Tag Archive for San Juan Islands

Fall Color on Orcas Island and a Couple of Seals

Madrona trees in the fading sunlight along the bluff above Deer Harbor.

October 2019

Orcas Island,

Salish Sea

An October family gathering at Deer Harbor on Orcas Island was met with three days of rain and about a half an hour of glorious sun on Saturday. For the most part, the heavy cloud cover muted the usually brighter fall colors but they were great anyway.

Getting to Orcas Island is always a pleasant trip. The ferry leaves from Anacortes and stops as Lopez and Shaw Islands before depositing  us on Orcas. The ride is about one hour total.

Although most of the color was the Big Leaf Maples, I was particularly attracted to the Madrone/Madrona (Arbutus menziesii) as they were shedding their red bark and exposing their yellow for the winter. Also they appeared to having a bumper crop of red berries this year.

 

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Big Leaf Maples at Orcas Landing

 

      The sun appeared briefly just before it went down and I grabbed my camera and took off
      to catch some of it on the trees. I was richly rewarded with the following series
      of photos taken along a path that overlooks Deer Harbor from a bluff above.

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Madrona along bluff above Deer Harbor

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Piece of peeled red Madrona bark.

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More Madrona showing their skin colors

 

      As I noted above, most of the time there was cloudy and wet. But this makes for some interest as well.
      I think it shows the tree structure better against the grey sky.

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Madrona against a grey drizzly sky

 

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View of Deer Harbor from our cabin deck. San Juan Island sits across the water on the left.

 

I did say there were seals

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A seal was out fishing and came by to check us out on the docks. This photo looks backs across the harbor to the bluff with the Madrona stand.

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This seal was successful having come up with a fish. The gulls were hoping for a free lunch but no such luck for them.

 

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The view from atop Mt. Constitution.  Compare this to what it looks like from there when clear 

 

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Color and clouds in East Sound

 

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A bumper crop of red Madrona berries., The tree was full of birds.

 

Last are a few photos of the ferry ride home

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Leaving Orcas island at Orcas Landing

 

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Shaw Island terminal with a bit of color

 

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Some pelagic Cormorants at the Shaw Is. dock.

 

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Lopez Island terminal

 

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More Madronas from Lopez Is. to the right of the terminal.

 

So thanks for coming along on my little tour of the San Juan Islands on a wet October weekend. It was a good trip and we enjoyed the short excursion and the few minutes of sunlight.

An Escape to Orcas Island in the Salish Sea

A view from atop Turtleback mountain looking southwest across West Sound in the foreground, San Juan Channel and San Juan Island In the upper photo is the Strait of Juan De Fuca with fog (the white strip) and  the Olympic Peninsula and the Olympic Mountains. To the west ( right side) behind San Juan Island is Vancouver island and Victoria BC.

 

My brother who belongs to a time share condo-resort group treated us to a week at Deer Harbor Resort on Orcas Island in mid January. As some of you might know, this is not far from our home in Bellingham, less than 20 miles as the crow flies. However, after an hour’s drive along the coast and another hour’s ferry ride through scenic islands, we could have been a thousand miles away.

 

And we really lucked out on the weather for mid January – mostly sunny with just a bit of rain at night.

The San Juan Islands are an archipelago that lies between the north western coast of WA state and Vancouver Island within the Salish Sea. On the map below Orcas Island is the horseshoe shaped one in the upper center of the map. You can see part of Vancouver Island with Victoria in the lower left side. Bellingham and Bellingham Bay where we live are on the upper right.

Deer Harbor where we stayed is the smallish inlet on the lower left side of the island, just west of West Sound