san juan islands (part 5)
When the boat landed at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island, we walked up the hill from the harbor to our hotel, the Friday Harbor Inn, which sat on a bluff overlooking the bay and the harbor. Talk about amazing views. And the rooms were amazing. I personally liked the whirl pool bath. We had another great dinner (which involved four, yes 4, apple martinis, don’t ask). And yet I woke up the next day feeling pretty decent and ready to ride. We started off riding south and rode along False Bay (also nicknamed Stinky Bay due to the smelly algae). We had seen False Bay during our wild life cruise, so it was cool to see it up close. The roads here really sucked. The roads on the islands aren’t that good to start with. They don’t do a lot of quality paving. What they do is put down a layer of oil, then a layer of gravel, and then let cars drive on it and mash it together to form a hard top. Which sort of works, but not really good for bikes. So we were getting jarred quite a bit. The road along False Bay was getting a lot of traffic so it was in worse shape than most. And when I say, a lot of traffic, that’s kind of in perspective. We didn’t ever really see a lot of traffic. It’s the beginning of the off season in the islands, so the cars were few and far between and most folks gaveus plenty of space on the road. It was really quite nice.
We pulled into the American Camp on San Juanostensibly to see the nest of a bald eagle, but that was actually kind of lame. The route had us going about 2 miles farther down the road and thencoming back and I was thinking that maybe we would skip that. But since we were at the park, I thought Dad and I would go down to the actual camp. So what camp is this exactly? It’s where the American forces lived during the Pig War. The Pig War? You don’t know about the Pig War? What kind of uneducated fool are you? Well, I’m sure you remember that when the US and the British were trying to draw the border between Canada (then just another British Territory) and the US, they just used the 49th Parallel. And the Straits of Juan De Fuca. But there was some disagreement over the islands in the area, so both the US and the British forces had a camp on San Juan. Apparently one day a pig got loose and strayed into the British side of the island and got killed. However, before things could escalate out of control, Kaiser Wilhelm the First intervened during arbitration and gave the islands to the US. How bizarre is that? Anyways, we biked out to the fort, or really the beginning of a fort dug under the order of a 2Lt Roberts. After the war, it was referred to as Robert’s Gopher Hole. But this is the same Roberts who wrote Robert’s Rules of Order, a famous book about running organizations, etc. Anyways, after that it was back on the bike and up a serious hill and then some more “rolling” terrain. Dad kept going, and I stopped to look at a lavender farm. The gift shop was just awash in lavender smell and they made anything and everything you can think of with lavender in it. But then it was time to bike some more. After cresting another major hill, we cruised down along the side of the island overlooking the Haro Strait and it was just another spectacular ride. The weather was sunny and beautiful. I stopped for some photos and to eat a couple of not so ripe blackberries. And then we stopped at the Lime Kiln State Park. You could keep riding if you want, but Matt and Ashley said it was “pretty hilly.” Translation: Unless you’re name is Lance, don’t even think it. Which I didn’t. Especially with my bad ankle. I had done 19 miles and I think that was enough. Some folks in our group did it and they said it was challenging.
But Dad and I and some other folk took the van to Roche Harbor where we had lunch and then I went on a kayaking trip with some of the group. The kayaks were two people kayaks and I got to drive so I was in the back. The kayaking was pretty easy at first as we skirted the coastline for a bit and then crossed a couple of different channels to check out some of the other islands. We did see a bald eagle sitting up high in a pine tree. It was big and very impressive. The kayaking was great and it was good to see the island from another angle, and not from the seat of a bike. After a couple of hours working a completely different set of muscles, I was ready to stop. ; ) We boarded the van and went back to the Friday Harbor Inn where we had our farewell dinner. It was another great meal and a great way to end the week.