Sunday, November 30, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

This year Emily and I joined Scott and Danielle for Thanksgiving in the San Juan Islands of Washington.  We stayed in a wonderful rental home on Lummi Island and enjoyed wonderful food, eagle and owl sightings, and great company for 5 days.  Read on to find out more...

Scott and Danielle came up to our place Tuesday night to spend the night before the four of us headed north on Wednesday which we all took off of work.  We had expected the traffic to be horrible but instead found ourselves in Bellingham in about 5 hours with just a few stops to let the dogs out along the way and a quick breakfast at Burgerville along the way, complete with some morning shakes!  Danielle managed to shatter a glass of chocolate milk in a gas station and we heard that riot police were called in Portland because of the Michael Brown verdict.  We were glad we were heading to a quiet, remote island for a while.....

Because we were so early we spent a few hours checking out the wonderful town of Bellingham, WA walking into stores and eventually settling on the Boundary Bay Brewery and Bistro for lunch.  The brewery was super cool and had the best Smoked Salmon Chowder I'd ever tasted.  Combined with their seasonal Cabin Fever beer it was the perfect late lunch before heading out to Lummi Island.

By 4pm we were on the short 10 minute ferry ride over to the island.  The house Danielle had found for us was really great.  It was a 2 story right on the water with a nice backyard and very steep wooden stairs down to the water which was only doable at low tide.  Indoors, the house was complete with iPod docks, a flatscreen tv and game system and all the pots and pans we needed for cooking.  The only thing it lacked that would have been welcome was a hot tub on the porch... no biggie though.  That night Danielle made her amazing Chili for dinner and I didn't even mind that I didn't have any meat to chop up and put in it this time!

On Thursday we pretty much spent the day watching football and cooking an enormous amount of food for just the four of us.   The four dogs also had a very lazy day.  We had stock piled a ridiculous amount of booze from a stop at Fred Meyer on Wednesday and we set to getting through as much of it as we could.  Of course I hoarded the Bailey's.... :).  We didn't actually eat until about 7:30pm.  Emily and I picked up a small turkey and at first I thought it wasn't enough... yeah, it lasted 5 days!  We had about 8 sides and rolls to go with the turkey and after we ate it seemed like we hadn't actually touched anything!  We all pretty much fell into food comas that evening while I watched the old school version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles downstairs.

On Friday we pretty much just hung out at the house watching TV and snacking on all the food we had leftover.  It was beautiful out and we could see all the way north to the sky scrapers of Vancouver, BC from the deck of the house.  The mountains to the north, including the massive Mount Baker were covered in snow and the temperature had dropped so much overnight that it actually hailed out a little bit in the late afternoon.  It felt good to just veg out for a day after the long weeks spent at work churning out spatial data.

On Saturday Emily and I got motivated to take Leo for a hike up Lummi Point on the island.  It was a short 5 mile out and back up the prominent point of land at the Southwest corner of the island with about 1200 feet of elevation gain.  The website and sign at the trailhead said dogs were prohibited but clearly there was nobody around (one other car) and Leo stays with us on the trail anyway.  I have no idea why dogs aren't allowed as the trail was very mundane through the woods with no visible threat to endangered vegetation anywhere.  And the couple runners that crossed our paths didn't seem to mind Leo at all as he ignored them anyway.  

When we arrived at the established lookout point we were greeted with wonderful views to the west over Orca Island and the Sucia Island State Park and the San Juan Islands National Wildlife Refuge islands.  We could also see the mountains of Vancouver Island as well as the Olympics in the far off distance.  It would have been nicer to have been on the main San Juan Island Complex where we could have visited the other islands easier but at least this was someplace new we hadn't been before.  We relaxed in the sun for 20 minutes as this side of the island wasn't as windy as the side we had climbed up.

We left the viewpoint and wandered down the trail a little further.  It was along the very steep side of the island so I was hoping for perhaps more views..  We could have turned around but I was curious and it paid off as we rounded a corner and a flash of feathers erupted from a nearby branch.  A huge Bard Owl flew in front of us up to a branch about 20 feet above our heads.  Any other large bird probably would have flown off but Owls don't seem to be that skiddish.  Instead he just sat on the branch craning his head around to keep an eye on us, and especially Leo, who couldn't figure out what had grabbed so much of our attention!  It was a wonderful treat to an otherwise boring hike on the island.  

We made it back just before sunset so I dropped Emily off to take a shower and hurried back down the road with my camera gear to get some sunset shots of Mt. Baker over the sound with the Lummi Island Ferry forefront.  Scott and Danielle were out for a drive themselves and saw me on a wooden platform near the ferry terminal taking photos.  They headed over to the Beach Store Cafe for some wine and food so I ran back to the house to grab Emily so we could join them.  

The Cafe was wonderful and we had what I believe to be the best dish of mussels with butter cream that I have ever tasted!  It was a refreshing break from all the Thanksgiving leftovers that we had been eating for days and the service was great.  After the cafe we headed back to the house for our last night of relaxation before heading home on Sunday.  On the way home Emily and I stopped once again for salmon chowder and beer at the Boundary Bay Brewery in Bellingham.  It was a nice, relaxing vacation for sure.  Lummi Island was quiet and pleasant but next time I think I'd like to spend a bit more cash to stay on one of the main San Juan Islands so we have more to do.  Besides the hike, we pretty much exhausted all there was to do on Lummi Island.

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