It was raining in Vancouver, so we thought we'd take a drive rather than proceed on foot.

Anacortes, Washington, is located on Fidalgo Island. As soon as we crossed the bridge we paused to investigate the local Indian casino. But they An idiosyncratic home architecture with a stone tower, arches over the windows, pitdppr ;adders. etc. A personally designed home? weren't open for business yet, as they were having an Indian casino trade show there. So they lost out on our contributions!

If we judged Fidalgo Island by what we saw next, we would have been greatly mistaken. We took March Point Road and circled a large peninsula filled with oil refineries as well as three large tanker piers, with pipes running to the oil storage tanks ashore. We surmised the crude carriers from Valdez might land here with Alaska oil to be processed. The name of the refineries was Tesoro.

Surrounding March Point peninsula were mudflats and an estuarine wildlife sanctuary. We saw many great blue herons and one bald eagle, who flew in and perched on a rock not far from the shore. Apparently the narrow strip of land between the road and the mud flats is a popular RV location, because there were signs limiting camping to seven days.

We continued our circumnavigation of the island and discovered that Anacortes has a sizeable maritime economy, with shipyards, and canneries and more and more marinas, boatyards and yacht brokers -- by the time we were finished we were convinced there were more boats than people. The bridge is partly obscured by the mist, and has an arching steel span supported by concrete piers at each end. Deception Point Bridge

The west side of the island is covered with rainforest and waterfront homes, ranging from the merely nice to the palatial, and including at least one "personal vision." A number of large waterfront homes were under construction, which we imagined were weekend retreats for Microsoft millionaires. It's a little too far for a daily commute to Seattle.

The tide rushes through Deception Pass, which is a narrow channel separating Fidalgo and Whidbey Islands, and we continued south to Whidbey Island. We paid a visit to the Naval Air Station, where we saw a squadron of mothballed A-6s, then took the opportunity to refuel, and retraced our steps to Fidalgo Island and back home.

On the way we found shelter from the rain in another Indian casino, where we cheerfully contributed to their cause, although not, we hasten to add, because we felt guilty and needed to repay the descendants of the aboriginal peoples for the multitudinous sins of the European conquerors; we contributed just because we like to go to casinos and play the slots. Incidentally, playing the three-cent slots makes your money go away more slowly!