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Sunday, May 16, 2010

San Juan Island

It’s been three weeks since I have ridden and if we didn’t go Saturday, it would be another week. Our small group from Cornwall Church is meeting on Sunday for the first time in five weeks and we really need to be there. The Sunday ride to Winthrop would have been our first ride over the mountain for the year, but it wasn’t leaving until 8:30 AM. With possibly a large group riding over, finding a place for everyone to have lunch, and then riding back it would have been too late for our group meeting.

So we choose, instead, to ride to San Juan Island with a few friends on Saturday. We were up and getting ready at 5:30 AM and Larry was cheerfully telling me that it was going to be a great day as he looked out the bedroom window. We left; we came back a minute later. I forgot my gel seat pad and Larry wanted a different pair of sunglasses. Back on the road and we arrived in plenty of time to gas up the bike and leave on time.

We took a straight shot down I-5 and then highway 20 to the ferry in Anacortes. We arrived in plenty of time to get off the bikes, relax and talk to other Harley riders taking the ferry. First order after boarding the ferry was to find coffee. Dave and Dawn commented that they had only fixed one pot of coffee this morning, while I, on the other hand, had no coffee to get me going. The first ferry of the day and they weren’t quite ready to open the food service center, so we found the big comfy chairs and waited patiently. Coffee, hot chocolate, breakfast cookies (I am using the term “breakfast cookies” loosely), and cinnamon rolls and we were ready to disembark at Friday Harbor on San Juan Island and begin our adventure.

Rob and Kaye led, followed by Dave and Jan, Dave and Dawn, then Larry and me. One of our destinations was Roche Harbor for lunch by way of the lavender fields and whale watching. We stopped at Pelindaba Lavender Farm and while the lavender is not blooming yet, it looks beautiful growing in mounds surrounded by black plastic in horizontal rows. We checked out the small garden surrounding the Gatehouse Store and then wandered inside to see, touch, smell, and taste a variety of lavender products. Dave J. decided that lavender chutney was not his favorite and Dave L. and I said the lavender chocolate sauce wasn’t bad, just left an after taste of lavender that lingered on. Larry bought a package of lavender chocolate chip shortbread cookies to share. Jan and Kaye really liked them, I thought they were okay, and the rest of the group decided they had had enough lavender for one day.

Back on the road we crossed the island filled with small farms selling wool products from sheep and llamas, ceramics, plants, and art glass to mention just a few. We stopped at the Lime Kiln Point State Park to try to see the eighty plus Orcas who make their summer home off the Haro Strait. We walked down the viewing point with all of our cameras ready to capture our Orca photos. All the other tourists were sitting on rocks and tables with their cameras poised, but said they hadn’t seen any Orcas. We did get a few photos of the Lighthouse and then continued on our journey.

Roche Harbor was full but not over-crowded. We checked out the lime kilns that stand watch over two bocce ball courts. The kilns are the remains of one of the great lime producing centers of the world; much of San Francisco was rebuilt using mortar and concrete produced form Roche Harbor lime, after the 1906 earthquake. The kilns were fired up 24 hours a day, for 11 months of each year and used 32 cords of wood each day.

We sat on the deck of the Madrona Grill overlooking the harbor and basking in the sunshine and warmth of a perfect day to ride--made even better, riding with good friends. The service was excellent, the food good, and our bodies rested. We strolled down the small wharf with a grocery store, shops, and restaurant before heading back to the bikes.

We decided to backtrack to take another shot at whale watching. It was worth a shot but no luck. We arrived back in Friday Harbor, parked the bikes and decided it was time for ice-cream. We picked our flavors and moved out to the deck to enjoy the last of the sunshine. The guys stayed on the deck to relax, play with their cameras, and talk while the ladies explored the shops. The Island Wine Company was offering free wine tasting but we passed and instead spent our time looking at and laughing at the outrageous paper napkins with funny quotes, and dishtowels with fifties photos and sarcastic remarks. We did finally see an Orca, it was stuffed-- not a real stuffed Orca, but a stuffed fleecy Orca used as a mascot--outside one of the stores.

The ferry was pulling in so we mounted up for the ride back to Anacortes. Kaye bought a deck of cards to play a friendly game of poker but I wouldn’t know if they played or who won because I fell asleep enjoying the slight sway of the ferry plowing through the calm waters. When we headed downstairs to the bikes we had a huge surprise with a cold wind blowing through the car ferry. Coats, liners, plugs for heated liners, neck muffs, and gloves. Whoa what a difference! We stopped in Anacortes for a light snack/dinner before heading home. Wings, popcorn chicken, snack sandwiches, and a “Double Down” (a meat lover’s specialty).

One by one we peeled off waving and honking to signal the end of another wonderful day riding in the great northwest.

We saw eagles, sheep, goats, cows, horses, ducks, geese, llamas, alpacas, but no Orcas. Another island another day.

42 nautical miles round trip from Anacortes to Friday Harbor

127 land miles roundtrip from Ferndale to Anacortes

Thanks to Dave Lahr for contributing photos.

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