I can’t remember the last time I had an awkward foot tan. Tom’s were the shoe of choice this summer and it showed. A dividing line stretched from east to west on the top of my foot. The northern half a sweet milk mixed with honey and cinnamon. The southern half a bronzed tan worthy of Nefertiti. I hadn’t been red-cheeked running in the sun in far too long. When was the last time I swam until my thighs felt like they were water themselves? I rode a bike for the first time in about 5 years. Oh, and it was a tandem bike. Yes, a tandem bike! This was a hair-kinky-from-a-swim-flying-in-the-wind type of summer. This was the summer in the Sound.
The best retreats are the ones with the least distractions and the least options for coming or going. If you ask people from Washington state, even near by Seattle, they have no idea that Anderson Island exists in the Puget Sound. There’s one general store/ gas station/ movie rental on the island where you can find just about everything you happen to need. Fresh produce comes from the islands historical Johnson farm, there’s locally roasted Anderson Island Coffee, a restaurant, and even a winery. There is very little here to distract you from nature. The ferry runs just about every hour. Just enough to remind you there's a way off the island but cumbersome enough to make you want to stay. I ran down the hill to the ferry several times only to glimpse it through blackberry vines as it drifted away.
The days were long and the nights were cool. And, I promise you, there were only six rainy days in the two months we were there. Early mornings on Anderson Island were dreamlike. The fog felt it’s way through trees in a drunken slumber. I followed close behind sucking in its breath. Lavender lingered in the salty air like lovers after loving. Seals rolled onto shore just as deer started their morning feast feeding on berries along the road. With a basketful too, I’d make my way inside for breakfast. Blackberry stained lips and fingertips revealed a daily obsession.
Around 2pm each day there was a mass exodus to the local watering hole. With a floating slide and multi-level dock for jumping, this swimming hole turned adults into kids and kids into super humans. Beware the thigh high daredevils who use their size to skip the line and jump into the water right as you muster up the courage. Their little bodies disappeared beneath barely breaking the surface. The breath would hold inside my chest until those mischievous faces bobbed back up. My jump of choice was the cannonball. A tactic not for the splash but for saving my bikini bra from flying off on impact and giving the whole island a show. Time stood still under the waves. My hair seemed to be the only thing that moved as it tentacled into the blue-green all around. Here I found peace in false minutes.
Summer sunsets on Anderson Island snuggled into the sound right around dinner time. The days were long, the endings sweet. We were ever watched over by snow-capped Mt. Rainier whose evening appearance draped in pink and orange will remain in my memory always. If you’re lucky you’ll catch the summer concert at Johnson’s Farm. Local performers, even a family of nine, serenaded a patchwork hill of blankets and foldable chairs. The sun set behind the stage as little girls flew in the strawberry air to “Mr. Tambourine Man”. Strawberry shortcake was served to all.
This island was made for endless walking. Roads are empty except for a few minutes right before and after the ferry lands. Access the beach at any point you find and just explore the shore. Tiny crabs hide under rocks and shells robbed of their jewels. Check the Anderson Island app for tide schedules. Or, just get caught in high tide like I did. Navigate your way back through underbrush waterfalls, giant driftwood, and hanging blackberry vines. The island boasts several trails through moss covered old growth forests. A must visit is Andy’s Marine Park. The path ends in a scene from Blue Lagoon. A pebble filled coastline separates the Pacific Ocean from the lagoon where cranes slumber under cliffs.
Accommodations are of the Airbnb, vacation home variety. You'll find wooden lake cabins and breezy beach views with personal touches like island grown peaches. Make friends with the locals to find secret spots along lake Josephine if you're looking for more peace and quiet than Lowell B. Johnson Swimming Hole offers. Download the Anderson Island app for quick access to ferry schedules. And, for those of you wondering, this is where Anderson Island is located.