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August 4, 2018

Adventures of Candace Nicole | Washington Explorations Part I

There always one place that makes me feel at home and the happiest I’ve ever been, and thats the PNW.  Ive said it a time or two but its the truth, my truth.  My dream is to live between Portland + Seattle so I have easy access to two incredible and diverse cities and some of the best nature the US has to offer.  I think Im mainly jealous of how easily accessible the nature is there.  You can drive an hour in any direction and you end up somewhere STUNNING or within a national park or forest.  This time around, I wanted to focus a solid week on just Washington state.  I left things pretty up in the air up until about 1 week before my flight was scheduled to leave.  I knew I wanted to take a whale watching tour and I opted for a Monday tour hoping for less people.  It worked in my favor of course. But this meant I had to plan the rest of the trip around my whale watching tour.

I landed in Seattle around 9:30 in the morning and after finding my bags (so nerve wracking, I hate checking bags) and picking up my rental car, I had an open schedule for Saturday + Sunday.  So I snagged an airbnb up in Vancouver and gave myself a day to hit up a favorite spot of mine,  Squamish, BC.  I had been to Squamish before – two years ago I ventured up to the Sea to Sky gondola to do some hiking and to see the Howe Sound from above.  It was stunning and if you are ever in the area, I highly recommend going.  This time, I wanted to see a bit more and to see the Chief ( the stunning, iconic mountain face that looms over the town) from a different angle.  So I headed to the Squamish spit that is known for its stunning views and wind surfing… which I wasn’t expecting haha.  Vancouver is a super easy 3 hour drive from Seattle so its super easy.  It did take about an hour to get through the border though so prepare for that if you opt to go.   The Stawamus Chief really was giving me some Yosemite vibes.  The meadows below and the Squamish river running behind me.  I sat here for about an hour just taking it in and resting my feet in the river.  After enjoying the views for a bit, I made my way to Porteau park for what I thought was going to be some swimming but I was BEAT. The jetlag and driving was starting to get to me so I just sat here on the beach and people watched as the sun was setting.  It worked out perfectly because I arrived at a local mexican restaurant and stuffed my face with some glorious mex meals and it was delicious!

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The next day I decided I would hit up Mt. Baker highway and see some of Mt. Bakers beauty.  And you guys.  He is a beaut!  Picture lake offers STUNNING views of Mt. Baker and if it wasn’t for the high winds we were getting, the lake perfectly mirrors the mountain.  Even without the reflection it was still incredible.  There is a trail that goes all the way around the small lake.  Incredible views are everywhere you turn.  My eyeballs were in heaven. As I was nearing the top of the mountain, I FOUND SNOW! I love snow!  It was funny because it was hot.  The sun is hot out west.  It was in the 70’s but the sun made it seem as if it was 80+ degrees but then you had snow on the ground.  I was in heaven.
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After spending a few hours driving and taking mini hikes around the Mt. Baker area, I decided I was going to spend my night back in Deception Pass before snagging dinner and finding a place to watch the sunset.  Rosario beach is the place to be.  It was so quiet and empty!  I hiked the trail a little bit and found the perfect spot to set up my hammock and I laid there for almost two hours.  I wont lie, a mini nap was 100% taken.  Once I stuffed my face with…. Im not ashamed…. even more Mexican food, I made my way to Cape Sante park.  This lookout gives you GORGEOUS views of the harbor in Anacortes and Mt Baker.  I couldn’t get enough.  The views of Anacortes were giving us these beautiful pinks and oranges and then when you turned to see Mt. Baker, nothing but blues and purples.  One of the best sunsets I’ve ever seen.
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MONDAY IS HERE! The day I was most anxious for.  Two years ago when I visited Seattle, I signed up for a Whale watching tour but got caught up in the US customs at the border for Canada and missed my ferry over to San Juan Islands.  This time I made sure I was in town in time and instead of needing a ferry over to the islands, I grabbed a tour out of Anacortes where I stayed the night for two nights. I booked with Island Adventure tours and it was a FAAAABBBBulous! I snagged the evening tour because I figured, they already know where the whale are going to be, right?  And I was exactly right.  We made our way right to the whales.  Two pods to be exact.  I wish I could remember which pods we were seeing but I forgot due to my excitement.  At first, the pods were a bit away from our boat but after about 20 minutes, these guys started showing off for us!  In the photos below youll see an image that is just the after splash of one of the orcas breaching and splashing our boat!  IT WAS AWESOME! These two pods even hunted and were teaching their young right in front of us.  I mean so close I could have jumped off the boat and been in all of the action.  None of us were positive but our guides were pretty sure that they had just had two kills.  Porpoises, though the only thing we could really see were the left overs that they played with.  Yep.  Orcas are just really big toddlers that eat and then play with their left overs.  Our tour guides insisted that was one of the best Orca viewings of their careers and you guys, I can 100 + 10% believe it because it was THAT GOOD! We just got that lucky.
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To finish off the day and part I,  I made my way to another beach in Anacortes to watch the sunset over the San Juan Islands.  Watching the ferry go by was beautiful.  Im so envious of people who get to see things like this every day.  I wonder if they appreciate it as much as I do.  Part II coming soon! And its full of even more stunning nature!
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