Some mornings when I hear the rustling and stirring of the girls beginning to wake I attempt a mental magic trick in which I try to force them back to sleep by sheer willpower of wanting 15 more minutes... Just please give me 15 more minutes. Without fail my magic trick always fails, they bounce out of bed with so much energy that it is almost painful to watch. How do they wake up so energized? More importantly, how can I bottle it up, mix it with some juice, and make millions?
In those moments, I am so overwhelmed by their abundance of energy and my absolute lack of energy that I just want to curl into a hedgehog ball and shut out the world, because facing the day seems like mission impossible eight. Then I see Go-Go smile at me with her doughy, pink cheeks and six white, chiclet teeth and I instantly feel guilty for trying to escape into a deep, dark, comforter hole.
The girls force me to wake up, chug espresso, and get out into the world every single day, and some days are easier than others. When the first thought that runs through my head is "how in the heck am I going to entertain these kids all day" I know that it will be a slow motion, yelling at the dog, wiping someone's pee off the floor type day. These are usually the ones that are stuck in routine. Is this what being a stay at home, married, settled family is like? When every bowl left out on the table becomes a personal insult and each day feels like running a marathon with high heels?
The "easy" days, the ones spent laughing instead of crying while wiping pee off the floor, are the ones when we have something to occupy our time. And hey, I prefer to laugh over cry, and I also prefer to enjoy my time with my children instead of rejoicing when the bedtime hour finally comes around.
When our family decided to go on this big adventure I set my mind and body to throwing off the covers in the morning and taking on the days without dread and hesitation, enjoying my family, and laughing at how crazy life is. So naturally when Alex had a long break between work shifts we gave each other a glance, named a place, packed up the kids and headed out to our just-now-thought-of-destination, the San Juan Islands. We had no plan, deciding to figure the ferry system out along the way, and play it by ear, hoping the ears would play it right. Some might call it spontaneity, others unpreparedness, maybe even laziness ... I think it was a combination of all of the above.
Luckily tourist season for Washington doesn't hit full throttle until late May and reservations at campsites and ferries would be convenient but not necessary. The little nomads would not have been able to do a last minute trip like this if it had been summer time, and somehow knowing that made the adventure even more thrilling.
Our first stop was Port Townsend on the Olympic Penninsula. There is a large ferry terminal in Port Townsend that would take us to the main island, Anacortes, where we could snag another ferry to an island of our choice. We stayed the night at Fort Worden State Park, a World War 1 army base built to defend the Puget waterway. The fort never saw up-close battle but it trained and housed many army men that would eventually be shipped to fight overseas. All the original housing, mess hall, officer quarters, laundry are still in place so their presence makes itself known in the serene, beautiful landscape. We enjoyed the small town of Port Townsend and the spacious campsites, definitely a destination to come back to.
As we waited to board the ferry from Port Townsend to Anacortes we met a few traveling ladies admiring our teardrop camper. They tipped us off to the tulip gardens in Mount Vernon, a few miles away from our next ferry stop. The tulips were blooming early because of a mild winter. So thankful for this chance encounter, and for the early blooming, otherwise we would have missed this gorgeous view.
The nomads also made a pit stop at Deception Pass State Park on Anacortes.
Like the tulips, the whales had also been spotted early for the season. Our hearts were set on a graceful, orca pod sighting so Orcas Island sounded like the best impromptu destination. With ferry tickets bought and a fellow camper's suggestion for a campsite we set off on our second ferry to Orcas Island.
Orcas Island is filled with gorgeous, green landscape and scattered rural farms. The nomadic Herlockers arrived at the campsite, Moran State Park, after dark which is not our favorite type of adventure. There is something really eerie about driving into an unknown campsite in the dark, the surroundings and the adjacent campers are a complete mystery and my mind usually likes to entertain unpleasant thoughts about our temporary home. This is especially the case when there is a shadow of a man standing on top of a picnic table, doing acrobatic body movements. Alex almost approached him to gently ask him what he was doing but I urged him not to, because of course the only possible conclusion is that he must be a psychopathic mass murderer. I didn't sleep well that night.
The morning light shone down on a serene lake, an overhead forest canopy, and a rather normal looking neighbor. His friendly face, lack of car, and presence of a road bike informed us that he had ridden a many, many miles and was likely doing some innocent stretches the night beforehand. We got to know him and he was a very nice, avid bike rider.. Phew!
Orcas had a quaint little town with delicious bakeries, coffee shops, boutiques, and cute bookstores. There were plenty of trails near our campsite, one of which guided hikers up Mount Constitution to a breathtaking view of the surrounding islands.
We got an eye-full and a belly-full of Orcas Island and set off to our next stop, San Juan Island.
San Juan Island has limited campsites but luckily we discovered the San Juan County Park camping area complete with a luscious green field, beaches with rocky tidal pools, and of course a waterfront view perfect for whale watching. There was an orca pod sighting in the county park cove three days prior to our visit so we were very hopeful that they would grace us with their appearance during our stay.
Georgi flew a kite for the first time, Margo took a few first steps... It was an unforgettable experience.
The nomads visited the alpaca farm, the whale museum, and the strip of island shops. Unfortunately we did not see any large,black fins break through the sea of blue but that will just give us a good excuse to come back.
I still haven't mastered the skill of throwing the covers off in the morning and taking on the day full throttle. I will be the first to admit that I try my darnedest to squeeze 15 more resting minutes into the morning (okay more like 2 more hours), but I no longer cover myself up with the comfort of familiarity and routine. Whether you have pesky children ripping you out of deep sleep in the wee hours of the morning or not, everyone faces the daily challenge of shrinking into their zone of comfort or breaking lose and expanding the horizons. The little nomads have taught us to take on each day with the eagerness of a small child, because every day is an adventure filled with wonders that are waiting to be discovered. Why should curiosity, exploration, and eagerness only be seen within the hearts and eyes of children?
The nomads realized that we have only visited one campsite in Charleston and rarely venture out of the 20 mile home radius. I foresee many more impromptu trips in our future and look forward to seeing where our tiny teardrop trailer will take us on the east coast. Until then, we are filling up our cups to the brim with the mountain air and pacific sea waves.