Thursday, May 31, 2012

Crane Island, San Juan Islands

For someone who lives in Seattle, or Western Washington for that matter, heading out to one of the San Juan Islands for a weekend is a little slice of heaven. Each island is so different, offering an array of experiences, but all are beautiful, tranquil and scenic. And although not technically correct, I call most of the islands in the Puget Sound, the San Juans, so get over it. Thanks!

We've spent a lot of time on Camano Island where Dayne's parents live, have had the opportunity to do some camping on Lopez Island, experienced a world- class chef on Lummi Island, had a dinner experience from someone who cooks like a world-class chef on San Juan Island, and celebrated a friend's mile-stone birthday on Whidbey Island. All fantastic places you can get to by car or ferry, with charming parks and towns, restaurants and hotels. But last weekend we were invited to join a group of friends on Crane Island, a private island where one of the friend's parents live. Crane Island has just 5 year round residents. There is no Pagliacci Pizza delivery or corner grocery store. If you buy furniture or the like you must hire a barge to bring it over. Off the grid, if you will.

Six of us and a cat took the ferry to Orcas Island where we met Jen's dad, who came to pick us up in his boat. After a short shopping excursion at the grocery store we made the quick sail to Crane, off the southwest shore of Orcas, and tied up on the private dock. Jen's mom was there to meet us with a marina cart to make hauling our bags and groceries to the house easier. Luckily their home is just through a meadow and not far from the boat.

After a tour of their beautiful home and views from the deck we put the kayaks in and went to see the island from the sea. At just a couple of hundred acres in size it was an easy paddle around, through Wasp Passage on the west and Pole Pass on the east. We didn't spot any whales but we did see some eagles in the sky and some starfish on the exposed rocks.

The next day Jen's dad took us over to the private dock on Orcas where they also have a private parking lot. We took the cars and headed to the base of Orcas Nob, where we climbed the 1,014' peak and enjoyed a picnic at the top. The views are spectacular and a good payoff for the very steep climb up. Another large eagle circled above us, riding the air streams.
We drove into Deer Harbor for a beer and to grab more groceries for the night's dinner before meeting back at the dock for our shuttle home.

A relaxing evening was spent grilling, hot tubbing and looking at the stars. With only two or three houses lit up on the island that night the sky was packed with twinkling lights.

Before leaving the next day we took a walk around the interior road, Circle Road. This divides the very center of the island, which is a nature reserve, from the homes which are mostly along the shore. We saw a few of the resident deers as well as more eagles overhead but none of the mink or otters the island is also home to.
An interesting old farm and barn, a handful of houses, deer trails crossing the island and a grass air field at the top of a small hill are all that make up this pretty little rock.
Crane Island photos

*4/23/13 UPDATE- Our friends are selling their beautiful property! If you buy it, please invite me back out. I'll even help you to unpack! Crane Island home for sale.