FAQ: Travel to the Gaian Soul Retreat

What time should I arrive at Aldermarsh on the first day of retreat?

You can plan to arrive as early as noon on Wednesday at Aldermarsh Retreat Center. It’s good to arrive no later than 4 or 4:30 PM, so you don’t have to rush to get settled before dinner. We have an orientation circle at 5:30 and dinner is served at 6:00. We will have an opening circle afterwards. If you come early in the afternoon, you’ll have time to explore the Aldermarsh grounds and chat with some of your fellow retreatants. If you have a car, you might want to explore the area. You could go shopping in Langley, visit Earth Sanctuary in Freeland, or go beachcombing at Double Bluff Beach. (If you are staying in the second house, Hawk’s Perch, you won’t be able to check in to your room until 4PM. Check with Joanna.)

If you want to come earlier than noon, please make arrangements with Joanna ahead of time. Email her at: joanna@gaiansoul.com.

Many retreatants who have a long flight have discovered that they are more rested and ready for the retreat if they fly in a day early and stay at a hotel near the airport on Tuesday night. (Staying at Aldermarsh Tuesday night is not an option.) There are also places to stay in Langley, if you’d like that option. You can check them out here.

What time do we end on Sunday?

On Sunday, we have planned activities in the morning and lunch is served at noon.  After that, we pack up, and Aldermarsh would like to have us leave by 2 PM. (We highly recommend that you stay for the final morning and the closing circle — very important to your retreat experience! Please try to make your travel arrangements so you can stay.)

Most of the people who fly in stay Sunday night at a hotel near the airport and fly home Monday. You can also check with Meiko, the steward of Aldermarsh, to see if you can stay at Aldermarsh one more night. Contact her at: aldermarshinquiry@gmail.com.

Where do I fly into?

Most people will fly into Seatac (Seattle Tacoma International Airport), although our Canadian friends may want to fly into Vancouver International Airport.

SEATAC is south of Seattle and Whidbey Island. It takes about 1.5 to 3 hours to drive from Seatac to Whidbey, depending on traffic and the Mukilteo/Clinton Ferry schedule. It’s best to take the ferry before 2:30 PM, and there is no food available on the ferry.

How do I get from the airport to Whidbey Island and Aldermarsh?

Take the Shuttle:

You can take the shuttle bus from Seatac to Whidbey Island. The Whidbey Shuttle has priority boarding on the Mukilteo/Clinton Ferry. The cost is around $36.00 one-way, $64.00 round trip. You will need a reservation.

Whidbey SeaTac Shuttle: (877) 679-4003

You should get off the shuttle at the first stop on Whidbey, the Clinton/Langley drop-off point. It’s in a shopping center about 2.5 miles from Aldermarsh. One of our helpers will be able to pick you up and take you to the drop-off location; you just need to make arrangements with me ahead of time. Email is best: joanna AT gaiansoul DOT com.

Or drive:

You can also rent a car to drive to Aldermarsh. You may also be able to connect with someone else who is renting a car, and share gas costs with them. You can “meet” the other retreatants in our private Facebook group, and make driving arrangements there. If you’re not on Facebook, let me know and I will connect with you others who are driving (joanna AT gaiansoul DOT com).

The address for Aldermarsh is:
6436 Maxwelton Road, Clinton WA 98236,
if you want to look it up on Google Maps or MapQuest.

Mukilteo/Clinton Ferry Schedule

It’s best to catch a ferry before 2PM. It runs every half hour. The cost for a car and driver on the Whidbey Island ferry is around $8.00.

Driving directions to Aldermarsh:

From the South (Seattle/SeaTac):

  • Get on I-5 North toward Vancouver B.C.
  • Take EXIT 182 Hwy 525Mukilteo/Clinton & Whidbey Island Ferry
  • Follow signs to Mukilteo Ferry landing. (Ferry runs every half hour)
  • From the Clinton Ferry Landing follow Hwy 525 approx. 3.3 mi
  • Take a Left on Maxwelton Rd. (third stoplight)
  • Drive 1.7 miles on Maxwelton Rd
  • Aldermarsh is just past Campbell Rd on the right.
  • Park in the Upper Lot at an angle

From the North (Vancouver/Bellingham): 

For those heading South there are two options. Take I-5 south, either to Everett and the Mukilteo Ferry, or cross at Deception Pass and drive down the length of Whidbey Island.

Via the Mukilteo Ferry:

  • Take I-5 South
  • Take Exit 189 in Everett
  • Follow signs to Mukilteo Ferry landing. (Ferry runs every half hour)
  • From the Clinton Ferry Landing follow Hwy 525 approx. 3.3 mi
  • Take a Left on Maxwelton Rd. (third stoplight)
  • Drive 1.7 miles on Maxwelton Rd
  • Aldermarsh is just past Campbell Rd on the right.
  • Park in the Upper Lot at an angle

Via Deception Pass:

  • Take I-5 South
  • Take Exit 230 Hwy 20 toward Burlington/Anacortes
  • Take a left at the light onto Hwy 20
  • Stay on Hwy 20 and follow signs to Deception Pass/Whidbey Island
  • Follow Hwy 20 through Oak Harbor
  • Hwy 20 becomes Hwy 525 at Coupeville
  • Continue on to Hwy 525 past Freeland
  • Take a Right at the stoplight onto Maxwelton Rd
  • Drive 1.7 mi down Maxwelton Rd
  • Aldermarsh is just after Campbell Rd on the Right
  • Park in the Upper Lot at an angle

What else do I need to know about staying at Aldermarsh?

The following information is from the staff at Aldermarsh, slightly modified by Joanna.

We invite you to fully participate in the collaborative and co-creative spirit of this land and all who grace it. The beauty and consciousness of Aldermarsh exists because of careful stewardship by people like you who have come to stay, learn, grow and expand their awareness. Shared community living is at the heart of your stay. We ask that you embrace the opportunity and honor common responsibilities of place by following these simple guidelines to enable a blissful experience for all.

When you arrive:

Parking is limited. Please park close together, at an angle on both sides of the parking lot. No parallel parking please.

Walk down the main driveway to the center of the buildings where you will find the pond and a Zen garden. Look for Joanna or her helper there.

Uneven Terrain

Aldermarsh is not wheelchair-friendly. The terrain is somewhat uneven, with paths that wind through woods and meadows.

Community meals and shared responsibilities: 

Participants are asked to share in the clean-up after each mealtime.

Self-serve breakfast may include: organic oatmeal, yogurt, granola, fruit, bread items, juice, tea and coffee, soy, rice, coconut and dairy milk, butter, jam and nut butters. Please bring your own dietary preferences if required.

Please keep all food solely in kitchen areas. Water may be carried everywhere in covered containers. No open beverage containers in bedrooms at anytime.

Recycling and ecological stewardship: 

We ask that you kindly participate in recycling as well as water and energy conservation here at Aldermarsh. Please turn off lights and heat when not in use. Conserve water and help our sensitive septic system by observing the signs posted in bathrooms.


This event is alcohol-free and substance-free, including marijuana and tobacco. We have found that the use of substances can too often sabotage our spiritual process. Thanks for understanding.

Commonly Asked Questions:

Will I be able to use my cell phone? 

Yes, mainly in the Main House, Studio, or near the office. Coverage elsewhere is limited.

Other than a cell phone, where can I make local and long-distance phone calls? 

There are phones located in the Main House kitchen and the office. Please use a calling card for all long-distance calls.

If someone wants to leave a message for me, what number should they use and how do I get the message? 

Calls may be received directly at all the phone locations listed above.

The Office, Main House and Studio phone have the same number: (360) 579-8861. Please feel free to give this phone number to your loved ones.

Is there internet access?

Aldermarsh has partial Wi-Fi coverage. The wireless signal is strongest in the office, on the bench under the grape arbor, in the Studio kitchen, and outside garden. It works nicely in the living room of the Main House, too. There is also Wi-Fi in the second house we use, Hawk’s Perch.

Can I bring some of my own food?

Yes. There are 3 refrigerators, so if you have any personal goodies you want to bring that need to be refrigerated, you’re covered. Please do not bring alcohol.

Can I pick the garden flowers or produce? 

We hope that you will visit and enjoy the flower and vegetable gardens as we do, but please check with a staff person before picking anything.

Are there places to go hiking nearby? How far is the beach? 

Maps are available for forested trails at Chinook / Whidbey Institute (within walking distance), and public beaches, parks, and biking. Maps are located in the Main House Kitchen.

What to Bring:

  • Tarot deck (the Gaian if you have one; if not, any tarot deck)
  • Personal journal
  • Flashlight
  • Timepiece (a watch) other than your phone
  • Slippers or heavy socks to wear indoors (no shoes allowed)
  • Sturdy shoes for outside
  • Layered clothing
  • Water bottle and/or covered hot beverage container for time spent in Marsh House (our meeting space) and outside
  • Any special dietary needs or supplements
  • Altar item, relatively small, that represents something you hold sacred
  • Spending money for a massage or shopping in Langley. (Cash or checks only for massage.)
  • Art Supplies:  List to come.

What Not to Bring:

  • Dogs (unless service animals)
  • Perfumes or strongly scented toiletries
  • Incense, candles
  • Valuables and daily stress!

Before you leave:

It has been a long-standing tradition at Aldermarsh to mindfully depart by clearing your space (both physically and energetically) at closure. Please remove sheets and pillowcase, return the bed spread and blanket as it was upon arrival. Please leave all Aldermarsh laundry at the foot of your bed. North House laundry goes downstairs in laundry room.

Heartfelt thanks from Joanna, and the staff at Aldermarsh

Blessings on your journey and may you walk in Beauty.

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