Sun. Aug. 23, 2015:
Friday Harbour, San Juan Islands to Seattle :
It would be an understatement to say I slept poorly. My face was a bit swollen and I am pretty sure I had a small fever at some point in the night. I kept waking up feeling delirious and my nose was stuffy. I woke up just after 7am and thought there is no way I am getting out of bed, I needed at least another hour of sleep. When I finally did wake up there was no sign of Brent, the note said he had gone for a walk. I got a latte from the hotel café rather than making in-room coffee because I assumed that as soon as he was back we would be leaving. As it turns out the car rental place did not open until 10am. I sat around dunking cookies in my latte, would two mediocre foods make for a great combo? Sadly no.
We walked down to the marina again to see the seal one last time. He was nowhere to be found. The walk in the fresh air at least cleared up my stuffiness a tiny bit. Back in the hotel we looked up the walking and biking distances to the places we wanted to see, as a fallback plan in case the car rental plans fell through. It turned out everything was quite far away. Fingers crossed, we walked to the car rental place up the road. The car was not in the best condition. I told Brent to get out the auxiliary cable so we could plug the iPod in and he just laughed. I assumed this was because we would be driving a short distance. That is, until I got in the car and realized that the car was so old it did not have an auxiliary input. The radio would have to do. The stations changed as we drove around the island. At one point we were picking up a station from Victoria, BC.
I had a really hard time trying to navigate as Brent drove. We were using a tourist map that was neither to scale nor showed the accurate shape of roads, there were bends where there shouldn’t be and vice versa. More than once we had a few confusing moments where I could not even find us on the map. Our first stop on the San Juan Island tour was an alpaca farm. Going in I was not sure if they raised them for wool or for meat (or somehow both?). They were raised for wool which was sold in a small shop on the farm. I was not there to buy wool, I had one goal: gawk at the super cute alpacas. And boy did they deliver in the cute department. They had just been sheared so only the tops of their heads and their legs were fuzzy. One alpaca got mad and just started running head first at his friend. This did not faze the napping alpacas.
Driving to our next destination we saw two deer, one was grazing on the shoulder of the road. Lime Kiln State Park was the go-to place for whale-watching, they even had signs directing people from the parking lot. The lighthouse was scenic and nice to look at the ocean from. We could see the other islands across the water. There were so many people sitting on rocks along the coast, yet no whales to be seen. Everyone there had clearly hunkered down for the day, lots of coolers and picnic baskets. We hiked along a waterfront trail to a beach at Dead Man Bay. Insurance jokes ensued about the name of the bay. There was lots of driftwood and few people at this beach. We found a shady spot and sat there staring out at the ocean. No whales, just a seal. After a while I got bored and we headed back. We had not anticipated being out in direct sunlight or hiking, we did not have the sunscreen and had to try and stay in the shade the whole way back.
We had a back-up plan. At the Whale Museum we had found two places for whale-watching. The second was at Cattlepoint. The stupid map really screwed me up with giving directions. It showed the road as being completely straight and turning left near where we had to turn to get to the park. Driving along, we had such a turn and I said we would be turning right soon. Only the road we were supposed to turn on never showed up. Until about 20 minutes later, when I had figured out an alternate route. at some point on this long road the rock station turned into a Spanish station. We switched to a station from Victoria. As we sat in the car putting on sunscreen “I Want It That Way” by the Backstreet Boys came on (there are a bunch of hearts in my notebook). Cattlepoint Park was by far better. There were no people around and there were giant rocks you could sit on, overlooking the ocean. There was a tiny island nearby that had been taken over by seagulls.
It was a bit colder in the park, with the cold breeze off the ocean and all. We went back to the car for my sweater, and to grab drinks. It was so nice to sit on a giant rock, drinking my Steel Reserve blackberry cooler, writing in my notebook and just talking. It was very relaxing and even though we did not see any whales it was still a really nice way to spend time. The whole time however I was trying to remember who sang the song “I Want You, Always Forever.” I could remember the music video, with the pink fuzzy wall but I could not for the life of me remember who sang the song.
The only downside to Cattlepoint Park was the bathroom. It was atrocious, there wasn’t even a sink or hand sanitizer. I went in and left twice. The first time because I had to hand my purse to Brent, there was nowhere to hang it. The second time, it was because I had noticed there was no toilet paper, and I needed to grab Kleenex from my purse. Like I said, atrocious.
Trying to navigate with a novelty map in unfamiliar territory after downing a pint of 8% cooler in the hot sun proved to be difficult- as did trying to write about it soon afterwards. “Take on Me” by A-Ha came on the radio and we both broke out singing along. We were having so much fun singing the high parts that we almost missed our turn. I was so bad at giving directions, I said left but pointed right. The first gas station we pulled into was confusing, it said “commercial gas” and we had no idea what that meant so we bailed and found a nearby Shell. The same station had now gone from playing A-Ha to Bruno Mars, this was my kind of station. As we drove to the gas station Brent realized he had no idea what side the gas tank was on. In newer cars there is an indicator on the dash board. Not so with this crap car. I did the only thing I could think of: I rolled down the window and stuck my head out. First I had tried to check by adjusting the mirror but that did not work, the mirror did not have enough range of motion. We returned the car at exactly the 4 hour mark.
We walked down to the marina. We still had time before the ferry boarded. The first restaurant had a 20 minute wait, so we backtracked up the street to Herb’s Tavern (apparently the oldest tavern in Friday Harbour). It was not the greatest, just greasy pub fare. It did not help that I was sobering up and felt sun-fried. After a while the greasiness of the calamari started to get to me. The line-up at the ice cream shop by the ferry was too long, but I had seen people further up the street with ice cream, therefore I reasoned there must be another ice cream shop on a side street. I was right, there was a third one on a small side street (there was also one closer to the hotel but too far to walk back to). The ice cream was supposed to be toffee coffee crunch. In total I got maybe two pieces of toffee. It was just weak coffee ice cream.
As we waited to board the ferry I was so tired. Ahead of us a conversation had begun about baseball based on someone’s hat. Thankfully we did not get roped into it. After what seemed like a century we finally boarded the ferry. All I wanted to do was sit down and have a nap. No more sun, no more cold wind. We passed one island that was dominated by seagulls (maybe the same one from before?) and another overtaken by seals. One seal slowly waddled into the water, it was hilarious to watch. After an hour long nap I awoke to find out I had missed nothing on the top deck. Then came news of a humpback whale sighting in the area a few hours ago. Alas, nothing ever came of it. I sat back in my comfy seat, listening to podcasts in a dazed half-sleep while sucking on a ginger candy that they were giving out for free. My mouth was mildly on fire and I regretted having earlier finished the strawberry Gatorade.
Walking to the hotel we got stuck behind a really slow family. I recognized them from our first day in Seattle, the mother and daughter had matching hair and purses. We were staying at the same hotel, thankfully the weird guy from the first day was not working. We called for a cab and it was a really long wait. During the 20 minute drive I finally remembered the name of the singer that had been bugging me earlier in the day. It was Donna Lewis I was trying to remember. We got to Ray’s Boathouse 20 minutes early for our dinner. We were hoping to catch the end of the sunset. We had a table on the patio, overlooking the ocean. Alas, we barely saw the end of the sunset. When we got there we found out that it was actually two restaurants. We had reservations in the more casual one upstairs, but Brent had looked at the menu for the fancier place downstairs. I was not that hungry nor was I in the mood for alcohol of any sort. They had a really intriguing offer of lemonade with the option for pureed fruit added in. I was sold! That and clam chowder made for a pretty damn good meal. The view was nice while it lasted, we could see the base of the Olympia Mountains. Thankfully the patio was heated for when the sun went down.
The hostess called a cab for us, she warned us it might be a long wait. She was not kidding, we waited at least 15 minutes. However it felt like much longer. We sat there on the stairs of the restaurant looking out hopefully. We kept mistaking passing cars for cabs. I joked that it was like whale-watching. On the way back we passed by Pike Place Market and got to see it all lit up at night. It looked much more welcome at night, empty and lit up. The ferris wheel at Miner’s Landing was also lit up. We passed by the other side of the sculpture park. Turns out we had missed one sculpture, the only famous one too. It was the wheel with a fringe. I was dreading yet another early wake-up. I had not adjusted to waking up early even though I went to sleep earlier.