Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Orcas Island Respite: Going with the Flow

Do you feel like your life is overscheduled, overplanned, and entirely too busy? Not enough time in the day to get it all done?

Big kudos to you if you don't, but I (and seems like most of my peers) feel that way. Consider that sociologists write about the importance of doing nothing for our health, creativity, and well-being. 

Usually when I go to the San Juan Islands, I tend to run around seeing as many friends as possible, kayaking, hiking, and generally packing a lot into my visit. I enjoy it all; I love seeing friends and being active outdoors. But sometimes I need to force myself to slow down.

I just spent three days on Orcas Island, and yes I saw friends and went hiking. But I also didn't make plans for much of my time there. And you know what I realized?

It's something I need to do more often.

My friends/family will tell you I'm one of the busiest people they know. So this was a departure for me. I mostly just let things happen. And of course Orcas is a wonderful place to just let it happen and watch the world around you.

The relaxation started on the ferry ride over, which was perfectly timed to coincide with the setting sun on a warm summer evening.

When I awoke the next day, I did have plans to meet a friend for morning tea. But beyond that, nothing else planned for 24 whole hours. (Next trip that will stretch.)

Afternoon time I found a quiet spot on the East Sound shoreline and stayed put for several hours, with camera, sketch pads, pencils, book, and sit pad. 

Because I think it's such a Zen, in-the-moment-and-paying-attention thing to do, I pulled out my sketch pad to capture some nearby trees on pencil and paper.  

Madrona and western red cedar trees

And that night I lay outside on my back for a while, joined by a young buck deer, and gazed up at the inky dark, starry sky for the annual Perseid meteor shower. I say summer isn't complete without seeing at least one shooting star. About 15 meteors streaked across the sky in fast-fading traces of white while I watched; perhaps I missed a few when I blinked.

Next morning I drove out to Doe Bay Cafe for an excellent breakfast with local friends, who then took me on an invigorating 5-hour hike through the woods at Moran State Park.

Buckwheat crepes stuffed with house-made ricotta and local fruit, Doe Bay Cafe

So we got a little off track and added a mile, it was foggy at the only viewpoint, and it rained a bit. These weren't really annoyances, just part of the experience of exploring this spectacular park's many miles of trails.


An early evening soak in the hot tubs overlooking the cove at Doe Bay was a perfect way to cap the day. 

After another exquisite breakfast at Doe Bay Cafe, which features mostly organic, grown onsite produce and eggs, a friend and I wander around, taking pictures and enjoying the magical, come-as-you-are vibe that this friendly, rustic resort exudes

Seaside yurt, Doe Bay Resort

Then it's a stop at an artist's studio (open house weekend) followed by the Saturday farmer's market in Eastsound, where artisan Carol Anderson recreates a favorite pair of earrings that I'd lost.

Check out Carol's beautiful pendant, which of course she made.

...Which feels like I'm starting to do a little too much. So I take a pass on visiting more artist studios, say my goodbyes, and head to a quiet beach to sit and sketch the next few hours until I leave to catch the ferry.

It's about the process, not accuracy, right?:)

Three days pass too quickly, as does most of life as we get on in years. But I leave a little more relaxed than I usually do. I pondered the life and death of loved ones this year, the future, the past, and generally tried to stay in the moment. (Tried ...)

How about you? Have you taken a break lately with nothing planned? How did that work for you?

Happy trails and thanks for visiting Pacific Northwest Seasons!

In between blog posts, visit Pacific NW Seasons on FaceBook, Twitter, and Instagram for more Northwest photos and outdoors news.    

When You Go

Here is the San Juan Islands ferry schedule from Anacortes, Washington. This time of year and on most weekends, a reservation is recommended. There are lots of places to stay in the islands, from camping to high end resorts. Here is a link to find places to stay in the islands.


JoJo said...

While i sailed past the San Juans on the way to Anacortes from Sydney, I never got the chance to visit the islands. Looks like you had a great and quiet weekend. I don't work but it seems like I'm always running. I don't know how I fit life in when I worked full time. But there is a lot of time wasted on the internet, watching TV and cross stitching (not that crafting is a waste of time).

jill said...

Hey JoJo, thanks for jumping in with a comment! Yes, I bet most of us waste time online and watching TV. I have friends who don't own TVs, which I find commendable but I can't quite bring myself to ditch the TV. And I don't think cross-stitching is a waste of time either; you are engaged and focused. I think it, like drawing, is a form of meditation, being very present and paying attention to what your are doing in the moment. :)

Anne said...

Lovely, haven't been there in years, someday I will have to stop traveling to far away places and look around my home again. Your drawings are great (said the women who has difficulty with stick figures) and you have always been artistic. Also, I love my television as it enriches my life and keeps me informed, if you stay away from "junk" there's nothing wrong with it. And some fluff now and again. So no one should feel guilty about that.

ashley said...

Ah, I so love this post. I've always been a big planner and plan out my vacation time and weekends cramming in as much as I can. But sometimes, maybe because I am getting older(?), I am really trying to slow down and live in the moment. It is hard in the summer in Seattle when I feel like I have to get in as much as possible before the rain comes, but a lot of times there is no value added on those busy days. I started a sketch book back in the spring and haven't used it all this summer, you just inspired me to get it back out. I hope that your trip gave you some peace from your loss. I'm so so sorry to hear about your brother. Best wishes - A

jill said...

Thanks Anne! Yea, TV can be good and educational.

Hey Ashley, thanks for you condolences. Yes, pull out that sketch book more. I find it very relaxing and it makes me stop and pay attention. Good luck.

Lainey Piland said...

Ahhh, sounds like you had a blissful and relaxing time, in such beautiful surroundings! I think we all know on some level that we need to slow down and live in the moment, but few of us actually make the effort to do so, and have the discipline to say no when we feel ourselves getting too busy. Lovely, inspiring post! I love your photo of the great blue heron. :)

I just saw your post about the loss of your brother. I'm so very sorry for your loss, and send best wishes for comfort and healing.

Jill said...

Hey Lainey, thanks for your comment and condolences!

Salish Sea Communications said...

It's mighty peaceful here on Lopez; you might enjoy it.

jill said...

Mike (right, Salish Sea Communications?), I LOVE Lopez! I just don't have friends there who let me stay gratis at their cabins/properties on a regular basis (much, have some off and on in the past). My heart really belongs to Lopez, though, of all the SJI. Many wonderful times stretching back over the years. Miss me some Holly B's rugelach and orange bread.