San Juan Island Dreams

More than 2 days away from the desk was had this year. Hallelujah!

Thanks to my folks’ year-long 50th anniversary celebration, I landed on San Juan Island for a few days of exploration.

When I was a 9-year-old girl, I had the pure joy of staying for a summer in a cabin in the then sleepy island town of Friday Harbor while my dad studied at University of Washington Marine Labs. I remember spending hours peering into tide pools, swimming in the frigid water of the Pacific, feeding raccoons tiny marshmallows (say it isn’t so), and searching for jellyfish with my dad.

I learned this time around that Friday Harbor is named after a Hawaiian sheep farmer for the Hudson Bay Company in the 1850s named Joseph Poalie Friday. Perhaps he was a character, so they named the town after him. Not sure. Hudson Bay Company then was to America what Big Pharma is now. Hence, the military was activated to protect it when a man (the owner of the Lime Kiln) shot a Hudson Bay pig in his garden. For 12 years, while territory rights were disputed, both the British Army and the American Army were stationed on San Juan. Finally, the 49th parallel was agreed upon as the boundary line of the United States, and war was averted.

Hence, I visited English Camp, American Camp, and Lime Kiln, all three involved in the story of the war that almost was. I learned San Juan Island was the largest producer of lime in Washington State, up to 84,000 barrels a year of it until the 1950s when other components were used to make cement.

Animals sighted during my hikes: Ravens, California quail, my first-ever red fox only 2 feet from me when I scared it away, black-tail deer, rabbits, many birds. Apparently missed a pod of orcas by five minutes at Lime Kiln State Park where they appear daily. I had my dream experience while kayaking in my 20s from Sucia Island to Lopez Island when an entire group of orca fins rose out of the water only feet away from my kayak group at sunrise, so I’m set for life. Should I have one more chance to be in the San Juan Islands, I will definitely kayak again and enjoy those magnificent animals up close.

Need a break? Enjoy the show.





About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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