We’re in the midst of trailer repairs, medical and dental appointments, taxes, maintenance tasks on our Ashland home, rooting out our storage unit, trailer home-improvement projects, and more. Last but not least, I have a blog to catch up on. So without further ado, I’m going to whisk you back to mid-June and our summer on Lopez Island.
As the ferry churned through the cold waters of the Pacific and chugged past the maze of islands that make up the San Juan archipelago, we leaned over the railing, anticipating our first glimpse of the small island that would once again be our summer home.
This year, we spent two-and-a-half months on Lopez Island—our longest stretch yet. From mid-June until early September, we were once again temporary Lopezians, immersing ourselves fully in the unique culture of Pacific Northwest island life.
We fell in love with Lopez the first time we visited, almost a dozen years ago.
Six of the past seven years, we’ve spent part of every summer hosting at beautiful Spencer Spit State Park. We contemplate spending time in other places, but each summer finds us once again on the ferry to the islands.
I don’t think life gets any better than summer in the San Juan’s. The weather is nearly perfect, with plenty of sunshine, low humidity, and temperatures in the 70’s. (This makes up for long, long winters of gray and chill and rain—one of the primary reasons we don’t seriously consider living in the islands year-round.)
The scenery is idyllic—pastoral farmland, deep green mossy forests, secluded coves, and rocky cliffs plunging to sapphire seas. Small wonder that the first European settlers to the island described Lopez as a paradise.
Perfect weather and idyllic scenery aside, the strongest draw for us now is our community of friends on Lopez. In our six summers on the island, we’ve developed enduring friendships that transcend time and distance. We gather often with friends for delicious meals, evenings of music, and a variety of island adventures, from biking and hiking to art openings, concerts, and wine tastings. Each summer, we also delight in sharing Lopez with friends visiting from Ashland and fellow full-time RVing friends we’ve met in our travels. To add to this year’s fun, our grandson Findlay sailed to “Camp Lopez” to stay with us for a week.
We’re fortunate to have a hosting position that fits perfectly with our interests. This was our fourth year teaching Interpretive Programs for kids and adults, including the Junior Ranger programs. We teach about native plants, birds found on Lopez, and the traditions of the Salish tribes who first inhabited the islands. Making hundreds of copies of the Jr. Ranger’s booklets becomes tedious, but teaching never does. We often come away from a morning of teaching feeling uplifted and inspired by the brilliance, inquisitiveness, and hilarity of the kids we teach (a lot of the adults are just as much fun).
We’re lucky, too, in that the staff at Spencer Spit is terrific. Each summer when we return to the park, we feel like we’re returning home. Our relationship with Lopez and the community of wonderful people on the island continues to deepen—for this, we are deeply grateful. Thanks, Lopez and friends, for another delightful summer. We’ll be back!
I’ve written in detail about our Lopez adventures over the past several years. If you’re interested in reading more, type “Lopez” in the search box and you’ll find lots of posts and photos. Here’s a post with some basic information, should you be interested:
Hi Laurel, Thanks for the memories! Viki and I enjoyed our first visit to Lopez, largely because you were our “tour guides”! We hiked those mossy trails above Watmough, walked to Iceberg, attended the 4th of July parade, visited the farmer’s market, and more…Sharing some Lopez Island Brewing Company beer at your campsite was a bonus!😀
We enjoyed so much having you and Viki visit us on Lopez, Dick. You two are great explorers—I don’t think you missed anything on the island. You even found the local beer and goat cheese and were kind enough to share with us!
Wonderful, wonderful, wonderful! We really must find our way out there this summer. Love your little wren visitor and all the incredible blue water. Looks like another fun summer full of friends :-)
Jodee, I hope you and Bill will make the journey to the islands next summer. It would be so much fun to see you there. :-)
I got stuck at the first two paragraphs. Yes, we’ve enjoyed reading about Lopez, but the once-a-year hell that us full-timers seem to go through stands out on the calendar. Ours was June-July this year in Portland.
We we both due for all of the medical tests that come around every 5-10 years, plus there was a ton of maintenance to do on the RV, plus there were people to visit and relatives to see, and then we had to change RV parks because the 1st one would only let us stay for 28 days and the 2nd one for only 21 days. I don’t know how we got it all done. But Wait!!! There’s more….
Then a move to Washington and follow-up medical tests (all is okay), and remodeling to do on the RV and relatives to see.
We finally had to leave – hit the road – to feel like all was right in the world.
We know the feeling well….
Haha, I’ve been stuck living those first two paragraphs for a while now…which makes it difficult to get the blog caught up! You guys absolutely understand the challenges of this life—your experience sounds like a mirror image of ours. So glad to hear that all is well and that you’re on the road again. Our time will come…hope we can meet up soon. Hugs to you both!
Another wonderful summer full of beautiful scenery and adventures:) Love that owl:) Looks like a lovely farmers market. Love your final photo, Laurel…beautiful:)
Thanks, Pam. It was another wonderful summer—we’re so grateful that we’ve had the opportunity to experience Lopez as “temporary locals.”
WOW! Those green swallows are gorgeous! I’ve never seen one of them before – at least that I know of. SO nice to see you at the Halloween parade. Hope you have fun being townies for a while. :)
Janet, it was great to see you at the parade! I’m looking forward to spending some time with you while we’re in town. And yes, those Violet Green Swallows are amazing when the light hits their feathers just right!
Hi Laurel and Eric
We enjoy your blog and the joy of life that you share with us on a regular basis. Your thoughts and written description of Lopez life runs parallel to ours. It is such an amazing community, we miss it badly and hope to reunite with very special Lopez friends in the near future. Thanks so much.
Oh my goodness! We are so happy to hear from you—we have such wonderful memories of our summer on the island with you two several years ago. Are you coming back to Lopez? Please say yes. :-))
Such a gorgeous place. I still have fond memories of our summer in the San Juans and am SO glad we got to meet you on Lopez and share a bit of that island magic.
Nina, we’re really happy that you and Paul (and Polly!) made the journey to Lopez to meet up with us when you were hosting on Orcas. I know you totally “get” the magic of the islands.
It is easy to see why you’ve made Lopez a second home! Looks like another fulfilling summer.
Lopez makes a great summer home, Lisa. Knowing how much you liked Port Townsend, I think you and Hans would love the islands.
Well I’m blown away by an entire summer in one post. Since you are obviously such a good teacher, can you teach me to do that? Really lovely pictures of a place you clearly love and it is more than easy to see why. Not surprised at all to see that you two have so many friends. Sure hope I can visit you there one day and be one of them. What a gorgeous gorgeous place you’ve picked as your summer home.
Haha, yeah, I’ve written so much about Lopez that I figure I can get away with one post covering two-and-a-half months. Plus, there isn’t any other way for me to get caught up. :-) Lopez is wonderful, Sherry—I hope you and David will visit us one of these summers when we’re on the island.
Looks like paradise.
It is paradise, Brenda! You guys need to hitch up that little Casita one of these summers and come see for yourself. :-)
What a great way to spend the summer. Spending more time in places is pretty darn good.
I agree, Debbie. We really enjoy the variety of spending longer stretches of time in places we love combined with lots of on-the-road travel adventures.
I may be Texas-born, but I am a Pacific Northwest girl through and through. I completely understand why you return year after year. You are fortunate to have found a wonderful community in a location you love. Isn’t that what we’re all searching for, one way or another?
Very well said, Linda. It’s a gift to find the combination of a great community and an idyllic location. There’s no place quite like the Pacific Northwest, as you know! I knew this area of the country was “home” the very first time I laid eyes on it.
Whoa! What the heck is Eric doing watering the trees from the top of the trailer? How wonderous to have a wren wanting to go for a bike ride.
I have to say that for myself, and I’m sure some others, we get the best treat in the world in the summers when Chickadee and Raven grace our shores. Our lives are greatly enriched by their knowledge of birds, the environment, music, and senses of humor.
I hope that they never grow tired of coming to Lopez.
Sheila, it’s thanks to you and Bruce that Lopez has become our summer home. You invited us for dinner and music, and our lives have been forever richer. :-) We’re already looking forward to next year, and are happily anticipating some new island adventures with you guys. oxoxo (p.s. Eric was cleaning leaves off the top of the trailer. :-))
That DOES look magnificent! No wonder you keep going back for more…I particularly like the nature shots.The seal photo….Yes!!
How great that you have a wealth of knowledge to share with and educate others. Well at least you have all the great moments and memories to distract you from the mundane every day life chores and hassles.
Yes, reflecting on our travels and adventures definitely provides a respite from dealing with the mountain of mundane stuff we’re in the midst of at the moment! Lopez is delightful, Peta—and the seals are abundant!
Ah, your lovely photos brought back such wonderful memories of our time on Lopez. Hope to do that again sometime soon. How will you ever pull yourselves away from so many good friends? It definitely has become a second home for the two of you.
LuAnn, we have such wonderful memories of our summer adventures on Lopez with you and Terry! I hope you two will decide to return to the island one of these summers. :-) Our friends on the island and all of the friends that come to share the island with us make it a very special place, indeed.
Well, you just have to continue to entice us about your summers in Lopez Island until we get ourselves there. Its pretty obvious that you love your island time in Lopez Island and we sure hope that one day we get to experience this beautiful little paradise.
MonaLiza, we really hope that you and Steve will make the journey to Lopez. I know you will love it!
Oh my, here I am detesting living in Seattle and all this is so near. I have to go now!!! And soon,even if it is raining. The photos are so gorgeous.
Thank you, Nancy—I’m so glad you enjoyed the photos. Lucky you, having the islands in your backyard! If you visit Lopez during the summer and we’re there, please let us know. :-)
There’s a Lopez Island Brewing? How did we miss that?
Thanks for showing us around on our all too brief visit this summer. That’s one sweet gig you have there!
Oh wow, that was definitely an oversight on our part! Henry, we’re so happy you guys came to visit us on the island for a day of adventures—now you have a reason to come back. :-)