In 1850, local history was made on the shores of Whidbey Island when Isaac Ebey landed on a rocky westside beach and became the first official white settler on the island. With an entire island to choose from, Ebey couldn’t have done much better than the pristine pastureland of what is now known as Ebey’s Landing. This brilliant landscape is situated right at the southwestern side of Coupeville and features breathtaking views of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountain range. The landing’s soft rolling hills blanketed in rich soil—perfect for cultivating crops—was this area’s true draw to its original settler. Today this landscape remains largely unchanged from the early days of settlers thanks to Ebey’s Landing Reserve. It’s the perfect place for a long walk to get lost in the life of the past.
For some, it might be a nice glass of wine from Vails Wine Shop in Coupeville in the evening. Perhaps calming music, a soak in a deep tub with bubbles, or a good book. But for many, it is turning to nature. While there are various ways to find peace, internal healing, and reduce the stress our bodies are managing these days, nature seems to have a way of calming our nerves and clearing our minds. This makes Whidbey Island the perfect retreat for the Zen you have been yearning for and if you are lucky to live here, it’s right out your door!
Many people find comfort along the water’s edge where they rest atop beached driftwood. Some sit on a hillside looking as far as their eyes can take them to let the bustle of their busy mind get lost in the view. Others like to stroll along West Beach while listening to the sound of the waves crashing in then receding across the pebbles. It is important to take into consideration the tide heights for these beach walks. Low tide offers the best option, but you don’t want to get caught by an incoming high tide. Check out this site to know before you go.
Many people run the trails at Ebey’s Landing. They get their hearts pumping as they persist along the cliffside hugging the edge with each step until they finally have come far enough to see the geological and ocean anomaly: Perego’s Lagoon. It is at that moment their bodies release all tension. They find themselves in awe of a view they did not think could get any better. The realization sets in that the view is a moment in time made only for them as a congratulatory nod from mother nature for making it to the top. Suddenly they have the stamina to continue and can make the journey down the hillside. You can get a pdf of the entire trail system at Ebey’s Landing here to keep you from getting lost in the maze.
Perhaps for you, a yoga mat in a grassy patch at Fort Casey is more up your alley? Your muscles relaxed, perfectly rhythmic breathing and suddenly the pose you’ve been practicing for weeks is in reach. You look out across Admiralty Inlet, you strike the perfect pose, sun rays grace your skin and suddenly you are glowing. If you feel the need for some instruction, join the South Whidbey Community for their Yoga in the Park events.
A quiet paddle in kayaks across calm waters during sunset never ceases to wash away pent-up tension in the shoulders. The open waters allow the serenity needed while the movement of your body releases endorphins to help your body relax. If you don’t have your own sea kayak you can rent one from Whidbey Island Boats and Boards.
Perhaps we can suggest something more. Find yourself becoming one with nature by enjoying a hot stone massage along Bayshore Drive in Oak Harbor. You can schedule an appointment at Bayshore Chiropractic Or, escape the worries of today where you can recall a simpler time by spending your evening at the historical Captain Whidbey Inn off of Madrona Way in Coupeville.
Regardless of how you destress, Whidbey Island has a plethora of natural options.
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Gray Whales Return to Whidbey
As the cold melts away and flowers start to bloom again, Whidbey Island is blessed with a rare and wonderful gift. Many people hike to the very tip of a bluff or edge of the waves hoping to catch a glimpse of this phenomenon. Then it happens – water spurts into the air from nowhere and at the surface, you can just barely see a tail appear.
Oh, what a whale of a tale to tell….
Spring brings with it a special excitement for this curious island. As the waters warm, they welcome back one of our favorite travelers; the gray whale! Migrating every year from their winter home in Mexico to the wild waves of Alaska; gray whales often make a special stop within the waters of the Puget Sound.
As food foragers, the gray whale “dig[s] up the mudflats [on the ocean floor] for shrimp and worms.”1 They then filter these small creatures through their baleen, or whalebone, which acts as a strainer to keep the food in their mouth and push out all the water.2
Given their foraging requirements, gray whales’ proximity to the shore and repetitive presence in the Puget Sound comes as little surprise. While the average depth of the Pacific Ocean is a little over 12,000 feet, Puget Sound’s deepest point is approximately 930 feet. The shallow waters of the sound serve as a great benefit to this massive mammal that relies on both oxygen and access to the ocean floor in order to survive.
On Whidbey Island, we take great joy in the return of these travelers every year. Many islanders and tourists alike find their way to the water’s edge and peer into the waves in hopes of a glimpse. Luckily, sightings are not at all uncommon on the island. To commemorate the love we have for these ocean friends, both Coupeville and Langley have erected what is called a “Whale Bell.” These bells have a simple instruction: “See a whale, ring the bell.” These bells serve as both a monument to the whale’s impact on our island culture and a creative way to notify others of the whale’s presence so they can also look out and see!
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Every year the town of Langley has pulled together to commemorate the beginning of whale season. Complete with a parade, this festival speaks volumes of the love islanders have for their precious whales. Unfortunately, the event has been canceled this year due to covid for the health and safety of the community continue to check back here for updates. While the ring of the bell brings joyous memories of years past residences and travelers alike look forward to a day where gatherings return to celebrate these incredible creatures.
- “Gray Whales.” Orca Network, https://www.orcanetwork.org/Main/index.php?categories_file=Gray%20Whales
- “Gray Whales.” National Geographic, https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/g/gray-whale/
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Whidbey Island is home to several wonderful little towns each with their own fascinating history and culture. Perhaps the most intriguing is Whidbey’s oldest town; Coupeville, home of the first Whidbey Island settlement.
Coupeville is an adorable waterfront community rich in history and culture. In 1850 Issac Ebey became the first official Whidbey Island settler when he applied for the first land claim on the island. Claiming over 600 acres of what is now Ebey’s Landing, Ebey was soon to be followed by his nephew and many others. By 1854 there were 29 settlement claims in Coupeville alone and in 1881 it officially became the Island County seat.
Although all of Whidbey is covered in fascinating history, Coupeville is unique in its preservation. Where many of the original buildings of Oak Harbor and Langley have been torn down or decimated by historic fires, downtown Coupeville’s original buildings remain intact and in use. In fact, the town of Coupeville has more historic buildings in a condensed area than anywhere in the Pacific Northwest.
To celebrate this fact and educate people on these beautiful historic buildings, Island County’s 4-H club took on the project of using modern technology to connect us to the past. Next time you’re in downtown Coupeville, take a closer look at those historic store windows. You might just see one of these:
Scattered down Front Street are tons of these QR codes leading to the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association website developed by the 4-H club in 2012. This website is full of information gathered from the Island County Historical Society, City Records, and over 100 personal interviews with people recounting memories and stories of the historic downtown. Each building’s QR code will lead you directly to that building’s history: when it was built, its original purpose, and the different stores that have occupied the space.
So, the next time you are strolling down Font Street whip out that smartphone of yours and learn a little bit of history along the way.
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It is that time of year when the fruits of our labors begin filling up not only our dinner plates but also become an integral part of beautifying the spaces around us. You guessed it, we are talking about SQUASH.
If you are anything like some of these green thumb agents, you have spent the past several months pouring your heart and soul into your garden prepping to produce these beautiful and tasty gems. But it is quite possible that you now have so many you do not know what to do with them. If that is the case keep reading for places you can donate your extras…. like my office.
Perhaps you are more like those of us that take advantage of the local Farm to Table programs our local farm community has to offer. You may have begun to receive these tasty treats in your special boxes. Keep reading to discover one of my favorite recipes.
BUT….maybe your most like me and you are… “Growing them…well… in the grocery store”. Let’s be honest autumn is my favorite time of year, but I wasn’t blessed with a green thumb. I am more like a big kid eagerly waiting for Shermans Farm to open so I can enjoy the full experience of finding the perfect squash for tonight’s dinner. I like sipping my warm cup of cider while riding on the tractor taking in the beautiful Whidbey farm views and snapping pictures of my kids next to the biggest pumpkins they can find.
Regardless of who you are, there is one thing we all have in common this season. We will all come into contact with SQUASH!
The majority of people will likely only use them as decorations, and that is ok. There is no denying these power-packed veggies are beautiful and studies show that sprucing up the space around you will make you feel happier. So, first things first…
Let’s Get Crafty:
It can take as little or as much creativity as you desire. Place a variety of squash together with some leaves, flowers, candles, or acorns to spruce up your gathering space. For more inspiration follow one of our favorites local to our area: Erin Benzakein, founder of Floret. Floret is a Skagit Valley family-owned farm and seed company and New York Times Best Selling Author of A Year in Flowers for tutorials on arrangements.
OVERSIZED ACORN WITH ACORN SQUASH
Supplies you will need:
- Hot Glue Gun
- Hot Glue
- Acorn Squash
Begin by placing a dab of glue at the top of your squash. Make a loop in the twine and attach the top of your squash. Place glue around the top ¼ of the squash and being laying your twine in a circular motion starting at the stem and continuing down to a ¼ of the squash, carefully laying each layer of twine up against the last.
For the Tummy:
Most importantly, squash provides a plethora of nutrients for our bodies. It is quite literally called a power-pack veggie. They are high in Vitamin A, B6, and C, folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus, and potassium.
The best thing about squash is that there are so many ways to eat it. I love it SO MUCH I am attaching one of my simple favorites.
BAKED ACORN SQUASH WITH BUTTER & BROWN SUGAR
Serves: 2-4 | Preparation: 10min | Cooking: 1 HR 15 min
- 1 Acorn squash
- 1 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp Brown Sugar
- 2 teaspoons Maple Syrup
- Dash of Salt
Uplift the Community with Your Extras:
With all joking aside, if you have been blessed with having too much squash this year, the North Whidbey Help House in Oak Harbor, and Good Cheer Food Bank in Langley would love to have your donations.
Stay blessed. Have a favorite squash recipe or idea you want to share? Let us know in the comments below.
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If you have been out exploring Whidbey recently, you might have noticed an abundance of furry four-legged creatures. It’s not much of a secret that Whidbey Islanders LOVE their dogs. As self-proclaimed “outdoorsy” people say, they are the perfect pet to have with you when hiking trails, swimming at the beach, and exploring places like the abandoned military installments of Fort Casey and Fort Ebey.
Although exploring all the crevices of Whidbey is amazing, dog owners know there is something special about enjoying time off-leash with their furry friends. Luckily, Whidbey has some INCREDIBLE off-leash dog parks scattered throughout the island. We have listed our favorites below!
1.Clover Valley Off-Leash Park | 740 Ault Field Rd, Oak Harbor, WA 98277
Although this is one of the smaller parks on Whidbey, Clover Valley is well-loved and frequented by dog owners in Oak Harbor. The fully fenced-in park provides owners the opportunity to socialize their dog in a safe environment while they build friendships with other owners in the area.
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2. Patmore Pit | 497 Patmore Rd, Coupeville, WA 98239
Patmore Pit is the largest off-leash dog park on Whidbey. This fully fenced 15 acres of mixed terrain allows owners and their pups the opportunity to enjoy themselves for hours. The park has 3 meadow areas, 2 wooded areas, an agility course, and a smaller area for more timid dogs.
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3.Greenbank Off-Leash | WA-525, Coupeville, WA 98239
Anyone who has ever visited Greenbank Farm knows that the surrounding area is incredibly beautiful with views of our gorgeous waters on either side and an abundance of trails. But did you know there was an off-leash area? Just north of the farm, you will notice they sectioned out parcels of land for low-impact recreation including off-leash play! It’s a wonderful place to explore if you get the chance.
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4.Double Bluff Beach Off-Leash | 6378 S Double Bluff Rd, Freeland, WA 98249
Have a water dog that LOVES to splash in the sea? Then you will love taking them to Double Bluff Beach. This location offers pets and owners a two-mile-long stretch of beach to play on without the nuisance of leashes to restrict your dog’s enjoyment.
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5.Marguerite Brons Memorial | 2837 Becker Rd, Clinton, WA 98236
This fully fenced 13- acre park offers dog owners peace of mind when allowing their dog to explore the various trails and meadows. Central gathering areas provide owners the ability to socialize with others while their dogs play.
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