Friday, July 8, 2011

Independence Day on Shaw Island

I am finally caught up to my current adventures, and this latest one is a classic!  

My friend Jonathan is working on building his 'empire' up on Shaw Island, in the San Juan Islands. The dream is to turn it into a farm, build a house and live there full time.  Every time we go up it is always a bit of work, a bit of relaxing, and a lot of food.  This trip certainly didn't disappoint in any of those areas, so read on!

Loading gear, and lots of it into my car.

I had to work until the afternoon, so I caught the Washington State Ferry out of Anacortes around 7pm for the scenic ride to Shaw Island. 

The view of Mt Baker from the boat.

I arrived right as dinner was about ready, perfect timing! The trailer is a temporary thing, until the house is built.

 Delicious dinner with friends. Thanks for cooking, Kelty! Man it's great to have friends who are cooks.

 And smores at night.

Getting a little work done before breakfast, here we are filling the water barrels in the veggie garden.

 Mowing in the field. Yes, a riding mower is on the 'to buy' list.

Splitting some old cedar logs with wedges and mauls.

It is difficult work, but very enjoyable.

Hotdogs for lunch, it's the 4th of July after all!

 Shaw is a very small place with only 160 year around residents, and only one store.  Here we are heading down to the ferry dock where the general store is.

 Ice cream for everyone!

Off to the beach.

Playing in the sand.

And a quick stop to pick berries, though as usual we probably ate more than we managed to bring back to the property.

The fruits of our labor.

Playing with a bow back at the compound.

And some badminton, always a favorite activity.


In the evening we went up to the top of the hill for a beer and to catch the sunset...

...and the crazy neighbors thought we were trespassing and threatened our lives.  Even after we told them clearly that our friends (here in the short shorts) family has owned the property since 1964, a drunk/drugged redneck came up to try and scare us with his dog (that wouldn't hurt a flea), a hunting knife and a pick in his pants!  They were just nuts, and couldn't accept that they were 100% wrong for a long time.  Eventually they figured out they WERE wrong, and we all shook hands, but it was pretty tense for a while.

The whole crazy redneck thing sort of put a damper on our Independence Day fireworks plans, but we had a little fun anyways.

Sitting around the fire again.

Breakfast the next morning.

And a lifetimes worth of mowing to do.

We loaded the cedar rails we had split earlier and headed down to make some fences.

Cedar split rail fences at the entrance to the property, a good landmark.

One of the best toilets ever. Location, location, location!

Heading down to the pond to cool off.

Last time we got leaches, but none this go-round. Eventually this will be cleaned out and a dock will be built.

Catching a baby snake.

The moon high in the sky.  The nights out here were amazingly clear, some of the best stars I've seen in ages.

A shower attached to a tree. Like the toilet, the view is fantastic!

Folding up the flag properly every night.

I slept in the hammock the first two nights, but then I moved into sleeping in the open field. 

Most everyone else had to take off the previous day, so it was now down to just us three.

Time for more work, and lots of chainsaws!

The project was to limb up five different cedars and two big leaf maples. 

Dragging the brush to a burn pile down the hill.

As I was cleaning up cut branches, I noticed this little frog on one of the limb I was about to cut.

All done!  This was a massive transformation, from a wall of green to being able to have a fantastic view of the whole field. 

And to the right, you can now see the pond.

Mmm, grilled veggies!

Dan's cousin showed up from Massachusetts, and that night we had another feast.

In the morning, sleeping out in the field again, I woke to see two deer wandering very close to me.

A serious breakfast.

And another day of saw work, this time widening the entrance road.

This involved cutting back a lot of small brush, as well as taking down probably 20 small trees. It was hot out...

Johnny will get a fair bit of firewood out of what we cut.

A lot of the work was limbing up the cedars next to the road so they were not drooping down and brushing cars.  These trees all had tiny branches making normal rope climbing impossible and we didn't have a 16-foot ladder, so I free-climbed the trunks with a handsaw.

Me and my trusty climbing saw.

The crew.

After that, I did a quick prune on the fruit trees in the garden.

And then a nice swim in the upper pond to cool down and wash off.

Time to go home, this is the ferry dock at Orcas Island.

Yours truly.

And the drive home once I was back on the mainland.

So as you can probably, see, this place is awesome, and there is a lot of work to do, a lifetime really.  It's certainly not a 100% sure thing, but I'm thinking about coming back to the northwest next summer and living out here on the island for a few months, rather than being out of the country for a full year or more straight.  My whole thing about selling my possessions and heading out to explore the world again is really about freedom, experience, learning and having fun.  I have no doubt I can accomplish all those things here on the island, and then once summer ends go back to doing the international travel thing.  I'm getting excited just thinking about it!  Again, not sure about it, but it's always good to have so many good options to pick from.

Next week, I will be heading down to northern California to visit my friend Brendan, so as always, the adventure lives on!

Oh, and if you haven't checked back in a little while, say, since I ended my Asia trip, click 'Older Posts' because I have a few more summer adventures under my belt already, be sure to check them out!