Okay, okay: it was smoke, but mist sounds better. A friend of mine, Mary, send me a graphic showing that the west coast now has the worst air quality in the world due to all of the fires. I was hoping that driving a little north would get me beyond them. Nope. I went to this tiny town called Anacortes, about an hour north of Seattle. I was hoping the “fog” I saw in the early morning drive would burn off as the sun climbed higher. No such luck.

Anacortes did hold something else for me though. A few things. One thing on my bucket list was seeing orcas in the wild. I jumped on a whale watching boat that was recommended to me. I wasn’t disappointed. About an hour into the trip, we found a pod. It was beautiful. Island Adventures offers a guarantee and they came through. In between really bad jokes (worse than mine if you can believe it), he was full of information and knows the pod well.

These inland pods are small hunting groups, led by the oldest female. The males stay with mom for the rest of their lives, except to mingle with other pods and try to catch the attention of a mate. The bond is so tight that the males have a 60% chance of dying if the mother dies. He was the biggest. There was also another female, not yet at the age to start reproducing and forming her own pod, and a baby who was not even hunting yet.

I have videos on Facebook and still haven’t been able to figure out how to load them onto the webpage yet. You’ll have to zoom in.

The smoke forced a another surprise on me. I haven’t run into too many other solo travelers. But there was Abby. She was behind me in line boarding the boat. The captain was asking everybody where they from. hen she said “Baltimore,” I almost tripped going up the steps. She was out here camping and hiking but the smoke forced her to go whale watching instead. I found out that there are some incredible hikes close by. Fo her sake, I hope the weather report is right and it clears up by Monday.

It was nice just talking to someone. It can be odd. Talking to a solo traveler is different than talking to a couple or a group. She dos a lot of traveling for her photography. We chatted about places and showed each other pictures. And she showed me how to use Instagram to figure out what the conditions are like at a place before I go there. Imagine that. Thanks Abby!

Something else that was nice? I was back in my comfort zone. My jacket and cap in chillier weather. I always feel like I look like an ass wearing warm weather clothes, short and such. I think I can carry the cap and jacket look fairly well. All I needed was something I left behind in storage of course: my boots. How chilly will it get before I head back east? I think I’ll be buying a pair in Alaska. I like my boots, but it’s cheaper than flying home.

Th harbor itself was nice as well. I got there early after yet another night of little sleep. I wandered around first before going to find a cup of coffee. I actually took a picture I enjoyed. The Lady of the Sea. The smoke created an eerie backdrop to everything. Interesting views of the harbor and islands, both walking and from the boat.

After the tour, I went and grabbed another cup of coffee and made my way a little bit further north into Bellingham, about 20 miles from the Canadian border. The entire time I was driving south, west, then east, then west again, then north, etc., I was thinking that Seattle was the gateway to Canada. They even call it that. It’s a crock. Seattle is a bit less than a couple hours away. The Peace Arch is in Blaine, Washington and I’ll be trying to cross in Sumas. They bump up against Canada, and are only five points of entry open for travel by car with Covid.

I’m still wondering if they will let me in? Seriously. There was the Alaskan loophole, where travel to Alaska was permitted with restrictions, but Canada cracked down on it after finding Americans not playing by the rules. Go figure. I wrote and called, but all I received back were articles that said different things. I figure the only way I’ll know is by going and trying tomorrow morning with my car packed for the long ride.

If I do get in, I’ll be restricted to a certain road, and can only stop for gas and drive through food. It’s about a 30 hour drive so I’m looking at a few nights in my car. Air or ferry just don’t seem right to me–though Bellingham is the port for the ferry, a 3-4 day trip up the coast with numerous stops to Alaskan communities that you cannot get to any other way.

I’ll find out soon enough. I’ll see about getting another Covid test tomorrow as the one I got in Seattle doesn’t meet the three day requirement for Alaska. Tomorrow’s might. Or else they might not let me in. Why am I feeling like a Cowboy’s fan at an Eagles game?

After all of the awful jokes by the naturalist, I went up to him. One of the things he told us about the Orcas is they are very indecisive. The pod can be going along in a certain direction and then for no reason that anybody can figure out, they’ll start going in a different direction.

“I know why they are so indecisive,” I said to him after making sure nobody was around to hear me.

“Really,” he asked in that tone of an expert talking to an upstart wannabe.

“Yes,” I replied. “You not only mentioned that they are very indecisive but they are also always led by the oldest female. They ya go.”

H looked quickly around, smothered a laugh, and then said, “I’m never saying that out loud.”

But I’m getting some rest. I took more pictures of Bald Eagles and Harbor Seals that I’ll post below. I’m actually a bit nervous for the first time on this trip.Will they let me in? I’ve been trying to not put too much into it but? We’ll see.

If they do, don’t expect any new posts for a while. It’s a long drive with no internet coverage. I knew I should have done this drive in February when I anted to before the closure. It would have been cold, but not filled with the discomforts and uncertainty.