The Ferry to Whidbey Island

In summer, vehicles bearing vacationers crowd the roadways of the northwest. I understand tourism, having worked two decades on Maui. The product is wonder, a vitamin for the soul. I crave it. I am revelling in it. I consider a two hour wait for the ferry from Port Townsend, on the Olympic Peninsula, to Keystone, on Whidbey Island, merely the price of the merchandise.

I spent my two hours calling family members on the cell phone, nibbling baked tofu, studying maps of Washington state. The time passed pleasantly enough, and the jovial gentleman who took my $8.25 at the toll booth was worth the price of admission alone.

Crescent and I were crowded into the bowels of the ferry, and I just managed to squeeze out the driver's side door so that I could climb the stairs to the upper deck.

Port Townsend from the water, with its wharves, boats, old buildings and tall trees looks like an American Primitive painting, even in a photograph.

Whidbey Island loomed upon the horizon, and a chilly wind kept most passengers inside the vast cabin.

Ferry passengers relax with snacks from the food counter in the center of the cabin, while the beauty of the channel rolls by through the windows.

The ride lasted scarcely thirty minutes, and soon I was navigating my van onto the dock and onto Highway 20, which runs the length of Whidbey Island, and crosses a bridge onto the mainland at Deception Pass. I paused before leaving the Keystone Wharf to snap a photo of the ferry, already taking on a return load of people and automobiles.

An hour later I stopped again to admire the view from the bridge at Deception Pass, and its waterways, filled with Sunday boaters. Above the view to the east...

...and here, the view to the west.

The mystery of a place of such enchanting beauty bearing such a bitter name was solved by the above plaque, affixed to a boulder on the roadside just north of the bridge. It says: "Deception Pass, named by Captain George Vancouver in June, 1792, feeling that he had been 'deceived' as to the nature of the inner waterway, Port Gardner (now Saratoga Passage). He wrote on the big chart 'Deception Pass'." It goes on to say he named Whidbey Island for Joseph Whidbey, who found the island while commanding a small-boat crew. The plaque dates from1935, perhaps part of a WPA Project.

I sang as a glided along in my lunar transport, and, a few hours later, followed the directions from I-5 to the home of Mela MacVittie, a woman of mythical qualities who I first met in Hana, Maui in 1974.

Coming up the driveway to the home of Mela and her family.


I was not the only guest at dinner that night, and Mela created a fabulous vegan meal that pleased everyone.

She sliced tofu, eggplant and mushrooms one half inch thick, painted a marinade onto both sides of each slice and placed them on oiled baking sheets in a hot oven. The marinade: olive oil, balsamic vinegar, tamari, pressed garlic, applied with what looked like a sash painting brush.

Then she cubed fresh tomatoes and orange bell peppers. When the broiled items were golden on both sides, she cut them into bite-sized pieces, blended them with the cubed vegetables, and then poured this mixture over freshly cooked pasta. I prepared a big green salad and she made a dressing of tahini, garlic, balsamic vinegar and tamari.