San Juan Islands
We said goodbye to the Maupin crew in the morning and started driving north to Anacortes to the ferry terminal. The ferries to and between the San Juan Islands are cheap (you pay $13 for the first ferry and the intra-island ones are free) and easy to use...with a little planning!
We left our car at the ferry terminal, paid for parking and then boarded the ferry. It was my first time on a ferry, and it was all very exciting. You can buy beer on the ferry! You can buy peanut M&M’s! I did both!
From Anacortes, the ferry goes to Lopez, Orcas and the San Juan islands. We initially only had a camping reservation for Thursday night at Oldin County Park on Lopez Island and planned to hop around. We chose Oldin because the campground was only a mile from the ferry terminal and we had to walk, as we planned on renting bikes the following morning. As we were getting off the ferry, we ran into a woman named Valerie who saw our packs and asked where we were going and then offered to give us a ride; this sort of blind kindness was abundant on Lopez and played into us deciding to camp on the island not only on Thursday but also on Friday and Saturday. It didn’t hurt that our campsite was beautiful. We booked a group site, but we scored a walk-up site (they’re saved for bikers and hikers).
In the morning, we hitchhiked into town (saving ourselves a three-mile walk), visited Lopez Coffee and rented bikes from Village Cycles. Lopez is the most bikeable of the islands, but it still does have some hills. Mike, the man who gave us a ride, recommended biking to Watmough Bay, which was about a 30-mile roundtrip ride. As we were preparing for the ride, Sam texted his dad to let him know we were on Lopez, and we learned that a family friend from Kenya lived on the island. So, we took a quick detour on our way to the bay and were able to track her down for a quick reunion (check out the Kenya Project).
After our ride to the south end of the island, we grabbed a beer and happy hour snacks at Haven Kitchen & Bar before returning to camp. The following morning, the biking adventures continued, and we took the ferry to Orcas Island to bike to Eastsound. We checked out a few shops, enjoyed the beach and then paid $5 each to take a shuttle back to the ferry terminal.
On Sunday, we returned our bikes and took the ferry to Friday Harbor. We walked around time before checking into the Orca Inn. Hotels are not what one would call cheap in Friday Harbor, but since we booked a bioluminescence kayaking tour and wouldn’t be back until around midnight, long after the ferries stop, and we didn’t have a car, it was the best bet. The bioluminescence tour was definitely a trip highlight, and we had ideal weather for it. The tours only occur for a few days each month, coinciding with the new moon to make the night as dark as possible. Not only was it a totally clear tonight (with amazing views of the Milky Way) but the water was also still, which made for easy kayaking. Bioluminescence occurs among a lot of animals in the open sea, but dinoflagellates are the most frequently seen. When they are disturbed in small quantities or as the sun is still setting, they appear almost like glitter in the water. As it gets darker or there are larger quantities, they appear more blue! The uses of bioluminescence aren’t totally certain, as our guides explained, but camouflage, biomimicry, and attracting mates are some possibilities.
In we took our last ferry (sad) back to Anacortes and immediately drove to a car wash to give our noble steed a little TLC. We took our time heading north to Vancouver, stopping in Bellingham to walk around the town and Boulevard Park to read. That night we slept at the last rest stop before the Canadian border (good people watching), and in the morning it was off to Canada again!
Our first stop was the Granville Public Market, which was this open space with vendors from all over the world (read: delicious). Granville Island itself is also home to a lot of artist studios and shops, so we checked out those, too. We stayed at a hotel near Knight, which is a little southeast of downtown. Luckily, Vancouver’s public transit options are fairly easy to figure out, so we took the sky train downtown. Something cool about the sky train: If you have a tap-to-pay credit card, you can pay directly with that rather than having to buy a ticket or card at a kiosk.
We checked out a quick happy hour at Yaletown Brewing Company and then checked out the Vancouver Art Gallery (on Tuesday nights, the gallery has donation-based admission). For dinner, we checked out MeeT in Gastown, which had phenomenal vegetarian and vegan options.
On Wednesday, we rented bikes ($12 for a full day but have to return to a dock every 30 minutes) and biked around Stanley Park’s seawall…highly recommend doing this and bringing a swimsuit! The beaches were incredible along the way, and the northside of the park was my favorite. We continued our bike journey to the Mt. Pleasant neighborhood, which was in the middle of its annual street art festival (very similar to Crush in Denver). Before walking around and checking out some murals, we grabbed happy hour at the Cascade Room, dinner at the Wallflower and a night cap at the Rumpus Room, which had tiny Jenga…which we played for quite some time. Vancouver is definitely a place we could have stayed longer– we didn’t even get into any hiking– and is definitely an international city!
In the morning, I went for a run to Trout Park and then we were on our way! Two of Sam’s good friends live in Seattle so we chose a nearby coffee shop to work at while they finished up work. We took Friday as a work day, too, and then met up with my friend and former Craigslist roommate for a beer at Fremont Brewing and then dinner in Ballard!
Saturday was a bit of a late start, but we successfully did the Lake Serene and Bridal Veil Falls hike, which we thought was an 8-mile hike but turned out to be 10 miles and 3,000 feet of elevation gain. It was foggy and exactly what you think the PNW would be like, in the best possible way. At the top of Lake Serene, you could hardly see across the lake, and Sam and I didn’t even realize there was a huge cliff next to us because it was obscured my dense fog.
We returned to Seattle, devoured some homemade pizza and promptly passed out that night. Sunday offers a few different markets, so after coffee and breakfast pizza, we headed to the Fremont market, then to Frankie & Jo’s vegan ice cream, then to Golden Gardens Park and then to Marymoor Park to see Shakey Graves and Lord Huron (thank you, Zoe Ellis).