Guemes Island Community Center Association

Enriching and Connecting Our Island Community

 

Events Calendar

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Guemes Island, Skagit County, WA, USA

Ferry Cams

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(Find out if there's a 2nd 11:15am sailing)


⛴ Catch the Ferry

Note:
Ferry times are provided as a courtesy and without guarantee.

Ferry departs from Guemes approximately 8 minutes after the listed times below. Crossing time approximately 5 minutes. Round-trip time approximately 20-25 minutes.

*Wednesday 9:15 AM to Guemes and 2:00 PM from Guemes are hazardous materials runs only. No other vehicles or passengers may travel on these runs.
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Community Messages


GIPAC Annual Meeting, Nov 17

Learn About Beavers on Guemes Island

 

The Guemes Island Planning Advisory Committee (GIPAC) will hold its annual meeting on Sunday, November 17, from 2 to 4 p.m. at the Guemes Island Community Center. All islanders are encouraged to attend.

Click on image to read more

 

GICCA Annual Meeting, Nov 21

There are two upcoming GICCA Board vacancies as terms are expiring for Liz Hartley, the current Treasurer, and Chris Skinner, Vice President. We are all very grateful for their dedicated service to the Guemes Island community.

 

Please join other community members at the November 21 GICCA Annual Meeting for the election of two new board members. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Hall. Guemes residents over age 18 present at the meeting may vote. Sign in and receive your paper ballot.

 

Questions for potential nominees were posted on this website and made available at the October 17 GICCA public meeting.  Nominee statements can be read by clicking on the name of each nominee: Mary HaleKathy Whitman, and Aaron Peterson.

Holiday Bazaar, Nov 30

Looking for some great holiday gifts? If so, shop locally! Mark your calendar for November the 30th as the Guemes Island Historical Society's Holiday Bazaar opens its doors between 10 am and 2pm. We'll have plenty of local artists and artisans with a large selection of products displayed in two buildings, the Guemes Island Community Center and the Guemes Church.

 

There's something for everyone on your shopping list and great pricing too. There will also be seasonal soups and bake sale products available for purchase. Please join us as we support our local artists and craftsmen at this popular yearly event. Hope to see you there!

 

For vendor information, please contact Janice Veal via phone at: 360-293-3721 or by email: janiceaveal@gmail.com.

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Meet Your Neighbor

Guemes Land & Sea Stewards - Place is powerful and can transform humanity as much as humanity has the power to transform place. A sense of place allows us to be grounded in something larger than ourselves; something real that provides context and meaning in our lives.

This month we celebrate the “human-place connection,” specifically, the devotion to place demonstrated by the land and sea stewards on Guemes Island. These dedicated volunteers work tirelessly and commit countless hours to help maintain and protect the environment around us to ensure we can all continue to enjoy and take pride in this place we call home.


Our fast-paced, consumer-based, productivity-oriented culture can foster a disconnect from nature and from people/community. Our personal well-being is strengthened when we allow ourselves to slow down and connect with nature and those around us. Being purposeful about investing in and caring for the environment is an aspect of investing in and caring for people, as well as place. A uniquely purposeful investment is to become part of a stewardship program.

“To steward” is to care for, protect, and guide. Several local organizations offer stewardship opportunities. Their missions vary but a common theme is to connect people to nature and to each other in order to protect and preserve our environment. The following is a list of Guemes Islanders currently aligned with stewardship programs, either formally or informally.

Skagit Land Trust (Guemes properties: Anderson property, Kelly’s Point, Guemes Mountain & Valley)- see also last month’s Featured Neighbor articleVolunteers listed below live on Guemes unless noted otherwise
  • Ian Woofenden
  • John Strathman
  • Tony Allison
  • Karen Lamphere
  • Tim Alaniz
  • Ralph Mendershausen
  • Dave Rogers
  • Phil Fenner
  • Ed Gastellum - Anacortes
  • Elaina Thompson – Vendovi Island
  • Thyatira Thompson – Vendovi Island
 San Juan Preservation Trust (Guemes properties: Peach Preserve, Guemes Mountain)
  • Randy and Barbara Schnabel
  • Kathy Whitman
 Skagit Marine Resources (Salish Sea Stewards)
  • Phyllis Bravinder
  • Darla Gay Smith
  • Anne Casperson
  • Dixon Elder


We can all be stewards by respecting the integrity of nature and doing our part to care for the environment. Respecting and caring for our natural world ultimately serves to strengthen all elements of society. When humanity assimilates this perspective and lives accordingly, both place and people (and all living things) will thrive at their highest potential. 

“The greatest threat to our environment is the belief that someone else will take care of it.” – Unknown

A HUGE thank-you to the Guemes Island stewards (past, present, formal and informal) who demonstrate their devotion to place, providing an example of how we can all help the environment (and each other) thrive!
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SLT, Guemes Community Partner - Three visionary leaders and 31 Charter Members founded the Skagit Land Trust (SLT) in 1992. Their mission is to conserve wildlife habitat, agricultural and forest lands, scenic open space, wetlands, and shorelines for the benefit of our community and as a legacy for future generations. The staff, many active volunteers, and over 1,700 family and business members work to protect the most important and beloved places in Skagit County.

In 2007, 70 acres in private ownership atop Guemes Mountain were put up for sale. Guemes community leaders rallied island residents and conservation organizations for the Save the Mountain campaign. In 2009, the money was raised and the property was purchased by the SLT. Including the surrounding conservation easement held by the San Juan Preservation Trust, 580 acres of private and public land is now protected on Guemes Mountain.

In 2015, with continued support from generous families, individuals, and foundations, the SLT’s Guemes Forever campaign reached its fundraising goal for the purchase of an additional 9.5 acres adjacent to the Guemes Mountain property. Raised funds also go toward outreach to Guemes landowners who own properties with high conservation value.

The Guemes Forever campaign’s efforts continue toward the final goal of funding stewardship needs and trail work on the SLT’s protected land on our island.

In 2018, more than 425 families, organizations, and businesses donated funds that made possible SLT’s purchase of 27 acres and 3,000 feet of shoreline that comprise the Kelly’s Point Conservation Area. This treasured beach and wildlife area is now protected for all to enjoy.

These achievements are a testament to our community’s love of place and what can be accomplished when we work together as partners toward a common goal.
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The 4 Chicks and Phantom Power -

The 4 Chicks and Phantom Power Bring Music Events to the Hall


The 4 Chicks – Cheryl Mansley, Libby Boucher, Lorrie Steele, and Suzie Gwost create a down-home feel at their expertly produced musical events at the Guemes Island Community Hall. Curating the sound before and during the shows is Phantom Power – Tony Boucher, sound engineer, with Rick Mansley and Samantha Legowik providing behind-the-scenes support.

Cheryl moved to Washington from West Virginia where for twelve years she produced The RiverHouse Concert Series and later The Blue Moon Sundays Concert Series. She was the Music Director for the West Virginia Wine & Arts Festival and also helped produce The Mountain Stage NewSong Festival. On farms, in homes, cafes, and teahouses Cheryl’s productions focused on bringing the community together to enjoy music in a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere. Her graphic arts expertise adds a professional flair to every 4 Chicks’ event.

Libby is the support and logistics person that every great team relies upon whether it’s for housing the musicians, managing the hospitality and promotion or staging the room. Her husband Tony and son Max round out the crew that helps produce these events.

Lorrie is a dancer who began with ballet then taught dance in Anacortes for 37 years. In 2001 she started the Fidalgo DanceWorks studio that is now a thriving non-profit that promotes the art of dance. Classes are offered to students of all ages and abilities from age three to seniors with genres from tumbling to belly dancing with everything (ballet, African, tap, jazz, modern, swing, hip hop) in between. Two years ago Lorrie retired from the studio and now focuses on her second love, promoting horsemanship on Guemes Island. She can often be seen riding her horse along Guemes Island Road. Lorrie brings her passion for promoting the arts to Guemes Island through her participation in the 4 Chicks’ productions.

Suzie’s love of music is a family affair. Her fiddle playing and that of her father, George Park, along with husband Mike’s guitar picking have gotten many feet a-tappin’ here on the island. Suzie brought her friend, Cowboy Poet Dick Warwick, to Guemes on several occasions. After attending a Brian Bowers concert in Mount Vernon with Cheryl and Lorrie, the production collaboration began and The 4 Chicks were born.

From another Dick Warwick show to our own Guemes Island Brian Bowers concert then the American Fingerstyle Guitarists, islanders can look forward to the next 4 Chicks’ down-home production –The Gothard Sisters at the Community Hall on Saturday, September 14. See details on myguemes.org.
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NeedLESS Plastic, by John Strathman -

Photo: John collecting beach debris on an Ocean Legacy expedition

 
In a 2016 survey, The Pew Research Center reported that 74% of Americans said: “the country should do whatever it takes to protect the environment." But only 20% said that they make an effort to live in ways that help protect the environment “all the time.” 

It’s really tough to be environmentally conscious when it comes to plastic. Plastic is a ubiquitous workhorse and a seemingly essential component of our way of life. It’s everywhere, in almost everything we use, for many good reasons. Plastic is light, strong, durable, and cheap. Try to get everything on your grocery list and avoid plastic. Good luck. Try to go a day without using anything plastic. Not gonna happen. But, there ARE many opportunities to reduce our use.
 

The problem with plastic is that we produce, use and discard far more than we can manage. Much plastic waste is mismanaged. Worldwide, 8 million metric tons of plastic finds its way into the oceans every year. That’s a garbage truck every minute. By 2050, there will be as much plastic in the oceans (by weight) as fish. A million sea birds and 100,000 sea mammals and turtles are killed by plastic trash in the ocean every year. Microplastics (bits of plastic less than 5mm) have been found in bottled drinking water, shellfish, finned fish, sea salt, even in the air in the Pyrenees mountains, 100 miles from the nearest town. And, yes, it is found in human poop. We eat, drink, and inhale plastic every day. It is believed to be toxic. 

In 2018, China stopped accepting plastic waste from other countries. That was a game-changer. Much of the plastic we dutifully deposited in our blue bins was baled up and sent to China. They don’t want our trash anymore. So, recyclers like Waste Management are scrambling to find other markets for plastic (somewhere else to send it). Much is sent to developing countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and India where 80% of plastic is mismanaged – incinerated, land-filled, or illegally dumped. Recyclers in the U.S. are forced to landfill or incinerate plastic they can’t find a market for. Six times as much plastic is incinerated in the United States as is recycled! 

My interest in plastic pollution was triggered on a trip to the gorgeous islands of Raja Ampat in West Papua, Indonesia in 2016. Before that, I didn’t think much about my own plastic consumption. I used whatever I wanted, figuring it was okay as long as I tossed my plastic into the recycling bin when I was done with it. In Sorong, a city of 100,000, I saw plastic containers all over the streets and canals so choked with plastic garbage it was hard to see any water. There were discarded plastic water cups and bottles everywhere. There are no blue bins there, no big trucks to collect the waste and take it away. On the beautiful island where we stayed, home to some of the most biodiverse coral reefs in the world, resort staff cleaned the beach of plastic debris early each morning before guests arose to see it. I kayaked to the other side of the island only to find a beautiful beach covered with plastic trash. It was a shocker!
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
I’ve started to look for ways in which I can do my small bit to deal with plastic pollution. I’ve educated myself by reading articles online and visiting websites. I discovered a non-profit called Ocean Legacy, based near Vancouver, B.C., that collects marine debris from remote beaches and recycles as much of it as possible. My wife Deb and I visited the Ocean Legacy warehouse last November and spent a day sorting tons of plastic trash – everything from rope, floats and other fishing gear, drink bottles, plastic barrels, disposable lighters, straws, tires – you name it. I kept in touch with the organization and in June I joined them on a beach cleaning expedition near Bamfield, B.C. on the west coast of Vancouver Island. For 6 days, I boulder-hopped and crawled under salal at the high-tide line to recover plastic trash that had washed ashore. We filled at least thirty 2-yard “super sacks” with junk. The days were long and exhausting. But it was also quite inspiring to hang out with a dozen fearless millennials who love the ocean and hate to see it trashed.
Beach debris example from Ocean Legacy expedition
 

"Super sacks" loaded with beach debris. Photo credit: Ocean Legacy
 

Of course, plastic is not just a problem in far-away places. I've picked up plenty of plastic bags, water bottles, and miscellaneous plastic waste from Guemes Island beaches. So, in my small way, here are a few things I'm doing to reduce plastic waste in my little corner of the world:
  • Working with others to help ban lightweight plastic shopping bags in Anacortes and at the state level.
  • I feed wild birds. I’ve accumulated a pile of colorful woven polypropylene bags that once contained sunflower seeds. Friends give me chicken feed and other bags.  They aren’t recyclable.  So, I repurpose them.  I watched YouTube videos, learned how to operate a sewing machine and have made at least 50 reusable, strong, washable grocery totes.  You may see islanders carrying them on the ferry or around town.
  • Deb and I try to avoid single-use plastic packaging whenever possible. Of course, we bring reusable bags to market, refusing wasteful, needless single-use plastic bags.  We try to buy stuff packed in glass bottles or jars or in steel cans (big sigh… unfortunately, cans are usually coated with plastic on the inside!) or wrapped in paper.  I was buying food for our little dog, which came in small polypropylene containers.  I switched to dog food that comes in steel cans. I found ketchup in glass bottles (remember those?) at Smart Food Service Warehouse Store (formerly Cash and Carry). I buy olive oil in gallon steel cans to avoid plastic jugs. We take reusable, washable small bags to the supermarket to put produce in, or don’t bag produce at all.
  • If I see a product that is packaged in plastic, I sometimes write the producer and ask them to consider ditching the plastic. I won't buy until they do!
  • We take a stainless steel container with us to restaurants and fill it with leftovers instead of taking a polystyrene carry-out container provided by the restaurant.
  • I take a reusable cup to Starbucks for coffee. They give me a $.10 discount.  To-go coffee cups are plastic-lined paper and not recyclable around here.  The disposable lids are polypropylene plastic, also not recyclable.
  • I don’t buy bottled water or soda. At best, those bottles are “down-cycled” to make carpeting or fleece, but ultimately are destined for the landfill.  I use a refillable water bottle.  Lots of places will allow you to refill it for free (Starbucks is one). Plastic drink bottles are a top item found on beach cleanups.
  • We don’t use single-use plastic drinking straws.
  • Deb makes re-usable beeswax wraps which we use instead of plastic film for food storage.
  • We used to buy ice cream in plastic tubs. A friend gave us an ice cream maker so now we enjoy ice cream without the plastic waste - and we don't have to worry about it melting in the ferry line!
 

I’m old enough to remember when plastic wasn’t nearly so pervasive. Pop bottles were heavy glass, returnable, and as kids we collected them and returned them to the store for money. Milk came in a paper carton without a stupid plastic spout on the side. Meat was wrapped in butcher paper, not sitting on a Styrofoam tray wrapped in plastic film. We had drinking fountains and steel canteens, not plastic water bottles. I dunno, maybe we were dehydrated all the time? 

That’s my plastic story. What’s yours?There's so much we can all do to help reduce plastic waste. The world needs LESS plastic! 

We invite you to tell us your story/share your plastic reduction tips. We'd like to compile tips from islanders and share them (anonymously) on our website. Taking action to reduce plastic waste begins by raising awareness and re-thinking our purchases. You can help!
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Guemes Neighborhood Farm Stands -

Got Greens?

Guemes Island is home to many talented home gardeners. A few go beyond the small patch of herbs and lettuce and grow abundant vegetables, flowers and fruit that they sell from roadside stands around the island. Check out the offerings at these stands. It’s best to get there early in the day while supplies last. Payments are on the honor system.

Cedar Petrick, 5253 South Shore Drive, is open weekends throughout the summer offering a variety of vegetables and flowers. Chicken and duck eggs are also available.

Chris Damarjian (pictured on the left above), 7001 Guemes Island Road, stocks her stand on Friday mornings with organic vegetables and fruit. She often sells out by the end of the day. Check back over the weekend for late additions and flower bouquets. Also, handmade beeswax food wraps.

Tom Deach’s Garden on Edens (pictured on the right above), 4623 Edens Road, sells vegetables and flowers and stocks the farm cart by the road during the week as things are harvested. The proceeds benefit Carol Deach’s Jamaican children’s education program.

If you need fresh homegrown eggs, you need only drive the “egg route” around the island until you find an egg stand that still has a dozen for sale. Mimnaugh’s on Paradise Lane, Davelaar’s and Petrick’s on South Shore Drive west of the Store, (if the sign is out) Horneman’s on Edens Road east of Deach’s farm stand, the farmhouse on Eden’s Road at Section Ave, or Stamper’s north on Section Ave.

A Guemes frittata of just picked greens and fresh eggs can be on your menu if you hit the stands early. If you miss out, the Anacortes Farmer’s Market runs every Saturday morning until October 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the Depot at 7th and R Streets in Anacortes.
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Rick Norrie – New Stage Project Manager -

Photo: Rick Norrie (right), new project manager for the Schoolhouse Park Stage, studies the stage plans with Tom Fouts

 

Community Center Board Welcomes Rick Norrie as Stage Project Manager


On May 16, the Guemes Island Community Center Association board announced at its monthly meeting that Rick Norrie was appointed to be the new project manager for the GICCA Stage project at Schoolhouse Park. The project has nearly completed Phase 1 (crawlspace slab, foundation, ramps, decking, electrical panel, and acoustic sound wall). Phase 2 will begin soon to install uprights, shear walls, roof, and sound platform and complete the electrical work and landscaping. 

Related post: The Benefits of Volunteering
 

Following a 14-year military career in the Navy, which brought him to Whidbey Island, Rick Norrie joined the Island County Sheriff’s Office in 1987. He was introduced to Renee Van Iterson, daughter of the late Ria Foster, and Guemes Island, where Renee was raised. It was love at first sight on both accounts. Renee and Rick married and began living on Guemes fulltime in 1993. 

Rick was schooled in woodworking and construction by his father-in-law, master craftsman Tony Foster, who Rick says “could pretty much  build anything.” He enjoys working in his shop doing woodturning and learning when he is not volunteering or working in his private investigative business doing background checks. 

During his 31 years in law enforcement, he became a drug-recognition expert and was nationally recognized for his ability to spot symptoms of drug and alcohol impairment. He traveled across the state promoting drug education and early intervention. Rick retired in June 2018. 

Wanting to give back to the community that “has benefitted my family so much,” Rick joined the volunteer Guemes Island Fire Department and has already taken the strenuous firefighting course and plans to take the challenging EMT course this fall. 

When he learned about the need for construction and constructive management of the stage project, he again volunteered his services. Rick’s goals for the stage project are to realign the project, improve communication, and overcome adversity and conflict so that the community can work together to accomplish short-term and long-term goals in a reasonable time frame. With a positive and inclusive attitude, he states, “I want to help the community achieve its dream.” 

Please contact Rick Norrie at 360-661-5770 with questions or to volunteer.
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Lisa McCloud — Zumba Gold, Island-Style - Lisa leads Zumba Gold classes at the Community Center on Mondays and Fridays from 8:30 - 9:30 a.m. and Wednesdays from 5:15 - 6:15 p.m. If you'd like to learn more about Zumba Gold or be added to the Zumba Gold distribution list for info and updates, you can contact Lisa at laughoftenandmuch@yahoo.com

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On Wednesday, April 10th, a dear friend from Seattle came to Guemes to attend my first OFFICIAL Zumba Gold class as a certified instructor. Over a glass of post-Zumba wine at the General Store she shared that she had become a little emotional during the class with the recognition that this new chapter in my life was the culmination of so many things that I love dearly including (but not limited to) community, dance, island living and learning to take myself less seriously.

 

Eight years ago, when my husband, Kurt, and I first set foot on Guemes to look at a house for sale, like so many others before us, we didn’t know the island existed. This seems crazy given that my father had grown up in Anacortes and I had spent my formative years visiting family in the area. But despite that fact, it took us precisely one trip around the island with Karen Everett to become smitten with this haven. We loved our home in West Seattle and had no plans to leave but here we are celebrating nearly two years as full-timers in our happy place. We are fortunate that our jobs allow us the flexibility to work remotely, of which we are taking full advantage. I have been with A Place for Mom, a senior care referral company, for nine years and am enjoying a new role as a coach to our partner support team. Kurt is celebrating 17 years as a residential home mortgage lender with an office in Anacortes.

 

Thanks to my extroverted husband and some fan-freaking-tastic neighbors (island-wide) I have quickly come to appreciate the joy of community. You have to experience it to understand and I feel incredibly grateful for that gift. In fact, I have my community to thank for encouraging me to become a licensed Zumba Gold instructor which has been an unexpected source of tremendous joy for me. Dance has always been an outlet for me and I’m grateful to be able to share it in a way that is simple, silly AND SO GOOD FOR YOU.

  

My favorite feedback came from a new Zumba participant after her first class when she said, “I wanted to apologize for laughing at you, but oh my gosh, your face (expressions)!” So come and dance and sweat and laugh at me! Or better yet, laugh at yourself. Life is too short to take ourselves so seriously.

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GICCA Welcomes New Board Members - In January 2019, the Guemes Island Community Center Association (GICCA) welcomed two new board members. One is a long-time islander and one is a relative newcomer. They come together with the common goal of serving our community. Almost like bookends, our treasured multi-generational families that are steeped in tradition and our new arrivals who are discovering the many things we all love about this island join to continue writing the colorful and evolving story of Guemes Island.


Carol Deach is a third-generation Guemes Islander born to Alice and Marv Shoultz in 1950. Her many adventures growing up on the island could fill volumes and they include attending school at the Guemes Schoolhouse until it closed in 1960. Her higher education, then marriage to Tom Deach, followed by the birth of their two children took her young family to other parts of the state, and then to Idaho. She and Tom returned to Guemes in 2010. Carol’s training in art and special education has benefited our community in many ways. Carol was president of the Guemes Island Historical Society and helps with the popular summer Guemes Science Camp as a teacher and organizer. Her vegetable and flower farm stand on Edens Road helps fund her volunteer work with Great Shape! Inc., a humanitarian organization that provides access to education and health care for children and families in Jamaica.

Libby Boucher and her husband, Tony, found their way to Guemes through the brother of a friend who owned property on the island. After a few years of perusing real estate ads and dreaming of island life while still young enough to enjoy it, they made the decision to leave their jobs in Sammamish, and move north to Guemes in 2017. Not quite empty nesters, they have one of their three sons also living here. Tony still works from home. Libby left a career as an office manager at an elementary school where she was president of her local office employees union. Volunteering was also an important part of her life in Sammamish and she wasted no time becoming involved here on Guemes. You’ll see her in the Guemes Library on most Wednesdays. If you ask Libby why she enjoys volunteering, she’ll tell you it’s the best way to meet people when you move to a new location.

Location brings us back to that common ground. There are many of our long-time residents who over the years have served on the board that governs our 105-year-old Community Center. That foundation and support provide a match to the new energy and enthusiasm that honors tradition and keeps our community working together and moving forward. We welcome the contributions Carol and Libby bring to GICCA.
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Neighbors Helping Neighbors - Guemes Connects is one of many island organizations that address a need or provide a service to residents. 

The Connects volunteers provide on-island skilled, compassionate assistance with respite care, transportation, home maintenance, medical equipment, housing, and meals for shut-ins. The organization’s mission is to foster a network of support for the Guemes Island community. They are committed to meeting the needs of anyone needing assistance regardless of age, illness, disability, race or religion.

Guemes Connects sponsors The Gathering Lunch, a weekly lunch program open to everyone, residents, visitors, and workers. Meals are prepared and served by volunteers every Thursday from 11:30 to 12:15 from October through April at the Guemes Church. There is a suggested donation of $5.00 for this “home cooked” meal. Check the Events Calendar on myguemes.org for the weekly menu. Free blood pressure checks are available from 11:15 to 12:30. Take-home meals are available by request for shut-ins only.

The following coordinators can help if you have a need or know someone who needs occasional assistance.
  • Meals – Lorraine Francis 360-293-8364
  • Respite Care – Sue Nichol 206-755-7937 or Juby Fouts 360-293-2704
  • Home Maintenance/Yard Care – Bill Clark 360-299-3230
  • Medical Equipment – Juby Fouts 360-293-2704 or Barb Ohms 360-298-1885
  • Housing Assistance – Ron Knowles 360-588-9922
  • Transportation – Susan Rombeek 360-293-0777 or Anne Passarelli 360-299-2549
Please give the Transportation Coordinators 24-hour notice so they can arrange rides. If you cannot reach a coordinator or wish to volunteer your time or skills, please contact Lorraine Francis or Juby Fouts. Additional volunteers or new Gathering Lunch cooks are always welcome.
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The Road Is Long – by Deb Strathman -

... but "The road to a friend's house is never too long." - Danish proverb


Pamplona -> [Güemes] -> Santiago (450 miles)

 
When Father Ernesto, Paqui, Miguel, and Marina, from Güemes, Spain, visited Guemes Island in April this year, I didn't divulge my intentions to hike the Camino de Santiago. I'd dreamed about completing the epic pilgrimage for years but, at that point, it was still just a dream. I had read books, watched movies, and talked about my dream, but taking the next step was a big commitment - and more than a little daunting. Ernesto's visit was the driver that put my "Camino wheels" (and, ultimately, my feet) into motion. I was committed to making my dream a reality - and maybe visiting Güemes, Spain as well! 

After talking with family and completing the necessary preparations and travel plans, my husband, John, our daughter, Gina, and I flew from San Francisco to Paris, to Madrid, and then to Pamplona, Spain.  On September 13th, we began the month-long walk from Pamplona to Santiago - 15 miles per day, carrying 15-lb packs. 

But this isn't a story about us or our Camino. It's a reminder of the special, lasting bond between two Guemeses and the extraordinary hospitality and kindness extended by the people of both ...
 
When I finally contacted Father Ernesto about our Camino plans, he was delighted to hear that we'd like to visit his pilgrims' shelter in Güemes. He made arrangements to pick us up near Logroño, a 2-1/2 hr drive from Güemes. After 4 days of walking from Pamplona to Logroño (with blistered feet, already!), we were really looking forward to seeing our friends and giving my feet a couple of days rest. Ernesto, Paqui, and Miguel were a sight for sore eyes (and feet)! There was much hugging and laughing. We spent the day touring the Spanish countryside, including some beautiful little seaside villages, and around the village of Güemes on our way to Ernesto's albergue.
View from the hills above Güemes, Spain
 We visited the 2 churches where Father Ernesto serves, including one that displays photos from his "Guemes world tour."
 

Ernesto's albergue isn't just a pilgrims' hostel. It's a large estate owned by Father Ernesto. Practically the entire village of Güemes is engaged, somehow, in helping at Ernesto's albergue. Volunteers bring food, help cook, help with maintenance, and many other tasks. Paqui and Miguel and several others are an integral part of the albergue’s mission. Many pilgrims who stop at the hostel for the typical one-night stay decide to come back and volunteer for weeks or months. Three meals a day are served to pilgrims and all that's requested in return is a donation. The complex has a library, a common room, and an ermita, where pilgrims can sit and reflect on their journey. Ernesto's collection of slides from his travels line the walls and ceiling of his study. Notes of gratitude from pilgrims from around the world are compiled into large volumes - each one a treasured gift. Many pilgrim guidebooks call this the best hostel on the Camino del Norte. It was definitely the best that we saw on our journey across northern Spain (of course, maybe we're also a little partial). 
Ernesto, Gina, Deb, and John at the Albergue La Cabaña del Abuelo Peuto in Güemes, Spain
 Although we were pilgrims on the Camino, Ernesto insisted that we would not eat or sleep with the other 70+ pilgrims spending the night at his albergue that particular evening. Rather than twin beds or bunks in a large dormitory-style room, we had an entire living space, including 2 bedrooms and a private bath, in what was once was his parents' house (where Ernesto was born, 80 years ago), right on the grounds of the albergue.  Instead of the customary pilgrim's meal that we had experienced so far on the Camino, we ate with the wonderful staff in the large dining room - with mementos of Ernesto's travels and his life of caring for others covering the walls. The huge dining table was covered with plates of amazing food (Spanish paella, pasta with mushroom sauce, succulent roasted chicken) and lots of wine and other "merry-making" beverages. Dozens of volunteers shared in the feast. Barbara, a volunteer and former pilgrim from Dusseldorf, Germany, served as our translator.  There was much laughter and joy (no translation required) - obviously one big "family" enjoying a shared meal and time together. We were stuffed - and very "merry."
Paqui, Miguel, and other volunteers
 Our visit was short (parts of 2 days and 1 night) but we were grateful for the time we could spend together.  Ernesto, Paqui, Miguel, and Barbara drove us to Bilbao the following day.  We spent the afternoon and evening in Bilbao, where we visited the Guggenheim museum and participated in a "tapas tour." The following morning Gina flew to Barcelona and then home to California; John and I took a bus back to Logroño, where we picked up the Camino again - only 26 more days of walking to reach Santiago! 

My feet continued to be a problem; I was resigned that they would hurt for the rest of the trip. However, after a visit to a podiatrist in Burgos (5 days further down the road), a new pair of shoes, and another day of rest, things began to improve. 

About a week after leaving Ernesto and friends in Güemes, I received a text from them asking where we were - they wanted to take us out to dinner. "Wherever you are, we will find you."  What a fun surprise - and a little crazy, we thought. Were they really going to drive another 2-1/2 hr (one way) to have dinner with us and then turn around and drive back? Yes, they did! They found us in the sleepy little village of Castrojeriz (population 500). We shared another wonderful meal with these amazing people. Excellent food, excellent company - we felt so fortunate to be the recipients of their kindness and hospitality once again!
Ernesto, Paqui, Miguel, John, and Deb in Castrojeriz
After dinner, we said another fond farewell, with more hugs and smiles. Nineteen more Camino-days (~ 285 miles) awaited us when we set out again the following morning. We stayed in touch with our friends throughout our trip and shared this photo when we, finally, arrived in Santiago on October 16.
Santiago de Compostela Cathedral - a World Heritage site in Galicia, Spain
Amazing journey. Amazing people. Special friends. 

If you'd like to keep the "Guemes connection" alive, I encourage you to include Güemes, Spain in your future travel plans. In the meantime, if you're interested in sending holiday greetings to Father Ernesto and team, here's the mailing address: 

Father Ernesto Bustio Albergue La Cabaña del Abuelo Peuto Calle el Albergue, S/N, 39191 Güemes, Cantabria, Spain
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Guemes Land & Sea Stewards

 

Place is powerful and can transform humanity as much as humanity has the power to transform place. A sense of place allows us to be grounded in something larger than ourselves; something real that provides context and meaning in our lives.

 

This month we celebrate the “human-place connection,” specifically, the devotion to place demonstrated by the land and sea stewards on Guemes Island. These dedicated volunteers work tirelessly and commit countless hours to help maintain and protect the environment around us to ensure we can all continue to enjoy and take pride in this place we call home.

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GICCA Stage Project Update

 

We are pleased to report more exciting progress at the stage! Summer is over and rain has interfered with work on some days. However, our dedicated (and hardy!) crew is still working on most clear days despite the increasing cold. Please stop by the site and cheer them on if you see them working. Snacks or warm coffee are always appreciated.

Read more & view latest photos

Directory Updates

The Guemes Directory on this website allows you to manage your own data - to choose what, if any, information you want to include in the directory and to ensure its accuracy - what a concept!

 

This directory is the one used to create the printed phone books that so many of us depend on for reaching out to our fellow islanders.

 

Please help us keep your contact information current by adding or updating your residential and/or business listing(s) now. If you have any questions or would like assistance feel free to contact us.

 

Thank you on behalf of GICCA and your fellow islanders.

 

The self-service directory on this website is the only island directory that allows you to choose whether you want your contact information to appear or not (you can opt-out completely). You can decide which information you want to include (email address only, postal address, phone, etc) - it's your choice. You can also edit your listing(s) at any time to ensure ongoing accuracy if changes need to be made for any reason.

 

We'd like to remind islanders to please take a look to ensure that your directory listings are accurate. If you're not listed and would like your residential and/or business listing to be included, now's the time to add them.

 

In addition to the printed phone books, which will be updated with new and modified listings in the next printing cycle, this directory is also one of the sources that GICCA uses to reach out to islanders during our annual funding drive which will begin in the next few weeks.

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Guemes Ferry Service Objectives & Cost Survey

The latest online survey that asks the ferry community what ferry operation improvements they would be willing to pay for is open now at publicinput.com/5799.

 

The survey will be open until Thursday, December 5 at 11:59 p.m. You can vote on options for eliminating the midday gap, adding later evening runs, providing online ticketing, and adding parking spaces in the Guemes parking lot.

 

The survey breaks down proposed system changes along with the estimated increase in ticket prices so that riders can better understand the direct impact of each option. The survey is part of the work Skagit County is doing with Berk Consulting and KPFF Consulting Engineers to conduct an operations and service analysis that will consider current and future ferry operations and service. Upon completion of the study, BERK and KPFF will present two investment alternatives -- a minimum investment package and an additional investment package -- to Skagit County. Public Works will make a recommendation based on the findings, and early next year, the Skagit County Board of Commissioners will make a final decision on how to proceed.

 

Comments can be sent by email to ferrycomments@co.skagit.wa.us or by mail to Skagit County, 1800 Continental Place, Mount Vernon WA 98273, no later than Thursday, December 5.

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Guemes Island Community Center Association email lists on other island websites are no longer used for GICCA mailings of any kind. To receive GICCA news, please click below to subscribe.

Reality Check

Most of the plastic that has been made (about 8.3 billion tons) is no longer in use — about 6.3 billion metric tons of plastic
have been thrown away since 1950. About 12 percent of that has been incinerated, which is the only way to permanently dispose of plastic; 9 percent has been recycled, which only delays final disposal; and 60 percent — about 4.9 billion metric tons — is in landfills or scattered in the environment. —New York Times

Helpful Links

On Deck

For a 'month-at-a-glance' calendar, scroll to the very top of this page & click on the Events Calendar button.

Weather Map

Mobile? Click 'Rain/Snow' tag for options

Amazon donates 0.5% of the price of AmazonSmile purchases to their customers' chosen charitable organization. Guemes Island Community Center Association is registered on AmazonSmile. So, if you’re already shopping anyway, why not let Amazon make a small donation to GICCA - at no additional cost to you or GICCA!

How does it work?

  • Click on the AmazonSmile box (right) which brings you to the AmazonSmile GICCA page
    (you might want to bookmark that page to easily find it again).
  • Sign in to Amazon as usual.
  • Then, just shop as you normally would!

Click here to see how much you have made GICCA smile. Thank you!