Written November 15, 2016
When my family visited me in Washington way back in August (when the sun shone regularly), we decided to visit special areas I had not been to yet. As I was still new to Washington, I had a lot left to explore (and still do despite being here for a few months now…). The weekend they arrived from New York, we opted to meet in the San Juan Islands. After landing at the Sea-Tac airport, my family immediately headed to the ferry in Anacortes, whereas I had to work until 6:30pm and then left on the very last ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island! My ferry departed after 11PM, and arrived on San Juan Island at a very late (early?) 1AM.
We had a truly magical weekend in the San Juan Islands despite only having two days and an unexpected accident where we got an EMT-led, ambulance-guided tour of San Juan Island’s PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center (don’t worry, everyone is okay!).
Not only was the home we stayed in magical, but our overall experience in the San Juan Islands was as well. On our first morning, we rose slowly and enjoyed coffee and tea on the outside gazebo. It was incredible and refreshing to wake up in the presence of my family again. Although it had only been about 1.5 months since I had seen them, I felt an immediate refresh being in their presence. I had been going through some subconscious turmoil about relationships and my place in the world, and my family immediately grounded me. I awoke to sunshine peeking through my bedroom window, and meandered my way with drowsy eyes down the hallway toward the powerfully spiritual shrine room. Here, I breathed in the blissful presence of my family, and refreshed my mind:
Once our family was freshened up and ready to soak in the sun, we headed toward Friday Harbor on San Juan Island to plan our day. Our goals included: orcas viewings, lavender fields, and indulging in seafood! We got recommendations for the whale watching tours and booked one for 5PM, then meandered the streets of Friday Harbor for a while. We stumbled upon a farmer’s market, which was filled with local vendors and food to indulge in. My personal favorite pit stops were the local oysters and a local, nature-loving, salish sea artist @jill_bliss
We decided to have a meal of our own at Cask & Schooner, where most of my family realized they don’t like raw oysters… at all. I was reminded I did like them… but I prefer them with a saltine cracker. Mmm, mmm, salty salish sea goodness…
A pit stop at the World’s Skinniest Latte Shop was called for, as I recognized someone claustrophobic would never in a million years work there. Also, I wonder how many times people bump heads?
Pelindaba Lavender Farm was next on our list! We drove to the farm, which is free to visit, and walked around the fields. Though it wasn’t quite as effervescent as I imagined, the fields were expansive, and the dotted lavender-colored landscape was enchanting. We didn’t spend too much time here, but did indulge in some delicious lavender lemonade (definitely recommended!). Since being in Washington, I think I’ve tried everything lavender from cocktails to chocolate to ice cream… and I definitely don’t plan on stopping there!
With more time to spare before our planned whale watching tour at 5PM, our family stumbled upon a beachfront park, Reuben Tarte Memorial Park. My brothers, father, and I walked down toward the beach, and Mom drove the car.
There certainly wasn’t a shortage of driftwood on this beach, and I sat soaking in the waterscape while Mom and Nicholas wandered above, and Dad and Kenneth decided to climb some rocks…
If you’re wondering where I get my sense for adventure and travel, it’s certainly a healthy combination of my mom and dad. My mom has given me the travel bug, recognizing I can never see enough places. My dad, on the other hand, has taught me that you’re never “too old” for anything, and adventure is always out there. Case in point: Dad climbing beach rocks the day before his 59th birthday. 58-going-on-21? Perhaps. He’s just lucky he’s got a thick Irish head because his chosen adventure did not have a happy ending. As he attempted to step down to head toward another section of rock, he lost his footing and fell backwards onto the rocky beach below, hitting his head.
When I tell you I was in complete shock, I would be making an understatement. With my medical background, I entered instant emergency response mode. My father lay motionless, unconscious on the rocks of Reuben Tarte Memorial Park, and I sat behind him, stabilizing his head, calling for the ambulance. When he came to, he didn’t know where he was, and I felt my mind flooding with worst-case-scenarios. Could he move his fingers and toes? Is his neck broken? Is his spinal cord in tact? Would our lives change forever in this instant?
His fingers wiggled, his feet moved, but he had intense pain in his arm. So we helped him shift into a better position, all while I stabilized his head and didn’t allow it to move. When the EMT’s arrived, I was able to step away from the scene. With blood on my right hand from his head injury, I felt the entire world zoom away from me. I was seeing myself from an observer’s eyes. I was shaking and felt the blood rush from my face. I felt a little lightheaded. I had been so involved in the moment that I didn’t even have time to emotionally respond to the situation. As the EMT’s put my father on the spine board, all I could do was shift toward thinking positive things–he’s going to be okay. My youngest, fearless brother, Kenneth, and I rode with my dad in the ambulance toward PeaceHealth Peace Island Medical Center. Once there, dad was immediately admitted and they did testing to rule out fractures and brain/spinal cord damage.
Like I said, my dad as a THICK IRISH HEAD. All dad needed was 7 staples to close the open wound on the back of his head. Oh, and of course he was cracking jokes on the spine board, saying it felt like he was boogie boarding. Oh man do I love him. With his head wrapped in gauze, he walked out of the hospital with good spirits.
Well, this unfortunate turn of events prevented us from getting to the whale watching tour, but more importantly, our family was together and healthy. Instead, we went to dinner on the waterfront at McMillin’s where the waiters and waitresses were celebrating spirit week and had ridiculous hair styles. Here, we had one of the best meals! We each varied our selections–from Asian-inspired dishes to American burgers, the chef clearly knew his food. Also, there was a sunset canon ceremony as the flags were lowered on the other side of the pier. Apparently this is done nightly!
A day in a cute town wouldn’t be complete without a local ice cream shoppe, would it? I say absolutely not. As I licked my lavender honey cone, I thought about how lucky I am to have a healthy, loving family.
Our family retired to our home, and prepared for the next day’s adventures… with awareness of dad’s head injury, of course. Stay tuned for Part Two on San Juan Island magic…