Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Continued Adventures on San Juan Island

After spending several days on Orcas Island, we took the ferry over to San Juan Island for our last 2 nights in the San Juan Islands. Last year, we discovered the Bird Rock Hotel in Friday Harbor, and we decided it was worth another stay. This place is precious. When you walk in the lobby to check in, there is always fresh lemonade and homemade cookies waiting for you. You have an option of rooms without bathrooms (so you share a bathroom with other guests) or rooms with bathrooms. To be honest, we have never had trouble using the bathroom when we wanted it and the rooms are much more affordable without the bathroom. All of the rooms are named after San Juan Islands, and we stayed in the Sucia room. Nice view and very cozy!

As soon as we checked in, we knew we wanted to find the best place on the island to watch the sunset, drink some wine, and have a picnic. We asked the very nice woman at the front desk, and she directed us to West Side Road. All along the southwest coast of the island are places you can turn out and sit by your car or walk down little trails to sit right on the cliffs covered in golden grasses. This was one of the highlights of the trip for me. We ended up stopping shortly before reaching Lime Kiln Point State Park. We saw whales in the distance, with the mist from their blowholes spouting up into the sunlight. We saw kayakers enjoying a sunset trip down below. And we enjoyed a glass of wine, cheese, crackers and veggies while soaking in the beauty around us. This is what life is all about!

The next day, we were silly enough to get a couple's massage before heading out on the hottest day of the year for a bike ride to Pelindaba Lavender Farm. In the morning, we got adequate massages at Earthbox Day Spa (note to self, next time schedule the massages for the late afternoon...after the adventures!) Although it was relaxing and a nice treat for both of us after a busy few months of wedding planning and graduate school, I wouldn't recommend Earthbox. If I were going to get a massage in Friday Harbor again, I'd ask around for recommendations. 

The bike ride was tough! We are both pretty active and one might think an island would be flat, but this ride was no joke! It was worth it though. We rented hybrid bikes from Island Bicycles right in Friday Harbor. They were really helpful and told us the best way to go. Although it was really hilly, being on bikes gave us a chance to really experience the farmland, valleys, and ocean views in the distance. 

Once at the lavender farm, we took a good hour or two just relaxing in the shade, walking through the lavender, and going through the shop. When we told the woman working there that we had used their lavender in our wedding, she gave us another bouquet (like we needed more!) for free. We took it out on the picnic table we were hanging out on and I played around taking pictures of our rings along with the lavender. After we had re-hydrated and had enough time to recuperate, we headed back out on our bikes a different way than we came. The whole loop ended up being around 13 miles, so it was totally reasonable for an afternoon ride. 

When we were out to dinner at Cask and Schooner (amazing fish and chips!) that night, we asked one of the servers about a good place for a trail run in the morning. He sent us to American Camp National Historic Site. Wow! Talk about views as far as you can see! It was a perfect last adventure on the islands. Allyson and I enjoyed running on the footpaths and fire roads, up hills and out to the edge of cliffs. We managed to run about 5 miles weaving up and down different trails. One loop to start with is Grandma's Cove to South Beach Trail and back to the start via the Redoubt Trail (2.5 miles). Great little loop and options to add on to it. 

We both felt some serious sadness about leaving the islands. I felt completely relaxed and so happy about how our wedding and the week after had gone. However, there is something truly special about the San Juan Islands and it was very difficult to leave. It isn't just that being on vacation is better than going back the real world. It's that Orcas Island (and I suppose the rest of the San Juan Islands) are the IDEAL real world for me. Or maybe part of my ideal world. We will definitely be making this place a regular spot to visit and I'm so glad we took a leap and made it our wedding location as well. See you soon San Juan Islands! 

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