#25 The Missing Year

A Few New Adventures

OK…. Apologies and Patience… seems I started this blog over a year ago, with a request of PATIENCE from y’all (yes, I lived in Oklahoma for a few years) so here again, I apology for the absence over this last year, needless to say (after reading the update below) you’ll see it’s been a cra cra year….. (yes, I have teenager nieces and nephews)

So last we checked in with the happenings of Kelly, I was just returning from a Hawaiian get away that was a blessing full of friends and smiles that will last a lifetime. Coming back to the same place I’d been in for a while… It was brought to my attention that I needed to BRAND myself if I were to get busy, getting busy. At that moment I was unsure what that meant; however I knew I needed to get out of an unhealthy place that had held me captive for way too long. Riddled with pain from my injury in November of 17’ I was held up in the remoteness of Obstruction Pass on Orcas falling deeper into a depressive state. So, I designed a catalyst of a ‘life’ card. Not representing a business, just me, my attitude and a few pearls of hard-earned wisdom on the back. The phrases I created on the back represent a life long list of lessons and attitudinal adjustments that keep me going a year later;




This one I created out of hardships that have turned into the blessings I wasn’t quite ready for at that moment of distress…


None of these are more important than the other, each dependent on the person reading… I do hope you grab a pearl of another’s hardships & wisdom, thusly preventing you from feeling the stumble.

(now endeth the lesson)

Eagle… yeah. I’m still pointing my camera as I walk down this path of life… it seems that since my walkabout has landed me out here on the San Juan Islands…(to stay for awhile for sure) it seems my pics are even more colorful…. Btw… not complaining and the amazing scenery abundantly jumping out at me, like this eagle…

Off to another adventure mid spring 18’ to LA, an amazing guest host, tour guide and forever friend, my Ms. B held nothing back for my visit to the City of Angles. Thanks to the Hollywood connections and life long friends, (thank-you R&D for the fanciful evening amongst the stars..) I was off to the VIP section of American Idol Live audience taping… crazy to be within arm’s reach of the Idols, not to mention Katy, Lionel & Luke… (first name basis ya know..) Taking in other LA centric activities included the beach scene of Malibu, Santa Monica and Venice canals… then a lifer dream for me, was to see the Beatles….

Growing upon Penny Lane, in Toppenish Wa, it was a natural fit that I’d be a fan… So short of resurrecting the fallen mop-heads, a tribute band was the only source of masterful music in the first person… Eerie in a sense, amazing to my ears… Another day of playing tourist and I take in the Towers of Capitol Records…an iconic sign, albeit from afar, an observatory, the Broad Museum and… and elevated lift thingy called Angel’s Flight (I think)…. That had been featured in…oh I don’t know… more than a few movies…. And most recently for me was a seasonal cameo in “Bosch” on Amazon… needless to say… Ms. B and friends gave me an LA experience that will not be matched in this lifetime.

Cloud Formations – Did you ever play with cloud formations and identifying strange / everyday things in the formations… anyone? C’mon now… don’t lie…. A dog and a rabbit…. Don’t lie….. you see it too… OK… sip another sip… take another puff… do whatever you need to………….SEEEEEEEEEEEEEE, told ya so…

Now that the cobwebs of my darkened web were beginning to run my world and my jaunting was done for a few months, I knew I had to get out and do something… so when I read the post on our local Buy, Sell Trade FB page, and saw an ad for a ‘helper’ to work on  Vintage Cars, I jumped in feet first, albeit slowly, not wanting to exacerbate my back, I approached cautiously. Who knew… a helper on four classic golden era of vehicles….. 39’ & 38’ Chryslers, a 39’ Packard Ambulance and a late 50’s Chevy fire rescue truck… turning a wrench, dropping a transmission, refinishing an engine block… and yeah.. numerous self-surprises / new levels of accomplishments for this aging mind and body. As if those projects weren’t enough to make my soul smile, I was also part of creating a worm wood king size bed / head & foot board / frame, engineered by a Mensa type mind that shared as we sanded and varnished 7 coats… Beautiful…doesn’t begin to describe the finished project..

One of the reasons I stayed on Orcas when I landed in August 17’ was the connection of my brother Doug and needless to say, my frequent to & fro, into Eastsound (the small village at the top of the island) would put me along the water’s edge of Cascade lake, where his ashes were laid to rest over a decade ago.. so capturing his tree, made famous with his countless fishing strolls to the water’s edge to catch those fable sized trout… has to be captured every time I get out that way..

I’m pretty sure this shot was incorporated into the visit of Doug’s oldest son (of 5 kids) Josh &  his lovely bride Nicole’s, (as it’s Josh, the eldest son, who sits exactly where his Dad sat some 30 years ago..) a great visit, full of smiles and a few moments of reflection. I fancied myself as a novice kayaker while recuperating, getting out on the bay once a week for a bit was certainly something I looked forward to. Low impact outing was the bestest.. So the kids indulged the old man and we went for a seaward saunter in the calmer waters of Obstruction pass while they were here. A moment of reflection and a raised semi-cold beer on Doug’s bridge was an obvious choice for us both as well…

Did I mention I was, at this time of the year, dusting off the acumen of business and getting ready to do SOMETHING, though at this time I still was unclear of the opportunities for a back-ailing, sales / mortgage kinda guy on Orcas. It seems hawking and shucking oysters was for a younger set, as was construction and to my knowledge there wasn’t a startup needing a proven success of sales to kick start their world… but by God, I was determined to find something. So I kept the radar alert to any opportunity while commuting across to San Juan Island / Friday Harbor, 3x a week to turn a wrench or scrub on an engine block…. And sure enough… my Spidey senses and a lead from my varnishing mentor led me to a Graphic Designer gig…

This in turn led me to form a small company ‘SJI Activities LLC’, encompassing anything that might get absorbed into the company, still at this time, late July, I had no idea what those absorption items might be. The gig, was to be self-employed designer, working for Coldwell Banker over on San Juan Island / Friday Harbor. I truly have never worked with a more amazing group of successful people, accomodating, supporting, ethics abound and the overall feel is everyone likes everyone.. (see my Ad Artwork / Listings Pages here..)  To the excitable / unaware Kelly, I committed to making that round-trip ferry passage 5 days a week starting in August… hmmmmmmmmmmmm, did I mention I was overly ambitious when I signed up for that commute. More on this gig in a bit……. Anticipation builds character….. or is it that it builds maniacal thoughts on ways to bury that person’s body that is making us wait…

(insert sinister smile here)

No summer is complete without an AFR…. Armstrong Family Reunion, it seems every year someone puts together a lil’ something for the feed bags to be strapped on, the smiles to be shared and the stories to be told to those youngins… It’s always a great day or two and the Armstrong hugs are notorious… I think, after 5+ decades, I’ve finally mastered my smores technique, there was a wait list for the next one…and the next one…

My commuter world did open up both sunsets and the initially begrudging sunrises. (see them and other great shots... if I can say so myself… kellyephotographee on Instagram. Having never been an early morning guy, the wake-up of 5:30 was as much of a chore as the actual 13-hour day was, 5 days a week. The math was hard to digest, up @ 5:30 to catch the ferry, crossing to Friday Harbor with an arrival of 8:15-8:30 did make for a three hour…’ugh’ to get to work. In return my 5:30pm boat from FH wouldn’t get me back to my side of the Orcas until after 7:15ish… So I had to strap on my big city mentality of commuters stuck in traffic for that same timeframe and realize I had sunsets, sunrises, an archipelago and friends, all while my feet were up, hot cocoa was consumed and stories of life being shared with my new commuter clan… yeah… I shut up with my complaining quite quick.  

Friday Harbor has such a different vibe then Orcas, more bustle and larger business area located right of the ferry landing. Whereas Orcas is more spread out with hills and bays, imagine a big horseshoe of beauty w/ a scattering of small little pockets of commerce and landscape / seascape to stop your heart. FH is similar in beauty with expansive West Side of beaches, lighthouses and view that are a photographer’s dream. I have found FH to be more my speed and the opportunities, 9 months later continue to open doors and windfalls / blessings I couldn’t have found on Orcas.

So I officially became a resident of San Juan Island /  Friday Harbor in March. Island Life on FH brings the peace of mind that I can leave my keys on floorboard, coastal views unrivaled on the Northern West Coast, beach walks, lighthouse sunrises, community / my daily walk about town to bank, bakery, best burger any where’s (Crow’s Nest), a movie theatre running first run movies just a couple of weeks behind the mainland…. Yeah… Kelly’s a happy camper. I’ll stop with the Visitor’s Bureau pitch for tourists… but you should really come visit..  

 So back in September I was ‘kidnapped’ to Leavenworth, WA, by an out of town visitor who hadn’t ever seen this wonderful place, that is an idyllic village nestled into the Alpine-esque Cascade mountains, straight out of a Bavarian postcard. Foodies paradise, nature abounds and friends that were as welcoming to see me as I was to see them. A reciprocal tourist-type from LA.. enjoyed the slower pace  of this central Washington respite, only much different scenery than the SoCal.

Archipelago commuter New Gig – August 12 – Graphic Designer / Creative over My Back – FH & Art / InDesign program New Business SJI LLC – Island Life / Wages / Commute /

After the tour of Washington I needed to return to the peacefulness of Obstruction Pass on Orcas, it’s now mid-august, my new gig is settling into my first two weeks and the smile is rolling back into my world, as it had been gone for far too long.  (yes… you’re struggling to keep up with the jumping back & forth in the calendar year, for that I promise to buy the first round when you come to visit..)

My go to rehab for relaxing is what I call ‘stacking rocks therapy’… atop Mt. Shasta in NorCal, on trails of coastal Oregon, in the jungle after ziplining Dominican Republic Samana… stacking a few stones, somehow makes that sight and that moment even more memorable for me. So Obstruction was to be no different… that postage stamp sized piece of beach was to be mine… if only for a season. I think my stay on Obstruction Pass of Orcas was capped off nicely in the sharing of a spectacular Rainbowover the hamlet marina of Lieber Haven. I kinda knew then that Orcas was going to be a chapter in my travels never replaced or forgotten.

What… another adventure… Ok… if I must… in December, the opportunity, though heart aching of origin, was presented to family and friends to attend a Seattle Seahawks game against the Minnesota Vikings. Significance was that earlier in the year our family lost one of our own in the unexpected passing of Tanner. A mountain of man that had experienced life and a few challenges and would still melt your heart with his spirit and smile. He was a lifer of a fan of the Vikings, so we rallied the Seahawk fans amongst our family, made a pilgrimage to the Hawks home field as we raised a toast and held our hearts to salute a fallen brother… still surreal that he’s gone and like others that have gone in our collective world… won’t ever be forgotten..

The tourist in me and the company I keep, causes me to take in other Seattle sights such as Dale Chihuly’s  glass emporium and the, now deconstructed Seattle Viaduct..

So let me paint you a photograph of the mind… my office digs are second story (top story of this mega 2 story 100 year old bank with ‘hellacool’ stamped all over it… but I digress) on this particular morning I happened to look out my window and saw a uniquely familiar envelope, out on the parking space, just out front of the building. My curiosity got the best of me and somehow I was being prompted to hurry downstairs and grab this envelope looking thing that from the back side of the envelope had no markings. I bent over and while picking up the mystery envelope saw that there was in fact a local banks logo and address on the front and a handwritten note that read HAWAII….                 Hmmmmmmmmmm, I took the envelope upstairs to my lair and opened it… yep… 10- $100.00 bills met my eyes.. and a smile flowed into my greedy little, financially struggling mind. (as I write this…Go On Take The Money & Run lyric from Steve Miller is playing on my Pandora station)… another digression, sorry… back to my mischievous mind….

New shoes for the kids? (I have no kids) Next months rent? Pay off a recent adventure? What could I do with this stash of cash…. THEN my integrity, compassion and emphathy mind kicked in and I strapped on my detective shield and began a thorough…. (did I mention THOROUGH…) investigating. Long story short (like I know what that looks like)…. I found that one of our agents in the office was in fact going to Hawaii, she’d been to the bank just that morning and had taken out exactly….. you guessed…. 10-$100 bills… (moment of silence for my kids’ new shoes..) It was a great moment of ‘atta-boy’ from my new office mates and it has turned an avenue of great karma on for me.. not gonna lie…

Being an opportunistic sailor, I look for any opportunity to hoist a line, secure a dock line or even do random line maintenance on any vessel I’m on. Call me an addict of water / floating vessel / wind in the sails kinda thing.. this particular outing was aboard an 85’ Schooner out of Friday Harbor named

Spike Africa with a dear friend that resides in my world from afar. The sail was certainly uneventful, however the outing aboard this vessel was monumental for me as it reminded me that I somehow belong on the water… on a ferry wasn’t quite cutting it daily and living on the islands is wonderful, just not mobile enough for me. A classic tall ship, detailed rigging and the care and shipwright attention was amazing… something told I would enjoy my strolls down the pier to her slip often…. (pssssst spoiler alert… more to come on the Spike… here again… first name basis 😉) Side note….. the photo, through Spike’s rigging, is actually a rare opportunity that two beauties would be in the same waters… this is Lady Washington a 112’ tall ship… so yeah… I smiled on the kismet moment, that once again, would be a karmic tear in the fabric of time, unbeknownst to me at the time of this sailing and photo. (please see aforementioned, SPOILER Alert…)

 So where am I now… continuing to enjoy the beauties of Orcas and Friday Harbor, making a move to San Juan / FH full time… it’s now spring 19’ and my world is smiling in full momentum now. Great job, wonderful young lady that is putting up with me and making smiles on a daily basis and the weather and scenery of spring out here is…dare I say it again… a photographer’s dream. Buoy walls, fresh seafood from my old stomping grounds of Buck Bay Shellfish Farm and the always welcoming Toni & Mark… the eagle population and flora are abundant as is the sidekick of 14 years Domino’s antic alongside mine… Life on the island is definitely a Quality over Quantity decision for anyone that chooses to do so.

So for now I’ll sign off and let you get back to your world and extend that invitation once again…

y’all come visit now, ya here…

 Just kidding……. The spoiler alert I was referencing was…. That through continued encounters with the owner of Spike… at the dog park, in one of his three restaurants and my photos, it happened to be an early season need for crew aboard her, so starting Saturday I’ll be staying busy aboard The Spike crewing for sunset cruises and overnight outings this season………… Yeah… karma…blessings… patience… perseverance are a few of my besties this 2019… 😉

If you’re still reading this… go… take on an adventure, find a new smile… see an old friend… hug your family member…. Volunteer… get out of your routine and see what tomorrow brings… Blessings abound are my wish for you.. ciao for now..


Seanna Hubbard

10.05.2019 03:42

Amazing photos, and such inspiring words! Can't wait to keep reading! Seanna (from U-haul :) )

Latest comments

30.10 | 16:06

Kelly… I love this!!! So it’s true. When you’re least expecting it. There they are!!!

28.12 | 02:18

27.12 | 21:17

Vielen Dank für die äußerst sympathische Begegnung auf dem Main Tower in Frankfurt und die Unterstützung beim Fotografieren. Ich habe Ihre künstlerische Ader auf den ersten Blick erkannt! :D

14.12 | 06:08

That was an exciting novel,one worth reading and inspiring, your word's have an elegant style to the story.
Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your voyage of a lifetime.
Sailing !!!

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