Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Oyster Dome


I figured if I went hiking Saturday morning, I wouldn't spend all weekend working on the house. Which technically was true. It just meant I had to squeeze two days of chores into less than a day and a half.

I parked along the shoulder of Chuckanut Drive across from the trailhead. At 8, there were already more than a dozen cars lined up, but nothing like the zoo a few hours later. The trail itself was in good shape and pleasant on a cool morning when this forested western slope is still all in the shade.

From the top, the view west across the San Juans was crystal clear. I was seeing the same hills that we were seeing from the Canadian side in the previous post. Going back down was like a weekend morning on Mount Si - with a constant stream of people heading up. Three times, different young men responded to my "morning" with "morning, sir". This has never happened before. Maybe they were all part of a church group. Or an ROTC class. Or maybe young people are politer than they used to be. I can't imagine what else it might be! At least they didn't offer to help me down the trail or ask me where I left my walker.

By the time I got back to the car around 11:15, there were cars strung out for a quarter mile along Chuckanut.

This was my first significant hike since Mount Si one year ago. The plantar fasciitis that emerged last May has been a huge disincentive to walking - but it seems to be finally going away.



Sunday, April 05, 2015

Gowlland Point


Saturday morning, we checked out the Farmer's Market at the Community Center and then wandered through the permanent flea market they call Nu to Yu. We didn't buy anything, but I appreciate that on a small island, it's nice to have a place that keeps the old stuff circulating.

But after lunch, the sun came out, and we headed back to South Pender. We did the short hike out to Brooks Point and then followed the trail back around to Gowlland Point. This is a great spot see the northern U.S. islands, like Sucia, Waldron, and Stuart, as well the higher points on Orcas and San Juan Islands.  It's also a good place to see orca, but only when they're around.  They weren't, although we did catch a few on the way back to Tsawwassen on Monday afternoon.


South Pender


Apparently, North and South Pender Island were more attached to one another before 1903, when the Canadian government (at the behest of a private steamship operator, I believe) excavated a canal through the low connection, creating two distinct islands.  We crossed the bridge many times, commuting back and forth from the rural southern island to the more urban :-) northern one.

South Pender extends east almost as much as it extends south, and I spent our long weekend thinking I was looking south when I was actually looking east (pretty much directly at Mount Baker, or the spot in the clouds where Mount Baker typically is found).

Besides our lodgings, South Pender was also a chance to explore Brooks and Gowlland Points, Mount Norman, Poet's Cove, and several small beaches. Some of these are covered in separate posts - or over on Gravel Beach.




Mount Norman


On Sunday afternoon, M agreed to join me for a walk up to Mount Norman, the highest point on the Penders and not far from where we were staying. It was a relatively easy trail to the top and nice views, despite the lack of sunshine. We had the trail to ourselves, although we intersected with one other couple on top who had apparently come up the other way.

The views west and south were great, including Salt Spring and metropolitan Victoria. I suppose on a clear day, we would have seen the Olympics and a lot more of Vancouver Island.


Boundary Passage Drive


The cabin we rented was near the southeast tip of the island, just a couple of miles northwest of the U.S. border. It could have held more people, and could have supported much of our own cooking, but we were perfectly happy on our own and eating most of our meals out.

We looked out over Plumper Sound to Mount Warburton Pike on Saturna Island. We even had a recently cleared pocket view of Mount Baker, although I doubt the cedars appreciated being topped to accommodate it. It was a short walk down the hill to either of two public shore access spots.  And we got pretty good at the winding drive back up South Pender and across the bridge to food and coffee.



Saturday, April 04, 2015

North Pender


We were staying on South Pender, but the ferry, the restaurants, the grocery store, and the coffee were all on North Pender, so we made a couple of trips each day across the canal to eat and explore the north island.

We had Friday dinner and Sunday brunch at the Cafe at Hope Bay, we stopped several times for me to fill up at Slow Coast Coffee, and we also tried out the Sushi at the golf course (very good) and the Port Browning Marina Pub.

We got to know both the monkey and the line of bicycles pretty well.




Friday, April 03, 2015

Gulf Islands




Last year we headed for Los Angeles and New Mexico for Spring Break. This year, with only four days at our disposal and much less advance planning, we headed for the Gulf Islands. We know Salt Spring Island, and the Tsawwassen Terminal, and have sailed past some of the other islands, but have never really explored. So last weekend, we went to Pender Island.

We headed up fully aware that this time of year we could get any kind of weather. M found a vacation rental on South Pender that would provide us a comfortable place even if it rained all weekend. As it turned out, we got a little rain, a little sun, and a lot of gray. But nothing that prevented us from wandering the island (islands, actually, since there are two Penders, North and South, attached by a short bridge).

I think we found all the restaurants - and ate at all but one. I visited many of the Islands' beaches, some with M and some while she read in the car. We arrived on North Pender in the rain, we watched Saturna alternate from sunshine to mist, we watched the sun set over Mount Maxwell on Salt Spring, and we saw the San Juans under scattered clouds.






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.