mount Baker Highway.  Along the way, we pulled into a viewpoint to see this postcard picture:Cascade Mtn View4

Cascade Mtn View3

We turned onto the Mount Baker Highway and entered a world of forest , curves, and climbs.  It wasn’t long before the landscape began to change and the snow on each side of the road grew higher…..and higher.  By the time we pulled into the parking lot of the ski area, the snow level was waaay above the car level.Road to Mt Baker Ski Area

Snow in Parking Lot

Sometimes we get lucky and hit one of those special days of incredibly blue skies and bright sunshine, and this was one of them.  The weather combined with the mountains to give us one of those special days that we’ll always remember. Mt Baker from Ski Area

Mt Baker

Backside of Mt Baker

The sun was warm, the air clear and crisp, and the scenery stunning – we couldn’t have asked for a more memorable day!  If you’re ever in this area, don’t pass up the chance to see these magnificent mountains!

Driving back to Anacortes, we made a stop at the quaint little town of La Conner, known locally for their spring daffodil and tulip festivals.  La Conner WaterfrontIt sits on the Swinomish Channel, and has an active waterfront, and lots of shops offering interesting clothing and the usual $45 souvenir sweatshirts.  It’s a nice place to stroll and take in the scenery, and worth a drive through the residential area to view the restored older homes.  We enjoyed our visit and will return some day during warmer times.

We’ll be leaving the area soon but will take the memories of this great area with us.  We’re heading over the mountains to the East, so check back and see what we’re up to!


  1. Anonymous7:53 AM

    As always your pictures are magnificent! We spent last summer in Quilcene (at the hatchery) and loved every minute of it! Before that we had no idea of the beauty of that part of the country. Your photos are a real reminder!

    Currently in Missouri and heading next month toward a campground in Idaho for the summer.

    People have told us we missed a great place in San Juan Island National Park. Of course, it could be another one of those 'can't get there from here' deals.

    Love your blogs!
    Mary and Jim

  2. Thanks for sharing. We plan on being in that area late summer/early fall. Looks like it is absolutely gorgeous.

  3. Just gorgeous, Keith & Brenda... thanks, as always, for sharing your adventures with us "working stiffs." (Not that I'm jealous, or anything!)

  4. Terrific days exploring a part of Washington that we didn't get to explore all that much in the 1.5 years we lived there.

  5. Anonymous9:10 AM

    It doesn't get any better than coconut pancakes. Thanks for sharing such great photos.