AndyO Blog

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Summer Getaway - Orcas Island - Day 2 (Saturday)

I actually woke up before 10:00 a.m., which is a record for me on the weekend. In fact, we were out the door and sitting in Mia's Cafe in Eastsound before 10:00. The food was excellent, made with top-quality ingredients and imagination.

Mia's Cafe

After breakfast, I headed to Darvill's bookstore and Brenda went to Moon Glow arts and crafts. It was such a luxury to be able to browse a bookstore without kids. However, unlike some of the smaller "Independent" bookstores that I love so much -- like Cannon Beach Books -- Darvill's didn't seem to have the selection of books that a smaller bookstore can really highlight -- or at least not ones I was interested in.

 Darvill's bookstore

The two books I was looking for weren't there, and the person working at the front didn't really want to help me look (she was distracted by a family situation, which I totally understand). I still ended up buying three books.

Downtown East Sound

After that, we wandered around the shops in Eastsound. One of the galleries had the most realistic dolls I'd ever seen -- bordering on creepy.

Creepy dolls

There was also a farmer's market going on that day, with arts, crafts, and food, but we didn't have an appetite for any of it having just eaten breakfast. Still, it was fun to look (and smell).

Farmer's Market in East Sound

The real destination for us that morning was Orcas Island Pottery, a short drive from Eastsound, and one of Brenda's favorite shops in the entire world.

Orcas Island Pottery has a vibe all its own, with pottery placed throughout the property, as well as in a few rooms.

Orcas Island Pottery

Orcas Island Pottery

One side of the property has a spectacular view across the water to Waldron Island.

Orcas Island Pottery

In the main house, I found the nicest cat. I wasn't sure if he wanted to be petted, but his loud purring telling me to just go ahead. 

Kitty cat

Something new at Orcas Island Pottery was the best tree house I'd ever seen. Just look at the way this thing is constructed. Inside there was a playroom for kids, with a play oven and kitchen. There was another room above this one that I didn't look in.

Tree house of Orcas Island Pottery

Inside the tree house - Orcas Island Pottery

Brenda was debating whether she should replace a set of beautiful blue bowls which had broken over time with new ones. I told her to do it. The bowls ended up being designed by the owner of Orcas Island Pottery.

Brenda debates buying bowls

Hanging out

After our shopping expedition, Brenda went off to a kayak excursion, and I lay around in peaceful bliss. I know that it might not sound that exciting, but reading, working on the computer, and admiring the view was the best thing I could do at that time. I think Brenda felt the same way about what she was doing.

The view from the hotel - mid-afternoon

Olga Cafe

For dinner, we went to the famous Olga Cafe in, you guessed it, the town of Olga. Our server was a spirited young woman, who had a lot of tables but seemed to be doing fine.

Cafe Olga

I ordered steak, and Brenda ordered Chicken Marsalis.

One thing I considered ordering was the famous cashew nut and chicken salad sandwich. But they were out of it. Actually, they seemed to be out of a lot of things. We heard people asking about certain items, and the server would say, "Sorry, we're out of that."

Fortunately, the steak was good. As was the pie.

Pie at Cafe Olga

Unavoidable Eavesdropping

That night, I was back on the computer, and Brenda was working on home made jewelry. As we relaxed, we couldn't help overhearing the conversation the people were having on the deck above us. It seemed like such a banal conversation for two people who were sharing a hotel room -- the kinds of things you think you'd already know.

We heard all about his college. And more about his college (he really liked it, I guess). I could only make out words here and there, and we finally closed our sliding glass door so we didn't have to hear any more about his school.

Brenda said something to the effect of, "Just go ahead and do it already!" as if all this talk about his school was some kind of foreplay.

And if you're wondering, curious reader, we didn't hear anything upstairs after they shut their door and went to bed.

Susnet at the hotel

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posted by AndyO @ 12:07 PM   2 comments

Friday, July 23, 2010

Summer Getaway - Orcas - Day 1 - Rosario Mansion

After eating dinner, we walked over and toured Rosario mansion, which has a fascinating story. The mansion was built by a man named Robert Moran as his retirement home. Before that, Robert Moran had been one of Seattle's great industrialists.

Photo of Rosario Mansion

Robert Moran - Shipbuilder, Mayor, Businessman

Photo of Robert MoranIn 1875, Moran came to Seattle by way of New York City, with only 10 cents in his pocket. Soon he found a job as a ship's engineer, and through hard work built a marine repair business on the Seattle wharf with his brothers.

Moran also experienced success in politics, becoming mayor of Seattle in 1888. In 1889, with just a month left in his mayoral term (mayors served only one year at this time), the "Great Seattle Fire" destroyed much of Seattle's downtown business district. Moran's leadership helped Seattle recover -- and even prosper -- from the disaster and helped win his re-election. A sign in the mansion reads, "Over a six-month period after the fire, with businesses operating out of tents, the population of Seattle doubled."

Photo of U.S.S. NebraskaThe fire had also destroyed Moran's own company, but he used it as an opportunity to move his business location. The Moran Brothers were back in business quickly and helped in the rebuilding of Seattle.

In the mid-1890s, the Moran Brothers branched out into shipbuilding, and built many ships for the Klondike Gold Rush. But their greatest achievement was the U.S.S. Nebraska, the flagship of the U.S. Navy's "Great White Fleet."

Photo of Newspaper

All the years of hard work and stress took their toll, and Moran collapsed from exhaustion. The prognosis wasn't good. He was told by his doctors he only had a year or so to live. Hearing this news, he sold his ship building company and retired to Orcas Island.

This is when Moran's true life's work began. He would live not one or two more years -- but another 38, defying his doctors' predictions. (If he'd kept running his shipbuilding company, he probably would have proved his doctors right.)

A new beginning

When Moran arrived on Orcas Island, he set out to build a mansion equal to any ship he'd ever built. The design of the mansion was based on The Arts and Crafts movement, which, according to the Rosario Resort website:

… had emerged as a revolt to the industrial revolution from a humanist perspective. The shift of labor from man to machine had robbed craftsmen of the pleasure of seeing their work through from conception to completion, as the traditional values of quality and beauty were being replaced by economy and profit.    

Walking through the second floor, and the spa downstairs, reminded me of pictures I'd seen of the Titanic's interior -- with all the beautiful woodwork, stained glass, and attention to detail.

Again, from the Rosario website:

Moran's dedication to the Arts and Crafts mindset is evident throughout the mansion with its rich mahogany paneling, earthen tone tiles, stain glass lighting, and unique fireplace hearths. Centerpiece of the mansion is the Music Room, featuring a two story 1913 Aeolian pipe organ, 1900 Steinway grand piano, a Belgian stain-glass window picturing the harbor at Antwerp, and two mezzanine libraries overlooking a Tiffany chandelier, which depicts various performing arts.

As I walked through the rooms, I could feel Moran's presence everywhere. Here was a man dreamed big, who cared about every detail -- and who obviously spared no expense.

Panoramic view of the music room:

Panorama of Music Room - Rosario mansion

Panoramic view from the piano, looking back:

Panorama of music room - Rosario Mansion (reverse)

Close-up of the stained glass in the music room depicting the harbor in Antwerp, Belgium:


Close up of tile work above the mantle depicting sailing ships:


I even read that Moran designed and built a new hinge for the doors that wouldn't squeak. I tried a few of them, and they still worked without a sound.


After we returned to our room, I looked across the bay to the mansion; I was eerily reminded of the Titanic plying the Atlantic waters on that calm night long ago. While the Titanic, as well as the ships that Moran built, was gone, the Rosario Mansion remains.

Rosario Mansion at night

For more about Robert Moran, see the following links, which I used to write this entry:

Rosario Resort website

Wikipedia Article on Robert Moran

Washington State History: a biographical sketch of Robert Moran

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posted by AndyO @ 11:28 PM   0 comments

Summer Getaway - Orcas - Day 1 - Seattle to Orcas

This weekend, Brenda and I traveled north of Seattle to Orcas Island, which is located in the San Juan Islands. What made this trip different was going without our two boys, thanks to my brother and his wife Helen. (It's not that we don't love being with our kids; but, as Brenda pointed out, this is the first two-night getaway we've had since Cameron was born 10 years ago.)

We left Seattle a lot later than Brenda wanted and drove up to Anacortes. Before we left, we stopped at McDonald's, Starbucks, and the gas station. At the gas station, I saw a few interesting signs at the pump:

phone 001 phone 002

As soon as we drove closer to the ferry terminal in Anacortes, the line of cars became like rush hour in Seattle (and it was only 11:45 a.m.!). This is when Brenda turned to me and said, "And now you know why I wanted to leave at 8:30."

As with most things like this, Brenda was right.

It took us an hour to get to the toll both, where we paid $57.00 to wait in line for our boat. But instead of getting on the 12:30 boat, we were scheduled for the 3:45 boat.


Fortunately, this was the kind of day you dream about in the Pacific Northwest: 75-degrees, clear blue skies, sparking water. We got out of the hot car and went to the Ferry Terminal for lunch.

Photo of ferry terminal

We bought sandwiches and chips, and sat on stools that faced the ferry dock area. But after about 10 minutes, we were kicked out of this area when the Sidney, British Columbia, ferry came in from Canada, as they use this lunch room for U.S. Customs.

Photo of ferry dock

Later we returned to the car, where we both worked on our laptops, which must have looked funny to people walking by. With all the windows rolled down, it was a little cooler, but my computer's fan was whirring louder than usual, and I was sweating.

As we sat there, they made announcements over the loudspeaker system. At first, they said something like, "We're now loading for the delayed sailing to Friday Harbor. All aboard!"

But when a new announcer started his shift, he called it what it was: "We're awaiting the arrival of the late ferry to Orcas and Shaw Islands."

The ferry was indeed late. It was supposed to sail at 3:45, but we didn't leave the dock until at least 4:45. For some reason, I didn't mind all that much. 

phone 014

Even though the boat was full, there didn't seem to be as many people in the passenger area. Brenda said that this probably was due to fewer people walking on the boat as "foot passengers" (you really need a car to get around on Orcas Island).

phone 019 phone 017

After 7:00 we finally arrived at our destination on Orcas, Cascade Harbor Inn. This hotel sits at the end of Eastsound Bay, across from Rosario Resort. Here was the view from our deck:


There was also a doe hanging out under another deck:


After unloading the car, we ran off to dinner at Cascade Bay Grill next to Rosario Resort, as it was closing at 8:00. As we sat outside next to the boats, Brenda mentioned how incredible it was that we had a place like the San Juan Islands so close to Seattle. Having traveled the world a little, I had to agree that it was a special place.

phone 022

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posted by AndyO @ 10:24 PM   0 comments

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Summer Vacation - Lake Chelan 2010

We took our annual trip to Lake Chelan, where Brenda has a conference, and then drove to my parents' house in the Tri-Cities. Here's a recap of part 1: Lake Chelan:

Sunday, June 27

Drove to Lake Chelan. Only took 3-1/2 hours with two stops. It's worth noting that after only 30 minutes of driving, Drew asked the most popular question on a summer drive (or any drive for that matter): "Are we there yet?" 

Map picture

After arriving at Campbell's, I unloaded 1000 pounds of luggage, toys, computers, and food with the help of Cameron. Brenda ran off to meetings, while Cameron, Drew, and I went swimming and then to dinner at the terrace in Campbell's. I noticed the food wasn't as good as it was in years past. (Two more visits to this restaurant confirmed it, so I stopped eating there after Monday.)

Monday, June 28

I volunteered to watch two kids, Kelsey and Devin, whose mothers were also working at the conference with Brenda. Fortunately, they were older than my kids, so they were able to help out. Once I picked them up, we:

  • Ate breakfast at the restaurant in Campbell's (The food here was as good as I remembered it. I had the meat lover's omelet.)
  • Went to Riverwalk Books
  • Went to RadioShack (we sometimes buy remote controlled toys, but not this time)
  • Went to the hardware store - picked up water toys, rafts, etc.
  • Spent the rest of the day hanging around our hotel room (on the shore of Lake Chelan), and the swimming pool. I assumed Kelsey and Devin had put on sunscreen, but they hadn't. And even with sunscreen, Cameron got a burn. But I felt like a bad parent/babysitter.

Drew on the Beach

Drew eats a biscuit

Devin and Cameron

Kelsey and Camille during the sandcastle contest

Tuesday, June 29

We started off this day going to breakfast (except for Devin, who gets up earlier than 9:00 a.m.). I had Eggs Benedict.

Over breakfast, I told the kids I wanted to take them to Rocky Reach Dam, even though they really wanted to go to the water slide. I knew having them outside all day would burn them even worse, so I didn't think that was a good idea (and Kelsey's Mom, Cynthia, agreed).

Map picture

We drove to Rocky Reach Dam, which is about 30 miles from Lake Chelan, and has a fish ladder, café, a tour of the turbine area (along with exhibits), and an interpretive center. The kids liked it more than they thought they would.

Fishy at Rocky Reach dam fishladder

Rocky Reach turbines

"Shoulder to the Wheel" - Drew at Rocky Reach

Run for your life!


Devin, Kelsey, Cameron, and Drew at Rocky Reach

After lunch, we headed back to Safeway in Lake Chelan, where we bought all kinds of food, toys, books, and drinks (I always make a point on vacation to buy all kinds of weird junk food). The kids also decided to punch a chicken who was selling chicken (there was no person inside of it).

Posing with a chicken

On the video monitor

Tuesday night was the annual barbeque for Brenda's conference, but I was too tired to go. Brenda was a sweetheart and brought me back steak, BBQ ribs, beans, and Thomas Kemper Orange Cream Soda.

Wednesday, June 30

Once again, we ate at the restaurant for breakfast (just Cameron, Drew, and I). I had the meat lover's omelet again.

We went back to the room and watched "The Lightning Thief" with Cameron's friend Camille. Then, Brenda came back from her conference and collapsed.

Around 7:00 or so, we finally left the room and went to eat at Westside Pizza. Despite a clueless staff (they didn't even cut up the cheese sticks we ordered for Drew), the pizza was surprisingly good.

We ended the night watching baseball and a Seattle Sounders game.

Thursday, July 1

Cam and I ate breakfast (I had the Eggs Benedict again) at the Campbell's restaurant. Afterward, we got Brenda and Drew and drove off to Manson, which we'd never been to before (about 8 miles from Lake Chelan). We drove around all the extra large houses with spectacular views of the lake, and then went to the town and had shave ice (something we discovered in Hawaii).

Shave Ice stand


After driving through Wapato Point, we went back to our room at Campbells. Unfortunately, the cleaning staff hadn't come yet -- and wouldn't until around 4:00. But we just sat around for the rest of the day, with a brief trip to the bowling alley to watch Camille, her grandpa Philly Steve, cousin Taylor, and their aunt, as well as to play video games.

Camille bowls

I was going to go down to the bowling area, but the attendant said we couldn't because of our "street shoes." I would have considered bowling, but Cam and I forgot to wear socks (another requirement). After an hour of sitting around, Cam and I went to the Drive In for double bacon burgers and onion rings.

We finished the evening watching "Invictus," a riveting film about how Mandela used rugby as a way to unite South Africa.

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posted by AndyO @ 3:54 PM   0 comments