This Memorial Day weekend, Alice and I celebrated our 32nd Anniversary with a three-day retreat on Orcas Island. We left early in the morning, along with just about everybody else in the Pacific Northwest. Fortunately, we knew the back route to the ferry terminal and were able to “cut” into the middle of the line.
After our one-hour ferry ride (with a stop at Lopez Island), we arrived at Orcas just before lunch time. We drove to Eastsound and looked around for a while. Alice partook of a special event and tried food samples from area restaurants. I saved my appetite until we passed a tavern advertising the best burgers on the island. Having not tried all the burgers on the island, I had no way to compare, but it was really good and the fries were excellent.
A bakers going out of business provided dessert in the form of some chocolate-chip cookies.
After that, we headed to Moran State Park. As we passed Cascade Lake, Alice noticed that the boat rental place was open, so I turned around, went back, and we rented a peddle boat for an hour. The weather was great. Warm, sunny, with a nice selection of big, billowy clouds.
After not drowning on the peddle boat, we drove up to Cascade Falls and took pictures of the upper falls then hiked down to the lower falls and took more pictures.
As evening approached, we drove back to Eastsound, stopped and the market and picked up some deli food for dinner, then headed to Deer Harbor where we would be staying for three days and two nights.
Through the fortunes of a Groupon, I was able to snag two nights at the historic Deer Harbor Inn on Memorial Day weekend. The property has cottages, cabins, and a lodge. We stayed in the lodge which had four rooms upstairs and four downstairs. Check-in was very informal. We walked to the office and there was a bag with our name on it, the room number, and a key. We happened to run into the manager, but filled out no paperwork.
The lodge has a common area for each floor. Our room was large, well-appointed in pine. The bed had a memory-foam mattress which is what we are used to sleeping on. We had a nice, though rather small TV, an electric fireplace and our own bathroom (I don’t like to share a bathroom, thank you very much).
On the mantle of the fireplace was a picnic basket with tomorrow morning’s breakfast. It consisted of English muffins, bananas and cereal. Our small refrigerator held a couple of boiled eggs and some butter for the muffins. We had a toaster and a coffee maker.
Here’s the nice thing. In the common area we found more cereal, plates, plastic wear, napkins, extra towels, and a larger refrigerator containing the milk and more butter, and a microwave. The lodge also had a computer and a VOIP phone, which meant we could make all the domestic and local phone calls we wanted at no charge.
The common area has a sofa, a selection of books and magazines, and some puzzles and games.
Of course, there’s always a downside. The people above us were noisy sometimes, and when they flushed the toilet, it sounded like a rocket launch. If we go back to this site, we’ll opt for an upstairs room.
The Deer Harbor Inn also boasts a restaurant, and we walked over to check the menu. Pricey, but the menu items looked good. We decided to eat there Sunday evening for our anniversary dinner. After eating our deli dinner, we drove down to the Deer Harbor Marina to take photos and see if we had a photogenic sunset. On the way back, I saw on old, beat up 1940s pickup I was determined to get a photo of, but too dark that first night.
The next morning, we woke to a drizzly rain. We breakfasted in bed (at least Alice did), watched some TV, then decided to head to Eastsound to look in the shops.
We took a back road into town, and I had to turn around to get a photo of an old, European-style building with two sheep standing in front of it. I was also able to get some photos of flowers in Eastsound as the rain continued for a while longer, then stopped.
After a couple of hours of shopping, we went back to Deer Harbor to wait for dinner. We decided to hike down to the street and get the photos of the old truck. Later that evening, we walked to the restaurant, the only remaining structure of the historic Inn. I decided on the special, Southern Fried Chicken. Alice tried a seafood medly. Our dinners came with soup, salad, bread, and live music. The food was excellent and I topped mine off with an old fashioned chocolate sundae. We were seated close to the musicians and had an ocean view.
Monday morning we got up early and packed. Checkout was as simple as putting the key in a little basket near the door. We wanted to take the early ferry over to Lopez Island, which we hadn’t seen before. Unfortunately, it was raining steadily. I began to worry that all the people in the San Juans would be trying to get back to the mainland all at the same time.
My worry increase when we got to the Orcas Island ferry terminal and there were many cars waiting to go to Anacortes. But, as it turned out, we made a shrewd decision, because the ferry we planned to take from Lopez at 1:30 came directly from Anacortes, unloaded, loaded up, and went directly back to Anacortes. So we wouldn’t have to worry about ferrys already filled up from Sidney, Friday Harbor and Orcas.
We planned a couple of hours to see Lopez Island, but as we exited the ferry we could see a long line of cars already waiting for the 1:30 ferry to Anacortes. Yikes! If we didn’t get on that ferry, the next one wasn’t until 5 p.m.
We started our tour of Lopez with that nagging worry. The rain prevented any hiking. Then I got lost. We got a call from home that required cell phone access, so I tried to find a place to pull over where we had some bars, but Lopez doesn’t seem to have too many places to pull over.
After driving aimlessly for a while, enjoying the pastoral hills, farms, ranches, and the occasional view of the Salish Sea, we finally found our way back to civilization–only to find everything closed. We had bars, however, so Alice was able to make that connection.
We then decided to make our way back to the ferry terminal and get in line for the 1:30 sailing. It would be almost a two-hour wait, but we’d at least make it home fairly early.
We only made it part way to the terminal. Over a hundred cars had appeared out of the woodwork with the same idea. We parked over a quarter mile from the terminal, in line with all the rest. The fine filled up behind us, around the corner and out of sight. I was afraid we’d have to wait until the 5 p.m. sailing. Alice walked down to the terminal and back, counting cars. We were 112 in line.
When 1:30 arrived and the line began to move I consoled myself with the fact that the terminal area had both a bathroom and a small food service area. We got down to the loading area and they waved us on! I don’t know how many cars the ferry held, but it wasn’t quite full when we got on and we were very happy, indeed.
All of our past trips to the San Juans had been before Memorial Day or after Labor Day allowing us to miss the Summer tourist crowds. Things were quieter and less traffic, so we’ll probably continue to do that or try to travel mid-week.
We had fun, got some great pictures, ate good food, and took in some of the most awesome scenery in the world. So I think it was definitely worth it.