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!
Buck Mountain HOA ensures roads are kept clear.
The lot I visited was bathed in sunshine.
Western vista from Buck Mountain.
Moss thrives in snow!
Beauty in the details
Our native Mahonia is an evergreen that sporatically dons fall color.
Picturesque barn in Crow Valley
Crescent Beach dressed in white
The rugged coastline
Rosario Mansion & Resort
Trek up Turtleback Mountain with my ole buddy Murphy (miss this boy!)
Snow cave in Moran Park
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!
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.
Best buds hanging at the Deer Harbor dock
First dip in Salish Sea – February 2007
Making friends with a Dungeness Crab
Lucky pooch with his own truck and private chauffer
Stopping at the scenic overlook during his daily walk
Front row seat for the annual Solstice Parade
Waiting for UPS to bring his dog biscuits
Lunch break at Cascade Falls, Moran State Park
Chilling out on a snow day at Turtleback Mountain
Cascade Mountains – less than a day’s drive from Orcas
Excursion to dog-friendly Cannon Beach, Oregon
Relaxing in his favorite salal patch
Like people, dogs have a great life on Orcas
Mighty Quinn’s first boat ride
Stay tuned for Part 2, where we take a closer look at some of the island’s pet-friendly perks!
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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