I’m happy to report that we were/are happy campers. We had a WONDERFUL five day camping excursion to beautiful Orcas Island with our besties: Jason, Rebecca and their three stellar offspring.
When we first arrived at our campsite, we were very disappointed to discover half of it blocked off with construction fencing and a note stating that due to a not-yet fallen tree limb, camping should only be done on one part of the site. To the right of the fence, our campsite ended in a steep hill down to the road below. Awesome. Sure, totally safe for two toddlers! But, then, we realized that the saying is true: every cloud has an orange construction fence-lining. We unrolled the remainder of the fencing roll and barricaded in a huge portion of our site, making it basically baby-safe magicness. (Or as safe as can be outside). That and the huge wooded area complete with awesome creek-playing capabilities for the boys made our site totally the best in the campground.
And we had so much fun. On our first full day (Thursday), we all set out for a three-ish mile hike to Cascade waterfalls. Our boys – rookies when it comes to hiking – handled it well and kept the whining to a minimum. Zachary and I speed-walked/jogged the whole way back so we had a chance to change clothes and grab a picnic lunch for our 3 hour whale watching boat ride! (I got the tickets for free from a friend – score!!). Zach and I were disappointed when, first thing, the captain told us that just the night before he’d followed the three resident Orca pods (87 whales total) as they headed North towards Canada. He basically prefaced our whale watching tour with “Don’t count on seeing any whales…but we’ll see seals and Bald Eagles and other cool animals.” Sorry, not nearly as cool as seeing whales on a whale watching boatride.
Though, the day had started with a few sprinkles it ended up being a gorgeous afternoon and we had a wonderful time. We saw TONS of seals, a few people on the boat spotted some porpoise (we missed those, sadly), we saw a Bald Eagle in its nest and…AND…we DID see a whale. Yes, A, as in singular. One whale was hanging out and having lunch in middle of a bunch of islands. It was pretty comical to see all the different whale watching boats come charging out of nowhere and then bob around trying to catch a glimpse of this one Minke (pronounced “Mink-ee”), who Zach named, Twinkie the Minke. For a while it was easy to keep track of as we’d hear the “Oohs! Ahhs!” and “There!s” from the other boats. Twinkie was approximately 24 feet long (according to the Captain’s guesstimate) and at one point, he/she did come close enough to the boat that we could hear (and see) it spout water. It was very, VERY cool and something that Zach and I will always remember.
So for the not awesome part of camping: sleeping whilst camping was a tad rough. The first night was seriously a worry. Kayli started crying several times after we put her to bed and of course we stressed about bugging other campers. We ended up having her on the air mattress with us most nights. The first night, after she’d finally settled down and we’d all fallen asleep, we awoke to clanging and grunting and rustling and…hooves. We peeked out the window in the tent door and saw a young buck, five feet away, eating our bananas! We managed to scare him off long enough so that we could collect what garbage and food scraps that had been accidentally left out. While I was grabbing the garbage bag, Mike was flashing the light all around. (I had brief visions of being rammed in the butt by the buck a la Spanish running-of-the-bulls style). At one point, Mike flashed the light and I saw a raccoon pacing on the other side of our construction fence (God bless that small barrier). Needless to say, we moved as quickly as possible to get everything cleaned up and into our car. A few minutes after we were safely zipped and tucked in, we heard the hooves approach again and quiet munching followed as he finished up whatever small chunks of banana peel were still in the dirt. I decided his name was “Sir Hoofington.” Sir Hoofington visited every single night, but we managed to not leave anything fancy out for him after the banana incident.
On Friday morning, we drove up to the look-out tower on the top of Mt. Constitution where you can see the most sensational views of the San Juan Islands and surrounding areas (Bellingham and Canada included). In the evening, we took our delicious Tomale Pie in the dutch oven and cooked dinner down at the beach where the kids all swam and played in the sand and on the playground (where two of our six combined children – Kayliana included – managed to fall OFF the play structure but, thankfully, they avoided major injury).
Saturday, we decided that another beach day was in order and we packed a picnic lunch so we could spend the majority of the day there. The forecast had been so-so leading up to our trip, but this was one of those occasions where we were SO thankful they were wrong. It ended up being perfect – not too hot, not too cold, with enough sun for the beach but enough evening coolness for a fire and s’mores. Beautiful. Saturday afternoon and evening we did as much packing as we could and then enjoyed the boys’ presentation of a skit they’d been working on for days. It actually was fairly impressive – there was drama, intrigue, suspense – Zachary even had a death scene (twice!). It was award-winning, I assure you.
Sunday morning was all about the quick (as quick as possible, anyway) tear down of the tents and last minute necessary camping accoutrements. We were worried about making the 12pm ferry as they only run every few hours, and we’d heard horror stories of people missing one and being stuck just waiting by the car for the next boat. Thankfully, we made it and had a couple of hours to enjoy one last picnic (and bottle of champagne) together!
It’s always sad when the summer comes to an end, but there is a part of me that secretly begins to yearn for normalcy, a routine, children in school…the boys start a week from tomorrow, so ready or not, here it comes!
Ready for our hike
Such handsome boys!!
Our prime real estate with partially fenced-space