Day 72: Epic fail on the Free Willy front


DAY 72: Anacortes, Washington
Miles traveled: 8,990
States visited: 22
Weather: 68, rainy

When I was in Seattle I discovered that there are lots of daily whale watching tours throughout Puget Sound and further north. Three pods of killer whales hang out in these waters, and they are seen frequently. This piqued my interest because I never thought I’d have a chance in my lifetime to witness whales in their natural habitat. I always assumed they hung out miles away from shore.


The private tours were too expensive, so I chose the poor man’s route: Drive to Anacortes, take the ferry across to San Juan Island, take a bus to the other side of the island where the whales usually hang out. When I arrived at the island, I walked to the bus terminal and was informed that I’d just missed the bus because the ferry arrived there late. So I had to wait an hour for the next one.

Perhaps you can guess what’s coming next, based on the title of this post…

When the next bus finally arrived the driver gleefully informed us, “The whales are out today! You just missed them! We saw them on the last bus trip!”

Lime Kiln Park (aka Whale Watching Park) is regarded as the best place in the world to observe whales from land. By the time my bus got there, the whales were long gone, much further north into Canada. So I saw nothing. Witnesses said that earlier there had been upwards of 30 orcas splashing around in the waters just offshore. And I would’ve seen them if the ferry had arrived ten minutes sooner and I had caught the earlier bus! Missing them by such a small margin was a crushing disappointment. I’m not sure I’ll ever get over it – when I’m 80 I’ll be talking about the time I barely missed seeing 30 killer whales. (Unless I end up moving to Seattle, in which case I’ll have other opportunities to see them…)

I had to spend 90 minutes at this park to wait for the next bus back, and pretty much all I saw was this:


The round trip for the driving, ferries and busses was about 7 hours, so it was a big time investment with no payoff. I’ve had some great adventures on this trip, so I suppose they can’t all be successes. Perhaps my luck regarding wild animals will be better in Yellowstone, which I’m visiting later this week!

2 Responses to Day 72: Epic fail on the Free Willy front

  1. Hi, Scott! Don’t feel too bad — I’ve missed 23 opportunities to see whales over the years…not that I’m counting. At least you’ve had the chance to see Seattle when it’s freakishly sunny! I hope you’re having a wonderful time in Vancouver now, can’t wait to read about it.

  2. scott says:

    23 fails? Wow, that must be a record!

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