August 6, 2017

San Juan Island and Friday Harbor

by Steve W

After leaving Seattle, we took a ferry to San Juan Island (one of the group of San Juan Islands) to visit our friends, Alex Shapiro and Dan Shelley. After a trip of about an hour across the Straits between the mainland and the island, we landed at Friday Harbor, a small town on the island without a stop light or a single chain store. We have been here before and always find it charming to walk around town and see the local businesses.

We arrived, checked into our hotel, the Earthbox Inn, and had drinks with another friend, Charles Richardson, before going out to dinner. We met Alex and Dan for breakfast at one of our favorite spots in town, Cynthia's, run by a friend of Alex and Dan's. After breakfast, Alex took us to see the house that she and Dan had just bought, a 3,800 square foot house right on the water, north of Friday Harbor. The house requires a lot of renovation, but Dan is a master carpenter and is doing a lot of the work himself, so we know it will be beautiful  And, they have a 1,000 square foot, 2 bedroom guest house, so we called "dibs" for our next visit.

We drove around the island to Roche Harbor and stopped to walk around a bit before going to one of the alpaca farms on the island. While viewing the alpacas, we saw one of the alpacas humping another one. I was beginning to feel quite inadequate by the amount of time this went on. Once inside the store, I asked what the gestation period was for alpacas and was told 11 to 12 months. I advised the clerk that they should be expecting a baby in that amount of time and he advised that the males and females were kept separately, and that the females engaged in this type of behavior all the time. Not that there is anything wrong with that!

Alex then took us to the home of noted composer Morten Lauridsen. "Skip", as his friends call him, is one of the premiere composers of choral works, and started the composer program at USC. He was the perfect host, offering some wine and cheese, while we discussed mutual friends, the plight of the music industry, and other topics. He was kind enough to give us a CD of recordings of his most famous works, which we enjoyed listening to.

After that, we went to Alex and Dan's current house at Eagle Point. While the house could use some repairs, it is gorgeous inside and has amazing views of the channel, where Alex can work at her desk and see whales and various seabirds go by.
Poor Alex, she has to look at this every day.

But the not-so-secret reason we went to Alex's house was to visit our former cats, Bob and Jake. Alex and Dan had agreed to adopt them when we decided to travel, and this was our first chance to see them since last October. Bob was (and still is) the friendliest cat in the world and Jake is still apprehensive about anyone coming into the house (including us) but we got to see them and pet them and assure ourselves that they had a good life with Alex and Dan.

After going to dinner at the Backdoor Kitchen, we went back to the hotel and got a good night's sleep. The next day, Alex took us on a long hike through the American Camp. Historically, The San Juan Islands were claimed by both the US and the UK, and both had encampments on San Juan Island (there is also an English Camp). The dispute resulted in the Pig War, (so called because it was triggered by the shooting of a pig), with the dispute finally settled by arbitration by Emperor Wilhelm I of Germany in 1872.

There are fantastic views of the ocean, hills and fields that are home to various species of wildlife, such as foxes (Alex and Dan feed an egg a day to a local male and female fox at their doorstep), deer, rabbits and sea birds.
Hello, Foxy!

Next up, A Flock of Seagulls

In many places, piles of driftwood collect due to the winter storms. You can see Vancouver Island over the Canadian border (our phones welcomed us to Canada due to the island being so close) and some of the other islands that make up the San Juans.

After seeing Bob and Jake one more time, we drove back into town for a delicious sushi dinner. The next morning, we boarded the ferry back to Anacortes and headed for Tacoma, where Rosemary could stay while I went back to LA for a few days to testify as an expert witness.
Reunited, and it feels so good....

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