We drove to Anacortes to catch the 9:05 a.m. Ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Instead of driving the truck onto the ferry, we decided to go as foot passengers so we wouldn’t need reservations (very hard to get on a busy summer weekend, and expensive anyway). We left the truck in a parking lot up the hill from the ferry terminal in Anacortes. Quite a hike! It was overflow parking since the other public parking lots were full. The first half of the hour-long sail we were totally shrouded in fog — low lying cloud banks — and we couldn’t see anything at all or even tell that we were moving, except for the sound of the engines. But the second half of the trip, the fog lifted to reveal incredible views of Mt. Baker back to the east and Orcas Island and Lopez Island which we passed on the way to Friday Harbor.
As soon as we landed in Friday Harbor we walked up the street to the bus stop for San Juan Transit. They run buses on a schedule to various places of interest making a loop around the island and you can ride all day for $15 and get off and on at the sites of your choice. Our first stop was Lime Kiln State Park, where we walked down to the Orca viewing site and had a snack at a beautifully situated picnic table overlooking the rocky beach where we could see Vancouver Island in the distance and where my AT&T cellular service informed me that I had entered Canada (but saw no orcas). Then we took the short trail to the lighthouse, and continued on to the old lime kiln that gave the park its name.
Our next stop was English Camp, part of San Juan Island National Historical Park. This area is the site of the British garrison established here for 12 years during the mid 19th century during a territorial dispute between Britain and the US over ownership of San Juan Island. I guess AT&T never got the memo that the dispute was settled by arbitration in 1872. Kaiser Wilhelm was the arbitrator. Anyway it’s located on beautiful Garrison Bay. There were historical re-enactors set up in the meadow by the bay going about their 19th century business — blacksmithing, doing laundry, washing dishes, cooking, playing croquet, etc.
Our next stop was back to the town of Friday Harbor where we asked at the Visitor Information Center where to find a vegetarian friendly restaurant. They recommended Mike’s Cafe and Wine Bar, which is vegan. It’s a pretty place a couple of blocks from the ferry terminal. We got there at 2:30 and were seated immediately, but sat and sat and finally Scott had to go find someone to take our order. We ordered sweet potato tacos and a seitan BLT with avocado. Good enough… but then we sat and sat some more… a total of about 30 minutes, and no one was around, although there were lots of people eating outside on the patio. Again, we had to ask someone to check on our food, and they finally brought it, lukewarm, so it had probably been prepared and then sat there because no one could be bothered to bring it to us. That said, the food was really delicious. My TripAdvisor review will give them four stars for food, one star for service!
By the time we finished it was 3:30 so we walked down the hill to catch the 3:35 bus to American Camp, the US installation during the territorial dispute AKA the Pig War because it was precipitated by an American shooting an Englishman’s boar because it was digging in his potato patch. Scott said it should have been called the Boar War. (He can’t help himself. It’s a gift.)
At American Camp, we spent a few minutes in the very good Interpretive Center, and then took a short hike down a trail to the beach at Grandma’s Cove. More awesome views in all directions. We learned that a unique ecosystem called North Puget Sound Prairie has been reduced to about 2% of its original extent, and one last remaining tiny patch of it is here at the southern tip of San Juan Island at American Camp.
Our final stop of the day was back at Friday Harbor. We had about 90 minutes before the 6:35 ferry back to Anacortes, so we wandered around this picturesque little tourist town, admiring the harbor, sidestepping throngs of people with strollers and bicycles, and finally spending about 1/2 hour at the Whale Museum. We had been chatting with our bus driver who told us that his wife was offered her dream job as curator of this Whale Museum, so they moved from Everett, WA where he had been a park ranger doing interpretation and education for the city of Everett parks department. His wife moved to San Juan Island to start her job, while it took him seven years to sell their house and find another job in Friday Harbor, which turned out to be buying the bus company from the previous owner who retired to Mexico.
Back on the ferry, back to Anacortes, back in the truck, and back at camp by 9:00 p.m. What a whirlwind of a day! Lots of fun!