We planned a whole day on San Juan Island as an excursion for us from our week-long stay on Orcas. However, we quickly realized that while we might like touring around the island by car getting in and out to look at various natural awes and historic sites, Bergen was not such a fan. He made this glaringly obvious.
By our first stop after a ferry ride and breakfast, he’d had it with the car seat. Even though he never had to be confined for all that long, just having to go back again and again was frustrating him. I was also used to the nice schedule we had going on days previous: one hike or exploration in the morning, back to the cabin for lunch and nap, back out for more exploring & dinner. Nap time had become just as relaxing for me as it was for Bergen, and I wasn’t ready to give it up.
Time for a change of plan.
Instead of taking the 5:00 pm ferry back to Orcas, we would scrap the day for a morning, and take the 11:30 am. We’d only see a couple of sites, but we were okay with that sacrifice, and Bergen could get his usual 2 hour nap as opposed to a 45 minute (at best) car nap. Changing plans is not easy for me. I get so excited about the upcoming events, I get my heart set on what I’ll see and experience. This was necessary though, and it paid off in the long run.
With our day whittled down to just a couple of hours, we chose what was most important for us to see.
First a bit of history to get us oriented. At the San Juan Island National Historical Park on the Southeast end of the island, we learned how the islands that belong to the United States were acquired. Back in the 1800’s there was joint occupation between the Americans and the British with both sides believing they had a right to the land. Two camps were established with the American Camp at this location, and the English Camp about 13 miles away on the Northwest side of the island.
The disagreement was eventually settled through third party, Kaiser Wilhelm I of Germany. Many call it the Pig War because, though there were no other casualties, the hostility between the two parties began after an American shot and killed a British pig who was digging around in his garden.
Following our history lesson, we could only make one more stop before we had head back to Friday Harbor to catch our ferry. Lime Kiln State Park was at the top of my list. It’s noted as one of the best whale watching spots in the world (though we were unfortunately off-season), has a beautiful lighthouse, and of course an actual Lime Kiln.
No, not what we planned. There were more harbors, a lavender farm, the English Camp, a whale museum, restaurants, wineries and shops to check out, but we had a nap to get home to.
Info to Know:
- Breakfast: We recommend the Bakery San Juan. It’s a bit out of town (about a mile away from Friday Harbor), but worth the drive for the cinnamon rolls! They also serve the best brewed coffee (no espresso) on the island.
- 775 Mullis Street Friday Harbor WA 98250
- San Juan Island National Historical Park is located on the Southwest part of the island. It’s American Camp visitor center is open year round though hours are limited in the winter.
- 4668 Cattle Point Road Friday Harbor WA 98250
- Lime Kiln State Park on the West side of the island is 36 acres and and features whale watching, the lighthouse, lime kiln, and about 1 1/2 miles of hiking trails.
- 1567 Westside Road Friday Harbor, WA 98250
Have you visited Washington’s San Juan Islands? How did you spend your time?
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