September 15 and 16, 2012: San Juan Islands

Last weekend, Callie and I took the ferry from Anacortes, WA, over to the San Juan Islands.  The San Juanes  are the last part of the state before you get to Victoria, British Columbia (in fact, territorial possession was in dispute during the late 1800s.  Though both British and American forces had garrison on San Juan Island, the dispute was resolved by diplomacy.)

The arpeggio consists of San Juan, Orca, Shaw, and Lopez Islands.  We stayed on San Juan Island, in an isolated cottage about 6 miles outside of the port town of Friday Harbor – where the ferry disembarks.  We took the truck across, and the puppies, too.

We arrived after dark, and following written directions to the cottage, I drove down the road toward Cattle Point on the southwest end of the island.  I was going slowly, trying to read the miniscule street signs marking occasional roads, and at one point I pulled over to the shoulder to wave around a pair of headlights that had arrived on my rear. Turned out it was a deputy sheriff.  He went around, but ended up pulling me over a few miles down the road – said he thought I was either drunk or lost.  I told him it was the latter, and after a license check, he directed me to the proper turn off.

The little cottage was just beautiful – right on the water.  The next morning, I arose before dawn to take pictures of the sunrise.  As you will see, I have been attempting to master the techniques of shooting in very low light situations.  The pictures of the sunrise were just stunning.  I’ll share but a few…

Perhaps the highlight of the weekend was a whale watching trip on a boat into the Straight of San Juan de Fuca.  We had hopes of seeing Orcas, but the pods were out of range, farther out in the Strait and closer to the Pacific Ocean.

We did see a Minke whale, a bald eagle, several humungeous sea lions, countless harbor seals, and countless sea birds – herons, cormorants, gulls, and others I can’t name.  It was so beautiful out on the water that I really didn’t care if we saw any whales at all – I was satisfied just being there.  We’ll go back again sometime – we really want to take the grandchildren – so we’ll see the Orcas eventually.

After the boat trip, we drove around the perimeter of the island, visiting the location of the American and British camps on the south and north ends of the island, before returning to Friday Harbor for a little window shopping capped by an amazing dinner at an out of the way restaurant favored by the locals called the Back Door.

The next day (Sunday), we went to the Whale Museum, did a little shopping, and then took the 2:30 pm ferry to Anacortes via Lopez Island.  All in all, it was a magical weekend.

Here are some of the pictures I took:

San Juan Island at dawn, just down the hill from our cottage.  The mountain at the left of the horizon is Mt. Baker, one of the volcanoes in the state.



Meanwhile, off to the southwest…



Sunrise.  The difference in color intensity has to do with experimentation with exposure and shutter speed.



Our cottage.







Lighthouse at Cattle Point.



Yo-ho!  A dinghy!  Arrrgh!



Bald Eagle on a rock, with Mt. Baker in the background.  In consideration for wildlife preservation, the boats don’t come any closer than 200 yards to whales and eagles.



Close-up edit of same picture…



Minke Whale:



Sea Lions and Cormorants…



Strait of San Juan de Fuca…


A Black-Tailed Deer…



University of Washington Research Vessel docked in Friday Harbor.



Dusk over San Juan Island, taken from our cottage view.



Starry, starry night…



That’s all for now; next trip planned is to the Hurricane Ridge region of Olympic National Park, weekend-after-next.

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