Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Driving in a winter wonderland

(I originally started this post a couple weeks ago, then failed to finish and publish... so the story is a little late.  And I'm failing at my "at least once a week posting", so I'm going to get my ass moving on that.  I promise)

That bird-watching opportunity that I mentioned in my last post came about because the school district up here has a mid-winter break.  It's not a vacation that either D or I grew up with, but it's something that is in the teacher's contract, so we decided to take advantage of it and spend a week getting away from it all.  We had no idea that "getting away from it all" would involve driving straight into a bizarre patch of heavy winter weather.  We drove north, took a ferry, and stayed a couple of days on Orcas Island... where we were hit with a relatively massive amount of snow.  Granted, the man who owned the coffee shop in town (originally from Switzerland) thought it was nothing more than a dusting... we considered 3-4 inches dropping in a few hours to be decently significant.  However, with D's big heavy truck and my white-knuckled grip on the rather un-detailed map of the island*, we navigated the snowy roads down to the ferry dock.
*(Side note: those who might plan a visit to Orcas... know that your nav system may not be updated with any road information for the island.  It's not so big that you can really get lost anyway, but if you want to know where you are for certain - say for example, in the snow where you can't really see where the road is... bring a map)
After loading onto the ferry, we had snowy and freezing couple hours ride over to Anacortes, where the snow had blanketed the town in a good 6 inches, and was still falling.

Usually in these kind of driving conditions I turn into... well... I get paranoid.
Hard to imagine me paranoid, right?
However, on this day I managed to distract myself enough with the beautiful scenery that I let go of my anxiety and just put my faith in D's driving skills.  I knew I wasn't going to convince anyone in our party to stop at viewpoint for me to get out and shoot, but I did take advantage of the slow crawls to stick my lens out the window and capture some lovely snowy landscapes.

As we drove down the length of Whidby, we were treated to these kinds of peaceful scenes... rolling hills of farm land covered in a blanket of white, snow capped trees, and off in the distance just the slightest hint of a break in the clouds... just enough to light the scene without washing everything out.

We considered stopping at the viewpoint across Deception Pass, but I wasn't on top of it enough to remind D that the turn off is IMMEDIATELY after the bridge, so we missed the opportunity to stop.  I did manage a shot of the pass below the bridge as we drove over though.

Down the remainder of the island, on our way to the ferry dock that would take us to Port Townsend, the snow thinned.  By the time we reached the dock there was little more than a hint of dusting on a few pieces of driftwood.  Strange what a difference 2 miles makes in the weather up here.

Due to low tide, we had an hour and a half wait for that ferry - which is where my bird watching opportunity came about.  It was lovely timing, as the family had to sit and wait for the ferry anyway, so my shooting adventure didn't take up anyone's time.  We crossed the water and pulled into town, an easy 8 or so blocks from the ferry dock to the condo we rent.  As we unloaded our cars the snow began to fall, and by dinner time the town was covered in a good 4 inches of snow.  Thankfully, Port Townsend is the kind of place that you can park your car and not need to touch it again until you leave town... so all we needed to do was settle in.

The timing was incredible.

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