Wanderlusting: Family Vacation for All Ages in the San Juan Islands
Since moving to Portland we are lucky to have family at our fingertips and we were lucky enough to be party to an amazing family vacation to the San Juan Islands located off the coast of Washington. It was an awe-inspiring couple of days, as a Midwesterner I have never heard of these islands let alone been there. From Portland we drove a couple hours up to the City of Anacortes to board a ferry. On the hour ferry ride I could have never guessed what the island had in store for me. We drove into this picturesque town with restaurants and locally owned stores, ice creams shops and coffee spots. We continued to drive through town and onto our resort. I couldnt help but take in every house, farm, and rolling hill. Our resort was located on the other end of the island in a harbor, Snug Harbor to be exact.
The resort was more than I could have asked for and the scenery was beautiful. The cabins were large, homey and updated and the employees were beyond nice and helpful. The family gathers at the beachside for dinner. Cousins ran along the shore collecting shells and searching for crabs. Adults stood around sharing stories, laughing and drinking wine enjoying the crisp air rolling in off the harbor. A seal pops out of the water to see what we are up too and ducks back under but continually checks on us throughout the night. As we wandered back to our cabin excited for another day on the island the sky filled with a million visible stars and the sweet silence descended upon us. My husband and I walked back slowly as I gazed childlike at the nature and beauty around me. It had been half a lifetime since I had seen so many stars fill the sky and did not want to let go of the moment.
The next morning the family took out the complimentary resort kayaks and paddled around the large clam harbor. As we were laughing, talking and taking in the views around us a seal pops his head out to see who or what was causing all the noise. He kept his distance but continued to hang out with us as we kayaked the inlet. After our morning adventure we met up with the other members of our group to travel into town to take in the local fair. We stumbled into a great locally run diner and feasted on a delicious breakfast so good we came back the next day. After breakfast we wandered into local stores spending the day soaking up the sunshine and exploring the rest of Friday Harbor.
The next day a short drive to the Sculpture Park, a 20-acre park where art and nature live in perfect harmony. We spent the afternoon grazing around and admiring each piece. Guests can come for a picnic by the pond with the family or walk hand in hand with a loved one spending time enjoying the silent moments with each other. After we were off to Roche Harbor to walk the cobblestone and walk the perfectly manicured garden overlooking the harbor. We whale watched while sipping espresso and shopping in the village artist booths located right in the marina.
Our time in Roche Harbor ended with a private family dinner in the historical McMillin's Dining Room. The food and service were absolutely superb and the second-floor room overlooked the marina and we were fortunate enough to view the sunset color ceremony. Each night just before sunset they retire the flags of Roche Harbor, Washington state, Great Britain, Canada and the United States. Dock staff lower the flags while a song plays and before the American flag comes down a cannon shot booms through the harbor. It is insanely magically and a beautiful sight to behold. The island is filled with so much history, love, and care you feel it everywhere you go. If the evening couldn't get any better as we left the restaurant a family of deer roamed the marina nibbling on the foliage. They were unafraid of us and so close we could have reached our hand out to feed them. To add even more sugar to an already sweet moment as we drove back to the resort families of deer lined the roadside eating and drinking in the harmony of the island landscape.
The next morning we packed up our belongings and boarded the ferry back to the mainland but the San Juan Islands had one more beautiful moment in store for us. As the ferry crossed the Pacific inlet the ferry turns as you gaze upon a snowcapped Mount Rainier. As if giving you one last moment of awe before returning to everyday life, back to your job and back to running the rat race. As I sat there staring at this breathtaking sight and creating mental notes of all the moments I couldn't wait to write about. The most important part of this whole trip struck me, family. For most families it's a once in a lifetime trip. Getting so many people together in one spot to share in a weekend of moments is almost impossible these days with work schedules, recreational obligations, and financial responsibilities but this family did it. Three generations sharing, eating and laughing together enjoy more than just a long weekend away but memories that will last forever. The older generations passing down more than wisdom but the gift of time and the love of family.