in Checking In, Travels

Midpoint of our Orcas Island Vacation

Today is Wednesday, the half-way point of our vacation. We’ve done a ton of things already and still have plenty more we can do. The weather has continued to be unbelievably perfect: totally clear with gentle breezes and temperatures around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. We couldn’t have picked a better time to be here, weather-wise.

The neighbor’s WiFi is now reachable again, too, which saves me a drive to town to post this. I think there is some sort of ducting going on which makes this access point accessible from here occasionally. I could not locate it at all yesterday, no matter how I tried.

The critter count for our vacation is now: dozens of starfish, a dozen seals, multiple snails, multiple sheep, multiple horses, many clams, four deer, three bald eagles, two slugs, one dolphin, and zero rabbits (see eagles, above). I’m sure I’m forgetting something and Hallie will soon correct me!

As for yesterday, it turns out the kids didn’t nap at all. I got a call from Kelly when I was on the way home from the library, telling me there was only one sleepy person at home and it wasn’t Hallie nor Travis! Having given up on the naps (and the idea that the two of them could nap together reliably), we ran around the backyard for a bit instead.

As we played, Hallie’s eagle eyes spotted an eagle as it flew in to land in the tree behind our house! It parked itself there for close to an hour, just casually looking around. I got lots of good video and a few pictures of it before I grew bored with it. The kids enjoyed seeing it, though, and the footage should spice up our vacation videos.

The kids began to get a bit bored, so we hauled them back to the summit of Mount Constitution for another look at the scenery, this time with the stunningly clear weather. We could easily see Vancouver, Canada, Mount Baker, and other landmarks from our vantage point on the top.

The kids’ lack of naps began to catch up with them, though, so we drove back down and cooked a chili dinner for them before tucking them in for an early bedtime. Before we went to bed, Kelly and I then made sandwiches to take with us for today’s outing: a trip to San Juan Island!

We woke up around 5:15 PST (8:15 in our minds, remember) and scrambled to get things together for our 7:40 ferry sailing to San Juan Island. We arrived with plenty of time to spare, so Kelly grabbed a Starbucks coffee while the kids walked around for a minute. The ferry’s computer system was down and when we arrived we were instructed to go to the booth at the foot of the ferry to purchase a ticket. I opted to go down to buy a ticket but when I saw the “closed” sign on the door, I realized that we were going to ride for free. About that time our ferry was arriving, so I raced up the hundreds of steps back to the parking area just in time to see Kelly in the driver’s seat, ready to go. We drove onto the ferry and walked up topside to see the scenery.

On arriving at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, we made a beeline for the Lime Kiln Point State Park on the western side of the island. Lime Kiln Park is the place to see orcas, the best in the entire San Juan islands. During our last trip here, Kelly and I missed seeing a pod swim by by a mere 10 minutes! We were determined not to miss another chance.

Thank goodness we didn’t hold our breath. When we got to the monitoring station at the Lime Kiln lighthouse, the sign listing the last sighting showed Friday. It has been four days since any orcas were spotted. The word from the researchers is that the salmon have largely already swam by and up to the mouth of the river, where they await the next rainfall for their chance to swim upstream. The orcas (duh) are also at the mouth of the river, feasting on their favorite food. Thus we’ve been denied our second chance to see orcas in the wild!

After another fun ferry ride back, Kelly and I took the kids up to the driveway of the house we rented 7 years ago, at the top of Scott Hill right above the ferry landing (I think the address is 27 Orcas Hill Road, though don’t quote me). The house looked largely the same as it did. There was a car and a kayak in the driveway, which lead us to wonder if the house was still renting or if it had new owners. It was fun returning there with kids in tow, though. Funny to think about how we’ve changed since the last time we saw it.

Now the kids are napping comfortably. Kelly’s on the sunny back deck, enjoying a Red Hook Long Hammer IPA and Harry Potter. I’m about to join her with another Red Hook and my copy of Bill Bryson’s A Short History Of Nearly Everything (on recommendation of Greg).

Once the kids awake, we’ll head back to Cascade Lake in Moran State Park, where I’ll entertain the kids while Kelly goes for a swim. We might even try out a paddleboat or two.

(Oh, and just to follow up. Today’s the first day I’m feeling completely healthy again. Boy am I glad I am.)