My dedication to reducing my personal contributions to the climate crisis can challenge some of my deepest desires. Connecting with nature and fellow humans in unfamiliar settings is one.
One of the greatest conundrums is my yen for a change in perspective. That need has often required air travel. Although aviation accounts for only 3.5% of global warming, I am of the mind that anyway I can reduce my impact matters. Since we live in the country that contributes proportionally more to greenhouse gas emissions, it further behooves me to see alternatives. And “taking a long-haul flight generates more carbon emissions than the average person in dozens of countries around the world produces in a whole year.” Restrictions imposed by global pandemic further limited options. My brilliant spouse came up with a solution: three island hopping getaways in three months no air travel needed.
Island Hopping by Car.
We are fortunate to live in a corner of the continent conjoined by a plethora of island options. Being in our own car meant less time masked and conscious of distance from others.
Our first foray involved a 20-minute ferry ride from a terminal a half hour from home. We arrived at our getaway destination in less time than it would have taken to drive to the airport and stand in line to get through security. Our hilltop accommodation was nestled in trees, a garden at the entry. Windows on all sides felt like being in a treehouse as the land sloped down from the bed alcove. We had brought a cooler full of food prepared at home and transferred it to the refrigerator provided. No need to shop in an unfamiliar grocery store.
Each day we ventured forth to explore a beach, a spiritual sanctuary, a forest preserve displaying sculptures tucked into bends in the path to surprise and delight.
Three days of immersion in nature were balm and inspiration. A porch visit with our hosts was an extra pleasure—an opportunity to meet new people, connect beyond our own community.
We drove off the opposite end of that island. Our route took us north to another island connected by bridges. There we had a brief stop over at daffodil fields and glimpse of Snow geese preparing to depart for their arctic nesting areas. Two more bridges took us on and off yet another island. One more hour driving deposited us back at home satiated with travel at least for that month. Three islands in three days and no airplane required.
Part two describes two subsequent ground level island adventures in the ensuing months.
Rinse and repeat: Another foray 45 days later
Spring had only begun when we took our first island excursion. A month and a half later, even though our own garden was burgeoning with new blossoms daily, we had an urge to see how other surroundings were faring. Tulips had come and gone for the season in the county to the north. The tendency to hit the road for summer excursions was not yet in full swing when we took another road trip.
This trip also involved a ferry ride. However this time it was complicated by requiring reservations two months, or two weeks in advance. Online holds for the ferry were snatched up in a matter of a minute or two when the window opened so close to the popular summer season.
Friends had invited us for a weekend getaway at their newly completed guest “bungalow,” another hilltop retreat in the woods.
We snagged a coveted ferry departure and drove two hours to arrive ahead of the one hour wait time required to claim the reservation. Two hours after boarding, we pulled up the hill away from the landing to meet our friend who would guide us to their property. Even with extra time required for this journey, it was shorter than in air flight time from SeaTac to Hawaii. We skipped the hassles of security confining what we took to carry-on and compressing liquids into tiny containers. Again, we planned and prepared meals for our entire stay, for ourselves and to share with our hostess.
The first day was “bellissima.” We drove to a viewpoint and reveled in the 360 degree spectacular array of islands in the Salish Sea. We did make one stop at a local bakery. They make the most nutrient-packed gluten free vegan bread I have ever eaten. We made it in time to get their last loaf of the morning. I slice, wrap and freeze it to extend the pleasure of our visit for weeks as an indulgent treat from time to time.
Once we settled in at our hilltop accommodations, we set about heating and serving an al fresco dinner. Our hostess set out a table in the garden with table cloth and flatware. There we enjoyed our fare maskless (and all vaccinated). Dessert was brownies with frozen dairy free ice creme. Our day ended with a peek-a-boo sunset view of Alpen glow on one of the local volcanic Cascade Mountains in the distance. The marine layer that often sweeps in nightly enveloped us and within minutes, we cleared away our repast and prepared for a most comfortable sleep. The whisper of fir and cedar outside the open windows soothed our slumber.
The next day we remained sequestered in our forested retreat. After walking in the woods we relaxed in the garden as the sun returned warmth to the clearing. We chose to steep ourselves in nature instead of sight seeing.
The third day, we rolled down to the ferry landing and returned to the afore-mentioned island between bridges. There we toured my sister’s latest garden delights prior to making the two hour drive home.
Third and final Island excursion
Summer is the best season to enjoy our homestead. But before settling in for the duration, we decided to make one more excursion to yet another island. This trip was made even easier by having no need for a ferry. A bridge connects the island to mainland a mere hour drive from home. We have made day trips to this island before, but decided to take a more leisurely pace this trip. Three sets of friends and acquaintances had invited us to visit, so we designated a day for each, allowing ample time for exploring on our own as well. A bed and breakfast stay near the access point provided us a jumping off place for our rambles.
The first afternoon, before checking in, we visited a couple at the farthest extreme end of the island. Our cooler, packed with meal options prepared in advance had ample freezer packs to keep all our prepared fare cool.
We enjoyed an entire afternoon of vistas and wildlife at the farthest tip of the island that first day. We still reached our overnight destination before dark. The next morning we were treated to the most delicious gluten free, vegan muffins I have ever eaten. They were complemented by vegan yogurt and granola and a selection of teas or coffee.
We carried our beverages around the garden grounds to greet chickens and admire the host couples handiwork. We were also invited to pick strawberries ripening in abundance.
Well fed, we ventured out to explore the westside midsection of the island, including two very popular state park locations. Lapping waves on a beach beyond the crowds were the essence of calming.
By afternoon we arrived at our second invitation on the opposite side with long-time friends. Together we prepared a shared supper while catching up on the months since we had last seen them. We found our way back to our accommodations after dark.
Our final day, we paid a quick visit, after packing up and bidding our hosts adieu, to a beach park minutes away. There we were just in time to witness a Bald Eagle papa delivering breakfast to mama eagle and offspring. Then away we went to our final visit of the weekend, another mid-island residence, lakeside.
We enjoyed another alfresco visit in day-before-summer-solstice perfect warmth. On the way off the island we made a short side-trip to stroll along a marine spit. The path took us through enchanting woods. We made it home in time to water our own garden before the sun went down on the next to longest day of the year. Our summer of staying home while others brave traffic and crowds and struggle to find camping spots, has commenced.
If you would like details about places we visited, food we took or any other information to replicate our preparations for road trip visits please send a comment in the contact section.