Category Archives: Travel

Best Exotic Premier Vacation House Ever

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Original draft November 2015. Added photo.

Every November since Clare moved to Olympia, I have accompanied my husband to Seattle when he has his annual meeting at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Each year we’ve stayed a few days post meeting and done some traveling with Clare. The first year we mostly stuck around the area and stayed in a lovely Bed and Breakfast not too far away from Olympia. The second year we stayed there again, but also spent a few days on the Olympic Peninsula at Kalaloch Lodge. This year Clare wished to visit the San Juan Islands, so we did…

Andrew was with us this time (yay!) and after looking at lots of rental possibilities I settled on what was advertised on vacation rental sites as “Most Premier Whale Watching Vacation Home on San Juan Island.” I could not figure out the name of the actual house and assumed the owners were making a play on “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” movies. It turns out the house is actually called the San Juan Waterhouse.

You could say I obsessed a bit the in the weeks before the trip. So much so that I pretty much knew the drive from the ferry to the house by heart. We got there after dark so the drive was a little scary — no lights on the roads after you are out of the town of Friday Harbor. We picked up a pizza and salad at Van Go’s Pizza so we could eat when we got to the house.

The house has everything you could possibly need. We watched a little television after the pizza meal. Andrew found a video called “Terminal Velocity” and placed it in the DVD player just when I was chatting with the owner about our arrival. Andrew heard me mention the names of the owners of the house (Ken and Suzanne) and called to me, “Mom! We are watching them on TV!” It turned out that the owners were subjects of a couple videos (one National Geographic and one Disney) about peregrine falcons.

The house is amazing. We were impressed with it at night, but even moreso when we awoke in the morning. One thing I noted on Facebook that night was that I could see the lights of Canadians over the Haro Straight from my bed.

Hotel towel reuse policies

Red towel hanging on towel rack in front of a yellow wall
Photo by Mason Bryant under CC BY-SA 2.0

For several years I have noticed that hotels have signs instructing guests that if they want to reuse their towels to hang them up but if they want them washed to leave them on the floor. This is in the name of environmentalism and being a tree-hugger, of course I want to save the world. I mean, I don’t wash my towels after each use at home, so not having my towels washed daily at a hotel is perfectly fine with me. I always dutifully hang my towels up on a hook or a rack and never leave them on the floor (I mean, who would do that?)

The trouble is, not once in the years since I have seen that sign have hotels not given me fresh towels every day unless I keep the do not disturb sign up all day (like the days I stay at hotels and work in the room while my husband is at conferences or meetings).

We stay at a variety of hotels over the course of a year and it is the same with each one, from Best Western to Hilton to Sheraton. None honor the towel reuse policy.

Have you found this to be the case? What should I do about it?

Birds, birds, birds

We went to Florida last month. I saw lots of birds. Dean went in the water every day. It was perfect.

We arrived on Sunday (it was supposed to be Saturday but our flight was cancelled because of the TSA agent’s suicide). We didn’t know the flight was cancelled until we arrived at National Airport and decided to fly out the next day instead of flying to another airport and driving to Orlando.

Sunday we went to Lake Apopka’s North Shore where we drove 11 miles around pools filled with hundreds of water birds. I didn’t get any good photos because I was talking to Clare for much of the drive. She and her boyfriend broke up and she was very sad.

On Monday we headed to Merritt Island, hoping to see painted buntings again like I did a few years ago — no luck this time however.

After searching for the painted bunting Dean wanted to go to the beach so we did. It was cold.

Cool and breezy day at the beach

We did see some birds, but not nearly as many as at Lake Apopka.

On Tuesday Dean went kayaking and my sister-in-law, Diane, went to an “elder learning” event at UCF. We first saw Dr. Luis Fred‘s trombone choir. I didn’t think I’d be very interested in a trombone choir but I really enjoyed it. I now know a lot more about trombones than I did before. After the trombone choir we heard Michael Greyeyes talk about being an indigenous actor (and professor) in a white world.

Dean went kayaking with ‘gators

Wednesday we went to Mt. Dora for lunch and then visited a museum to look at way-cool furniture that David Bowie owned. We also stopped at a springs so Dean could snorkel.

Thursday, Dean and I went to Flagler Beach in hopes of seeing a right whale, but all we saw were a few porpoises. We ate lunch at a sandwich shop that serves sandwiches inspired by main dishes. I had a “Venice” which was the sandwich version of chicken picatta and Dean had
“The Gulfport” which was stuffed with delicious Cajun spiced shrimp.

After lunch all we wanted to do was relax on a (warm this time) beach, so we did. Dean slept while I watched a woman fed peanuts to a ruddy turnstone.

Then we took a drive through Gamble Rogers Memorial State Recreation Area where we visited a memorial to Chief Tomokie. We also saw a couple more porpoises, a little blue heron and a turtle.

Finally, on Friday we went to Orlando Wetland Park and saw more birds (and gators).

It was great to get away and I only had to work one day (for two hours).