Washington State Ferries and San Juan Island

8/14/12 Tuesday at Bow,WA (Mt Vernon Campground-TT)

Up at 6:00 am to get through morning stuff and pack lunches for our trip to the San Juan Islands! We made it to Anacortes in time for the 9:00 am ferry to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island (the most developed). Washington State Ferry System is the third largest in the world and the largest in the US. They will take you to any of the largest 4 islands: Lopez, Orcas, Shaw and San Juan Island, as well as Sidney, on Vancouver Island, BC,Canada. We parked our car at the lot there (for 0-24hrs it’s $10). Walking on the ferry is $12.45 each for a round trip ticket. If we’d driven the car onto the ferry it would have cost $42.55 for the car and driver, plus another $12.45 for the passenger.

Once we got to Friday Harbor, we rode on the San Juan Island Transit bus to Roche Harbor ($15 each all day passes).

Note: we didn’t know the costs for our decisions, but it seems for an extra $.90 we got on the ferry without any waiting (should be there 45 minutes early if in a car), and were given rides, with narration, on the Island. I think that was a fair end result.

Back to when we first got on the ferry to Friday Harbor: photos of the cormorants breeding just off the ferry dock.

Cormorant with fledgings

Cormorants with fledglings

Cormorants (they have webbed feet)


On the way to Roche Harbor we learned about the Pig War, where, due to an unclear Oregon Treaty with Britain that says the boundary between Britain (Canada) and US territories was set down the main channel in the islands. Unfortunately, there is no main channel.  For some time, both British and Americans lived there with, essentially, no laws, so this situation attracted more people.  13 years after the Treaty there was an incident over a pig in 1859, so the military became involved.  Winfield Scot was called on to negotiate for the Americans, but soon he was called back to Washington DC to help with the Civil War.  12 years later, a tribunal of 3 judges listened to testimony regarding the boundary and decided (2 to 1) for the Americans.  Thus there is the English Camp, where their military resided and the American Camp, for ours.  We could have got off at the English Camp, but for lack of time, did not.

On the way to Roche Harbor we had the opportunity to get off for an hour or two at a breeding Alpaca ranch (they were groomed like poodles), but we didn’t have the time to spare. We also passed on Lakeside Resort (campground) and San Juan Vineyards.

Soon, we arrived at Roche Harbor, at the north end of San Juan Island. Here, John S McMillin founded the Rocke Harbor Lime & Cement Company. He built the Hotel de Haro around an existing Hudson’s Bay Post log bunkhouse in 1887.

Hotel De Haro with its formal gardens in the foreground.

Hotel De Haro with formal gardens in foreground

Behind Hotel De Haro- a chestnut tree and we think a fire escape ladder to the left.

The back of Hotel De Haro

Portion of log bunkhouse visible on the second floor.

Inside Hotel De Haro

This hotel has never undergone major renovation on the inside. Famous people, including Theodore Roosevelt and John Wayne have stayed there. If you go there, you can ask inside for “A Walking Tour of Historic Roche Harbor”. You can also look at the hotel register with Roosevelt’s signature.

Generator that created electricity for the whole city and lime factories until the early ’50s

Generator for Roche Harbor and environs

Stone kilns that heated lime stone, changing it into lime.

2 stone kilns (in background)

Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel, the only privately owned Catholic chapel in the US. The carillon of bells rang beautifully while we were there. Mass is 10:00 am on summer Sundays. The tree to the right is a Madrona tree. The bark on these trees peels off-this looks cool, but makes this a messy tree for your yard.

Our Lady of Good Voyage Chapel

Madrona tree bark

Madrona tree bark

We missed the unique mausoleum, partly because we got distracted by the Throne of Jupitor:

Throne of Jupitor-a mystery why this was made or named thusly.

Throne of Jupitor

McMillan’s house

McMillan’s house

Roche Harbor

At Roche Harbor

We returned to Friday Harbor, then rode on another trip to the south of the island. On this trip we skipped another stop, Pelindaba Lavender Farm. I did mange to take a photo here, though:

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Pelindaba Lavender Farm

Our driver shared lots about the people living along our route. This island is considered an anomaly because the people who live here either must work 3 jobs, because it’s so expensive with mostly service jobs available, or they are really wealthy retired people, who own 3 houses.

Final destination: Lime Kiln State Park, where the whales hang out, sometimes.

Kayakers paddling by, instead of whales

Kayakers at Lime Kiln State Park

The Lighthouse still run by the Coast Guard.  Also, they give tours 2 times a week, but it looks like a small ladder takes you upstairs:

Inside lighthouse window

Young man, busy downloading information at the lighthouse. He was letting us hear the sounds being recorded underwater – 6 miles out.

Recording equipment at lighthouse

Back to Friday Harbor and the ferry

Boarding the ferry

Boarding the ferry

Ferry dock at Anacortes, as we approach, with another ferry about to take off

Ferry at dock

So our ferry landed at almost 5:00 pm, we drove to Fred Meyer’s for shopping, then got home about 6:30 pm.

Two tired puppies, just capable of heating chili and watching Olympics recordings.


About Patricia Elser

I've always loved the loose, flowing, transparent look of watercolors, of Chinese paintings and their calligraphy, but alas, no watercolor classes were available when I was in school, so that interest remained buried until my children were grown. Even then, I was afraid that I couldn't really paint, so upon my sister's advice, I actually started to take classes. I signed up for every class available, determined to learn no matter how afraid I was. I came upon a teacher, Stan Miller, who inspired me, who opened the door to success in watercolor. I love to look at beautiful images. I want to capture them forever. All my life, photography was how I gathered images of the beauty I saw. Thanks to all that photography, I enjoy composing pictures, especially up close. Watercolors allow me to add more of me in their translation of that beauty. My paintings reflect my love for music and dance, with their rhythm and flow. I am fascinated by the play of light, so it appears in my pictures as drama for they are filled with darks and lights. Maybe it's the challenge, maybe it's the beauty, but now, when a work comes together, it fills my soul.
This entry was posted in Washington and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Washington State Ferries and San Juan Island

  1. The orcas have been fickle at Lime Kiln State Park lately. Love your Cormorant captures!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s