Orchard Falls Farm was owned by a life long friend who introduced me to Orcas in 1968. At that time, my friend, also named Joe, was living in Seattle and had spent his summers on Orcas as a child. By 1970, both our families had 2 children of approximately the same ages. Joe, with his family, purchased the property--now called Orchard Falls Farm--and built the cabin, and later the bunkhouse, that are still the property's principal structures. For many years during the 1970's, the cabins had neither electricity, running water nor phone. The gravity-fed water came from a well that Joe dug by hand up along side the hill opposite the orchard.
As both of us were teachers, we had summers off. Our children spent the summers together throughout the decade of the 1970's. The youngest children, Joe's younger daughter and my daughter, both born in 1970, are seen in the photo, taken on the porch in 1973, in the lower left and the top center of the picture.
Joe decided to sell the property in 1998, and I, along with my two children, agreed to buy it with the intention of preserving it in perpetuity, more or less as is. Joe's kids are always welcome to visit...they feel like they are more or less my daughters anyway.
We called our acquisition Orchard Falls Farm. The name comes from two wonderful features of the land. The orchard is shown in the photo on the main web page. There is also a really lovely seasonal waterfall nestled in a fern grotto which I don't describe much because its summertime flow is modest.
At first, the cabin had no running water; dishes were washed with cold water from an outside sink fed by a hose from the only water tap off the well. Showers were taken from the water in a long hose left on the ground in the sun. One took a shower carefully because when the hose was flushed, the temperature plummeted. The original propane stove still serves the cabin, as does the original refrigerator (acquired when power was installed).
There are other legal properties "up the road" past the Orchard Falls cabin, tho none yet has power, phone or water. Backed up against Moran State Park, these 5 acre properties are on a steep slope and have yet to be more than modestly developed. Consequently, the area is about as quiet now as it was 25 years ago, a hidden gem in the bustle of growth that infects much of the island.
The Orchard Falls property includes part of these steep slopes, and a very modest walk will take even a timid adventurer to a point where a commanding view of the Rosario Straits and Cypress Island can be held. However, virtually no improvements have been made to the building or the grounds in the last decade or two. The property serves today to remind us all of a quieter, slower time when kids played happily all day without access to electricity or a phone or a battery powered anything, when adults busied themselves with reading or lightduty summertime cooking, where the biggest activity might be naps or sitting at the beach enjoying another adults' company.
© 1999 Joe Symons
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