Life on our island is still an odd dichotomy of frenzy and relaxation. It’s incredibly peaceful, but we still have so much to do. Similar to the stages of grief, there seem to be stages of settling in. We hit the tourist stage while Glynda was here, and seem to be in the midst of the “dealing with stuff” stage. I’m ready to get to the “normal life on the island” stage, whenever that might come.
Stage One – Playing the Tourist
While Glynda was here we wanted to show off our new home for the year. Laura and I had been up here many times, so we wanted her to see those places we found to be special. We visited Laconner, Anacortes, Deception Pass, and other spots. We had meals at some of our favorite spots, as well as a few new ones. Glynda took a ferry to Vancouver Island for the weekend with her friend Cathy from Oregon.
When Glynda got back from her Canada trip we took one day trip up Chuckanut Drive. At Larrabee State Park I found a great place to launch my boat. There’s a boat ramp into Bellingham Bay. One of the unique features was a rack of loaner life vests for boating and kayaking.
Several kayakers were launching as we were there. I chatted with them for a bit, and they described some of the scenery to the north. They also said that this is a great place to launch and land even if the tide is out. I watched them go, wishing that I was paddling out with them.
We took a spin the the community of Fairhaven, then headed into Bellingham. From there we drove back by Lake Whatcom and cut through the country to return to the island.
On Tuesday we headed upriver. Glynda and Laura made sandwiches and packed a picnic and we drove up Highway 20 along the Skagit River and into the Cascades. We stopped at all of our favorite overlooks along the river.
I even convinced Laura and Glynda to walk across the scary bridge at Gorge Creek. They managed it with no problem.
We continued on up past the lakes of the Skagit. We reached the Diablo Lake Overlook where we were to picnic. It was one of the windiest picnics I’ve had, but the scenery was spectacular.
Stage Two – Dealing with Stuff
Any time you move you have to deal with unexpected things. I’ve already mentioned some of them, including having a complete new septic system installed. We passed both the septic and electrical inspections, and today the crew came back to spray the last layer of topsoil to cover the septic field. We weren’t there, but neighbor Duff was able to catch this video.
In a few weeks they will come back to seed with grass, assuming that the rains return.
On Monday the rest of our possessions arrived. Our U-Box arrived in Bellingham, minus its bright orange wrapping.
Fortunately, everything seems to have weathered the trip. We didn’t bring that much with us, so we only had to make a couple of trips to Bellingham to get everything. Soon I had all of my instruments, electronics, home automation stuff, and other various evil devices.
That meant clearing out space to find room for everything. That process is ongoing as we sort through Laura’s parent’s things. We still have stuff scattered in boxes all over the house.
Even though our stuff had arrived, there were still things we needed. There were multiple trips into town for supplies and to pick up items for repair or replacement – batteries for flashlights we found around the house, a new microwave, and wood putty to repair some cabinet doors. We bought new bedding to replace old sheets and pillows. I’m sure we’re going to keep finding things that we need that we didn’t bring with us.
We had purchased new appliances last week, and they arrived this week for installation. The new stove went in without a hitch.
The dishwasher, not so much. Once again, we felt like one of those couples on the home improvement shows when the host tells them, “We’ve found an issue…” Our plumbing had some problems that wouldn’t allow installation. Fortunately, it seems to be a simple fix, and we have someone coming out tomorrow to make that fix and complete the installation. In the meantime I look around for hidden cameras.
Sometimes it was the simplest things that made us happy. Today we received large garbage and recycling bins. Now we could start to get rid of some of the trash that had been accumulating.
While all of this was going on we were worried about the storms approaching Florida and family evacuating ahead of the hurricanes. Fortunately, all of our family and their homes were safe, though we lost power at our Greenville house for several days.
Stage Three – Normal Life on the Island
To think of these as three distinct stages is false. There is so much overlap between these, and we plan to be tourists throughout this sabbatical. Yet, it will take time to fall into a routine, but whether the word “normal” can be applied to it is debatable.
Throughout this process have been our next door neighbors, Duff and Linda. I can’t begin to say how much they have helped. Duff has maintained the place while we were away, and set up the septic replacement process. They’ve always been willing to help, whether it be the loan of a ladder, or advice on the best place to get a hair cut or refill a propane tank.
Duff and Linda have helped contribute to establishing a routine, from regular visits to the farmers markets to an evening walk with the dogs. One afternoon Duff and I took the dogs down to the bird observation spot on the Flats.
A public path leads through fields and out to the dikes that border Padilla Bay.
We’ve been looking through the local paper for other events in which we can participate. There are classes at the library, plays, and other community events. I’m sure we’ll take part in these and lots more, but first we still have a few more things to deal with. (“With which to deal,” for my grammar Nazi friends.)