Tag Archives: Moran State Park

An Island Winter Wonderland

sandi-quinn-pupby Sandi Friel

Last week we got our first snow of the season on Orcas Island. It only snows here every few years, and when it does, our magic “Emerald Isle” becomes even more magical.

Our last “big” snowfall was in 2014. The amount of snow ranged widely on this 57-square mile island  — from a few inches that disappeared in days to nearly two feet that lingered for weeks. Why? Orcas’s horseshoe shape and varied topography create many micro-climates. The mountains, inlets and fjords that make this rock so dramatically beautiful also help drive its patchwork weather patterns.

Here are a few shots from my trip up Buck Mountain yesterday, plus scenes from winter’s past. Click on any photo to enlarge and see a slideshow. Enjoy!

 

If you’re thinking of visiting or relocating to Orcas Island, winter is a great time to experience a quiet wonderland – snow or not. Contact me if you’re looking for rentals or homes to purchase!

 

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A Dog’s Life on Orcas Island – Part 1

Sandi Friel with Leonberger MurphyPosted by Sandi Friel

When Bob and I relocated from Florida to Orcas Island, our dog Murphy was 5-1/2 years old. That might be considered young for many dogs, but for Leonbergers who have an average lifespan of seven years, Murphy’s best days had passed. Or so we thought.

Murph turned out to be like Robert Moran of Rosario Resort and Moran State Park fame. Moran arrived on Orcas at 47 years old in such poor health that his doctors didn’t expect him to live to see 50. Of course Moran outlived all his docs. Orcas Island’s low-stress, fresh-air, outdoorsy lifestyle inspired the retired shipbuilder to live another 39 years!

Likewise our Murphy lived almost another full Leonberger lifespan after we moved to Orcas. Hiking Turtleback Mountain and Moran Park, paddling in the cool water off North Beach, patrolling the property for deer, driving around the island in his papa’s pickup to visit friends and collect hugs and biscuits, enjoying the temperate Northwest climate: Murphy had a lot to live for here on Orcas. The healthy, adventure-filled and extremely dog-friendly island kept him going well past what would be, in human years, his 100th birthday.

Murphy trotted off to Fiddler’s Green this past August at age 13. The following are a few of the many wonderful island moments Murphy and dogs like him have available here on Orcas. There’s also a shot of our new puppy Quinn, as he eases into the island lifestyle with his first boat ride.

Stay tuned for Part 2, where we take a closer look at some of the island’s pet-friendly perks!

 

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Christmas on Orcas: A Full Heart

By Teri Williams

Here’s what this Orcas Island grandma and her grandson did on Christmas vacation:

coffelt farm collage

Coffelt Farm
Enjoy cookies from Sydney Coffelt and a peek at her pie shelf, nuts, and other porch memorabilia. See the two momma sows, and other pigs (all named pork chop). Learn about the balance of feed vs number of pigs. Learn about feeding baby cows with a bottle of momma’s milk. Check out the chicken pen. Learn about the farm stand and the importance of farms for future community (my grandson).

cascade lake

Moran State Park
Have lunch in the covered picnic area. Walk along the trails surrounded by huge cedars and cross the wooden bridge that spans over the creek and runs into Cascade Lake. See how far a cedar bow will float down the creek. Walk out onto the floating fishing dock hunkered below the fog, and spot the sun above it all. Fish with a switch found along the shoreline.

Eastsound
Hit Island Market for ice cream!! Walk to the post office and look at all the gardens in Eastsound.

driftwood ranch

Driftwood Ranch
Cruise the barnyard. Say howdy to Cowboy Bob, watch him tow a broken down tractor with a tractor that runs (Cowboy Bob has 3!!) Feed pancakes to the chickens. Feed green grass to Snowflake, the miniature pony. Find two bulls in the outdoor pen. Watch a round-up with cowboys and cowgirls saddled up and sporting Stetson hats.

cut christmas treeCrow Valley
Get Grandpa to ask Carol Clark for permission to hike in across her property and cut down a Christmas tree. Find her old barn and look for spider webs. Inspect the old growth stumps for bird nests. Wonder about the loggers who carved the spring-board notches along the sides. Learn about standing old growth trees with charred, thick, black bark are signs of a history.

This grandma’s heart is full after sharing my Orcas with grandson and his family.

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A Recipe for Island Business Success

By Teri Williams

Start with a dream, an independent spirit, creative thinking and a big helping of plain, old-fashioned hard work. You, too, can build an island business that sparks commerce and creates our own jobs.

We do not give up easily. We keep at it, talking to the “old timers” and running ideas past our buddies. Don’t get me wrong, we need jobs here on Orcas and many have left searching for work. The lack of work here is a first in the 24 years I have lived on Orcas, and it feels heavy in my heart.

I want to share a few stories about those who stayed.

Teri-Williams-and-friends-at-Buck-Bay-Shellfish-FarmBuck Bay Shellfish Farm

If you want some good seafood and ambiance, head to Buck Bay. I went out on sunny day in August. Toni was hard at work overseeing the vegetables out of the large garden, counting live crab and making sure her sidekick, Mark, had the kings on ice. Toni already had the wine chilled, crab on ice and the BBQ ready for the fish. We sat and enjoyed the food, laughed about old times (she was the building inspector on Orcas) and enjoyed a seafood feast I will never forget.

clams and oysters at Buck Bay Shellfish FarmAt Buck Bay, you can purchase live or cooked crab, oysters and clams as well as king or sockeye. Mark and Toni have worked really hard to make something out of the legacy Mark’s grandparents started in Buck Bay back in the day. They sell to locals and tourists who are lucky enough to head to Olga, and they also sell to many of the local restaurants who pride themselves on serving fresh, local ingredients.

Island Hoppin Brewery

Entrepreneurs of Island Hoppin BreweryBrewing beer is not just for mainlanders. These three young entrepreneurs had a passion and a dream and made it happen. They encountered many bumps along the way, such as finding out there is much more to brewing beer when you make it more than a hobby, finding a designation that allows manufacturing and finding a location that is convenient for beer lovers to come and check out the operation while they test the brew in the tasting room.

Island Hoppin BeerThe landlord has offered favorable terms and has accompanied the group to the annual Oktoberfest on San Juan Island, where Island Hoppin Brew was received with enthusiasm. This business is selling customers growlers to go as well as supplying our local watering holes with a local flavor.

To add to their business plan, they feature local bands and a traveling pizza oven to ensure a good time is had by all. The community has come together to support this new commerce on Orcas.

Cascade Creek Meadows

Wedding scene at Cascade Creek MeadowsProfessional landscapers Carol and Kevin McCoy have created something out of nothing. Nestled among the forest and Cascade Creek adjacent to Moran State Park, you will find a magical garden space created out of love of nature, re-purposed treasures and a lot of hard work. They have crafted a perfect setting for your special day, whether it’s a wedding, anniversary, birthday, or just plain fun with friends.

Lovely Cascade CreekThe space includes covered sitting areas, trails through the flowers, sitting areas by the creek, a large level tent site, a fully equipped kitchen and an outdoor cooking area. This makes it a cinch to throw a party! You can rent the entire 20-acre property or just the garden—either way, your event will be a success and you will not want to leave.

I helped all of these friends—who happen to be clients—by consulting on proposed property use, County-required permitting and compliance. I, too, am a survivor creating my own job description. And, lucky for me, it involves what I love and helping friends.

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Summer Relief: 5 Ways to Chill Out on Orcas Island

Posted by Sandi

Last week while Seattle posted a record high of 93 degrees, the cool Salish Sea surrounding Orcas Island kept us a refreshing 10 to 20 degrees cooler. So if you’re not already on Orcas Island, the first thing to do is just get here! When you’re on island and feeling the heat, try these ways to keep your cool:

Cascade Lake - Moran State Park, Orcas Island

Cascade lake is a popular swimming hole on hot summer days.

Jump in a lake – The best way to cool off is a dip in one of our beautiful lakes in Moran State Park. The most most popular is Cascade Lake— which also has a beach, dock, snack bar and paddle boats for rent, along with coin-operated hot showers. Choose more remote Mountain Lake for a quieter back-to-nature experience. It’s the locals’ favorite hiking spot too.

Cascade Falls - Moran Park, Orcas Island

The falls along Cascade Creek are most impressive in the spring and fall, but a refreshing place to hike in the summer too.

Hike the cool forest – Can’t decide which lake to visit? Take the Cascade Creek trail which connects Mountain Lake to Cascade Lake. You’ll stay cool amidst the old-growth forest and along the way you’ll see 75-foot-high Cascade Falls and can dip your toes in the creek. Remember, like most WA State Parks, Moran Park now requires a Discover Pass — $10 per visit or $30 annual pass.

Judd Cove Preserve trail - Orcas Island

Murphy and me staying cool on Judd Cove trail.

If you’ve got less time to spare, you can visit Judd Cove Preserve just outside of Eastsound. The forested walk is a great way to cool off after the Saturday Farmer’s Market. The trail takes you past a historic Lime Kiln on the way to the shoreline and picturesque cove. The preserve is another success story of the San Juan County Land Bank, which is funded by a 1% tax on real estate sales.

Indian Island, Eastsound - Orcas Island

Be sure to check the tide charts before you hike the sand bar to Indian Island.

Walk a tombolo – The narrow spit of land connecting Eastsound to Indian Island is accessible during low tide. Hit the beach at Eastsound Waterfront Park, take off your shoes (hang on to them if you’re going to the rocky island!) and explore the sandbar. You’ll have the added fun of wildlife watching in Fishing Bay.

Lily Ice Cream Shop - Eastsound, Orcas Island

Alley entrance to Lily’s ice cream shop in Eastsound.

Get a Scoop or Two – The newest place in town to get ice cream is Lily, downstairs from Allium restaurant on the Eastsound waterfront. Open every day between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Lily serves gourmet hormone-free ice cream from Lopez Island Creamery. Or choose gelato from Enzo’s Italian Caffe, open year round with free wireless internet.

Zip on a line – Okay, this one probably shouldn’t count because it’s open to the public only a few days in the summer, but I couldn’t resist: The longest zip line in the state of Washington is at Orcas Island’s own YMCA Camp Orkila! Climb atop the tallest “building” in San Juan County (68 feet), strap on gear, and catch a breeze while you zoom through the air for 110 feet to the landing pad. Today was, coincidentally, one of the Community Zip days where the event is open to the public for free (appointment required.)

If you can add to this list of ideas, please post a comment!

Looking to enjoy the simple life on beautiful Orcas Island?
Contact T Williams Realty  – we’ll help you find your way home.

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