It’s somehow already the first official day of spring in Canada — although arguably it arrived in early February here in Vancouver, while I’m sure people on the East coast must be thinking winter will stick around forever. To celebrate the season, I’m taking myself back to my decidedly spring-like week away in Washington state last month.
I have a bit of a disturbing confession — I’ve never really travelled alone. Despite backpacking in Europe, moving to London on exchange, living in a country town in Australia, and spending the summer driving around the US and Canada, I have pretty much always had someone to share the experience with.
That’s why when I realised I had a gap before starting my next work contract that I wanted to get out on my own — even if just for a week.
I’m definitely an extrovert who loves being around people, but there’s something deliciously wicked about spending time completely and utterly on yourself, by yourself. It’s something I’d highly recommend.
Although I’d planned a ski trip, a distinct lack of snow (for several weeks) scrapped those plans. So instead, I jumped in the car and drove south to Seattle, taking on a slow and indulgent cultural tour of the city, complete with museum visits, shopping in vintage stores, exploring new neighbourhoods, drinking giant glasses of wine, eating molten chocolate cake, watching daggy (but amazing) stage shows, and generally enjoying some quiet time.
As fun as it was, I think cities are best enjoyed when you can share the experiences with others — I felt weirdly lonely to be surrounded by so many people. I stayed in a hostel but the only people in my room were under 21 and sadly not able to experience quite the same things. Plus, if I’m really honest, sharing still seemed too generous when I was on a mission of selfishness. I wanted to savour the experience alone.
I was granted my request of when I hopped on a ferry for beautiful Orcas Island. The weather seemed to agree with my mission — the sun never stopped shining and had previously rained-drenched residents turning their smiling faces up to the sun. After visiting Eastsound, the cute main town, and a number of bakeries and book stores (two of my favourite places in small towns), I capped off the afternoon with a stunning hike up Mt Constitution, where the view at the top stretched over islands to Mt Baker, Mt Rainier, and even out to Vancouver. Best of all? I was almost the only one on the trail.
I had planned to camp by the lake in beautiful Moran State Park, but after paying my fee and dutifully setting up camp, discovered someone hadn’t packed the fly — or the pegs. I briefly considered sleeping in the car before sighing and packing up.
Someone at the Seattle hostel had recommended Doe Bay Resort, on the far east side of the island, but in my head I’d written it off as some terrible, RV-friendly, private campground. I couldn’t have been more wrong. The slow-moving and environmentally friendly resort is more of a chilled out retreat than resort, complete with camping, yurts, and basic cabins — and not an RV in sight. There are also “clothing optional” hot springs, where you relax and watch the sun set.
Being the slow season, I managed to secure a yurt right on the beach. I fell asleep to crashing waves and woke up for one of the most beautiful sunrises I’ve seen in a long time. It was exactly the quiet I needed.
After time spent hiking, wandering, reading, and exploring all over the island, I was ready to go home. As much as I had enjoyed my time alone, after a week I was craving the warmth of people again. Feeling refreshed and recharged, I now wanted something entirely different — to see my husband and tell him all about it.