about me

    Emily Malone

    culinary arts grad. nutrition facts lover. vegetarian chef. marathon runner. country music maniac. failed dog trainer. barre fanatic. loving mama.

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    What’s Cooking?

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    1/2 Marathon - 1:57:39

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    A Look Back.

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!

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69 Comments so far
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Lauren     at 3:42 pm

What a great weekend getaway! The islands are one of the gems of the PNW…and I adore riding a ferry! If you ever need a close by island adventure Vashon is a great spot with a cool lighthouse to explore and a quiet downtown. We are moving out there next month and cannot recommend it enough!


Ashley @ My Food N Fitness Diaries     at 3:47 pm

What a great weekend! Quality family time is certainly the best. :) Glad you guys had a great time!


Carley@OptimisticHealth     at 3:51 pm

Ahh this is wonderful! Seattle area truly is one of the most gorgeous places ever. What a sweet surprise for your husband!


Ingunn     at 3:55 pm

Excellent! I love the San Juans, they remind me of where I grew up in Norway. I’ve only been to Orcas once, to volunteer for a trail race aid station on top of Mount Constitution – it was ice cold and snowing, but still beautiful!

Have you been to Whidbey Island yet? Casey needs to go to Fort Casey, of course, and then you can throw in an easy hike on the bluffs at Ebey’s Landing: http://www.feastsonscraps.com/2012/07/25/basil-the-buff-hikes-the-bluff/


Jenn     at 4:06 pm

Wow!! Beautiful views! I love all your gorgeous meals – so inspiring!!


Theresa     at 4:07 pm

What a wonderful vacation! The strawberries look amazing. My parents have wild strawberries in their yard. They are smaller than that but taste just as you described. I could almost taste them as I was reading, yum!


Tina     at 4:14 pm

The photos of Cullen on the ferry are just precious! He looks like he had a blast!! Sounds like you had an amazing weekend and that is such a spectacular view. Definitely a very sweet Father’s Day surprise!!


Jane     at 4:29 pm

I didn’t think you all ate cheese? The Brie sure looks delicious :)


Simply Life     at 4:36 pm

So sweet – what a great gift!


Andrea Block     at 4:45 pm

Great post! I love your blog and have been reading it since before Cullen was born. I have a 4 month old daughter, and my husband and I are trying to figure out how to find good rentals for traveling. Could you give us some advice on how you find good rentals? Thanks!


Stephanie G     at 4:50 pm

We went to Orcas Island for our honeymoon and it is one of my favorite places! I can’t wait for the rest of your recaps!


Jane @ Not Plain So Jane     at 4:55 pm

I love weekend getaways! I just went camping this weekend. It is amazing what you can pack into 48 hours!


Lauren @ The Highlands Life     at 5:07 pm

What a fantastic Father’s Day treat! I’m sure Casey was thrilled. Especially at a place with those views and moments of serenity.

And those berries! Agh. They look so beautiful and delicious.


Alexandria     at 5:21 pm

I’m originally from the San Juans, Lopez actually. If you ever get a chance I have to say its the best island to visit, but I may be a bit biased. Stop by Holly B’s Bakery, were I spent many 4am’s, for some delicious treats.


Jessica     at 5:33 pm

Looks so beautiful! I have an 11 month old son and I love reading about traveling with a little one. Where did Cullen sleep at night? My son sleeps in his crib for night and all naps so I always feel nervous thinking about him sleeping elsewhere.


Lee     at 5:40 pm

What a great Father’s Day weekend! And fig and cocoa jam?! I’m intrigued. I’ll have to keep my eyes opened for that.


Emily @ Life on Food     at 5:52 pm

Surprises are such fun! I cannot wait to see more.


Tammy J     at 5:54 pm

This sounds like a wonderful trip. What an awesome gift!!I love your pictures. Thanks for the share.


christine jennings     at 6:04 pm

What A Wonderful Place!!!!


Leslie     at 6:29 pm

What an awesome father’s day surprise, can’t wait to hear more. My husband and I traveled to Washington State (from Illinois) for our honeymoon and we spent several days camping on Orcas Island. It was one of the best parts of our trip! We often talk of moving to Washington/Seattle because of how much we loved that trip; all the great food and beautiful places to visit. Sigh.


Meghan     at 6:42 pm

Seeing your pictures makes me miss Seattle even more. So glad you were able to surprise Casey, so fun!


Kerry     at 7:12 pm

What a gorgeous weekend for your little family to be in such a lovely place. My husband and I were married on Orcas; a quiet weekend at a B&B with just our closest friends and family. Your post brings back the sweetest of memories! So fun to follow your adventures.


Sharon     at 8:07 pm

Cullen is starting to look like you, Emily! :)


krugthethinker     at 8:28 pm

This is so cool, and I am totally impressed with you! What an amazing surprise for Casey! ;) We don’t have kids yet, but seeing all your travel and fun posts gives me a lot of confidence about all the awesome things you can do with little ones by your side;)


Jessica     at 10:00 pm

First off, way to go with the planning! Second off, this is getting me seriously excited for my trip planned to the San Juan Islands in early July. We have connections to some land to camp on up there and will be spending the weekend in tents and exploring but I had no idea what to expect. I’m excited!

Looks like a great trip!


Shel@PeachyPalate     at 12:31 am

Oh wow it really does look amazing! I love getting local (Wexford) strawberries on the side of the road this time of year. We have one guy that parks on the main road and has done for the past ten years about 5 minutes from my house to sell them. Amazing!


Kim     at 4:29 am

I had a college professor who lived on Orcas Island 6 months out of the year, then in California the other 6 months (to teach) and he always raved about how much he loved the little hippie island and could kayak every day :-)


Emily     at 4:33 am

I adore the San Juans! As a native Washingtonian who has been away from home for over a decade, I loved to see your photos. Thank you so much for sharing. My dog, Sucia, is name after one of the San Juan islands.


elizabeth     at 6:23 am

What a cool trip!! Your summer pictures and stories about living in Seattle make me want to move there – the bf and I have been talking about as he’s from there. Those strawberries, my oh my!


Melissa     at 6:31 am

My mother-in-law had us stop at that same market on our way to Vancouver last summer!! That ice cream was amazing!!


Ali @ Peaches and Football     at 6:40 am

Wow this sounds spectacular. What a terrific place for a weekend away. I can tell just from your wording that you both really enjoyed the leisure and the time away for some R&R. I can’t get enough of that view either. Gorgeous!


char eats greens     at 7:11 am

That place looks amazing!! I love all the wood furniture. What a great little getaway and awesome that you surprised the hubby!!!


Emily     at 7:36 am

These views are stunning! I had no idea there where islands there. Can’t wait to hear more about it!


Leah     at 8:28 am

I took a few minute break from a hectic morning at work to read your post (and to eat a wonderful homemade brownie–hand crafted by my co-worker’s Mom). Thank you for such a beautiful post. It reminded me that I need to explore some of the Islands close to home (the Boston Harbor Islands for one) and that I really need to make a point of seeing some more of the islands off Maine. Island culture is so unique and we have found Nantucket to be particularly wonderful in Mid-September when the population goes from 90,000 down to only 9,000. Thanks for the post! It’s easy to forget islands that are close to home!


Stacy @ Stacy Eats     at 10:23 am

Wow that looks absolutely beautiful! What a fun and thoughtful Father’s Day weekend!


Genevieve     at 10:45 am

Orcas Island is one of my favorite places on earth! Growing up, my family would spend a week chartering a sailboat and exploring the San Juans. One of these weekends this summer you guys will have to check out Whidbey Island and Deception Pass too, the ferry terminal is much closer and the ride is only 20 minutes, but the island has that same “island” feel. Love that you are exploring the PNW, you’re so lucky to call it home!:)


Liz     at 11:45 am

Wow, it is so beautiful! And your dinner looked amazing as well! Glad you had a wonderful Father’s Day weekend.


Rachel C     at 12:32 pm

Where did you buy fizzy coconut water?
The spread, the view…all wonderful. Cullen is so adorable.


Bethany @ Accidental Intentions     at 1:30 pm

Oh, I can’t wait to hear more about your time in the San Juans! 10 years ago I spent a week on Lopez with my family in a cabin my aunt used to own, and to this day it remains one of my favorite vacations. My dad’s grandma used to live on San Juan, so I grew up hearing stories about how he would spend weekends at her house. Even though I’ve only been to the San Juans once or twice (I *think* I went to Friday Harbor when I was really, really little, but I don’t remember it at all so I’m not sure), they really hold a special place in my heart and I’m so excited to hear about your trip. Lopez also was the first place I ever saw a bald eagle in the wild, which was one of the cooler experiences of my life. GAH! I want to go back right now!


MegG     at 2:58 pm

What a great weekend to go up there and such a nice surprise! I ran the Orcas Island 25k last year and while the race was rough I definitely appreciated the scenery and the course. It’s such a wonderful place. I’m hoping my husband and I can go back and go kayaking!


Kristen @ Change of Pace     at 3:28 am

Gah! What I would give to do that with my husband right now! Sounds amazing girl! :)


Rachel Wilkerson     at 4:38 am

That looks amazing, and such a great surprise! I have been dying for a weekend getaway just like this lately. When most vacations are about flying to see family, doing something closer to home can be SO nice! I need to find something like this to do in Texas.!


Angela @ Happy Fit Mama     at 4:56 am

Absolutely perfect! How could you contain yourself and not spoil the surpsie? I’d be so giddy that it would be written all over my face that something was up. The San Juan Islands are on my “must go” list. Can’t wait for more pics!


Amanda     at 7:42 am

Mmmmm fizzy coconut water? What’s the brand? :)


Michelle (The Runner's Plate)     at 9:10 am

I love planning surprises! What a fun trip–and beautiful scenery.


Tamara     at 10:28 am

We have a house on Guemes Island. I absolutely LOVE the fresh produce in Anacortes. Did you visit the coop shop? It’s amazing! Looking at your pictures makes me home sick! I live in Croatia until I finish college, my dad and step family are on Mercer Island where I went to school. WA is really beautiful, definitely take advantage of the beautiful weather to explore! So many hidden gems around ;) Cullen is growing up SO FAST! Such a handsome little man.


Daily Garnish » Blog Archive » Orcas Island Adventures.     at 4:36 pm

[...] weekend in the San Juan Islands continues!  Cullen had a really bad night of sleep the first night we were there – basically [...]

Cindy @ The Flipping Couple     at 1:38 pm

I grew up in Seattle and miss it SO MUCH. Thanks for sharing these pictures and memories! My husband and I are coming back for vacation this summer and we’re going to spend some time in the San Juans – would you be willing to share the name of the property you stayed at? It looks absolutely beautiful and I would love to see if we can nab a reservation there, too!


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Beautiful blog the images are amazing.


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