When I think of doing a trip report I think of two things: a tribute to those who inspired me, and a hope that this report will inspire others. Many thanks to Scott Schmidt, Tim Olson, Tom & Bonnie, and others whose trip reports helped us imagine what we could not - life with an RV (It's all true). Hope it helps those who are flying and building. I also hope this will provide some useful and practical intel to those contemplating a trip to the area.
After reading Scott and Renae's trip report several years ago while I was still building, and Tom/Bonnies annual reports, this trip was on our list and we finally got the right combination of time and weather to make it happen...
We launched Thursday afternoon from Missoula on an IFR flight plan due to iffy weather in the islands with Orcas Island (Eastsound airport KORS) as our first stop.
Our first crossing of the northern Cascades was partially IFR (love that IFR ticket).
We popped out of the clouds while descending into the coast with the islands in the distance - breathtaking.
We initiated the RNAV approach into Eastsound on Orcas Island but cancelled IFR when we got below the clouds. A guy on the airport says that an RNAV LPV precision approach will be active soon (this pic is from another day, the approach was rainy and overcast about 2000' agl.):
We spent the most time on Orcas and decided it is our favorite, with Eastsound being the best on Orcas. We rented a car from a very efficient and delightful local agency (http://www.orcasislandshuttle.com/
), but you can do without it if you like to walk or even use the courtesy vehicles at the ORS airport. We drove all over the island but there really isn't much else to see compared to Eastsound unless you know somebody.
ORS has a nice camping area - you can camp if you fly in with your plane, and the overnight fee is a hefty $6. There is a decent shower (think summer camp, plus a little better, and clean) a short walk from the camping area. None of the other airports allow camping, so if you are looking for an economy stay, you should headquarter out of ORS. If you want luxury accommodations, you can find rental houses on VRBO or several very nice hotels/B&Bs. We stayed our first night at the Outlook Inn (http://www.outlookinn.com/
) because a room was available on short notice. It is a LOVELY Inn with fabulous views and a range of rooms from affordable to expensive. They also have a great restaurant and lounge.
It is a short (15 minute) walk on a nice path from the airport to town and the entire town is very walkable. It seems to us that there were more restaurants and shops in Eastsound than Friday Harbor and lots of places for the Missus to stick her head in and shop. There were great choices for eating (Madronas, Hogstone Pizza, New Leaf Cafe, Brown Bear Baking, Island Skillet) and we didn't get to all that we wanted to.
We spent Thursday night and all day Friday in Eastsound, walking around town, eating, and discovering. It must be a coincidence, but there is a nice little microbrewery within walking/stumbling distance from the airport. And they make a fine IPA.
We had coffee on the beach
and generally goofed off around Eastsound all day Friday....