August 5, 2014
It had been a long week+ of traveling, but now we were settled in for awhile. I got a good night’s sleep, but, as usual, was awake far too early. I think it also has something to do with the longer daylight up here. I’ve never been this far north in winter, and would be curious as to how that would affect me. I’d probably still get up early.
From a photography standpoint these long days are fabulous. Long morning and evening light means you’ve got much more optimal time with the best possible light. Even with longer light, I wasn’t going to waste any of it, so I headed out early to take some photos of Skagit Valley.
First, though, I did get did get distracted by a small bunny right outside the window while I was having breakfast…
This part of the Skagit Valley is mostly reclaimed farm land. Samish Island was once a true island, but has been reconnected to the mainland by land reclamation. “The Flats” present and ever-changing landscape, depending on crops, weather, and lighting conditions. Today the weather was clear and spectacular.
The last time I was here huge portions were flooded, providing wetlands for herons and other large wading birds. This time it was drier, and crops were planted in the same fields. Most of the land along Samish Island Road was planted in blueberries, and they were ripe for harvest. Mount Baker was out, and loomed over the fields of berries.
I drove into the outskirts of town and grabbed a supplementary cup of coffee, then headed on over to Bow Hill Road. The views of the valley and bay from Bow Hill should be bathed in morning light. Unfortunately, there’s not a good place to stop for a photo, and this morning there seemed to be lots of traffic behind me on the narrow road. I descended the hill and drove through the small town of Bow, then on through Edison.
I did eventually pull over at the bridge across the Samish River. Last time I was here it was the opening of salmon season, and the banks were lined with fishermen. This time it was quiet. The Olympics were clearly visible to the southwest across the islands.
I was still after some elevated views, though. Farm-to-Market Road is aptly named, as it crosses much of the Skagit farmland. At its southern end it rise sharply to cross another hill. There I did find a place to pull over and get some good views of the valley and islands.
I used the 500mm lens to take a series of photos, then stitched them together in Photoshop for a panorama of the scene:
I zig-zagged across the farmland, eventually dropping down to the community of Bayview. From there I headed back toward Samish Island. Along that route the road comes around a bend, and there are beautiful views of Mount Baker, nicely framed over an apple orchard.
In fact, it was hard NOT to stop and take lots of photos of Baker. Not only was Baker out, but the Northern Cascades were visible further up the valley.
One has to make a series of sharp 90º turns to get out to the island. At one of the bends is a bird sanctuary with a small parking area. I pulled over and took a few photos of the islands and surrounding area.
Once again using the 500mm lens, I created a panorama of Mount Baker from that vantage point. I also did a panorama of Fidalgo Island and the grasslands around Padilla Bay.
One of my favorite memories of Samish Island involves crab. On my fist visit to the island in 1987 Laura’s father took us out into Samish Bay in his little fishing boat to set crab pots. That evening we went back out to haul in our catch. A neighbor cooked up the Dungeness crabs in a 55 gallon drum, and we feasted on the freshest, most delicious crab I can ever remember having.
It seems that we most often visit Samish Island around this time of year, which is crab season. We always try to get some fresh crab, and this visit was no different. Instead of getting ours directly from the bay, we got it from the local Fred Myers – not as fresh, but still tasty.
I started this post with morning light, but I’m going to end it with evening light. Duff and Linda walk their dogs every evening around 8:00, and they invited us to join them. The setting sun over the islands left a wonderful light show.