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Honeymoon Part 1 – Orcas Island

A honeymoon spells the perfect opportunity for an adventure, one where you can treat yourselves a little more than the average holiday or trip with the continuous excuse of: “But we’re only on honeymoon once!” We were no different and whilst our honeymoon was not about treating ourselves to luxury, it was about doing things and going to places that would make this a once in a lifetime experience without having the constant worry about can we afford that? So we worked hard, saved hard and were fortunate to receive gifts of money towards the whole adventure from wedding guests. For us the main aim was to go away for as long as possible and have as exciting an adventure as financially feasible, so camping in the Pacific North West, British Columbia and Alaksa seemed like the ideal plan. The money that we would offset on accommodation could be used towards hiring a car which would allow us to cover a lot of ground.

In typical ‘us’ style it was all a mad dash. Andy had been working in Samoa, rather than starting the honeymoon solo like I had intended, I managed to find a cheap flight at the end of term to go and visit him. So we flew back from Samoa, some 30 hours of travel, arrived into Chicago at 11pm and at 5am the following morning were on our way back to the airport with repacked baggage that I had tried hard to organise as much as possible before flying to visit Andy. To say we were exhausted was an understatement. To top it off, Andy was still recovering from contracting Dengue Fever and it wasn’t helping his alertness. Still, we made it to O’Hare, boarded the flight to Seattle and headed towards our first proper adventure as a married couple. Little did I know there would be moments I was contemplating divorce in a week!

On arrival into Seattle, laden with a ridiculous number of bags that contained not only of our clothes but all of our camping gear, we dashed to the car hire place aware that we had to get to Anacortes to catch the ferry that we had booked for 2pm. Typically of every time when you find yourself in a hurry at an airport, the baggage took forever to come, the car hire was in a different location to the airport which required a bus journey and the bus queue was over 20 minutes long! This was not looking good. When we did eventually arrive, Andy ran inside to the hire desk while I somehow managed to maneuver 4 huge duffel bags off of the bus, onto a trolley and into the hall to meet him. Thankfully they didn’t take long before they were showing us to the car. We had booked a 4wd, using the old faithful “We’re only on honeymoon once” excuse so that we could get in amongst it and also so that we had the option of sleeping in the back of the car if I had a massive bear freak out moment (highly likely). Unfortunately, they had no 4wds left when we arrived…I found that strange when we booked one but anyway. They did offer us an all wheel drive instead which wouldn’t allow 2 people to lie down in the back, but we had no other option than to accept. If we waited for the other vehicles to return later that afternoon, we would miss our ferry.

So with heavy hearts we headed off out of the city and up the coast towards the ferry terminal for the San Juan islands. It was a sunny day in Anacortes and we arrived just in time to board the small ferry over to the islands. We were both exhausted and no mater how beautiful the view, Andy could not keep his eyes open. We took it in turns dozing before eventually pulling into Orcas. Our first impression was ‘Wow’. There was something about the laid-back, slow-paced, comforting feel of the island that hit us as we disembarked; like a hug from your granny. We embraced it back and drove off with smug grins in search of our accommodation. We were treating ourselves to 2 nights in an Airbnb to start the trip off and allow us to resettle after the 3 days of travel we had endured to get here.

Alongside the road were countless deer, escaping in and out of the lush forests. Small coves popped up every now and then and even though the island was clearly busy with tourists, it didn’t feel claustrophobic or overrun in any way. Our base was away from the main hubbub and as we pulled up and walked into the house we knew we had made a good choice. A small house with a log burning fire, a deck overlooking Mount Baker and a bedroom that had 2 plush beds with massive windows framing the forest was just perfect. We were desperate to just collapse into bed, but we were aware of the need to make the most of every opportunity so headed back out in search of some food. Not too far away we passed The Inn at Ship Bay that in all honesty looked a little posh for us but we didn’t want to head too far afield and it had some good reviews. We headed in and our thoughts were confirmed. They didn’t have any spaces for dinner, but we were welcome to sit at the bar at the back and enjoy the same menu! A couple of pints, some oysters and local fish enjoyed whilst sat up at the bar made for the most perfect first night to our honeymoon.

We couldn’t believe our luck when we woke the next day to find the sun beating down again. On recommendation from the owners  we headed to Doe Bay Cafe for some breakfast. It was parked up on the water and was perfect hipster hang out without being too cliched. Our plan was to hike up Mount Constitution then grab some fresh fish and a bottle of wine and head back to grill it on the deck and enjoy the sunset. Whilst mooching in the little shop we asked where would be a good place to source some fresh salmon for dinner. We were recommended to try the tiny seafood shack  along the road where we were also informed that you could get fresh crab and oysters that you could sit and enjoy with a bottle of your own wine. This sounded right up our street. So we bought a bottle of white, stuck it in the back of the car and headed off for our morning hike. The forest was beautiful and there were very few people around. We regularly came across what resembled green ‘old man’s beard’ dangling from the trees. We later discovered that this is a sign of a healthy forest. It certainly felt that way. Eventually we reached the top and enjoyed the stunning views of the surrounding islands and mainland of Washington State. We could see Mount Baker and Mount Olympus in the distance.

After a while we headed back down and on for some lunch. Buckbay Shellfish Farm is essentially a shed overlooking a beautiful cove. Inside are crates filled with oysters, crabs and clams surrounded by lush fresh fish fillets, vegetables and salad. We selected some oysters and crab to share outside and chose some fresh Sockeye salmon for dinner that night. What a great find! Sitting outside in the sun tucking into the most delicious fresh seafood and washing it down with some lovely crisp white really was a real delight. It was simple, fresh and delicious – perfection!

Come nighttime we were gifted with a stunning sunset as we tucked into the grilled fish. It was so tasty and literally slid down the back of the throat…my new favourite fish! We headed inside to enjoy a game of cards by the fire. Tomorrow brought an early start in order to catch the first ferry to Friday Harbour where we would have to catch the ferry to Vancouver Island. Bring on the next part of the adventure…Canada!

 

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