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The Voyage Team Goes to Orcas Island: A Photo Essay

By Jack Russillo · 6 months ago

To cope with the stresses of midterms descending down upon us, many members of Voyage stole away to Orcas Island for an all-weekend team retreat. Tucked snugly into a pair of cars, we left Seattle and drove north to Anacortes, where we took a ferry to Orcas Island, the largest of the San Juan Islands, to explore the island lifestyle and its wild spaces.

We stayed at my grandmother’s farm on the north end of the island, a 38-acre plot of land made up of Douglas-fir forests and open pastures. There, we saw a pair of ponds, a couple of century-old barns, and the many different farm animals in the fields. A few of us took the opportunity to walk five minutes to a rocky beach and see some a sunrise or a sunset, as well as the likes of porpoises, bald eagles, sea stars, crabs, and other intertidal creatures.

The old farmhouse-turned-loghouse also functioned as the home base for each of our island outings.

After settling in on Friday night, we spent Saturday going to the island farmer’s market, going on a hike, and spending the day relaxing lakeside in Moran State Park. Oh, and we also climbed to the top of the watchtower on the archipelago’s tallest mountain to see views of Mount Baker, Mount Rainier, Canada, and the rest of the San Juans. The night concluded with a chicken orzo, Franzia, and some dancing in the cabin up the hill from the farmhouse.

Sunday saw the team return to Seattle. Half of us, however, waited around a few hours to sneak one last hike over Turtleback Mountain in.

Although it was such a short visit, we were able to cram a lot of island life into our time. We bonded as a team and were able to recover from some of the stresses of midterms and the rushes of urban life. For some of us, this trip provided us the time and space to truly take a deep breath, slow down, and relax.

The photos that follow were taken by various members of the Voyage team. They also provided a summary statement of their time on Orcas, noting any particularly relevant experiences or feelings that they associated with their time on island.

Kevin Teeter, Writer:

“Orcas was a blast. The sprawling views of the Puget Sound and Mount Baker were a refreshing escape from the feverish pace of spring quarter, and the trip as a whole left me rejuvenated and ready to take on the last weeks of my junior year. The Knapp family farm was absolutely stunning. I watched a beautiful pre-summer sunset from North Beach, ate sun-dried tomatoes by the handful, and looked up at the stars, starkly unobscured by city lights. I also made friends with a bulldog pug mix, made enemies with a llama, and was reminded once again how lucky I am to be a part of the Voyage crew.”

The Salish Sea.
Ostin looking down the cliff on Mount Entrance.
Looking out onto the San Juan Archipelago from Mount Entrance.
Mount Baker and the Sister behind Lummi Island

Daniel Kim, Senior Photo Editor:

“It’s hard to pick a favorite moment from our three-day Orcas adventure, but watching the sunset on the beach was definitely one of the highlights. In the evening on our first day on the island, we walked down to the shore, peaked into tide pools, and skipped rocks off the waves as the sky turned a beautiful shade of orange, lighting up Mount Baker from base to peak. At sunrise the next morning the skies were equally gorgeous but more electric, a perfect way to start the day.”

Dazzler, the farm’s miniature horse.
Kyler and the donkey, Pearl, who’s the farm’s oldest animal.
Angela and the llama, Dolly.
Voyagers making their way into the field.
Jack (the author) during golden hour.
Jayna and Kyler amongst the alders.
Mount Baker at Sunset, with Lummi Island in the foreground.
Jayna’s sunset silhouette.
Neighbors’ house at sunrise.
Getting a view of Waldron Island from Turtleback Mountain.

Cynthia He, Layout Designer:

“Growing up in a busy modern city in China, I’m used to being surrounded by skyscrapers and busy streets. I never imagined how it felt to have a genuine connection with the land and nature before. But the trip to Orcas revealed a totally different way of living to me. When we first got to the farm, I was fascinated by the house that is full of interesting artifacts, decorations, and traces of family history. All these details just brought the whole space alive. Every moment we spent in the space was unforgettable. I loved the morning gathering in the backyard, with all the animals nearby, the band practice before dinner, the nice walk around the farm… these moments made me realize that, on Orcas Island, there is a strong connection and intimacy between the people and the environment they live in. I am so thankful that I had the chance to spend time in this amazing place and learn to enjoy and appreciate the land I live in. Orcas is definitely one of the most special and wonderful experiences I have ever had in my life.”

Dolly and Pearl in the front field.
Pearl picked up a hitchhiker.
Jayna smiling for the camera.
Barns, Clark, and Lummi Islands in the middle of Rosario Straight

Kyler Martin, Artist:

“There’s nothing quite as special as being warmly welcomed into a beautiful home and less than 48 hours later, rejecting the very thought of leaving the now-incredibly comfortable space while stubbornly packing your belongings. Every little detail of this cabin/farmhouse hybrid on Orcas Island oozed a homeyness, quirkiness, and comfort that is certainly engraved in my memory for good.”

Daniel and Ostin relaxing in the living room.
Lampshade in the farmhouse.
Entryway from the farmhouse into the loghouse.
Farm painting and farm gear.

Michelle Pyke, Marketing Coordinator:

“My trip to Orcas Island was an opportunity to seek adventure as a means to escape the routine nature of academics. Even the most mundane moments, such as watching the stillness of the farm transition into a being filled with energy, made an impression on me that I will not forget for years to come.”

Birdy, the farm’s newest addition.
Birdhouses in the backyard.

Jayna Milan, Editor-in-Chief:

“Orcas Island has a certain charm that it’ll cast over you the minute you land at the ferry. It’s a combination of the endless green and blue panoramas, views of the eagles soaring overhead, and laidback ease of the locals. This time for me, it was Jack’s grandma’s magical farmhouse that captured my heart. With three dogs, a miniature horse, mule, donkey, normal sized horse, llama, and ~30 or so geese, it was incredibly difficult to head back to reality on the big island.”

Jack, Daniel, and Kevin at sunset, with Mount Baker in the background.
Daniel, Jack, and Kevin sightseeing and skipping rocks as they wait for sunset.
Ostin begins preparing the orzo for the team.
Pinky, the bull pug, in the living room.
Waiting for food.
Dinner is served.
Looking west from Mount Constitution.
Kyler soaking in the views of the islands.
The team gets their “summit photo” atop Mount Entrance.

Be on the lookout for Voyage’s next issue, “The Food Issue”, coming fall 2018!