Part 1: A peaceful stroll in the woods paired with dining in Langley.
Just a short, beautiful ferry ride from Seattle, and you can find yourself in a sanctuary for the body and soul. Earth Sanctuary is the brain-child of founder and visionary Chuck Pettis. Chuck started with a 500-year business plan – which is what it takes if your vision is to create an old-growth forest, to replace what the lumber industry has taken. The Sanctuary is 72 acres, home to over 90 species of birds, including ospreys, wood ducks, owls, and eagles.
Chuck started by clearing all of the non-native invasive plants (which is an on-going task). He has, so far, planted over 15,000 individual plants of over 80 species and more than 3,000 trees.
The Sanctuary also includes three small ponds and a bog – each supporting an ecosystem that includes waterfowl, bullfrogs, beavers, fish, and many other species. The bog, which is a rarity in the Pacific Northwest is home to many heaths, sedges, ferns, and sundew – which is a carnivorous plant.
A 2-mile trail winds its way through the Sculpture Garden. A short hike, but a deeply spiritual journey. Along the way, you will encounter many small and large cairns (stacked stone artworks), several stone circles, a dolman megalith (upright stones supporting a large horizontal slab), a Native American medicine wheel, a labyrinth, and a Buddhist Stupa monument. There are many quiet places to sit and contemplate with Tibetan prayer wheels, and tiny alters tucked away. The Cottonwood Stone Circle has a diameter of 40 feet and an outer circle of 12 standing stones, which are 11 feet high. Inside the circle are many seating stones and a firepit.
There are also stone sculptures that mark several Ley lines. Ley lines are a grid of lines that crisscross the earth connecting monuments and sacred spaces. Ley lines are said to be a source of energetic power. Some of the more well-known monuments located on Ley lines are Stonehenge, Egypt’s Great Pyramids, and Machu Picchu in Peru.
For an extended spiritual getaway, there is the Earth Sanctuary Retreat House. The house can accommodate 1 to 6 people for an overnight stay or up to 20 for a one-day retreat. At the heart of the house is a spacious meditation room with large windows looking out into the forest. The room has space for small alters and a library of books about meditation and sacred spaces.
The Retreat Center has a full kitchen so you can bring your own food to create total isolation, or you can also take a break and head into Langley (10-minute drive) for a wide choice of some great restaurants. We decided to return to the Braeburn in Langley, having fond memories of a delicious breakfast (an amazing and memorable veggie omelet!) we had there a couple of years ago. The Braeburn is located in a beautiful blue hose in the heart of Langley. There is seating in a charming indoor dining area along with two outdoor seating areas, one in the back, enclosed patio, and another out front.
This time we were there for a late lunch – so Michael chose the Ruben – shaved corned beef on grilled rye bread with sauerkraut and swiss cheese. It must have been good because it sure disappeared quickly. In my on-going search for the perfect cheeseburger, I’d have to say this one came pretty close. It was juicy, but not messy, with swiss cheese, tomato, red onion, and a delicious house-made dill pickle. Yum! Our lunch was complete with a couple of local beers. Michael had the VagaBlonde Kolsch from 20 Corners Brewing Company in nearby Woodinville WA. and I greatly enjoyed the Toil and Trouble Double IPA from Double Bluff Brewery on Whidbey Island. The Kolsch was light and refreshing, and the IPA had just the right bite to it.
After lunch, we strolled around town, window shopping in the many cute boutique stores. A favorite of mine is Callahan’s Firehouse Studio & Gallery, located right next to the Braeburn. It’s a glass-blowing studio and gift shop with lots of unique and beautiful glassworks.
There is also the Star Store – an old fashioned mercantile with just about anything you need. Their tag-line is “Food, Fashion, Furnishings, Fine Wines, Friends, Fun!"
After a bit of wandering around, we came across Sprinklz Ice Cream and Coffee Shop. It was a perfect day for ice cream – warm and sunny. Michael loved the Lemon Meringue, and I loved the Praline Caramel. Sprinklz has a full ice cream parlor menu with cones, shakes, floats, sundaes, and specialty drinks, along with sandwiches and snacks.
Also not to be missed is the Village Pizzeria. We picked up a veggie pizza to take back to the Retreat Center for dinner. The pizza was great – lots of delicious veggies and a perfect crust – crispy on the outside and a little bready along the edges under the crisp.
Our souls soothed and our bellies full – we spent a quiet evening at Earth Sanctuary, meditating on all the good things in life. Looking forward to another day on the island. Stay tuned for part 2!
Editorial disclosure: lodging, beverages, and food generously provided.