I rattled off my order at the cafe and the owner just stared back at me, silent, with both salt and pepper eyebrows raised toward the espresso scented ceiling. It was like I had spoken in a language he didn’t understand, though we both spoke English.
“I’m going to need that again. Slower this time.”
And, I laughed.
It was my third day on the island and I thought I had the whole chillin’ thing down. But I wasn’t going to fool a San Juan Island local, even one who ran a bustling cafe right by the ferry landing.
I wasn’t catching a ferry and I certainly wasn’t on my lunch break at work. What’s the rush? Well, I’m used to it.
A four-hour drive, then an hour ferry wait followed by an hour ferry ride, took us to not to another part of Washington—the journey took us to another world. I had many recommendations to go check out the islands. And though I’ve wanted to for a few years, other trips were prioritized.
It’s not exactly a hop, skip, and a jump away. Any time a ferry is toting your car across a large body of water, it can seem like a lot of work when you’re craving a relaxing getaway.
The islands are such a down tempo place that it seems like there isn’t anything to do. And it’s pretty typical for a Portland city girl like yours truly to shy away from that kind of isolation.
On top of that, spring is the off-season in the San Juan Islands. Restaurants are closed, bakeries operate at funky hours, and the sidewalks are there for the taking. Summer water sports aren’t happening, because it’s too cold. The families are off in warmer climates for spring break. The tourists are few and far between.
But that’s where the experience becomes even more brilliant. You get the place all to yourself, and you get to soak in all the things you didn’t know you needed.
Sometimes you need nothing more than to get away from it all.
Sometimes you need to detach from the busy world you’ve become accustomed to.
Sometimes you need to bundle up with a really fantastic book.
Sometimes you need to find your balance when you think you’ve lost it.
Sometimes you need to pause and take it all in.
Sometimes you need to notice how effing cute alpacas are.
Sometimes you need to concentrate on each other.
Sometimes you need to take a break on your hike.
Sometimes you need to realize there are other couples just like you.
Sometimes you need to go to the end of the earth to understand how small you are.
Sometimes you need to go to a place where time moves at a different speed—where you can be with nature, yourself, and perhaps someone you love more than anything. Rushing isn’t allowed, because it doesn’t exist. There’s nowhere else to go, but right here.
San Juan Island isn’t the kind of travel destination that dazzles you with things to do. It’s a place that unapologetically teaches you to slow down and embrace doing absolutely nothing.
Have you ever been to the San Juan Islands? Or another place that invited you to slow down?