Guest Post: The San Juan Islands by @JustinBog

I’m honoured to be joined on the blog today by a very special friend and incredibly talented writer, Mr Justin Bog, to share his life in the San Juan Islands:

 

Justin and his lap dog, Zippy!

When Jane invited me to write about my home environment, I jumped at the chance. I have been a fan of Jane, Jane’s writing, her first novel An Unfamiliar Murder, and her blog, for quite some time. The post she wrote about her home gave me a peek into her life, not just her writing life, but her stomping grounds as well, and everywhere Bollo roams. Thank you, Jane, for inviting me to share my world.

I didn’t know much about the history of Anacortes, Washington other than what Wikipedia said, which wasn’t much (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anacortes,_Washington), but I didn’t let this stop me from enjoying the natural beauty of the island, the surrounding islands, and all the idyllic towns close by on the mainland. Fidalgo Island is the name of my island, and Anacortes is the small town. Pods of orcas roam the water between here and Victoria, BC and I have spotted them while taking a beautiful ferry trip to Lopez Island, Friday Harbor, and Victoria, which is a 2 & 1/2 hour trip, and it’s rare to do so . . . happened once in six years of journeys. Commercial fishing is one of the huge trades here and islanders continue to fish the waterways.

 This photo shows the most western side of the island and one of its two marinas. The highest hill in the distance is called Mt. Erie and people rock climb the steepest side and cars can drive up to viewpoints. It is 1000 feet high. 

What drew my partner and I to the San Juan Islands was the water, the water views, and the temperate climate. It’s a plus that the island’s inhabitants and tourists are very nice. Even though we are 90 minutes above Seattle, and 90 minutes below Vancouver, BC, Fidalgo Island receives 1/3 less rainfall. There are years where it does not rain from May to October, and water rights are a huge issue on all of the islands. Spring can begin in late January and snow, if it falls at all, melts away in days.

When we were passing through in our RV, living for two years on wheels, roaming the Pacific coastline, we stumbled across Islewood Farm. The farm is a large area with a small lake for our two German shepherds to patrol. Two barn cats, Ajax The Gray and Eartha Kitt’n, help keep the varmint population down. It is peaceful here and a perfect writer’s retreat.  

This is a view from our living room window, looking down on a floating dock with attached kayak, and, in the distance, a curved bridge leading to an isle in the middle of the lake — see the pink of the ornamental orchard trees in bloom right now. Islewood Farm has two isles. The first isle is small and we’ve allowed the wild plants and trees to take it over, while the other isle is an acre in size and attached by two bridges. There are walking pathways around the water and canals that criss cross beyond the bridge. The main crop here is orchard fruit.

Two miles from our home is the most photographed site in Washington State: Deception Pass Bridge. This is a park where people can walk across the bridge and walk the beaches on either side. Deception Pass Park is also a favorite destination kayaking spot off Bowman Bay which is on the Fidalgo Island side of Deception Pass. The other side attaches to Whidbey Island, where the town of Oak Harbor is another ten minutes away. The largest Naval base in our country, NAS Whidbey Island, became active in 1942. It is the premier naval aviation installation in the Pacific Northwest and home of all Navy tactical electronic attack squadrons. The test flights and sonic booms can be heard from time to time and I love that sound.

Every April is Tulip Festival month. The largest tulip farm in the country is a ten-minute drive back to the mainland and one of the largest tourist industries. The festival has an art poster contest each year and salmon barbecues and craft fairs.

Back on Fidalgo Island there are two competing grocery stores, a large school system, and premiere medical services since the retired population is high. Every Saturday there is a wonderful Farmer’s Market, and in the Summer there is an outdoor lawn concert series and an Arts and Craft Festival in August. There are twin bridges that attach to the mainland but I rarely drive off island.

 

Here is a photo of Kipling, our newest addition to the family. She is a long coat German shepherd in training. She is half a year old and an apprentice to the teachings of our older German shepherd, Zippy. They are paw pals with Bollo. Training them to work around Islewood Farm is a treat. They swim into the water and pull out windblown branches for the burn pile.

 

Justin Bog

justinbog@me.com

www.justinbog.com

My creative writing blog is here.

Follow me on Twitter @JustinBog

 

Don’t miss the new short story collection by Justin Bog, coming soon to Amazon:

 




23 thoughts on “Guest Post: The San Juan Islands by @JustinBog

  1. So this is how heaven must look like …you are sooooo lucky ….your island is an amazing place to live everything there look like a painting so beautiful and peaceful .
    Enjoy your life there Justin and try to never leave from that place…life in the outside world has only grey and black color.

    Kipling looks like Star as always 🙂

    Staury:)

    • Thank you, Tonya, I love thinking up characters and why they are in conflict or caught in traps as I mow the lawn and meadows. Good thing I have a quick riding lawn mower. Still, it takes me about eight hours to complete, and I usually break this up over two days every two weeks.

  2. Wow, Justin, it does seem like a slice of heaven where you live. It’s so wonderful to have such great surroundings to create in. I think sometimes with all that beauty, it might be difficult to write some of the angst -filled stories, but I don’t think you need to be ‘down and out’ to create that mood. Your writing has superb imagination in it, and I’m guessing much of it comes from your beautiful environment. I see that Kipling stole a spot on your guest post. I guess she deserves it given she’s 6 months old now. 😉

    Thanks for sharing, Justin,
    eden

    • yes, eden, the beautiful surroundings are the polar opposite of the dark thoughts some of my characters think. That’s why I love listening to NIN and Eminem so much when I want to think about a life different from my own, something with an edge to it. Thank you for your kindness.

  3. I’m so jealous I can’t write. Your prose brings the beautiful photographs to life in a way that is simply unforgivable. I’m going to have to buy my own island to feel alright about myself again. Which means selling a lot of the novels I haven’t written yet. Or wait, my one good poem, that might do it? Anyone want to buy my one good poem? [It was a hit at the Oxford Lit Fest and can be yours for £10 million. I’ll accept dollars. Or Euros. Or buttons.] Justin, you fiend! May you live long and prosper with the beauty of your island, the love of your OH not forgetting Zippy and Kipling. Wonderful post. Thank you. Cathy x

    • Cathy, you are making me roll with laughter — I love that movie: Unforgiven LOL You’ll own your own island soon ~crosses fingers, toes, & eyes~ and I’ll toast to your best sellers. I am your fan. I love being called a fiend too. What a great word. xo

  4. What an enchanting place 🙂 Those tulips are amaaaaazing. I’ll be coming to visit you one day, and you know Amber has plans for yurts and a massive writers commune lol.

    • The tulips are just out this week and the weeks before them the daffodil fields lent a sunnier yellow outlook to the lowlands. Amber’s plans are nefarious, to say the least, I’m sure. Zippy and Kipling are now on full Amber Alert.

  5. Beautiful pictures Justin! We do live in a beautiful part of the world, don’t we? We get to look at mountains every day and we don’t often have to shovel snow. It’s a win/win! Thanks for sharing!

    • I also loved that movie from last year, Barb, Win Win — must stop being diverted by Pop Culture everywhere. I love this area, Barb. And it was nice of Jane to allow me to share our stomping grounds.

    • Judy, you are welcome anytime if you can pull yourself away from your Kipling and Zippy Doll manufacturing business – 😉 Thank you for stopping by Jane’s lovely blog — I hope you brought more coffee.

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