Five Years Visiting San Juan Island


Mark looking for cool rocks on Cattle Point -2017-

We just got back from our yearly trip to San Juan Island. What started as a chance for Allison to fulfill a childhood dream to finally see Orcas in the wild, has now become one of the most important family traditions of mine. It’s a yearly chance to set aside our work, our screens, and our worries and just spend a few days in one of our favorite places on earth. We read, we play, we see the engage in the creative beauty of nature. While up there, we realized it’s become such a tradition that we can not remember fully how many years it had been. As I pulled the photos off my CF card (a new one I had to buy this year, because don’t you always forget something when traveling) I decided to go back and check how many years it had been. I was suspecting it had been five, and I was correct. I have photos of these wonderful times going all the way back to 2013, when Mark was just about to turn three.

So, I thought to myself, there has got to be a similar style picture I took every year. I pulled a bunch of different ideas from the years, and found that there were very few pictures in the themes I was pulling from that had a solid photo every year. But, I had these awesome collections of pictures that really captured how much we have grown throughout the years. So, although few of these capture every year, I figure I would show off a bunch of collections of pictures, to give you a glimpse into the last five years through the lens of our tradition.

To start things off: A child who has grown up spending time in this beautiful place. I found a picture of Mark from all five years, to show how much he has grown over the last five years. I think one of the most powerful things I have noticed as he has grown is his love for spending time in nature and camping. The first four years we had to fight to get him out the door. He loved it every time, once we were there. But, this year was the first year he was really excited to go camping.


Mark’s first time at San Juan. Just about to turn 3. -2013-

Mark 13-17-3686

He grew up so much since the first trip! -2014-

Mark 13-17-0066

Such a wild child. -2015-

Mark 13-17-4783

So cool. -2016-

Mark 13-17-8013

What an amazing big kid he has become. -2017-

To really show how much he has changed, here are two pictures of him, playing by this big rock that is near the coast at the campsite, one from our first year, one from this year. This is Mark at almost 3 vs. Mark at 7. I didn’t realize how much the rock had moved over the years until I saw the pictures side by side.

Rock 13-17-3674


Rock 13-17-7615


In 2014 I introduced mark to “light graffiti” which has now become an absolute staple of every trip. As the sun was setting on our first evening at our campsite this year, he exclaimed, “Okay! Now let’s go do some light pictures!”. Here’s a sample of our work, throughout the years.

Light Photography 2014-2017-4298


Light Photography 2014-2017-9286


Light Photography 2014-2017-4957

We made friends with our camp neighbors and they helped this year. -2016-

Light Photography 2014-2017-7592

Mark made an angry face. -2017-

Light Photography 2014-2017-7600

Mark is the green at the end. -2017-

We also go on a boat and see whales every year. 2014 is missing because it was the year we went all the way to Canadian waters to see transients, and I ended up taking care of Mark most of the time, so very few pictures were taken. 2016 is missing because I took very few pictures that year, because I brought my new video camera along and mostly shot footage with that. You will notice that photos from 2016 are far and few between, because of this. I only took like 50 photos that whole trip. But, what you see here is what most of our whale watching trips ended up as for Mark, a long nap. That is, until this year. This was the first year he did not fall asleep on the boat.

Whales 13-15-17-3114


Whales 13-15-17-9671


Whales 13-15-17-7861


We also try to take a family photo every year. Again, we have a few missing years. 2016, because I took so few pictures, and surprisingly 2013. I think I was just not thinking about doing the family selfie that year.

Family 14-15-17-3815


Family 14-15-17-0105


Family 14-15-17-7997


Starting in 2015, I wanted to start taking photos of Mark in front of this really amazing Madrone tree in Lime Kiln State Park. The Madrone trees are super significant to me, as the first trip we took was during one of the darkest times for me, spiritually, and the Madrone tree was a powerful symbol of the creative, divine energy that flows through our universe. Someday, I hope to get a tattoo of Mark standing underneath a Madrone tree on my left arm. Anyways, here are the photos of that scene.

Tree 15-16-17-0139


Tree 15-16-17-4880


Tree 15-16-17-7718


So, there you have a look back through our time so far on San Juan, through the somewhat fragmented photos I chose to take each year. Sometimes I wish I had been more forward thinking about the kinds of pictures I chose to take, but in the end I think you can still see a time-lapse of our wonderful family growing together, through this tradition. I can not wait for many more years of pictures from this magical and holy place.

I leave you with one final picture, that really solidified in my mind how Mark has really transitioned into a “Big Kid”. We arrived at our campsite and got our tent and basic camping supplies set up. Immediately after setup, Mark grabbed his camp chair and ran off to the waterside. He set his chair down and just sat there for a moment. I grabbed my camera and headed over to him with Allison. When asked what he was doing, he simply stated ” I needed to sit and watch the sunset.”


“I needed to sit and watch the sunset.”


Post Script:
Here is the video I made in 2016, when I decided to not take very many pictures.


One thought on “Five Years Visiting San Juan Island

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