July 17 – 20
The drive up to Sidney didn’t take long and with about two hours before sailing we located the dock from which we’d depart and then drove a mile or so into downtown to look for a place to eat. It’s a nice little spot on the island, a few blocks crowded with shops and restaurants.
After checking out the offerings at a number of restaurants and not being too excited about any of them, we took a chance and walked out to the end of the pier towards Pier Bistro, a shack like place next to the fish market that looked promising and indeed it became a good choice. We sat at an outside table on a shaded deck overlooking the bay and the islands beyond, ordering a beer apiece to get us started, for me a local dark Lager.
Not sure about our prospects for fine dining on San Juan island, and the fact that we’d be getting there late in the day and setting up camp in the dark, we threw caution to the wind and ordered full portions for each of us. For Joanna this meant the Seafood Clam Chowder and Crab Cakes and I the one-piece (4 oz.) Halibut Fish and Chips.
As when we travel near the gulf coast where fish is plentiful, fresh, and imaginatively prepared, it is hard not to enjoy it here in the pacific northwest. We’d been consistently sampling clam chowders (I should have kept a better record of each one and done a separate post just on chowder) and consuming a record amount of fish and chips. And when it’s a firm, nicely cooked pieced of halibut in front of you with a cold beer, nothing fancy mind you, it just doesn’t get any better. All of it for a few dollars under $50 USD.
We finished up and drove to the ferry terminal, queued up to enter and watched an interesting encounter between the gate attendant and a giant RV, which had made an awkward turn into the driveway and after much discussion, was having a bit of a time trying to back out. The situation eventually was resolved and we entered the lot, cleared customs, paid our fare, and found the appropriate lane for San Juan Island.
About the ferries; the fare is only charged for west bound inter-island travel as most folks embark from Anacortes and travel round trip to an island, so you are just charged for one leg of the trip. In this case we paid $79 for our journey to Friday Harbor and that was the end of it, no more charges for the three remaining rides we would take. So, our choice in direction worked out well for us, sparing us a lot of expense.
As each ferry makes multiple stops, one must pay attention to the lane for their island as the cars are placed specifically on each boat to facilitate loading and unloading. We loaded and departed at 6:00 pm landing at San Juan Island’s Friday Harbor about 7:30 pm, then drove five miles to Lakedale Resort, our campground for the next four nights. We chose this place for one reason only, much like the choices we had to make for the other two islands we’d be visiting (Orcas and Lopez), that is lack of availability at the public (state or county) campgrounds.
This was an underlying element for the entire trip, our desire to camp a third of the time and if possible, to do so in state or national parks. This required making reservations far in advance, in our case 5-6 months, and even then, striking out in a number of instances. This dovetailed with our plans to also stay a third of the time stay with family and friends and thus making this one of the most closely planned trips of recent memory, leaving us little room for flexibility once launched.
Lakedale would run us a little over $50 a night, pricey for camping but with few options available we took it. With our late arrival, we were assigned to site number 208, one of the last remaining vacant sites and absolutely at the farthest end of the resort, down a darkly shaded dirt road a long distance from the chemical toilets we’d be using and any water.
The site was dismal; uneven in contour, covered in thick easy to trip over roots, the approach so narrow and twisty that we couldn’t back the car down to the site. It was depressing to say the least. We quickly set up camp and not much later went to bed, out last thought of the night to check to see if we could switch sites the next morning.
After breakfast and a couple of long walks to the toilets, I drove back to the store (it was that far away) where we checked in to see about moving our site. After checking the system, the friendly clerk said we could switch to what he referred to as one of four ‘overflow’ sites.
One look was all I needed; they were less than halfway to our original site, within a short stroll of the bathhouse (with real toilets and hot water) and an easy walk to the store (where the only wi-fi in the camp existed) with a nice view of the lake. So, switch we did.
Breaking and re-setting camp took about an hour and as we later basked in the warm sun agreed that we’d made the right decision in moving, which would play out for the rest of our stay. Our original plan was to get in a bike ride that day but given we’d used up most of the morning switching sites, decided to abandon the ride and instead drive into Friday Harbor to do some shopping and look around.
Our first stop was the Crow’s Nest, a small coffee joint where we split a big drink and the delicious Beachcomber breakfast wrap with scrambled eggs, avocado, tomato, pepper Jack cheese and juicy grilled onions and bell peppers. While Joanna went to check out a couple of shops I spent a productive hour working on the blog and charging my laptop and devices.
Finished there we went to King’s Market (about the only one on the island), a surprisingly large store with all that we would need and more. We picked up some staples, a bagged salad, and a pair of pre-seasoned and breaded chicken breasts to pan-fry later.
Back in camp we cooked the chicken, which turned out to be delightfully good and as the day closed out, the sun working its way down in the sky to the lake in front of our site, we congratulated ourselves on having made the decision to move that morning. We’d tackle that ride around the island the next morning but for now were content to just enjoy this day that had turned out so well.
Lakedale Resort: https://www.lakedale.com/
Crow’s Nest: http://crowsnestcoffee.com/