14 August, 2009

Mini Vacation: San Juan Islands

Having 3 weeks off school motivated me to arrange a mini vacation. Bruce and I returned home today from spending 4 and 1/2 days in the San Juan Islands. One of Bruce's friends since childhood, Pliny Keep, is the new manager at Doe Bay Resort. We stayed at the resort in Sea Yurt, a 12' yurt dwelling right on the beach in Otter Cove. Every night the water lapping the sand lulled me to sleep, and shorebirds tracking down breakfast woke me every morning.

The trip began with a race to the ferry after the Shedding Clinic on Sunday arriving near 11pm on Orcas. We fumbled to the resort in the dark, then packed in our gear in the dark and RAIN. Ugh. We spend a couple of days lounging around the resort, enjoying the saunas and soaking pools fed by the natural hot springs.

On Wednesday we took a little inter-island adventure up to Friday Harbor. The ferry passed a pleasure sailing yacht - holy smokes that was a big boat.

On the way to Friday Harbor, we stopped at Shaw.

Shaw is the smallest island served by the WA ferries in the SJI. The last time I visited Shaw was in the early 1990's and the ferry dock was operated by a group of Franciscan nuns who also ran the general store. I raced to the forward end of the boat (WA State Ferries are all double-ended vessels, so the bow and stern are interchangeable) with my camera, and was disappointed to see some teenage or early twenties doodlehums running the dock. At least the sign was as I remembered.

Then arrived at Friday Harbor, San Juan Island. My first visit to "the big island".

Once on San Juan, we visited English Camp as well as American Camp and 4th of July beach. At the beach, the girls got to swim and I spent a lot of time reading my book in the sun and admiring clouds.

In the 1800s, San Juan was occupied by both the British and the Americans, with a great deal of disagreement about whether the land belonged to the British Empire or was part of the new American West. The treaty designated the boundary to be at the "channel between the islands and the mainland." Well, there are 2 channels - Rosario strait and Haro strait. The British insisted the "channel" of the treaty was Rosario strait, leaving the islands in British hands, while the Americans argued the "channel" was Haro strait, making the islands part of the US. Until the dispute was resolved, the English occupied what is now British Camp National Historical Area on the north end of San Juan, and the Americans held what is now American Camp National Historical Area on the south end.

British camp was a nice stop, with a manicured formal garden featuring these black-eyed susans,

and multiple preserved original buildings. Of course, the colors are flying as well.

We also visited Roche Harbor and the outdoor masonic temple there which also acts as a mausoleum for the McMillan family. Bruce took a bunch of cool photos but they are all on his camera. You will likely be able to see them on his blog by the end of the weekend.

The ferry ride back was sunny and beautiful, with the light glinting off the water like a million faceted diamonds.

Two days we visited the Eastsound Off Leash Area. It is tiny, but the girls enjoyed the chance to run free and play frisbee, sniff the sniffs and generally have fun. The resort is pet friendly but asks dogs are kept on-lead. While none of the other people who brought dogs seemed to cooperate with this requirement, I was diligent about it, so the girls needed a chance to romp freely.

I was greatly amused both by the yuppie poop-bag station, which included hand sanitizer:

As well as Magick's clear communications.

Please throw the frisbee soon:


We also went up Mt. Constitution one day, which is part of Moran State Park. It is the highest peak in the SJI and offers vistas of all the islands as well as Canada. The day was cloudy, foggy and cool - as you can see. At least the clouds were photogenic!

Macia and Sucia islands, in the distance is Vancouver, Canada.

Mt. Constitution also features an observation tower constructed of sandstone quarried on the north end of Orcas Island.

All in all it was a very nice visit. The ferry ride home was its own separate adventure, listed in my next entry.

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