I’m enjoying my last leisurely morning coffee in the cool air of Samish Island. It’s been a great, relaxing two weeks, but this evening we board a red eye at SeaTac to return to the heat and humidity of South Carolina. With limited Internet on the island, I haven’t done many posts, but I thought I’d recap a few things from the past two weeks that didn’t fit into one of our epic excursions.
Life on the Island
The daily routine has been fairly normal, when we’re not off touring. We drink LOTS of coffee. Sometimes I get up earlier than Laura and head out to take a few photos, or walk around the island. We run errands. In the evenings we walk the dogs with friends and neighbors Duff and Linda McDaniel, and their daughter Kayla, when she visits.
I have to confess that I’ve only visited during optimum weather conditions. Sure, I’ve been here when it’s raining. It is the Pacific Northwest, after all. But, I’ve never been here during winter, when the sun doesn’t come up until 8:30 am and is setting by 4:30 pm. My view of island life is somewhat skewed toward the idyllic.
Yet, the times I have been out here have seemed just that. The coffee seems fresher. With farms and waters surrounding us, the produce and seafood seems fresher. The common weed is blackberry, which, though annoying and tough to handle, produces the most magnificent berries. Blueberry fields surround the island. Here is a harvester in action picking berries. I photographed this just the other morning:
Even the backyard here is a bounty.
It’s almost as if everything gets kicked up a notch. After all, it’s hard to be anything but relaxed when this is your morning view:
Not that it’s completely idyllic. Being two hours north of a major US city means that we get the fringes of pollution, congestion, and a higher cost of living. Housing prices are going through the roof, and traffic can be really bad in the towns. I can still see the Milky Way at night, but light pollution is increasing. During the days we hear a constant roar from the jets training at the Naval station on Whidby Island, where the Blue Angels practice.
Even the people I’ve met here seem…different. For the most part they are friendly, well-informed, and literate. We even had a pleasant encounter at the local DMV, which speaks volumes. Sure, they can be quirky, but it takes an independent spirit to live in some of these places.
There are churches, but religion doesn’t seem to dominate the culture as it does in the south. That is truly refreshing.
There seems to be more of a sense of community. The small towns dotting the valley are tight-knit, with old-fashioned social gatherings and garden clubs. I saw this first-hand while visiting the Samish Island Arts Festival last Saturday. The whole island comes together.
The house itself is rather humble. It’s a double-wide mobile home that has been modified and expanded. Here’s a view from the next-door neighbor’s house:
The house may not be impressive, but the views are priceless. I imagine that someone buying this place would probably just tear it down and build a new place, so we haven’t thought much about replacing appliances, etc, but just in keeping it in good repair. The decor is a mishmash that the folks on the home improvement shows would say needs “updating.” Yeah, probably, but it’s comfortable and cozy.
In short, as much as I love my home state, this place really appeals to me. I’m sure if I spent appreciable time here I’d find just as much to annoy me as living in the south does, but so far those faults are staying hidden.
We spent much of our time here going through family photos and history. Laura’s mom carefully documented their genealogy. We found those papers, and will bring them back with us. We carefully packaged photos and documents and are shipping them back to the east coast. My plan is to scan as much of it as I can.
Seems her family was full of colorful characters, such as her great-great-grandfather, who left his family in North Dakota to search for gold in the Yukon. He never returned, but he remarried in Alaska. With his new wife, he started another family, and had the same number of boys and girls as he had back home. Oddly, he then gave the new kids the exact same names as the ones back home. I guess he missed them. We found two small gold nuggets in a safe deposit box at the local bank that he had sent back to the family.
Then there is Laura’s great grandmother Vinnie Burdick. During the Depression she supported her family by raising and selling canaries. Here’s a series of photos of her with her birds.
There were other important documents that we needed to have as we continue to make arrangements for Mrs. Wright’s long-term care. There were calls and visits to attorneys and banks, and there were tears with the discovery of mementos of lost loved ones. It wasn’t completely a care-free trip.
Just a few things around Skagit County that didn’t seem to fit in with everything else…
First, there were the dinosaurs. These were elaborate sculptures made from driftwood. They were just out in this guy’s front yard.
The town of Sedro-Woolley has some incredible wood carvings along its main street.
I would head out some mornings to take photos. One morning this past week a blanket of fog rolled in from the rivers. Duff told me that this was a rare occurrence. I would have loved to have been able to do a time-lapse of the clouds and fog.
Finally, here are just a few more photos from around the area:
Two weeks have flown past, and there were still things we didn’t get to do. I’d really like to stay longer, but we need to get back, and we miss our cats. Both of us want to come back and spend lots more time here. Who knows? Maybe we can make that happen soon.