For my birthday we traveled up to Orcas Island, where my sister and Brother-in-Law maintain a vacation cottage.
We did this just ahead of the Washington state-wide advisory not to travel needlessly, which I thought was pretty fortuitous, until Governor Newsom of California banned seniors from leaving their houses. My sis, a senior, whose normal residence is in San Diego, would have fallen under Gavin’s mandate had she not, just the day before, escaped to Washington for a planned Spring Cleaning of the cottage. These upside-down times have a senior escaping to a “hot zone” to gain her freedom. You can’t make this stuff up.
We were rewarded with a beautiful, but cold, sunny day, something in very short order lately in the Pacific Northwest. These sunny winter days provide some of the best scenery to be had in these parts, and it’s a big reason why we live here. The ferry gliding into the landing on flat water, and the pre-dawn shots from the front of the cottage give you just a wee taste of it.
Our ferry ride over was as empty as I have ever seen it, and the Island felt deserted too. Winter has something to do with that, I suppose.
The beach in front of the cottage is rocky, not sandy, and sheltered. This makes it one of the best beaches I’ve ever seen for sea glass hunting. It gets just enough churn through the tides and chop to bring tons to the surface. My sister is especially tickled to find “letter glass”, pieces of bottles or other stuff that has readable letters in it. Jeff, my brother-in-law, found Christ on that beach, literally. Printed right there what might pass for a large piece of a Brew Growler. I’m sticking with that story, by the way.
The cottage yard is decorated in “everything floaty”. Driftwood pieces, old boats, net floats, etc. On the beach today was a very large, rusted out buoy that once was used to support a log-boom breakwater. She had her eye on it, and a caper had been hatched to snatch it from the jaws of the ocean. It’s a good idea, when possible, to get this stuff out of the water so it doesn’t end up floating out into the channel and killing some small sport boat that doesn’t happen to see it. Once towed up onto dry land and emptied of its floating core, it will be placed in a deserving spot in her landscape. Too bad I won’t be staying long enough to see that project through! I did, however, help the BIL to get a float and rope attached so he could come back the next day with his boat to tow it over to the marina launch facility, where the boat hoist can grab it to put it on his trailer. Future story spoiler: there is a twin to this one still floating off their beach, attached to the last rotting piece of the log boom.
For my birthday dinner, we visited the Orcas Hotel (www.orcashotel.com), right at the ferry landing. It has been there practically forever and now has new owners, Julia and John, who are both chefs. They are refurbishing the grand dining room, but graciously offered us a table in their small café coupled with some gourmet dining. If this is a small sample of what they will be offering in the finished restaurant, we are in for some very fine times on the island in the future. Fabulous! They have cleverly created an intimate “dining special” that includes a four-course meal and a bottle of wine in a private room, for $100. Great people, great chefs, great creativity.
On our return trip, we saw something I’ve never seen from off a ferry vessel (it has happened a couple of times while I’m on the boat). A full emergency stop by the Samish enroute from Anacortes to Friday harbor. No explanation given, just a full-reverse dead stop as she was passing us. Those things are big, and it’s impressive how short of a distance they can bring them to a halt! I’m going to guess the captain had suspected they might have run over a crab pot line and he was taking action to clear the line from the shafts before it could do any damage. Just a guess. It was underway shortly after that.
I love winter in the Islands. I would encourage anyone to take a day or two up there, and to enjoy the raw nature. Treat yourself to a nice dinner and bottle of wine with our new friends at the Orcas Hotel (I had the bacon-wrapped venison meatloaf, yum!), do some shopping in Eastsound, maybe get a cottage out at West Beach Resort (www.westbeachresort.com). This is the time of the year you can actually get a reservation! You won’t regret it. And neither would Tippy!