Monday, October 17, 2016

Orcas Island - Denizens of the Kelp

These are the newly wed on the Ferry over to Orcas with smooth seas. This is not what I looked like on the return trip in big storm waves. 

Just after our wedding Bri and I chose Orcas Island for a short and modest honeymoon - somewhat close to home. We rented a small cabin via Air BnB -  on the water on Orcas - the least populated of the San Juan Islands.

Just our style - lots of driftwood incorporated into the construction of this cabin. The solitude during the off-season was really cool. 

The view off the front deck - This is Obstruction Pass.  Lots of otters out in the bay here. Puget Sound is a really nice piece of water.  Always tons of wildlife - and the potential to see Killer Whales in some areas. 

On a cliff trail overlooking the surprisingly clear and calm water - before the storm. Bri leaning on a Madrona tree. You could look down off these cliffs and see Dungeness Crabs in the water far below.
This is a Quillback Rockfish - a new species for me. I found a fishing spot near our cabin.  A decent drop off close to shore with lots of big rocks, waving kelp and a ripping incoming tidal current.  Great visibility as well. All species of Rockfish are protected in the San Juans - so this guy was released. 
I also caught a few of these guys - Kelp Greenling. They slam artificials and fight well - often fighting their way back into the tall kelp strands.  The key is that they like small lures - I recommend single hook jigs - 3/8 ounce worked well. Seals would show up from time to time and shut the bite down.
But the seals were very cute and curious and I was high for days after getting into fish like that.

I had read that the Greenling were good to eat.  I also enjoyed cleaning them on the beach and feeding the scraps to the gulls.
Bri cooked them up in our miniature kitchen.  The Greenling proved to be really good. 
The tiny cabin has a tiny version of everything you would need. Including an adorable 6 Gallon water heater. 

Proof that there are reptiles on Orcas Island - the road killed garter snake above.  How did snakes get here ?? Some of the best weather and terrain for jogging anywhere.

Buck Bay shellfish farm at low tide - A great place with lots of quiet. 
Relatively disgusting newly married people. Wading cautiously into this thing called marriage.
The skies began to threaten. We had two clear, sunny and calm days on Orcas and then a really serious storm rolled in - and made us conscious of what trees could crush the cabin. We ended up leaving a day early as per the advice of the weather people. I thought the return trip on the ferry was really scary.  The 1968 Ferry which was charming in smooth seas tossed from side to side and shook and vibrated in the storm.
"The Tiny House" in Olga, WA. A great place to stay on Orcas. We have the contact for Jacqueline the owner -  if you want. Not very many places like this in the world. 
Because we got chased off Orcas early due to the storm - we ended up staying Seattle for two nights. It was my first time in Seattle - and my first time in a Big City since I left / fled New York.  This is the Wooden Boat Center in Seattle.
How I wish to remember Orcas.  I would like to return - especially in the off-season again. 

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