Island Newbie


I am a Pacific Northwest newbie. Jobs, vacations, family and love have kept me moving far and wide throughout the US and the world, but never to this region. Well, unless you count a visit to Uncle Ed’s house in Oregon when I was five…since I don’t remember it all that well, I guess I don’t. Twenty-eight years later, I’m back and I brought a camera so I’m sure to remember this time. I’m here in Friday Harbor working for Outdoor Odysseys, a kayak tour outfitter operating sea kayaking tours on San Juan Island; rough life, right?

I drove from Illinois. I took six weeks or so to do it. After a layover in Texas and crossing California the long way, I was right back at Uncle Ed’s. He’s a faculty member in the College of Forestry at Oregon State and, let me tell you, he has the best way of reading the story of the forest to newbies like me. My Oregon family played terrific hosts and it was a special treat to hang with them for a week. Corvallis is a cool town with a great farmers market, paved trails and a Goodwill “Superstore”. I didn’t even know Goodwill Superstores existed! Now that I have been on island for a few weeks I can tell you, I did not take full advantage of all the super store had to offer…

Fleece? Had some; bought some more. Guess what, not enough. When Midwesterners are cold, we put on a sweatshirt. Here, cotton is not king. Spring on San Juan Island has proven to be the light traveler’s wardrobe challenge. A few chilly, drizzly days in a row and I think, ok, I know what to wear to be warm and comfortable. Wouldn’t you know it (and I’m not complaining here), it ends up sunny and 70. Dress for that and here comes the cool rain. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Speaking of sunny and 70, this PNW newbie had the very best weather last Sunday for a first sea kayaking experience! Our mighty group of nine, lead by the knowledgeable Magda, wandered the west side of the island in search of adventure, sun and wildlife. The orca whales eluded us, but we enjoyed balmy temps, spied peek-a-boo harbor seals, and glimpsed a regal bald eagle. Our yummy vegetarian beach lunch came at just the right time and gave us the fuel we needed for our return trip.

Two and half weeks on island and the newbie feel is starting to wear off, a little. Mother Nature is still being tricky, but the sun has been out three days running with a more than favorable weekend forecast. Can’t wait to head out kayaking again, but maybe this weekend I’ll grab lunch at the San Juan Island farmers market and watch for orcas from shore.

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