Orcas Island

Stepping onto Orcas Island is like stepping back in time. To a place where folks smile and wave at each other, where water meets sand and the sound rushes through you while the cool sea breeze swipes your worries away. With a fabulous ferry ride behind you, your now ready to wined through beautiful country farms and magical hillsides of pottery, or cozy up in a seaside hotel with a fabulous meal.

Anacortes to Orcas Ferry Schedule!

The possibilities are endless on Orcas! You can have a rugged outdoorsy vacation or enjoy the life of luxury all within a 30 minute drive! You’re on Island Time now!

 

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When looking for an outdoors adventure, head to one of the best parts of Orcas Island, Moran State Park. You can spend an entire week here and still be in awe of this natural wonder. Hiking through old growth Cedar forests with moss hanging from every tree and little streams making paths through the forest floor on your way to numerous gorgeous waterfalls is just the beginning. All of the hiking trails are very well maintained and they open up to mountain biking in the fall and winter too! After a good hike or if your the sort that would rather kick back and relax with a good book and a fishing pole you wont be disappointed because Orcas has 5 freshwater lakes that are stocked with trout and bass and have easily accessible boat rentals or public fishing docks. Once you’ve taken in the beauty from below the canopy, rise above on Mt. Constitution where you can soak up views of all the San Juan Islands and neighboring Vancouver BC as well.

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Check out more facts on Moran State Park!

– Kayak rentals

-Bike rentals

Rosario Resort is closely connected with Moran State park and equally as interesting! You must explore this resort for yourself when visiting Orcas and trust me, you wont be disappointed! The beautifully landscaped gardens sweep you through the incredible property that’s nestled in East Sound’s Cascade Bay. They have 2 beautiful outdoor pools,  tennis courts, and a prized mansion museum and hotel. There’s also a wonderful music hall where they have weekend performances.

Also nestled on this side of the island is the cute little town of East Sound. Here you can find amazing restaurants, a booming farmer’s market, quaint seaside galleries and plenty of ice cream, coffee, and knick-knack shops. They have a great Grocery Store as well called the Island Market, and on a side note… the employees there had the best customer service of any grocery store I’ve ever shopped at! It’s sad to say, but that is a real treat these days!

With Orcas being the largest of the San Juan Islands it’s easy to spend a week or more exploring not only east sound but the west side of the island as well! There is a fabulous pizza parlor “Island Pie” at Deer Harbor marina that can’t be beat. And after dinner you can take a relaxing sunset stroll on the docks or a nice walk around the little beach.

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Sunset on C dock at Deer Harbor Marina

Make sure to check out West Beach Resort! This is my #1 recommendation for an amazing place to stay! They have everything you need for an all inclusive experience with beautiful seaside cabins and tent sites, boat rentals, restaurant you name it. It’s a classy casual environment where everyone is having a great time for a reasonable price.

Not to far from West Beach Resort is Orcas Island Pottery… a magical place where nature meets the kiln and art is born! Literally, you drive up a lush, fern and cedar tree covered hillside into a tiny neighborhood of bohemian style homes that make up an incredible shopping experience. You wander through trellised vines and tall ornamental grasses into a garden of beautiful flora and fauna, an architectural marvel of a treehouse, and multiple buildings displaying pottery from many different talented artists in the community. It’s a piece of Orcas Island that you have to experience yourself to truly understand this gentle, peaceful island.

Orcas is a place that is best described by it’s wildlife. Everywhere you turn you see a doe and her fawn feeding on the grass or rabbits nibbling off the blackberry bushes. Nothing is fearful here! The wildlife and sea life are plentiful and nature rules on these remote Islands because the people who call them home take great pride in keeping it that way. So thank you and hopefully you all have the chance to experience Orcas Island!

*Visit Orcas Island*

 

Cycling through awesomeness!

Bicycling is one of my family’s most enjoyable past times! It’s something we can all do together that’s a healthy, challenging, and fun activity. We frequent skate parks, neighborhood streets and mountain terrain all year long. But we came to a large snag during our last big life change (moving onto a sailboat). Our bikes are really big and take up a ton of room on the deck when we’re underway. We tried to store them inside the cabin, and that was no easy feet! It worked but it was all we could do keep ourselves out of the way of a swinging handlebar or protect our beautiful wood finishes from the jagged pedals.img_2395

 

So we decided that we would have to figure out a way to have our preferred means of travel fit our way of life! Where there’s a will, there’s a way! My husband, being the research guru he is had done some reading on this idea of a folding bike that packs away to about 1/3 the size of a normal bike. It sounded good but would it work? So we headed to Skagit Cycle in Burlington, WA for some more advice. 

Now understand that when you live on a boat you acquire a certain smell that some would call musty… It’s a boat smell! And our only vehicle is more of a storage unit then a means of decent transportation. So we show up all smelly in an ugly old van that our son had just thrown a huge fit in because of being tired from the early ferry ride and Alec, the store manager was super friendly! He was immediately making jokes and lightening the mood by just being helpful and truthfully answering all our questions. He showed us different styles and sizes, and took extra time to teach us all the tricks on assembling and disassembling these crazy folding contraptions. Most importantly he listened and must have spent at least an hour with me, my husband and my crazy but sweet little 6 year old boy who is like a wild animal in a feeding frenzy anytime he steps into a bike shop. He never got into that pushy salesman mode to either get us to buy or leave. So right off the bat, we were made to really feel comfortable taking our time and making the right choice on a bike that was…

#1. Going to cost a lot!

#2. Going to be my main mode of transportation!

#3. Going to be the last bike I buy for a long time!

So I choose a newer model, the Dahon Briza D8 that isn’t quite as dorky as the folding bikes I’ve seen in the past. And my husband bought the Dahon IOS D9 which was not in the store yet so Alec special ordered it at no extra charge and because we live on the islands, he was even willing to work out a special deal where they would meet us at the ferry terminal to pick it up if needed. They really went so above and beyond the normal level of customer service you receive at a little family owned bike shop.

*Check out the Briza!

*Check out the IOS!

To top off the experience, they gave us a very fair offer on the bikes we were trading in. And the following day we came back with a bike rack that we had no further need of, so he willingly took that in on trade and hooked me up with a new Giro helmet and front hanging bag that clips into my bike.

Needless to say, we would recommend this shop to anyone and everyone in need of anything bicycle related, or if your just looking for a business that treats people kindly and doesn’t judge a book by it’s cover. They are honest, fun and passionate about the sport. Visit Skagit Cycle in Burlington, Anacortes, or Oak Harbor! We have been to the Anacortes and the Burlington stores and they both rock!!! We’ll be back for sure!

Thank You Skagit Cycle!

Skagit Cycle

 

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Now there’s plenty of room in the boat for our bikes!

Top 5 things to do while waiting…

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Top 5 things to do while you’re waiting…

  1. Close your eyes and listen! It’s amazing what you can hear and imagine when you focus.
  2. Plan your next hour. Then you’ll be extra organized and make up for the lost time.
  3. Find the rhythm! Tap your toe to any beat you hear and let your mind wander in song. If you’re extra inclined, you can add some thigh slappin’!
  4. Excercise you brain. Even twiddling your thumbs without touching them is a good brain teaser!
  5. Try to say the alphabet backwards! Good luck!

Living on island time

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Everyone’s heard of the phrase “Island Time” which stands for “nobody cares what time it is”. And it stands true that islands have a certain feel to them, where time really does stand still and your worries seem to melt away with the waves on the sand. While living on Orcas Island we have experienced this and so much more!

There really are no clocks on the island! Ha! Well I’m sure there are some but we are yet to find one, minus the ferry terminal which is the main artery of the San Juan Islands. No matter what the nautical clock on the wall says there are always ferries shipping people of every decent and economic class through these timeless waters.

The islands are a melting pot where people are less concerned about social status and just looking to enjoy themselves.

Everyone should spend some time on an island! Living on Orcas is like stepping back to the good old days where there’s a little family farm with fresh fruits, veggies, eggs, and a variety of other goodies around every corner. Which is always a great reminder for us to eat healthy foods that are locally sourced. Everyone waves and smiles at each other when driving and walking around the shops. People even hitchhike! There’s a true sense of community in these small island towns, neighbors helping neighbors and it’s refreshing!

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Summer in the San Juans is a boaters’ paradise! Beautiful harbors of crystal blue water teaming with marine life just begging for an anchor. There’s also amazing food, drink, and of course nature. Mother nature is one of the most influential forces on the island. When she is shining her sunny smile on us, all is well and the party is swingin’. The sun tanned bodies sharing drinks and stories on the docks are a permanent staple here in the summertime and everyone’s going on a sail or hike and invites you to join. But when her seasons change the island is not far behind.

The month of October has brought a whole new feeling to the island. One of urgency and dedication to tradition that’s handed down from generations long ago. It’s harvest time like you would expect in central or Eastern Washington, and everyone is preparing for the winter storms. It’s a way of life that cannot be ignored.

The best part of this demanding time is that everyone is so thankful to be working here and living this dream.

That’s what I’m really discovering here. That this “Island Time” feeling has nothing to do with time… and everything to do with a well-rounded healthy lifestyle. Learning that there’s no reason to stress over time is invaluable, and I have some tips straight from the island for ya!

  1. Find your happy place –

When you wake up in the morning are you excited to go outside and see what awaits you??? If not then you’re in the wrong place! Some people love the hustle bustle of the city, and others love the solitude of the country. I like both so I live on a boat where I can visit all of them!

     2. Be Proud –

I know it’s hard in the world we live in today to be comfortable in our own skin, when we are constantly being reminded of how we need to alter ourselves to be skinnier or more beautiful with the latest greatest style. But you were made the way you are for a reason! If we all embrace our freckles, crooked noses, splotchy skin, and under eye circles then we embrace the past that got us to this future. Every mark on us tells a story, one of our heritage and adventures. Let your story shine.

    3. Prioritize –

Be literal and everything else will fall into play. Our basic needs are water and food so start there. You have to fuel your body and mind before you can nourish anything else. Take time while you eat to self reflect and check in. Then you can start to prioritize. We all have to pay the bills so work is a high priority, which brings up the question… what is all of this hard-earned money for? If you’re paying for things that aren’t a real priority for sustaining your life; food, shelter, clothing, then is it really a priority? If you prioritize, then you focus on what’s really important in life to you and the other stuff has a way of falling off.

     4. Don’t let anything ruin your day –

We all have those days when nothing seems to go right, but when your on an island the waters remind you that the tides change often and there’s always a calm after the storm. So when bad things do happen, put yourself on your island and look for the calm after the storm because even if it’s not quite visible yet, you can see the change coming with the tide.

I hope that you use some of these tactics for embracing an “Island Time” lifestyle. Stress is one of the leading causes of illness and disease so be kind to yourself and unwind a little, just like on the islands!

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Do you like serving customers?

It’s amazing to me how many businesses are really going the extra mile when it comes to customer service. Car dealerships are bending over backwards for a good review and google specialists wont stop until the problem is solved. It’s also mind-boggling how so many others aren’t jumping on the band wagon.

We have been hoping around the San Juan Islands for a couple of months now noticing the same trend of poor customer service. So I’ve been asking myself, is the tourist industry killing customer service? Are people flaunting their wealth and social status getting the working class down? I have met a number of sweet young adults from our country and others, and the majority of them are just floating around, trying to pay the bills with no loyalty to their employer what so ever. The really disturbing fact is that even the managerial staff have caught the bug. One of my favorite examples of this “customer service black hole” is when a resort restaurant manager had a progress report with a waitress behind the bar that was 10 ft. from our breakfast table. And lets just say he made it very clear with foul language and all that she had a lot of progress to make.

I’m realizing the importance of those horrible, sexual harassment meetings we all have to endure at our work place because apparently this kind of stuff isn’t common sense! Yikes!!! I mean really people… there’s a time and a place! 

I know that there are many undesirable jobs in this world that have to be done, and they do not allow you to afford the life we all want as the American Dream. But maybe, just maybe we should all stop being depressed or anxious and figure out our own dream and standards of life. It’s sounds pretty harsh when I put it like that but it’s true. Generations have been raised with the vision of living in a beautiful home with a white picket fence where the family of 4 are playing and barbecuing in the yard, and Mom and Dad both drive a nice car to work everyday while the kids excel at school. Wow! That does sound nice! Ha! But it’s really not the world we live in these days.

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a revolution happening in our country right now where prejudice thoughts and actions are finally condemning people. So we’re on our way to rebuilding a current American Dream of true freedom to pursue our vision of happiness. And when the people of our nation accept the responsibility of creating their own dream then maybe we can get off our high horse and realize that it takes hard work and dedication to get there and nobody should have to give us a free handout. If this is the case then we can all decide for ourselves how hard we want to work for the lifestyle we want to live.

I started teaching dance at the age of 12 and have continued doing so through out my 35 years. This early education in the real world helped me develop a very strong understanding of customer service because a 30 something mother is not going to be happy when another child is reprimanding her child. So I honed my skills by watching my co workers who happened to be a mother(studio owner) and 2 daughters who loved they’re careers! They were invested in their company and it showed by the way they treated their customers. I knew then that I wanted to stick to my passions and that I loved the challenge of working with people.

Having a vision of what you want in life is the first step in achieving it.

I always like to hear a persons story because it’s fascinating to discover someones vision. Often times they may not even see their own vision but when they light about their hobbies and passions you can see it. We all have a vision, whether you think it’s achievable or not is the question. And I’m hear to tell you it is! My husband and I are 35, debt free, and living on our sailboat in the beautiful San Juan Islands. Our bills are few and we get to spend the majority of our time hiking, playing on the boat, homeschooling and raising our son. If we all walk through life with the desire to do and be our best and leave things better than we found them (because nobodies vision includes littler and junk in the streets) then we’ll enjoy ourselves so much more no matter what we’re doing. Waiting on the tourists or being waited on as a tourist, both have their place and if done so with a smile a love of life/vision then the world will be a happier and customer service oriented place!

Quotes that support my theory:

  • Better to loved and lost then to never have loved at all                                                         -Alfred Lord Tennyson
  • “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.”
     -Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Count your age by friends, not years. Count your life by smiles, not tears.”
    ― John Lennon

To sum it all up, customer service is really a way of life that can be taught and has been adopted by so many other names. It’s people loving on people. Treating others the way you want to be treated and having a desire to better yourself by serving others. It can sound demeaning at times but you should try it! Selflessly caring for another’s needs can be one of the most self-fulfilling feelings in the world! When a child’s face lights up because they know a teacher really cares, or you get jobs because of your friendly reputation you’ll know that you’re doing something right in this world. This feeling is also very helpful for those moments when you’re on the receiving end of a customer servant got off the deep! Remember… it never hurts to gently remind people that they should look for a job that they enjoy.

Marriage Insurance

Isn’t marriage such a wonderful thing? You find your soul mate and become one, under God, to live happily ever after in the suburbs. Ha! Ha! Ya right! Marriage is a wonderful thing, when tended to like a newborn baby!

Devoting your life to someone is a lot of work! Of course you must have a strong interest in this someone and want their life long company. And trust me… though you will both grow and change, the original person you either did or did not fall madly in love with will always be there. Don’t expect to wake up with a prince if you took home a donkey!

We all work really hard when it comes to dating.

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Think about it, we had to make sure we were always looking and smelling our best with good conversation and fun atmosphere. We were conscious of setting up those romantic moments that lead to a deeper relationship. Never rushing into anything, taking it slow and letting it sizzle! Wow! Sorry… got a little spicy there! But that’s what was so exciting about those early days… they were spicy!

So what changed? Now that your married and together all the time your spending that creative brainstorming on other priorities. Which is saddening at times but totally normal. Major life changes always come along…

  • New house Mortgage/Rent
  • Raising a family
  • Work

SAD!

Well don’t fear! I’ve got a solution to those marry-time blues.. Dancing! 

Please don’t try to drag your partner out to your favorite Zumba class, I’m talking about good old-fashioned Ballroom dancing. Though it’s not old-fashioned at all, Ballroom dancing is straight up marriage insurance. Just in case something catastrophic happens, you’ve got a safety net. Something keeping you together . This type of dancing is not always an easy thing to learn but that’s why there are hundreds of organizations to help.

  • Arthur Murray Dance Studio – It’s expensive, but 100% worth it! They take very good care to teach you the right way.
  • Fred Astaire Dance Studio– Also expensive with similar results when you follow their system of learning.
  • Private School– This link is to a fantastic studio in North Seattle that has great prices and amazing personal instruction. There are studios like this everywhere!

 

You may be thinking ya right, my partner wont have anything to do with this, but you are most likely wrong.

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Dancing is primal, and in all of us. All animals have their mating ritual which is often a series of movements or… DANCE. And who’s the one doing the majority of the moovin’ & groovin’??? The Male! In ballroom you have a leader and a follower, and these roles are very dependent on one another. If the leader is not confident in his movement, the follower loses trust and stops dancing. This is exactly the same general idea of what happens in a marriage pre-divorce.

So this is where the dance lessons come in. Learning to dance is a bit awkward at first but that’s part of the fun too. Being vulnerable is a way to create intimacy. Learning something new together is also a way to break out of the normal old routine and learn something new about each other. I do highly recommend taking lessons from a trained professional versus trying to teach yourselves off YouTube.

When it comes to a new language or dance, imagine you speak Chinese and your partner speaks Romanian. You wont be able to understand each other without an interpreter… a.k.a. your dance instructor.

So how to get your partner to participate. It’s actually really easy… Just paint them a picture! Explain to them that learning to dance means having their hands all over you while your bodies cuddle up close on a dance floor listening to their favorite music. That’s right… you can learn a dance to any kind of music so don’t be shy on telling your teacher your likes and dislikes. And don’t shy away from a little liquid courage either. It takes the edge off and helps most of us loosen up.

I have personally had my life changed through this wonderful pastime and I hope you too can benefit from the experience of dancing with your significant other.

Here’s a quick reference of what music goes with what dance/style:

  • Classic Rock – swing, west coast swing/fun and sexy
  • Slow music – rumba, waltz/sexy and classic
  • Pop – cha-cha, swing/ sexy and fun
  • Latin – salsa, cha-cha
  • Smooth jazz – Foxtrot/super cool

Now you have no excuse! Give it a try. I bet you wont regret it!

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

*Also stay tuned for my instructional videos.

Tiny kitchen Must have’s

Are you thinking of embracing the wave of the future, and daring the thought of tiny living? Maybe you’ve already made the leap and are enjoying the freedoms of lower mortgage and utility payments, as well as having less to furnish and therefore less to clean. Either way, there are some hardships when it comes to cramming a normal size life into a small space, especially in the kitchen.

The galley on our boat is an “L” shape that’s about 6 foot long by 4 foot wide. There is an ice-box (refrigerator) and two burner propane stove with a tiny oven on the long side, and a storage compartment and sink on the short. I’ve got two cabinets and a shelf for storage as well as five drawers.

Now don’t get me wrong, this is a very tiny space by anyone’s standards to house all of the things needed to sustain a financially and physically healthy diet. But it’s not as hard as you think!

I eat restaurant quality food everyday!

Here’s how…

Pressure cooker-

      • I use my

Fagor

    • 4 quart pressure cooker every day! Not only does it help me not steam up my entire home, it cooks quickly and efficiently every time! It’s also really easy to find recipes and how to’s online!

       

Hanging nets or baskets-

    • You don’t want to clutter your valuable counter space with fancy bowls of fruit or platters of artesian bread, but those things are very tasty so why not hang them in the sky! Utilizing your vertical space is a must! So get some drywall anchors and hooks and start hanging your favorite snacks! You can also hang a basket on the wall for recycling or mail.

Everything’s better in a hammock!

Teapot-

    • Using a teapot is about a lot more than your favorite cup of chai, it’s a way of life. I buy certain ingredients like minute rice, rice noodles, or quick oats knowing that all I have to do is add hot water. When you only have a 2 burner stove, you have to get creative

 

  • Coffee strainer-
      This amazing little plastic cone of goodness and a paper filter is all you need! Your coffee is fresh every time and it saves so much space.

Imagine how much money we could save by just making our own coffee!  

 

  • Dish drying mat-
      When you have the privilege of being the washer of your own dishes… You must have a handy-dandy dish drying mat! I personally prefer a micro fiber type of mat I can hang to dry and roll up for easy storage.

  • 4 cup Measuring cup with a lid- This versatile bowl can be used for measuring, storing any tasty leftovers, baking, and huge late night bowls of cereal! It’s the best thing ever to have a handle on your mixing bowl!

 

  • Cast iron deep skillet with lid- The number one Reason to have a cast-iron skillet is for the flavor! But this skillet is so nice because you can move it from the stove top to the oven, even to the barbecue with a couple pot holders. You can cook anything from pizza to chocolate chip cookies to soups and sauces.

 

  • The most important thing to have in a tiny kitchen is common sense!               You know you’re not having a dinner party for 12 in your little house so don’t keep all of the stuff to do so. I have eight medium size plates, eight bowls, and enough silverware for the lot because we can entertain about 6 people comfortably. So when we have a nice sit down dinner with the table set for 6 I still have 2 plates and bowls left for serving. This way of life is not hard by any means. It just takes a little planning and organizational skills to keep it running smoothly. It always feels great to do more with less so with these simple tools you can have a fresh and healthy diet and outlook on life.
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