Family Time in the San Juan Islands

Feeling a bit bedraggled, we were refreshed with the beautiful sunshine that greeted my parents as they arrived in Washington.  Unfortunately, their arrival was met with phone calls from home informing them that my grandmother passed away while they were en route to visit us.  This was not unexpected, she had been ill for some time, but it was incredibly sad for all of us and especially difficult for my parents to be so far from home.  On the other hand, I felt fortunate to be able to be with my parents during such a sad time.  Van worked hard to cheer them up and we tried to support them the best that we could.

I love you and miss you, Grandma.  I look forward to putting many of the interests that we shared into practice when I settle down into a home with land to dig my fingers into.  I feel so, so lucky to have had so much time with you over the years, and I am happy that you’re no longer suffering.  Rest in Peace, Bertha Marie Duffie.

Although my grandmother’s death was never far from any of our minds, we were able to have a wonderful and relaxing week with my parents in the San Juan Islands.  We did lots of cooking and eating, went on a few sunny hikes, spent some time staring at the water, warmed up in front of the fireplace, and spent many, many hours doing genealogical research.

Our week began with a ferry ride from Anacortes to Orcas Island.

Van Enjoying the Breeze

Van Enjoying the Breeze

The Puget Sound and Mount Baker

The Puget Sound and Mount Baker

Dad, Van and I explored Rosario Inlet.

We all checked out Orcas Island Pottery – Van especially enjoyed their multi-story treehouse.

Can’t forget the dance party.

It was an incredibly beautiful and relaxing place to spend time with family.

Upon our return to the mainland, we had some fantastic chowder and visited Deception Pass for a walk over the bridge to peer down at the green water far, far below.  It was here that we said our goodbyes and traveled south to Seattle (for us) and to the airport (for them).

Thank you, Mom and Dad, for an absolutely wonderful week!  We love you and miss you.

Wet, Chilly, and Gray: Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

Lake Crescent, Olympic National Park

Wet, a little bit chilly, and gray.  What a way to celebrate the end of summer!  We spent the last week of August camping on the Olympic Peninsula in Olympic National Park.  We got some hiking in and had a glorious time on the banks of Lake Crescent, but were otherwise bundled up in warm socks, sweatshirts, and coats at night and in rain jackets during the day.

Hiking in Olympic National Park

Hiking in Olympic National Park

The Happy Family in Olympic National Park

The Happy Family in Olympic National Park

After our night in Staircase, we headed up to camp at Heart O’ the Hills campground, which is on the way to Hurricane Ridge, the most mountainous part of the park that is accessible by car.  We enjoyed some ridgeline hiking and the first real blasts of cool fall air.  The real highlight of camping in this area was visiting Lake Crescent.  The hikes nearby were a lot of fun, but just sitting and staring at the lake was the best part.  At least for me.  For Van it was probably the hours of rock throwing that he was able to do on its banks.

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

Hurricane Ridge, Olympic National Park

And from here our trip proceeded to get wetter and wetter.  I guess that’s what happens when you head into a rain forest.  We camped near the coast at Mora campground, in close proximity to a beach with great sunset views.  The beach was beautiful, but the sunset was shrouded in the mist that marked all of our visits to the coast.

Washington Coast

Washington Coast

Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park

Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park

Sea Foam

Sea Foam

Rock Throwing is Not Limited to Lakes and Rivers

Rock Throwing is Not Limited to Lakes and Rivers

We headed inland to the Hoh Rain Forest, excited to explore the moss-covered trees and lush green forests.  We put up our hoods and had one great hike through the pouring rain, but decided to cut our second hike short when the skies opened up even more.  I like rain – I really do.  But it’s hard to like it when you’re living out of a tent and you have no prospect of being dry at any point in the next couple of days.  That being said, we had a great time playing games in our cozy tent with Van and listening the pitter patter on the nylon above.

Glistening Ferns

Glistening Ferns

Our Site in Mora Campground, Olympic National Park

Our Site in Mora Campground, Olympic National Park

Olympic is a neat place, noted for its vastly different terrain – glaciated mountains, lush old-growth rain forests, rocky coastline, and sunny days in the Olympics’ rain shadow.  Even so, between the wet and chilly weather (to be expected, I suppose) and a run-in with a less than savory character along the coast, I was for the first time on our trip, beginning to question how much longer I wanted to travel.  But in the spirit of explorers who have come before, we pressed on, looking forward to five luxurious days with my parents in a beautiful home in the San Juan Islands.

Happy Six Month Anniversary!

Traveling by Ferry in the San Juan Islands, Washington

Traveling by Ferry in the San Juan Islands, Washington

Six months.  Six long, adventurous, exciting, and family filled months.  I can hardly believe that it’s been six months since we pulled our green VW Eurovan out of my parents’ driveway in New York and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime.  And here we are, six months later, living out of a different vehicle, clear across the continent in the damp woods of Oregon.  My thoughts of having a place to call home, cooking healthful meals with a full indoor kitchen, and starting a garden with the little guy have begun to increase lately.  We still have lots more to explore, but I’m equally excited about our post-travel adventures.

Instead of writing about more of the lessons I’ve learned (and there are many), I thought I’d share the best two pieces of advice or words of wisdom that we received.  The first was from my former boss, a fantastic mentor and friend who completely understood our motivation to take this sort of trip.  When we were discussing the ins and outs of our travel while we were still in the preparation phase, he advised me that when we got to the point in our travels that we felt like we were done traveling, we should continue on traveling for another month.  By doing this, we’d really learn if we were done traveling or if it was a temporary set-back that was making us feel that way.  As a result, we’d never look back and wonder if we stopped traveling too soon.  Such great advice, not just for our travels, but for anything we’re doing that we’re thinking of stopping or changing.  This advice has helped me get through the down periods (and thankfully there haven’t been many), when I can’t take another wet night in a tent or another day of trying and failing to find healthful food.

The second was less advice and more words of wisdom from a dear friend from law school.  She grew up in a small southern town in an area not known for its intellectualism or cultural diversity.  This did not prevent her parents from finding a wonderful, like-minded group of friends in their local area.  She passed along their words to me as we search for a new home: no matter where you are, you’ll always find your people.  I may be paraphrasing this a bit, but it’s been one of the most reassuring nuggets of wisdom that I’ve heard during our travels.  It has enabled me to put less pressure on myself to find just the right place to call home.  There are many “just the right places” or maybe none at all, but either way, we’ll find our people.  And isn’t that the most important part of finding a place to call home?