Saturday, July 23, 2011

Day Twenty-Nine: Oh My Gosh! That was AMAZING!

We were fortunate enough to be able to start our day a little later today, since we didn't have to leave the hotel until 9:30.We were going to clean the room up a little before breakfast, but decided not to. After a nice breakfast, we went back to the room to get ready to go. With our Hudak Luck, the key didn't work. We went back to the front desk to let them know, and she reprogrammed it. Went back to the room- it still didn't work. Went back to the front desk and she came to check it out. Turns our that none of her keys worked and the battery in the lock died. Of course it happened on the one day that we had something amazing plans. She called the guy to come fix it- "It'll be about 5 minutes". Luckily, we were able to pass the time chatting with Annie, who was waiting too! (I hope they all came back to get you!!) We were able to get back in the room, picked up a little, and then left for Anacortes. Anacortes is where we picked up the ferry to go to the islands. It is about an hour and a half drive from our hotel. Once you pass the Seattle vicinity, the state goes back to being farmland. Anacortes is a small little area that lies on the water. It is such a cute little town! We got to the ferry in time for our boat, with some time to look around. Not too much around the ferry, a few stores and such, but that was it.
We got on the boat and decided to sit outside since it was such a gorgeous day! It was very breezy though, so it was a good thing we over-dressed! It takes about an hour to get from Anacortes to Friday Harbor, on San Juan Islands. The ride was absolutely breathtaking! The water was so clear, the sun was out, and so were the mountains (finally!) It was fun to see all the different boats on the water. We spent a few minutes posing, obviously tourists! When we got to Friday Harbor, we went to pick up our tickets for our trip. The lady in the shop said it was excellent day to go on the tour. It's a good thing I paid for them early, because then we wouldn't have been able to go. We had three choices for which tour we went on, but we made the best choice. We had about 45 minutes until we had to load the boat, so we walked around the area. It is a very touristy area.
We stopped for a snack and then loaded the boat. The boat was called the Western Prince. It was supposed to be a full boat, but I don't think it was, which was good. There were five or six small groups on the tour. After listening to all the necessary information, we left at 2:00. Since it was such a nice day, there were a TON of boats in the water. This changed our course a little, since a lot of them were looking for the whales too. So, we took the long way around. We saw a bunch of different animals. The type we saw was a group of harbor seals. They were soo cute! They were sunbathing on the rocks with the seagulls. There were some that swam right near the boat, checking it out. There were quite a few of them around. (They're probably my new favorite sea animal!) We also saw a sea lion. This thing was ginormous!! It was sitting on the edge of the rock, all by itself, and then jumped into the water. It tried to get back on the rock, but was having a hard time (I know how he feels sometimes...) He finally made it, and we continued on. We were also able to see a handful of bald eagles in the tree tops. Apparently they eat seagulls and leave the beaks. The Captain said that his friend has a pile of them in his yard. Kind of gross, but must be kind of cool to see! There were supposedly two babies, but they were difficult to see.
The last animal we saw, and the reason we went on the tour, were the Orca whales. It was so amazing! They are called killer whales, but they won't attack people. They only eat salmon. (Everything up here eats salmon...) They are also not whales, they're dolphins. There were many other tour boats in the area with us. Anyway, we saw about 8 different whales. Most of the time, all you could see were their fins, but it was so neat to see three or four fins up in the air at the same time. A few of them actually jumped out of the water! A few did cartwheels and somersaults (or at least that's what the Naturalist on board called them). We were able to drive alongside the pods, and when they stopped, we stopped. There was one point in which we stopped and just sat there. We lost track of the whale we were following, and then all of a sudden he popped up and was about 100 yards from us. It was awesome. The Captain wasn't happy because he was too close (people are supposed to stay 200 feet away from them). There wasn't much he could do, so we started up again and followed him. A few minutes later, we stopped again, and the Captain dropped the hydrophone so we could hear what was going on under the water. you could hear all of the noises they were making, and there was one whale that sounded really close. He was. He popped back up and was only 20 feet or so from the boat! We couldn't start up again, since it was so close, so we waited it out. It was so cool to see a whale so close! He came up a few more times. After that excitement, it was time to head back to the dock. The trip back was so much quicker, but then again, it was already 5:00. The trip was about 3 hours, but they went by so fast! The whole tour was absolutely amazing and totally worth it. I would recommend it to anyone! As long as you go at the right time!
We had a few more minutes till the ferry came back, so we grabbed another snack. We were going to stay to have dinner somewhere on the island, but didn't think we'd finish in time to make it back to the ferry. We got on board for the ride back. I think this was the only time that the ride back took longer on the way back. When we finally got back to Anacortes, we got back to the car (it was still there!) and headed out. We were nervous that with all the people on board it would take a long time to get out, but it didn't. We were getting hungry, so we were looking for somewhere to stop. Apparently everything out there closes early, since nothing was open. We drove back to the hotel and were going to stop at a few places, but they were closed too. We finally stopped at McDonald's for some coffee, which was disappointing, because it wasn't what we wanted to do. We got back to the hotel at 10:30. There were a bunch of military people in the lobby. They are having the McChord Air Rodeo this weekend. I'm not sure what it is, but they were all gone this morning. With that, we went to bed and slept very well.

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