The tenure of US Coast Guard?certified Captain Brett as captain of the Island Whaler began as a dream. In the course of nine months, he had a recurring dream about an unusual flatbed boat, which replaced his normal dreams about beating up Napoleon with Horatio Hornblower. More than a year after the visions stopped, Brett discovered his fantasy boat sitting in a parking lot in Anacortes. He now owns that boat and pilots the open-topped Island Whaler through picturesque waters to view the multitudinous wildlife found in and around Deception Pass.
The open deck and low-slung cabin of the seafaring sloop grants easy, panoramic views of the steep, rocky landscape. Captain Brett chimes in against the breeze with educational details about the pass's historical significance, structures, and ecology. Throughout the tours, spritely fauna with unevolved senses of stage fright perform lively, natural ballets as visitors potentially lock eyes with bald eagles, seals, porpoises, gray whales, and Pacific Northwest giant squid.
The veteran athletes at Peregrine Expeditions nurture their already intimate relationships with Mother Nature during skiing and climbing excursions into the icy peaks of Mount Baker or jagged rock faces of Mount Erie. Backcountry skiing courses hone snow-skimming techniques, and intense skiing tours toe the border between the United States and Canada on two-day treks that embark each morning from a hut at base camp. Adrenaline junkies foray into Forbidden Peak for two or three days, conquering the ins and outs of navigating ice, performing mountaintop rescues, and backpacking in challenging conditions. Kid-specific expeditions tone tiny muscles and teach bird calls used to ask eagles the way to the nearest latrine as youngsters grouped by age engage in courses that span one to five days.
Outer Island Expeditions' fleet of kayaks and boats safely cruises at speeds of up to 50 miles per hour through frothy crests ebbing amid the striking sights and wildlife of the San Juan islands. Venturing as far as 50 miles into Canadian waters, whale-watching excursions foster personal rapport between patrons and boat-side orcas, gray whales, or humpback whales trying to learn human etiquette for future espionage missions. Tours of Stuart Island's Turn Point lighthouse begin aboard a 22-foot Kodiak skiff, which buoys patrons through 16 miles of waters inhabited by sea lions and porpoises before they disembark and hike to the lighthouse's historical museum. Fishing charters set sail in search of ocean creatures and potable salt water from all of Outer Island Expeditions' four launch points: Smuggler's Villa Resort, Semiahmoo Resort, Lopez Island, and The Willows on Lummi Island.
Lilliputian Degases will be inspired to sculpt masterpieces in the energetic confines of this professional arts studio for children. Choose two of 4Cats Art Studio's many workshops, such as the Royal Oak location's Robot Polymer Clay or the Langford studio's Matisse Cards, in which highly trained curators teach young visionaries to express their creativity in seasonal motifs using paints, professional-quality polymers, modelling clay, and last night's meatloaf. Workshops vary by location, are intended for children ages 3–15, and include all art materials.
The Victoria Bug Zoo boasts a bountiful collection of live and robust multi-pedied insects, housing everything from warm and fuzzy tarantulas to the cold-hearted giant centipedes that wander the Sonoran Desert. Your Groupon is good for an annual pass to the insectorium, where you can freely roam the colony of more than 40 species of ’sects, bypassing the glow-in-the-dark scorpions to make a bumble-bee-line to the 400-leg millipede or the enormous ant farm. While bugs are kept safely in glass-enclosed insectariums, the friendly staff is known for hands-on education and often releases the friendlier of the bugs to mingle and wander up and down the arms of brave visitors.
The Whale Museum’s exhibits illustrate the natural history of marine mammals, placing special emphasis on the three orca pods that frolic in San Juan waters from May through September. Visitors can watch a looped 30-minute video on Pacific Northwest whales, or listen to the songs of various species in the Whale Phone Booth, which doubles as a superhero transformation chamber. Members enjoy discounts on educational programs and 10 percent off at the museum store.