We've got a long history with the San Juans.
My husband's family has resided on Blakely Island for generations. His grandfather lived there, his father, his aunt, uncle... When Jake was a child, he lived on Blakely and spent his infant days rocking back and forth on his mother's back while she worked in the island general store (only store on the island). His father hand built himself a cabin on a nearby island in his twenties.. His uncle lives there still. His mom even spent her childhood sailing with her family through the islands. And she still does every summer, with her husband, as my parents also like to do in their sailboat.
And we both grew up on an island of course. His family and mine both moved to Bainbridge Island when were were teeny tiny and spent our lives their until adulthood (although we didn't meet until much later on).
Above- the view from a hike up Turtleback Mountain. Velvety moss swallowing the rock. A fisherman in the lake we like to swim. A lone tree on a cliff.
I couldn't say how many times I've visited the San Juans but for the last number of years my husband and I have had our annual retreat there, staying at the same hotel, swimming in the same lake and climbing (in one way or another), up the same mountains.
This time I didn't bring my usual camera- the one I use for jobs and pretty much everything I shoot. I took with me a small point and shoot and, intentionally, didn't bring a back up battery or a charger. I wanted our time there to be about the moment- not dictated by the need to take photos. Should the battery die- so be it. I'd take it as a sign I needed to focus more on us and this place.
Below, the grounds of the space where we stayed, which I wandered around back and forth for hours.
Although the islands of Washington are scattered across the northwestern part of the state, there are subtle distinctions one can make after spending time with them. The tall and rocky islands of the San Juans, formed volcanically, have sheets of exposed rock flanking the hills and cliffs, held together by thick-carpets of moss. The area is less wet than other parts of the state and the climate even milder. It rarely snows here like it does in the east, and the hawks and nettle groves run aplenty.
During the days we rode bikes out to Doe Bay and up Mt. Constitution, stopping at the lake for an icy-cool dip to relieve our pumped muscles. We hiked trails, strolled downtown, and ate our fill (and then some), at a few of my favorite restaurants, a number of which Anika has introduced me to.
We found it very hard to leave. Island life slows you down, puts you in no hurry, gives you peace- all things we struggle with in this chaotic, overly busy world. But the moment we rolled into our towering mountains in the purple-golden evening light, when the days's warmth meets the night breeze, It felt good to be back home.