Around five years ago, I was bored, waiting on a flight, so bought an overpriced Conde Naste travel magazine. One of the articles was written by a gentleman who grew up on Orcas Island; one of the islands that make up the chain of the San Juan Islands. These beautiful evergreen mounds stick up out of the Puget Sound north of Seattle. He talked about an idyllic childhood of kayaks and clams, camping and caring. I don’t know what happened to that magazine; probably chucked it before I got on the plane, but I never forgot it. I am currently playing and photographing the San Juan Islands, and he was right; they are simple, magical. From any island or vantage point, Mount Baker is visible; covered in snow year round. The largest town, Friday Harbor, is full of everything quaint – think Martha’s Vineyard. My favorite shop, called “The skinny Latte” is really just a front door, with a small alley of the same width. You squeeze in there to order your coffee, and squeeze back out sideways especially if another customer happens by. We pass beaches with dark gray granite looking sand, striking against bleached tree trunks of driftwood; beautiful homes, a gorgeous lighthouse. A resident pod of Orcas is feeding and we watch; stunned, as their amazing black and white bodies breach the water. They are so beautiful, oblivious to our admiration. I have never seen Orcas in the wild until today; am amazed at the beauty of the earth every day; and so happy to be in the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest.