Orcas Island

Published: August 1st 2008
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As we began to travel more regularly during the summer of 2007, I decided that along with traveling internationally, we needed to make it a point and priority to visit some of the beautiful and interesting places in our own backyard. As Washingtonians, we are so lucky and fortunate to have such a plethora of different and amazing places to visit in our state within only a few hours of our home. It seems so many of us (including ourselves) take our diverse state for granted, not realizing the incredible opportunities that await our arrival. One of the first places I wanted to take some time to visit was the San Juan Islands, as neither of us had ever been. I had heard numerous wonderful things about these local islands and so in August of 2007, I booked our rental house on Orcas Island for five nights over the Fourth of July holiday weekend. We also invited our close friends Joe and Michele to join us.

Day 1 (Wednesday, July 2nd)

We had planned on leaving home at 8:45 in order to arrive two hours ahead of the 11:50 ferry departure from Anacortes. Michele and Joe were running late, so we didn't end up leaving until about 9:15.

The one and a half hour drive up to Anacortes was fairly uneventful until we saw a driver near Mount Vernon who appeared to be intoxicated. He was constantly driving into the median and swerving back and forth into the other lane. We watched this go on for about ten minutes, until Michele decided to report the dangerous driver by calling 911.

We arrived at the ferry terminal around 10:45, expecting huge crowds of people and hundreds of cars; however, the terminal was actually much less busy than expected and we were some of the first cars to arrive for the 11:50 ferry. Both of our jaws dropped when the ticket agent stated our total: $56.25 for a one hour ferry ride; CRAZY! After parking our car, we hung around for a bit with Joe and Michele, just talking to one another and enjoying the sunshine and the many dogs families were bringing with them to the San Juan Islands.

As the clock approached 11:50, the ferry had not yet arrived. They announced that the ferry was running about 30 minutes behind schedule. Lucky for us, we weren't in a hurry, so we continued to soak up the sun. The ferry finally arrived and after driving on and parking, we went up to the decks to enjoy the beautiful views. We grabbed a quick bite to eat (Ivar's Clam Chowder) and then I hurried outside to ensure I would be able to take as many pictures as possible of the incredible passing scenery. I was surprised at the sheer number of small, medium, and larger-sized islands we passed. I kept running back and forth between the two sides of the ferry as the scenery was constantly changing.

We arrived at the ferry landing on Orcas Island about one hour after leaving Anacortes. From there, we drove about 10 minutes North to the Eastsound area of the island. We drove through many picturesque rolling fields and charming Victorian homes. The directions to our rental house were slightly confusing, but after finally arriving at the Gate House of Laughing Moon Farms (http://www.laughingmoonfarm.com/) we all were pleasantly surprised with the property. The house was cute and quaint with plenty of room for a party twice our size. The location was quiet and peaceful and we had a
Brown crabBrown crabBrown crab

This was one of only hundreds of small brown crabs we saw in the tidal waters at the beach in Eastsound
slight view of Eastsound Bay; it was exactly what I was hoping for; a relaxing and restful retreat. We unpacked all of the food and then Mike, Joe, and myself headed out to explore while Michele stayed back to recover from a migraine she had been battling all day.

We drove along Eastsound Bay, stopping in the city of Eastsound, the most populated area on the island. We walked along a small beach that was beautifully covered with driftwood and all sorts of tidal pool activity. I took a ton of pictures of all of the interesting and colorful sea life.

We left the beach and continued heading around Eastsound Bay until we eventually came to Moran State Park (http://www.parks.wa.gov/parkpage.asp?selectedpark=Moran). We drove through the SW portion of the park, passing the gorgeous Cascade Lake that was filled with people and all sorts of activity; boating, canoeing, camping, etc. I knew that we would have to come back later for a closer look.

We eventually turned around and drove back to Eastsound, stopping at Island Market (the local grocery store) to pick-up a few food items we needed. We arrived back at the house to a refreshed Michele
Sheep at Laughing Moon FarmSheep at Laughing Moon FarmSheep at Laughing Moon Farm

One of the older sheep and two of the babies
who had recovered from her headache. We ate some chips and salsa for a snack, and then Michele and I walked down the property of Laughing Moon Farm to visit with the sheep while the boys stayed at home. Michele and I were surprised to see the number of baby sheep the farm had; a total of four, and only two adults! We wondered if it was common for sheep to have two babies at once? The baby sheep were cute but very timid around us while their mothers had no problems sticking their heads through the fence boards to visit.

We eventually walked back to the house where Mike and Joe were beginning to prepare dinner; steaks with baked potatoes and grilled onions. Based on the combination of steaks we all brought, we had four different kinds to pick from; fillet mignon, new york, flank, etc. The sautéed onions that Mike cooked were delicious and we all ate more than we should have that evening!

After dinner, Mike and Joe went outside to practice swinging their golf clubs around while Michele and I cleaned up dinner. At one point, the boys saw a deer and her baby right outside the house. I snapped a few pictures but quickly learned that deer sightings at the house were actually very common. We then left as I had wanted to do a quick hike to burn off all of the calories we had just consumed from our large dinner.

We drove back to Moran State Park and chose the 2.7 mile hike around Cascade Lake (aka "Cascade Lake Loop"). It was a relatively easy hike with only a slight elevation gain and the trail was mostly clear of rock and debris. As we were directly next to the lake for the majority of the hike, I had ample photo taking opportunities. Towards the end of the hike, we arrived at the South End Campground, which appeared to be the end of the hike (as we happened upon a road), but really wasn't. We had to follow the road and pick the trail back up again after crossing the street. Joe and Michele opted to follow the road back to the car, while Mike and I chose to continue to follow the trail. At this point, it was quickly becoming dark outside, and we began to hear thunder and lightening. Mike tried to hurry me along the trail as he knew the rain would be coming soon. Sure enough, the rain arrived very quick, and a torrential downpour began just as we were approaching the car. We all ran for cover, but most of us ended up soaked anyways. The drive back to the house was visually interesting, filled with pelting rain, loud thunder, and beautiful lightening in the sky.

Day 2 (Thursday, July 3rd)

Mike and Joe left early today around 9:30 in order to play a round of golf at the Orcas Island Country Golf Club (http://www.orcasgolf.com/) which happened to be only a two minute drive from the house. Michele and I both decided to sleep in instead. I finally got out of bed around 10:00 and ate breakfast.

Around 11:00, Michele and I decided to head out. We first drove North to Eastsound as I needed to stop by the Post Office to mail a few things. After finishing that, we walked to the Orcas Island Historical Museum (http://orcasmuseum.org/). The main museum building is housed in six original homestead cabins that were built between the 1870's to 1890's and all are connected together to form one large building. The museum is filled with photos, stories, and relics from farms and homesteads of the 1880's. Being a history buff, I found the small museum quite enjoyable and Michele appeared to find it interesting as well.

Afterwards, we stopped in at Island Market to pick-up a few items we needed for dinner later that night.

We then headed SW in order to reach Orcas Island Pottery (http://www.orcasislandpottery.com/) which is the oldest pottery studio in the Northwest, having opened in 1945. The property sits atop a high bluff overlooking President Channel, which is a picture-perfect postcard setting. While Michele walked around looking for some pottery to buy, I took my camera out and had a blast taking dozens of up-close shots of the very beautiful and colorful pottery. I probably could have stayed there for hours without running out of things to photograph.

From the studio, we drove South towards Orcas Village at the ferry landing. I had read about an Italian eatery in Lonely Planet's "Pacific Northwest" called Enzo's Italian Caffe that specialized in gelato and panini sandwiches. There was no question or doubt in my mind; one mention of the word gelato and I'm there, no questions asked! Before sampling the gelato, we opted to eat lunch first. I ordered a Sopressato panini on focaccia with pesto and fontina cheese, which was simply divine! Michele had a philly cheese steak panini, which she said was tasty. After eating our delicious sandwiches, we tried a few flavors of their gelato offerings. Having never eaten gelato before, I wanted Michele to sample the vanilla and chocolate, so that she could easily compare the taste, flavor, and texture to ice cream. She wasn't too keen on the chocolate, but loved the vanilla. I ordered one scoop each of vanilla and chocolate and enjoyed each and every delicious spoonful that entered my mouth.

After lunch, we headed back to the house, but first stopped at the Golf Course to see if we could find Mike and Joe. Scanning the course, we were able to pin then down using Mike's green sweatshirt and the golf cart they had rented. We decided to join them for a bit, as riding around in the golf cart looked fun! Both Michele and I ended up playing golf for awhile. We both had quite a bit of fun learning to swing properly and were surprised that neither one of us were as bad as we thought we would be. The fun times lasted until one of the worker's at the course came up and scolded Mike and Joe for driving the cart on the greens, drinking beer that they hadn't purchased at the golf course, and for having more than two people ride the cart at once (which happened to be Joe, Michele, and Mike, and was indeed quite dangerous). Not wanting to also get in trouble for playing when we hadn't paid, Michele and I decided this was an appropriate time to leave and headed back home to nap while the boys finished playing the course.

The boys came home about 45 minutes later, and Michele and I awoke from our naps to begin cooking dinner. We had an easy but yummy meal of nachos. Shortly after dinner, we left again for Moran State Park. We drove along the steep paved road within the park to the 2409 foot summit of Mount Constitution. Although it had been cloudy earlier that day, the sun seemed to be winning the battle this evening and we had an amazing view the of surrounding islands and ocean. For an even more spectacular view, we climbed the 52 foot stone observation tower that was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1936 (it's the highest point anywhere in the San Juan Islands).

After leaving Moran State Park, we drove to Deer Harbor, which is located on the Western side of the island (about a 30 minute car ride from Moran). At the dock in Deer Harbor there was live music performances, and later, a firework show. We were absolutely floored at the number of local teenagers hanging out at the event. The entire local population of the island had to have been there that night! The dock was so full of people we actually debated whether or not the dock might collapse; it was rather claustrophobic experience for me. I had been looking forward to the firework show as it was an opportunity for me to try and take decent pictures at night with our new Nikon D60 camera. I quickly realized however that I have much to learn about how to actually use the camera; all of the pictures turned out like crap 😞 We left right before the show ended in an attempt to avoid the massive crowd departure, which worked perfectly!

After arriving back home, we made some s'mores, but much to my disappointment as the boys didn't want to use the fire pit so they cooked the marshmallows over the grill instead. Still good, but not quite the same as the "real deal" campfire s'mores.

Day 3 (Friday, July 4th)

On this Fourth of July holiday, Mike, Michele, and myself managed to sleep in until around 10:00 while Joe (the early bird) had awoken around 8:30. After eating breakfast, we left and first stopped at Rosario Resort (http://www.rosarioresort.com/), which is located just outside of Moran State Park. The mansion at the resort was built in the early 1900's by Robert Moran, who was a former Mayor of Seattle and a wealthy shipbuilder; the building is now on the National Register of Historic Places. The mansion is open to the public, so we decided to tour the interior of the house, although we were quite disappointed with what we saw. I guess we had all expected more grandeur and beauty, given the time period during which the house was built. We saw none of the intricacies or opulence in the details of the woodwork I had hoped to see. The exterior of the building, especially the roof, was in major need of repair and just looked very run down for being the so-called largest "resort" in the entire San Juan Islands! Aside from all of that, we also found out that there aren't even any guest rooms available to rent in the actual mansion. The rooms of the resort are scattered throughout the property in random small buildings; not exactly what we had envisioned!

After leaving Rosario, we drove back to Moran State Park (yes, AGAIN!). The two days prior, we had seen paddle boats for rent at Cascade Lake, which appeared to be fun, so Mike and I decided to try it out for ourselves. Since Cascade Lake was filled with many more visitors than nearby Mountain Lake, I thought it would be better to rent from Mountain Lake instead. However, after arriving at the Mountain Lake, we noticed that there were no boats to rent. Instead, we decided to walk around for a bit while I snapped a few pictures of the gorgeous lake.

Next, we drove just down the road to a parking lot with a trail head that lead to a quick .25 mile hike to Cascade Falls. The 75 foot high waterfalls are most spectacular in early spring when rain and melting snow add significant volume to the water. As it was the beginning of July, the waterfalls weren't that impressive, but I had fun attempting to take some close-up shots of the water cascading down the small ravine.

We walked back to the car and decided to grab a quick bite to eat for lunch first before we rented the paddle boats at Cascade Lake. We drove about ten minutes South to Orcas Island Artworks (http://www.orcasartworks.com/), which is a barn-like structure that houses the well-known works of dozens of artists and a small restaurant called Olga Cafe. I had read several good reviews recommending Olga Cafe in guidebooks, so I thought it would be a good place to try out. The cafe is small (and the tables even tinier) but we all managed to fit in at one of the tables together. The place was filled with lots of people, so I had high hopes! Michele and I both ordered the pasta special of the day, which was a Four Cheese Baked Pasta (AKA: good-ole macaroni and cheese) and a mixed green salad with balsamic vinaigrette. Mike ordered the Pastrami Reuben with sauerkraut and requested a green salad (since the menu indicated it came with a salad), and Joe ordered Crab Quesadillas and opted for a cup of soup instead of salad, since he had ordered an "entree", which came with either. For the most part, we all thought the food was great, although Michele didn't care for the pasta, so she ordered a slice of carrot cake instead. We all felt satisfied until the bill arrived; Mike and I noticed that his entree was overcharged by $4.75 and Michele and Joe saw that they had an additional entree charge on their bill. Feeling confused, when we questioned the waitress about those additional charges, she claimed that because Mike and Joe ad requested different side orders than what their entrees normally came with, they were considered "substitutions" and therefore the additional fees were applied. We tried to explain that we assumed that when the menu stated it came with a salad, it truly came with a salad. Apparently, Mike's entree was supposed to come with a side order of pasta salad, but when we "supposedly" substituted the pasta salad for the green salad, we were charged a fee of $4.75. It seems difficult to comprehend how a simple green salad could possibly cost more than a pasta salad, especially considering how expensive pasta has become lately. The waitresses' snippy attitude and her lack of ownership in our situation resulted in her receiving a significantly smaller tip. The small cafe is a rip-off and I do not recommend it to anyone.

From the cafe, we drove back to the rental house where Joe and Michele dropped us off. Mike and I then got into our car and drove back to Moran State Park in order to rent the paddle boats we had agreed to do so earlier that day. The parking lot at Cascade Lake was extremely full, so Mike dropped me off so that I could reserve the boat while he parked the car. Initially, we had thought about renting the boat for two hours, but decided to shorten the time to one hour, as we figured our legs would be very sore from pedaling. For those of you who have never heard of a paddle boat, the best way for me to describe it is a bicycle with two sets of peddles on a small, plastic boat with no handlebars. The cost for the one hour rental was $15.08 with tax. The boat was maneuvered by a rudder controlled by a lever and then propelled by the two of us pedaling with our feet. I expected the peddling to be a lot of hard work, but it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be. We took frequent breaks and just floated on the water, which helped give our legs a break. The best part during the one hour rental was when we paddled to the smaller part of the lake where we had the water to ourselves. This was a very relaxing and peaceful experience and I enjoyed the feeling of the water below me as the boat moved from side to side.

After an hour on the lake, we brought our paddle boat back to the dock and then took off in our car and headed Southeast to Obstruction Pass Park. The size of the park is about 80 acres (compared to Moran's 5,252 acreage) and has one of the few public places on the island where you can access a beach. We walked from the parking lot about 1/2 mile down to the rocky beach, where we just sat and relaxed for awhile. Afterward, we drove back to the rental house and cooked a feast for dinner; hamburgers, hot dogs, chicken, corn on the cob, and french fries.

After dinner, we drove into the town of Eastsound to watch probably the most amazing and spectacular fireworks display we'd ever seen in our entire lives. It was so impressive that such a small island could put on such an incredible show.

Day 4 (Saturday, July 5th)

We started off the day by eating a small breakfast, as we were planning on going to the Orcas Island Farmer's Market. We figured we would have no problem finding some good food to eat, so I wanted to leave plenty of room in our stomachs! As we arrived in downtown Eastsound, the streets were filled with both locals and tourists who were lining up the for Historical Day Parade. We had about 45 minutes before the parade was scheduled to start, so we walked to the village green first to check out the Farmer's Market. I was surprised at how small the market was, until I remember that this was on an island of only 4,000 residents; then I realized the size was actually quite impressive. There was farmers selling local fruits and vegetables, island residents selling their baked goods or other prepared food items, and artists selling their homemade craft items. As we walked through the first row of vendors, my eyes were instantly drawn to a stand selling only cupcakes. These were not your average cupcakes made from a box of cake mix; these were Martha-esque and had been painstakingly and gorgeously decorated. It was obvious that many hours of work had gone into those beauties. I was quite impressed and knew I had to buy (and thus EAT) one of the $3 masterpieces. I chose a yellow cupcake with the most delicious chocolate frosting EVER; it was heavenly and I enjoyed every single bite. Mike ended up buying an Italian bratwurst sausage that was heavily flavored with rosemary. It was extremely tasty; however, the strong taste of rosemary followed him around the rest of the day and wasn't exactly pleasant.

After we finished eating, the parade was nearly ready to start. You could immediately feel the hometown vibe and friendliness amongst all of the residents at the parade. I'm sure it's a place where everyone knows almost everyone and most would probably give the shirt off of their back for one another. It was truly refreshing to witness and experience firsthand the sense of community this "small town America" had. Many people were proudly waving an American flag and those who weren't seem enthusiastically tuned in to the patriotic music the local band was playing. One of my favorite moments was watching a small toddler dance in the middle of the street with a flag waving back and forth in her hand. The entire setting was nothing like I had every seen or experienced before in my life, but was also a glimpse of time I will never forget; truly memorable and undeniably special.

As the parade was nearing it's completion, we began walking through town, stopping in at a few cute stores and taking lots of pictures along the way. Eastsound is the largest town on Orcas and is located on the Northern part of the island near it's narrowest point. It's a charming place with lost of restored buildings and many restaurants and shopping opportunities. We also managed to happen upon an awesome find; a french chocolate shop called Kathryn Taylor's Chocolates. Each of the small chocolates cost $3 per piece but are probably the highest quality chocolate you can find outside of Paris. The chocolate is so rich and dense that eating just one small piece is sometimes too much.

We decided to eat lunch in town, and chose a Mexican place called Bilbo's Festivo. This restaurant was recommended in every guidebook we had brought along with us, so I figured and hoped it would be good. As always is the case at Mexican restaurants, Mike ordered chicken fajitas, I requested two chicken tacos, and we also put in an order for salsa and chips. Having been given several rave reviews as a "traditional Mexican eatery", we naturally had high expectations. However, those expectations which quickly diminished as we started on our chips and salsa; the salsa tasted store bought and the chips were stale! Our food was finally ready about 20 minutes later. The portions were quite small and the only item on my plate I actually enjoyed eating was the refried beans. The rice was not fully cooked and the texture was thus crunchy, and the flavor of the rice itself was strange. I would not consider my tacos nor Mike's fajitas to taste suitable for eating; they were okay I suppose, but definitely not memorable.

We left feeling disappointed and not entirely full, so we stopped for dessert just up the road at Enzo's for gelato. We hadn't realized until that morning that in addition to their location at the ferry dock Michele and I had visited on Thursday, Enzo's also had a location in Eastsound. Mike and I ordered and shared vanilla and zabaglione (which tasted similar to crème brûlée).

We left town and went back home for a bit. Aside from the kayak tour planned for the next day, I had no other "must do" items on my list, so we decided to explore the island further with our car. Our first stop was the Howe Art Gallery (http://www.howeart.net/). Anthony Howe is an artist who has created abstract and kinetic sculptures out of material such as stainless steel, fiberglass, mirrors, wood, etc. His current pieces of work are on display at his home near Eastsound, which is open to the public for viewing. His art is very interesting and unlike anything I have ever seen. It's nothing I could ever imagine myself buying, but I was able to appreciate the beauty each of his pieces had.

After leaving the gallery, we drove Southwest to the Frank Richardson Wildlife Preserve, located near Deer Harbor. The preserve is a 2000 acre freshwater marsh with dozens of species of birds. As we approached the reserve, the weather began to cloud over and by the time we arrived, a light rain had started. I stepped out of the car and instantly heard numerous birds crowing, but was unable to see but just a few birds. Binoculars would have been useful at this location!

As we drove home, the rain really began to fall, and before long, we were in the middle of a huge rain storm! At the house, we both took a nap and fell asleep to the sound of pelting rain hitting the tin roof. About an hour later, Joe and Michele arrived back at the house and we began cooking dinner, which was pasta with both red and white sauces. I wanted s'mores for dessert again, but this time, I wanted the "real thing" cooked by campfire. Mike and Joe went outside and unsuccessfully attempted to get damp firewood to light. After an hour of trying, they finally gave up and Mike and I headed to the store to buy some dry firewood and a lighter. We came back and in no time at all, had a roaring fire going. It was the first time in a very long time that I had roasted marshmallows by a fire; there is nothing quite like the taste of campfire marshmallows.

Day 5 (Sunday, July 6th)

Our planned activity for today was a kayak tour with a company called Osprey Tours (http://www.ospreytours.com/). Neither Mike nor myself had ever kayaked before so we figured that a guided tour would be beneficial for learning purposes.

For some reason, when I initially looked at Osprey's website, I thought I had read that the tours departed from Eastsound Bay, which is a calm and protected body of water on Orcas Island. As a result, I hadn't even thought about taking any preventative measures in terms of sea sickness medications for Mike, who is highly prone to motion sickness. We later discovered (after arriving on Orcas) that the tours actually departed from Bartwood Lodge Resort, which is on the very North side of the island. This area of water offers little protection from waves and currents, but still looked relatively calm from a distance.

We arrived to the meeting point about 15 minutes prior to our appointment time. Again, the water looked very calm, so we each took only one Dramamine pill just in case as we figured we really wouldn't need it. Lucky for us, we were the only two that had signed up for the 10:00 tour. I was also very happy to see that our guide had a camera to bring along on the tour. As much as I wanted to, I knew that bringing my brand new expensive camera was too risky because it was likely to get wet. The guide gave both of us Aleutian-style hats to wear, which weren't the most fashionable items, but definitely served their purpose of keeping the sun off of our faces. We then walked down to the shore, where the guide showed us proper paddling technique and helped us adjust the foot peddles inside the kayaks.

After the quick introduction to the world of kayaking, we took off into the water. The first 15 minutes of the ride was quite peaceful and relaxing. The water was very calm, so we were able to effortlessly glide through the water without much paddling. The sun was beginning to peek through the clouds, which created a very beautiful setting and view from our vantage point in the kayaks. Kayaking itself was actually much easier than what I had imagined. After only a few minutes, I was able to find the proper paddle rhythm and felt very comfortable floating through the water.

About 20 minutes into the ride, the water began to feel a bit choppy, but didn't appear to be too rough, so I figured (and hoped!) that Mike was okay. However, only a few minutes later, I soon realized he wasn't doing so hot. We were taking frequent breaks from paddling to enjoy the views and give our hands a break when Mike told me that I must NOT stop paddling. When I asked why, he stated that he felt the movement of the waves less when we were both paddling. The situation quickly went from bad to worse in only a few minutes. I had to tell our guide that we needed to turn around and get back to the beach ASAP. She seemed slightly confused at first, but I think she began to understand when my paddling became frantic. Although we had only been out in the water for about 30 minutes at the point we turned around, it took twice as long to get back to the shore as the current was working it's way against us. The whole time I kept thinking "please don't puke Mike, please don't puke!". Mike later told me that as we were trying as hard as we could to paddle our asses off, he pondered that if he DID finally have to throw-up, how should he go about it? He was concerned that if he leaned over to the side it would throw off the balance of the kayak and tip us both over. He also realized that he was unable to get sick right in front of himself as I was directly in front of him in the kayak we shared and wouldn't appreciate getting puked on. Luckily, neither situation came to fruition as we finally arrived back at the beach about one hour later. Miraculously, the food contents inside of Mike's stomach remained intact; I didn't know if that was a bigger relief to me or Mike!

We quickly drove back to the rental house after the kayak tour to allow Mike to recuperate. He ate a small lunch, which seemed to help significantly, and we left about an hour later.

As we didn't have anything else planned for the day, I had wanted to just cruise around the island and revisit some of the areas we had seen previously. The weather was cooperating with us and was sunny out, so I thought I could retake photos of the beautiful things we had visited in the days prior.

Our first stop was Orcas Island Pottery, which is on the Northern part of the island, where Michele and I had visited several days prior. The views from this place were incredibly beautiful and the pottery so colorful that I wanted to take Mike there myself to show him around. I was still quite mesmerized by the vibrancy of colors each of the pottery pieces had and took many more pictures.

After leaving the gallery, we drove South as I had wanted to stop on Nordstrom Lane as I had previously seen an old but photogenic barn I wanted to snap some pictures of. Mike parked the car on the side of the road, and as I got out of the car, two horses on the property noticed I was walking towards them and turned around to look in my direction. There was obviously a fence that separated us, but as soon as I called them, they both came running over to me. In fact, the brown horse was so desperate to be petted he practically indented his body into the wires of the fence. Unfortunately, I was unable to touch either one of them as there was a thick layer of bushes between the side of the road and the fence.

After leaving the horses, we headed back to the rental house, but stopped at Crow Valley Pottery (http://www.crowvalley.com/), which was located just down the road from where we were staying. The gallery is exhibited outside of the studio's cabin and is a unique collection of a variety of different pieces of art media. As always, I had quite an enjoyable time taking photos of many of the pieces of art while Mike snoozed in the car.

We were planning on going back to the rental house, but instead, I decided that we should drive back over once again to Moran State Park. Since the sun was out, I wanted to get some pictures of Mountain Lake and of the lookout point on Mount Constitution. There is nothing quite like a photo of a lake when the beautiful sun is gleaming down, creating a beautiful reflection. I was also able to get a few more good shots of the surrounding islands at the top of Mount Constitution.

Dinner this night was a medley of the many food items we had leftover from the previous four nights; hot dogs, hamburgers, chicken, ribs, corn, sautéed onions, etc. We were quite focused on trying to eat as much of the perishable food items as we could before we left for home the next day.

Day 6 (Monday, July 7th)

On our last and final day on Orcas Island, we awoke to the beautiful sun shining through our windows. We sadly and reluctantly packed our bags and headed out for the ferry. Initially, we had planned on taking the 12:05 departure back to Anacortes and assumed that since it was Monday, leaving at 10:30 would allow plenty of time. However, we called Joe and Michele on our drive down as they had gotten to the ferry terminal prior to us. They were told they had a very slim chance of making the ferry time and would most likely be put on the 1:30 departure. As it was only around 11:00, this meant that we had 2.5 hours to kill, and not much to do. We decided to walk down to Enzo's Italian Caffe, which was right next to the ferry terminal. Unfortunately, they only had the non-dairy fruit based flavors in the morning, so no chocolate or vanilla for me. Instead, I ordered lemon and orange, and they added a dab of lime at the top. It all tasted okay, but definitely not as good as the chocolate or vanilla I had eaten several days prior.

The 2.5 hours went by fast, and before we knew it, we were driving onto the ferry. As is tradition, we made sure to buy a bowl of Ivar's clam chowder, even though we weren't technically hungry. I spent most of my time outside taking photos of the passing scenery.

When we got off in Anacortes, Joe and Michelle headed home while Mike and I decided to check out the downtown area. We had stopped in at Anacortes two years prior when Joe, Michele, Mike, I, along with all of our many dogs hiked up nearby Mount Erie, but didn't really have the opportunity to explore any of the stores or restaurants. We stopped in at a few home decorative stores, but didn't walk away with anything as the prices were insanely steep. For lunch, we stopped at La Vie En Rose French Bakery and picked-up a croissant and a napoleon. Then, we walked to Gere-A-Deli (http://www.gere-a-deli.com/), which is a traditional New York-style delicatessen that serves fresh sandwiches, soups, salads, and desserts. There was a ton of options to choose from, but I ended up selecting an Italian sandwich with prosciutto, provalone cheese, onions, and tomatoes on focaccia. Mike requested the Reuben made with corned beef, Swiss cheese, and sauerkraut on rye bread. We ordered our sandwiches to go and then drove to Washington Park, where we parked the car and enjoyed our delicious lunch. The views from this park were stunning and we made sure to stop at a few of the viewpoints to take pictures. We then left Anacortes, and began the two hour drive home. We were sad that our trip was over but were also very anxious to get back to the dogs and cats.

Overall, we were extremely pleased with our stay on Orcas Island. I was definitely charmed by the small town feel of the island and the easygoing nature of it's residents. As is common when traveling to an island, I was surprised that it's size was much larger than I had expected. I was also impressed with the variety of natural beauty we encountered; from the densely-forested Moran State Park to the vast open farm fields to the many protected bays and inlets and finally to the rocky coastline, this island has an abundant number of choices for the outdoor enthusiast. We thoroughly enjoyed exploring as many of the nooks and crannies on the island that we could find time for. Without a doubt, I know for certain that we will someday go back and visit once again. However, before that trip occurs I would first like to visit and explore San Juan Island and Lopez Island; in the coming years, I'm sure you will see entries on this blog for those places.

On the next several pages you will find just a fraction of the pictures I took during our trip. This was our first travel experience with my new Nikon D60 camera, so I couldn't stopping clicking away.

Additional photos below
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Water ViewWater View
Water View

View from the ferry terminal in Anacortes
Ferry TerminalFerry Terminal
Ferry Terminal

The long line of cars awaiting the arrival of the ferry

14th September 2008

Very informative
As an Orcas Island resident I really appreciate the level of detail in your blog and the variety of experiences you describe. I would like to add your blog as a link in my website so my guests have your many suggestions about what to do and where to go. Thank You.
7th February 2009

wow what a grat blog. Enjoed every part especially the throwing up part from the kayak. What was the best part of the orca island. would you recommend any cottages? or would you suggest any other island in the san juan island chain to stay 3 nights?
22nd October 2009

Great itinerary and food photos
Fun to read because of price details, food photos, and misc descriptions. Thanks.

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