I have lived close to the ocean for my entire life and I can’t imagine ever living more than a few miles from the coast. Listening to the crash of waves triggers nostalgia for my childhood. As a child, my family felt it was their duty to expose me to as much of the Pacific Northwest as possible. Despite all my whining (“are we there yet?”, etc.) on our family road trips, I will be forever grateful for all the memories they gave me. The countless summer days I spent at Orcas Island, whether I was swimming (a.k.a. taking my chances with the jellyfish) or watching the sunset, are some of the best memories of my life. This week, the In My Backyard Team traveled to San Juan Island, a close neighbor to Orcas. On our way to our campsite by San Juan Island National Historical Park’s American Camp, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the ocean. We were close enough that I could smell the saltwater and instantly I felt a familiar calmness sweep over me. It was almost as if the ocean was welcoming me back to my second home.
My godparents, Rob and Lyn, who have been my dad’s best friends since his hippy days, have always invited us, as well as any of our friends, up to their house on Orcas Island. As residents of the largest island in the San Juan archipelago, Rob and Lyn know all the secrets of the island. Every summer I count down the days until I can go to Orcas Island again. I usually bring a friend and I love showing them how amazing the island is. Our first stop is almost always Mountain Lake in Moran State Park. The wooded (and surprisingly mountainous) park encompasses more than half of the eastern side of the island. As soon as we reach Mountain Lake we begin walking around the lake to find my favorite spot, a small peninsula, equipped with a rope swing and within close proximity to a little island. Normally with a little bit (and, sometimes, a lot) of friendly coaxing, I can convince my friend(s) to accompany me to the island. In my opinion, the water is not that cold. That being said, people have often remarked that I seem to be immune to cold water. Once we reach the island it we find a spot to lay out in the sun and let the hours float on by.
After a day of swimming and relaxing (mostly relaxing) my friends and I head back to Rob and Lyn to help them prepare dinner. However, dinner isn’t just dinner; it is a feast. Fresh, colorful vegetables from their garden pile our plates alongside juicy meat of some kind. Our mouths begin to water. After we stuff our faces, we all come to the conclusion that since we are now incapable of moving we should watch a movie. And that sums up a day at Orcas Island. To me, these moments define my childhood. I like to relive them as much as possible. I hope to continue travelling to Orcas for my entire life. It is my escape from the city and the stresses and pressures that exist in my everyday life. Currently my dad is working on building a house at Orcas on Rob and Lyn’s property and I hope to utilize that space as well in the coming years. This island by the sea will always have a place in my heart and I hope to continue taking friends there to not only show them the beauty of the island, but a place that will always be a part of me.
~ Sophie, SCA Intern