Tuesday, April 10, 2012

A Walk on the Beach

These days Mike and I seem to be embracing the British concept of the 'Mini-Break'.  Every time a long weekend comes around, we start looking for places to run away to.  For Easter, we decided to take a four day weekend (the kids get Easter Monday off, so why not the adults?!) and head south to Bainbridge Island.
This trip is something I've been thinking about for a while now... Bainbridge Island is the home of Churchmouse Yarns and Teas, a wool shop that I have been wanting to visit.  Kind of odd really, since I'd never even heard of the place 6 months ago.  It was one of those situations where you hear of a place once, in passing, and then suddenly you hear about it again and again and again.  I took this as I sign that I really needed to go!  :)

To get there, you drive down to Seattle, and then hop on a ferry that takes you 35 minutes across the Sound.  (Ideally, you won't do this on a long weekend when half the population of Vancouver wants to cross the border at the same time as you!).  Then you either walk 5 minutes from the ferry into downtown, or, if you're staying longer, you drive about 10 minutes to the north end of the island, directly to a little B&B-style cottage in the woods (although we passed on the breakfast in favour of being able to sleep late in the mornings!).

The nice thing about being on an island is that you're never far from the beach...  have I told you that I love beaches?  Actually, I think its more the oceans that I love, but of course you can't get to the ocean without going down to some kind of beach.  We took our beach walk on Sunday... we had tried to go on Friday, but ended up getting there at high tide!  A public access path only a few minutes from where we were staying took us down to where this guy was waiting...

Here's another view of his piling, so you can get an idea of how big he was! (I forgot to bring my zoom lens, unfortunately)

A few more steps, and we were too close for his comfort.  Oops!  ;)

I love walking on beaches.  It always amazes me how that muddy, smooshy space is really teeming with life.  The waters in Puget Sound are relatively warm, too, which means you get more sea-life on their beaches than on those around Vancouver.  Case in point, Starfish.  Maybe this is to do with the currents of Vancouver's bays, but its pretty rare to see starfish on Vancouver beaches.  On Bainbridge, they're everywhere!  These purple guys were the most common.  Their upper bodies are pretty solid, so you can easily pick them up to get a closer look.
There were a bunch of pink starfish too, which were softer, and looked a little more bothered by being exposed to the sun.  I thought they were less-healthy examples of the purple ones, but Wikipedia tells me that they're a totally different species!  :)

A little further down the beach we found this guy - I've always called these guys sunfish, but I don't think that's their official name.  Its hard to tell the scale here, but he was probably close to 9 or 10 inches across - and he was moving quickly!

 This beach was also covered in sand dollars.  I've never seen sand dollars in Vancouver - to me, they're a creature you find only on Vancouver Island.  On Long Beach, for example, its pretty common to find their 'shells' (not the technical term!) washed up on shore, bleached beige, or white by the sun (like the one in the bottom corner here, next to the crab body).

 On Bainbrige, most of these guys were still very much alive - as indicated by their fuzzy purple appearance!  At first we saw them lying amongst the rocks.

Then we came to a more sandy section, and realized that the little round 'ripple' features in the sand were really made by an abundance of sand dollars, hiding in the sand until the tide came back in!  Look closely, there are about 12 or 15 in this photo alone!
 After that, we started to be very careful about where we were walking!

The other creature you have to watch out for on these beaches are the geoducks (pronounced "gooey ducks").  You can't see them, because they live several feet under the sand, but if you stay on the beach for even a few minutes, you're sure to see (and get hit by!) their sprays of water - some of which reach about 3 feet high!  I didn't get any photos, but you can watch this video from youtube if you're interested.  Then check out this one, to see what they look like under all that sand:

After about an hour on the beach, we decided to head back to the road and walk back to the cottage.  The rest of the day was spent reading, napping, and doing a little crochet.

 On Monday we hopped back on the ferry and began the drive home... this time, it was only a 25 minute wait at the border, so the trip took a much more reasonable 3.5 hours.
 The ferry, as seen from the main vehicle deck. 

 The spares are stored at Bainbridge - cheaper parking rates, I imagine

 Downtown Seattle looks so small from out here!

We saw a small pod of Orcas on the way back, but I didn't get a decent photo.  If you want to see what they look like in the wild, you're going to have to come out for a visit!  :)

Oh yeah, the yarn store was lovely!  I highly recommend a visit next time you're in the area!  :)

1 comment:

P'cess said...

It looks beautiful there!~

Also, you wouldn't know, cause it's not something one mentions out of context but I'm completely obsessed with sand dollars...

Must go! Now!