Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Roche Harbor

We were hoping to make it up to Roche Harbor before it got dark and, as it turned out, we had plenty of time to wander a little. Roche Harbor is the site of San Juan's largest historic limestone operation and the resort sort of formed around the old kilns and company town. But now it's mainly large yachts and second (or third) homes for people who live in even more affluent places faraway.

There was a big wedding wrapping up and we noted (as I'm sure they did, too) how lucky they were to have such nice weather for a mid-February wedding. Could have been miserable!

Lime Kiln Point

Lime Kiln Point is a great place to watch orca, along with their summertime escort of whale watching boats and pleasure craft, but not such a good place to watch orca when they aren't around. But it's still a neat place to look across Haro Strait to Victoria, 10 miles to the west and to enjoy the sunshine and the lack of crowds.

There's limestone on San Juan Island, thus the quarries and the kilns here and at Roche Harbor, a little farther north. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, the production and shipping of lime was a major industry on the island. I believe the limestone is Devonian, so a lot older than most anything else around here.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Cattle Point

I suppose I get to San Juan Island once very couple of years for work, but we realized that M probably hadn't been here in at least two decades. I guess the prospect of trying to get to the islands has scared us off - and we get a pretty good dose of islands in the summertime on Salt Spring every August.

We walked out to the lighthouse at Cattle Point - where we discovered that we weren't the only tourists on the island. But this was pretty much it for crowds.

Then we drove down to South Beach and clambered across the logs to the beach. We didn't stay too long - places to go and friends to drop in on - and all before catching this evening's ferry back to the mainland.

San Juan Island

Back to President's Day weekend. A month back. Things have been busy.

We arrived in Friday Harbor late morning and after wandering around town briefly looking for lunch options (much was closed), we ended up grabbing stuff at King's and hitting the road.  We wound up down at Eagle Cove - there was one other couple there, but when they left we had it to ourselves. A light low haze obscured the Olympics, but otherwise what an absolutely perfect day.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015


We never ended up making plans for the three-day weekend, but Saturday afternoon we decided that Sunday might be a good day to go up to San Juan Island. Which is something we never do out of fear of early starts and ferry waits and weekend crowds, but now that you can reserve a place on the Friday Harbor boat, it takes some of the uncertainty and need for extra time out of the early morning drive from Seattle to the Anacortes ferry terminal.

And even if you have to wait a little bit, it's a great place to hang out, at least when the weather is cooperating.

Point Whitehorn

This was two weeks ago - a gray, drizzly day for field visits and meetings north of Bellingham. But it left some slack for a lunchtime walk to the beach at Point Whitehorn, which is now a marine reserve (a park, basically).  The eroding glacial drift that forms the bluffs along here has left a residue of cobble and large boulders on the beach -- a beach I had almost to myself.  Those are Lummi and Orcas Islands to the south over the incredibly calm waters.

Monday, January 26, 2015

South Park

Saturday morning I drove down to the Duwamish to see how the water would get. It was predicted to be one of the highest tides of the year and there was even a little event to celebrate, but as often happens, the tide arrived quite a bit lower than predicted.  I guess if you've got your hopes up for drama and disaster, this can be a bit anticlimactic, but for my part I just like being down on the shore at daybreak and it doesn't really matter if the bathtub is overflowing or not.

I also just like the South Park neighborhood, Seattle's largely unknown riverbank community of small homes and marine industries.  Thanks to the latter (and a small aviation company that set up decades ago on the other side of the river), its a bit of a mess, but they're slowly getting around to cleaning it up. In the meantime, there are some neat little parks and shoreline access spots being opened up.

Previous post:  March 2009

Chambers Bay

Our drive back from Lake Quinault on Monday began with a series of rain squalls, but by the time we got back to Puget Sound, the skies had cleared. We took the side trip through Steilacoom and then dropped down to the park at Chambers Bay, one of my favorite spots but one I hadn't dragged M to before. It was beautiful and pretty crowded, despite the chilly wind.

Our timing was good, since I understand they closed the parking lot this week in order to build a bigger one. They claim it's not because of the upcoming U.S. Open in June, although I suspect it makes the event easier to stage if they can keep the riff raff away from the park!

I've posted from here before:

  hshipman: Chamber's Creek: March 2013
  Gravel Beach: Pioneer: October 2010

If we had been here 90 minutes earlier, we might have looked over and seen the tornado that touched down south of Gig Harbor around 2PM!

Lake Quinault

Two years in a row does not make a routine, but it certainly makes a pattern. We took advantage of a special price to spend the long weekend at the Lake Quinault Lodge, just as we did last year at this time.

It rained a bunch. Is that a surprise? This is the rainy season on the marine side of a wet mountain range. We didn't go expecting sun. We went looking for a big lobby with comfy chairs to read in and a fireplace and a communal jigsaw puzzle. Food was a few steps away.

And like last year, they improvised with a couple of TVs in the ballroom so we (me and a couple dozen other fans, but not M) could watch the Seahawks beat the Packers (although that wasn't what we watched for most of the game).

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Opera Alley

With a departure planned for late Saturday morning, we checked out lunch options in Tacoma and Olympia. And found Over the Moon on Opera Alley in downtown Tacoma, which was perfect.

Not only was lunch good, but the cafe is stocked astrological almanacs, which was entertaining. We learned that based on our birth dates, our relationship had been doomed from the start! Wish we'd known that when we met - here I had been thinking that the last thirty years had been pretty wonderful.

After lunch, I picked up coffee across the street at B-Sharp for the drive out to Lake Quinault.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

English Bay

We haven't stayed at the Sylvia Hotel since our last fireworks trip in 2008, but it's still a favorite hangout in Vancouver. After Lynn Canyon, we headed back into the city and camped out for an hour and half in the bar with some appetizers and a beer, reading, and enjoying the wonderful sun break over English Bay.

A few years ago, I ran into Cheryl Wheeler's song about the Sylvia Hotel. It's not exactly a happy song, but any song about a place we've come to know well can't exactly be sad.

Lynn Canyon

Fueled up on waffles, we drove around Stanley Park. The rain kept us in the car except for my brief exploration of Third Beach, but by the time we looped through downtown and then back through the Park and over the bridge, the rain had ended.

We drove over to North Vancouver and found our way through suburbia to Lynn Canyon, a smaller, less touristy version of Capilano. The suspension bridge over the creek disappears into the forest at each end.  The trail down to the lower falls was nicely improved with steps and boardwalks, so we barely got our feet muddy, despite the conditions.

This is a neat spot. It's easy to forget that there are homes nearby and that a large city lies just a few kilometers to the south.


We often talk about getting away to Vancouver for a weekend, but the two of us haven't done this since before D was born. For years, the three of us came up regularly for a weekend in early August, organized around the fireworks, but that routine ended in 2008.  It's not like we haven't visited many other times, but this was the first real weekend in a long time.

It was a cool, gray, damp couple of days (except for two sunny hours on Saturday afternoon). Most of the visit revolved around food - surprise! - but we also explored a little both by car and by foot.

We had a good deal on a room in a downtown hotel, overlooking the Hotel Vancouver and Burrard. We had dinner at Banana Leaf (Asian) on Robson and Absinthe (French) on Commercial Drive. We had breakfast at Cafe Medina (waffles) on Richards and Fortune City Seafood (Dim Sum) on Renfrew.  We visited Stanley Park and Queen Elizabeth Park, Jericho Beach, Lynn Canyon, and English Bay (the last couple may get their own posts). And we wandered around MEC and Chapters (and bought nothing at either).