31 October 2012

Lopez Island. How did I get here?

Apologies for the slow posts of late readers, been having quite the mini adventure. Buses, ferries, islands, kayaks, new people, it's been intense!

I'm here now though.

After my very unique week in Olympia at Leeann's house as part of another HelpX, I had to quickly be on the move again to meet with my next planned HelpX. I caught a bus from Olympia (in Washington) and headed further north to arrive at the city of Seattle, cool! I never had plans what so ever when I first arrived in Los Angeles all those many months ago of being this far North, to see Portland and Seattle, but I had heard great things about both places so, yep, my direction it seems for the time being is North.

It looks like a great city, I hope to explore more soon

After only 2 hours of seeing Seattle I was greeted by my new HelpX host, Rita, who picked me up in her car and off we went to her house to begin the next stage of my adventure.

So, where am I now in the world now?

A pretty unique place I am sure you will agree, an island in fact, known as Lopez Island =)

Google it.

No, seriously, Google this place... it. is. ridiculous =D

A little information: the area is known as the San Juan Islands, made up of four distinct islands; Lopez Island, San Juan Island, Orcas Island and... some other one that I forget. These islands are located off the coast of Washington state, the very North-West corner of America (we are right up against the Canadian border). Rita has a farm here that she has owned for 30 years with her husband, although she is now widowed and has been for some years now, therefore has been living on her own ever since. Keeping top of the large piece of property is tough on your own, so that is where I come in. 

To get there we first need to catch a ferry:

The ferry boat docked

Pretty amazing...
As I stood on the bow of the ferry, the sunset unfolding before my eyes, illuminating with dancing shadows the untouched natural beauty around me, I had another of my infrequent "How did I get here?" moments. I've had a few of these over the course of my trip (my awesome failed road trip attempts from Los Angeles, and the Napa Valley wine tour to name a few!), and it is good to have yet another. I have no idea what is ahead of me whilst on this island but it looks promising to say the least.

It was dark by the time we got to Rita's house.

The next day Rita and I made a big English breakfast (Rita is English) and enjoyed it out on her patio. Her place rocks!

The view from Rita's patio, with a great English breakfast to enjoy
Rita's house
Our plan for the day? If you guessed kayaking, you'd be right!

We are going kayaking here!?
Rita preparing the kayak
Kayaking! I never guessed I'd be going kayaking in between this amazing mess of islands, on absolutely perfectly calm waters too! I didn't want to risk bringing my phone with me on the kayak (as we all know how my luck works) so I didn't get to take any photos whilst on the water... which is a shame because it really was simply beautiful. So pristine. When we got past all the islands and into open waters we could see the mountain ranges back on the mainland of America! Very cool indeed.

Kayaking and running errands took up the entire day, and we returned home just in time to catch the lasts rays of sunshine before it dipped out of sight from our small little island home.

What a great experience.

The next day however I already managed to have a typical 'Aaron moment', which I know is inevitable as it is just part of who I am, but I wish it didn't have to be so soon of my arrival!

So... I awoke early on my second day, eager to get a feel of the place and what is to be expected of me. We had run out of milk so I volunteered to go into the village to buy. Got to get some brownie points with the host.

"Oh that would be great, do you want to take my truck?" Rita said with a smile.

"I'll take the bike, it is nice and sunny, it'll be fun" was my reply. The village wasn't far. So I thought...

Off I go in the absolutely beautiful morning air and sunshine, pondering deeply how I got so lucky to be having such a great day such as this. On my right is a thick forest of the purest greens, and on my left was deep rolling hills of farm land, a barn or two piercing its smoothness. I had music blaring and was in no rush to get there.

Now... I had originally written this long story as to what happened, but I think I will just summarize it for you all. So very long story short:

I thought the store was a quick 10 minute ride away. Turns out it was 5km away. Eventually I reached the town, bought milk, and headed back the long way I had just come, soon coming upon a hill. I challenged myself to make it up this very steep and long hill without stopping. I got three quarters before stopping, which I was proud of. Immediately however things didn't feel right, I soon realized that I had pushed myself too hard! My chest was pounding and my head begun to feel light and dizzy (I hadn't thought to bring water with me, nor had I had breakfast yet). A quick evaluation told me that my best solution would be to ride back into town to buy water, which was at least 1km away.

Things were not going well, I started getting real dizzy, and my vision was starting to blur. Zooming back down the hill I had just climbed, I struggled to stay upright, my vision and headache almost unbearable now. Gliding along the road felt like I was floating amongst clouds! It soon got so bad that I couldn't ride anymore so I got off and sat on side on the road, in the middle of no where. I may or may not have at this stage tried to wave down a passing car... who ignored me and drove even faster once passing me! I was stressing a little, battling the urge to pass out, but managed to stay calm, finally recovering enough to continue. Eventually made it the store, bought some water... and burrowed a phone to call Rita to come pick me up... rather embarrassing really ha!

I could only imagine what Rita was thinking. Here is this random guy she agrees to come work for her for a few weeks, and on only his second day he goes off riding a bike, disappears for over an hour, then calls asking for a pickup... all for what was meant to be a simple run to the store for milk!

Well done Aaron... Ha! Better step up my game now.

This place really is amazing though, I didn't even know these islands existed until two weeks ago, and now I am actually on one, kayaking, watching sunsets, bike riding... so very cool. But now is the time to do some work, and looking around the farm it looks like there is quite a lot to be done. It is going to be a challenge that's for sure.

For the next 3 weeks, Lopez Island will be home.


Tania said...

You're about 40km away from me right now, haha.

Welcome to the Pacific Northwest, one of the most beautiful places on earth! Bundle up, it gets COLD.

Hannah Marie said...

I hear Orcas island is beautiful as well!!

Azz said...

Tania - Ha cool, I had a feeling that I was very close by. I'll be in Vancouver next week, and will stop by Vancouver Island too =) Let me know if you are up for being a tour guide for a day hehe.

Hannah - I think they are all amazingly beautiful really, a very cool place of the world indeed =)

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