Monthly Archives: October 2018

More Island Life

A slow start, a foggy morning, and camping biscuits and gravy occupied the entire morning. By noon we were ready to go out and explore. Our destination was beauty, so we ambled for as far as the road took us. On our return to the “main” road, we turned north toward Orcas Island Pottery, and hoped they might be open even though it is October and there are few visitors to the Island. Fortunately, the potters live at the site and are there year round to welcome visitors to their creative industry.

The place seemed like a fairy village with sheds and gardens and sculptures of every kind and description. There was even a tree house, which I forgot to explore since the beautiful pottery on every table and in every shed was consuming all my attentions. After much admiring and lots of time, we each selected a piece of pottery to take home with us, then pulled ourselves away from this delightful business.

We drove back across the Island to Eastsound where my driver needed to stop for some coffee. Surprisingly, the little coffee shop had internet service, and we spent a good amount of time there doing some emails and catching up on the news of the past two days. As my driver continued to sip his coffee, I went out into the streets and explored the crossroads and the tiny shops. Again, there was not much open, but I did visit a couple of galleries that had lovely items. I walked to the historic Episcopal church, located right on the water and walked their labyrinth. The sun peeked out and it was an altogether stunning place to stop and pray.

The little town began closing up shop at 4:00 and my driver called saying he had been chased out of the coffee shop. We found each other (which wasn’t difficult!) and opted for a hot meal at the local Mexican restaurant near where we had parked the car. It was open! So, inside we went. Needless to say, I don’t think there are many Mexicans on Orcas Island . . . but the food was hot and filling.

Returning to our little cabin, we read and knitted and spent the evening like pioneers. It’s amazing how far away we have come from quiet and simple pleasures. It was a lovely evening. I did go out and walked down to Deer Harbor in the post-twilight to see if I could capture some of the beauty. There is a quiet, peaceful, calm to this place; some might call it grace.

Exploring the Familiar

How many times have we said we wanted to explore the landscapes close to home? And how many times have we done it? Not Many. But today we changed that and set out to explore the wonder and beauty of the San Juan Islands. Particularly, Orcas Island, located only about 80 miles from home and an hour’s ferry ride away.

Leaving home early on a Monday morning was a challenge. But we managed to do it! We were in the car by 8:30 and stopped for gas at the 7/11  before hitting the road.

As we drove north out of town the thick clouds parted and we could see puffy clouds and spots of blue sky. Eventually the sun joined us in the Skagit Valley and the scenery was lovely. We arrived at the ferry dock in Anacortes at 10:30, purchased our ticket for $55 for car and one passenger and awaited our sailing at noon. Cars lined up behind us.

The wait necessitated a morning bagel accompaniment. It helped the time pass faster and kept the stomach from growling. By 11:45 the cars were loading on the ferry and at noon sharp we were sailing. The fog was whipping over the waters and among the islands and it was beautiful. The winds were almost non-existent, which made for a very smooth ride. At times the clouds separated and blue skies peeked through.

At 1:10 we were docking at Orcas Island and made our way off the ferry . The island is the largest of the San Juan Islands, but still only takes less than an hour to drive from tip to tip. We went exploring. Our first stop was all the way to Olga and an artist’s co-op. The items were beautiful and far too costly to take one home, but they were lovely to look at. The island pace seemed slower, the pastoral fields calming, and the abundant deer enchanting. The sun made multiple appearances throughout the afternoon.

We drove into Moran State Park and went up Mount Constitution, all 2398 feet of elevation. Then we climbed the stone tower at the top which allowed 53 additional feet of height and a 360 degree view. Gazing into the thick fog it was hard to believe there was anything to see. But, like magic, while we waited and chatted with fellow visitors, the fog danced and eddied, revealing islands and cities across the waters of the Strait. I only wish we could have seen Mount Baker and the Cascade Range, which were certainly there and would have been visible on a clearer day. Still, what we could see was magnificent; a testament to the Wonder of Creation.

Due to the chilly nature of the fog and the lower temps at higher altitudes, we descended long before we were full of the stunning views. Stopping along the way down, we found the sun and views to the South to take the breath away.

Nearing 4:00, we were very glad we opted for those bagels at the ferry dock in Anacortes. Now it was certainly time for dinner. Just when we realized that leaving the city behind from time to time is a blessed thing, we actually longed for the city’s amenities while searching for some dinner. Most of the island establishments are closed for the season. We actually went to four different places before we found one that was open and ready to serve us. The White Horse Pub fit the bill – by this point in time we were no longer picky. Yet, it was surprisingly good. It was an Irish Pub with good Pub fare and we filled ourselves with steamy, hot corn chowder; Shepherd’s Pie; and chicken pot pie. The meals not only took care of our hunger, but warmed us up considerably. It was comfort food in the best sense of the word – comfort for the body and the soul. Not only that, but the view of the water was breathtaking – right from our table!

Filled and satisfied, we went on to our timeshare cabin in Deer Harbor, a half an island away. The sun was setting and the clouds turned pink and golden. We checked in, turned up the heat and began to unpack and unwind. The evening was spent in relaxation – reading, writing, and knitting. There is no phone service nor internet; but there is a fireplace. Perfect for such an evening.

A Return Home

Yes, we did return home – yesterday (Oct 24th) – but we were so tired we couldn’t think about recording the event here.

We packed out of our motel yesterday morning and had planned to do some sightseeing through the Yakima Valley, but after a night of fitful sleep because of information we learned during the conference, we just stopped at a few places and took to the mountains. I wanted to stop at a Dollar Tree and the Target in the Valley and we did that on our way out of town.

The valley floor was a harvest sight; brown and somehow beautiful seen from the hills before we dropped into the valley. The high hills approaching the mountains were covered with windmills in the distance, making an impressive sight. We crossed the Yakima River and saw most of the foliage turning color and dropping from the trees. It is definitely Fall.

The coolness and misting clouds of the mountains were a welcome sight. Beauty was all around us, despite the absence of sunshine. The golden leaves provided the brilliance against the majestic evergreens. Once over the summit, we stopped in North Bend, a favorite spot to stop for a short rest for my driver and a short walk around the outlet mall for me. And then we continued on.

The familiarity of the city was a relief and we stopped once in town for a late lunch. Unfortunately, we tried a new spot in our neighborhood that happened to be about to close for the day. It was actually a breakfast place – which we didn’t know – and consequently, we had a second breakfast instead of dinner. It was less than satisfying, but of course, we ate it.

Unpacking and sorting out things occupied the evening and when I sat down to do some email, I began to have all kinds of computer problems. Nothing was working correctly! Suddenly I knew it was because I needed to go to bed – and so I did.

I certainly must have needed to do that as I woke up this morning after 10 and a half hours of sleep (according to my fitbit.)

Today, there was rain, rain and more rain in Seattle. But the trees here are beautiful, too. And, we are in the warmth and comfort of our own home.  Not only that, I had a good night’s sleep last night. All is good.



A Day Filled with Information

Watching the sunrise out the motel window began the day. It is always striking to me how magnificent the sun can look upon rising. I’m usually never awake at that hour, so it surprises me every time I see it. (Which has not been very many times, I grant you!)

Our conference on health care and living with loved ones who suffer from memory loss began at 9:00 with a gathering of about 200 people from around the state. The presenters were very informative and we made some connections with others who have lived with such challenges. The final presenter was a doctor from University of Washington who was extremely helpful in dispelling myths and offering as much concrete hope and information he could offer.

We were released at 4:00 to go about our day thinking of all we had heard, shared and learned. There is much to ponder and review as we carry the information back home with us. How can we best communicate? How do we share what we’ve learned? How can we be the best support for those who bear the weight of such loss? It’s a new learning curve, and like any curve or incline, there is practice and endurance that must come with time.

We drove over to the local Costco to fill little Dixie’s belly with gas so she could get us back home tomorrow. In the process, we couldn’t resist a walk through the warehouse to explore what Yakimans may be able to purchase at their Costco.

Sadly, I have no more pictures to share since we sat inside all day. But, we did go on to find a Dickie’s BBQ for a quick sandwich for dinner before returning to the motel. I’m sure we will be early to bed tonight to make up for our early rising this morning.

There is much to be grateful for in the day – the organization that presented the conference; the expert presenters; the attendees who shared some of their personal stories; and the assurance that none of us are alone on this very singular, yet astoundingly familiar, journey.

Skipping Away

When the temps begin to drop and the days grow shorter, not to mention the arrival of a thick fog from an inversion layer, the body yearns to be somewhere else. Anywhere else! So it must be time to skip town.

Actually, it’s not all that simple. We have signed up to attend a conference in Yakima tomorrow, so skipping town just came with it. The added bonus is that on the way to Yakima, we drove out of the fog, into the full fall sunshine and into warmer temperatures. The only thing we couldn’t escape was the shorter days.

The conference is for caregivers and family members who are dealing with someone with dementia. We thought it would be interesting to educate ourselves on some of the intricacies of the disease. Living with it may be hard, but not near so difficult as having no information at all about it.

So, we set out this morning at the crack of noon to hit the road. We made one minor stop to pick up some papers from AAA (concerning a future trip) on the way out of town. We marveled at the thick fog and the reduced visibility. It was as if we were traveling in the clouds. Yet not long after, we began to see signs of struggling sunshine as we rose in elevation through the Cascade Mountains. As we reached the summit, the car thermometer read 10 degrees warmer and the sun was shinning boldly. The golden leaves of the forest deciduous trees were beautifully stunning.

We made our usual stop at the Indian John Hill rest stop and then passed through the desert foothills before descending into the Yakima Valley. A quick check in at our motel, and we set out in pursuit of harvest fruits and vegetables.

Washington Fruit Place at Barrett Orchards accommodated us nicely. We purchased a box of Mutsu apples as well as a distinctive mug that reminded us to “Write your own story.” The place was attractively decorated with hay and pumpkins, fruits and jellies, harvest corn and scarecrows. It was a country place in every sense of the word. We enjoyed our visit with the staff and asked them for a recommendation for the best Mexican restaurant in town. There was no hesitation and we took their directions to Xochimilco’s, just eight minutes away.

The interior was dark, but it didn’t keep the staff from shinning. My driver ordered an exotic dish the waitress recommended and I leaned more toward familiar fare. Both were excellent! Yet, at one point before we were finished, my driver bolted from his chair and disappeared. He came back flushed and apologetic. Unbeknownst to me, he had experimented with the jalapeno pepper and burned his lips. While wiping his lips with his napkin, his eyes began to water and he used the napkin to wipe his eye. Unfortunately, that was a big mistake and he ran to the restroom to wash out his eye.

Needless to say, not only was the dinner delicious, it was also eventful. Consequently, only a trip to Baskin Robbins could put the fire out and fortunately there was one only a few minutes away.

So begins our little skipping town experience. There’s so much to remember already, not the least of which was the climate and superb food.