Days 20-23 Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on Friday Plus 1

A Glaucous Winged Gull With Rock Art at Cattle Point
A Glaucous Winged Gull With Rock Art at Cattle Point

Harequin Ducks at Cattle Point

Harlelquin Ducks Seen at Cattle Point


Monday August 25 (Muriel with some help from Allan)

Allan and I left our Seattle hotel very early and headed to the local Lexus dealer in the northern suburbs.  It was time for the RX330’s 85-thousand mile service.  We hung out in the dealer’s waiting room with our computers, the morning LA Times on the Kindle, and non-fat lattes.  The service department advised we have some of the 90K-mile servicing done now, so we headed back in a loaner car to the hotel and breakfast with Maitland, Doris and Laura at a nearby restaurant.  By the time we ate, walked back to the hotel, packed and checked out, it was time to bid farewells to the Hardymans and head back to the Lexus Dealer.

After retrieving our car from the dealer, we drove farther north to the ferry terminal in Anacortes.   We got in line for the ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, the second largest of the San Juan Islands and the county seat of San Juan County, WA.  Having arrived at the terminal not much more than an hour before the ferry was to sail, we counted ourselves lucky to get onto the first sailing.

The weather cleared and we began to become seasoned ferry users.  The big white ferry with green trim was similar to the ferry we had taken to Seattle.  It can hold 200 cars, or a lesser number of vehicles when some are trucks, as well as the automotive passengers and walk-ons.  The view from the ferry was spectacular:  mostly blue skies, brilliantly blue sparkling water of Puget Sound, and many green and tan islands.   The ferry ride to and from the San Juan Islands is somewhat special as the ferry threads its way between islands and one is never far from land.

Once we disembarked in Friday Harbor, we drove to our B & B, a few miles beyond the small town.  After getting settled in, it was back to town for dinner.

Tuesday August 26 (Muriel)

We spent the morning with Allan visiting Friday Harbor’s one computer center since his computer didn’t get a signal at the B & B, while I visited the local Curves for my first workout since leaving Malibu.

Then we headed clockwise around San Juan Island.  The parking lot at the American Camp unit of San Juan National Historical Park was full, so we missed an opportunity to see where the American forces were stationed during the Pig War with England.  This romantically-named conflict was over whether the San Juan Islands were part of Canada or the USA.  Eventually Kaiser Wilhelm II arbitrated and most of the San Juans are part of the USA.

Instead we continued a bit farther toward Cattle Point at the southwest end of San Juan Island.  There we walked along the top of a cliff, looking down at a couple of rounded rocks that held many gulls and some harbor seals.  Most of the gulls were Glaucous-winged with a fair number of Bonaparte’s and a few Herrmann’s and California.  Cattle Point was as far as we could travel to the southwest, so we turned around and stopped at Jekel’s Lagoon and took the mile long nature trail through dense forest and grassland.  There were virtually no birds until we found a Red-breasted Nuthatch when were almost back to the parking lot.  Driving to the north end of the island, we stopped at a whale-watching point (no whales) and a nearby tiny lighthouse.  The scene was very picturesque, but it was starting to rain fairly hard.  We decided to not head toward the English Camp at the northwest tip of the island (opposite to the American Camp).  Instead we headed south to an excellent dinner at the Duck Soup Inn, on the way back to the B & B.

Wednesday August 27 (Muriel)

We awakened fairly early to the sound of rain.  The rain had almost stopped by the time we were dressed, so we walked along the country lane to the road, hoping to get good looks at the American Goldfinches and other birds we had seen while driving the lane at dusk.  We saw many Barn Swallows, a species we had seen in large quantities during this big trip, as well as Brewer’s Blackbirds, European Starlings, and a couple of Great Blue Herons.  Actually only one of the great blues was for real.  The one sleeping at the edge of the B & B’s pond that looked almost artificial turned out to be a statue.  No wonder he was always there.  There were White-crowned Sparrows in the garden.  Most intriguing were varied bird sounds coming from a small lane that branches from the one leading to our B & B.  We knew we were too far north for mockingbirds to be likely.  Eventually we found the bird:  an African Gray Parrot in a roofed cage.  We had been fooled by a parrot and a metal G.B. Heron on one short walk!

We spent the afternoon on a whale-watching expedition with about 30 other tourists on a fairly roomy boat.  We headed north into Canadian waters for well over an hour and spent a long time watching Orcas.  This particular group of whales has been thoroughly studied and monitored which is possible because both fin shape and the irregularities of the flukes (tails) mark individual whales as distinctly as fingerprints do for humans. Therefore our guides knew that we were seeing  members of resident J Pod and L Pod (but no iPods) surface and dive, occasionally tail slapping the water.   We learned almost more than we wanted to know about the habits of orcas and the problems facing them and their food web, but Allan did get some good pictures, some showing almost a whole whale.

Thursday August 28 (Muriel)

We checked out of the B & B as soon as we could after breakfast and headed to get in line for the ferry to Orcas Island.  It turned out we were 20 minutes too early.  We were told to wait until 10:30 after the ferry to Anacortes left at 10:25.  We were then the first in line to wait to board a smaller but still large inter-island ferry that took us to Orcas Island.  We traveled through fog, mist and drizzle and docked at a tiny town at Orcas Island.  From there we drove to the less tiny town of Eastsound where we had lunch.  Then we explored Moran State Park and some of its lakesides and rainforest in the rain and drizzle.  We elected to skip going to the top of Mt. Constitution with its great views, since it was covered in dense cloud.  We checked out the hamlet of Olga where Allan’s cousins live, while giving Cousin Hannah Alex Glasser time to arrive home from running errands.

While the two islands (San Juan where Friday Harbor is located and Orcas) obviously share the same climate and habitat, they feel very different. San Juan Island is relatively flat with much of the coastline accessible by road.  In contrast Orcas is much hillier and less agricultural.  The island is in the shape of an inverted U with a sound running up the middle.  Most roads follow the spine rather than the shore and one feels that one is in the woods most of the time.

We got to the Glassers home about a minute before Hannah.  We had not seen Hannah and her family for almost 15 years, well before they moved full time from the San Francisco Bay area to Orcas Island 5 years ago, where their kids attended high school.  Their daughter Gemma is now attending Parsons in New York and husband Charlie was in New England helping son Julian, a high school senior, look at colleges.  We had a wonderful time catching up with Hannah and learning about her life on this lovely and remote location.  Their home is fascinating, having been designed and largely built by Charlie and Hannah, incorporating many salvaged and re-used items.  It was built with a major effort to be environmentally friendly and sustainable and as related to its location as possible.  We had dinner at a restaurant in a lovely cooperative art gallery and hurried back to the Glasser home to watch Barrack Obama’s acceptance speech on TV.


Friday August 29 (Muriel)

After breakfast, Hannah showed us her studio in an outbuilding and many of her lovely and fascinating ceramic sculptures.  We were delighted that we were welcome to touch them.  Finally we took a stroll through a nearby woods and meadow before saying goodbye.  Then we made haste to drive to the ferry dock in order to get onto a local ferry that eventually took us to Anacortes, where we disembarked and had lunch.

From Anacortes we drove north and east into Canada, through driving rain and spray raised from the roadway by other vehicles.  Although the rain abated to a light drizzle by the time we reached the border crossing, it soon picked up again with a vengeance.  There was quite a backup of traffic due to flooded roadway, but the squall let up and one of the two northbound lanes of Canada 1 was opened.  We were glad we had decided to take the car with all-wheel drive on the trip.  We passed many waterfalls, wet places, raging streams, a large truck on its side next to the road, and other unwanted excitements.  Eventually, after we had descended the east side of the coast ranges a while, the rain gradually tapered off.  We were able to see the countryside clearly, a mixture of second-growth forest with extensive brown areas, presumably from pine-bark beetle damage, and sage and grasslands.  By the time we reached Kamloops, a city of 77,000 in the eastern reaches of British Columbia, the sky was mostly blue.


1 Response to “Days 20-23 Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on Friday Plus 1”

  1. 1 Judy August 31, 2008 at 7:05 pm

    Hi M & A,

    Am really enjoying following your travels so far as I will be walking in your footprints in about 1 month; driving to PT & then ferry to Orcas Island. Can only hope I have some decent weather.

    Had talked with Allan about Rapid City and a place that has some neat Native American things, but forgot to give him the name of the place. It is Prairie Edge & is right down town near a few of the good restaurants. Hope you have a few moments to check it out.

    Thanks for sharing your trip.


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