6/4/12 - 6/11/12
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Snugly curled up in the comfortable bed, I slowly wake as the gray morning light begins to filter through the window behind my head. In a moment, I remember that I am not in my bed at home, but instead I am in a bed in the loft bedroom of a cabin on Orcas Island! I excitedly sit up in bed and turn to peek out the window, wondering what view the morning will bring. I am especially concerned about the weather, because this is the day we will go sailing. Even the clouds cannot take away from the beauty of the sea, the islands, and the mountains I can see outside the window. I breath a contented sigh, but begin to wonder why the alarm clock I set the night before has not yet gone off. I finally take a lazy glance at the clock and, for a moment, I think I must be reading the time incorrectly. Because, how can it possibly be 4:30 in the morning?! 4:30 in the morning! My sluggish brain finally processes the fact that the time difference from home combined with a very early sunrise means that I did, in fact, wake up at 4:30 in the morning.
Fortunately, I was able to fall back to sleep for a couple more hours and then wake up, for a second time, to a no less beautiful, but unfortunately more cloudy, view. Knowing we needed to be in Deer Harbor, which was located on the south side of the western half of the upside-down-u-shaped island, by 10 am, we left our cabin just after 8 am to ensure we had plenty of time to stop for breakfast (e.g. plenty of time to ensure that I was adequately caffeinated - I think Clay's nightmares consist of being confined in a small space with me when I have not yet had my coffee). On this particular morning, we chose Rose's Bakery and Cafe in Eastsound. As we would experience at other restaurants, we practically had it to ourselves.
Focusing on locally sourced and organic ingredients, even the eggs were fresh from local farms. With many delicious options to choose from, we (cough-I-cough) decided to begin our meal by sharing a cinnamon roll and then each ordered our own more substantial, but no less wonderfully carby, dishes. And yes, I know it was a lot of food, but we totally needed to ensure we had enough energy to make it through a tough day of sailing. I really think the cinnamon roll made a difference!
I had never before experienced "baked eggs," but I really liked them prepared that way - it was sort of a cross between a poached egg and a fried egg. And the baguette, oh the baguette! I was not aware that a simple piece of bread could be so delicious.
It was during this meal that we received a phone call about our scheduled sailing trip - the skipper (and owner of the charter company) was willing to continue as scheduled, but the weather was predicted to be better the following day if we wanted to postpone our sail. Hoping for some sunshine tomorrow, we agreed to wait. So, as we finished our large-enough-to-feed-an-entire-family breakfast, we discussed other options for our first day on the island.
We were staying in the central part of the island and would be heading west the next day for sailing, so we finally settled on exploring the eastern part of the island. Our first stop was Orcas Island Artworks. Located outside of the town of Olga, the gallery is an artists' cooperative for local artists. I especially liked the madrona wood bowls and handbound journals.
We spent much of the morning driving around the eastern portion of the island simply enjoying the gorgeous scenery. One moment we would be surrounded by impossibly tall and dense trees and the next we would come unexpectedly upon an open field. Every now and then we would get a glimpse of the sea. The landscape was surprisingly varied, but constantly beautiful.
After a bit of aimless wandering (and Clay pointing out every deer on the island), we headed into Moran State Park.
We planned to do a combination of driving and hiking, stopping to enjoy some of the shorter trails to maximize our time in the park. However, we kept noticing signs indicating that we needed a "Discover Pass" in order to be in the park or to hike the trails. Being a bit of a rule follower, I was relieved when we finally figured out what it was all about. We kept noticing the "Pay Stations" located throughout the park; really they were nothing more than a wooden post with a plastic box attached. We simply filled out the form (which could also be used to pay for the use of camping facilities), added our $10 check (cash was also accepted) to the envelope, dropped it in the locked drop-box, and displayed the tear-off portion of the form on our dashboard. Let's just say that having this knowledge in advance may have prevented a bit of an argument, so consider this information an investment in your relationship.
And, yes, I realize I am getting all soap-boxy (that is totally a word!) for a moment, but the whole process seemingly operates as an honor system. But seriously, $10 is so worth enjoying and supporting a beautiful state park. If you cannot afford a $10 pass, then I assure you that you cannot possibly afford to be on the island. $10 was by far the least amount of money we paid for anything. Okay, soap box over - time for some pictures!
These are from a lookout point about half way up Mount Constitution.
The views from the top of the mountain (which is also the highest point on any of islands) were incredible.
There were various buildings throughout the park that were originally constructed in the 1930's, including a small facility built to utilize a natural spring.
The water of Mountain Lake was so smooth - only the occasional fish disturbed the glassy surface of the water. We enjoyed the quietness and solitude that would likely be less available later in the summer or on a "prettier" day.
And what day would be complete without a hike to a waterfall (or two)?
After an enjoyable morning and afternoon of spending time outdoors, we stopped in the incredibly charming Eastsound for some shopping.
We did have to get some grocery items (for s'mores, obviously), so we unfortunately had to shop in the local grocery store. The prices were incredibly expensive. Tip of the day: if you are not scrambling at the last minute to catch the ferry, pick up marshmallows, graham crackers, and chocolate bars before you get to the San Juan Islands!
Dinner that evening was at Allium. Recommended as one of the two places for an especially nice evening out on Orcas, the experience was quite disappointing. The view was great, of course; the Allium was located directly above the Madrona Bar & Grill.
Essentially, we could have enjoyed the same view at the latter restaurant with better food and for less money. Not that the food was particularly bad, but the experience should have been more than mediocre. To be fair, Clay did enjoy his steak, but again felt it was way overpriced for the quality and taste of the meal.
The real issue I had was with my dinner. It is here where I confess that I departed from my usual "vegetarian ways" (as Clay describes my diet, always with a hint of disgust in his voice!) and ate seafood, lots of seafood during our vacation. One would think that the fish of the day, in this case halibut, freshly caught and prepared ON AN ISLAND would be the best dish on the menu. However, the fish was flavorless, a characteristic not helped by pairing it with rice and a spiceless, bland red curry sauce.
Fortunately, this would be the only negative restaurant experience we had during our trip, but unfortunately, it was also the most expensive.
Not ones to let a less than stellar meal ruin our evening, we consoled ourselves with another sunset soak in the hot tub.
Our day did end on a delicious note, with a warm fire and s'mores.
After a very fun day, we again climbed up into our loft bedroom, again looking forward to sailing around the islands the next day.