On Island Time

We've got a long history with the San Juans. 

I've been going there since I was a child, camping in Moran State Park, taking the boat to Friday Harbor, hiking Mt. Constitution

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. 

View from the ferry at sunset.

View from the ferry at sunset.

Ferry dock at Anacortes on the mainland. 

Ferry dock at Anacortes on the mainland. 

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). 

View of Mt. Baker, Cascades, Canada, Bellingham and San Juan Islands from Mt. Constituion Lookout. 

View of Mt. Baker, Cascades, Canada, Bellingham and San Juan Islands from Mt. Constituion Lookout. 

Come the new year, and I go to a yoga retreat with my dear friend Josephine. And finally, my darling friend Anika lives on Orcas Island with her husband and little baby, where she was raised and where we went last week.

View from the top of Turtleback Mountain. 

View from the top of Turtleback Mountain. 

One of the things I love about Turtleback is the acid green moss blanketing the rocky terrain. 

One of the things I love about Turtleback is the acid green moss blanketing the rocky terrain. 

A fisherman in Mountain Lake. 

A fisherman in Mountain Lake. 

Lone sailor. 

Lone sailor. 

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. 

My beach hangout spot for a few hours. 

My beach hangout spot for a few hours. 

Sea life. 

Sea life. 

Below, the grounds of the space where we stayed, which I wandered around back and forth for hours. 

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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. 

Exposed cliffs at the water's edge

Exposed cliffs at the water's edge

Island Rock

Island Rock

Dock at the area we stayed. Sailors and those with yachts pull up here to stay in their vessels but eat at and enjoy the grounds. 

Dock at the area we stayed. Sailors and those with yachts pull up here to stay in their vessels but eat at and enjoy the grounds. 

Boats at the Marina. 

Boats at the Marina. 

View out the window at Doe Bay Cafe.

View out the window at Doe Bay Cafe.

Doe Bay.

Doe Bay.

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.

Small nursery in town. 

Small nursery in town. 

Pristine downtown Orcas. 

Pristine downtown Orcas. 

Back patio dining at Mijitas

Back patio dining at Mijitas

Raw milk ice cream over burnt brown sugar covered in "the farm" (flowers), at Hogstone. 

Raw milk ice cream over burnt brown sugar covered in "the farm" (flowers), at Hogstone. 

The Kitchen indoor seating area.

The Kitchen indoor seating area.

Lunch at Doe Bay Cafe. 

Lunch at Doe Bay Cafe. 

Pastries at Brown Bear Bakery. 

Pastries at Brown Bear Bakery. 

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.