We recently took a (brief, pandemic-style) trip to one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been: San Juan Island! Though I had traveled to Orcas and Lopez islands before, I had never gone to the most populous of these islands off the coast of Washington State. We had such a lovely time, and I took a zillion photos of the gorgeous natural settings.
Our journey started at the Anacortes ferry dock, where we explored the beach while waiting for our boat to arrive.
Usually, we’d spend the ferry ride on the upper decks looking out the windows… but this time we stayed in our car. Lucky for us, we were parked on an outer row, and enjoyed taking in the scenery as we glided through the Salish Sea.
We stopped briefly on Lopez Island (one of the main settings in my latest novel), so I couldn’t resist taking a pic of the dock!
After we disembarked the ferry, we meandered around Friday Harbor. First stop: the Whale Museum! The museum itself was closed due to the pandemic, but we bought a few orca-centric souvenirs in the gift shop.
By then, our stomachs were growling, so we grabbed some takeout for lunch. The vegan tacos and tamales at Hermosa were AMAZING. The kids gobbled them up despite their long-standing dislike of summer squash.
We strolled around the downtown area, and ended up buying a comprehensive assortment of (dairy-free) truffles at Friday Harbor Chocolates. The kids found the quaint chocolate shop especially inspiring, and now dream of opening their own someday. (And yes, I am definitely on board with helping to make their chocolatiering dreams come true!)
Then it was time to head to the beach. We ended up at a place that seemed strangely named to us at the time: American Camp (at San Juan Island National Historical Park). But, WOW, what an incredible place! The beach was so lovely despite the cold weather.
I loved this poster so much, because it could have been authored by one of my characters. It might not have made the final cut in the novel, but Auntie Leila’s oceanography research is on barnacles! Or maybe it was plankton? Well, thanks to this info I have a newfound respect for these little creatures, so I’ll just go ahead and declare this as the official canon.
We stayed in such an awesome Airbnb on False Bay. I loved these little beds nestled beneath big skylights! If only it had been less cloudy at night, it would’ve been the optimal setup for stargazing.
We spent quite a bit of time out kayaking on the calm bay. There’s nothing more peaceful than gliding through the still water, accompanied only by the sounds of sea birds and the dipping of our paddles.
The water was clear and shallow. Once, I looked down and was startled to see a sea lion floating beneath the surface, staring back at me with curious eyes. It quickly swam away, but that moment will always stick with me!
We also explored the northwest side of the island, where we ended up at the “English Camp” and found a sign that explained everything.
Now, this was an aspect of history that I’d never learned before! Who knew that an argument over a pig led to this near-conflict between the US and England? (Maybe a lot of people do? There is so much about history that I still have yet to learn.)
But, it’s also important to put this territorial skirmish into its broader context: this land was never the rightful property of the US or England. We must not forget that it was stolen from its original inhabitants, who had cared for it for thousands of years before European settlers arrived.
After a wonderful weekend away, our excursion came to an end much too soon. We all fell in love with San Juan Island after this brief adventure. I can’t wait to go back someday when things are a little more normal (and travel is less fraught)!