This past weekend, Robb and I took a road trip to Whidbey Island. We used to take road trips all the time but now that money is a bit tighter and gas is pricier, we’ve been trying be get creative with our travel plans. We’ve been taking shorter trips that are more affordable and a bit more spontaneous. Whidbey is only about an hour away from Seattle (including the ferry ride from Mukilteo) so it’s a convenient getaway spot. The island is incredibly scenic and offers great hiking, restaurants and art galleries.
Our first stop was the town of Langley, which has lots of public art and quirky shops. Sadly, it seems as though the current economy has had a serious impact on this colorful community. Many of the galleries that we remembered from previous visits had been closed down, and the downtown area had a lot of empty storefronts. Several of the stores that were open were staffed by shopkeepers with a furtive, hungry air that made us want to hurry on. I hope this was simply due to the fact that it was grey, and early in the tourist season. Or maybe it was just an off day? I hope so — Langley is usually more vibrant, and it seems to showcase the island’s creative talent well. I’m crossing my fingers that things will start looking up around there soon.
Our next stop was the Bayview Historic Corner, which seems like a great community space. They had interesting art and craft, which was nicely displayed. The environment was inviting, and the little restaurant there smelled great. We also noticed that it’s a hub for some admirable community projects. We didn’t linger too long, as we wanted to hit Coupeville before it got too late. I’ve heard great things about the the Coupeville Arts Center over the years, so I hoped to find tons of galleries there.
As it turned out, Coupeville was pretty sleepy. By the time we finished our lunch most of the shops were closed. I would’ve been more disappointed, but the sun made a sudden appearance, so we were content to soak up some UV as we strolled around and checked out Coupeville’s public art and historic landmarks. Some of my favorite things about this beautiful waterfront town are the gorgeous old Victorian and craftsman style homes and Rosie the whale. Seriously, how can you not love a flying whale skeleton?
Our last stop on Whidbey was Greenbank Farm , which is another community project. This spot features wine and chocolate tasting, a yummy cheese shop, and of course, galleries. We got there just at closing time, so we didn’t get the full Greenbank experience. However, we did find the Rob Schouten Gallery , where they were kind enough to keep the doors open.
Some of my favorite pieces at this gallery were paintings by (I think I’ve got the name right…) Jarina Moss. These used intricate spirals and dots in joyful colors that reminded me of tiny mandalas, or datura designs. What I found most interesting about this artist, is the fact that she used to be a dentist — lots of left/right brain action going on there! It was also fun to hear Rob’s wife, Victory talk about his art, and the process and inspiration behind it. She was friendly and informative in an inviting, low key way that made it comfortable to explore and ask questions. Because of this, we were able to really look at the work there, and I fell in love with the print pictured here (did I mention that they offer layaway?).
It was a lovely ending to a pleasant day … and a great reminder as to why we like Whidbey so much. We don’t get out there as often as we’d like, but it’s always a great time when we do.