Our First Week on Whidbey Island

So we made it.  After 750 miles, a handful of nights parking lot camping, the theft of our Honda generator, and a significant electrical problem, we arrived at the Mukilteo Ferry Landing to take the boat to Whidbey Island.  We saved $15 bucks by disconnecting Loki, but it was still $57 for the crossing.

We undertook the entire journey, a big sprint by our travel standards, in order to find a great but affordable place to settle down for a month and sell at a bunch of markets.  Now, Whidbey Island is not a cheap place to live.  But before long we would have access to the RV Park, commissary, and other facilities midway up the island at the Naval Air Station.  Unfortunately availability there was not to be found until after the long July Fourth weekend.  So for the time being we settled in at the county fairgrounds near Langley on the southern end of the island.

The Island County Fairgrounds are pretty utilitarian: a grass field, 30 amp power and water, a dump station, and almost nothing in the way of landscaping.  But what it had was lots of first come, first serve availability at a cheap (by Island standards) price of $25 a night.  By contrast, the few state parks on the island were fully reserved for the week, and were more than $40 a night anyway.  Besides, the fairgrounds were perfectly positioned for the first vending opportunity we had secured since leaving Tucson.

And this was fortunate, because despite our early departure from the ghetto at Muckleshoot Casino and but a limited delay waiting for the ferry, we didn’t have much time to spare.  We arrived at the fairgrounds mid morning, did the most minimum set up possible (we didn’t even put out the slides) and headed straight for the Tilth Farmers Market and Music Festival.

Shell Crowns, or Mermaid Tiaras, something Rosemarie started making this month that we are hoping will sell at these market.

It was not quite what we expected.  You hear music festival, you think a lot of people and a lot of vendors.  This was a tiny, but intimate event with about a dozen vendors and a sparce but enthusiastic crowd.  In addition to the vendors and musicians, they had some performance artists out and about, including a juggler/comedian/stilt walker and a couple of faeries in full fantasy get up doing face painting and story time for the gaggle of children present.

Butterfly adorned faerie as seen between our racks at the Tilth Farmers Market and Music Fest

The normal market hours had been extended for the festival, so it was an all day affair.  We had a pleasant time of it, sold just enough to be satisfied, enjoyed several of the musical acts, and met some interesting and informative people that gave us the inside scoop on several other markets in the region.

Once done for the day we returned to the fairgrounds to do the remainder of our full set up: connections, levels, slides, grill, outside decor, etc.  Which brings us to the rabbits.  The fairgrounds, like most state and county versions, hosts a lot of agricultural, equestrian, and other farm oriented events.  The history we were given is that decades of 4H gatherings there, particularly the “children’s rabbit chase,” which is exactly what it sounds like, led to the occasional escape of these domesticated bunnies.  Once a few mixed pairs got out, they did what rabbits tend to do.  In an area with few natural predators, the population exploded.

Just within the RV field I counted more than 20 of the fur balls.  Half tame to the point that some will eat out of your hand, they are both a town curiosity and a nuisance.  The extent of their population boom has given Langley a bit of international exposure on the invasive species front.  Google it, you’ll see what I mean.  For us, though, it was just a source of constant stimulation for Pad Kee Meow, whose murderous desires were kept only in check by a short leash and close parenting.

During the next few days we met new friends Bruce and Nancy, who have been RV living on the island since last year.  They gave us the lowdown on places of interest, restaurants, markets, and, since Nancy is a crafter and jewelry maker as well, beaches at which to find sea glass, interesting stones, and driftwood.  During one such joint outing we found enough nice glass to make a dozen or so “locally found and made Whidbey Island sea glass pendants,” which would become one of our better sellers in subsequent weeks.

We closed out June with another event, the downtown Langley Second Street Market.  At this four hour afternoon affair the city closes down a block to auto traffic, while market manager Ben marks out the assigned spots to the dozen or so sellers.  With a solid amount of resident and tourist foot traffic through this street in the heart of downtown, we did quite well our first day, and decided then and there that though we might not make the next Tilth market, we would definitely be coming back as vendors at the Second Street event.

8 thoughts on “Our First Week on Whidbey Island

  1. Jack, this probably makes no sense, but if I look at the blog post through the Facebook link, no photos. If I go directly to the blog through the web, all the photos are visible.

    • Hmm. So you are saying for instance that you saw Rose’s facebook post on our ShellOnWheels facebook page about this post, and clicked through from there, and none of the pictures showed up? But if you just did a google search for the blog or whatever, and clicked through from that search result, the pictures show up?

      • Yes, exactly! It makes no sense, because Kevin tried from the web, and he still couldn’t see the photos even though I could see them.

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