One of the great aspects of living in an outdoor destination like Orcas Island is that people of all ages love to visit. There are so many fun things to do here that even teens who are normally glued to the virtual world of their smartphones and other gadgets find enough real life adventure to stay entertained.
In mid August my father-in-law and 16-year-old niece trekked out from back east to see us. Bob and I took the opportunity to unplug and enjoy a vacation in our own backyard. We packed a month’s worth of activities into a week, ate fresh-caught seafood almost every night and were reminded all over again why we chose to live in this far out northwest paradise. Our family photo album tells the story – click a photo to start the slideshow:
The adventure begins by arriving on a seaplane painted like an orca whale.
Day 1 starts with a boat ride to see whales. This J-pod male was cruising with his mates off Stuart Island.
We saw the most whales we’d ever seen at one time – including three lively calves.
On our cruise home we stopped to fish for the night’s dinner: pink salmon.
The one that got away!
Mid August is blackberry season. Each afternoon we picked fresh berries to enjoy on our ice cream. Yum!
Throughout the week we caught delicious Dungeness Crab to enjoy fresh out of the pot, in crab cakes and crab salad wraps.
Plus we feasted on the “lobster of the northwest”: Spot Shrimp, locally called Prawns.
Lots of them!
Our terrestrial activities included a hike up Turtleback Mountain.
This scenic overlook on Turtleback Mountain made the perfect place for a picnic lunch.
The Saturday Farmer’s Market was an ideal place to pick up island-made souvenirs for the folks back home.
Meg piloted the dinghy to nearby Crane Island where we borrowed two kayaks.
Our kayaking adventures included scenic Mountain Lake. It was as peaceful as I’d always imagined.
After beaching the kayaks for snack time, we took a brisk dip in Mountain Lake. Brrr!
Every night we were treated to a spectacular summer sunset. This one took first place.
A last paddle on President Channel completes the perfect vacation.
If this type of adventurous lifestyle appeals to you, I’d love to help you make it a reality. I specialize in helping people in all phases of life move to Orcas Island. Contact me and let’s begin!
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I look forward to pickle camp each year. Friends and family gather to share stories and the thrill of scrubbing cucumbers and peeling garlic.
“Pickle pals” for life, Elsa and Teri
There are also plenty of laughs and good food enjoyed by all as we sit back at the end of the day and get that warm feeling about what we accomplished, and begin to start counting down the calendar days until Thanksgiving, when the first jar is popped open and pickle camp comes back to life, one jar at a time.
Fresh, ready-to-pack ingredients line the counter for packing jars.
Elsa had the liquid measurements on her wrist likened to a quarterbacks play list. The assembly line behind her was moving fast.
Place the following in the bottom of a quart canning jar:
1 head of dill
2 cloves of garlic
½ tsp mustard seed
1 red chili pod
¼ tsp turmeric
4 whole pepper corns
As jars are being filled, another garlic clove, red chili or a pinch more of dill can sneak into the jar, making the recipe really just a guide line.
For 7 jars, in a sauce pan heat:
6 cups vinegar
7-1/2 cups water
1 cup kosher salt
3/8 cup sugar
Place cucumbers in jar standing on end, pack tightly. Fill jar with vinegar liquid mix, place canning lid on top and screw lid on tight. Place into a water bath canner (water should cover top of the jar) and bring to a rolling boil. Process for 15 minutes. Do not open until Thanksgiving.
Not a lot has changed since I was a teenager growing up on Orcas Island 20-25 years ago, and that’s not a bad thing. The Sea View Theatre still shows one movie a week and The Village Stop, (Con’s) still has soft serve ice cream. Being a teenager on an island is actually pretty great, especially Orcas Island. The days are long and the weather is generally perfect with average temps in the 70’s and clear, sunny skies. Our island is a major tourist destination during the summer which means that local businesses are in need of seasonal help. Orcas teens are fortunate to have the opportunity to learn new skills and make some money each summer. The jobs are plentiful and range from store clerks to firewood splitters and everything in between. Here are a few Orcas teens that I came across at work recently.
Off to Island Market I am helped by high school Junior Rowan Lister. It is humbling to ask him to reach things on the high shelf for me, after-all I have known him since he was a baby! After handing me the item I ask him what he is saving his money for. He tells me that he wants to buy a knight’s suit of armor for his younger brother! Shhh… it’s a surprise!
At the local clothing consignment store Sequel, I run into Junior Bethany Hansen. She is just as friendly as always even though she is on the tail end of a 52 hour work week. She works nights at a local restaurant, as well as her day job at Sequel. She says not all weeks are like this, but she wants to earn a lot of money so she can buy a car before school starts.
Walking past The Kitchen I see a familiar face, it’s Brother Murphy! Brother is a high school Junior and all around friendly guy so his job at The Kitchen is a good fit. The Kitchen serves fresh Asian food in a relaxed outdoor environment. Brother helps prep the food, serve, and does the dishes. All good life skills!
I decide to stop in and see my son Jordan Randolph at the recently opened and very popular Clever Cow Creamery. The line is out the door with people anxiously awaiting a taste of the locally produced handcrafted ice cream. I work my way in and find Jordan and co-worker Kyle happily scooping and serving ice cream. The line doesn’t let up in the time I am there and Jordan tells me later that they didn’t see a break in the line for three hours! As I watch, I see the boys working steady, having pleasant interactions with the customers, and even cracking a few jokes along the way. I am filled with overwhelming “mom pride” as I walk away. My son has grown into a capable and kind young man. I knew this already but seeing him at work somehow makes it more real. I appreciate the owners of the Clever Cow for giving my teenage son his first “real” job.
Out at Moran State Park the owners of Orcas Adventures rely heavily on Orcas teens to keep a safe and fun working environment. Owners Edward and Fiona Stone grew up on Orcas and were once teens looking for summer work themselves! There are currently six high school and college students working the Sugar Shack and the Boat Dock. Yes, Orcas graduates do consistently come back for summer work on Orcas. Why not? The work is readily available and the rent is usually free!
It’s not all work for Island teens, they know how to make the most of their free time. With no malls to hang out at, and only one movie showing per week, our kids have to get more creative. Orcas teens know they have it good. They take advantage of the beauty that surrounds them. You will find them swimming, hiking, fishing, biking, boating, beach-combing, and sunset watching. Here are a few pictures I found on facebook from some of my son’s friends (yes, they gave me permission to use them).
A morning run on Mt.Constitution!
Friends hanging out at the lake.
Sunset toss in the Salish Sea!
Sunset Yogi Charlie.
Stopping by to see mom at TWilliams Realty!
It’s a charmed life for sure! I am grateful to have been raised on this amazing island and so happy that I am providing the same opportunities for my children. If a move to Orcas Island is in your future please give me a call and I’d be happy to show you around… Island Style!