This was the first day of the land portion of our tour. It started with a guest lecture from a local artist named Nancy Spaulding who, with her husband, has been making a living from doing art on San Juan Island for many years. Next we split into two groups with one headed for the History Museum and one to the Whale Museum. My group was for history where we learned about the fruit preserve collection dating to 1909. I always love the small history museum for all the daily utilitarian artifacts they have inherited over the years. This one was no exception.
Next up we had a bus tour of San Juan Island starting at American Camp. There the American soldiers waited out the resolution of the border dispute with the British over the border between the United States and Canada. The only casualty in the conflict seems to have been a pig who wandered into the wrong camp.
We made a quick side trip to the local lavender farm which for me was a highlight of the trip due to the abundance of colorful photo ops.
We then made our way to Lime Kiln State Park. Here we found the Lime Kiln lighthouse which is seen in many San Juan Island photographs and art works. Unfortunately the time of day was not the best for us and I think I have better images taken from the boat when we cruised by on Tuesday.
Finally, we continued to explore the interior of the Island, including a drive by the local alpaca farm and a pause to wave at Mona the camel which was adopted by a local farm family. One gets the sense that not a lot happens on the Island but everyone is involved and interested in everything that does.
And then we headed back to the hotel for yet another chicken dinner.
Day 2 dawned bright and sunny and we made our way down to the Spring Street Landing to meet the Chinook where we would have breakfast onboard while cruising north toward Roche Harbor. We arrived around 10am and started our tour with a trip to the Lime Kilns, relics of a major industry of the 19th century. We then proceeded up the path toward the sculpture gardens ever cognizant that we had less than two hours before departure and still needed to see the historic hotel and gardens as well as the artisan’s marketplace.
Back on board we cruised south around San Juan Island to make a complete circle en route to Orcas Island while being served a cracked crab and barbeque chicken lunch. Somewhere along the way more Orcas were sighted but they proved elusive to photograph.
We arrived at Rosario Resort around 3pm and were immediately bussed to a private Salmon Hatchery where an organization called Long Live the Kings is hard at work trying to restore populations of Chinook (aka King) salmon in the Salish Sea. This is a new term for me, it seems that recently it was decided to call the combined waters making up the Puget Sound, Straits of Georgia and San Juan de Fuca the Salish sea. It was interesting to hear about how they harvest the eggs and sperm to cultivate young salmon for return to the wild.
On returning to the boat around 5 we were offered a tasting of two Washington wines along with cheese and crackers as we cruised back to our home base at Friday Harbor. As if we hadn’t had enough to eat that day we then had a catered dinner of seafood enchiladas with chips and salsa and coleslaw.
Our trip started Sunday in Seattle at an airport hotel where we gathered for an evening meal and brief orientation. The next morning we were put on a bus to Bellingham where we met our private boat, The Chinook. Our luggage was loaded onto the boat and we were underway by 10:00 am. Our cruise to Friday Harbor had barely begun when our Captain got word of sightings of Transient Orcas nearby and we headed that way and were rewarded with views of the big killer whales by 11 am.
After a fun hour or so of whale watching we were served a delicious onboard lunch of lasagna and salad only to have another whale sighting reported closer to shore. We hurried through lunch and went out on deck to try and photograph the whales. I took a lot of pictures but only a few turned out with recognizable Orcas. Still it was a thrill to see them.
As we resumed our journey there were also bald eagles to be seen. Not to mention sea gulls and cormorants. There were boats of all shapes and sizes from huge tankers to tugboats to ferrys to sailboats to pleasure craft to whale watching zodiacs. And just to put a little icing on the cake Mount Baker put in an occasional appearance on the eastern horizon.
We finally pulled in to Friday Harbor at around 2:30pm, walked the few blocks to our hotel for the week and had a couple of hours to rest and get organized before our catered dinner at the Farmer’s Market building downtown. All in all a great start to our tour of the San Juan Islands.