A Stroll on Jones Island
[pix_dropcap]W[/pix_dropcap]ashington State is lucky to have an incredible system of marine parks. Several in the San Juan Islands. One that I particularly enjoy is Jones Island, a hundred and eighty-eight acre park that has a network of trails running along it’s perimeter and across the island. One of the many things that’s attractive about Jones Island is that it is only accessible by boat.
Once ashore, I always savor the walk through the forest to the other side of the island. Occasionally I’ve spotted a pileated woodpecker flying from tree to tree. Douglas Fir, Western red cedar, hemlock and big leaf maple make up most of the forest. There are also many mosses, lichens and fungi and I sometimes get to spend a half hour or longer with my guide books as we wander the paths. The walk opens up to a grassy area where black-tailed deer graze. They are quite friendly and will often let us come close enough to get a good picture. My favorite part of the walk is where the trail begins to skirt the edge of the island. Here, I’ve learned where to find a native prickly pear cactus. Yes, it’s true wet western Washington does have native cactus growing thanks to the rain shadow from the Olympic mountains. Another interesting native plant is the Garry Oak. There aren’t too many of these left in the San Juan Islands and the ones on Jones Islands are fenced off to encourage their renewal.
River otters and harbor seals are also regular visitors to Jones Island. Those of us who live and work near the saltwater can easily forget how interesting and fun these regularly seen animals are to watch. When we spot one it’s the highlight of the day. This summer we had a private charter with three generations of women who walked Jones Island with me. We were sitting on some rocks along the trail watching two deer, when two hikers came by and told us about four river otters who were feeding just around the corner. I got up and walked ahead of the group until I noticed a small boil in the water just below a rocky outcrop. The sun made the dried grass atop the outcrop warm and welcoming. I sat down to take some photos. A couple seconds later an otter popped up with crab in it’s mouth. The three other otters soon followed. My group caught up to me, and it was heartwarming to watch the excitement about the river otters. We talked for a while about the difference between river otters and sea otters, which we don’t see in the San Juan Islands.
I kept up with the otters until they came to a low spot. Cautiously they came onto the island. They stayed close to each other, rubbing their bodies together in braid-like motion. They made warning chirps as they tested the side of the trail. With trepidation they attempted to cross, but a bird flew past them and they retreated. I stood still with my camera. Again they emerged. They wanted to get to the forest and the underbrush of thick-leaved salal. I waited for the otters to make their move. It took several more tries. There was lots of head bobbing and back-leg kicking before they made their break. They scurried across the dirt and root trail; their forepaws low, and their hips high reminded me vaguely of an inchworm. They soon disappeared into the forest. I stood up to listen to them before turning around.
Back at the boat, Jeffrey was almost finished with lunch preparations. I took out my journal and quickly noted all the things we had seen. I’ve been to Jones Island many times and what I like about it is that there are many things that seem to remain the same, but with each stroll, there’s always something new. I’m looking forward to our next walk on Jones.
Serendipity and the David B
A few of years ago we had a couple from Austin, Texas come on the David B for a cruise in the San Juan Islands. Sarah and Rob are both adventurous people and we took a liking to them immediately. Rob and Sarah are interesting for many reasons, but one of the most interesting thing about them is their lifestyle. They are “urban nomads.” This means they live lightly and are constantly on the move.
In the spring when we were looking for a house sitter to take care of our cats while we are away in Alaska doing cruises, Sarah and Rob were looking for a place to rebuild their newly purchased RV. Their schedule fit perfectly with ours and we’ve been feeling lucky to have them taking care of both our house and our cats. Here’s Sarah and Rob’s story. It was originally published on Sarah’s blog.
June 20, 2012
Rob said, “The whole reason we moved to the Pacific Northwest was so I can rebuild our RV.” Funny, I thought we moved to the PNW when he took a job as an engineer last year. Silly me.
I had asked him about Serendipity at lunch today, because the Technomads recently issued a Serendipity Challenge: http://www.technomadia.com/2012/06/serendipity-challenge-contest/ The challenge asked how being open to opportunities leads to incredible experiences.
Working backwards, I think Rob is right. Serendipity has definitely played a part in our lives over the past four years.
First, we are having a wonderful time this summer because our friends Jeffrey and Christine asked us to house and cat sit while they are in Alaska’s inside passage. We met Jeffrey and Christine Smith when we took one of their small ship cruises in 2010. This cruise trip to the San Juan Islands was organized by Chuck Byrd, who was one of the Smith’s first passengers when they started their business in 2006. Rob met Chuck, who led a Sierra Club outings leadership training that Rob took in 2008. Rob took this training because when he first moved to Austin, TX he wanted to meet new people.
Secondly, how does this help us rebuild an RV? Well in addition to a cute house in Bellingham,WA with hot and cold running cats Harriett and Oswald, the Smith’s have a full-sized wood shop plus a quarter-ton pick-up truck from Christine’s former gardening business. I can’t imagine rebuilding the RV DIY style in less than twelve weeks without access to storage, tools and a table saw. There is no way Rob could have gotten the materials we needed or disposed of the old RV contents with out that old panel truck.
Two more added bonuses to living in Bellingham are that it has one of the country’s best hardware stores and by being a seaside port town, lots of marine supply stores. Hardware Sales is not a store, it is an industrial complex with over four buildings spanning two city blocks. (Take THAT Home Depot and Lowes!) The aisles are narrow and filled from floor to ceiling with tools, hardware and building materials. If they don’t have it, you don’t need it. No seriously, you don’t.
Fortunately there are a lot of cross overs between RV and Marine applications. Often you need it small, efficient and nailed down. Looking for cabinet door catches and the RV store charges an arm and a leg? You can always try the Pacific Marine Exchange looking for “consignment booty”.
Finally, the last bit of serendipity is what I call the “mercy firing”.
Since he started in mid-May, Rob has been spending eight hours a day five and six days a week working on the RV. The project is that extensive, even with Rob’s considerable engineering and building skills. Still, Rob has the time to rebuild the RV because he was let go the Monday before we were supposed to start house sitting. How is that for timing?
A bit more background for those of you without a scorecard about Rob’s job. Last year when a head hunter approached Rob, he thought this job would give him a sense of accomplishment by working for an established company with definite projects. Initially it was exciting to be moving to Bellingham, WA because we knew Jeffrey and Christine. They were very helpful offering suggestions about nice places to live. They even let us store our stuff in their shop for a week. (Man that shop is useful!)
Unfortunately that was not to be the case. Legacy products and corporate culture was clamping down hard on his definition of quality engineering. So Rob had already begun planning his exit strategy, but he wanted to rebuild the RV first.
Rob’s original plan was to work full-time while working on the RV at night and then give his notice in August. That is when we would start RV’ing full-time. Admittedly I was worried he wouldn’t have enough time to rebuild the RV at night. Nor was I looking forward to being a “RV widow”, even if he was just 60 feet away in the backyard. Thankfully the company realized Rob’s heart just wasn’t in the job anymore and let him go.
So through a connection that started four years ago in Austin, TX, we wound up in Bellingham, WA rebuilding an RV practically from scratch and with the time to do it right. Thanks again Chuck for inviting us on your small ship cruise trip all those years ago. I’m so glad we said yes! I can only imagine that given how our full-time RV lifestyle is starting out that Serendipity will continue to be a force in our lives for many years to come.
Click to follow Sarah Kirkish – Urban Nomad and Business Consultant, or check out Sarah’s business Work Life Organization.