Jun 102014
 

Anacortes ferry landing via J5MM.com

Sometimes when life gets super busy, it helps me to sit down and take note of everything happening around me.   The last two weekends for us have been spent up on Orcas Island in the San Juan Islands of Washington State.

The purpose of our first visit was to reconnect with friends and have a party in their honor back at our camp.   I wanted everything to be perfect so I worked very hard on that trip for a couple of months prior.  The party went off without a hitch and so many wonderful things happened that weekend that I really look forward to sharing with you.

orcas2

West Beach Resort Airstream Party via J5MM.com

The following weekend, Oliver and I packed up our tent and gear and headed back to Orcas with the mission to learn more about the Farm to Cafeteria / Farm to Classroom program that the school children of Orcas are so fortunate to be a part of.  We also stopped by Gavin and Teddy’s Asher & Olive’s catering digs to have a look around.  Wait until you hear about them.  They are amazing caterers on Island!  Just LOVE them both so very much and look forward to spending more time with those two.

I was so looking forward to this trip with just Ollie and I and as it turned out, it was a very transforming trip for me.  I’ve never camped alone before and I think I managed quite well :)

Oliver and I enjoyed quiet nights, campfires and skillet dinners.  We slept under the stars and were happy as could be . . .

Camp at West Beach Resort on Orcas Island via J5MM.comSitting by the crackling fire with Ollie in my lap was one of the (many) highlights of our trip together . . .Cracklin' Camp Fire via J5MM.comThe next morning we woke up bright and early and were ready to begin exploring.

From the beaches down below  . . .

Oliver Canine Wanderlust via J5MM.com

To the top of Mt. Constitution — we explored as much as we possibly could.

Our experience together was quiet and peaceful.

Just me and my little dog.

top of Mt. Constitution on Orcas Island via J5MM.com

Also on our agenda was taking a tour of the Orcas Island elementary school garden while learning all about the (wonderful) Farm to Cafeteria and Farm to Classroom Program that is run by Madie Murray.  Madie and I have been trying to connect for a couple of years and finally this past weekend it all worked out.  I really look forward to writing about that experience :)  It was completely amazing.

Oliver and I also had the honor to meet the charming young lady Arla Sutton.  Arla was one of 54 students ages eight to 12 who won a trip to the White House in August of 2012 to attend the very first “Kids’ State Dinner” hosted by the First Lady Michelle Obama. Her recipe for salad noodle wraps won over all other entries in the entire state of Washington.

 Thank you Arla for sharing your recipe with me and taking the time to meet with Oliver and I :)

Farm to Cafeteria and Farm to Classroom Program on Orcas Island via J5MM.com

As the sun slowly started to set,  Oliver and I went back to camp and I made dinner but not before stopping off at the local bakery and picking up a beautiful round loaf of bread to take back to camp.  Our dinner that night would be skillet Ling Cod fish with lemons, grape tomatoes, chamomile flowers, a splash of avocado oil and some salt.

We cooked that over the campfire and really enjoyed the simple flavors.

Sometimes, less is more and in this case with our dinner, it was a home run.

Camp Dinner at West Beach Resort on Orcas Island via J5MM.com

I’m really looking forward to posting here on J5MM in more detail all about those adventures we’ve had so far on Orcas Island.

Next week I do something a little different than my usual travel routine.  I fly out to Montana.  I have been invited by Montana Tourism to come and experience a “Heyday on the High Plains,” — a story-gathering mission to Montana’s semi-secret prairie lands.  I’m so very excited about that but I will admit, flying is not my cup of tea so I’m a little nervous.  But like all things in life, one must conquer and carry on :)

While in Montana I’ll be active on Instagram | Facebook | Twitter if you would like to follow along.  I will be very eager to share my discoveries with you ♥

Then a few days after I return from Montana, we hitch up the Airstream and b-line it back to McCall, Idaho !!  We’ll spend some time at our favorite RV park – McCall RV Resort !! We’ll also be taking a three day trip through Hells Canyon with Hells Canyon Raft, jet skiing on Lake Payette with Cheap Thrills.  Then as we continue on into Oregon, we will be fly fishing the Deschutes River with Deschutes River Outfitters and glamping our way through Oregon back up into Washington.  I’ll be cooking every night in my Airstream sourcing local ingredients and using recipes I’ll be collecting from our guides and locals that we’ll meet along our way.

Here’s to a great start to summertime XOXO

~ Monica ♥

Airstream Party By The Sea via J5MM.com

 

May 082014
 

When traveling with an RV there are many benefits to be had.  Take for example the fact that you have all the comforts of home with you including a fully equipped kitchen.  Sure it’s probably smaller than your kitchen at home, but with a little organization and planning, you can easily whip up the same healthy meals you do for your family at home, but on the road.

My Travel Trailer Kitchen

What’s better is that you’re actually on the road.  Traveling.  Exploring.  Seeking out new adventures.  Can you imagine a better way to experience the “here and now,” than visiting a local market where you just happen to be seeking out the freshest, in season goodies to cook a meal with?  Take it to the next level and talk to some locals shopping in the market.  Ask them how they like to cook those “in season” ingredients.  More often than not, you’ll make a new friend and come back to your RV inspired, ready to cook. Continue reading »

Dec 262013
 

orcas-island-map

Ever since bringing home our Airstream in 2010 it has somewhat become a tradition to spend the cozy Thanksgiving holiday in the San Juan Islands – specifically Orcas Island.   Year after year we return with the longing of peace, relaxation and just taking things easy next to the Salish Sea.

There is never a dull moment when spending time in the islands . . . Continue reading »

Jun 062013
 

You can spend an eternity in the San Juan Islands and it still would not give you enough time to discover everything these magical islands have to offer.  As we continue our spring trips and postings here on J5MM I would like to share with where we were this time, last year :) 

This weekend we are heading to Hood Canal to stay at a really cute RV park called, “Rest a While” where we are hoping to get some clams that I can cook for dinner.  Part 3 of our Olympic Peninsula Loop is also coming soon — hopefully tomorrow!

Continue reading »

Apr 252013
 

This time, last year we took our Airstream to the San Juan Islands, specifically to Orcas Island where we camped with her at West Beach Resort.  This island holds a very special place in my heart and I truly believe that if you visit, she will hold a special place in yours too . . .

Here is a link to ♥ ALL ♥ our outdoor and culinary adventures on Orcas Island :)

Continue reading »

Aug 072012
 


~ Perfectly Steamed Clams from Buck Bay Shellfish Farm

Have you ever had one of those days where you are so taken by your surroundings that for a moment you forget the time?  This was our day on Orcas Island when we realized that #1 we were starving and #2, we had a ferry to catch.   We were making the move with our Airstream to begin our non-stop outdoor and epicurean adventures on San Juan Island and didn’t have much time to spare.

Luckily the Madrona Bar and Grill in the Eastsound village was open and ready for us.  We could always count on the Madrona for serving us quickly so we could catch our ferry on time.  We have dined here countless times selecting a spot in the spacious interior seating area or opting for outdoor seating with views of Fishing Bay.  Either way both are excellent choices.  Time and time again we were impressed with the quick service and smiling faces not to mention delicious fare and today was no exception.  Sourcing local ingredients and supporting local farmers is what the dining establishments on island excel at.  The steamed clams were one of our favorites and came straight from Toni, who with Mark runs Buck Bay Shellfish Farm in Olga.  Thank you to owner Monica Duthie for sharing this simple but yet mouthwatering recipe !!

It’s a great atmosphere here at the Madrona. On any given day you can find the locals of Orcas mingling with one another and catching up about the days happenings.   Belly up to the bar during happy hour, order some appetizers,  say hello to the locals and soon you will get to know them.  Bonus here aside from the delicious food at great prices is that you may just walk away with some island rich folklore that you will keep in your heart forever.

Thank you for always being there for us Madrona!  Not only is the service A+ but our dinner was pure perfection and a perfect ending to our journey  and explorations on Orcas Island.


~ Refreshing Ahi tuna flame grilled medium rare and served with wasabi, pickled ginger and ponzu sauce
~ Our Airstream in front of the Orcas Island Museum in the village of Eastsound


~ Decadent chicken fettuccine with a flame grilled chicken breast atop a creamy sundried tomato, shallot, fresh herb and white wine sauce complete with fresh grated parmesan and toasted baguettes


~ Make sure to stop in and say hello to Kyle at the Orcas Homegrown Market.  It’s by far, one of my favorite markets ever.  Organic produce, meats, eggs, cheeses — all come from Orcas Island as well as San Juan and Lopez.  


~ Fresh spinach with candied walnuts, mushrooms, pan fried capicola and chevre goat cheese tossed in Madrona’s special fennel infused honey vinaigrette


~ shots around darling Eastsound Village


~ Melt in your mouth hand cut and flame grilled certified Angus beef rib eye served with garlic mashed potatoes and chef choice vegetables with creamed horseradish

With heavy hearts we say goodbye to Orcas Island as we sail towards San Juan Island and begin a new series of adventures.  We are happy to have you along with us!

Buck Bay Steamed Clams

Ingredients

  • 1lb manilla clams
  • 1 tablespoon garlic (rough chopped)
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • parsley for garnish
  • lemon wedges for garnish

Directions

Step 1
Over medium high heat in a medium sized saute pan melt your butter and add the garlic and cook for one minute taking care not to burn the garlic.
Step 2
Add the clams, white wine and cover your saute pan cook for about one minute taking the pan off the heat once the clams open. The goal here is just to have them open and they are ready.
Step 3
Garnish with freshly chopped parsley, lemon wedges and serve with buttered toasted baguettes.
Step 4
Bon appetit!

 

Jul 272012
 

I am guessing that you probably have a dream for someone to take you out on their luxury yacht, cook a delicious evening meal and allow you to do absolutely nothing but relax and enjoy the views.  Am I right?

Well, on this night I can say that dream came true for me.  Thank goodness for Captain Robin of Cruise Control who offers this incredible journey!   Our destination was Sucia Island and with that simple fact, my dream come true was made even better :)  Sucia Island is not serviced by the Washington State Ferries.  It is only accessible via pleasure boat or I would imagine a sea plane.  There are no roads here, only beautiful paths that lead you around the island so having the chance to come here and enjoy this island was a treat in and of itself.  Here is nature untouched and at its best.

View Larger Map

Here is Captain Robin’s yacht named Capricorn tied up to the dock on Sucia Island.

Kids love this adventure and Captain Robin loves teaching them how to navigate.  Bradley could not stop talking about the fact that he steered this big yacht all on his own.

Here is a heron that was fishing off the shore of Sucia Island . . .

That is Olivia, Captain Robin’s crewmate.  Oliva is wonderful, that is all I can say.  She cooks amazing recipes for dinner guests of Cruise Control and makes everyone feel comfortable.  When I asked her who her favorite chef was, guess what her answer was?

“My mom,” and she said it with a big smile.

She.  Is.  The.  Best. !!

These incredible rock formations were formed by geological folding as evidenced by the many beautiful colored layers you see.

I will let the pictures speak the words as to how spacious and comfortable the inside of Capricorn is.  Here are even more pictures of her on Captain Robin’s website.

“So there are no cars here on Sucia Island mommy?”

“Nope.”

“So that means, there are no roads too?  Only trails for people?”

“That’s right.”

“Wow, that is sooooo cool!  It’s like we are on a deserted island.”

It was an evening to remember forever from the hike on Sucia Island to the fine dining we had anchored out in the bay complete with sweeping views of the Salish Sea.  The San Juan Islands are a true paradise and seeing them in this way in such a relaxing environment was something I will never forget.  Neither will B.

“When can we come back and see Captain Robin mommy?”

Thank you Captain Robin!!!

If you have the Google Earth Plugin installed, you can take a virtual tour of Sucia Island :)

View Larger Map

Jul 262012
 

One of our first missions when visiting Orcas Island years ago was to discover the plethora of trails to hike here on the Island. Orcas is home to many, many incredible hiking trails including this waterfall hike located in Moran State Park that we are still talking about to this day.

We have heard about Turtleback Mountain for quite some time and today was the perfect day to go and experience it.  As we spotted the trail head, I also spied this sweet little self serve farm stand nearby.

Of course we had to stop :)


 ~ B analyzing the trail map


~ Peek-a-boo sweeping views greet you around every switchback


~ Eagle Feather (can you see it?)


The freshly harvested greens that were for sale were even decorated with blue borage flowers, which are edible.

As we hiked on I couldn’t help but think how wonderful it was to know that this beautiful place where we were, would stay like this forever thanks to the San Juan County Land Bank and the San Juan Preservation Trust.   Both of those special organizations have created security and peace of mind for everyone who lives on the Islands and beyond.  Peace of mind in knowing that future generations will be able to come here and enjoy Turtleback Mountain as much as we were enjoying it today.


Close up view of an island outside of  West Sound Marina.  I believe it is a private island as there is a house there.  But I could be wrong . . .

I couldn’t have said it better myself. The residents of the San Juan Islands do live in sweet abundance and how lucky they all are xoxo

I hope that if you ever come to visit Orcas Island you will take a nice hike on Turtleback Mountain. Here is a brochure/trail map for you if you would like.

A View of Turtleback Mountain on Google Maps (you may have to hit F5 if it reads an error, sorry about that)


View Larger Map

Jul 232012
 

Warm air, sunny blue skies and long days.  These are just a few of our favorite things about summer.

Our summer, so far has been spent in the San Juan Islands here in Washington State.    Every weekend, we are here.  Well, I should correct that — every weekend, I am here.  Hubby and B are the lucky ones that can be here all of the time since school is out for summer.  They call me while I am working away in busy corporate America telling me about the whales that are breaching off the coast of South Beach on San Juan Island while I am frantically fixing the copy machine that has flooded our work room with a sea of papers.  Or they call me to tell me about the most delicious lunch they have just enjoyed while I glance down at my pitiful brown bag lunch now smashed because I unknowingly dropped it on the floor and proceeded to roll over it with my chair.  *sigh*  This is not all, I also receive pictures via my email that hubby snapped from his phone of certain events happening during their days such as dungeness crabs they have caught, views from the top of mountains they have climbed all while being co-mingled with urgent emails from fellow colleagues needing A.S.A.P. help with something.

But really, I am happy for them because I know they are having the time of their lives.  Really!

What keeps me going?  The fact that on Friday’s I have a one way ticket to paradise . . .


~ A Weekend Escape to Orcas Island from Corporate America

These weekends for me are filled with excitement because after five long days of not seeing my boys — there they are.

“Mommeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!” cries B as he runs to me, weaving in and out of the line of walk on passengers.  He literally, runs faster than a speeding train and I must really brace myself to make sure we don’t fall over.

“Are we going to go kayaking now??”  he asked.

“Yes! ” and with that came a big sigh of relief :)

Kayaking was on my mind all week and I could hardly wait.  Our tour guide was Jeff with Shearwater Kayaks and on this evening we were able to tag along while he toured a lovely couple, Kathy and Robert on a sunset kayak tour.  Not only does Jeff know these waters like no other but he teaches you quickly and easily the ropes of kayaking.

Finally, my weekend has begun . . .

In addition to exploring the islands and all of the outdoor activities they offer, I love going to the farmer’s market to pick up goodies like these.  I was very excited to see currants there.  Oh those currants, how I have missed them!


These are just some of the views you can expect to experience while on a sea kayak tour with Shearwater

Peaceful, quiet and beautiful . . .


Wildlife abounds in the San Juan Islands as seen this evening on our kayak tour . . .


Grilled and flattened sugared figs with a honey and ricotta.  Another simple, yet elegant creation prepared in my Airstream kitchen with ingredients from the islands . . .

Thank you Jeff for allowing us to come along on your incredible kayak tour :)  It will be a memory we will have forever and can hardly wait to come back again!!

Home sweet home :)