A Surprise Weekend Getaway.

All week long I was anticipating and secretly getting ready for a surprise weekend away as a family.  We’ve lived in Seattle for over two years now (hard to believe!), and we’ve done very little exploring of all the beautiful areas and islands that surround the city.  We’ve talked about wanting to do some of that this summer, and I wanted to do something really nice for Casey for Father’s day – so this felt like the perfect opportunity. 

I did a ton of research and asked for recommendations from friends, and ended up booking us a little suite in the San Juan Islands.  It was so hard to not share any of it with Casey!  And since I wanted it to be a surprise, I couldn’t really prep or do much in advance without tipping him off.  So Friday morning was madness.

I raced around packing all three of us, finishing up laundry, getting ready for the dog sitter (who I’d secretly met with earlier in the week!), loading up the car with everything we’d need for the weekend, and picking up some groceries to take with us.  I wish I had taken a picture of our packed car before we left! 

At noon on Friday I pulled up in front of Casey’s building downtown (I’d asked him to take a half-day!) and our adventure officially began.  As we headed up I-5, I handed him a Father’s Day Card with a map of Orcas Island inside, as well as a picture of the view from where we’d be staying.  He was totally surprised, and very excited.

I’d planned our trip so that we’d have enough time to make it to the ferry to hopefully catch a 3:30 sailing, and also so that Cullen would be able to nap in the car as we drove up to Anacortes.  Miraculously, all of my plans went off without a hitch and our timing ended up working really well. 

Before we got to the ferry terminal, I had been given strict instructions from several friends that we absolutely must stop for local strawberries at one of the many farmstands along the road.  We ended up stopping at Snow Goose Produce, where I made a mental note of the gigantic ice cream cones being served in the back of the shop…

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But on this stop we were there for berries.  Cullen was snoozing in the car, so I ran into get some myself. 

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These seriously ended up being the most delicious fruit I have ever eaten.  I don’t even know how to describe it.  They are so juicy they feel like they are melting in your mouth, and they stain your fingertips red just from picking them up out of the carton. 

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With our berries in tow, as well as a few other goodies, we headed toward the ferry terminal.  We had to wait about two hours before our boat left, but I was really glad we got there when we did.  We ended up being one of the last cars onto the boat!  As we set sail toward the San Juans, I couldn’t believe the gorgeous scenery that surrounded us.

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It was breathtaking to see all the rolling hills and green trees of the surrounding islands, and the incredible mountain views in the distance.  There is honestly nothing quite like it.

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Since most of our travel is done by air (to visit with family), it was a nice treat for us to actually be able to take our car somewhere.  We were able to drive it straight onto the ferry boat, and then take it onto the island with all of our things.  Cullen loved the boat and had a great time running around and exploring.

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After a quick stop to drop passengers at Shaw Island, we made our way to our final destination – Orcas Island. 

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When I was researching where to stay, I had a few things I was looking for in choosing a place.  Obviously price and availability were most important, but beyond that I looked for kid-friendly spaces, something preferably walkable to other things, and my real deal breaker – it had to have a waterfront view.

Traveling with Cullen is fun, but definitely presents challenges you don’t face as a group of just adults.  The biggest of those being that he goes to bed at 7:30pm, and also typically sleeps for 3 hours in the middle of the afternoon.  I knew we’d have to be in our rental in the evenings, and likely for a big chunk of time on Saturday afternoon – so it was important to me that Casey and I didn’t just feel like we were sitting in any other living room.  I wanted us to have a spot to enjoy the scenery and views, and feel like we’d really, truly gotten away from it all.  It’s also pretty critical that we have a separate bedroom so he has a quiet place to sleep, so we usually look for suite-types of rooms and rentals.

I ended up finding us a small 1-bedroom suite right in the heart of Eastsound Village – which meant that we could walk to all the restaurants and shops in the main hub of the island.  This ended up being a huge perk, as we didn’t have to lug Cullen in and out of the car much at all, and we were able to swing by our room as often as needed. 

On one end of the living area we had a small kitchenette and a dining table, complete with high chair provided by the very nice owners!

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The other side had a pull-out couch, television, and a little propane fireplace that would have been wonderful during cooler months. 

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There was a small hall beyond the kitchen that led to a separate bedroom, really nice big bathroom, and a closet complete with a stacked washer and dryer (would have been a huge perk if we’d been staying longer!). 

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But the BEST part of our suite was the view.  Ohhhhh the view.  The entire front wall of the unit was floor to ceiling windows and glass doors – looking out over the gorgeous waterfront. 

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Just outside on the patio were two big cozy Adirondack chairs, where Casey and I enjoyed several early mornings with coffee, and late nights with drinks and chocolate. 

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And we looked out at this…

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It was truly gorgeous, and I was so happy I’d spent the extra time researching to find a place we could enjoy during both the days and the nights.  We really lucked out, and this place ended up being available due to a last-minute cancellation.  I can see why it is already booked up for most of the coming summer!

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I knew we’d probably be tired from traveling on Friday, so I packed food for us to enjoy in the suite.  We got Cullen fed and settled, and eventually into bed, and then Casey and I got to work on our own feast.  I brought some groceries from home, and also picked up a few more local treats at the produce stand on the way up.

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The only thing better than a summer dinner enjoyed outside…

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Is one eaten with views like this.  Can’t get enough!

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Melt-in-your-mouth strawberries from the Skagit Valley…

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Paper-thin crackers, fig and cocoa jam, and a wedge of brie cheese…

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Crusty baguette with garlic olive oil for dipping…

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And more goodies like grapes, blue corn chips, mango salsa, and fizzy coconut water.  It was totally delicious and we ate until we were sick.  But best of all, we sat and enjoyed the silence – other than our own chatter and laughter.

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The rest of our adventures in the San Juans continue tomorrow!