Living on Orcas Island as a full-time resident exposes layers that aren’t immediately apparent to the traveler. The natural beauty is here for everyone to behold, the magic can’t be denied, but still there are hidden wonders, real life, and the bonds of a small community that won’t be revealed on a vacation.
After a too long hiatus, this page is being resurrected to celebrate and highlight the people, events, and lives that truly define Orcas Island as the Gem of the San Juans.
Edee Kulper is a storyteller, connector, and gatekeeper of the sights (and sites) and sounds of life on this rock. She somehow manages to have a finger on the pulse of much of what is happening, and everyone involved in making it happen. Through her blog, now a book, Life on Orcas Island, she provides a window into island life and frequently highlights the pillars of the community and those who make life better and more interesting for islanders. But she, herself, is one of those island treasures – someone who makes Orcas special. So it only seemed fitting that we turn over our first blog post to Edee, and her thoughts on Orcas Island.
From Edee Kulper:
There’s nothing quite like Orcas Island. You either stumbled upon this place and can’t believe what you’re seeing, or you’ve lived here many years and are still pinching yourself. The setting is jaw-dropping, the community is close-knit and caring, and the peaceful feeling in the air is hard to find elsewhere. Life on Orcas Island is a storybook experience.
In its best times, the sun gleams down on stunning natural beauty at every turn, with myriad festivities where not-all-like-minded people gather to hug and laugh and soak in the varied wonder of each other. In its worst times, clouds blanket the land interminably, and one walks the beaches alone to think, sometimes a little too much.
Either way, an isolated serenity permeates this place. Deep quiet soothes the systems. Loons sing across the Sound, sheep baa in the distance, and newts squiggle under black ponds.
People stop on the street to talk to one another for extended, meaningful conversations. Talents blossom to fill needed niches. Individuality is enjoyed, and conformity is put away.
Summer here is bright, warm, and external – a time for jumping off docks into sun-warmed lakes and paddling around sparkling inlets. Winter is dark, rainy, and internal – a time for molding clay and writing plays.
The island may only be ten miles as a crow flies from “America,” as locals call it, but it is a world away from the fast life. As you may have experienced, time slows down the minute you park in the ferry line to wait for the boat. The fresh air and beautiful scenery bring calm to your systems, and people get out of their cars to shoot the bull until it’s time to load.
As you cross the Puget Sound, weaving between densely forested islands, there’s even more time to slow down and think, surrounded by ethereal views from every window.
When the ferry arrives at a charming little village scene, you drive off and find yourself meandering along beautiful winding roads enshrouded by thick woods that open to pastoral scenes dotted with picturesque barns. No matter which direction you go, you’ll eventually make your way to a breathtaking shore. If you’ve lived in the city too long, you may find yourself thinking, I didn’t even know places like this existed.