(Warning: This post has a thousand photos. I’m not sorry.)
The first two days of our anniversary trip in Seattle were awesome. But our destination all along had been a quaint little boathouse we’d only seen online, set on the waterfront of Orcas Island. We marveled at our bluebird day and drove north toward our ferry landing in Anacortes.
I’d never been on a big ferry like this, one where you drive your car onto it and leave it below deck. I’m fascinated by the island lifestyle that involves a ferry ride to get home. It’s an hour of forced downtime, with gorgeous views on every side. Some people (the regulars) peeled through stacks of mail or set up shop in a corner with a ball of yarn and knitting needles. John and I soaked in the sunshine on deck before escaping the brisk wind with cheap beer and wine inside. The whale watch had begun.
We drove off of the ferry onto a lovely island with rolling hills, farmland pasture, the happiest cows, and dense patches of forest. We turned down a narrow road at a sign for Beach Haven Resort, then at a moss-covered pole with a sign that read, “Fischer.” And there it was– our home for the next two days.
The owner, Mike, explained that the cabin used to be a boathouse for a resort but had been in his family for over 50 years. He’d spent a few years renovating it, using local reclaimed materials. As he gave us the tour, his pride in his work was obvious and appropriate. I was blown away by the perfect details: a stone doorknob; wood planked walls, driftwood furniture, sea glass colors, and an incredibly efficient use of space. It was absolutely love at first sight.
Mike left us a thoughtful welcome note on the chalkboard, a bottle of wine, and a bowl full of s’mores fixings before wishing us a happy visit. Before the sun set in fluorescent pink fashion, we popped over to the market for happy hour snacks and clinked glasses to the boathouse. It was October 27, our actual anniversary.
We listened to the wind and the waves all night, tucked into our warm bed. Morning light revealed more of the rustic details of this enchanting cottage, like the salvaged doors and the rainbow ceiling. Despite the chill, I sipped my coffee on the deck, listening to the waves and desperately searching for whales. John worked his magic in the tiny kitchen before we headed out to explore.
We headed for Moran State Park, which was established in the ‘20s. I could imagine big parties being held almost 100 years ago at the public picnic areas we found, complete with wood-fired stoves.
We pulled over to check out Cascade Falls, and it felt like we were lost in Middle Earth. Mossy branches filtered the sunlight. Mushrooms everywhere reminded us that this clear weather was unusual. The forest echoed with the muted roar of the falls, or our occasional gleeful shouts. Our path was covered in ancient tree roots and freshly fallen pine needles, dotted with tiny pinecones. And the trees. Oh, the majestic trees, reaching high toward the sun.
We continued our journey toward Mount Constitution, the highest point on Orcas Island at 2,399 feet above sea level. At the top, there’s a medieval stone structure that serves as an observation tower that was built in 1936. The view was spectacular, Mount Baker in the distance. We stayed as long as we could before we were blown out by whipping winds.
We stopped again at “Little Summit” to catch the view from another angle before heading down the hill for a tasty lunch in adorable Eastsound.
We had a vision for our last supper on Orcas Island: using the smoker to prepare a pile of fresh seafood, a big green salad, and crusty bread. We made a stop at the market for supplies and made it back to the boathouse in time for happy hour and another glorious sunset. John started on the clams and salmon while I drew on the chalkboard, combed the beach for souvenirs, and set a beautiful table.
As usual, Chef Hubby made a ridiculously delicious meal. We devoured clams in a white wine bacon broth and smoked salmon, talking about our favorite parts of the trip. Mine was happening right then.
We couldn’t leave the boathouse without snuggling around the firepit, roasting marshmallows into s’mores. John beat me at cards again that night, but it was still a perfect day.
The sea was calm when we awoke. I spied a lone bird on a rock, watching the sunrise with me. John met the neighbor, a crusty man named Dave with a twinkle in his eye and a dog named Phoebe. He helped him move his boat, which had been swept down the beach by a recent storm, before we enjoyed our last breakfast at the boathouse.
The ferry ride back to the mainland was bittersweet. It was gorgeous, the bright blue sky and deep blue see on all sides, but our trip was over. It was more than we’d hoped it would be. My cabin/cottage dreams have been rekindled (I even sketched out the layout of the boathouse). My desired for simple living is renewed. I guess, if I really tried to think of some, there were a couple of tiny let-downs. We hadn’t seen even one whale, and the wind made sea kayaking around the island impossible…which just means we’ll have to come back. And we will.
We flew over Mount Baker on the plane ride home, a close-up view after seeing it in the distance all week. My carry-on bag was weighed down by the beach stones I toted home, memories of our first year as a married couple.
Happy anniversary to us. Here’s to many more.
(At the boathouse.)
**Wanderlust? Visit the TRAVEL BLISS link above!**