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Island Hopping: San Juan And Orcas

Island Hopping: San Juan And Orcas

Posted by on Feb 22, 2017 in Gallery, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 36 comments

We spent two and a half months on Lopez Island last year, our sixth summer in the islands. And we didn’t return to the mainland until we sailed back on the ferry to Anacortes in September.

That’s a long time to be on an island that’s only 15 miles long and eight miles wide. Do we ever get island fever? Not really. In addition to magnificent outdoor recreation opportunities and a calendar filled with cultural events, Lopez has just about everything we need—superb local foods, a weekly farmer’s market, a delightful library, excellent coffee shops and cafés, and even a terrific bike shop (we do a lot of biking on the island, and there’s always something in need of repair). For everything else, there’s FedEx. We do, however, enjoy hopping on the inter-island ferry on day jaunts to explore nearby islands.

The San Juan archipelago has 172 named islands and reefs, most of which are too tiny to be inhabited. The Washington State ferries serve four: San Juan, Orcas, Lopez, and Shaw. Each island shares spectacular Pacific Northwest Island scenery—emerald forests, pastoral farmland, and sparkling jewel-like bays. But each also has a slightly different flavor, and it’s fun to explore all of them.

The first of July, we’ll be sailing once again to Lopez Island. We’ll be settling in as interpretive hosts for two months—a position we love, on an island we love, surrounded by people we love. We’ll once again be doing lots of inter-island journeys, and look forward to sharing our explorations with you. Meanwhile, I’ve been sorting through photos of last summer’s adventures. It gives me something to look forward to, especially since it’s snowing again today in Ashland. This has been one long, crazy winter.

Island Hopping

Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island

Boats Docked At Friday Harbor

Summer In Friday Harbor

Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery

Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop

San Juan Islands Museum Of Art

I Think He's Seen Enough

Lime Kiln Lighthouse

Searching For Whales

An Orca In The Distance

Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones

An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch

At American Camp

Hiking Mt. Finlayson

View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

At The Lavender Festival

Sculptures In The Lavender Fields

Making A Lavender Wreath

San Juan Islands Sculpture Park

Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden

Orcas Island Ferry Landing

Eastsound Village On Orcas Island

Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village

Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound

A Merman Overlooking The Village

A Beautiful Labryinth Walk

Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries

Turtleback Mountain Trailhead

Turtleback Mountain Views

Oyster Stout? Umm....No.

Hiking In Moran State Park

The View From Mt. Constitution

Island Hopping
Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island
Boats Docked At Friday Harbor
Summer In Friday Harbor
Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery
Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop
San Juan Islands Museum Of Art
I Think He's Seen Enough
Lime Kiln Lighthouse
Searching For Whales
An Orca In The Distance
Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones
An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch
At American Camp
Hiking Mt. Finlayson
View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail
Pelindaba Lavender Farm
At The Lavender Festival
Sculptures In The Lavender Fields
Making A Lavender Wreath
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park
Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden
Orcas Island Ferry Landing
Eastsound Village On Orcas Island
Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village
Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound
A Merman Overlooking The Village
A Beautiful Labryinth Walk
Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries
Turtleback Mountain Trailhead
Turtleback Mountain Views
Oyster Stout? Umm....No.
Hiking In Moran State Park
The View From Mt. Constitution
Island Hopping thumbnail
Bustling Friday Harbor On San Juan Island thumbnail
Boats Docked At Friday Harbor thumbnail
Summer In Friday Harbor thumbnail
Our Favorite Friday Harbor Gallery thumbnail
Delicious Lunch At San Juan Island Cheese Shop thumbnail
San Juan Islands Museum Of Art thumbnail
I Think He's Seen Enough thumbnail
Lime Kiln Lighthouse thumbnail
Searching For Whales thumbnail
An Orca In The Distance thumbnail
Pools Of Beautiful Aggregating Anemones thumbnail
An Oystercatcher Looking For Lunch thumbnail
At American Camp thumbnail
Hiking Mt. Finlayson thumbnail
View Of Cattle Point Lighthouse From The Trail thumbnail
Pelindaba Lavender Farm thumbnail
At The Lavender Festival thumbnail
Sculptures In The Lavender Fields thumbnail
Making A Lavender Wreath thumbnail
San Juan Islands Sculpture Park thumbnail
Kinetic Sculpture In The Garden thumbnail
Orcas Island Ferry Landing thumbnail
Eastsound Village On Orcas Island thumbnail
Raven Sculpture In Eastsound Village thumbnail
Darvill's Bookstore In Eastsound thumbnail
A Merman Overlooking The Village thumbnail
A Beautiful Labryinth Walk thumbnail
Rustic And Charming Cottage Galleries thumbnail
Turtleback Mountain Trailhead thumbnail
Turtleback Mountain Views thumbnail
Oyster Stout? Umm....No. thumbnail
Hiking In Moran State Park thumbnail
The View From Mt. Constitution thumbnail

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Another Summer On Lopez Island

Another Summer On Lopez Island

Posted by on Nov 2, 2016 in Biking, Birding, Friends, Gallery, Hiking, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 37 comments

As of mid-October, we’re back in Ashland, Oregon, taking care of a myriad of things that need to be completed before we can again resume our travels. This is a challenging part of fulltime RV life—there’s always a mountain of stuff to deal with when we return to our hometown each year. It’s no different than what any other grown-up person has to deal with in life—traveling or not. But it feels a bit daunting when we’re compressing a year’s worth of necessary evils into a few weeks. (The wonderful part is that we’ve also rejoined the tribe of our dear Ashland friends.)

We’re in the midst of trailer repairs, medical and dental appointments, taxes, maintenance tasks on our Ashland home, rooting out our storage unit, trailer home-improvement projects, and more. Last but not least, I have a blog to catch up on. So without further ado, I’m going to whisk you back to mid-June and our summer on Lopez Island.

As the ferry churned through the cold waters of the Pacific and chugged past the maze of islands that make up the San Juan archipelago, we leaned over the railing, anticipating our first glimpse of the small island that would once again be our summer home.

This year, we spent two-and-a-half months on Lopez Island—our longest stretch yet. From mid-June until early September, we were once again temporary Lopezians, immersing ourselves fully in the unique culture of Pacific Northwest island life.

We fell in love with Lopez the first time we visited, almost a dozen years ago.

Six of the past seven years, we’ve spent part of every summer hosting at beautiful Spencer Spit State Park. We contemplate spending time other places, but each summer finds us once again on the ferry to the islands.

I don’t think life gets any better than summer in the San Juan’s. The weather is near perfect, with plenty of sunshine, low humidity, and temperatures in the 70’s. (This makes up for long, long winters of gray and chill and rain—one of the primary reasons we don’t seriously consider living in the islands year-round.)

The scenery is idyllic—pastoral farmland, deep green mossy forests, secluded coves, and rocky cliffs plunging to sapphire seas. Small wonder that the first European settlers to the island described Lopez as a paradise.

Perfect weather and idyllic scenery aside, the strongest draw for us now is our community of friends on Lopez. In our six summers on the island, we’ve developed enduring friendships that transcend time and distance. We gather often with friends for delicious meals, evenings of music, and a variety of island adventures, from biking and hiking to art openings, concerts, and wine tastings. Each summer, we also delight in sharing Lopez with friends visiting from Ashland and fellow full-time RVing friends we’ve met in our travels. To add to this year’s fun, our grandson Findlay sailed to “Camp Lopez” to stay with us for a week.

We’re fortunate to have a hosting position that fits perfectly with our interests. This was our fourth year teaching Interpretive Programs for kids and adults, including the Junior Ranger programs. We teach about native plants, birds found on Lopez, and the traditions of the Salish tribes who first inhabited the islands. Making hundreds of copies of the Jr. Ranger’s booklets gets tedious, but teaching never does. We often come away from a morning of teaching feeling uplifted and inspired by the brilliance, inquisitiveness, and hilarity of the kids we teach (a lot of the adults are just as much fun).

We’re lucky, too, in that the staff at Spencer Spit is terrific. Each summer when we return to the park, we feel like we’re returning home. Our relationship with Lopez and the community of wonderful people on the island continues to deepen—for this, we are deeply grateful. Thanks, Lopez and friends, for another delightful summer. We’ll be back!

I’ve written in detail about our Lopez adventures over the past several years. If you’re interested in reading more, type “Lopez” in the search box and you’ll find lots of posts and photos. Here’s a post with some basic information, should you be interested:

Living Local On Lopez Island

Next Up: Adventures On Orcas And San Juan Island

Another Summer On Lopez

Arriving On Lopez

Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit

Peaceful View Across The Marsh

Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach

Early Morning At Spencer Spit

Art On The Beach

Findlay And My Hat

A Map Of The Island

Peaceful Island Biking

Biking To Town

It's All Picturesque

The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth

Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay

Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay

A View Of Mt. Baker

Shark Reef In Late Afternoon

San Juan Island From Shark Reef

Baby Harbor Seal

Barred Owl On The Trail

On The Trail To Iceberg Point

Endless Views From Iceberg Point

Biking To Fisherman's Bay

Overlooking Fisherman's Bay

A Beach Walk With Findlay

Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez

We Have Company

Delightful Purple Sea Stars

In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm

Our Favorite Farmstand

The Wonderful Lopez Library

It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet!

Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade

Saturday Farmer's Market

A Friendly Farmer At The Market

Our Home On Lopez

Our Outdoor Classroom

Teaching About Native Traditions

They Chose Wolf Totems

Birding For Kids

Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge

Coffee With The Birds Program

Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren)

Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker

Violet Green Swallows

Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia

Ranger Tina And Findlay

Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer

Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site

An Evening Of Music Around The Fire

Bruce And Sheila At Home

Music Evening With Nick And Susie

Michael And Ann In Her Studio

Del And Cindy At Vita's

Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family)

Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica

Traveling Friends Perry And Beth

Ashland Friends Dick And Viki

Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit

Until Next Time

Another Summer On Lopez
Arriving On Lopez
Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit
Peaceful View Across The Marsh
Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach
Early Morning At Spencer Spit
Art On The Beach
Findlay And My Hat
A Map Of The Island
Peaceful Island Biking
Biking To Town
It's All Picturesque
The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth
Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay
Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay
A View Of Mt. Baker
Shark Reef In Late Afternoon
San Juan Island From Shark Reef
Baby Harbor Seal
Barred Owl On The Trail
On The Trail To Iceberg Point
Endless Views From Iceberg Point
Biking To Fisherman's Bay
Overlooking Fisherman's Bay
A Beach Walk With Findlay
Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez
We Have Company
Delightful Purple Sea Stars
In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm
Our Favorite Farmstand
The Wonderful Lopez Library
It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet!
Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade
Saturday Farmer's Market
A Friendly Farmer At The Market
Our Home On Lopez
Our Outdoor Classroom
Teaching About Native Traditions
They Chose Wolf Totems
Birding For Kids
Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge
Coffee With The Birds Program
Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren)
Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker
Violet Green Swallows
Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia
Ranger Tina And Findlay
Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer
Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site
An Evening Of Music Around The Fire
Bruce And Sheila At Home
Music Evening With Nick And Susie
Michael And Ann In Her Studio
Del And Cindy At Vita's
Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family)
Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica
Traveling Friends Perry And Beth
Ashland Friends Dick And Viki
Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit
Until Next Time
Another Summer On Lopez thumbnail
Arriving On Lopez thumbnail
Rustic Cabin On Spencer Spit thumbnail
Peaceful View Across The Marsh thumbnail
Fledgling Rough Winged Swallows On The Beach thumbnail
Early Morning At Spencer Spit thumbnail
Art On The Beach thumbnail
Findlay And My Hat thumbnail
A Map Of The Island thumbnail
Peaceful Island Biking thumbnail
Biking To Town thumbnail
It's All Picturesque thumbnail
The Beautiful Herb Labyrinth thumbnail
Watching Peregrines At Watmough Bay thumbnail
Magical Mossy Trails Above Watmough Bay thumbnail
A View Of Mt. Baker thumbnail
Shark Reef In Late Afternoon thumbnail
San Juan Island From Shark Reef thumbnail
Baby Harbor Seal thumbnail
Barred Owl On The Trail thumbnail
On The Trail To Iceberg Point thumbnail
Endless Views From Iceberg Point thumbnail
Biking To Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
Overlooking Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
A Beach Walk With Findlay thumbnail
Kayaking One Of Many Bays On Lopez thumbnail
We Have Company thumbnail
Delightful Purple Sea Stars thumbnail
In The Fields At Horse Drawn Farm thumbnail
Our Favorite Farmstand thumbnail
The Wonderful Lopez Library thumbnail
It's Cozy Inside And Has Internet! thumbnail
Peace Train At The Fourth Of July Parade thumbnail
Saturday Farmer's Market thumbnail
A Friendly Farmer At The Market thumbnail
Our Home On Lopez thumbnail
Our Outdoor Classroom thumbnail
Teaching About Native Traditions thumbnail
They Chose Wolf Totems thumbnail
Birding For Kids thumbnail
Findlay Earned His Jr. Ranger Badge thumbnail
Coffee With The Birds Program thumbnail
Visitor To Our Campsite (Pacific Wren) thumbnail
Fledgling Pileated Woodpecker thumbnail
Violet Green Swallows thumbnail
Our Cohosts Stan And Georgia thumbnail
Ranger Tina And Findlay thumbnail
Meghan At The End Of A Long Summer thumbnail
Dinner With Lopez Friends At Our Site thumbnail
An Evening Of Music Around The Fire thumbnail
Bruce And Sheila At Home thumbnail
Music Evening With Nick And Susie thumbnail
Michael And Ann In Her Studio thumbnail
Del And Cindy At Vita's thumbnail
Ashland Friends (Linda, Steve, & Family) thumbnail
Traveling Friends Henry, Loretta & Jessica thumbnail
Traveling Friends Perry And Beth thumbnail
Ashland Friends Dick And Viki thumbnail
Last Glimpse Of Spencer Spit thumbnail
Until Next Time thumbnail

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In Search Of Whales

In Search Of Whales

Posted by on Oct 2, 2015 in Friends, Gallery, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 14 comments

For years, we’ve been trying to see whales. Orca whales, in particular. Several pods of these magnificent creatures make their home in the Salish Sea off of San Juan Island. It’s one of the best places in the world to see orcas—at Lime Kiln State Park (also known as “Whale Watch Park”), the conditions are just right for the whales, and they often cruise by close to the shoreline. They cavort, breach, tail slap, feed, and delight visitors who hang out on the rocky shore waiting for the whales to pass by.

Alas, we’ve never seen the orcas at Lime Kiln. At least, not up close. We’ve tried—oh my, have we tried. Many, many times we’ve tried. We’ve spent hours at the park, walking down the path to the shoreline as people excitedly call out, “Oh, the whales were just here!” They then proceed to show us their iPhone videos of the whales breaching just a few feet offshore. The best we’ve managed is a far-off view—mostly the unique curved arc of the dorsal fin—still thrilling, but not what we’ve been hoping for.

And so, we decided to fork over the money for a whale watching expedition. Not just any expedition, mind you. Maya’s Legacy is reputed to be the best—a small boat, with only six passengers. A fast boat that would get us quickly to the whales. A captain who knows the island waters like the back of his hand.

We made our reservations for the first available time, late in August. We caught the early ferry to San Juan from Lopez, and with great anticipation and excitement, began our journey in search of the orcas. Our captain was skilled and determined to show us the whales. “We’ve seen whales every day this summer,” he told us. With transient whales hanging around as well as the resident pods, our chances were good for an encounter with the orcas.

It was a perfect day. Sunny, cool, and calm. We started out the morning observing the gulls, the seals, enjoying the beauty of the islands. We motored along the west and north side of San Juan Island, no whales to be found. We moved into open waters. We cruised past Shaw Island, traveling 10 miles to Orcas Island, where whales had reputedly been sighted. No whales. Our captain gunned the boat, and we took off at top speed, heading south. “It looks like we’re heading to Lopez,” I said to Eric. “Why are we going to Lopez? There aren’t whales at Lopez.”

But there they were. In all the waters of the islands, a transient pod of orcas chose on this particular day to visit Lopez. Not only did they choose Lopez, they chose Spencer Spit. We sat on the deck of the boat, looking directly at Spencer Spit State Park, our home for the past two months. The whales cavorted, spouted, snapped up a seal, rolled, tail slapped, and made a fine display, all within a few feet of the spit. Had we stayed home and walked on the spit—which we do almost every day when we’re on the island—we would have had a magnificent view of the whales, and been closer than we were on the boat. (By law, boats must stay at least 200 yards from the whales.)

We didn’t see spectacular behavior like spy hopping. Nor were we so lucky to be as close as the folks who happened to be on shore—or better yet, kayaking when the whales passed by. Nonetheless, we had a fabulous time. I’m still determined to see the whales at Lime Kiln. Better yet, maybe they’ll visit Spencer Spit again next year, and we’ll be strolling on the beach when they pass by.

In Search Of Whales

At Lime Kiln State Park

Bring On The Whales!

That's A Big Dorsal Fin

Orca In Traffic Jam

Our Whale Watching Expedition

Ready To See Whales

Sharing The Adventure With Terry And LuAnn

Looking For Whales

Hold On!

This Place Looks Familiar

Orcas Traveling Along Spencer Spit

An Orca Spout

Like A Scene From "Jaws"

So Close To Shore

An Orca's Fluke

A View Of More Than The Dorsal Fin

On The High Seas

In Search Of Whales
At Lime Kiln State Park
Bring On The Whales!
That's A Big Dorsal Fin
Orca In Traffic Jam
Our Whale Watching Expedition
Ready To See Whales
Sharing The Adventure With Terry And LuAnn
Looking For Whales
Hold On!
This Place Looks Familiar
Orcas Traveling Along Spencer Spit
An Orca Spout
Like A Scene From
So Close To Shore
An Orca's Fluke
A View Of More Than The Dorsal Fin
On The High Seas
In Search Of Whales thumbnail
At Lime Kiln State Park thumbnail
Bring On The Whales! thumbnail
That's A Big Dorsal Fin thumbnail
Orca In Traffic Jam thumbnail
Our Whale Watching Expedition thumbnail
Ready To See Whales thumbnail
Sharing The Adventure With Terry And LuAnn thumbnail
Looking For Whales thumbnail
Hold On! thumbnail
This Place Looks Familiar thumbnail
Orcas Traveling Along Spencer Spit thumbnail
An Orca Spout thumbnail
Like A Scene From
So Close To Shore thumbnail
An Orca's Fluke thumbnail
A View Of More Than The Dorsal Fin thumbnail
On The High Seas thumbnail

Read More

The Natural Beauty Of Lopez Island

The Natural Beauty Of Lopez Island

Posted by on Sep 23, 2015 in Biking, Birding, Friends, Gallery, Hiking, Kayaking, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 21 comments

I can’t tear myself away from Lopez without one more post celebrating the incredible natural beauty of the island. Although small, Lopez is blessed with an abundance of opportunities for outdoor adventures. We bike, hike, or kayak—or at the very least, take a long walk circumnavigating the beautiful spit—every day while we’re on the island.

Although we are enamored by the adventure of exploring new places (obviously, or we wouldn’t be living in a box on wheels), we also delight in revisiting favorite spots. I think relationships with places deepen when we visit time and again, in the same way that relationships with people we hold dear deepen over the years.

We’ve developed enduring relationships with many places on Lopez. There’s Iceberg Point, with rocky cliffs that plunge to a cobalt sea and orange lichen-covered rocks that are the perfect complement to the deep blue ocean. Or Watmough Bay, with its snug little cove, tranquil turquoise waters, and fairy-like mossy trails. Shark Reef is our favorite spot for a glorious sunset picnic, with views of the lighthouse on San Juan Island winking in the purple-hued dusk, and the comical sounds of the seals barking, belching, and cavorting on the island offshore.

We love biking the peaceful, meandering island roads, stopping at farm stands along the way to pick up vegetables and eggs. And the kayaking—oh, it’s glorious. Getting onto the water opens up a whole other world of possibilities. There’s Mud Bay, with a surprising view of Native Northwest totems tucked into the red-barked madrones; Hunter Bay with rocky shores studded with purple and orange sea stars; McKaye harbor and a good long paddle to lovely Agate Beach; and Fisherman’s Bay for a leisurely paddle amongst wildlife and interesting boats.

You should come to Lopez at least once in your life. Really, you should.

If you’re interested in visiting the island, you’ll find tips here for the ferry journey, as well as camping options on Lopez: Living Local On Lopez Island. 

The Natural Beauty Of Lopez Island

Peaceful Island Biking

At Fisherman's Bay

With Linda And Steve At Fisherman's Bay

Kingfisher At Fisherman's Bay

Kayking Fisherman's Bay

Buster In Fisherman's Bay

Beautiful Day In Hunter Bay

Kayaking Mud Bay

A Perfect Perch For A Great Blue Heron

Oystercatcher On The Rocks

The Sea Stars Are Making A Comeback

Native Northwest Indian Totem On The Shore

Kayak Adventure With LuAnn And Terry

Kayaking To Agate Beach

On Watmough Bay Trails With LuAnn And Terry

Sun Dappled Mossy Trails

Vast Sky And Sea At Point Colville

Terry And Eric At Point Coville

LuAnn And Laurel At Point Coville

Hiking Chadwick Hill

View From Chadwick Hill

Above Turquoise Watmough Bay

The Beach At Watmough Bay

That Way To Iceberg Point

On The Trails At Iceberg Point

Foggy Day At Iceberg Point

Exploring Iceberg Point

John And Diana At Shark Reef

Herds Of Seals At Shark Reef

Late Afternoon At Shark Reef

Lavender Dusk At Shark Reef

Enjoying A Shark Reef Sunset

The Natural Beauty Of Lopez Island
Peaceful Island Biking
At Fisherman's Bay
With Linda And Steve At Fisherman's Bay
Kingfisher At Fisherman's Bay
Kayking Fisherman's Bay
Buster In Fisherman's Bay
Beautiful Day In Hunter Bay
Kayaking Mud Bay
A Perfect Perch For A Great Blue Heron
Oystercatcher On The Rocks
The Sea Stars Are Making A Comeback
Native Northwest Indian Totem On The Shore
Kayak Adventure With LuAnn And Terry
Kayaking To Agate Beach
On Watmough Bay Trails With LuAnn And Terry
Sun Dappled Mossy Trails
Vast Sky And Sea At Point Colville
Terry And Eric At Point Coville
LuAnn And Laurel At Point Coville
Hiking Chadwick Hill
View From Chadwick Hill
Above Turquoise Watmough Bay
The Beach At Watmough Bay
That Way To Iceberg Point
On The Trails At Iceberg Point
Foggy Day At Iceberg Point
Exploring Iceberg Point
John And Diana At Shark Reef
Herds Of Seals At Shark Reef
Late Afternoon At Shark Reef
Lavender Dusk At Shark Reef
Enjoying A Shark Reef Sunset
The Natural Beauty Of Lopez Island thumbnail
Peaceful Island Biking thumbnail
At Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
With Linda And Steve At Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
Kingfisher At Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
Kayking Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
Buster In Fisherman's Bay thumbnail
Beautiful Day In Hunter Bay thumbnail
Kayaking Mud Bay thumbnail
A Perfect Perch For A Great Blue Heron thumbnail
Oystercatcher On The Rocks thumbnail
The Sea Stars Are Making A Comeback thumbnail
Native Northwest Indian Totem On The Shore thumbnail
Kayak Adventure With LuAnn And Terry thumbnail
Kayaking To Agate Beach thumbnail
On Watmough Bay Trails With LuAnn And Terry thumbnail
Sun Dappled Mossy Trails thumbnail
Vast Sky And Sea At Point Colville thumbnail
Terry And Eric At Point Coville thumbnail
LuAnn And Laurel At Point Coville thumbnail
Hiking Chadwick Hill thumbnail
View From Chadwick Hill thumbnail
Above Turquoise Watmough Bay thumbnail
The Beach At Watmough Bay thumbnail
That Way To Iceberg Point thumbnail
On The Trails At Iceberg Point thumbnail
Foggy Day At Iceberg Point thumbnail
Exploring Iceberg Point thumbnail
John And Diana At Shark Reef thumbnail
Herds Of Seals At Shark Reef thumbnail
Late Afternoon At Shark Reef thumbnail
Lavender Dusk At Shark Reef thumbnail
Enjoying A Shark Reef Sunset thumbnail

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Island Time

Island Time

Posted by on Sep 13, 2015 in Family, Friends, Gallery, Music, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 30 comments

The pumpkins are ripening in the fields at Horse Drawn farm, and rose hips are plump on the beach roses on Spencer Spit. There’s a distinct shift in the angle of the sun, casting everything in a golden glow come late afternoon. It’s a lovely, and yet bittersweet time of year. The dawning of September means that once again, our summer on Lopez Island has come to an end.

This is our fifth summer camp hosting on Lopez at Spencer Spit State Park, and as always, when it’s time to leave I feel as though we’ve just arrived. “But wait!” I think. “There’s still so much to do, more time to spend with friends, more music to play, more hikes and kayaking and biking…” It has been a glorious summer.

Lopez captivated us the very first time we visited, and each time we return, we fall in love with the island all over again. I can’t imagine a more idyllic place than Lopez in the summer. The island is only 15 miles long and 8 miles wide, and the village a mere few square blocks, but there’s a richness of spirit and a down-to-earth lifestyle that we find enormously appealing.

Our time on Lopez is made all the richer by the friendships we’ve made—how fortunate we are to have been welcomed into this wonderful community of fun-loving, warm-hearted, and talented friends. Over the years, we’ve enticed many of our Ashland friends to Lopez, which only adds to the fun. And this year, we were fortunate to have LuAnn and Terry (Paint Your Landscape), fellow full-time travelers and friends we met last winter in Anza Borrego, as our co-camp hosts. Our summers on Lopez just keep getting better and better.

I’ve written extensively about Lopez Island in previous posts, so I’ll keep this short. If you’re interested in more details about the island, including our experience as interpretive hosts, check out the following posts:

• Living Local On Lopez Island

• Locavore On Lopez

• Junior Rangers

• How To Become A Junior Ranger

• Coffee With The Birds

The photos, however—well, there’s just no way to resist trying to capture the beauty of this special place. Here, my love letter to Lopez, culled from two months of far too many photos:

Island Time

Looking Across The Marsh

Clouds Over The Marsh

On A Foggy Morning

Luxurious Driftwood Hut

Dusk On Spencer Spit

Magical Moonrise

At Horse Drawn Farm

Shopping At The Farm Stand

Crowfoot Organic Berry Farm

Bounty From Crow Foot Farm

Lopez Village

Downtown Lopez

Best Little Library

Inside The Cozy Library

Saturday Farmers' Market

Local Artists At The Farmers' Market

Enterprise At The Market

Friday Night Wine Tasting At Vitas

Nick, Bruce, Susie, & Sheila

Beth, Ann, & Gretchen

An Afternoon Performance With Gretchen

Eric, John, & Diana On The Spit

Enjoying The Beach With Diana

Steve & Linda At Shark Reef

A Little Music With Lydia & Joe

Whale Watching With Terry & LuAnn

Building A Beach House With Findlay & Amanda

Daddu And Findlay On An Expedition

Piggyback Through The Salal

On Duty

Teaching About Native Plants

Making Nature Journals

Teaching About Local Birds

Drawing His Wolf Totem

Art On The Beach

A Tribute To Sea Stars

Rose Hips On The Beach

Island Time
Looking Across The Marsh
Clouds Over The Marsh
On A Foggy Morning
Luxurious Driftwood Hut
Dusk On Spencer Spit
Magical Moonrise
At Horse Drawn Farm
Shopping At The Farm Stand
Crowfoot Organic Berry Farm
Bounty From Crow Foot Farm
Lopez Village
Downtown Lopez
Best Little Library
Inside The Cozy Library
Saturday Farmers' Market
Local Artists At The Farmers' Market
Enterprise At The Market
Friday Night Wine Tasting At Vitas
Nick, Bruce, Susie, & Sheila
Beth, Ann, & Gretchen
An Afternoon Performance With Gretchen
Eric, John, & Diana On The Spit
Enjoying The Beach With Diana
Steve & Linda At Shark Reef
A Little Music With Lydia & Joe
Whale Watching With Terry & LuAnn
Building A Beach House With Findlay & Amanda
Daddu And Findlay On An Expedition
Piggyback Through The Salal
On Duty
Teaching About Native Plants
Making Nature Journals
Teaching About Local Birds
Drawing His Wolf Totem
Art On The Beach
A Tribute To Sea Stars
Rose Hips On The Beach
Island Time thumbnail
Looking Across The Marsh thumbnail
Clouds Over The Marsh thumbnail
On A Foggy Morning thumbnail
Luxurious Driftwood Hut thumbnail
Dusk On Spencer Spit thumbnail
Magical Moonrise thumbnail
At Horse Drawn Farm thumbnail
Shopping At The Farm Stand thumbnail
Crowfoot Organic Berry Farm thumbnail
Bounty From Crow Foot Farm thumbnail
Lopez Village thumbnail
Downtown Lopez thumbnail
Best Little Library thumbnail
Inside The Cozy Library thumbnail
Saturday Farmers' Market thumbnail
Local Artists At The Farmers' Market thumbnail
Enterprise At The Market thumbnail
Friday Night Wine Tasting At Vitas thumbnail
Nick, Bruce, Susie, & Sheila thumbnail
Beth, Ann, & Gretchen thumbnail
An Afternoon Performance With Gretchen thumbnail
Eric, John, & Diana On The Spit thumbnail
Enjoying The Beach With Diana thumbnail
Steve & Linda At Shark Reef thumbnail
A Little Music With Lydia & Joe thumbnail
Whale Watching With Terry & LuAnn thumbnail
Building A Beach House With Findlay & Amanda thumbnail
Daddu And Findlay On An Expedition thumbnail
Piggyback Through The Salal thumbnail
On Duty thumbnail
Teaching About Native Plants thumbnail
Making Nature Journals thumbnail
Teaching About Local Birds thumbnail
Drawing His Wolf Totem thumbnail
Art On The Beach thumbnail
A Tribute To Sea Stars thumbnail
Rose Hips On The Beach thumbnail

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A Few Days On San Juan Island

A Few Days On San Juan Island

Posted by on Sep 30, 2014 in Family, Food, Gallery, Hiking, San Juan Islands, Travel, Washington | 20 comments

You didn’t really think we could so easily leave behind the magic of the San Juan Islands, did you? Most definitely not, especially given that our daughter and grandson live on San Juan Island. I know, that’s a bit confusing, right? The entire archipelago (more than 400 islands and rocks) is known as the San Juan Islands; and then there’s San Juan Island, the second largest of the group and the most populated, with almost 7,000 residents.

We sailed away from Lopez and one hour later, docked at Friday Harbor, the port of San Juan Island. Unlike Lopez, which has nothing at the harbor landing, Friday Harbor is a bustling little town. It boasts a large harbor filled with interesting boats, nice shops and art galleries, the best bakery in the islands, and several of our favorite restaurants in the islands. Because there’s so much to do in town, it’s easy to visit San Juan Island without a car. You can walk on the ferry in Anacortes for a small fee, or if you’re staying on another island, travel inter-island for free.

Our primary attraction on San Juan Island is spending time with Amanda and Findlay. Although we saw each other just about every week during our two months on Lopez (we went to San Juan or they came to Lopez), we were looking forward to a few days of hanging out with them with no other responsibilities. Sadly, Amanda came down with a bad cold and spent much of the time resting. Findlay, however, was available after pre-school and was raring to go.

The mind of a four-year-old is inquisitive, creative, hilarious, and slightly insane. He is aware of everything, all of the time. (When I said sotto voce to Eric as we were driving, “He doesn’t miss a trick,” a couple of minutes later a little voice piped up from the backseat—“Abba, what does that mean, ‘doesn’t miss a trick?’”) He’s going through a stage of empowerment, where he grandiosely informs us of all of the things that he’s built. Admiring a boat at the docks, he says, “I built that!” “Really!” we say. “What a wonderful job you did!” At the sculpture garden, he ran delightedly through the grounds telling us of each and every sculpture he had created. I couldn’t help laughing when he told me that he had put together a very large and intricate orca whale sculpture from a kit that arrived in the mail. “How beautiful!” I said. “How long did it take you?” According to Findlay, he whipped it together in two hours. (My apologies to the artist.)

We played together, ate together, went on little adventures, talked, laughed, and wished that we had more time together. It’s always like that.

Here, a few of our favorite things on San Juan Island from this visit:

In Friday Harbor:

The Waterfront: Wander the waterfront, stroll down the docks, and admire the beautiful carved totem arch. During the summer, there’s often live music at the waterfront park.

Explore The Shops: A few of our favorites include Arctic Raven Gallery (authentic Northwest Coast Native art), Pelindaba Lavender (a fragrant and lovely shop of island-grown lavender products), and Island Studios (excellent local artists’ cooperative).

Café Demeter: Our favorite bakery in the islands; they craft fine European-style pastries, including the best flourless chocolate cake imaginable.

Restaurants: There are some great choices within walking distance of the harbor. We often have lunch at Market Chef, which consistently offers a tempting and ever-changing selection of locally grown, perfectly prepared foods. We also like The Backdoor Kitchen, primarily a gourmet dinner venue but also offering lunch on “Noodle Bowl Mondays”— delicious Vietnamese inspired noodle bowls brimming with local veggies, meats, and seafood.

Further Afield: (You’ll need transportation, either your own vehicle or you can rent a moped in Friday Harbor.)

Hiking Mt. FinlaysonA beautiful 3.5-mile round-trip hike on the southeast side of the island leads to the highest point on San Juan Island. The trail winds along the shoreline through golden native grasslands with a terrific view of Cattle Point Lighthouse and the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

Lime Kiln Point State Park: Located on the west side of the island, Lime Kiln Point is one of the best places in the world to see whales from land. Orcas are the main attraction, but you can also see minke whales, otters, porpoises, seals, and sea lions. We’ve been several times and have never seen whales. We’ve decided that next year we’re going to hang out at the park, returning as often as necessary, until we see orcas. The peak whale-watching season is May-September, with June and July the most likely time to see whales. They can pass by within a few feet of the shore! Even without whales, the park is worth visiting, and the hiking is strikingly beautiful along the rocky shoreline. There’s another picturesque lighthouse perched on the rocks at Lime Kiln, built in 1919 and still serving as a beacon for ships in the Haro Strait. And there’s an excellent small visitor’s center with a very good film on the orcas.

Wescott Bay Sculpture Garden: On the northwest corner of the island is one of the largest—and possibly the finest—sculpture gardens on the West coast. Twenty acres of lovely parkland is home to more than 100 works of art crafted in bronze, ceramic, glass, metal, stone, and wood. Wandering the trails is a delight. The park is open every day from dawn to dusk.

A Few Days On San Juan Island

Sailing Away

Mt Baker From The Ferry

Friday Harbor Ferry Landing

Totem Arch Overlooking The Harbor

Murals On The Street

Bikes For Rent

The Market Chef

Market Chef Picnic Lunch

Bringing Herbs And Flowers For My Tea

Amazing French Bakery

Goodies At Demeter Bakery

Lunch At The Backdoor Kitchen

Irresistible

Lime Kiln Interpretive Center

Figuring Out Where We Are

Scanning For Whales

On The Path

Hiking To Mt Finlayson

Lighthouse At Cattle Point

Yay, We're At The Sculpture Garden!

Portal To The Gardens

Sculptural Arch

Taming The Alligator

Best Playground Ever!

Hangin' Out In The Sculpture Garden

He Said He Built This From A Kit

What The Heck?

Prayer Wheel In The Afternoon Light

Lining Up For The Ferry

Saying Goodbye To Amanda At The Dock

Little Bigfoot Goes On The Ferry

Sailing Past Tiny Lopez Harbor

A Few Days On San Juan Island
Sailing Away
Mt Baker From The Ferry
Friday Harbor Ferry Landing
Totem Arch Overlooking The Harbor
Murals On The Street
Bikes For Rent
The Market Chef
Market Chef Picnic Lunch
Bringing Herbs And Flowers For My Tea
Amazing French Bakery
Goodies At Demeter Bakery
Lunch At The Backdoor Kitchen
Irresistible
Lime Kiln Interpretive Center
Figuring Out Where We Are
Scanning For Whales
On The Path
Hiking To Mt Finlayson
Lighthouse At Cattle Point
Yay, We're At The Sculpture Garden!
Portal To The Gardens
Sculptural Arch
Taming The Alligator
Best Playground Ever!
Hangin' Out In The Sculpture Garden
He Said He Built This From A Kit
What The Heck?
Prayer Wheel In The Afternoon Light
Lining Up For The Ferry
Saying Goodbye To Amanda At The Dock
Little Bigfoot Goes On The Ferry
Sailing Past Tiny Lopez Harbor
A Few Days On San Juan Island  thumbnail
Sailing Away  thumbnail
Mt Baker From The Ferry  thumbnail
Friday Harbor Ferry Landing  thumbnail
Totem Arch Overlooking The Harbor  thumbnail
Murals On The Street  thumbnail
Bikes For Rent  thumbnail
The Market Chef  thumbnail
Market Chef Picnic Lunch  thumbnail
Bringing Herbs And Flowers For My Tea  thumbnail
Amazing French Bakery  thumbnail
Goodies At Demeter Bakery  thumbnail
Lunch At The Backdoor Kitchen  thumbnail
Irresistible  thumbnail
Lime Kiln Interpretive Center  thumbnail
Figuring Out Where We Are thumbnail
Scanning For Whales  thumbnail
On The Path  thumbnail
Hiking To Mt Finlayson thumbnail
Lighthouse At Cattle Point  thumbnail
Yay, We're At The Sculpture Garden! thumbnail
Portal To The Gardens  thumbnail
Sculptural Arch  thumbnail
Taming The Alligator  thumbnail
Best Playground Ever! thumbnail
Hangin' Out In The Sculpture Garden thumbnail
He Said He Built This From A Kit  thumbnail
What The Heck? thumbnail
Prayer Wheel In The Afternoon Light  thumbnail
Lining Up For The Ferry  thumbnail
Saying Goodbye To Amanda At The Dock thumbnail
Little Bigfoot Goes On The Ferry  thumbnail
Sailing Past Tiny Lopez Harbor  thumbnail

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